ILWACO — He wished he could show people the raw beauty of nature through the eyes of a merchant mariner. She longed to have a space that could inspire inner peace, joy and happiness. Three years after crossing paths in a Goodwill parking lot, Larry Young and Cindi Kaliszewski’s have brought their vision into fruition with the opening of SkyWater Home and Gallery and the launch of SkyWater Boat Tours at the Port of Ilwaco in July.
Creating, sharing an experience
Through the gallery and boat tours, Kaliszewski and Young hope to create an experience.
“Our overall vision is to create a space for people to feel joyful and peaceful,” Kaliszewski said.
“We don’t have any grand ideas that we’re going to get rich here. The whole idea is to be an important member of the community and provide a space where people can come in and be surrounded by beautiful things and get that ‘awwww’ feeling. It’s the same with the boat tours — is there anything more peaceful than going out on the water and feeling the sun on your face and the wind in your hair? We’re here to provide an experience.”
Kaliszewski, 59, is a licensed real estate agent and photographer, but initially moved to the area to assume a position in mental health counseling. The experience influenced the creation of the gallery and art/photography classes she offers.
“I felt helpless and it was chewing me up,” Kaliszewski said regarding her former experience in the mental health field. “I came home from work one day and just wished there was a place where people could go and feel peaceful.”
There were initial lofty plans for a “Peace Center,” featuring alternative medicine and acupuncture, but the idea was eventually replaced with a more conceivable idea that combined their core passions.
Young, 64, is an instructor of the Seamanship Program at Tongue Point Job Corps Center and has more than 40 years experience on the water as a merchant mariner.
“I had a regret as a merchant mariner not being able to share those beautiful, blissful days on the open ocean, the serenity of the birds and the sunrise and sunset,” Young said.
“I wanted to share that with family and friends, but because of the nature of the work, I rarely got to do that. By doing these tours, we can give people an a taste of that. Every single business that we ever wanted, we could do here. We want to be part of a revival in this town and we see it along this waterfront.”
Three planned tours are currently available but impromptu excursions are also possible. The boat can accommodate six people for tours ranging from two to four hours, ranging from $95 to $150. Additional hours can be added at a discounted price, Young said.
• The Lighthouse Tour features a unique view of Ilwaco’s lighthouses where guests can view Cape Disappointment and North Head Lighthouse from the stern of a boat.
“We can show the perspective as the mariners see it,” Young said.
“Looking to the east and seeing the continent in the background, seeing the perspective of the lighthouses from a mariner knowing those sentinels are there to help me get in safely.”
• The Lower Columbia River Tour provides an historic, scenic experience that “takes you on a journey traveling in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark.”
“What they [Lewis and Clark] witnessed, most of it’s still in place and that’s what I want to share with guests,” Young said.
• The Sightseeing Tour is a trip based around possibly spotting wildlife including whales, pelicans, bald eagles, blue herons, porpoises or osprey.
“When you’re out there on the vessel it’s an entirely different experience — you smell them, you hear them, you feel the wind from their wings as they fly past,” Young said. “It’s a whole different experience from observing on the beach.”
In time, they plan to expand on the fleet and offer overnight trips to Portland.
The gallery, located at 139 Howerton Way at the Port of Ilwaco, held a soft opening in November and had an official grand opening in early May.
Work from 16 different artists including a mix of Kaliszewski’s photography and consignment pieces are for sale throughout the gallery.
The art, spread throughout several rooms, includes nautical pictures of local beaches and boats, fine glass bowls and rocks that have been reshaped into jewelry by a retired tugboat captain. Everyone is welcome at the gallery — kids and pets included.
“Feel the texture and ask questions, I want this to be kid and pet friendly,” Kaliszewski said. “I want everyone to feel welcome here.”