Gary and Merridy Shinn weren’t necessarily looking for a classic boat, but their search for an affordable motorsailer led them to a 74-year-old vessel with a fascinating history and a look that still turns heads. They bought Wander, a 29-foot Todd Dry Docks 1933, in 2007 and homeport her in Everett.
Tell us about your boat’s name.
The original name was Maskee (or Maskie) and later changed to Justroamin, then Kwiat and back to Maskee, none of which resonated with us. With one foot in retirement, we wanted something that would reflect our goals and objectives — to just “wander.”
“Not all who wander are lost” — J.R.R. Tolkien
Tell us the story of how you found your boat and what makes it special to you.
We were looking for a motorsailer. We realized we weren’t actually sailing as much as we used to, and a pilothouse with inside steering would let us get in out of the weather without going all the way to the “dark side” of owning a powerboat. However, the boats we had looked at (Nauticats, etc.) didn’t meet either our criteria or our budget.
I accidently found an ad for Maskee on the Yachtworld website. She was exactly what we were looking for except that she was 74 years old. But the price was right and we could use the proceeds from our other boat to give her some much-needed upgrades. But, the previous owner warned us, “I hope you don’t might getting a lot of attention with people asking about your boat.” He was right. She is a special boat.
What’s the history of your boat?
The boat was designed by John G. Alden (note that Alden’s draftsman was the then 30-year-old Carl Alberg) and built at Todd Dry Docks (surreptitiously) for the president of the company, C. W. Wiley, in 1933. Three sets of plans for design #494 were sold, but only two boats were actually built. A sister ship, the Mary III, was built in 1931 for Chandler Bowditch by George L. Chaisson of Swampscott, Mass. Chaisson was also a longtime builder of the famous Swampscott dories.
Originally designed as a sloop with a small cabin and open cockpit, with an engine box and tiller steering, she is carvel-planked cedar on steam-bent oak frames. After Wiley’s somewhat controversial death in 1935, she fell off the radar screen for 25 years. Having never been registered or documented, she has no records about her whereabouts that we can find until David Dirksmeyer bought her at Marina Mart in 1960. Dirksmeyer was a Boeing machinist and spent several years designing the pilothouse, converting the tiller steering to dual-station wheel steering and lengthening the mast and standing rigging so the boom could swing clear of the house. She was now a true motorsailer.
The teak and mahogany house was built at Tripple & Everett Shipyard in Seattle. He commissioned a new suit of sails from Franz Schattauer, who had opened his sail loft just a few years earlier. Those beautifully crafted sails are still serviceable today.
What do you like best about your boat?
We love the fact that she is one of a kind. The trademark John Alden shearline and well-proportioned pilothouse addition give her a profile that sets her apart from other boats in the Northwest. Her simple and cozy layout is perfect for the two of us.
What do you know now about your boat that you wish you’d known when you bought it? Would that have changed your mind?
We just this past two months replaced the tired old Perkins 4-107 with a new Yanmar 3YM30. If we had known that the Perkins only had a few short years left in her, we may have had second thoughts.
How does your significant other feel about the boat (be honest)?
“Coolest boat we’ve ever had.” — Merridy
What’s your favorite story involving your boat?
Shortly after joining the Classic Yacht Association, we cruised to Longbranch on Filucy Bay in South Puget Sound for a rendezvous. It was a July weekend and we fully expected to see at least a half-dozen or so other vintage yachts there. But, as it turned out, it was just the Lake Union Dreamboat Winifred, our boat, Wander, and the 97’ classic motor yacht Olympus. The normal CYA potluck on the dock quickly turned into cocktails and dinner on the fantail of Olympus as the setting sun pink-washed Mt. Rainier in the background. The evening was capped with the reading of old Olympus log book entries from the 1940s. A five-star day for sure.
Describe the most challenging situation you’ve experienced on your boat and how it performed.
On Labor Day 2009 we motored out of the Everett marina in the morning in the rain, bound for La Conner. There were small craft warnings for Puget Sound and Hood Canal, with a range of 10 to 25 knots, but I thought if the wind didn’t hit the upper end of the range we would be okay. It was dark and ugly and wet, but we were doing fine until we got to the upper end of Saratoga Passage and made the turn around the north end of Camano Island.
The wind increased and the waves on our stern got bigger and closer together. I had thought earlier about putting up the jib but now was glad I didn’t. I couldn’t take my hands off the wheel or my eyes off the next wave for fear of broaching. I couldn’t leave the helm for a second. At one point I was experiencing something strange with the steering and was worried I might lose the rudder. Later we figured out it was one of the small ice chests I had stupidly left in the wet cockpit that morning that kept sliding back and forth and kept getting caught in the wheel.
We surfed white-knuckled for about two and a half hours until we finally got around Strawberry Point and into the entrance to the La Conner channel. I’m sure the wind was closer to 35 knots than 25. Just 20 miles to the north, they cancelled the PITCH Regatta for the first time in history with sustained 40+ knot winds and 50+ gusts. But I found out what a seaworthy little boat she is. Thank you, John Alden.
Where do you plan to take your boat? Do you have a dream destination?
We’re hoping to finally make it to Canada next summer.
If someone gave you $10,000 that you could only spend on your boat, what would you do with it and why?
Easy. Have her stripped down, refastened and recaulked.
How long do you plan to own the boat? What would it take to get you to part with it? And what advice would you give to the next owner?
Hopefully we’ll have her until we can pass her down in the family. Advice? Learn how to enjoy and appreciate varnish.
If you could have any other boat, what would it be and why?
Like I said with our last boat, “This is our last boat.”
What didn’t we ask you about your boat that you wish we had?
What we’re doing now. Answer: We just recently made the decision to continue Wander’s evolution by removing the mast and moving her into covered moorage. The main intent is to help preserve her for many more years than would be possible with her living outdoors in the weather. Even with a full boat canvas for winter, the sun and the rain in the summer take their toll and it’s hard to keep up. We also are resigned to the fact that we’ll probably never sail her again, so the plan is to cut down the mast, leaving enough for a small steadying sail and hinging it so we can keep it under cover.
That’s my story. Thanks for asking.
We’re always looking for boats to feature – powerboats, sailboats, racing boats, wooden boats, work boats and others. If you’re like us to feature yours, drop us a line at email@example.com and tell us a little about it.