The gift

In 15 years I’ve never once been delayed by the Canadian Customs.  Today was my day.  I guess if you are traveling alone in a 48 foot boat, you might set off some red flags.   Bob on Teaghlach, Steve on Jollymon and myself left Reid harbor for an easy crossing over Boundary Pass with a checkin at Bedwell harbor.  I came in last just as they were coming away from the dock.  They were nice enough to wait, before travelling on to Ganges harbor for the night.  Well, they waited awhile…

Bob looks great on Teaghlach below, but somewhere just in the background is Ghost, getting a 60 minute search from two of the most polite customs agent you ever want to meet.  Sheesh.  All ended well and I arrived in Ganges harbor just in time to miss any chance of getting onto the public dock.  Ganges marina was charging just under 80 bucks in monopoly money a night.  Makes you want to go back to bedwell.

Reid Harbor Decompression

We had a fantastic time at the annual Tolly Fiesta at Roche Harbor. Acting as Vice Commodore this year, its a lot of fun but also a lot of work. A true vacation needing a vacation! What could be better than a short idle across Speiden channel over to Reid for a little rest? The answer of course is spending that time with good friends Bob with his wife and sister (the sane one!) on Teaghlach and Steve on Jollymon. Reid has been jam packed this year and there was no chance of having a mini Tolly get together on the floating docks, so we put the hook down in a little cove like indentation on the North side of the harbor. The dingy’s went into the water and just before sunset the three of us took a little ride out into Boundary Pass. I’ve seen some amazing sunsets this summer, but this one was probably the most enjoyable one.

The Journey

Originally posted as part of the Tollyclub May newsletter.


Finally! There in the darkened room I detect the first stirrings of the light of the new day. I’m up! I’ve only been in bed for a couple hours. I tried sleeping, but the sleep would not come. The weath-er has been checked and re-checked. Tides, currents too. The boat has been packed for days. Food stores went on the day before. All’s that’s needed is a new day and a ready skipper.

Engines are warmed, lines tidied up and finally we get to put her nose into the current. We are off!

At first things are familiar, comfortable. A backyard I have known for many years. I pass by Hat Island and say hello to this familiar friend. Next up is Camano head, then Langley as I head north into Saratoga. It’s a common ritual that I’ve played countess times, but a welcome one. There is something fulfilling about familiar stomping grounds. Time flies and soon I’m upon Elger bay. Years ago in one of my first boats I lost an engine there to failing risers and ever since crossing past Elger bay has seemed like some kind of threshold. I feel victorious and crack a smile to myself. A minor but important victory. For me, that’s the place where I settle in and start feeling like I’m away from home. That’s where my new journey really begins. Soon comes Onamac Point (Ever notice that’s Camano spelled backwards?) and a sense of progress. One more point and we get to leave Camano behind. Another threshold crossed.

Rocky point may be the jumping off point to leave Camano behind, but it’s also the point where things change. As its name suggests, the sloughing tall clay hills of Puget Sound are giving way to a rougher, rockier topology. The look and feel of everything changes in a flash. It’s barely two miles from Rocky Point until the dog leg left around the Northern tip of Whidbey, but the changing feeling of the land and water could not be more striking. Thresholds indeed! Gravel beaches, rocky vol-canic cliffs and the first hints of a waterway that is coming to life as we jostle in the tide rips off Strawberry Point. These currents reveal a building tidal force that grows bigger with every mile beneath the keel as we move closer to some un-seen but powerful force ahead. Slowly at first as the Swinomish Slough comes into view, then rapidly as we pass by Hope Island. The water starts to shift, churn.

I don’t know how many times I’ve been through Deception Pass. Fifty? A hundred? I do know that the first glimpse of the bridge in the distance always takes my breath away. A moment of excitement, a little shot of adrenaline and raging twisting whirlpools give way again to another major threshold. The relatively protected waters of Saratoga Passage give way to Rosario and the East entrance to Juan De Fuca. Everything is Volcanic now. Harsh, but beautiful.

There is a feeling of excitement entering more open untamed waters that is indescribable. Even on a calm day it is pal-pable. The boat somehow becomes something akin to being more than just machine. Somehow she seems to be of eager anticipation to put her nose into the light afternoon chop. Diving into a wave and then rising rejoicefully, tossing a little crisp fresh spray over the rail. We anticipate the next wave and secretly hope that the afternoon breeze does not die too early.

Before you know it, Lopez Island and Iceberg Point are behind us. As Cattle Point looms, I look for Porpoises and hope that I may be blessed with a little fun play in my bow wake. There is a feeling of having come so far, but as we labor up the West side of San Juan Island, the points and bays seem to go on forever. Eagle Point, False Bay, Pile Point and on. Finally Lime Kiln. Maybe the orcas are out playing, but it’s getting late so we don’t linger long. Henry Island looms into view, bigger and bigger. Before you know it, were tucked into safety as we wind around in Mosquito pass. Idling along, it always happens. That familiar feeling again. Somehow strangely out of place but unmistakable. It’s the feeling of home just as Roche Harbor comes into view.

It’s rendezvous time!!!!

Never have a boat hauled at the Port of Everett

Port of Everett April 22, 2010
P.O. Box 538
Everett, WA 98206
Attn: Scott Grindy
RE: 48 Tolly Otter Travelift damage

Dear Scott,
this letter should serve as to give notice to request reimbursement for damages to my boat a 1980 48 foot Tollycraft powerboat that were caused by improper operation of the Port of Everett operated Travelift on Tuesday April 20th 2010 at approximately 9:30 a.m. at the port’s original haul out location in the South basin in front of Harbor Marine. I believe the cause of the issue was improper operation of the Travelift creating unacceptable pressure points and pinch points on the hull, resulting in otherwise avoidable damage.

Damages to my boat were well documented by photographs taken by Jim Weber while the boat was still resting in the Travelift slings. These photographs are currently in possession of the Port of Everett and were circulated in an email from Jim Weber to myself (Brett Peck) and Scott Grindy on April 20th at 3:30pm. The visible damage is bulleted below but should not be considered an all inclusive listing as further damage may be documented upon dismantling.
1. Approximately 10 feet of hull deck joint separation and rub rail distortion on the port side bow just opposite of the galley.
2. Approximately 8 feet of hull deck joint separation and rub rail distortion on the starboard side bow just opposite of the dinette.
3. Approximately 3 feet of crushed fiberglass and damage to the rub rail on the aft splash rail and accompanying rub rail near the waterline on the starboard aft quarter.

Operation Deficiencies
I believe the cause of this damage was a result of improper Travelift operation, inconsistent with the norms of such operation and showing a deficiency in expertise and experience with such a device. A non-exhaustive list of deficiencies that I observed is noted below and is either documented as part of the photographic evidence or could be provided by expert witness as required.
• Failure to use cushioning blocks around the aft splash/rub rail to avoid pressure points on this hull appendage resulting in damage item #3 .
• Failure to recognize and communicate to the boat owner the marginal nature of the Travelift being used for the lift.
• Failure to use the least risky and optimal equipment for the job.
• Failing to take every precaution upon identifying the marginal nature of the Travelift chosen for the haul. The 35 ton lift used has the lifting capacity but only offers an inside width of approximately 17’4” on a vessel that has a beam of approximately 15’2” at the point of the forward lift sling. This narrow angle fundamentally creates a pinch point at the rub rail that can be somewhat mitigated by the use of lifting blocks but would be best avoided by using a lift with an inside width of 21’6”, greatly easing any pinch points in the lift.
• Failure to use cushioning blocks at the rub rail to help mitigate the foreseeable pinching forces that would be present.
• Failure to select the operation of a more suitable lift that was available onsite for use.
• Failure to point out, communicate and recommend the use of a more suitable lift to the boat owner. A lift that was onsite and operational.

Recommendations for the future
As Vice Commodore of the Tollycraft Boating Club, one of the largest boating clubs in both the Northwest and State of Washington, I feel I have a responsibility to encourage the following safety related items below. While accidents do happen and none of us are perfect, I’m sure we all share the common goal of preventing such occurrences in the future. I’m sure we are all thankful that only property was damaged in this example. Property that can be repaired to everyone’s satisfaction. We all want to avoid personal injury but I think we must recognize that deficiencies in operational standards do not discriminate in their victims.

• Ensure that all Travelift operators are fully trained on the equipment and recertified whenever a significant gap of time has elapsed since the last usage of the equipment.
• Pair less experienced operators with those who have a proven experience with both the equipment and a broad spectrum of expertise in lifting various boats.
• Enact a policy of ONLY pairing larger boats with equipment most suitable for the job. Stop hauling boats with wide beams using the older narrower equipment.
• When accidents happen, foster an atmosphere of information sharing, both among Port staff but also with fellow Travelift operators in the Puget Sound area. Since the time of the lift issue, it has come to my attention that Seaview boatyard would only have allowed me to have my boat hauled at their facilities that have a larger lift than the one used at the Port of Everett. Had the Port of Everett been aware of this policy it might have made the deficiencies in the current operating policy more visible.

Tollyclub Port Ludlow Mini

Port Ludlow is always such a fun cruise. Sure its early spring and the weather can be a bit un-predictable, but as they say, if you don’t like it, just wait 15 minutes. It’s hard not to fall into the right frame of mind when you come into the harbor and know that our good friend Tolly is watching up on the hill. I came into the harbor and was directed to a slip across from the fuel dock. It seems the wind and current is always blowing in that section of the marina, but I backed her in after a couple minutes of figuring out just exactly what the wind and current had in store for me. It’s always nice to have a hand and Jim, Marilyn and Steve Holmes were all there to lend a hand and provide real time advice. About 15 minutes later I hear John Semasco on the radio looking for a slip. I’m sure the wind must have died right as he entered the harbor, because he took one shot and pulled right into his slip as if it was his home port.

The sun came out that afternoon and we decided to hold our evening potluck out on the dock. Why not take advantage of the weather when you get a chance! We set up our tables and got to work on dinner. The food came out and everything was set, just in time for the afternoon shower. We thumbed our noses at Mother Nature and stood like turkeys in the rain. For awhile anyway… We finished up our evening by joining the Port Ludlow yacht club at their new bar located below the Harbormaster Restaurant. While relaxing in front of the fireplace we all watched some of our newest members in ―Island Joy‖ bring their boat into Port. It was great to meet Jon and Laura.

Saturday came and our motley group of loyal Tolly mini cultists was joined by the Tolly land cruisers for lunch at the Harbormas-ter. We were joined of course by Tolly himself and his caretaker Scott. We could tell right away that Tolly was in great spirits and we were not to be let down. I caught Tolly at his table with a group of fans salivating on the edge of their chairs. Something was going on, and it seemed to involve ALL of the silverware to be had within arm’s reach of any nearby table. Turns out it was a ―not quite to scale but close enough‖ recreation of Tolly’s last slip and a lesson on the finer points of using wind, current, tide and all other available resources to maneuver a 48 into its slip within a very narrow fairway. The report I heard later was impressive and topped off by the fact that at the end of the lesson, Tolly turned to Jonathan Finch and handed him back his own set of silver-ware, Tolly knew the owner of each piece!!! It was a great lunch.

Sunday came and with it some nice weather. So nice in fact that a few of us refused to go home. Steve Monrad in Jollymon, the Semasco’s in Tollytime and myself in Otter continued on to Point Hudson were we stayed until Monday.

If you have been thinking about joining us for a mini, I can’t recommend it enough. Next up…Bell Harbor!!!

Note: On the chart you might have noticed the missing GPS heading out to Ludlow.  The problem was found when glancing at the mast and noting the GPS receiving antenna was lying on its side.  A little wrenching has the GPS cooperating again.

Back home in Everett

The fishing derby turned out to be quite a hoot.  Not for fishing of course.  In the past 3 years I have not caught a single keeper fish in more than 5 derby’s.  I’m thinking I’m the luck equivalent of bannana’s to fishing. 

First of al, the weather was tough all weekend.  We ended up only fishing one official day and had a pretty darn good go at it.  We were getting fantastic fish marks over off humphrey head, but could not get any good bites.  Oh well, next time.  One day we took a gander when most folks were staying in harbor.  We got out into Guemes channel and there were 4 footers rolling past the Guemes ferry dock at which point we decided to sit the day out.  Steve’s 24 Bay is actually a fantastic boat to fish out of.  Everything is set up well, its well kept, and Steve knows how to make everything work jsut right.  A good sea boat it is not though.  The boat has less than 1/2 inch freeboard though its self draining cockpit and literally is kept afloat by a pair of ping pong ball checkvalves.  Scares the bajeezes out of me but I have to admit that we have fished the heck out of that boat and it just keeps on delivering.  I’m actually kind of fond of it, but given the ping pong flotation system, I’m just as glad to have sat this one out. 

Fishing or not though, this was an exciting weekend, which lasted until Tuesday for me as I waited two extra days for storms to pass.  Crazy Mary showed up on Friday and proceeded to get kicked out of the Village Pizza/Wheelhouse for life.  In the spirit of “what happens in Vegas”, I won’t publish the full details but here’s a few sprinkling of teasers.  Mary gets kicked out by the owner while sitting at my table by the owner, who is a good fishing buddy of my brother in law, who’s also sitting at my table.  While Mary is generally though of as a republican, her antics landed her in the good graces of a well known long time democrat congressman from our state who wound up admonishing the proprieter on her behalf.  I tell you, you can’t buy entertainment like this.  They don’t call her Crazy Mary for nothing.

In addition to Steve Monrad, I met up with Cara and the finch’s and of course CM.  We had our own little mini Tolly get together amongst the derby!

Sunday night found me downloading a new wind meter application for the iphone.  While the harbor was spared the worst of the storm, gusts would occasionally whip up some excitement.  Standing on the bow I measured 22 knots but I think this storm was packing quite a bit more wind speeds outside the harbor.

The marina gave me a GREAT deal on moorage, even for the extra storm days as part of being in the derby.  For once I really have to sing the praises of the Cap Sante Marina for really trying to do the right thing.  Great Job guys.

Anacortes Fishing Derby

Headed up from Everett to the Anacortes fishing derby.  My brother in law Steve and I will be staying on the 48 and fishing from his 24 Bayliner “In Search Of”.  My hour  logs show it was about a little over 7 hour trip up to Anacortes.  Weather is not looking to be the best.  Upon arrival I had a little cross wind docking singlehanded.  Had to make a 2nd pass but had some great help from a couple bystanders.  At which point I checked my reservation and realized I had pulled into the wrong slip.  About this time my buddy Steve Monrad from Anacortes came smiling up the dock and we both had a good laugh.  Took the boat around to the opposite side of the dock and put her into the correct slip.

Magic Harbor?

It’s time to leave Gig Harbor.  Unfortunately, the weather for the next couple days looks to deteriorate so I have made the decision to head back north.  Instead of making it a one day cruise, seven plus hours at that, I thought maybe I’d make a stop along the way.  Candidates were Blake, Eagle harbor, Bell Harbor or Kingston.    I ran up Colvos passage and had a nice run of it.  Thinking that I had never been into Eagle Harbor, I decided to check it out and headed for the public dock.  There was a bit of action as a couple sailboats behind me were getting the 5 blasts from the ferry and I turned and noted that these two crazies were running smack in the middle of the route and not even trying to get out of the way.   Then they turned and were going gangbusters for the public dock.  I was laying a boatlength off of it and singlehanding was busy putting out fenders and lines.  There was quite a bit of room on the dock and I shouted to one of the sailboats that I was going to grab a spot, but he should go ahead and get tied up and not wait for me.  He thanked me and went and tied up.  The other boat then cuts between me and the dock and takes the other spot.  I’d like to say this kind of behavior with sailboats was rare, but its not.  Thankfully the passengers on the 2nd sailboat had a mini mutiny with the captain, ahem…skipper,  and then pulled him back to raft alongside the 1st boat and I was able to moor.

Being all tied up, I took a short stroll around town.  There are a few pubs and a small marine store.  A quaint little harbor.  As I turned back toward the boat, the wind started blowing.  The weather I had hoped would hold off for another day looked to be  making an early showing.  I got back to the boat and decided I’d rather go ahead and head toward home than spend a bouncy night at the public dock. 

My single handed exit went smoothly and before taking final leave from Eagle Harbor I did a short tour around the bay.  A few of the water rat boats I recognized from articles I have followed, but somehow in person it was just different than what had lived in my imagination.  Too bad Dave Berry is no longer around.  You can read more about the plight of the water rates in the below link.

The remaining trip was uneventful, though I did find myself navigating out of the harbor via iphone as the GPS took its sweet time aquring a signal.  Note on the chart above that it looks like I took a straight shot out of the bay.

Tollyclub Gig Harbor Mini

 Years ago I thought I knew the Central to South  Sound pretty well.  I’ve made many many  dives in that area during the time that Captain Paul was running the Genie Aye as a dive charter.  There are so many great great spots Sound, Zee’s Reef, Sunrise, KVI, Blake Island (pixie sticks my favorite), Tacoma Narrows bridge, Maplewood and ton of others I’m forgetting.  I’ve spent a lot of time in that area.  So when the tollyclub mini in Gig Harbor rolled around this year, I admit to being pretty excited about it.  The fact is that all my experience in central and south sound were on other peoples boats.  In all the time I’ve owned my own boat, I’ve never ventured further south than Seattle in my own boat!  Lets face it, trips that far south can be a bit of a haul and until going on sabatical this year I just have not had the time. 

So with no small degree of excitement I got underway out of Everett by 10:35.  I can’t believe how nice the weather is.  I had planned on making a stop about half way down to Gig, maybe at Blake or take a tour of the water rats down at Eagle Harbor (check out  I’ve been intrigued to check out Eagle Harbor first hand since first reading Don Berry’s accounts many years ago when he was alive and living in Eagle Harbor as one of the water rats.  I credit Don Berry for getting me through some late nights on some tough projects.  Thanks Dave.

But I digress.  It may be March but the weather was amazing.  I ran on the flybridge the whole way down.  As soon as I made Vashon island, the junk in the water went from occasional to thick as peanut butter.  It’s been a long while since I’ve seen tide rips so chock full of logs that the only way through is to charge at them, then throw everything into neutral and let your momentum carry you through, hopefully pushing everything out of the way as you go.

I hit a pretty big log, well lets call it a tree, about 40 foot or so back in December so I’m a little gunshy about picking up new dings on the prop, but I made it down to Gig just fine.  I plan to pull the boat out sometime before spring ends and the rush of boats getting into yards gets too out of hand.

I’m a day early for the Gig Tollyclub mini.  I can see Bob’s 26 sitting at the dock, but she’s all closed up.  I decided to put the hook down in the middle of Gig Harbor for some peace and quiet.  It was fantastic.  I used my high power wifi bridge to pull in a signal from somewhere on shore.  It was not a fast connection, but it was fast enough to watch some movies on Netflix.