by owners Barry Goss and Donna Silverson
Katie Ford was designed and built by Mr. Heine Dole at Astoria Marine Construction in 1946. During the Second World War, Astoria Marine was given the right to accumulate all the old growth timber they could get to build ships for the US Navy. When the war ended, there was a lot of timber left, so Heine decided to use some of it to build Katie Ford.
He was a brilliant Engineer/Designer, earning a scholarship to Stanford and graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1929. He designed Katie Ford in every detail, and fabricated all of the original bronze fittings on the boat himself. The highfield levers used for the running backstays are good examples of these. In fact, all of the original bronze fittings are still in use today.
We purchased Katie 10 years ago from Royal Victoria YC member Ian Stewart and are the third owners of Katie after Heine and Ian. Katie Ford first came to RVYC in 1973. She celebrated her 70th Birthday at the club two summers ago on V Dock, with banners and balloons, food, family and friends, a cellist, birthday cake and a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday!!
As we all know, no boat lasts forever and Katie Ford is no exception. In 2013/2014 we undertook the complete restoration of the boat below the waterline. She has been reframed with Purpleheart, replanked with Alaskan Yellow Cedar, and refastened with 2500 bronze screws. We also replaced all 18 keel bolts using silicon bronze for these. While we were at it, we rewired, replumbed, and repowered. New sails were cut for her. Katie still has her original mast and so when we pulled the rig we needed to restore it as well. I removed every screw and fitting from the 60 foot spar, Donna stripped it down to bare wood, and then applied 18 coats of varnish, before I replaced the fittings.
Needless to say this was a very big undertaking for us, both emotionally and financially. It took us almost a year to do it. We worked in the shop every day with the shipwrights and learned an awful lot!
Over the years Katie Ford has made many trips to Alaska, Haida Gwaii, and around Vancouver Island, as well as up and down the coast to Astoria, OR. In 2016, we took Katie around Vancouver Island to commemorate her 70th birthday, my 60th birthday and my son Kevin’s 30th birthday. The one trip that definitely stands out for us was last summer when Ian Stewart’s family asked if we would take Ian for his last sail on Katie Ford to scatter his ashes in Cadboro Bay. A very great honour to be sure!
We are unsure as to how many Swiftsures Katie has been in but we know there have been many.
It has been a honour and a pleasure to be Katie Ford’s custodians these past 10 years. Donna and I hope there will be many more!
Katie Ford is entered in the Legends of Swiftsure Race, which was established as part of Swiftsure’s 75th celebrations and open to boats that have not raced in Swiftsure since 2010 and to boats built prior to 1967. Katie Ford is certainly eligible.