Saturday, June 7, 2014

Cle Illahee -- 6/5/2014

Early this morning we greet a new neighbor across the dock.  Dorin Robinson is the Skipper of Cle Illahee, a most beautiful classic yacht.  44 ft in length, she was designed by Carl Nordstrom and built in 1929 by Vic Franck Boat Company of Seattle, which is still in business.

Dorin invites me to take a look and I get a grand tour.  As soon as I step aboard he points upward to the ceiling and says this boat has all the bells and whistles -- the round bell on the right is a boxing game bell and on the left is a streetcar bell.  I giggle with delight at the tones.

He takes the hose which came from the exhaust of a Model T Ford, and blows it for me to hear the sound.  

A panel to the lower left shows many knobs.  He pulls only one -- a siren, which he uses when a vessel comes up behind him too fast.  They back off quickly. With tongue in cheek he says any boat that doesn't look similar to his is just a Nike tennis shoe with a motor.

Dorin purchased Cle illahee in 1974 and is the eighth owner.  She was originally built and customized for Judge Frost of Goldbar WA, who was 6 ft. 3 in. tall.  He was reported to be a famous renegade.

Digressing, Dorin says he received a phone call one day at a classic boat show from a man who says he is the grandson of Judge Frost, and would like to visit the boat. The man who is now in his 80's sat on the bench in the wheelhouse and cried -- overcome with emotion and memories of his many trips with the old man.   He shared a story about the Judge:  said he was not a very nice man.  He would tell his wife he was going fishing, then pick up two ladies of the night at a pre-arranged meeting, purchase a case of whiskey, and cruise to Penn Cove on Whidbey Island in the San Juans for the weekend.

Upon returning to Seattle, he dropped off the ladies, bought the biggest salmon he could find off the seafood sales dock and took it to show his wife what he caught.  

However, she finally caught on, and divorced him!

Having a great sense of humor, Dorin displays the following sign of 'instructions' in a window.

He also has a sign that reads, "Need gas money to get home."  Once at a boat show in Canada, he left for a stroll and when he returned he found $47 of loonies and toonies that had been tossed onto the floor.  He donated them to the food bank.

He has a diesel stove that will run 24 hours a day and heat the whole cabin in winter.  

The sofa converts to a single bed for a guest.  He will pick up a friend from Thailand on Monday and cruise the San Juans.

The tour continues - 


Missing is the photo of the manual windshield wiper on the center window.  It has a short lever for turning back and forth.  Dorin's son, who is now 40 year old, would ask on every trip, "Dad, will it rain today?"  His job was to sit on the dashboard and turn the lever until he fell fast asleep.

Dorin uses charts, not Garmin.

The Library

Very Long Drawer

The ice box becomes a pantry, rather than housing blocks of ice to cool the food.

The refrigerator is too large to bring in through the door, and not wanting to destroy the original construction of the hull, he opts for a skylight to lower it in.


There is no shower, but he has ten sun showers for anchoring out, (and marinas have coin-op showers.)

Small Closet

A pair of vases came from an old car.

It was some time before Dorin learned about the name of his boat.  He went to a remote area and tied up to the dock late in the evening.  A native American who had had too much fire water staggered over to him and said.  Cle Illahee!  Home on the Water!!!  Dorin asked how he knew what it meant, and the reply was, "Because I am a #@&$% Indian!"

The time comes to say "Goodbye" when Dorin cruises back to his slip on "E" Dock.  Herb assists with the lines, but Skipper is in no hurry, likes to single hand, and simply let the wind push him away from the dock.

It has been a pleasure....

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake,
   Thursday, June 5, 2014

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