The new year is upon us, nominations have been collected, and the Northwest Yachting council has spoken. Here are the winners of the first ever Northwest Marine Champion Awards! These 12 categories represent a broad swath of boating culture from our furry first mates to outstanding new yacht brokerages in our attempt to celebrate the work hard, play hard element of this colorful world we call home.
All too often, the good work of those who’ve devoted their lives to making boating in these parts a delight go about their days without well-earned public applause. Likewise, as with the categories of Supreme Boat Name and Beloved Chief Cook/Mixologist, being playful on the water is just as important.
These decisions were not easy as there were many fine nominations, which encourages us to keep this award series chugging into the foreseeable future. This first round was highly experimental in nature (as first rounds tend to be), and we’re eager for suggestions of additional categories to add, methodology to tweak, and more. In the meanwhile, enjoy the read and send out those appreciative vibes as you embrace our watery playground.
Excellence in Industry Education
The maritime industry is a central part of the Pacific Northwest’s identity and is made possible thanks to the unflagging work of education organizations dedicated to providing promising opportunity to our region’s youth and workforce. This award recognizes the outstanding work of an educational organization or individual who is our champion when it counts the most.
Tory Gering has emerged as a dynamic face of the Core Plus initiative to bring trade skills and career tracks back to our high schools. As the program manager of the Manufacturing Industrial Council of Seattle, she’s been tireless in her successful mission. It’s in part to her hard work that many of the children she first helped years ago have successfully navigated the program and now have great local jobs in the marine industry.
Gering is on the front lines working with kids, Olympia-based policymakers, and the public, including recently at the National Marine Trade Association Annual Meet. For all this and more, we acknowledge Tory Gering’s vital contribution to the industry and education.
Pictured: Tory Gering (right) with Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan and Core Plus grad Malcolm Dunston.
Exemplary Marina Manager
Managing a marina can be a thankless business. The best-run marina is generally something taken for granted, but it’s the result of hard behind-the-scenes work. This award recognizes a marina manager who goes above and beyond the job to facilitate the best possible boating experience for his or her tenants. We salute you!
Kathy Garcia earns this award for her management success at not one, but two separate marinas; Port Orchard and Bremerton public marinas. Her diligent dedication to the boaters, yacht clubs, liveaboards, Bremerton Port Authority, and the entire community cannot be celebrated enough. According to others, she seems to know everyone and gives a small-town welcome with a smile to all. Her nomination letter had this to say:
“Kathy accomplishes magic on a regular basis. She has accomplished more than most, from juggling multiple yacht club rendezvous at both marinas on opposite sides of the bay to ensuring that the visiting cruise ship passenger is notified of the last foot ferry between Bremerton and Port Orchard. No detail is too small for her attention, including that fresh coffee is hot every morning and keeping a stash of dog treats for the canine boaters.
“Often, the crazy day-to-day madness that encompasses a marina manager responsibility is never quite written in the job description. Kathy brings that special touch and a calm, capable approach to a difficult position. She has been a strong leader in good times and in bad.”
Honorable Mention: Brandon Baker
Brandon Baker’s excellent management of Elliott Bay Marina has earned accolades from all corners of the boating world. Additionally, the popular Leukemia Cup charity regatta and Thursday Evening Downtown Sailing Series wouldn’t be possible without his passionate and competent work at the helm. Sorry ladies, he’s recently married.
ENERGIZED Yacht Club
Des Moines Yacht Club
Some yacht clubs just never sit still. Year-round, these boat fanatics host cruising rallies, regattas, and club-based seminars, get involved with the community, and more. Regardless of membership size, these folks strive to be the best boaters they can be and are always scheming the next grand day out on the water. This club leads from the front, and we love it!
The Des Moines Yacht Club (DMYC) takes the prize for a consistently high level of activities and community involvement. While not the largest (at 325 members) or the flashiest yacht club, any club would be pressed to match their jam-packed event calendar and event attendance. DMYC started as the Vagabond Outboard Motor Boat Club in 1957 and still sits on the same property on the south end of Des Moines Marina.
From year-round cruising rallies and clubhouse events celebrating everything from Martin Luther King Jr. Day to Opening Day, legendary swap meets, involvement with the Des Moines Marina Association, participation and support for other yacht club events, graciously hosting events like a monthly Coast Guard Auxiliary meeting, and even spearheading charities like their Dollars for Scholars scholarship fundraiser for Mount Rainier High School seniors, DMYC embodies many of the best attributes of a standout yacht club. Well done!
Honorable Mention: Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle
Corinthian Yacht Club (CYC) of Seattle earns a well-deserved honorable mention this year. With their affordable entry fee, intimate clubhouse in Shilshole Bay Marina, fascinating speaker schedule, and organizing countless major regattas, CYC is a prominent member of the community that we’re all thankful for.
Pictured: Holiday and Family times at the Des Moines Yacht Club.
Terrific Boatyard Employee
Those who work in boatyards tend to get up early and come home late, covered in paint no less. These hardworking folks have devoted their lives to make what we like to do possible. It is in the spirit of gratitude that we offer this recognition for a boatyard employee who demonstrates incredible knowledge, takes deadlines seriously, and has mastery of their craft.
Nigel Barron, service manager of Seattle’s CSR Marine, is synonymous with boating knowledge and excellence in the Pacific Northwest boating community. With about 15 years under his belt at CSR, much of it as the unofficial Yard Boss, Barron is the guru those in and out of the industry turn to with their questions. It’s also in large part thanks to his hard work that CSR has continued to grow into a regional boatyard powerhouse. Throw in the decades of experience on the sailboat racing circuit, these days on the winning Reichel-Pugh 55 Crossfire, and we’ve got a nautical titan in our midst.
He also stands as the only expert drawn into a Northwest Yachting magazine Ask the Experts interview by the original expert—a surprise to our editor—and asked to chime in (November 2018 issue, Thrusters). He is the expert the experts turn to. What better endorsement is that?
Outstanding Environmental Leadership
Dr. Seuss’ Lorax speaks for the trees, and so too does the recipient of this award. Boaters in the Northwest care about the local waterways, in fact, we’re obsessed with them. That’s why we boat! This award recognizes a local champion of our waterways, and it’s thanks to their good work that our beautiful Pacific Northwest will be enjoyed for generations to come.
Aaron Barnett, the Boating Program Specialist of the Washington Sea Grant, has done an unprecedented amount of good for the waters and boaters of the state. Working with boat owners, marina operators, and port managers to keep Washington’s waters safe for people and wildlife is just part of the daily grind for this often-behind-the-scenes marine champion and former United States Coast Guardsman.
Notably, Barnett manages Pumpout Washington, a collaboration with Washington State Parks’ Clean Vessel Program to keep onboard sewage out of our waters. Since the program’s launch in 2012, Barnett and his squad of volunteers distributed over 8,000 kits to boat owners and helped usher the state’s total marine pump-out stations to over 150 locations. Literally, millions of gallons of onboard sewage have been diverted from our boats to treatment facilities on land as a result. It’s this kind of work that helps make boaters part of the solution vs. the problem when it comes to our beloved environment. Well done!
Some boaters just don’t stay at the dock. They don’t know the meaning of the word winterize and don’t let a little rain (or sleet) scare them off from their time on the water. It is for these weekend warriors that we pay tribute to with this award. Nothing motivates us to get out there than talking to a weekend warrior who is all smiles. Great work!
Kevin Klein wears many hats in our community. To many boat owners, he is the Inside Passage Yacht Sales broker who united them with their beloved Lindell or Sargo fishing machine. To others, he’s the consummate Pacific Northwest angler, a true pro who is hitting the fish of the day hard. “Getting groceries” he calls it. To readers of Northwest Yachting, he is the seasoned voice of Kevin’s Catch, our fishing column.
Klein gets our weekend warrior award because he’s never winterized his boat and is proud of it. He’s out on the water every chance he gets; always the gracious sportsman and skipper. If you’re active on the local fishing scene, the odds are you’ve at least seen Klein ply past with a friendly wave. “Go get some!” he likely yelled over the water, just the kind of catchphrase the winner of this award is supposed to have.
Outstanding New Yacht Brokerage
Port Townsend Boat Co.
This category recognizes a yacht brokerage that opened within the last two years for outstanding customer service and business practices. The “new guys” often need recognition the most, let’s give it to them.
The Port Townsend Boat Company burst onto the local brokerage scene thanks to the hard work of Captain Rob Sanderson and his wonderful family. A successful brokerage is the product of its people, and the Sandersons exemplify the lifestyle aquatic. These quotes from a nomination letter say it best:
“I’ve known Rob for the 15+ years that he’s been in Port Townsend and I know he’s a straight-shooter when it comes to people and boats. He is a boat captain himself and used to be a program director and maritime educator for the NW Maritime Center. From watching him over the years I can tell you he has an enormous passion for getting people of all ages on the water and helping them to be comfortable in that environment…
“Rob has shared stories with me from his time sailing historic tall ships, driving skiff for a commercial fishing boat, captaining whale watching boats, driving America’s Cup support boats, and cruising on his own boat, an Ingrid 38, which he and his wife sailed from PT to Mexico. When you’re looking for a boat of your own, you want a guy like Rob who is genuinely passionate about all aspects of the mariner’s life. Not only does he love to help people find their dream boat, he also enjoys connecting them with all the resources they might seek, like the local marine trades and classes and courses to feel educated and confident on the water.”
We all know that guy/gal who pulled off that epic boat trip of a lifetime. Rounding the globe or going to Alaska and back five times in one summer can be an all-too quiet victory. Well, we seek to change that with this recognition for the adventurous souls among us. We need them in our lives, if only to set the bar of what is possible with a sound boat and horizon-chasing mentality.
What defines an adventurous soul? More than one who racks up trophies or basks in the Hollywood spotlight from mountaintops, the adventurer is above all a gallant wanderer; one who inspires not necessarily by what they’ve accomplished but how. Think Don Quixote charging the windmill or a young, Dharma Bums-era Jack Kerouac striking out West. Enter Jim Edmark, known by most as “Team Dock Rat” in the Race to Alaska 2018. This team of one took on that most infamous of local races in his hyper-Pacific Northwest Haida 26 sailboat complete with towed hardbottom dinghy and no peddle drive.
His heroic charge north earned several notable firsts, including the only racer ever to show negative distance on the GPS tracker and the only racer to be disqualified by the Grim Sweeper times-up boat. Did any of this discourage Edmark? No! He made it to Shearwater, British Columbia where he left his boat to get his outboard in Ketchikan, Alaska. He missed a return ferry from Prince Rupert and simply wandered around town for the night, engine in-hand. Once reunited with his repowered boat, he set sail once again and crossed that finish line to Ketchikan where he got a line cook job at The Asylum (a bar) and then went to work at the cannery across the street after tourism season ended.
Where is he now? Why? Who knows! It is for that indominable go-where-thewinds-take-me spirit that we’re honored to present Jim Edmark with the Adventurous Soul award.
Pictured: The cavalier adventurer on the move as Team Dock Rat. (Photos: Katrina Zoe Norbom).
Captains Skip & Jan ANDERSON
Every boater starts with a mentor of some kind, whether that be our families or the old salt in the slip next to our first boat. This important award gives credit to the boater among us who has embraced the role of mentor, making the world a better place by making those around him/her better boaters.
That Captains Skip and Jan Anderson would win this award should be a surprise to no one. Director and registrar of Flagship Maritime—a Tacoma, Washington-based accredited maritime school—the Andersons have had a hand in educating just about every other recreational boater and professional mariner in the area.
A Navy veteran, Captain Skip Anderson is also commonly spotted helming their boat for his wife at the major sailboat regattas as she takes her excellent photos (many of which grace this very magazine). Quick to offer words of advice, reflective on the ways of the sea, and all-around mentors to those who know them, the Andersons are beloved teachers; it helps that their trusty accomplice, Mocha the sea dog, is darn cute. Congrats, Captains!
Beloved Chief Cook/Mixologist
What makes a day on the water great? Having someone aboard who steps up to the role of Chief Cook! This award salutes the good work of that friend aboard who dominates the galley and elevates a simple boat trip into a culinary highlight. This person knows exactly what to do with whatever comes in on the line or pot and can do wonders with a two-burner stovetop.
For many, this award was made for Bridget Charters. The head chef of the Hot Stove Society, a cooking school operated by Tom Douglas Restaurants, Charters has taken readers of magazine on countless culinary adventures with her pen. This locally grown talent doesn’t just loom large in the culinary scene, but she is an avid lifelong boater who’s both sailed and powered all over the West Coast.
She’s a regarded treasure aboard, one who effortlessly can summon appetizers, cocktails, dinner, dessert, and more out of thin air, no matter how quaint the galley. Charters knows exactly what to do with that random rockfish you pulled up and has an intuitive knowledge of the farmer’s market nearest to the port of call. She is just as comfortable at the helm or on-deck, too. Well earned!
Pictured: Bridget Charters with Tom Douglas at the Hot Stove Society.
Notable Boat Name
Have you seen a clever boat name recently? Part art, part science, a great boat name is worthy of celebration, and that’s just what this award is for.
We received countless nominations for this category this year, but the pure silliness and cute backstory of Squigglebutt, the 43-foot Bayliner owned by locals and new boat owners Serin Ngai and Richard Sloniker, took top prize. In their words:
“My husband and I are new to boating and purchased our first boat this summer. After several other name considerations, we settled on naming our 43-foot Bayliner, Squigglebutt. The name comes from a nickname we had for our old (and now deceased) dog, Jackson. Whenever he had to sit, but was excited and happy, he would wag his tail so quickly that his butt would squiggle back and forth. During our first cruise to the San Juan Islands this past August, when we had to hail marinas on our arrival and introduce our boat name as Squigglebutt, there were definitely some double-takes and chuckles.”
Honorable Mention: Flirt’n with Disaster
What’s to say? The name of this 29’ center console from Bremerton, Washington-based Inventech Marine Solutions was just too cool not to mention. Flirt’n with Disaster has a new pair of twin 350-horsepower Suzuki dual props, so if you see a blur fly past on the water, you may have just seen a bona fide marine champion.
Furry First Mate
Do you know pet who loves boating even more than his or her people? Now’s the time to give Fido the boat obsessed dog formal recognition.
Again, we had many entrants to this prestigious category, including all of our previous Pets on Boats winners. Ultimately, Rudy the shih tzu’s appearance on the fish scale at the Goose Bay Cannery site near Duncan by Land, British Columbia takes the cake.