Respite At 60

By William Kleiser
Published: February/March 2013

Respite: 1) A period of rest and recuperation, an interlude. 2) The name of our family boat for the past 60 years.

Photo of James and Grace Kleiser aboard Respite
James and Grace Kleiser aboard Respite.

Construction started in 1950 at the Albert Jensen & Sons Boatyard in Friday Harbor, Washington. It was supposed to be completed the following spring, but that was not to be. Delivery was taken at the end of the summer of 1951, just in time to run her to Seattle for winter storage. The first cruise would have to wait until 1952.

Photo of the Respite gallery as it looks today
The galley as it looks today.

Most of the interior finish work was done over the years following. Its form and function have been focused on keeping it simple and low maintenance (at least as much as possible for a wooden boat). My father's philosophy was that the more complex the systems, the more likely they'd fail. In many respects, Respite was a 1920s-era boat, launched at the dawn of the modern age. She was outfitted with manual heads, a hand-pump water system, and a Washington Stove Works Neptune woodstove that provided cooking and heat. On long summer cruises, water was the most difficult commodity to find, so Respite was launched with more than 250 gallons of water capacity, equal to its fuel capacity. Power was equally straightforward, originally a Ford flathead V8, due to low cost, easy parts availability, and compact size. The 90-hp engine would drive Respite at a comfortable seven knots.

Photo of the Respite aft cabin
The aft cabin.

Some things have changed over the years, but to this day she remains a relatively simple vessel with straightforward systems. The woodstove remains, though not the original. It's the heart of the boat, keeping us warm on cold days, producing countless meals, gallons of blackberry jam, scores of biscuits, and dozens of berry cobblers.

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