Whether it’s sailing the high lakes of Oregon or cruising South Puget Sound, Rob Morton’s 1992 West Wight Potter 19 Minikin is right at home. After owning many boats, Minikin is his perfect little ship; a combination of comfort and sea-kindliness. The Morton’s hail from Jefferson, Oregon and keep Minikin in Olympia for half the season and Fern Ridge Reservoir for the other half.
Tell us about your boat’s name.
When we purchased her she was named Spiffy. While that name was no doubt loved by someone, we wanted her to have a name that we had picked and embodied what the boat meant to us. Sounds simple enough, but picking a new name became a two-year project. We spent time looking over boat names, baby names, animal names and any other names. Nothing struck us, then I was looking up a word in the dictionary, I don’t even remember what word it was now, but I was looking nearby and came across the name Minikin. It fit her perfectly. It comes from old English and Dutch and means dainty or beloved. It also had the meaning in English of “a slip of a girl.” We had downsized from a much larger boat and this is what she was to us, a slip of a girl as well as dainty and beloved. As soon as I read the name to my wife, we both knew that was the name. Then came picking the font, but that’s a whole other story.
Have you owned other boats before this one? If so, what kinds?
Yes, both power and sail. It started with the usual log rafts that kids build when you live on a creek. It then moved to a 1960s Bell Boy with a cuddy cabin, this was sold to buy a washer and dryer after getting married. Fifteen years or so later, my lovely wife said I needed a hobby, I had always wanted to learn to sail and she bought me a 14-foot Catalina sailboat. That lasted a few months then it was on to a Catalina 22 then a 25 then a Hunter 23, then a few years of chartering, then a 28-foot Power cruiser, and now Minikin.
Tell us a little about your boating background.
I grew up around the water and did the usual fishing, crabbing and water skiing. Later we worked on our navigation and other skills to be able to do more.
What’s the history of your boat?
From the history we know she was purchased and sailed on San Francisco Bay. At one point she went back to the factory for some upgrades and everything was upsized and the hull was reinforced in some areas. Her owner eventually moved to Lopez Island and brought Spiffy with them. They then purchased a larger boat. We had tried to purchase her at that time but an island resident purchased her. Later he put her up for sale and after a couple of phone calls we had purchased the boat. We sent up a check to hold her until we could get scheduled to make the trip up. We were glad to bring her home. Since then we have made many upgrades to make her more comfortable to sail and to stay aboard.
What do you like best about your boat?
It’s hard to keep it to just one or two things. There are the physical things and sailing characteristics. My wife likes how it’s stable and doesn’t have a lot of heel when underway. It is easy for us to handle. We can store it in our shop for the winter. She is small enough and I can do all kinds of upgrades and keep her in good shape. She is simple and easy to maintain.
In contrast to the physical things, one thing I like best is that she can take us places to get away from it all. She has what we need to relax and even spend a night or two away. We can find quiet places to hang out even if it’s just for an evening sail and sundowners.
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 had done a lot of research on what our next boat would be, so there wasn’t really anything that would have made us change our mind. She has been well kept and we really like her. If anything, had we known how well she was going to work out for us, we would have done it sooner.
What’s your favorite story involving your boat?
This question took some thinking. We have many memories of relaxing times on her. Probably the best one for us didn’t involve a quite anchorage or out of the way bay. We have moored Minikin at Swantown marina in Olympia for the past three years and last year during the eclipse we were up on the boat docked at our slip. We had been joking that we had our own private marina as we saw only two other people on the docks during our stay. We sat on the boat with a nice cocktail and were able to watch the entire eclipse of the moon. It was so beautiful seeing it take place and seeing the reflection disappear on the water then began to reappear. We could have experienced the eclipse in other places, but there on the boat, with the reflection on the water is one of our favorite stories.
Describe the most challenging situation you’ve experienced on your boat and how it performed.
We purchased her with the idea of being able to sail in many different areas, one of those being the high lakes in Oregon. Our first year we had her, we were sailing on Odell Lake in the Cascades and the typical weather pattern is for calm mornings with the wind building in the afternoon and then dying off in the evening. The three days we were there it blew at a steady 28 to 34 knots almost the entire time. We put a storm jib up and sailed to windward and the boat handled things great. At one point the shackle at the clew of the jib came off, I should have checked things better that were already on the boat. I crawled forward and took the shackle out and tied a bowline, all the while hanging on with one hand for me and one hand tying the knot, and at the same time assuring the admiral I was not going to fall overboard. We sailed to a protected cove, anchored and had some lunch, did some reading and hanging out then headed back to the marina. The downwind run was a thrilling ride, surfing and seeing the GPS hitting 8.5 knots was a blast. The narrow opening into the marina at the east end of the lake, (the wind was from the west so there was quite a fetch) felt like crossing a bar. We dropped the sails, scooted in and made an immediate turn hard to starboard into our slip. It was a great sail and we were very comfortable with the boat and this really increased our confidence in her.
Where do you plan to take your boat? Do you have a dream destination?
Part of the dream destination is to get onto the boat more often. We have spent some time in South Puget Sound and on lakes in Oregon. We haven’t had Minikin to the San Juan’s yet and it has been three years since we have headed up, so we have a week planned this July. Minikin will no doubt be happy returning to familiar waters. We hope to explore more lakes and reservoirs in Oregon. There are so many to choose from. Most are close by and can be explored in a day or two. For a true dream destination we would like to go to Princess Louisa. We have the charts and guides for that area and I’m in the planning stage. We have looked into trailering to Egmont and launching from there.
If someone gave you $10,000 that you could only spend on your boat, what would you do with it and why?
I have drawn up some plans about enlarging the cabin to gain some standing head room. I’d look at doing that and adding camper canvas. That may not do the whole 10K, but I’m sure I could find a few more projects to make up the difference.
If you could have any other boat, what would it be and why?
This is a hard question, since I like boats in general and what I would like can change depending on what I think I would like to do at that moment. As we get a little older we would probably get a powerboat. If money was no object I’d probably go for a Ranger Tug 25. I’ve seen some sailboats our size converted to a small trawler, I’d consider that too.
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