The Boeing Employees Whitewater & Touring Club (BEWET) offers its members in the Pacific North West the opportunity to get out on the water to safely sea kayak on and around the Puget Sound and to whitewater raft some of North America's most scenic rivers. Membership is generally available to Boeing employees and retirees. Sea Kayaking is available year round with weekly paddles. Trips are available during the spring and summer. Whitewater rafting trips run on weekends throughout the spring and summer to rivers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia. The club also holds events to introduce people to these sports and provides training to enhance skills and ensure safety on the water.
2017 BEWET Board
|Vice President||Annie Frederick|
|Sea Kayaking||Mike Germani
|Social||Mary Jo Negle|
|Extended Trips||Rick Gimlin|
|First Aid||Ariel Leigh|
Guide Training Committee
|Head Guide Trainer||Kevin Held|
|Guide Trainers||Evan Hanneman
We've contacted a couple of the club elders to help us record our history. They are etching it on to tablets for us and we'll get it here on the interwebs as they submit it to us.
In the beginning there was Leroy. Leroy Gunstone was an old Boeing guy who had just gone on a commercial Main Salmon River rafting trip. He was hooked, he went out and bought a raft, named it the “Gun Smoke” but realized he wanted other people to go floating with. That was back in 1978. He put a notice in the Boeing News (actual paper back then) in the Recreational section asking if anyone was interested in forming a white water rafting club. About 10-12 folks showed up for that first “meeting”. From a bad memory, I think Jerry Rowe, Barry Sapsford, Mel Oleson, were there. Not a big crowd, but they were the right people, we were off and running in a couple of months despite a serious lack of equipment. An informal club-naming contest produced “BEW&T”. It was simply too good an acronym to pass up. The flat-water and canoeing folks who were thinking about it, were now firmly in the mix.
With Boeing starter money and membership dues, we bought a couple of rafts. Barry and Kathy Sapsford, the first of the BEWET crowd to be married, bought a smaller 13’ raft and named it the BearKat. Another member (Bruce?) had this HUGE 18’ beast of a raft, known as the “Black Caddy” which took ages to inflate with hand pumps and was a real challenge getting down the narrow steep local rivers. He used it mainly for the Snake and other southwest rivers. In the first year or two, we used what we had and on the river were glad to have that extra boat. Leroy turned out to possess a natural genius for organizing long trips. He was totally at ease pulling together logistics to charter a bus, load 8-10 rafts and 20+ people into it, camp at an Idaho put-in, and have the driver pick us up 6 days later at the take-out. No sweat. We did that at least twice a year.
He was also a skilled fabricator who had a nicely outfitted shop in his garage complete with welding equipment. We customized frames, ammo cans, trailers, and camping gear on a regular basis.
There was a very active whitewater kayak group the first few years. Al Falco and John Miller headed up an ambitious group of touring kayak folks who were out virtually every weekend. We had lots to share at the monthly meetings. I arranged a paddle raft guide clinic from Casey Garland (Downstream River Runners) and paddle rafting was introduced to the club. (Before that, it was all oar rafts.) By 1982, our ranks had swelled to 212 people. But our popularity had outstripped our organization and training. Though we never had any serious incidents, some local commercial outfits did. I took on the role of guide training very seriously. I could write a paper just on that program.
In 1984 a co-worker, Tom Murphy, volunteered to upgrade our Club logo. He came up with the one we use to this day. It was a huge improvement over the blocky silhouette of a pair of canoeists that we had been using.
- Randy Daly
The original members of BEWET