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 .

A Tradition Endures

Photo of the author painting the cockpit of the Respite
Author painting the cockpit.

My parents enjoyed the boat from its launch until the last year of their lives, when they were in their 90s. When I was young, there was always a group of people aboard: my parents, three sons, and a parade of visitors. Eventually it became mainly the two of them cruising, with visitors coming and going. I introduced my wife-to-be to Respite in 1986. Then, as our children were born, they also became regular passengers. My father had to, with some grumbling, install baby gates around the vessel to contain the small ones. I knew he'd done it before because I could recall the gates that had contained me on the boat.

After my parents passed on, Respite did not, like so many other boats, sit unused. Of course, the amount of time she spends out of port has been reduced, as we can no longer spend the entire summer aboard. Voyages are two to three weeks now, but we pack a lot into those weeks. Two years ago we made the run to Desolation Sound. As we entered Grace Harbor in Malaspina Inlet, a wrecked pleasure boat was being removed. Someone's dream burned to the waterline while the family was ashore because a laptop computer overheated. I've found that there's always something new to be learned around boats, even after 54 years on them.

Today's Third Generation

The summer of 2012 marked Respite's 60th anniversary as our family's cruiser. She's on her third generation of the family now. My children who, as I, were babies on Respite are now adults who have also come to love the boat and our summers on it. Summers on Respite return us to a time when life moved at a slower pace, not the least because Respite moves mainly at a leisurely seven knots.

Photo of the Respite deckhouse with table set for dinner
The deckhouse with table set for dinner.

Last summer found Respite plying the waters of the San Juan and Gulf Islands once again, with our 19-year-old son acting as pilot while we filled in the role of the "old folks." We stayed "close to home" this time, focusing on old favorites in the Gulf Islands. Only three of us were aboard this year; our oldest now entering the workforce was unable to come, but requested daily updates so she could be here in spirit.

An overheard comment while walking up the dock at the Newcastle Island Provincial Park in Nanaimo, British Columbia, sums up Respite best. I heard an older man remark to his companion: "I quite like that older one." His companion replied, "Yes, it's very classic." I turned around and looked at the harbor expecting to see a classic yacht that perhaps I'd missed. There was only one old vessel lying in the anchorage, Respite. She's settled into old age gracefully. She's been a fixture on Pacific Northwest waters for 60 years, and is looking forward to many more. So, if you see her and wonder if it's the same family as when you saw her years ago, the answer is yes.End of story marker


Bill and his wife Nancy have two grown children and live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bill has been cruising the Pacific Northwest since childhood. They currently own Respite as well as a 21-foot Wellcraft they use on Lake Tahoe. They cruise the Canadian Gulf Islands several weeks per year.

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