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We Have The (S/V) Solution

Updated: Mar 6

It was a typical cold and rainy January night in the Pacific Northwest. More specifically, on the southernmost island in the Salish Sea,... Anderson Island, WA. Home to a skosh more than a thousand folk, this little piece of paradise is a time capsule of sorts. Life moves a little slower, and there is a sense of community that you just won't find in many places in todays "disconnected" societies.

Part of what helps maintain that "slow(er)" way of living is the fact that Anderson Island is water craft accessible only. No bridge and no airstrip means you either ride the ferry or your own personal boat. With a majority of the island's population being without a personal watercraft, the ferry really is the lifeline to what I like to call, "America". That chunk of land across the moat from our paradise,... "America"! There are many reasons to go to "America". Many folks go to "America" for work, some to shop for essentials, while others just go to party and cut loose. No matter their reasons for going to "America", the common reality is that all of these people need to get back to the rock at some point.

The title of this post is "We Have The (S/V) Solution". With every solution, comes a problem. Am I right?! Well, here's the problem to our (S/V) Solution. Unreliable ferry service. Either due to over-use, improper maintenance, understaffing, unforeseen break downs(refer to improper maintenance), or natural disaster,... the ferry will be unavailable to us at times. Inevitable it is that folks are going to end up stranded either on the island needing to get off, or off island needing to get home. Or, maybe those partyers just partied a little longer than planned and missed that last boat. Been there myself. No shame. However, that is precisely where our (S/V) Solution comes into play.

S/V Solution pulling into the Steilacoom Public Dock
Photo by Amy Ostergaard-Prisco (Islander)

You see, the name of our sailing vessel (S/V) is Solution. She's a classic 1979 sloop rigged Newport 30 MkII. When not under sail, She is pushed by a (1995) 3 cylinder Kubota D850 tractor engine (18hp). Solution is extremely comfortable under way, above and below deck.

S/V Solution's main mission over the past 3 years has been dutifully sharing the beauties of South Puget Sound with her passengers for South Sound Sailing Tours.

On the evening of January 17th, 2023 her mission would expand. The ferry that services Anderson Island had broken down and left many Islanders stranded on the island and in America, with no backup plan. S/V Solution became that backup plan.

With my wife & teenage daughter stuck in "America" also, I was well aware of the ferry "issue", and continued to monitor the (lack of) progress throughout the evening of the 17th, and into the early morning hours of January 18th. I could sense a growing frustration with the situation, as well as the ever-growing number of folks that NEEDED to get off the island in the morning, for whatever reasons. I'm always looking for a reason to get out on the water, so my trusted First Mate John "The Secret Weapon" Bezusko and I went down to Oro Bay Marina that night and prepared Solution for her rescue mission(s) the next day. First call for a ride actually came on the evening of the 17th. Our good friend Garrett "BMB" Reinagel had an urgent appointment with one of his patients. I let BMB know to meet me at Oro Bay by 0745 for a 0800 departure. Once I posted on my personal Facebook page, and then the "Meanwhile, on Anderson Island" Facebook group, and gave folks some hope of reaching "America" in the morning, my phone didn't stop ringing. I finally fell asleep around 0300.

The next day, I caringly delivered 17 grateful Islanders one way or the other across Nisqually Reach so that they could go about their lives without a hitch. Here are a couple of pictures shared by just a few of the wonderful folks I had the pleasure of spending the day with...

And,... out of all of this was born...

This is where you might expect the story to end, and for a couple of weeks, the ferry service worked well. Then came the afternoon of February 24th. As I was up near Brown's Point, in Tacoma, dropping our daughter Zana off at her friends house for the evening, she says to me, as she exits the car, "Looks like the ferry is broke." This is at approximately 1600. My first thoughts were, "How am I going to help anyone if I'm over here?!" and "Who do I know with a boat at the ready to get me and deliver me to Solution?" I called The Secret Weapon, and wouldn't you know it, he's on the mainland too. Next, I call 'Able Body' Jacob Anderson and ask him if he has a boat that he could get me in. He tells me that he does not. Then, he offers up a suggestion that would end up being the catalyst for an adventure like none I have ever been a part of. Jacob says, "Do you think if I go down to the boat, that you could talk me through what to do to get her started, underway, and to you?"

Yeah, this OCD, Do Everything Myself Captain is probably not going to jump on that train immediately. Let's see what else we can come up with. Turns out that we couldn't come up with anything else, and before I could even say let's do it, AB Anderson and his amazing partner Dana were out the door and at the dock awaiting instruction. Without re-enacting every detail of the scene, I am going to let you know that they remarkably accomplished all pre-departure tasks and successfully had Solution underway.