A Seed is Planted








I spied a rowboat in the distance.  I tried to remain nonchalant and kept at my drawing as it approached the island.  “Is that your canoe down there?” the rower asked me.   Canoe?  Didn’t he recognize my guideboat, the Terrapin, as a rowing craft?

As far as I knew I had been the only person on Hope Island all day, how could there be a canoe down there?  After briefly talking to this newcomer to my island, I crept down to the shore and sure enough there was an abandoned plastic canoe, partially filled with water.  That was somewhat of a relief, I remember thinking, maybe I might talk to this guy after all.

Turns out he was a pretty interesting fellow who knew many things about boats.   Andy was his name.  We chatted about sailing, rowing, currents, and about my growing fixation with getting a sailboat.  I explained that I really wanted a boat that was big enough to carry my family and some camping gear, yet small enough to trailer with my existing car, singlehand, store in my skinny driveway, and row or skull: no motor desired.  Perhaps a tall order, but one that I felt that I might find with some luck trolling Craigslist for long enough.

The next day Andy handed me a piece of paper with the names of small boat designers Iain Oughtred and John Welsford.  I had heard those names, but didn’t really know too much about their boats, which can’t be purchased off the showroom floor: you have to build them or have them built.  Realizing that while I can do some basic carpentry, I have neither the skill or the time to build something that I’d risk my life in, I figured I’d stick with my original plan of trolling the internet.

For months we swapped e-mails and links for boats for sale from Canada to California.  What about this one?  How well would that one work?  There were ugly plywood dories, tubby catboats, clunky wooden sailboats.  Each had something, but none of them were quite right.  Come late fall, I was starting to give up hope.


3 thoughts on “A Seed is Planted

  1. Though I haven’t been back to Hope Island since it became a state park, I recognized this scene immediately, mostly due to the windmill.
    I spent a few years as caretaker of this island when it was privately owned and even restored an old Alaskan gillnetter there, sans power tools. The house wasn’t there, the State built that. There was a grand old orchard from early settler days and an old shack down closer to the water.
    Lots of good memories. It’s a story worth telling, maybe I will one day…


  2. On the southern shore, forming the east side of the cove below the house, there is a low point with an awesome view of Mt Rainier. The beach is made of shell. In fact, it is a deep midden made of shell. A landfill made from years of aboriginal occupation. Looking east and south, you see Hunter Point and Dana Passage and looking west you see Steamboat Island. When I sit there, time dissolves. A very powerful place.

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