Tim Hoehn grew up sailing on the Great Lakes and bought his first fixer-upper boat, a Capri Cyclone 13, at age 10. He had several other boats before buying his 1976 Cape Dory Typhoon, Rissa, four years ago. She’s homeported in Oak Harbor, Wash.
Tell us about your boat’s name.
Rissa is a the genus for a type of North American gull called Kittiwake. It is also the name of a town in Norway. The boat had the name when I got her and I am pretty sure she is named for the bird.
Have you owned other boats before this one?
I have had several other boats, including a Capri Cyclone 13, a Kings Cruiser 28 and an Ingrid 38. I also currently have a Gloucester Gull rowing dory that I have had since childhood.
Tell us the story of how you found your boat and what makes it special to you.
When I was in my late teens/early twenties I worked at a marina back in Michigan. There was a Cape Dory Typhoon for sale there that I fell in love with but didn’t have the money to purchase at the time. Over the years I have still admired these fine little boats and when I saw this one appear on Craigslist I made the trip up to Orcas Island for a look. After some negotiation she became mine.
What’s the history of your boat?
I don’t really know much about the history of this boat. When I bought her she was being used by a sailing school up on Orcas Island. When I stripped the paint off her hull, I could see that her original registration was in Michigan. I also found that the maker of her trailer was in a town near where I used to live back there. Could this be the same boat I drooled over as a kid? It’s possible, I guess.
What do you like best about your boat?
The best thing about Rissa is that while she is small, I can go pretty much anywhere around here safely and comfortably. With her full keel, she can take most any kind of weather. She is also easy to singlehand and I can be out on the water within 15 minutes of arriving at the marina.
What do you know now about your boat that you wish you’d known when you bought it? Would that have changed your mind?
There is nothing I wish I had known when I bought her that would have changed my mind. Cape Dory Typhoons are pretty rare around here, so unless you want to ship one across the country you are lucky to find one.
What’s your favorite story involving your boat?
Don’t really have an exciting storm or near-disaster stories like many do. Just many memories of days when the wind was perfect, the temperature was perfect and I had no place to be. One story I do like to tell is how I obtained the original removable bronze outboard bracket. The previous owner replaced the bronze bracket with an aluminum job that bolted directly to the transom. He told me that he had given the original away.
After getting the boat I began inquiring on Internet forums, looking for an original Typhoon outboard bracket. After a while I got an email from a guy that had the original that had come on Rissa. All I had to do was take another trip up to Orcas and pick it up. You sure meet the nicest people around boats.
Describe the most challenging situation you’ve experienced on your boat and how it performed.
Last summer I was off for a few days and decided to sail around Whidbey Island. I had a beautiful sail from Oak Harbor to Langley, where I spent the night on the boat. The next day I left bright and early, hoping to make Port Townsend. I made it as far as Possession Point and the wind was blowing about 25 knots right on the nose. Also, there was about a two- to three-foot chop.
I spent a few hours going absolutely nowhere and finally decided to give it up. I did have a beautiful sail back to Oak Harbor, though. While the day was windy, it was warm and sunny. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.
Tell us a little about your boating background.
I grew up sailing on the Great Lakes and worked in several marinas and a marine supply store when I was younger. At one point my life’s goal was to become a yacht designer and own my own marina. That never happened, though.
Where do you plan to take your boat? Do you have a dream destination?
I still would like to make that trip around Whidbey Island. Maybe this coming summer.
If you could have any other boat, what would it be and why?
I have had my eyes out for good deals on Alberg 37s for a while now. They are basically a big sister to the Typhoon.
What didn’t we ask you about your boat that you wish we had?
What is the biggest boat improvement project you have done to your boat? The winter after her purchase I stripped off all teak trim and hardware. I gave the entire boat a new paint job. I also restored all the brightwork and applied 12 coats of varnish. I have been replacing all the hardware with bronze. Also, I purchased a new Honda outboard.
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