The End of Chapter One

I have been meaning to close out the first chapter of our trip.  I sit down and start to type.  And nothing comes.  There’s so much to tell.  But nothing comes to me.  We have tons of photos of the final leg of our trip so a LOT of them are going to be dumped into this post… One thing is for sure….it’s the end of a chapter, not the end of the story.  

Another great dayon the water

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.

Prince Rupert, B.C., Canada

Orcas near Shearwater, B.C., Canada


Shoal Bay, B.C., Canada

Sullivan Bay, Broughton Archipelago, B.C. Canada

Cat at a floating home in Sullivan Bay

Sullivan Bay

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!

Echo Bay

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.

Nordhavn friends – Albedos and Sea Turtle

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!

Pig roast at Echo Bay

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.  

Royal Vancouver Yacht Club outstation at Coal Harbor

Vancouver, B.C. from Royal Vancouver Yacht Club

Another view of Vancouver

False Creek, Vancouver, B.C. Canada

Dinghy dock at Granville Island, False Creek, Vancouver B.C.

Saying hello to the horses in Stanley Park

Bicycling through Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Park in Vancouver BC. Apparently they have water shortages in Canada too…

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!  

Katherine Lake, Sunshine Coast, B.C. Canada

Aerial shot of Katherine Lake

Free s’mores from the crew of the sailboat Mystery Machine in Pender Harbour, B.C., Canada

Trailhead to find the mysterious fairy doors of Salt Spring Island. Gulf Islands, B.C. Canada

Fairy doors

More fairy doors

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.

Returning to US waters….taking down the Canadian flag

Customs in Friday Harbor, Washington

Cracked boarding door

Mangled hinges on our boarding door

Broken boarding door hardware

Our 2500 nautical mile pennant from Nordhavn picked up in Friday Harbor, Washington

Picking up supplies for an oil change in Anacortes, Washington

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.  

Alki Beach water taxi from Seattle

Walking Niles and Frasier in Alki

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.  

View of the Tacoma ferry dock from Uncle Damon and Jen’s house on Vashon Island

Vashon Island, Washington

Cassidy and Jen making dessert

Concert in the park, Vashon Island, Washington

Bluegrass in the park

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!

Catching some zzzzs in the watch berth

Strapped in on the foredeck

Cassidy on watch on passage to SF Bay

Trolling for Albacore off the coast of Oregon

A curiosity off the coast of Oregon (we now know it is a remotely operated research vessel)

Calm seas, somewhere off of Northern California

Passing the time on passage

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.

16 thoughts on “The End of Chapter One”

  1. Karin Weishaup

    Video 4 was super.  It was National Geographic material.  Very well done, great narration, video clips, aerial photography and the last song was spot on!  Said it all!

    Great job Dougal.  I see a new career blossoming. 

  2. really enjoy your videos. Great job! Quick question: IN some of the videos when you are at anchor, there are two additional lines coming off the bow on either side, going down into the water. Or maybe it is one line going down one side and up the other? What are those for?  Thanks!
    —Reply posted by Dougal Gardyne on 6/30/2018
    The two additional lines are an anchor bridle. It’s basically two lengths of 3 strand nylon line attached to a stainless hook that grabs our anchor chain and then run through the forward hawse holes to strong cleats on the deck. It removes the load of the anchor from the windless and also makes it a little quieter when we are swinging on the anchor. The one we use comes from Mantus:

  3. just curious – what’s your plan after Alaska ? Going around the world ? 
    —Reply posted by Dougal Gardyne on 7/12/2018
    That is the loose plan. After Alaska we don’t have super firm plans but leaning toward heading into Mexico and then across to the Marquesas and on from there.

  4. Bob & Lisa Breen

    Hello there!  We have been avidly following your blog and were to delighted to see you all anchored in Quartermaster Harbor, our home port.  We live on Vashon Island and recently purchased our own Nordhavn – Indiscretion (N4339).   I’m not sure what your plans on for Vashon, but would be happy to show you around, get you into town for any supplies you need, etc.  Would love to meet you and hear first hand more about your adventures so far. 

    Bob and Lisa Breen 

    —Reply posted by Dougal Gardyne on 8/21/2018

    Bob & Lisa – it was a pleasure meeting up with you on Vashon and touring your new boat.  Hopefully our paths will cross again in the future!

  5. Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to produce these wonderful videos!  They are beautifully done and highly informative. Quick question: What is the LOA of your boat from tip of bow anchor to end of swim platform? I’ve seen conflicting numbers online and am curious as to whether the N40 can squeeze into the average 40′ slip.

    —Reply posted by Dougal Gardyne on 8/24/2018

    Brian – this is an easy question to answer.  The specified length is 39’8″ and I though I have never put a tape to our boat, I have no reason to believe it is any different.  The anchor sticks out slightly past the roller but even with the anchor its likely close to exactly 40′ LOA.  Waterline length is roughly 35′ (which is one of the reasons these boats are so slow!!).

    Someone told me that it was one of the design considerations to keep the 40 under 40 feet, making it easier to fit into a lot of marinas and berths.  For that reason we definitely like the size.  The swim step is pretty small however, and with a stern thruster makes it hard to get in and out of the water from the back of the boat.  A lot of owners have put on custom extended swim steps with stainless steel “staples” for rails.  Really increases the useable area in the back of the boat, tradeoff is now you’ve got a boat that is something larger than 40′.  

  6. Seriously going through withdrawals over here….having to actually work at the office…..any update coming?

    —Reply posted by Dougal Gardyne on 11/7/2018

    Eric – we are working on a big blog post and digging through footage to make some new videos to post.  Have definitely been lagging on updating this blog often enough but will be back at it very soon!

  7. I’m so glad you finished your post for this voyage and so bummed we didn’t really get to catch up when I saw you last. It sounds like it was a great trip for you and thank you for sharing your adventures!! We were in Alaska soon after you and it was fun to see the places you’d visited 🙂 

  8. Eric, it appears you have a leaning post mounted at your steering station. Can you describe how it is mounted and the clearance between table and helm? There doesn’t appear to be enough fore/aft space to mount a pedestal seat, even with fold up bolster and table mods. I was thinking of using a foldable directors chair and maybe tying it off to the table and fold up chart table. 

    —Reply posted by Dougal Gardyne on 11/17/2018


    We do indeed have a leaning post in the pilot house.  I bought it from another N40 owner out of Florida who purchased it and decided they didn’t want to use it. It’s made by Crown LTD and a beautiful piece of stainless steel workmanship. 

    You will get mixed opinions on the lack of a helm chair in the N40.  Most people I talk to don’t seem to mind.  For us, and the way we’ve been using the boat it’s a big downside and thus we started looking for a way to fit a proper helm chair.  There’s really no way it could be done without major modifications to the table and settee and it would ruin that seating, which is pretty nice. 

    The leaning post is a good compromise.  It allows someone to lean against it in heavy weather and it can be used like a stool when piloting otherwise.  The boat can be steered by the autopilot from the bench seat with both a hard wired remote and wireless iPad app. But without fly-by-wire engine controls the throttle can’t be operated without being at the helm. 

    The downside to even the relatively low volume leaning post is that it does make access through the pilot house a little more difficult.  None of us are huge and we get by but larger people may have an issue with space to maneuver.  I spent a lot of time figuring out the best place to put the post.  I was thinking a sliding track would be the best option but couldn’t come up with an elegant solution that was robust to take the loads.   I ended up removing the wheel since we always steer with a follow up lever anyway and that added a little more space. The wheel is railway accessible in the engine room and can be installed in less than a minute in the event of a failure of the autopilot steering pump. 

    Your idea of a directors chair would work but I’d be worried about safety in any kind of seaway   I remember reading or watching in the video of the N40 “around the world” trip that PAE did that they used a smal folding bar stool at times .  And I think that the experience on that trip led to the development of the 43 with the slightly larger pilot house that has room for a seat.  

    Long answer to your questions.  It works for us, but I’d still prefer a proper helm chair for maneuvering and long passage. Our next boat (if there is one) will definitely have a Stidd chair!

  9. Just discovered your blog/videos!  Wonderful adventures and wonderful boat.  

    We’re  previous sailors, current RVers, and future boaters.

    What is your asking price?

    Also, what boots would you recommend for kids?

  10. Just want to compliment you on the real good quality of your videos, the video angles and clear audio is superb, us considering leaving land life deeeply appreciate your thoughtful time and energy to produce these videos.

    Quick question; In deciding to launch your boat life, did you actually decide to sell your family home and totally detach from land life, use those funds to purchase your beautiful boat, or did you decide to just add the boat like a second home? Thank you for sharing, if it’s too personal, I would understand.

    I noticed you fish a lot like myself here in Florida, tight lines to you and please keep making these videos, you inspire all of us.

    Keith Johnson

  11. I have loved following MV Cassidy on her amazing adventures.  What a wonderful experience for you all. While riding bikes this afternoon in Dana Point Harbor we noticed MV Cassidy moored. We couldn’t help but stop and admire your beautiful boat. Since it was in front of the Nordhavn Office, can we assume a 47’ is in the plans. 

    —Reply posted by Dougal Gardyne on 11/26/2018

    Bonnie McAfee – we spent the Thanksgiving week on Catalina Island and then in to Dana Point.  So festive with all the holiday lights in the harbor!

    You may be on to something as to why our boat is in the harbor….   more updates soon….

  12. I just came across you YouTube channel and have been loving your videos!

    Do you have an Instagram account where we can see regular update of your adventure?

    Hope you safe travel always! Enjoy!

    —Reply posted by Dougal Gardyne on 12/4/2018

    Victoria – thank you!  We don’t have an Instagram account for this adventure but it’s something I’ve been thinking about doing.  It would be pretty easy to post photos there more regularly.   If you sign up for updates to this blog we will make a post about it if/when we set one up.  

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