|Ernest K. and Dodie Gann|
at home on San Juan Island
Archives of the S.P.H.S.
Although his flying life led him to call a variety of places home, he settled on San Juan Island off the Washington coast. It was there that this encounter took place, on a bright blue afternoon aboard his boat. Gann carefully scheduled every morning for writing, so the only time available was during a brief session of slapping varnish on the stained brightwork of his cruiser, punctuated by shouts of greeting to friends.
Gann's boat at the time, the STRUMPET, a traditional 35-ft cruiser designed by Jay Benford of Seattle. "I saw some of Jay's designs and liked his attitude." Benford has been called a romantic because of the tradition of his designs, but he combined this with a practicality about boats and life.
STRUMPET was designed specifically for Gann and his wife Dodie, a former Olympic skier and once Gann's secretary. "Yeah, the boat was very specially designed. After having some really big boats, STRUMPET was laid out to drink six, eat four, and sleep two. And no more. We got tired of running a guest ranch for people. On long voyages, when you're paying the bill, it's really something else. Most people who can afford to go and help out, can't get away. Those who can get away can't afford it. So STRUMPET was for two.
Photo courtesy of Jan and Dave
STRUMPET was built in the Jensen Shipyard in Friday Harbor, a one-man operation with a handful of employees. "This boat is one of the last survivors of some pride ––not too much––but some pride of workmanship. It's an almost forgotten emotion, apparently."
His passing reference to bigger boats and floating guest ranches is a mild understatement when some of his previous boats are listed. Read more below .....