Selkie ‘Returns to the Sea’ for Gig Fest

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Selkie, the 1960 Grandy beautifully restored at Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard, was relaunched just in time for the Maritime Gig Festival last weekend. Like her namesake, the mythological creature that always returns to the sea, Selkie slipped back into the harbor and joined the flotilla of boats out for Gig Harbor’s annual festival.

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“Selkie,” a 1960 Grandy restored at Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard, enjoys making the scene at the annual Maritime Gig Festival June 4-5. (All photos of “Selkie” on the water courtesy of John Iverson, Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard)

Only Selkie, with her new, richly-grained sapele mahogany transom and stunning hand-painted name and graphic, must have turned heads more than other boats that filled the harbor June 4 and 5. Like a debutante presenting her new gown, Selkie cruised through the harbor with her head held high as she showed off her beautiful new “skin.”

“The owners had her out in the harbor for Gig Fest and were grinning from ear to ear,” said Mark Lindeman, boatyard manager at Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard, where Selkie’s restoration took place. “They are just thrilled with her.”

I first wrote about the classic 30-foot Grandy in my May 24 blog. A selkie is a mythological creature that resembles a seal in the water but assumes human form on land. According to Scottish, Irish and Icelandic folklore, selkies are said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land. If a man steals a female selkie’s skin, she is obligated to become his wife. Female selkies are said to make excellent wives, but because their true home is the sea, they are often seen gazing longingly at the ocean. If she finds her skin she will immediately return to her true home, so her husband carefully hides his seal wife’s skin.

Selkie Enjoys Cruising After Restoration at Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard

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The classic Grandy Express Cruiser came to Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard in need of restoration.

Selkie came to Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard in great need of new skin. The vintage Grandy Express Cruiser had “old-boat” leaking at the deck level that caused the ends of the transom planks to rot, Lindeman said. That’s when the boatyard’s master woodworker, John Iverson, took over. First he pulled off the rotten boards to reveal even more water damage in the supports underneath. He removed the rotten vertical ribs and old fasteners to start building a solid new transom for Gig Harbor boat owners Jon and Marie Kjaerulff, who have been regular customers at Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard for several years.

Iverson cut, sanded, planed and custom-fit the three-quarter-inch mahogany planks for Selkie’s new transom. He applied penetrating epoxy sealer and many coats of protective varnish on the gorgeous woodwork. He also crafted new rub rails, using denser white oak to withstand impact better, he said.

Now Selkie was ready for the next step of her restoration, and graphic artist Wm. Mark Dalton took over. The artist, of Dalton Art Studios in Bremerton, set up shop at the boatyard for a few days and hand-painted the Grandy’s 22-carat gold leaf lettering and air brushed the exquisite selkie image on the new transom.

‘The owners…were grinning from ear to ear’ — Mark Lindeman, Boatyard Manager

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Beautiful “Selkie” leaves the Travelift bay at Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard to join the festivities of Gig Fest in the harbor.

Soon Selkie was ready to return to the sea in her new skin — only this story has a happier ending than the tales of folklore, where the husband always loses his enchanting “seal wife.” The Kjaerulffs get to keep their beautiful “selkie” for a long time to come.

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