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Sunday, June 4, 2023
June 4, 2023

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Working in Clark County: Vic LeGall, Goodwater Boat Works

By , Columbian staff writer
6 Photos
Vic LeGall, owner of Goodwater Boat Works in Vancouver, repairs a kayak in his shop.
Vic LeGall, owner of Goodwater Boat Works in Vancouver, repairs a kayak in his shop. (Ariane Kunze/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Vic LeGall is the quintessential Northwest outdoors enthusiast. He owned his own sailboat by age 12 and has enjoyed a lifelong love of boating. He navigates rivers, lakes and streams throughout the northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington — and has a healthy dose of respect for those waterways. At the mention of hydrophobia, he laughed, “Oh, I’m scared of the water, too. That’s why you have boats!”

And boats — fixing them, that is — are his business. Being involved with the sporting and river communities, he became more skilled with kayak and inflatable boat repair and for seven years has run his own business, Goodwater Boat Works, repairing hard-shell kayaks and inflatable boats.

Business name: Goodwater Boat Works, by appointment, 503-453-0713; www.GoodWaterBoatWorks.com

Age: 56

Educational/professional background: I grew up in Portland and worked various jobs over 35 years in logistics, warehousing, facilities, emergency response and truck driving. I did attend college for a while but it wasn’t for me. I have been around boats and water my entire life. My parents were recreational boaters, and our family was always out on the Willamette, Columbia or the ocean. I had my own sailboat at age 12, and in my late teens, I got into whitewater rafting. It became my main passion.

My years of boating and outdoor recreation progressed to working and becoming more involved in the river community. In 2005, I got laid off from my job, and I began volunteering for someone who was ill and needed help with her whitewater business. While there, I picked up a lot of skills learning the business from manufacturers who came in to the shop. Rather than shipping boats to be repaired at those manufacturers, I would just repair them there at the shop.

The business owner eventually passed away, so I set out to start my own whitewater repair business out of the trunk of my car or at friends’ shops and warehouses. My present shop has been in business for seven years, and I work on hard-shell kayaks and inflatable boats. We upcycle parts from discarded boats as much as possible, and for a fee, will recycle discarded parts. We try hard to find uses for parts rather than recycle, though.

I continue to work out of season for several outfitters such as High Desert River Outfitters and Sage Canyon River Co., occasionally going to them to work in their shops if they need help.

Personal/business philosophy: My main reason for starting this business was to be accountable to myself and to have a place where I could apply my vision of integrity.

Most rewarding part of job: Serving the river community, which is where my friends and family are. And I get the added benefit of working in an activity that has been my passion.

The Northwest is a destination, a place that’s unique. People move here just to enjoy what we have here. There’s not another place like this on earth where there’s a metro area so close to whitewater, skiing, boarding and climbing. People are into being healthy and into nature and being eco-conscious, involved and active. Outfitters are larger out on the East Coast and elsewhere, but there is a lot of private boating here, with people out all the time on the hundreds of rivers and thousands of creeks.

Most challenging part of job: What I don’t know yet. When you start taking on challenges, there is so much to learn even in a small business.

Best feature of my Clark County community: The small town feel of it.

What would make your community a better place: A little more communication. It would be nice if everyone was on the same page.

What is your favorite travel destination and type: Idaho by train or traveling the Victorverse.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: Vinny’s Pizza in downtown Vancouver for stromboli.

Most enjoyable book/play/movie/arts event in past 12 months: “On the Road,” by Jack Kerouac.

Something you’d like to do this year/within five years: Expand the business successfully. There are a lot of things I haven’t seen or done here in the Pacific Northwest and things I’d like to do again. Hiking with my daughter, just get out and see some more stuff.

One word to describe yourself: Different.

Person you’d most like to meet: Alan Watts

Columbian staff writer