Driving from California to Alaska I stopped in Bellingham for 5 minutes to look at a boat I had zero interest in owning. Seven minutes later I owned said boat, broke in a town is never heard of I started the long process of integration. The boatyard had a very strict no liveaboard policy. After serveral weeks I was confronted by the yard manager and did my best to convince him that I was not living aboard. He smiled and replied, “if your still not living here at the end of the month I’m going to have to start charging you electricity”, and walked away.
It seems that all of the Washington boat yards have a zero tolerance policy these days which make life a living hell for yachts in transit that need a lengthy stay for major overhauls such as drying and re sealing the hull. Each year one more of my secret yards falls off the map and while they are willing to take every penny you own from thier chandlery to yard expenses they couldn’t care less about serving the needs of the hand that feeds them.
Washington has changed so much since I’ve been here, once a welcoming sea for boaters now the rules are through the roof and even the anchorages are being ruined with the hundreds of morning balls that make you anchor so far off that it takes forever to get to shore. I suppose that’s why I have to listen to dozens of outboards zooming back and forth all day.
The gentle pull of my oars, the swoosh of water sliding under my hull and the sound the water makes as it drops from my blades. These all are the call of the sea to me. Now replaced by huge diesels running for hours on end, smoke filled bays and crowds of non boaters who own boats.
I ask myself where have all the sailors gone and I was given my answer. Chris sailed in on his little 18′ sloop that he raced solo in the race to Alaska last year, today he left for the Broughton islands in the same boat. Another couple sailed in on a beautiful 23′ lapstrake from Port Townsend and another from PT in a beautiful Cape Dory 25.
We’re still out here but every year the numbers seem to be getting smaller. Is the marine industry killing sailing and turning it into an eletist hobby. The small slips are all disappearing making way for larger boats that sit unused 50 weeks a year while the ones of us who use our boats are being slowly pushed out.
My frustration mounts and more than ever I’m feeling like it’s time to leave what was once a boating Mecca but now more and more seems to be gridlock of huge boats polluting the slow quiet ways of the islands. Where have all the sailors gone?
From the log of Sookie, they call it progress, yet another word that should be stricken from the English language.