After Word: 70-plus Years on the Water?

Ed Dunn, a retired octogenarian who lives in Seattle and boats around the Pacific Northwest, has seen a whole lot of stuff in his 70-plus years on the water. Here he tells us about his favorite boat, an unlucky whale, and a very lucky guy (himself).

Ed Dunn

Power & Motoryacht: So at age 80 you still boat actively, right?
Dunn: Yeah we have a 52-foot Maritimo, from Australia. And we had that out for six weeks last summer. Went up to the Broughton Islands, about 375 miles in total, and we put 150 hours on her.

Power & Motoryacht:What motivates you to go have adventures when a lot of people your age are sitting on their porch in a rocking chair?
Dunn: Well, we’ve been on the water all our lives. We don’t know anything else. And the Maritimo is a fabulous boat. Very safe. It’s got full rails and easy access. We’re both blessed with good health and good balance, but that was probably our last long trip. We’ll probably just go around the Puget Sound from here on out.

But we can still go if we want. Four years ago we went for 7 hours at 18 knots in open ocean to the Queen Charlotte Islands. That was a pretty good cruise.

Power & Motoryacht: So you’ve been boating for over 70 years, what’s the most important piece of advice about boating you’ve ever heard?
Dunn: Life preservers! Safety of course. And then always being aware of Mother Nature. You alternate your cruising plans by the sea, you don’t try to force a schedule out. That’s probably the worst thing you can do. Sometimes you’ve got to adjust, because you don’t want to take those risks.

Power & Motoryacht:What are your best memories from a lifetime of boating?
Dunn: Hoo-wee, raising a family on the water, I’d guess. Preparing them to be adults, and working on their appreciation of Mother Nature and life on the water. It’s such a wonderful activity. So much better than golf. There’re so many benefits. And now the grandkids are coming out so there are three generations. Well, four including my father who used to take me out. 

Power & Motoryacht: How many boats have you owned over the years?
Dunn: [Laughs] Oohhh, three Tiaras, two Maritimos, hmm, boats of size, I’d say eight. I had a pretty good case of two-foot-itis for a while there.

Power & Motoryacht: And what was your favorite of the bunch?
Dunn: These past two Maritimos, two different 52s, have been tremendous. Bill Barry-Cotter does such a good job there. The construction is influenced by open-ocean racing and it’s flawless. I took a Maritimo from Newport Beach [California] to Seattle seven years ago. Believe me if you can do that in a boat, it’s a real boat, you know?

Power & Motoryacht:What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen out at sea?
Dunn: One of the worst things that happened, the captain and I were coming up the West Coast, there was no sign of marine life, or birds or anything, and we were out at sea about 120 miles offshore and all of a sudden we saw this fluke and BANGO we hit this whale. It was probably a small humpback. And then all of a sudden we noticed a pack of killer whales, which must have been chasing him, and that’s why he panicked and we ended up hitting him. It was just one of those things. No sign of anything and then … well that’s the way it goes sometimes.

But hey, we’ve never had an insurance claim all these years. We’ve been blessed there. We’ve been lucky. We’ve had a few people fall overboard but we always got them back!

Power & Motoryacht: Sounds like you were luckier than that whale I’d say.
Dunn: Yeah, I bet you’re right! Hey right now I’m looking out my window at the very lake that I rowed on as a six-year-old kid. I’ve been very fortunate.

This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.