Fred were friends long before my parents
married, both sharing the fascination with
airplanes that permeated the first half of the
20th century. Fred’s preferred mode of transit to or from the Respite was by floatplane.
One day we were anchored in Garden Bay,
north of Vancouver, when a floatplane landed. Normally, a floatplane landing in British
Columbia is like saying there are cars on the
freeway. However, in this instance, my mother said, “I think that plane is coming straight
at us.” In fact, it was. Fred had chartered the
plane and found us in Garden Bay. In hindsight, I now realize that my father must have
told Fred where to look for us, lest he fly over
half of southern BC looking. But he hadn’t
told my mother so her brother’s arrival was a
surprise, even if the method wasn’t.
A TRADITION ENDURES
My parents enjoyed the boat from its launch
until the last year of their lives, when they
were in their 90s. When I was young, there
was always a group of people aboard: my
parents, three sons, and a parade of visitors.
Eventually it became mainly the two of them
course, the amount of
time she spends out of
port has been reduced,
as we can no longer
spend the entire sum-
mer aboard. Voyages
are two to three weeks
now, but we pack a
lot into those weeks.
Two years ago we
made the run to Desolation Sound. As we
entered Grace Harbor in Malaspina Inlet, a
wrecked pleasure boat was being removed.
Someone’s dream burned to the waterline
while the family was ashore because a laptop
computer overheated. I’ve found that there’s
always something new to be learned around
boats, even after 54 years on them.
TODAY’S THIRD GENERATION
The summer of 2012 marked Respite’s 60th
anniversary as our family’s cruiser. She’s on
her third generation of the family now. My
children who, as I, were babies on Respite are
now adults who have also come to love the
boat and our summers on it. Summers on
Author (center) on the bow, circa 1961.
unable to come, but requested
daily updates so she could be here in spirit.
An overheard comment while walking up
the dock at the Newcastle Island Provincial
Park in Nanaimo, British Columbia, sums
up Respite best. I heard an older man remark
to his companion: “I quite like that older
one.” His companion replied, “Yes, it’s very
classic.” I turned around and looked at the
harbor expecting to see a classic yacht that
perhaps I’d missed. There was only one old
vessel lying in the anchorage, Respite. She’s
settled into old age gracefully. She’s been a
fixture on Pacific Northwest waters for 60
years, and is looking forward to many more.
cruising, with visitors coming and going. I
introduced my wife-to-be to Respite in 1986.
Then, as our children were born, they also
became regular passengers. My father had
to, with some grumbling, install baby gates
around the vessel to contain the small ones.
I knew he’d done it before because I could
recall the gates that had contained me on
After my parents passed on, Respite did
not, like so many other boats, sit unused. Of
Respite return us to a time when life moved
at a slower pace, not the least because Respite
moves mainly at a leisurely seven knots.
Last summer found Respite plying the
waters of the San Juan and Gulf Islands once
again, with our 19-year-old son acting as
pilot while we filled in the role of the “old
folks.” We stayed “close to home” this time,
focusing on old favorites in the Gulf Islands.
Only three of us were aboard this year;
our oldest now entering the workforce was
So, if you see her and wonder if it’s the same
family as when you saw her years ago, the
answer is yes.
Bill and his wife Nancy have two grown children
and live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bill has
been cruising the Pacific Northwest since childhood. They currently own Respite as well as
a 21-foot Wellcraft they use on Lake Tahoe.
They cruise the Canadian Gulf Islands several
weeks per year.