ON THE WATERFRONT: Yacht club completes big annual fundraiser

EARLIER THIS WEEK, the log boom at the west end of Port Angeles Harbor was cleaned out of its inventory, which was loaded aboard the log Barge Z Big 1 and transported to Southport Forest Products in Coos Bay, Ore.

Hospice row

Sue Sorensen of the Sequim Bay Yacht Club reported that the Reach and Row for Hospice race held on Sept. 15 in Sequim Bay was a huge success thanks in large part to the strong community support it received.

Sorensen said contributions and donations are still being tallied but to date, this year’s race day event has raised $28,970.32 for Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County, which exceeds the 2017 total.

The total donation amount that SBYC has raised for VHOCC for the past 26 years is $357,882.80.

All of these funds are designated for the respite funds for patients and family members of VHOCC.

More than a rock

One of the failings many of us succumb to when living in a community is ignoring many of the sights and sounds in our surroundings.

One such sight is the large rock on the north side of Ediz hook by the public restrooms.

The rock marks the spot where a 29-year-old Tacoma logger, Bert Thomas, slipped into the frigid water in the early evening hours of July 8, 1955 to begin his historic swim across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Victoria, B.C.

In April of 1955, the Victoria Times offered $1,000 to the first swimmer to cross the Strait.

Four men and three women accepted the challenge but were unsuccessful.

Four times — like all of his fellow challengers — Thomas tried swimming the Strait from Canada to the U.S., but gave up miles from shore.

For his fifth attempt, he changed his strategy and decided to try crossing in the opposite direction.

He timed his 6:50 p.m. takeoff from Ediz Hook to coincide with a gentle evening ebb tide and put nearly four miles of water behind him in two hours.

A schooner scouted a mile ahead for friendly currents and the pleasure boat, King Bacardi, stayed with him.

Once each hour, as Thomas rested, his handlers fed him orange juice through a plastic tube.

As the night wore on and he got closer to Vancouver Island, Victoria residents turned on their porch lights to act as beacons.

At daybreak, Thomas could see crowds gathering along the Victoria shoreline.

Eleven hours, 17 minutes and 30 seconds after the swim began, Thomas staggered out of the 48-degree water into the welcoming arms of his wife.

Then, after a cup of steaming hot coffee, he was whisked off to downtown Victoria for a municipal welcome where he collected his $1,000 prize money.

Bert Thomas also swam the English Channel, from France to England, in 1958 in 19 hours, 31 minutes.

In 1969, he was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

At the harbor

Platypus Marine, the full-service shipyard, yacht repair facility and steel-boat manufacturer on Marine Drive in Port Angeles has Manhattan (YT-800) in the commander building. She is a 109-foot large harbor tug that is homeported in Bremerton.

The vessel will be at their facility until about the middle of January, which will give personnel the time necessary to go completely through her and all but rebuild the 52-year-old tug.

Monday, Tesoro Petroleum bunkered Seabourn Sojourn, a 650-foot cruise ship. To accomplish this, the tug Brian S towed the refueling barge to pier 66 in Seattle, where the ship was moored.

_________

David G. Sellars is a Port Angeles resident and former Navy boatswain’s mate who enjoys boats and strolling the area’s waterfronts and boat yards.

Items and questions involving boating, marina and industrial activities and the North Olympic Peninsula waterfronts are always welcome. News announcements about boating groups, including yacht clubs and squadrons, are welcome as well.

Email dgsellars@hotmail.com or call him at 360-808-3202.

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