Sunday, June 11, 2006

A Day Out of the Past

I grew up in King County, and from the time I was a toddler, my family had boats. The first was an 18-foot Larson bowrider ski boat that my dad and my uncle bought together. Every summer for a few years, we rented a cabin on Shoal Bay on the north end of Lopez Island, hauled the boat up, and for a month a parade of aunts and uncles and cousins tramped through, clamming, crabbing, and whizzing with us around the 450 or so San Juan Islands.

When I was a little older, maybe nine, we bought a new boat, a 26-foot Fiberform cabin cruiser that “slept five” (or would’ve if we’d all been between the ages of seven and nine like me and Deane. But it did sleep the four of us more or less comfortably). We named it the Rusty Duck, after a restaurant in Edmonds that went out of business soon after (a coincidence I’m sure). The Rusty Duck had, as a tender, an 8-foot Livingston dinghy with the sail package—center board, rudder, and small triangular red, white and blue-striped sail. In a fit of 9-year-old inspiration I suggested calling it the Rusty Duckling (or Deane did?) and it was so baptized.

In 8th or 9th grade, we upgraded again, to the Finnish Maiden (named by the previous owners) a 36-foot aft cab Uniflite which slept, comfortably, six, and had all the accoutrements of luxury—two showers with hot water, flushing toilets (after a fashion), blender, wet bar, and an 11-foot Boston Whaler dinghy , the Flying Viking, Coast Guard approved for a 10-horse outboard, but outfitted with a 35, which gave it enough power to pull a water skier. Yeah, we kids, and our friends Sonja and Erik, and I daresay my dad, and even frequently my mom (when she wasn’t worried about kids capsizing, anchors drifting in the night, and the cost of fuel) were in heaven.

After my father passed away in 1992, we sold the Finnish Maiden and for the last 14 years my trips on private boats have been achingly few and far between.

It’s torture living six blocks from Lake Union, having the skill, the desire, and even, if I were to so choose, the money to own a boat, and not having one. The reason I don’t is that I’m just barely too practical. The 4-Runner could, if necessary, tow a ski boat, but we really have no place to park it. Moorage is possible to secure, but it’s $300 per month on Lake Union, and, frankly, I know I couldn’t possibly use the boat enough to justify that. Larger boats cost more for fuel and moorage and, really, are RVs on the water . . . and I’m only 33. And so, I’m boatless.
But yesterday I was invited to help move a boat—a 32-foot Bayliner—from a yacht brokerage on Lake Union to one in La Conner. A friend of ours is selling it . . . and about six hours in, by the time we were nearing Oak Harbor, I was almost convinced I needed to buy it.

From start to finish it was a true Northwest boating experience, minus any of the trouble like blowers that don’t work, bumpers falling overboard without being tied on or fishing line getting tangled in the props. We went through the Ship Canal, we crowded into the small locks with two other boats and slowly bobbed down to sea level (and much to my relief, the lock operators didn’t yell at me; they were only mildly condescending when I passed the 50-foot bow line under the rail the wrong way, then tangled it up trying to undo my error). We stopped for fuel in Shilshole and I got to jump for the dock, then we stopped for fuel again in Edmonds and again I got to jump for the dock (the pump moving gasoline from the shore to the dock having broken down in Shilshole). We looked at charts to make sure we went between Whidbey and Camano Islands (D: “This is my least favorite stretch of water in Puget Sound.” Me: “Because it looks like suburbia.” D: “You’re right! It’s the 405 of Puget Sound!”) instead of between Camano and the shore—a big, long, inconvenient dead end. It was a little rainy for a while, a little gray, a little sunny. We drove from the fly bridge, and from the cabin. The water was almost calm, no whitecaps, barely even any swells from shipping. We saw a bald eagle and many seals. We drank beer and wine and water, we ate chips and cheese and Pirate’s Booty (for the nautical flavor) and sang along with Dire Straits.

And today, I was back to my tortured, humdrum existence with no boat.


ACB said...

This is my new favorite picture of you!

Sounds like a wonderful day.

CMT said...

I know! I look ridiculously happy, and today I looked very much the opposite of that. :(

Erik said...

I've missed the water and the islands as well. Those couple weeks every summer planted my seeds of my calm.

collin said...

Calin, if you buy a power boat.... I don't know.
You do look excited to be on the water though.

CMT said...

I know . . . but you can buy Biodiesel almost everywhere now (yes, I mean on the water!) . . . so it's not so cut-and-dried I think . . .

Shelley said...

I think boats are best owned by a group, with the influencing effect of this last entry, you may be on your way... :)