Catching up with sailors John and Ann Bailey | Along the Waterfront

Last week, wife Peg and I were pleased to have Ann and John Bailey visiting with us.

Last week, wife Peg and I were pleased to have Ann and John Bailey visiting with us.

Bailey? Yes, son of noted Northwest boating writer Jo Bailey — “Gunkholing,” “48o North” and, some years back, a columnist for The Journal.

Jo and her husband cruised all of greater Puget Sound out of Olympia with their four children in their 29-foot sloop “Sea Witch” for many years. Jo had arranged to haul “Sea Witch” at my place and, mother-like, enlisted John to do the bottom.

John — now a graduate of the Kings Point Maritime Academy and a licensed unlimited chief engineer and ensign, USNR — and I became fast friends.

After sailing a number of years offshore in all types of vessels, John sort of swallowed the anchor and sailed as a chief engineer with the Washington state ferry system. John and Ann bought an old leaky 40-foot yawl, named her “Iris” and. after making her seaworthy, set sail for the South Pacific on a five-year cruise.

Ann left John and “Iris” in Honolulu to take a new job as an RN in Port Townsend while John singlehanded the passage home. With his landfall at Cape Flattery in sight, John radioed us to set up a rendezvous off Port Angeles so that Ann could meet him and continue on to P.T.

After sighting “Iris,” I closed her in “Mariana” to put Ann aboard. I cautioned her to not jump aboard until I commanded, but being female and totally excited about seeing John, she leaped about three feet to the deck of “Iris.”

Well, Ann is about 5 feet 5 inches with legs to match, with the result that only one leg caught the deck. But, John at 6 feet 2 inches and arms to match, grabbed his mate and swung her aboard. They remained embraced, scarcely noticing “Mariana” clearing for Mitchell Bay.

In subsequent years, John has been of inestimable help to me in maintaining and upgrading “Mariana,” including the installation of a new Yanmar engine. John is now back with the ferry system and racing his Soling with considerable success in the Wednesday and Friday night races off P.T.

At home, he is now completely rebuilding his 49-foot ocean racing ketch “Sir Isaac.”

— Fred Hoeppner is a columnist for The Journal. Contact him at