About the Gyrfalcon

The Gyrfalcon is our 88 foot wooden fantail. She was built in Seattle in 1941 for the Coast & Geodesic Survey, and spent the next 20 years doing survey work in Alaska. Since then she has been converted to a private yacht.  We purchased her in September, 2012, and will spend the next several years renovating her so that we can move aboard, and eventually cruise the world.


24 Responses to About the Gyrfalcon

  1. Good luck Peter and Nancy… GyrFalcon looks like a grand vessel, well worth your efforts. We can’t wait to see her in Victoria next year or the year after.

    Tom and Chris
    MV Belle

  2. will smith says:

    I saw her in the early 1970’s at dave updikes yard on lake union. If i remember right she was called the USCGS patton and there was another sister ship called the USCGS lester jones.my father was friends with dave updike and bought the bowie off of him and owned her until the late 1980’s.Its great to see her again! I might be able to get a little more history if your interested.

    • guillemot30 says:


      Thanks for the comment. As we understand it, Dave Updike owned the Lester Jones (now called the Summer Wind, and moored on Lake Washington). Although Dave never owned our vessel, he did repower her in the early 70-s – removed the original Cooper Bessemer direct reversing engines and replaced them with the current Cat 3306s.

      Any additional history would be appreciated.


      • Dan Twohig says:

        I sailed as chief ET (Electronics Technician) on the Patton in 1967 which was her last field season with USC&GS. It was also the last field season for the Jones they were both decommissioned and excessed shortly thereafter. We maintained tide gauges in the Northern part of SE Alaska and then did a hydro survey of Saginaw Bay AK, working out of Petersburg. The Jones worked the Southern tide gauges and then did hydro working out of Wrangell, I can’t remember their hydro area. Duty on the small boats was quite good and they always anchored and shut down at night when traveling. When anchored up working an area the generators were shut down at 2100 and started again at 0630. Batteries were used for lighting and the few electric devices that needed to be on.

        At the end of the season we were scheduled to meet at Ketchikan and leave together . For many years the two always traveled together and the Patton always beat the Jones home from the field season because she made about one-eight of a knot better than the Jones. But the Jones left Ketchikan over a day early. The prize was berthing in the inboard berth at PMC. We decided they shouldn’t win the last race home so we set watches and ran 24 hours a day. We beat them home.

        I have some photos of the Patton’s last field season if you are interested.

        Dan Twohig

      • guillemot30 says:

        Hi Dan,
        It’s wonderful to hear from you. We’ll email you off-line, but we’d love to see some of the photos. I also found the Season’s Report from 1967 (at the NOAA archives in Seattle); I’ll send you a PDF. Hopefully it will bring back fond memories. Did you have any interns on your trip? I read in the archives of the Seattle Times that there were student interns during the last year of service on the E. Lester Jones and the Patton.
        We’re so glad you found the blog!
        Nancy and Peter

  3. Ben Huntley says:

    That would be the Coast and Geodetic survey..

    • guillemot30 says:


      Indeed it would be. Thanks for catching that error (which I will blame on my typing skills!). It has been on the blog for over a year, and you are the first to catch it. Your prize is a tour of the Gyrfalcon.

  4. Anne says:

    We saw the boat here on Lopez Island ( Labor Day got some good photo’s!) I sent it into our local paper in which we are reg. published. Thanks for bring her up this way lovin it!

  5. As members of the Gig Harbor Yacht Club in the early 90’s we were guests on Triton on many occasions. Have to tell you about the start of a trip to Southeastern Alaska back in ’92. Bob Ellsworth had gone to Harbor Island to take on fuel and trusted an old friend and guest for the trip north to do the actual loading. He meant well when he told Bob he would first fill the water tanks before topping off the diesel tanks. Bob was impatient and behind schedule so he told his nameless friend to go ahead but, in typical fashion, lets hurry the **** up, were running late!
    Well, they were going to find out pretty soon just how late they were, particularly since his “friend” had topped off the diesel tanks with water, that’s right, in his haste and being anxious to please Bob, he thought the diesel tank receptacle was the water, you can guess how that went…………
    Now, several hours later and still taking up space at the busy Harbor Island fuel docks, the water was pumped out, filters were called in to clean the tanks, and after removing the man-ports, a complete towel-down of the insides, diesel was finally put on board. Not merely topped off but, a complete fill up on tanks that had never been completely empty.
    The rest of the trip???? Well, it was just great! If you consider running aground near Ketchikan great.
    Oh, and how about slicing through tribal nets on the way home while still in Canadian waters? Cost Bob thousands to get Triton released from that mess, both fugitively and literary.
    I hope you don’t take this as being mean to Bob or his wife, Jean. The Triton faired well under Bob’s care and most of the uo-grades were done on his watch.

  6. Mike says:

    Last summer I worked on the Perry, also built in 1941 and shared a similar past as the gyrfalcon. The Perry still has her original Vivian direct drive diesel engine with an estimated 200,000 hours of service. I’m curious if the gyrfalcon has been repowered or not. I’m currently anchored near the gyrfalcon in squirrel cove and have been appreciating her classic lines. Beautiful boat. Good luck with your adventures.

    • guillemot30 says:


      Gyrfalcon was repowered in 1971 with Cat 3306s (the orginals were Cooper Bessemer direct reversing). We have moved on to Gorge Harbor, and are headed to Pendrell Sound tomorrow. We will be in the area for another week. Come visit us if you see us.


  7. Christopher Goodwin says:

    I am interested in knowing more about the rudder design of Gyrfalcon. I have a 60′ boat with twin screws and a single rudder and would be interested in knowing if the triple design helps with docking and what if anything you know about it.

    • guillemot30 says:

      Christopher –

      We feel that the additional fins (I have also heard them referred to as delta rudders or pony rudders) certainly help with manuevering the Gyrfalcon. . Since our screws are fairly close together, having a rudder behind each one seems to help. Our sister ship. the Summerwind has smaller rudders, and does not seem to handle as well as the Gyr (Of course she also has the original Cooper Bessemer engines, which may contribute). I am sending you via email a photo of the rudder taken during the last haulout – you will see how massive the entire device is.

  8. Dirk Septer says:

    Gyrfalcon just passed Campbell River, northbound…… bon voyage!

  9. Colter Mott says:

    Hey guys, you are anchored just down the beach from our 1887 pioneer home and boat shop on Filucy Bay. What a terrific Christmas vista, to be able to look out on your lovely vessel while splitting wood and stoking the fire for a crab luncheon. Wish our skiff were in so we could row out and invite you over.

    CW Mott

    • guillemot30 says:


      Captain Nancy heard someone chopping wood, but could not figure out which house it was coming from. Sorry we missed out on the invitation. Glad you enjoyed seeing the Gyrfalcon


  10. David Johnson says:

    I see you here in Port Ludlow Bay, BEAUTIFUL.
    Dave Johnson 9/4/17 5:15pm

  11. Kris millard says:

    Just saw you motor north past Jefferson head in kitsap county. Beautiful boat. Many happy voyages to you!

  12. Joe Weihe says:

    We just watched from the house as the travelift brought her toward us. What a beauty! I’ll drive down sometime for a better look and take some pics.

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