Out & About


 This is great letter and photos about splashing Paul's new 26' Pilothouse up in Brown's Bay Resort in BC.   


"You have to be tough to live in East Glacier, Montana. Heavy snows and wind lurk in this part of the country. It has been joked many times - 9 months of winter and 3 months of bad sledding!! Probably fits here more than any other locale. East Glacier is not for the faint hearted!! But Paul and Jane Holland are passionate back country skiers, hikers and kayakers, and this is prime real estate for that.

But Paul had a dream about designing “that boat” for somewhere on the west coast. After he and his wife did a tour of Vancouver Island they found the beautiful Brown’s Bay Resort (just north of Campbell River) which appeared to be a good fit. Paul and Jane have only experienced kayaks and they wanted a boat that would be capable of not only carrying kayaks, but also be an R.V. away from home. Paul did his homework and found Wooldridge Boats in Seattle. A conversation with Grant Wooldridge convinced Paul that he was more than willing to customize to Paul’s specs. And so after many emails, phone calls, discussions, and Paul’s visit to the factory, Billy Ruff’n was born – a 26 ft Pilothouse by Wooldridge.



Where do I fit into this story? Since I have a boat at a marina on Lk Washington, Grant called and wanted to know if there were temporary slips or parking at the marina. Paul needed to outfit his boat and get some experience behind the wheel before heading north. Remember, this is a 26 footer and Paul is a kayaker who has never even trailered a boat. Paul called and after some discussion he asked if I would spend a week offering my assistance. And that would include trailering the boat to Brown’s Bay Marina on Vancouver Island. Hard to resist since Paul even offered to honor my bar expenses!!

I met Paul when Grant and he drove to the boat launch next to our condo for a photo shoot of the key exchange and water trials.



Jim and Paul at boat launching



Wooldridge just doesn’t hand you the keys and push you down the street. Customer service is a top priority. Paul and I were Grant’s students for the next 3 hrs as he showed us the different systems. Each boat is unique and this was no different. Twin 150hp Evinrude e-tecs, 8000 series Garmin Chart Plotter, windlass, vhf radio, radar, stove, diesel heater, refer, battery system (deep cycle and starting), etc. And then we gave it a run and even though I have driven a lot of these types of boats I was amazed at the handling, especially when making those higher speed turns. Very little side slippage and no cavitation. Paul, the kayak guy, has to absorb as much as possible and even learn how to put Billy Ruff’n on his trailer. For the next 2 days Paul and his friend, Bill, tested the boat on Lk Washington. Bill is with US Sail and Power Squadron as an educational officer and happened to be in Seattle. When they were done it was trailered to the marina and outfitted.

Grant, Paul, Bill in parking lot



Outfitting boat.



And then Paul and I were off to Canada getting an early morning start to avoid Seattle rush hour traffic. We drove to TSAWWASSEN (yes, that is the correct spelling) which is just north of the U.S. / Canadian border for the 2 hour ferry to Vancouver Island. This is a beautiful trip to the Island albeit expensive. How about $310 for the boat and 2 of us – one way! 

TSAWWASSEN Ferry harbor



We landed at Nanaimo and after a 3+ hour drive pulled into the Brown’s Bay Resort. Too late to launch and be assigned a slip so we were allowed to stay in the R.V. park. Hey, the boat is a floating R.V. so no problem. And look at our view! 



-View from R.V. spot 



Next morning launched the boat and here is the proud owner at his slip.



Yep, we have a new owner but one who is overwhelmed as we have now entered the salt world. Here the waters go “up and down”, and currents constantly shift and move at speeds not seen in any lake. And, and, and……. Look at the size of those ships floating the channel. We are in the main channel and every imaginable boat travels these lanes to go north and south including the cruise lines. Below is just a sample - a tug pulling a load of containers stacked 7 high. 







We have 5 short days to get a feel for the boat, learn the area, read tide and current charts, and fish. And of course there is the Garmin chart plotter which is also a learning curve. I had set Paul up with some poles for bottom fish before we left and with the help of the resort staff got an idea where to jig. However, our first concern was to teach Paul how to bring the boat into a dock (without destroying his boat or the boat next to him). We did this over the next 5 days and every day Paul got more confident. Practice and just "doing it" will relieve a lot of fears and stress especially when there is wind and current shoving you where you do not want to go!
For a break we hit some of the areas for fish. Even though we had to release all ling cod (season opens May 1) we still had a great fish fry with other bottom fish including the biggest yellow eye I have personally seen. I have some great fish recipes so gladly cooked a batch at the resort’s club house.










As usual the bald eagles were plentiful and put on a fishing clinic. If you released a fish and it did not disappear right away you can see what happens from the shots I got below. Airborne!



I have to put in a few words here about Brown’s Bay Resort ( http://www.brownsbayresort.com ). It is an excellent resort for boaters or R.V’s. There is a 2 tier R.V. park right on the water and first class with many amenities (hot tub, club house for cooking or gatherings, gas barbecue, showers, etc). As we all know the resort is only as good as the staff and I want to state that the personnel here are first rate. They went out of their way to be sure our stay was without any self inflicted wounds!! There is also a restaurant at the docks which we heard is excellent even though it was closed. Opens May 1? Also, if you
are in the area Aug 2nd and 3rd there is a pig feed and carving contest which has been happening for several years. Some of the carvings remain on site and were on display. You can see these below and they are by top artists. It is well attended so if you have any intentions to attend call (250 286-3135) for reservations.

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Wooldridge Boats.

I have known the owners of Wooldridge boats for 2 years and have toured their factory several times when I was in the process of designing another fishing boat. I have the greatest respect for their product and after the contacts with Grant and his dad, Glen, found them to be straight shooters with boats that are the highest quality. I would definitely put them on my list if I were getting a boat either off the shelf or customizing to specs. http://www.wooldridgeboats.com 

Paul will not disagree.


Thanks for checking out this week's Out & About.

--Wooldridge Boats--

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