KATIE MACK is a Bridge Deck Cruiser built by John D. and William L. McGregor of Vancouver, BC, in 1932. While some of her paperwork attributes her design to Ted Geary, we have yet to find confirmation. Her length over all is 46′, beam is 11.2′, and she draws 4′. She is powered by a GrayMarine 6-71 diesel engine which, according to the surveyor, will outlive us all.
The earliest document we have found shows she was registered by the McGregor Brothers as “HOALOHA” (Hawaiian for “cherished friend”), #157242, in the Canadian Registry, Port of Vancouver, BC. She was powered by a 1924 Sterling 6 cylinder gas engine. According to her long-term owner, Wesley B. McDonald of Olympia, WA (1943-1987), she was originally built with no interior and used to transport Canadian whisky to the US during Prohibition.
In 1937, the McGregors sold HOALOHA to Mr. and Mrs. Wilson Gouge of Drumheller, Alberta, Canada. The Gouges had her retrofitted into a yacht by Boeing Aircraft of Canada Ltd., which had recently bought the Hoffer-Beeching Shipyard of Vancouver. Her pneumatic transmission tanks are reportedly from a B-52 bomber! On 7/8/40 there is documentation of a gas Lycoming 165 hp engine replacing the Sterling. Wilson Gouge was a member of the Vancouver Island Power Boat Squadrons (#98), which had duties similar to the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.
HOALOHA was “sold to foreigners” on 10/8/43 and the Canadian Registry closed the record on 10/15/43. In the US, the application for US registration was dated 11/30/43, and she was registered as MARBOB by Wesley McDonald (also of Olympia, WA) — named for his daughter Marilyn and son Robert.
According to mentions in The Rotarian, McDonald spent summers cruising to Alaska via the Inland Passage to go salmon fishing with family and his Rotarian buddies. He also entertained Hollywood celebrities, and told the new owners in 1987 that Ronald Reagan and
John Wayne had been on board. In addition, McDonald raced her in the Capital to Capital International Cruisers Race from Olympia to Nanaimo, BC in July 1949, coming in 21st.
Above photos courtesy of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society.
Her official number, 244882, was carved on a crossbeam in the engine room, along with “NET 18”, a measure of her cargo carrying capacity.
In 1951 the Lycoming engine was replaced by the current 6-71 diesel engine. US Coast Guard vessel documentation shows that she was registered as ELIZA and later WILD ROSE, by new owners, Christopher and Susan Colby, who purchased her from Mr. McDonald in 1987. They shipped her to Newport Beach, CA where they lived aboard for a number of years. They had a frame-up rebuild of the Gray Marine 6-71 done in 1992.
WILD ROSE in Newport Beach in the late 80’s. Courtesy of Susan Colby
In 1993 the Colbys donated WILD ROSE to Young Life, a Christian youth development organization in Princess Louisa Inlet, B.C., on the site of the former exclusive Malibu Club. According to Don Prittie, the property manager at the time and current President of the Maritime Museum of British Columbia, they used her in their youth programs but found she didn’t suit their needs and put her up for sale in 1995 with Wolfe Marine Sales, a Lake Union, WA boat broker.
In Feb 1996 she was purchased by Michael and Cheryl Baher who kept the name WILD ROSE with a hailing port of Seattle. In the winter of 1996-97 her transom was rebuilt after an accident. They upgraded a number of her systems and remodeled her saloon, removing the hinged, straw-filled double bunks on each side. They lived aboard for the bulk of their ownership.
John (Jack) McCarley and Jill McJury of Tacoma, WA purchased her at a bank foreclosure in 2004, unfortunately after the disappearance of her brass spotlight, original bronze anchor windlass and anchor roller. She was renamed KATIE MACK after their mothers. A boatwright trained at the Landing School of Boatbuilding and Design in Arundel, Maine, Jack spent nine years refurbishing the interior, refastening and replacing planking and upgrading plumbing and electricals. He lived aboard for the last five years.
We bought KATIE MACK from Jack and Jill in May 2013, and thought about changing her name, but after searching the internet and viewing boats in Maine, Rhode Island, Maryland, and California, we found ourselves comparing her to all the others, and saying each time, “She’s nice, but not as right for us as KATIE MACK.”