Creative photos and essays from the San Juan Islands


Dory Story Time

Dory Story Time

Geoff, a friend of mine, has a large boat on a new trailer. He’s named the boat #44, and recently I asked him why, to which he replied, “It’s the 44th boat I’ve owned.” Makes sense, but it frustrated me because, while I’ve owned a number of boats, that number is unknown!

My brother used to keep a list of all the cars and trucks he’s owned. I asked him recently if he has kept the list current, and he said no, there were just too many to keep track.

I envied Geoff in a way, because he could recount the genealogy of his boat family (and to boaters they ARE family) and by doing that, had a chronology of his nautical interests and affairs. After all, they call boats ‘she’ for a reason.

So this dory caught my eye one day at the Port of Friday Harbor. It had a fresh coat of paint and a clever engine well and smooth transom that appealed to me. The most intriguing part was the for sale sign inside.

I’d never met Bill, the owner, but found him a fascinating character, gentle spoken, wildly experienced in life, with a nautical grey beard and wild but tidy wind-swept hair, the caricature of a seaman. I met him at the coffee shop to discuss the sale/purchase of his creation, and immediately felt cozy, tucked into his gentle manner.

I offered him $225, and his first reaction was a crooked smile and the simple question, “Why that specific figure?” but he was a pleasure to dicker with, compared to some horse-traders who feel that dickering is an act of war. If you watch “American Pickers” on the History channel, you have seen a few of which I speak. Both types.

I bought the dory (for $225!) and put an electric outboard on it. Oh, such a pleasure is an electric outboard. This one, a salt water MinnKota I bought online from a doctor on Cape Cod, was so quiet and easy to operate, compared to most cantankerous gas motors.

My favorite voyage with this boat went like this: My wife and I had taken our 40 ft. motorsailer to Blind Bay on Shaw Island. My favorite island anchorage, good holding ground (for the anchor), and a lovely setting sun to garnish the experience.

BUT, we wanted to go to Friday Harbor to attend a talk at the Grange of some residents of Easter Island, who were touring the west coast. Well, we purred (there’s not “Putting” with an electric motor) up Blind Bay at dusk to the ferry landing, getting easily heard compliments from fellow boaters we passed (and that’s always gratifying for a small boat owner with a pretty, classic style boat), then caught the inter-island ferry boat to town, had a blast at the lecture, hopped the ferry back to Shaw Island, then, by starlight, found our way down the bay to our floating home on a glass-smooth sea, the stars over head and mirrored in the water.

Ah, life is good in paradise!
IMG_0064 Blind Bay sunset.


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