Preview: EL MISTICO – A Ballard Bridge Deck Cruiser in Puget Sound

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EL MISTICO, a live aboard cruiser built on the West Coast in 1927, is eloquent proof of the old adage that good boats fall into the hands of good owners who then pass them on to subsequent stewards to maintain them down through the generations: a fortuitous tradition that guarantees that the boats we love will be around for a good long while.


We were struck by a note we received from Mike Bell (a friend of James) during the editing of this video. Mike was aboard the day we filmed and helped us organized the shoot.  His description of James Poirson really says it all, so we asked if we could pass it along:

“I met James at a wooden boat festival at our local marina near my home in Edmonds, WA. I often walk the dogs there early in the morning. There were a dozen or so classic wooden boats moored up that morning. James was the only skipper stirring. He invited me aboard for coffee and we initiated a fun friendship.

That was about ten years ago.

I see him now about four or five times a year when he ventures across the pond to Seattle. When I’m aboard, he hands me the helm so he can relax. Particularly when it’s time to pass through the Hiram Chittenden Locks. I’m honored. I have much experience there. He appreciates that.

He operates on a budget. Cosmetics are sometimes on hold. But he spares no expense when it comes to mechanics. He knows everything there is to know about his boat in that arena, and stays on top of it. I call the boat mechanically, very safe and sound. I’m a retired engineer. I appreciate that.

He hopes to own and operate the boat when it reaches its century mark in 2029. He is still in touch with the boat’s manufacturer in Ballard, WA. They have their eyes on him.

He is well read, well spoken, enjoys classical music (a cello player in the symphony) and enjoys a glass of wine. He is extremely generous and welcoming. Delightful. He is lucky to have this boat. And the boat is lucky to have him.”

Mike Bell

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9 Responses So Far to “EL MISTICO – A Ballard Bridge Deck Cruiser in Puget Sound

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    Sam Langhout says:

    wow, This paintjob serves an optical illusion that its a catamaran. Anyone else see it?

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    Peter Leenhouts says:

    What a pleasure to see EL MISTICO up close and to listen to James’ description of her!

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    Joseph Wl Haley III says:

    Reminds me of our families 50′ Elco. Same lines and set up.

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    Steven Clancy says:

    Refreshing! Growing up as a lad on Puget Sound I witnessed more than a few of the bridge deck cruisers.It was always a thrill to see one underway.

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    George Kruzynski says:

    So refreshing to get around the “no expense spared” approach that seems to permeate so many of the boats we are shown. Gives us mere mortals hope :)

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    Ed Altonji says:

    I too like the practical nature. It’s Jame’s home, his boat, and his hobby, not a piece of artwork which is fine if that’s your thing. Pay attention to the practical things to keep you safe for near/long term and enjoying life. I think I’d like James as my neighbor, maybe he’ll come back to Charlotte and boat Lake Norman with me!

  • Scott Sellick

    Scott Sellick says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed this and found myself thinking about the importance of ‘thinking about the right things’ . . . primed by your subtitle about not being TOO concerned about gloss and such. Reminded me of a short line I would occasionally hear from my grandfather (born 1896) — something he likely picked up in his work (he came from builders and possibly stone-masons, Somerset England). Goes something like this (in relation to ‘Are we done for the day?” or “Is this fine, good, can we move on to the next project?”: “Nothing a man on a galloping horse would take note of” (forgive the grammar). I use the line myself and smile every time. Scott (Lake Superior, Canadian side)

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    Roger Smith says:

    James is a kind and caring man. The world is a better place because he is in it.


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