Our Part of the Story

As mentioned previously, our ownership of Leda was not official until sometime in June of 1990.  I could probably find the date, but I’m not sure it matters to the story much.  However, our affair with Leda started as far back as January of 1987.  I was just barely still  in my 20s in 1987!  This means that Leda has been part of my life, at least peripherally for more than half my life, certainly for most if not all of my adult life, depending upon how you judge adulthood.

Ginny and I were goofing off in Seattle.  We were actually on our way home from the Caribbean and weren’t ready to face the snow in Juneau, so we did what we always did.  We looked at boats.  Seattle is a great city, but in 1987 it was even better as it hadn’t been cleaned and modernized as much yet.  There were lots of funky and cool places to look at boats, boat stuff and just be around boats.  It was always great in those days to just walk in the harbor.  In case there is anyone here that doesn’t understand wooden boats, I will just comment for the purpose of education that wooden boats are (were) often one-off, took craftsmanship to build and have a lot of character.  The harbors were once filled with them and it was wonderful.  In those days there were lots of pre-plastic boats still around and they all had character.  But it was before big box stores too, but that is another topic.

The first time we saw Leda she was in a marina under a full mooring cover.  We climbed on board and poked around under the cover, in the dark, and we knew, this was our boat.  Just like that.  It was how she felt.  She also smelled like a proper boat, linseed oil, a hint of turps and tar, musty canvas, salt.

However, the amount of money being asked for her was somewhere between outrageous and outside of our budget depending upon whether you are buying or selling.  Leda was a great boat, she was well sorted, had a big inventory of sails, lots of equipment, but it was all getting very worn.  My memory is a little vague but apparently we flirted enough to show our interest.

A few months went by, when we got a call letting us know that Leda was going to be hauled for a scrub and bottom paint and that if we wanted to see her out of the water this was the chance.  I caught a flight to Seattle, and started the dance that is always part of buying a boat.

Leda, spring of 1987

Leda was owned in those days by Frank and Bea Hyland.  Frank and Bea both loved their boat and while they seemed to like us quite a lot, were not very agreeable to the amount of money we offered them to buy their boat.  The dance continued.  And continued….until autumn of 1989.

Russ & Ginny on board Leda in Elliot Bay, June 21, 1987

In September of 1989 I had quit my day job and gone in as a partner on a WWII landing craft and freight hauling business.  Southeast Alaska has a lot of area with no roads but lots of water, so hauling freight by landing craft was a pretty good gig.  However, it was almost instantaneous that I got a phone call from Frank Hyland.  They had a buyer for Leda at a little more than half of what they had originally asked and well less than we had offered and he was going to give me first right of refusal at that price.  I had no choice but to tell him that I had just started a business, had spent every available penny I had to get into it and that he would have to sell his boat to the other guy.  I was pretty sure that Leda had just left our life forever.  But isn’t life strange with the surprises it holds for us.  As the great Yogi Berra said “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

-Next:  A Second Chance