Kelly O'Neil Photography
Wings Sailing in Seattle
I had a good crossing from Victoria to Port Angeles that morning in 1985 sailing my Mega 30, Song of the Siren. At first it was a beam reach in a gentle northerly with the spinnaker up, riding the swell, and then a nice beat up inside the spit with salt spray in my face as the westerly filled, but now, as I folded my sails at the transit dock, the afternoon grew more blustery and I was glad to be in the harbor. Port Angeles can be a bit raw when the wind blows in off the strait. The smoke streams horizontally from the stacks of the pulp mills, the sea gulls wheel, the air smells of salt and fish and fresh cut fir logs, and the gusts of cold pacific wind blow directly into Yacht Haven. Sailors out in the Straits are happy to find shelter in places like Port Angeles but those seeking shelter there have one last test: landing in that small and gusty harbor.
I saw the first wind-blown boat coming in, a thirty something sloop with two sailors in foulies, salt tangles in their hair, flushed from the wind and then as they turned toward the long pier the wind caught their boat. I saw a crash on the way unless I did something and I ran to catch a line and got it on a cleat which snubbed their bow and they swung in alongside, safe.
The next one was close behind and this time there was some shouting on board as the skipper, just at the worst time, saw that his control was gone. Again I caught a bow line and another man hurried over to get the stern line and we got them safe alongside as well. There were more boats blown in from the Straits that afternoon, large and small, but the scene was always the same: the landings at Yacht Haven were near disasters but that guy and I worked all afternoon and into the evening without saying much to each other and we made the day turn out a lot better for quite a few boaters.
In the midst of all of this activity of rescuing boats I saw a sight which intrigued me: in this rather rough harbor, on a definitely wild day, there appeared on the docks a rather glamorous, and tall, young woman, dressed to the nines, who came down the pier, slipped off her high heels, and boarded one of the boats in the back of the marina. “Wow”, I thought. As she disappeared down the hatch I turned back to the business at hand with quite an image in my mind.
We caught a few more boats, that guy and I, and we enjoyed it, but the day was getting long and the harbor was filling up.
Finally things quieted down and I was standing there next to him and I stuck out my hand, “I’m Fred”.
He had a friendly smile, “I’m Jim.”
I guess Jim knew who belonged there and who didn’t. He asked, “You come in on a boat?”
“Yeah, that blue sloop down there. I guess I was lucky enough to get in without your help earlier.”
He laughed and he invited me to his boat for a drink, motioning towards a Choy Lee cutter in one of the permanent slips, the same boat I’d noticed that well dressed blonde woman boarding earlier.
I didn’t hesitate. “Sounds good.”
That blonde was Judy and striking up a friendship with Jim Jones, while working the docks of Yacht Haven Marina in Port Angeles, was how I came to meet her that night on board that Choy Lee sailboat.
Judy had come straight from the office to help Jim and his wife Jean plan a summer cruise and she might have been in a business suit then but she was a sailor and pretty comfortable in jeans and boat shoes too. We hit it off right at the start and we talked boats and racing for a few hours and then she accepted my invitation to see my boat. I told her that, by most accounts, it was an ugly boat, which she found incomprehensible, so maybe there was some curiosity on her part, but after seeing it she said she liked it. By that time I think I was already hooked.
She asked me if I liked Hurricane Ridge and I told her I’d never been there. She said we could drive up there the next day but I said I was leaving in the morning. She gave me her number and said if I stayed another day, I should call her.
I stayed and called Judy the next day and she drove us up to Hurricane Ridge and while we walked on the trails and enjoyed the view we talked about our dreams and aspirations. She said she wanted to own her own boat some day. I didn’t know any other women who said they wanted that. We had quite a few dreams in common too, including the dream of living on a boat and going cruising. She also told me she was moving to Seattle soon and I know we were both thinking that we might see more of each other then.
I did sail away from Port Angeles the day after that, but I came back before my trip was over and I saw her again and we made plans to see each other when she came to Seattle, which we did.
wingssail images-doris mast
Fred & Judy
And that’s how it began, 30 years ago.
for more photos from the early days.
Fred Roswold, SV Wings, La Cruz Huanacaxtle
September 28, 2015-Eclipse of the Moon
On September 28 we watched a full eclipse of the moon. Click