Our trip south was planned somewhat abruptly. Over the summer, we fell in love with the Nordhavn 47 and a plan was hatched. We thought the PNW was a better market than San Francisco if we were to list the boat. We would leave our boat with the listing agent in Seattle, which also gave us more time to explore – saving the time waiting for weather windows and making the ocean voyage from WA to CA – before I had to go back to work. But our plans wavered and we decided that we would all stay together and bring the boat to San Francisco. And so the days became numbered quickly.
The trip south took 10 days or so. We were moving quickly, driven by the excitement of destinations to explore in B.C. and Washington. Our most memorable stops include Pierre’s Echo Bay (Broughtons in B.C.), Vancouver, Salt Spring Islands, and Vashon Island. Once again, Friday Harbor gets the award for the most damage to MV Cassidy. At least our experience there is consistent.
Traveling through southern BC was amazing. As we made our way down the inside passage, the number of other boats increased and the weather grew warmer, until we reached the peak cruising destination of Desolation Sound. The season was in full swing. The days were long and warm. Every anchorage was overflowing with boaters. It was quite a contrast to the remote areas of Alaska. Some highlights:
Pierre’s Echo Bay
We had stopped here on the way North but it was pre-season and very quiet. An entirely different scene unfolded when we arrived on sunny summer day. We heard boats hailing the marina over the radio from 10 miles out. We knew it was going to be busy. Luckily we had already reserved our spot for Prime Rib night!
Along the way we had met the owners of two other Nordhavn boats – Sea Turtle (an N47) and Albedos (an N52). They were great company during our three days at Peirre’s. George on Sea Turtle played “banana tag” with Cassidy (we are pretty sure she made that up) and the gals went kayaking. Jim from Albedos accompanied Dougal into the engine room to solve a hot water mystery. The water wasn’t heating from the engine while underway as it should, which means a lot more time with the generator on to get hot water. They traced it to a secondary heat exchanger that was plumbed in to our hydronic heating system, moved a few valves, and we once again got hot water from the waste heat from the main engine.
The Pig Roast would close out our trip to Pierre’s. They roast an entire pig! And the rest of the group brings sides to share. It was a festive feast!
Vancouver was one of our favorite spots. Dougal suggested we stop there. I said “Isn’t it just another big city?” We ended up staying there for four nights….one of our longest stops this summer! The Royal Vancouver Yacht Club hosted us as their facilities located right next to Stanley Park. We used their loaner bikes to ride around the park and to downtown for grocery shopping. Our visit happened to correspond with a provincial holiday (British Columbia Day), so we caught an amazing 30 minute firework show while we were there.
A few other notable stops – Garden Bay, Pender Harbour – see the bike video. We brought the bikes to shore by dinghy and rode the few miles to a fresh water lake. Salt Spring Island – we hiked the path up to the top of the mountain. Not only did we get gorgeous views, but we found 9 of the mythical fairy doors along the way. Cassidy was thrilled!
While clearing through customs in Friday Harbor, we had ANOTHER incident there while waiting for the customs agents when the dock got hit by a huge wake that came out of nowhere and our starboard side boarding door was smashed against the high concrete dock. A very long story in it’s own right but $3000 later and a lot of time and slight change of plans around getting the door repaired and we learned a lesson to always close the door while tied up to high docks.
We got in touch with Don Kohlman from the Nordhavn sales office in Seattle for some always useful local knowledge put us in touch with a great fiberglass shop. We can highly recommend Robert and his team at Pacific Fiberglass – not inexpensive but quality work. Don also let us tie up on their brokerage docks in Elliot Bay Marina for a few night so we could arrange to get the door fixed and get to the fiberglass shop easily. This allowed us to spend a couple of days exploring Seattle and to visit with Dougal’s old boss Joe and his family who had recently moved from the SF Bay Area to Alki Beach.
We finished off the trip through Puget Sound with a visit to Vashon Island, home of Dougal’s brother Damon and his girlfriend Jen. We closed out the trip with some family time, spending a few days where they call home.
On the way in to Quartermaster Harbor on Vashon, we passed a Nordhavn 43 that was on the way out. The new owners, Bob and Lisa, later reached out to us after seeing MV Cassidy anchored out in the harbor and we spent a morning checking out their boat that they had recently purchased (and was soon to be renamed Indiscretion) and sharing stories. One thing that has been so cool to experience as we cruise is the community and camaraderie of people who own these boat.
As we planned for the trip down the coast, I realized how far I have come and how much I have learned. I was completely at the mercy of Dougal and the weather man (Bob) on the way up the coast. I would wait for Dougal to tell me he got the A-ok from Bob. Now I have the weather apps on my phone (Windy, Predict Wind), I watch the patterns, and give Dougal my prediction. We still call Bob….but more to confirm our plans.
I am also not only comfortable, but excited, to plot our routes. I took over route planning somewhere after the first month or so of the trip. Someone had asked me if we used a route plan on the way up….I had no idea! Now I was the one setting the course. I knew how long the trip would take, time to certain destinations so I could overlay the weather, to plan a safe and comfortable trip.
We made it from Vashon Island, about 80 miles or a day trip from the usual launching point of Neah Bay, to San Francisco in one shot. We were expecting to stop at Coos Bay or Newport, but each day the weather would push ahead of us so we could continue. Other than a few hours here and there, it was smooth sailing down the coast. In fact, as we arrived in San Francisco, I was surprised by the eerily calm approach to the Golden Gate. Not even a ripple in this notorious rough section of water. Our timing was right…the next day brought a massive weather front. I guess it was the calm before the storm as they say!
We have been back for over a month now. In some ways, I feel as though I never left. People ask me regularly about the trip….and telling the stories helps keep it alive. I feel different at work. Time away has helped me gain some perspective.
Dougal is already planning the next adventure. But it depends on whether we get a new boat….and where that boat might be located! If we are still on the Nordhavn 40, Dougal and Cassidy will probably head south in the summer. I’m not ready to leave work yet. So until then, I will be bouncing around, visiting the Cassidy in whichever anchorage she is calling home.