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The Evolution of 4Creature Comforts... Chapter 8

In the last blog, I mentioned that we went to Phuket before we packed our containers. Something dramatic happened there. Geddy ran into an old friend who knew him when he lived in Sint Maarten. He mentioned that Vagabond John was living in Phuket. Geddy had owned land on a mountainside in Sint Maarten with John. John sold this property

without Geddy’s knowledge or signature and disappeared a few years back. Geddy had been looking for John ever since. We went to John’s house. When he answered the door, he said, "Geddy, I owe you some money!”. John had opened a restaurant, Baan Rim Pa, which translates to On the Rocks. This restaurant was indeed on a bluff overlooking the beach...a breathtaking spot with five-star food. John had no cash, but he had the yacht Vagabond on the Island of Antigua. He had sold it but still had the bearer bonds of ownership. Since the buyer had stopped making payments, he gave us these documents making us the new owners....if we could find the yacht! We flew to Antigua after our return from Thailand, rented a jeep, and started to look for this sailboat. We were up on a cliff looking down at a hurricane

hole & there she was moored in the middle of this protected bay without her mast. The plan was to sell her to a guy named Sludge who had a boatyard in Sint Maarten. He was all prepared to sail her back to Sint Maarten for a re-fit.

That moment when Geddy saw Vagabond & said simply, “ My yacht”, I knew she was not going to be sold! When we got to the shore, we met the goose who had taken it on to protect both the dingy & Vagabond. She was vicious. Asking around, we found the local man, Sexton, who was taking care of her. The man who stopped making payments had gone to South America a while back and never returned. He had the mast removed to re-step it. We were able to pay off those bills to retrieve it. We hired old friends of Geddy’s, Craig & Alana to be the shipwrights as they lived on the island. Vagabond needed a lot of work since she had been neglected. She was a 55’ steel sloop built in Rotterdam, Holland with a pilot house. She had been a catch but was slooped to change her silhouette. We set a budget, which

turned out to be a joke as expected.

Back to our life on Bainbridge Island, we continued a busy year with a huge summer party, traveled to Vancouver Island & Salt Spring Island, B.C., with my Mom & Dad, hosted a reunion of Geddy’s family and went on a two-week sailing trip on The Pearl, our friend Graham’s yacht. We started in Portland, ME with stops in Monhegan Island, Admiral Perry’s Island, Camden, Booth Bay Harbor, and Isleford Island in Bar Harbor. At each port, we were entertained by friends hosting big parties for us. An epic journey.

We returned to Thailand at the end of December with a stop in Kauai to visit friends, bringing in the new year, 1991, there. We stayed in Thailand until mid-April. Another container was filled with great finds. We journeyed to Chaing Rai & the Golden Triangle in the North finding cool stuff. We continued our pattern of going off for adventure travel while orders were being filled and new goods crafted.

I introduced you to Naiyanee, the weaver of lush thick silk throws from Bangkok. We decided to join her & her husband, Pete, for an overland journey in their jeep through the Surin province ending up in Laos. Here we are at the border crossing into Laos. The roads were not the best! But it was worth it. We found silk worms and primitive housing, we panned for gold, played in the Me-kong River, & got directions from locals.

Naiyanee & Pete enjoined seeking antique silver pieces. Every time we entered a village, they would chime in with ”Ching, ching” to initiate the search.

We continued to Phuket & then to Ko Samui. Leaving Thailand, we stopped in Hong Kong for a few days. We made another stop in Kauai as well on the way back.

I had developed a wholesale circuit: Seattle, Whidbey Island, Bellingham, La Conner, Port Townsend, and on Bainbridge Island, Bainbridge Gardens. This photo shows a hand-carved stone Buddha from the ancient city of Ayutthaya, an exquisite teak tree carving, and one of the fish I designed, this one a salmon. We worked closely with Bainbridge Gardens for years.

I haven’t mentioned the developments on the 40-acre parcel we bought in Hansville. We started with some clearing. We surveyed the property many times creating a large lot sub-division while trying to save old-growth trees. We put in a road, and access for utilities at each 5-acre lot and we started to build our now famous fence line of posts we had carved in Thailand with owls, cats, & eagles on the tops.

We had over 100 posts carved, kept about 35, and sold the rest. I had been wholesaling to the Woodland Park Zoo when they saw the posts. They bought about ten and used them for signposts pointing to different exhibits.

We saw so many bears eating berries on the property while we were shaping the project, that my Mom & I came up with the name, Bear Berry Place for the street name. I named the project Owl’s Peak due to a great horned owl I would see at night hunting for food in the fields. His flight would turn on a motion light alerting me to his presence. Plus, we are at the peak of Twin Spits Road, hence Owl’s Peak. Here the sign is mounted on the side of an ox cart from Thailand.

In September, Geddy’s cousin from Booth Bay Harbor flew out to frame up the garage that we later affectionately call “ the Barn at Owl’s Peak”.

Fast forward, to a finished garage decorated with oxcart panels. Years later, I removed the garage doors, added eight-foot glass doors, carpeted the inside & finished the interior walls, making it perfect for our off-the-track retail outlet in Hansville. If you aren’t familiar with our area, Hansville is a sleepy beach town on a peninsula often considered “out there”. With a population of 3000. They still know everyone’s name at the post office.

We sailed Vagabond from Antigua to Sint. Maarten in order to do the re-fit at Geddy’s friend’s boat yard. Island Water World, in the Spring of 1991. We travel to Sint. Maarten mid-October to check on the progress of Vagabond. I left Geddy there in November to come home to work on wholesale sales. By the end of November, Geddy sailed Vagabond to Tortola without decks! People still talk about the crazy guy who sailed into Soper’s Hole that way. He felt that Sludge was working him over on the finances thinking that he had Geddy over a barrel with the decks off. What could he do? Well, he did the unthinkable, solo! It’s considered bad luck to change the name of a yacht. However, in the end, we had redone the entire boat: wiring, decking, sails, rigging. We didn’t like living with the negative residue of the name Vagabond. She was like a new boat with a very different future ahead of her. We named her Opportunity. And she remained registered in Sint Maarten’s French side.

With the barn built, we moved all the inventory into the barn in Hansville and closed the Bainbridge Island warehouse. This was a brilliant move and as you will see in the next blog, it was heaven-sent.


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