How Nancy and Peter became homeless (for a couple of minutes)

As you know, we have been planning to move onto the Gyrfalcon sometime this summer.  Recent events have modified the narrative path.

Our original plan was to put our house on the market in late May, which would have meant that we were ready to move in mid-summer, about the time that the Gyr was ready.

When we spoke to a realtor this spring, he advised us to put the house on the market immediately since prices had rebounded and there was very little inventory in Queen Anne. So we had the house painted, the landscaping updated, some concrete work done – all things that made the house look great, and made us wonder why we hadn’t done it before.

The house went on the market and sold 3 weeks later, with a closing date of May 15. A few unexpected discoveries (aka issues) on the Gyr pushed the ready date back to the end of the summer. We were about to become homeless.

Also in May, we were scheduled to give a talk on “Birds of the Salish Sea” at the Center for Wooden Boats ( – as one of their monthly lecture series.  We figured that there would be many old boat people in the audience, and that if we made an appeal for a home at the lecture, we might get lucky.

Before the talk began, we ran into Mike Wollaston, who owns the Ewing Street Moorings, where the Gyrfalcon will reside once she leaves Lake Union Boat Repair. We told him we had sold our house, and he said, “I heard that. Listen, I have a 60-foot Monk that you could live on. It’s just sitting there and you will probably leave it better off than you found it.”

I said, “Mike that would be fantastic. You know we will probably be on her for 3 or 4 months.”

“No problem.”

“What can we pay you?”

“I feel guilty taking money from you.” We have been paying a monthly fee since January to hold the mooring for the Gyr. “You don’t have to pay me anything.”

Sometimes everything comes together.

Mike’s boat is called the Cille. After spending years as a marine biology research vessel for Oregon State University, she was acquired by Mike in 2005 ( She is named after Lucille Stewart, the wife of the original owner, but we pronounce it Silly, rather than Cille.  Mike had Cille moored in the other part of his yard, but we moved her to the spot where the Gyfalcon will end up, so that we can begin our new life properly.

She was musty, since she hadn’t had too much use in the past couple of years, but she is a great boat: large wheelhouse/salon, galley, master stateroom, 2 v-berths in the bow, 2 heads and a shower and an open cockpit, where we have put our Adirondack chairs.  She looks like she would be a great boat to take out, but we are using her as a floating hotel.

The Cille in our mooring att Ewing Street

The Cille in our mooring at Ewing Street

We have been onboard now for a little over a week; life is great. Directly across from us are Andy and JoEllen who are liveaboards on Twin Isles, a 66-foot fantail built in 1940. Gail, a retired maritime cook lives in a house boat directly off our bow. Down the dock are Jeff and Jackie – each with their own boat – Jeff on a sailboat, and Jackie on a houseboat.  There are 3 boats without liveaboards, and a couple of old tugs that Mike owns.  In the 2 weeks we have been here, we have had more interactions with our neighbors than we had in 6 years on the land. It seems like when you leave the land, you become part of a very small village, where everyone looks out for everyone else.

Living on the water is incredible. We are facing bow-in, which means that we spend most evenings, wine in hand, watching the traffic go by on the canal. We are awoken every morning by the coaches of the various crew teams that practice on the canal (“Stroke. Stroke.  Stroke”).  The other morning, part of the 520 bridge went by.  Some days, I (Peter) work from home (that has taken on a whole new meaning), and I get to watch the commercial and recreational traffic pass by our windows.  We fall asleep to the gentle rocking of the boat (most of the heavy traffic is over by then). This morning we were awoken in the middle of the night by the rain on the deck over our heads (After all, this is Seattle).

Ewing Street Mooring - the red arrow points to where the Cille currently is, and the Gyrfalcon will be

Ewing Street Mooring – the red arrow points to where the Cille currently is, and the Gyrfalcon will be

We brought too many clothes and kitchen things with us from the house – this will be good practice for the transition from the house to the Gyr.  Although we got rid of lots of stuff in preparation for the move, we still have a container at Lake Union Boat Repair (filled mostly with boat stuff and tools), a 10×10 locker at a local rental place, and half a garage of junk at the house of our friends the Britels. There needs to be more shedding before we move on the Gyr.

We’ll end this blog telling you about a wonderful conversation we had with Gerard and Mike.  Gerard did 2 tours of duty on the Patton during his career when the boat was in the Coast Service (what those of us in the know call the US Coastal and Geodetic Service).  Mike, Gerard’s son and a retired park ranger, had found our blog and he and his dad are avid readers.  We found out that positions on the Patton and Lester Jones were considered plum assignments.  We also learned that our safe (rusty and unopened) mostly contained bourbon, at least as far as Gerard remembers.  We found out that, historically, the Lester Jones (now the Summer Wind) was ½ knot slower than the Patton.  When Gerard was Commander of the Patton, the Commander of the Lester Jones challenged him to a race back from Alaska to Seattle.  Gerard won.  We also found out the true meaning of our boat’s designation.  We have a photo with 2 boats marked ASV-79 (Lester Jones) and ASV-80 (Patton).  Apparently there were 3 classes of Coast Survey boats.  The very large ones, class 1, were called Ocean Survey Ships (OSS), the medium size ships were Coastal Survey Ships (CSS), and the small ones (Patton and Lester Jones) were Auxilliary Survey Ships.  Someone had the good sense (since the acronym could be considered problematic) to change the name to Auxillary Survey Vessel, thus the initials ASV.  We’ll leave you with a picture that we took today of the Lester Jones on the hard in Pt. Townsend, along with Deerleap and Argonaut

On the hard in Port Townsend this week. From left to right: Summerwind, Deerleap and Argonaut

On the hard in Port Townsend this week. From left to right: Summerwind, Deerleap and Argonaut

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2 Responses to How Nancy and Peter became homeless (for a couple of minutes)

  1. says:

    Nancy & Peter,

    My name is Chuck Northcutt and I served three years on the Lester Jones ASV 79 as Chief Electronics Tech. I was aboard the Jones on that trip where the Patton beat us home.  Later in my career I served with Captain Haraden when he commanded the NOAA Ship Rainier I was the Electronic’s Officer (Ships Officer). I still am in contact with him and his son.  I have tried several times to contact the Summer Wind.  I have a lighter that has the Jones on it.  I would like to pass it on. I am semi-retired and own a embroidery and Silkscreening business’

  2. jody Crai says:

    i lived on the Twin isles as a teenager when it harbored in port Angeles , WA in the mid – 70’s

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