John Lytle, of Belfair, claims he knows next to nothing about sailing. He says his wife Ningning repulses at the mention of sailing.
“No sailing. Oh no!” he says she would say.
If it sounds like Lytle, 59, has a built-n excuse to not have a sailboat, he does.
Funny thing happened, though. He went out and bought a 52-foot ketch just because he loves old boats and he loved how this particular one looked. This is no ordinary ketch. It’s hull is made of ferro concrete. A material, Lytle claims is “considered stronger than steel.”
Ferro concrete is simply reinforced concrete that has a core or foundation skeleton of iron or steel bars. Lytle’s ketch, built in 1974, has a 1.75-inch thick hull.
HIs boat is on the hook on Filucy Bay three months in the winter, he said. Today, he shoved off, heading home to the Hood Canal for the summer season. With a hazy sky and little to no wind, he powered south.
“I got it for the fun of it,” he said.
Although he really did not know what to name the boat, he eventually was inspired to name her after his wife Ningning — a childhood nickname she got while growing up in the Philippines.
The “Ningning” has a hull painted green and has classic lines. Lytle said he loved the 13 by 16-foot stateroom in the back of the sailboat. The three large windows make the ketch look like a tall ship of times long past.
“You could lay in there and listen to water slap the side of the boat,” he said.
That is the romantic side of this hulk of a man with a balding head. HIs competitive alter ego came out May 5 at the 12th annual Longbranch Marina regatta.
“I’m not much of a sailor,” he said, while his sailing partner Frank Slater stood next to him. “We’ll see how it goes.”
“You have charts?” Slater asks.
“Yeah, I have charts,” Lytle responds in a snap. “We’ll figure it out. We’ll see how it goes.”
And off the “Ningning” went, along with 13 other boats on a beautiful sunny day on Filucy Bay. Lytle and his ketch finished near the back of the pack, but you can tell he was not beat.
“I’m just playing around,” he beams, laughing out loud.
UPDATE: I Jumped the gun this weekend by speculating that the “Ningning” was heading home. She is back on the hook in Filucy Bay, where she has been since late winter. Good to see the ‘ol girl back. My morning commute would not be normal without her by the marina.