Fond recollections of the 1st Christmas Ship

By Joanne Peterson | Dec 18, 2013

My father loved salt water. He loved boating, fishing, cruising in the San Juans with my mother and with Edmonds Yacht Club friends. I’ve mentioned before that he was the first person to reserve a space in the Edmonds marina when it opened. And I’ve mentioned that his last boat was the first Edmonds Christmas Ship—I don’t know how it was chosen.

For all I know, my dad and his friend Gene Weeden simply decided it was time for a new holiday tradition, draped multi-colored lights all over the boat at the beginning of the holidays, and cruised nightly up and down the Edmonds waterfront, north and south of the yacht club.

Every Christmas I display a framed color photo of my dad’s boat, the Dorothy B II. When I checked the back of the picture, in my mother’s graceful handwriting, I found the words, “Grandpa Brad’s Christmas Ship, Edmonds Yacht Club”—unfortunately, she did not include a date.

I’d guess it was the 1960s. In the photo, the boat, with its dark blue hull and white cabin, illuminated by strings of multi-colored lights against a darkening sky, floats on calm water in what probably was a visitor space.

One recent evening, driving home from a meeting, I detoured impulsively and found myself near the Edmonds Yacht Club. It was 9 p.m., 20 degrees on the waterfront. I parked near Anthony’s restaurant, where leafless trees sparkled with white lights wrapped around trunks and limbs. Upstairs, cozy diners enjoyed holiday dinners with views of the nighttime harbor.

Struck by the privilege of my quiet solitude in the still evening, I did not envy them. Approaching the railing, I saw the uncovered moorage below occupied by brightly decorated boats—much more elaborately decorated than my dad’s Christmas ship.

I spent quite a while leaning on the railing by the boardwalk, looking down at the dazzling sight.  In the dark, with quite a few of the decorated boats docked bow-in, I could not read many names, but I could read Amoretto, Vagabond, Salt Chuck and Sunshine. (And I may have seen a boat named Undecided!)

I saw several colorful sea-going Santas, including one climbing a mast. Some boats featured fully decorated Christmas trees, thick with lights, while others included illuminated penguins and snowmen. Several reindeer outlined in white lights stood on the bow of one boat, off duty until Christmas Eve, perhaps.

Hands in my fleece pockets, the chill settling into my bones, I stood thinking about my father and his boat-loving friends, about the years Edmonds mariners first worked to establish a yacht club and safe moorage for their boats, making the Edmonds waterfront into a recreational focal point of the community.

I suddenly wanted to have my father standing next to me, sharing this remarkable display of brightly decorated Edmonds boats. And I wanted to see the Dorothy B II moored alongside them, glittering with her simple strings of multi-colored lights, reflecting the brightness of the holidays.

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