Boat became final passion for retiree

March 2011 News Dinah Voyles Pulver -

While motorists may reflect on the glistening vista they see from the Rose Bay bridge, every time Jan Walker passes by, she thinks about her late husband and his beloved boat, rescued from that bay.

For years after she and her husband, Dave, moved to Edgewater from California, they would drive over the bridge and see an old boat sitting in the water at a dock.

"He would see that boat sitting there and say, 'I wish they would give me that boat -- no one is taking care of it,' " she said this week.

And then one day in 1992, he spotted a classified ad in The News-Journal. "My boat is for sale," he exclaimed.

Dave Walker had owned small boats but he'd never had a big boat, she said. "He'd always wanted to retire and live on a boat but by the time he retired, they were too expensive, so we bought an RV."

Looking at her husband's face, she knew they were about to become boat owners.

"You have a much happier marriage if you let them follow their dream," she explained.

In just a few days and $5,000 later, the Wee Seas, a 35-foot Eagle Trawler, was his.

He and a friend climbed into the boat to take it to a marina.

They gunned the motor and headed for the middle of the bay, only to be grounded in its infamous silt and muck. The Walkers wound up waiting for several days for a higher tide to pull the boat out. He finally freed the boat and motored to the marina after dark.

When he called the next morning, the marina staff was surprised to hear the sad-looking boat had arrived under its own power.

From the moment the boat was towed to the storage lot near their home, it became a labor of love and a passion for the retired aerospace engineer. Over the next 18 years, he tore it down to its fiberglass hull.

He would take time out to help other people with projects, but he always returned to the Wee Seas. He carefully rebuilt its Ford Leman engine, cabin, decks and flying bridge.

"He was too fussy," his wife said with a smile. "He wouldn't let anybody help him."

He also "spent a fortune" on parts and replacement wood.

But then cancer invaded Walker's body and work on the boat ceased.

In the waning months of his life, his wife and friends suggested they get a work party together or hire someone to finish the boat.

He would reply that no, "he would get better someday and finish it himself," she said. But he never recovered or realized his dream of putting the Wee Seas in the water again.

He passed away last May at the age of 89.

Now his widow is left to find someone to buy her husband's boat, and all the equipment and parts he bought and had ready to go.

On Monday evening she flipped through a scrapbook, thick with photos of her husband and the boat, in every stage of renovation.

She hopes to find someone who will care about the boat as much as her husband, and be as devoted to finishing what he started so many years ago.

For more information about the Wee Seas, email

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