When I returned to the small boat harbor, the brass portholes and classic lines of another sailboat caught my eye. Soon, I was invited aboard Edelweiss, a 1984 Weatherly 32 recently purchased by Bob Preston. "My dream is to take her down the west coasts of Canada and the United States, go through the Panama Canal, then up the U.S. East Coast," Bob says. He hopes to retire in another few years and by then have Edelweiss fully ready to go. A native of California ("I escaped in 1976"), Bob works at the nearby pipeline terminal in weeklong shifts, using Edelweiss as a floating home between commutes to his family in Anchorage. Having purchased Edelweiss in Seward, Bob brought her over to Valdez by himself in March. (March! In Alaska!) Bob was pleased with his first trip despite rough conditions and snow during the 180-mile run. "It was nasty," he says in an understated way, but he clearly wasn't intimidated by the experience.
Bob is realistic about the work ahead—adding a roller reefing system, an improved tiller pilot, and more—and he has the time frame to manage it. One of his first projects had been to insulate Edelweiss for the winter. Jesse the dog keeps Bob company and seems content with the boating lifestyle—as long as improvement projects don't keep her from regular jaunts on shore.