Renowned Tollycraft yacht builder Robert Merland “Tolly” Tollefson first visited Princess Louisa Inlet in his own 23 foot wooden boat with his brother and a friend in 1938. Over the next 60 years, he became a great friend of James ‘Mac” MacDonald while visiting Princess Louisa more than 50 times. Some years Tolly made two or three trips before retiring from boating at age 90.
For Tolly’s 90th Birthday, the Canadian Tollycruisers gifted a painting of his boat in front of Chatterbox Falls. Wayne Nelson presented the painting to Tolly at his Birthday Party held at the Seattle Boat show. The painting hung in his Port Ludlow home until his death.
Honouring Tolly’s Wishes
Prior to Tolly’s death in 2011 he requested some of his ashes be spread at the base of Chatterbox Falls.
In conjunction with this wish, the Canadian Tollycruisers commissioned a memorial bench and donated it to the Princess Louisa Marine Park. On May 11, 2012 the Park Rangers installed the bench in a prominent spot with a fine view of the falls.
Commemorative Cruise to Princess Louisa Inlet
To celebrate Tolly’s life and his love of the area, Terry Murphy organized a commemorative cruise to Princess Louisa.
On May 21, 2012, 16 Tollycraft Yachts from Canada and the USA made their way up Jervis Inlet, passed through Malibu Rapids before securing on the docks at Chatterbox Falls.
The Tollycrafts taking part were:
- BELL ELAFF
- BRAVO ZULU
- DOUBLE PLAY
- PRECIOUS TIMES
- SCRUPLES III
- TENACIOUS SPIRIT
- VIDA BELA
Interestingly, there was a 26, a 30, 2-34’s, 2-37’s, a 40, a 43, 2-44’s, a 48, a 53, a 57, & a 61 representing most of the models built by Tolly post 1975.
Two days later, as the sun came out, Jay Hartland of Anacortes WA read a brief eulogy. He noted that Tolly built 6,000 boats and each of those has had about 5 owners. Tolly, therefore, influenced as many as 30,000 Boaters during his amazing career. It was clear that Tolly considered Tollycraft owners as his family.
Tolly’s ashes were spread by Scott Fultz, a 50 year friend of Tolly’s and a former employee at Tollycraft Yachts.
Right where Tolly wanted to be, at the base of Chatterbox Falls.
On shore, 39 Tolly skippers and crew surrounded the bench and with Tolly’s favourite drink, Single Malt Whisky, saluted Tolly in a toast.
Tolly Tollefson may have made his final voyage to Princess Louisa Inlet. But his spirit will live on in the mist of the falls for eternity.
Tollys at Princess Louisa
Been to Chatterbox Falls / Princess Louisa in your Tollycraft? Send us a picture of you, the bench and your Tolly at the falls and we’ll post it here.