July’s Skipper of the Month: Elizabeth Boss | NW Explorations


July’s Skipper of the Month: Elizabeth Boss

July’s Skipper of the Month is Elizabeth Boss, from Monument, Colorado. Elizabeth has been married to her husband Marshall for about 1,000 years (or maybe just 36) and she has a son and daughter who both live in the Denver area. Elizabeth retired after selling her software company about three years ago.

The Boss’s have trained and chartered with NW Explorations and we’re incredibly excited to feature them as this month’s featured skippers!

1. What’s your boating background?

I’m from Whidbey Island, WA and a long time ago, I would take my employees to a hotel on Whidbey once a year for a strategy session. One year, the hotel was for sale and we thought about buying it.  After looking into the financials, we discovered that the hotel didn’t make any money, but they did make money on a sail boat they chartered, so we decided to learn about boats.

Well . . . Colorado isn’t exactly a boating paradise, but we have a 34’ Four Winns cruiser in Lake Pueblo. We have to be careful with the bow thrusters or else we’ll splash all of the water out of the lake.  And the radar is cool, but I’m not sure we need it.

On the other hand, we do get plenty of practice anchoring and docking the boat in hefty winds.  (But we get a little less practice with tides.)

All of our real boating experience is with NW Explorations. Our first big boat trip was on Mystic Eagle (now named Ajax) in the San Juans and Victoria. Tom Selman came with us to teach us how to drive the big boats.

On our next trip, Paulette Bergh came along and spent more time with me. We also had Rich Fitzpatrick on a trip to Princess Louisa.  I highly recommend bringing an experienced captain along when you try a new boat—it’s educational and fun.

2. How did you get connected with NW Explorations?

We saw an ad for NW Explorations in one of our boating magazines, then we met them at the Seattle boat show. Brian was very helpful and connected us with Tom Selman, who instructed us on our first trip in the San Juans. We are hooked on NW Explorations.

3. What boat(s) do you own? How long have you had them?

We started with a 28’ Four Winns single engine cruiser in Lake Pueblo, Colorado in 2007.  After our first experience with NWE and a real boat, we wanted something a little bit bigger, so we traded our boat and a bit of cash for a 34’ Four Winns in 2011. It’s a good lake boat and we keep it in Lake Pueblo.

Of course, we have a dinghy for running up the river until we grind the props. And Marshall bought a 1979 go-fast Bayliner a few years ago, but that boat is gone now and we don’t discuss it anymore.

4. What are your favorite boating spots/destinations?

Juneau to Ketchikan with NW Explorations is our favorite trip—we’ve done it three times.  We love the Sawyer Glaciers in Tracy Arm and always see plenty of whales on the way to Petersburg.  The ride to Ketchikan is really cool and we always get crabs in Berg Bay.

5. Do you have any secret and/or hidden boating spots you like to visit?

Yes, but they are in Lake Pueblo, Colorado.  So, the first step in getting there is to get a big truck and trailer that can haul Koa Lanai or Ajax.  We’ll give the rest of the directions when you get here.

6. What was your favorite boat excursion and why?

I went on a jet boat up the Stikine River with Emmelina, which was great. She’s fun to be with and after spending days on Mystic Eagle going 10 or 11 knots, I finally got to go fast.

7. In your opinion, what are the best locations for spotting wildlife?

Bears – Tracy Arm

Whales – On the way to Petersburg

Bald Eagles – All of Alaska

Our Owl – North Marina Cove, Lake Pueblo

8. If you could give one piece of advice to your fellow boaters, what would it be?

Don’t panic.  Stay calm.  Have fun.

9. Have you ever had any perilous journeys (i.e. storms, breakdowns, etc.)? How did you get through them?

Early in our boating career, we took Ajax down to La Conner.  The next morning, we headed out to our next destination. We listened to the weather forecast and heard the Coast Guard had issued a small craft advisory.

Marshall said “We’re 52 feet. We’re not a small craft.  Let’s go!”

He was wrong.  We are a small craft.  After an exciting ride, we spent the night tied up to a fuel dock someplace.

We stayed calm through the experience, though. One thing that helped was that Tom Selman had taught us to keep track of our position on paper charts. It turns out that the fancy chart plotters are really difficult to use in 15-foot seas, but binoculars with a built-in compass and paper charts work really well.

When you go on a trip, make sure you have a pencil and a straight edge—we always keep track of our position on paper charts now.

When we got back to Bellingham, Brian wanted to hear our story and he bought the first round.

10. What is your favorite boating story?

Our favorite trips are with our friends on NW Explorations flotillas, but one of my favorite stories is from Lake Pueblo.

A few years ago, we were out in our Bayliner go-fast boat in the early spring with our best friends just burning gas.

As we went up the river, we came upon a group of canoes from the local college. Something didn’t look right, so we slowed down and went to investigate. As we approached the group, we saw that one canoe was flipped and a young man and young woman were in the water.  The guide for the group was trying to get them to flip that canoe back up and get them out of the water. But the water was cold and the young man and young woman were getting tired.

We went in and pulled the young woman out of the water. She was pregnant and a little unhappy with her husband. Then, we managed to pull her husband out of the water. He was big.  Not fat, just big.  We covered them up with jackets and towels to warm them up, then we flipped their canoe and tied it up to tow it back to their launch location.

As we putted back slowly to their launch site towing their canoe, the young couple was embarrassed and apologetic about interrupting our day.  They relaxed and started to smile after we explained to them that we were on a 10-mile-long lake in a 59 mile per hour boat and doing a rescue that consumes a couple hours is great. It saves us gas money. It took about an hour or so to tow their canoe to the launch point and get them onto the shore.

When we left them, Mom seemed to be happy and Dad seemed to be relieved. I hope they don’t give up on boats. Everything is good in boating so long as you don’t panic. I hope we helped them learn that lesson.

11. Do you have a favorite Captain Brian story?

We were on the Princess Louisa Flotilla with Brian a few years ago. One night after docking, we had a fire near the shore and we were sitting around with Brian and the boat crews talking about docking and anchoring. A question came up about why it’s almost always the husbands who drive while we are docking and anchoring. Brian pointed out that wives are plenty capable, but the husbands do it because driving is fun and the wives let the husbands have the fun.

That’s not fair.

So, the next morning, Marshall and I stayed back after the flotilla left and I practiced docking the boat over and over again. Marshall doesn’t park the big boats much anymore. I do it. And Marshall likes that I park the boat.

12. Anything else you’d like to add/say?

On every flotilla, the leader reminds us that we need to stay safe. The boats are “plastic.” They can be fixed. We’re old. We can’t be fixed. Don’t get hurt. No heroics.

Nothing goes wrong in boating. Relax.


Want to charter a yacht through NW Explorations? Check out our world-class charter fleet and reserve a yacht today!

4 thoughts on “July’s Skipper of the Month: Elizabeth Boss”

  1. Hi Elizabeth, So great you are skipper of the month! We were on Ajax last summer on the Juneau to Ketchikan leg with you. Glad you used the picture of the Tracy arm glacier calving – that was exciting! We are not able to cruise this summer but are planning on another with NW in the near future. Would be nice to see you and Marshall again..

    1. We would love to see you guys again! Let us know when you plan to cruise again . . . I’m sure NWE can help us exchange email addresses!

  2. Awesome! My first trip to Alaska and my favorite all-time trip was with Elizabeth, Marshall, and my wife Barb. Good times with great friends!

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