CYCT History Project
By Matthew H. Thomas, CYCT Historian
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing past Commodore
Gary Ballentine and his wife Joy about their participation in the Corinthian
Yacht of Tacoma (CYCT).
In the mid -1990s, Denny Flannigan approached Gary in the break room of Farmer’s Insurance. Would Gary cry if Denny yelled at him? “No,” said Gary. That was the right answer. Denny invited Gary to crew on his boat, Kokomo (later re-named Red Splash). And that’s when Gary and Joy began their sailing adventures.
Gary and Joy’s neighbor Jim came over one day to have a beer on their deck. Jim made his pitch, I own a sailboat, would you like be co-owners? Gary and Joy agreed. Built in 1972, Tatoosh is an Islander 36, the tall-masted version, and has an Isuzu diesel engine. Gary said Tatoosh is a Native American expression meaning two peaks. Gary and Joy co-owned Tatoosh with Jim until 2015. Brock and Janice VanRavenswaay now own Tatoosh.
One year, Gary and Joy brought Tatoosh to the opening boating day celebration on Dock Zero. Gary went into the clubhouse and announced that Tatoosh had arrived. She was tied up on Dock Zero. The room lit up with excitement. Some of the yachters expressed their amazement that Tatoosh fit on Dock Zero. Gary was puzzled at this reception. But, he soon realized the cause. The yachters believed it was Paul Allen’s 200-foot yacht, also named Tatoosh, that had arrived.
Gary and Joy’s children grew up with Tatoosh. They accompanied Gary and Joy on cruises from a young age until adulthood. The Ballentines sailed from the South Sound and to the San Juan Islands. Their favorite entrance to the San Juans was through Deception Pass. During their cruises, they saw humpback and gray whales, orcas and Dall porpoises.
Gary recalled the oddest thing that happened while cruising in Tatoosh was running into a lightening storm in the fog near McNeil Island. Another time, they were anchored off the west side of Blake Island with the Flannigans on Kokomo and Bruce Campbell on Klatawa. They went for a five-mile hike. When they came back, Tatoosh was gone. Her anchor had come loose and she was carried away in the current westward toward Rich Passage. Luckily, a fellow sailor spotted Tatoosh and rescued her.
Gary and Joy fell in love with the Hunter 40.5 from the moment they first saw her. She had a beautiful interior, perfect for cruising. But, she was sold before they could buy her. Yet now, they knew what they wanted. They searched and eventually found another Hunter 40.5 in Pt. Angeles. They made an offer. The boat broker said it was the fastest boat sale he had ever made; he listed the boat for only ten minutes. The Ballentines were now the proud owners of Raven.
Gary and Joy are very pleased with Raven. They recently spent three weeks aboard her in the San Juans. They found Raven to be very comfortable and sailing her felt like a bonus. But, even with two GPSs, two radios, and a radar, Gary still found it a little scary taking her out to sea. They’re looking forward to more trips in her.
Membership Chairs During The Great Recession
Gary and Joy held the position of CYCT membership chair for two years starting in 2008. It was the great recession. The club was losing members. To counter this trend, Gary and Joy ran membership specials to attract new members. To spice things up, they brought birthday cakes to the club meetings to celebrate members’ birthdays. They offered raffle prizes like boat soap and bilge cleaner but soon learned that sailors prefer wine.
Their efforts to attract new members paid off. The club broke even.
Gary was Commodore in 2013. The T-Town race was the focus of the club that year. Gary recalled that they were very involved with the planning and execution of these races, both on the dock and on the water. Billy Carter and his crew in Romeo Charlie boat ran all of the Windseeker class races in the T-Town Regatta.
During his time as Commodore, Gary received calls all the time about Romeo Charlie breaking down. Thankfully, Jerry Brennan and Fred Creitz were able to keep RC running.
The cruises at the time were themed and more structured: There was the Crab Feed, Salmon Bake, Mardi Gras, Chili Cook-Off, Daffodil, and even a Pirate Cruise.
Gary’s Advice to Members
As a past commodore, Gary’s advice for members is to participate in all aspects of the club: Race, cruise, jump on other boats. Talk with experienced members and enjoy the stories.
Gary also recommends that the CYCT embrace all types of sailors, even those who own motor yachts.
And, Gary’s advice isn’t just idle talk. Gary and Joy have led by example and continue to do so. You’re likely to see them at a monthly meeting, doing a cruise, or racing. Their hard work helped keep the club afloat during lean times.
Gary and Joy for your service to the CYCT.