Ken’s Story

sailing the san juan islands, boat camping, fishing, cruising the san juan islands,

Ken on the Gwa'Wis

I have been boating for something like 55 years. I remember going with my dad to buy our first boat, found dusty and bird coated in a barn. Wood, about 15′ or 16′ with a 40 hp ob. I recall my father fiber-glassing the hull and putting on a windshield during the first year of our ownership. Before that, my dad and his buddies would take me out with them on opening day of fishing in Eastern Washington. Somehow, I always got the pole with the fish on it! I learned to water ski on the Yakima River, behind the Prosser Dam. You had to watch out for carp.

It wasn’t long before we began boating vacations in the San Juan Islands. Mom, Pop, 3 kids, tents, coleman stoves and port-a-potties (the kind with plastic bags that were prone to break at the least convenient moment). There were usually 3 families, we always traveled together. This provided a certain degree of safety as well as diversity in activity selection.

We got older, the boats gradually got bigger. Fifty years later, my parents are still boating, now with their 45′ diesel cruiser, the “Rephyl.” I have moved to the San Juans and with my wife, Sherrie, spend as much time as we can exploring, enjoying, and relishing the wonderful bounty and people that are so prevalent here.  We fish, clam, crab, shrimp, and forage.

Our first “boat” upon moving here, was an 11′ sailing/rowing dinghy.  She had no name initially, but we  christened her as the “Wee-Wis” after buying a wonderful Pearson Ariel 26′ sailboat, named the “Gwa ‘Wis,” that had originally been bought & owned by Bill Holmes, an amazing individual and professor at the University of Washington.  Professor Holmes was, and/or is, the single and original authority on Northwest  Costal Native Art.  The Gwa’ Wis (Raven of the Sea) was wonderfully cared for, well equipped, and superbly fun to sail.  Professor Holmes designed the totems and other Native American Art for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.  I remember going to that fair (and getting lost a few times).  Professor Holmes hand painted the transom of the Gwa’ Wis, and we did our best to replicate that design on the “Wee-Wis.

Sailing Dinghy San Juan Islands Sufficiency

WeeWis Getting Ready!

We still have the “Wee-Wis” – well actually my son borrowed her a few years ago – but she’s still in the family!

We sailed the Gwa’ Wis for a couple of years, crossing the Straights of Juan De’ Fucha at night, en route to Hood Canal and other destinations.  It sometimes seemed that we spent as much time night sailing as we did day sailing.

After a couple of years, we moved up to, and now sail, a 32′ Endeavour sailboat.  She is the “Agadda-Da-Vida.”  For all of you old hippies, you might remember “Iron Butterfly” and “In The Garden of Eden,” which, with the help of a lot of wine, became “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”  Sherrie & I figured that we were just about as close to the Garden Of Eden as we were ever likely to get, and thus named the boat the “Agadda-Da-Vida.”

I am an Eagle Scout, a mechanic, an outdoorsman, reasonably well educated with 2 college degrees, and in love with life! Some would describe me as a “renaissance man.”  I have 3 wonderful children, 3 more wonderful children from Sherrie, and a whole bunch of other “relatives.”

cruising the san juan islands, boat camping, salmon fishing, sailing the san juan islands

Agadda Da Vida at anchor

We are embarking on our dream of living as independently and as self-sufficiently as we can. We have met and continually enjoy many like-spirited people with dreams similar to ours. Chris & Annie are not the least among them!

As a long time boater, I would like to suggest that the most important rules are: (1) Be prepared; and (2) Always render help, comfort, assistance and friendship to any and all that you should meet on your adventures.


Related posts:

Sherrie's Story
Clam Chowder Days
Marine Engine Heating and Cooling Problems
6 Responses to “Ken’s Story”
  1. Bryan Christensen says:

    Very good history….

  2. david mack says:

    ken i just want to say thanks to you and sherrie, that me and kristy have got the sailing bug and we thank you both for it, i can not imagine what life would be like with out sherrie and you in our lifes, thank you soooo much and we need to try and get a sailing party this summer, miss going out with you guys loves and kisses to you both

    • Ken says:

      Thanks guys! We will definitely get together again this season. Last year was a bit constrained as we had grandkids nearly every weekend. I look forward to many happy and adventurous excursions in the year ahead of us.


  3. Diane T says:

    Love your two most important rules. We, too, believe in both and live by them.
    Thank you for being such a great friend to Chris. He thinks so highly of you and has so many wonderful stories and memories of his time with you.

    • Ken says:

      Thanks for your comment. We love Chris, & Annie too though Annie doesn’t join us as much as we’d like. Of course, her yoga keeps her busy a lot, and sometimes we can be a bit over-enthusiastic about what we do, if that is possible. Go forth, be prepared, be friendly, be helpful, and mostly, have fun!


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