Boaters and the Boats We’ve Met Plying the Waterways of the Northwest…

Most things have a beginning, a middle and eventually an end. Our beginning with Great Northern started in the small town of St. Helen, Oregon on the Columbia River… with this man, Charlie. Just looking at the contented expression on Kai’s face gives a pretty good feel for how these two got along. Charlie owned Great Northern (GN) for 13 years before we came along. Being in the tug boat, barge building business, he spent a lot of time on GN updating systems to commercial standards, and just relaxing in the ambience of the comfortable salon, sipping a nice glass of chardonnay with the diesel heater keeping the outside weather at bay.

Delightfully, we’ve kept in touch…

GN in the slings at the Schooner Creek Boat Works, Hayden Island, on the Columbia River, waiting for her survey. She passed.

Our “staging” area for provisioning and final cruising adjustments, Salpare Marina on Hayden Island on the Columbia, just East of Portland. Note the snow on the docks. Brrrrr….

A tug… one that Charlies company probably built, captured passing under the Astoria Bridge connecting Oregon and Washington. It was a stormy, rainy day. We were inside in a warm bistro feasting on a wonderful lunch and tasting Oregon’s fine IPA beers.

Blair’s famous Huevos Rancheros…
Les’s blackberry cider…

Bob Feldman on Zebrina… Les and I helped Bob pilot his DeFever 53, a sister boat to ours, from Marina Del Rey to Des Moines Washington… And after we moved GN from Hayden Island up to Washington… we buddy boated with Bob and Bertie of Zebrina throughout the Salish Sea last summer.

(Note: Bob and Bertie are the main reason that Les and I converted to a powerboat after years of being sailors. They invited us on a powerboat cruise from San Diego to Dana Point many years ago and planted the seed for us to move to the light side.)

During our voyage with Bob up the coast we ran into some pretty heavy weather and found refuge in Charleston Harbor (Coos Bay), Oregon. Lancing, built in 1917 is still out there fishing the coastal waters of Oregon…

Just what Port Townsend is best known for. Beautifully built and maintained wooden boats. This classy schooner came directly out of the “candy kitchens” of this Northwest boating capital…

A Columbia River dredge, one of several that constantly ply the waters of the Columbia keeping the waterway clear of debris, silt and muck.

GN shares a quiet moment with “Iron Lady” a commercial fishing boat berthed at the Warrenton commercial docks, Oregon, just inside the mouth of the Columbia and its famous “bar”.

Look who we found in Port Angeles… “Lady Washington” of course, one of the boats made famous in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

GN and Zebrina docked stern to bow at the Friday Harbor Marina on San Juan Island. The ferry in the background was built in the late 1960’s… I remember riding it a long time ago in a different lifetime…

Victoria water taxi
The Port Angeles to Victoria “Coho” ferry
Les and Birdie at the Victoria Parliament building
Bertie, Blair, Bob and Les and the twins… at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Vancouver Island, BC
Brother Jack and Kai in dinghy, Todd Inlet
GN in silent repose, Todd Inlet, Vancouver Island, BC
Denizen of the galley. Just what does one do with Hominy??
Uh Oh… Who gets the first sip after 3 months of social distancing
Don’t you even!
Which all leads to the foggiest notion…
Glory of the Seas in for some re-planking. Charlie helped to lay the keel on this fine sailing ship…
GN in Port Ludlow Marina… our current “home port”
Island Ranger, converted tug, Port Ludlow
A few minutes later…
An older craft, listing a bit to starboard… otherwise a fine craft currently at the John Wayne Marina by Sequim. There be quite a few of these renegade craft settlingf a bit low in the water within the Salish Sea…
The day after. She came in fast. She came in strong. The day after a bit of a winter storm hit Victoria
The day before… Victoria, BC
Our mid-winter view, the Empress Hotel, Victoria, BC
The V/V Empress… a failed operation owned by New Zealand touted as a fast express to do the Vancouver to Victoria run. It seemed like such a good idea… It was not going well before Covid-19 made it’s way to Victoria
Morning in Port Browning, North Pender Island, BC
Afternoon in Port Browning
GN and Zebrina in Port Browning
Port Browning Marina, a favorite spot
GN and Zebrina at Arabella’s in Gig Harbor, Wa.
A fine example of a discarded Wharram cat. Telegraph Harbor, Thetis Island,BC
Thea Foss Motor Yacht, Roche Harbor (My sister went to school with Brynn Foss)
Interesting habitation platforms in Gorge Harbor, Cortes Island, BC
So there we were… minding our very own personal business on the rails of the Phil Brooks boatyard at Van Isle Marina, Vancouver Island, BC. We got a phone call, International no less, asking us to look out our stern windows… There she was, our first powerboat, now named Pacific Grace. Jim and Lisa Mitchell bought her from us in San Diego and had her shipped to the Northwest and were calling just to let us know they were in the neighborhood. It is in fact a very small boating world…
There were so many more experiences last cruising season in the Northwest. More boats… and so many more people that we met along the way. There always is. This is a picture of the four Californian adventurers. Blair and Les Frater, Bob and Birdie Feldman waiting for our table to open at the fabled Hastings House, Ganges, Saltspring Island, BC.

I’ll end with this: This cruising season will be so different for all of the boaters in and around the Northwest. Covid-19 is wreaking havoc on us all. Borders are closed as they should be. Destinations are limited as they should be. Masks and social distancing are mandated and should be followed regardless of political belief. Science needs to take precedent on this. Period.

No matter. The scenery surrounding the Salish Sea is still magnificent as it has been before and after the last ice age. The weather is mild for the most part. Yes it rains, but it is a soft rain. The open waters, coves and estuaries are still there. The woods beckon. If you live up here, spend time listening. Keep your eyes open. If you live elsewhere, just go outside and see what is there to be seen.

Above all… be safe out there.

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