Location: Ballard (Seattle), Washington.
I really don’t know the true beginning of the story, but it likely was a conversation over a couple of Rainiers while straightening nails in my grandfather’s basement workshop. It kind of sounds like the beginning of a Scandinavian joke, doesn’t it?
There are these two Icelanders…umm, twins. Yeah, twins. And they are…engineers, yeah that’s right. See, they have been working at Boeing since… before WWII, yeah that’s it, they design and engineer big planes, even the (a few years later) 747!
So these Icelanders are sitting there, in the workshop, drinking a cold pop and straightening nails they had gathered after they were done building their own houses. When one of them said, “You know what we ought to do now? We should build a boat.” Well it wasn’t Sven and Ole, it was Lynn and Lloyd, The Olason twins.
The Ebb Tide, a 34’ Monk design, was finished in time to go cruising for the summer of 1955. My dad, Don Olason, was 11 years old at the time and the Olason family boating tradition was born. Summer after summer was spent plying the waters of Puget Sound, the San Juans and up into Canada as far as Desolation Sound. The time would fly by.
Just 14 years later, my dad would finish his time in the Navy and take my mom to the San Juan Islands again aboard the Ebb Tide. It was the 4th of July, 1969, at Roche Harbor. When Late April arrived in 1970, so did I.
I took my first boat trip later that year, likely a week-long vacation on the Ebb Tide with my family. That’s how it would be for many years to come. My memories are filled with all kinds of images and stories. I learned the firing-order of a small-block Chevrolet at the age of 7 on that boat. We watched “Mighty Mouse” on a 13” black and white TV waiting for the rain to stop. I only remember that because it was in French!
I remember seeing whales from time to time. The black fish (dolphins, porpoises) would gather and do their synchronized swim alongside us at 8-9 knots. My grandfather and/or dad would make us watch the colors ceremony every night we stayed at Roche Harbor, boy I am glad they did. I can almost feel them beside me when we are at Roche and I pass the tradition along to our kids.
Feeding the deer on Jones Island apple wedges right from our hands (prohibited now, please don’t feed the wildlife), enjoying ice cream at the old soda-fountain in Telegraph Habour (still there), walking up to the Deer Harbor Inn for a big family dinner, gazing at the sandstone with the old painted boat names on Sucia and falling asleep each night to the sound of water lapping up against the hull.
I had no idea how privileged I was growing up this way. Other families would road trip to the Grand Canyon or into the mid-west to see Grandma. They would go to California and visit the so called “happiest place on earth” (Disneyland). All of those things are great too. All I know, if I wanted to see my Grandma and Grandpa or go to my happiest place, it was a short road trip down to Ballard. Load up the boat and it’s all right there.
If you are new to boating this is what it’s all about. If you used to boat and have veered away from it, come on back. To all of you out there that have similar memories and experiences of this magical lifestyle, start forging new memories with the next generation because it’s our turn. Pay it forward.
See you on the water!
All the best,Troy Olason, Publisher