The Ursa Major transiting the Panama Canal, early 1990’s

This photo of the Ursa Major was taken at Gatun Lake, Panama during the passage through the Panama Canal.

This photo of the Ursa Major was taken at Gatun Lake, Panama during the passage through the Panama Canal.

Recently, Captain Josh has been in contact with Steve Van Cleve, (Marrowstone Isle, Washington), who worked as crew aboard the Ursa Major when she transited the Panama Canal in the early 1990s with the fourth owner of the Ursa Major, Peter Strong.  After her construction was completed in Norway and Ireland in the early 1970s, the Ursa Major was delivered to her first owners in Connecticut, (the Sudarsky family), by an Irish crew.  Following her adventures on the east coast of the United States and Canada with the Sudarsky family, the Ursa Major next spent time with her second and third owners in the Caribbean.

According to Mr. Van Cleve, fourth owner Peter Strong bought the boat in Florida.  Peter, his wife Leslie, their four kids and a deckhand, had quite a rough trip westward across the Caribbean at the beginning of the long journey back to the Ursa Major’s new home port, Seattle, Washington.  Mr. Van Cleve, (who served as mate/engineer), and a second new crew member, (a cook), met the Strong family in Calon, Panama for the transit through the Panama Canal from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Following the transit through the Panama Canal aboard the Ursa Major, the Strong family flew back to Seattle, and the three remaining crew members brought the Ursa Major north to Seattle along the Pacific Coast of North America.  Mr. Van Cleve recalls the trip to Seattle being beautiful, except for stormy weather off the Oregon coast. And from trips we have done aboard the Ursa Major between Alaska and Mexico, the Oregon coast still continues to be some of the most challenging weather we have encountered anywhere!

Thank you for the stories and the photos Steve – it’s always fun to learn more of history of the Ursa Major!

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