Amazing Grace

Sailing the Sound on a tall ship

By: Marty Wentzel

What does the South Puget Sound look like from 26 feet above the water? I found out during a recent voyage on Amazing Grace, an 83-foot-long tall ship with a soaring crow’s nest just begging to be climbed. Hand over hand, one shaky step at a time, I pulled myself up the rope ladder to the perch as the crew cheered me on from below. Once safely aloft, I waved to my fellow passengers, feeling every bit as exultant as Russell Crowe looked in the movie “Master and Commander.”

During chartered trips on Amazing Grace, clients can live most any maritime fantasy they wish. Rich in mahogany and magnificently rigged, the ship sets a brilliant stage for ultra-personalized vacations, from two- to three-day outings on the peaceful waters of the Sound, to weeklong charters in the San Juan Islands and, conditions permitting, beyond. Sailing buffs since childhood, Amazing Grace owners Janis and Steve Denton bought the boat in April in order to share their passion with others.

“Amazing Grace is a brilliant vessel,” said Steve. “She brings new definition to sailing.”

Not your ordinary cruise vacation, an Amazing Grace charter lets clients get as involved as they’d like with the ins and outs of seamanship. An enthusiastic crew teaches interested passengers basic sailing and navigation skills. Steve invites youngsters to steer the boat, a real thrill at any age. During multiple-day adventures, guests can try wakeboarding and tubing behind an inflatable sport boat. When the ship is anchored, clients can even leap off the crow’s nest into the ocean. With its combination of elegance and adventure, the boat works equally well for a romantic rehearsal dinner as it does for corporate groups seeking a unique team-building venue.

Amazing Grace comfortably carries 25 people for daytime trips, while longer excursions work best for three couples. Designed after a 200-year-old schooner, she’s outfitted with all the expected modern amenities and then some. Guests sleep in three private cabins, two with private bathrooms. There’s a full galley complete with a latte-maker; a dining area; entertainment room with LCD TV/DVD player and surround-sound stereo; three bathrooms with sinks and a shower.

During cooler months, radiant heat keeps clients cozy. When the salt air builds up an appetite, clients can dig into meals prepared onboard by the staff, pitching in with the preparation if the spirit moves them. They can sample dishes concocted by area catering companies, and the Dentons will even pull up to shore so guests can sample restaurants along the route.

Janis and Steve own the Waterfront Inn, where Amazing Grace docks in between trips. But clearly these are people who belong at sea.

“With motorboating, you just want to get to your destination,” said Janis. “But in a sailboat, you’re on board to enjoy the ride.”

And what better place to do that than from your own private crow’s nest?


Amazing Grace
9017 North Harborview Dr.
Gig Harbor, WA 98332

Charter rates: $300 per hour with a three-hour minimum and maximum of 25 guests (exclusive of food and beverage). A weekend sail for up to six overnight guests costs $5,000. A half-week sail costs $7,500, with a full-week excursion priced at $14,000. Menus, tailored to each group, are priced separately.

Commission: 10 percent

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