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The Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

December 9, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Boaters’ Christmas lamp is lit

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Sketched Nov. 29
Like many people, Gary Peterson has decked out his home for the holidays. But unlike most, Peterson’s home is a 47-foot-long sailboat that is moored at Shilshole Marina.

Last year, the 60-year-old construction worker stocked up on new lights and decorations from the clearance bins. For about $30, he was able to purchase more than 2,500 lights, a star to display atop the 63-foot mast, and two reindeer that he was installing when I met up with him. He said it took him about eight hours to transform the boat into a glowing, blue Christmas tree and bright, red Santa sleigh that people can spot from the shore.
Another highlight of the season for this boating enthusiast is to join the parade of boats that follow the Argosy Christmas Ship as it sails to different Puget Sound waterfront communities every evening. Peterson said the festival’s grand finale Dec. 23 brings anywhere from 50 to 100 decorated vessels to Lake Union, and “the more boats, the prettier it looks.”
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Web Extra!
The drawings below don’t appear in Saturday’s print edition.
Sketched Dec. 7
A week after meeting Peterson at Shilshole Marina I had the opportunity to come aboard his boat, the Windswept, and follow the Argosy Christmas Ship to the Ballard Locks and Golden Gardens. Also on board were his son Erik, of West Seattle, and a friend who also lives in the marina, Jim.
I found the nighttime scene of glowing lights to be breathtaking and one of the most challenging situations to draw I’ve encountered so far. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I feared falling off the deck and ending up in the water. In fact, that’s what happened to one of my two watercolor kits. I was walking from one side of the boat to the other holding my sketchbook as a tray and the little case slipped right off into the water. I’m so sorry, Puget Sound.
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The Argosy made different stops along the way. Unfortunately, we missed the first one, the Ballard Locks, because the sailboat was too tall to clear the railway bridge, which was down to allow a long freight train to cross over the water.
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But a few minutes later, on its way back from the Locks, the Argosy stopped near where we were waiting for it. A voice announced through the speakers that the next carol would be dedicated to the owners of the cruise line, who apparently live in this neighborhood and always come out to their balcony to listen to the carolers.

We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Good tidings we bring to you and your kin;
Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year.

 


Perhaps you can imagine the scene looking at the sketch above.
In all, we counted eight more decorated boats following the Argosy. Of all of them, the Windswept seemed to draw a lot of attention, not only for its multicolor scheme of lights, but because of Peterson’s glowing Santa hat.
A man who prides himself in his handy work as a construction worker, Peterson customized the hat himself, poking holes for lights that are connected to a battery disguised under the white trim. People on boats passing by kept yelling out: “Hey, where did you get that hat?”
“Maybe I should start selling them at Pike Place Market,” Peterson confided later.
The boat parade then continued to Golden Gardens, where we could spot people lining the shore around the glow of bonfires.
The carolers aboard the Argosy started singing again as I tried to sketch one of the most beautiful Christmas scenes I’ve ever seen.

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
Not only green when summer’s here,
But also when ’tis cold and drear.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging!

 


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Sailing meet-ups
Would you like to ride on Peterson’s boat? Through the Puget Sound Sailing Group, this Shilshole Marina resident and other local boaters welcome fellow boaters and non-boaters to join in the sailing fun. Peterson also runs another online forum, Pacific Northwest Sailors, for local boating enthusiasts.
Reader feedback
What has drawn your attention around Seattle lately? Send me your suggestions of interesting places to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!

Comments | More in Boats, Christmas | Topics: Shilshole Marina

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