Living life

Living life

It’s 2019.  February even.  And we haven’t posted a thing to this blog.  It isn’t that we haven’t been busy with (and without) Red Rover, or that we didn’t have anything to share.  I think rather it was just that we have been running fast on the treadmill.  Now that the snow is melting in Seattle and we’re back to February cold rain, it is blog time.

It rarely snows in Seattle… so far 14″ in Seattle this February.  Nordhavn offered a baseball hat for the best snowy image so of course we had to get up at 6 am before the big winds started and get a photo!
Zoe’s snowy dock
This is taken on our 17th anniversary – in the snow, just like our wedding day.

First, the big news – dessert first, you know.  Because as the saying goes, life is short.  And while we could wait for retirement to take Red Rover on an extended cruise, you just never know what might happen.  Lately, we have watched a number of friends, family and acquaintances become terminally ill, pass away, have a serious family illness or tragedy take place.  Many of these people were right around our age, and some even younger. That made us think.  A lot.  With the knowledge that you only get to be on this earth once, we have decided to eat our dessert first and focus on living life instead of waiting for someday.  This coming fall we are leaving Seattle winters behind and heading to Mexico for the season.  We told Red Rover (we simply call her “Red” when we chat with her) and she’s just psyched!

So what’s the plan?

We’ll leave the PNW in the fall, cruising to Port Angeles to meet up with a small fleet of other Nordhavn vessels owned by friends and future friends.  We’ll then crank up the stereo with our “Big Left Turn” playlist and head out to the Pacific to make that long-desired turn.  I will likely cry.  It’s a certainty actually.  (This is Alison writing in case anyone is wondering who will be crying – happy tears of a long-time dream coming true.)

From the BLT (Big Left Turn) we will take the trip to San Francisco in two big chunks with a rest likely in Coos Bay, Oregon.  We’ll spend a week-ish in San Francisco (one of my absolute favorite cities) and enjoy all that the city by the Bay has to offer before beginning a leisurely cruise south to Dana Point, CA, the home of Nordhavn.  When we brought Red Rover north to Seattle 2.5 years ago we were on a mission, and didn’t get to enjoy the southern California coast or Catalina.  We cruised by and waved.  Except for Morrow Bay of course where we spent a few days waiting out weather and being fed by the local yacht club. Once in Dana Point we’ll attend the Nordhavn Film Festival!  We can’t miss this.  In order to ensure our attendance however, we need to create a film to submit for the festival.  That’s the focus of our summer cruising.  Our film plan?  Double top secret. Fierce competition out there. We want to win! We probably won’t though – I bet the winner is either Shawn and Elizabeth Krenke (N43 Freedom) or Mike and Nicole Potter (N62 Pendana).  Or maybe Kaj Liljebladh (N78 Ammonite).  Or Dougal, Jen and Cassidy Gardyne (previously N40 Cassidy) but they are going to need to get a new Nordhavn STAT.  🙂 They all have mad video skillz.

From Dana Point we’ll gather up a few more Nordhavns and continue to San Diego, and from there down the coast to Ensenada.  The group will clear into Mexico and then work our way slowly down the Baja and around the tip to San Jose del Cabo, La Paz and beyond.  It’s a casual, loosely organized cruise with adventurous people.  We’ve begun calling this little gathering the Nordhavn Taco Run 2019.  Why?  Because tacos are life.  And living life requires tacos.  Lots of them.  In the sun.  Not in the rain.


But what about work, you say?  You two are in your 40s (eek, closing in on 50).  Kevin is going to take a sabbatical from work and is handing the reins of his company over to his incredible executive team.  I’m going to work from the boat and of course with my friends at Alaska Airlines.  We’re figuring out a new satellite system to enable my work life.

#iflyalaska – over Mazatlan where we first met Red Rover.

Prior to heading south of course, there has been, and will be a lot to do to get ready.  In December we kicked things off with a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (on a plane) with our daughter Kirsten.  We did take care of some things while we were there including getting a new Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for Red Rover which turned out to be quite involved.  We’ll do a separate post on that adventure. We also joined the Vallarta Yacht Club to give ourselves a new home base and some great reciprocal moorage offerings.

At the well-known Yelapa Yacht Club
Our daughter Kirsten and Kevin waiting on a panga back to PV.
Christmas dinner at Tuna Blanca in Punta Mita
Vallarta Yacht Club members – discount for those under 50!

In January we celebrated Christmas and our birthdays and our anniversary and every other holiday in 2019 by starting our mad “Mass Boat Unit Distribution Strategy” aka shopping spree with the Seattle Boat Show.  We picked up a new lightweight dinghy for easy shore excursions as well as a Torqeedo electric motor for the new, still nameless dinghy.  (Hey!  We are now a two dinghy family!)  We investigated satellite data systems, stack extensions and all kinds of other things.

The boat show brought so many friends to town – it was like a holiday every day for 10 days.  And we loved it.  We went to the Nordhavn Seattle Owner’s Party and saw even more friends, til 2:15 in the morning even.  Don Kohlmann, a stand-up gentleman if there ever was one, allowed us to bring Red Rover over to Elliott Bay Marina and hang at the Nordhavn dock to ensure ease of access to the party.  We take our house to parties, you know.  So with our house present, we of course had to throw a house party.  Til the aforementioned 2:15 AM timeframe.  Love our Nordhavn family.  Truly, the extended family we gained upon purchasing this boat is the absolute best part of owning Red Rover.  Dan Streech, president of Pacific Asian Enterprises – the company behind the Nordhavn brand – went so far as to give us a new title which you can read here.  We’re blushing, Dan. But happily so.

Such an inspiration – James and Jennifer Hamilton (N52 Dirona) receive their 70,000 nautical mile pennant from Dan Streech
Kevin concocting drinks on Red Rover with Don Kohlmann and Anna looking on!
I look a little odd, but it was a good party…
James and Jennifer chatting with Christopher Dent (N50 Calibri)

Also in January we took Lugger Bob’s Captain’s Class and his Owner/Operator Class.  If you are going to take your boat to Mexico, it seems prudent to know how to maintain, troubleshoot and fix your generators and engines.  His class was amazing.  I used to ask Kevin to “tell me how engines work” when I couldn’t sleep, so for me, attending this class was a stretch.  I learned so much.  It was great!  Kevin is drafting a separate story on that too.

This is likely enough to make anyone who knows me fall over in surprise.  Love Lugger Bob – kind, patient and an expert in his world.
Engines.  🙂 With Lugger Bob and Jeff Huber (N47 Igloo)

Oh!  And after the Boat Show was over we had a quick regroup with local Nordhavn friends, heading to Bainbridge Island to celebrate Jill Bernard’s “double nickels” birthday, complete with a dinner at the Queen City Yacht Club outstation.  Jill and her super husband Don own N43 Seabourne, a gorgeous ship.  Fun all around!

Other than all of that, Kevin has been madly shopping for large parts and spare parts, working down his 8 page boat to-do list and considering details for all of the projects that must be complete before we go.  A new 6kw Northern Lights generator (a companion to our 20kw generator) is on its way to Red Rover and that satellite system is going to land here at Shilshole as well, among other things.  While Kevin has been working, I’ve been dreaming up a plot for our Nordhavn film festival submission and have been playing lovely assistant in the engine room while wearing my Northern Lights baseball hat.

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An installation of 6kw NLs genset on another N55 – just like ours will be!

We’re getting ready to go!  It feels unreal and it feels great and it feels a little crazy as in “we are doing what?!?” all at once.  I guess that is what living life is really about – experiencing all the feels.

A bracelet to remind me when I get nervous.  And a bracelet with Shilshole’s lat/long (given to me by my daughter) should I get lost and need someone to return me to my home.

Fun with Lugger Bob in his Northern Lights Diesel Class

Fun with Lugger Bob in his Northern Lights Diesel Class

For years we’ve heard about Lugger Bob’s Northern Lights training classes (link here) and knew we wanted to attend. The opportunity to sign up for the class presented itself while we were at the ABT Trac owners class last fall. Bob Senter was also attending and after a quick conversation with him, he pointed us to where to sign up. We were not surprised to learn that the January class was booked – but not for the first time, Lugger Bob came to the rescue! He opened up a second January class and we were booked! There are two classes offered – a one day “Captain’s Course” (no charge) followed by a two day “Owner/Operator’s Course” (fee associated). Obviously, we signed up for both! And we were glad that we did. The first day (Captain’s Course) provided a wonderful overview of diesel engines and generators, regular maintenance procedures, troubleshooting issues along with Northern Lights’ philosophy behind their business. We were also toured around the facility. Day two and three (which was the Owner/Operator’s Course) dove deeper in to the details of maintenance and trouble shooting, both in a classroom setting as well as hands on with a Lugger engine and a NL 6kw generator. It was a wonderful balance of discussing a topic in our seats and then being able to walk out to the shop and see the topic in action. Everyone was able to review best practices with typical maintenance items like changing impellers/raw water pump and adjusting valves as well as to do it for real, but not needing to worry about “practicing” on your own motors! The troubleshooting on the genset was especially interesting and insightful. Being able to walk thru actual “issues” (that Bob created behind closed doors) with a multi-meter, we know the newly found knowledge will prove its weight in gold when we really need to find/fix things as they arise while we are out cruising.

Note: After taking the class, we came home to Red Rover and looked over our 20kw genset and found that it was project time! Look for an upcoming post on this work.


Northern Lights front office.

Does anyone recognize the image of a certain event in the background? That event led to Bob’s moniker…
One of the first engines from Lugger.
For those who have Lugger/Northern Lights machines, this is the touch up paint that will match the factory color.


The “way back” corner of a warehouse…


Diesel engine nerds having fun! So much to look at!
Literally tons of engines!


We love our Luggers!


Zoe even got in on some class time.
This is the 6kw Northern Lights genset that the class was able to work on. Alison and I loved it so much that we’ve ordered one for Red Rover. I will look to document/share the install later this spring after it is in (and running!).
Isn’t it cute!
Multi-meter testing. The hands on part of the class completed the circle of knowledge from the classroom.


The best part of the class really was the demystifying the generator. A piece of complex equipment, once understanding the parts, really is straight forward and easy to wrap one’s mind around.
Our Lugger that we rebuilt (just kidding – we did adjust the valves on it).
Impeller change technique.


It is soooo beautiful inside!
The wires that run inside the valve cover goes to the injectors. The wires are made from unobtainium…
Everyone had their chance to adjust valves.
Bob kept a close eye on us and tested the valve clearance after we were done. Some needed to be adjusted again…



Just a little tighter…
After adjusting the valves on the Lugger, we went to the 6kw baby engine and adjusted those as well.
Eric Folkestad (holding the light) also attended the class. Eric was our instructor at the ABT-Trac class from last fall.


Alison with her certificates of completion plus her very stylish NLs hat! Both will displayed proudly on Red Rover (hat and certificates, not Bob and Alison).

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Liveaboard Thanksgiving – When the kids find their way home to the floating home

Liveaboard Thanksgiving – When the kids find their way home to the floating home

It’s funny.  We’ve had a number of people who read our blog ask us if we have kids.  I guess they haven’t made many appearances on this blog.  Sorry kids.

So we do have kids.  Two of them in fact!  Mike is 27 and lives in Colorado Springs with his wife Jenny. Mike works for a tech company that supports Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. Kirsten is 21 and is a senior at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, majoring in Sports Management and completing her final year as a D1 athlete on the Tennessee rowing team.  Mike and Jenny and Kirsten and her boyfriend Sam (who is from Nashville, TN) arrived on the day before Thanksgiving and the festivities began!  Now six adults plus one dog on a boat in the cold weather can be cozy, but it works out and we had a ton of fun!

Expanding our stomachs with nachos at the Matador in anticipation of Thanksgiving dinner. With our unofficial but much loved child, Delphine, Kirsten’s long-time buddy.

Like good cruisers, we spent Thanksgiving day… driving.  And cooking and eating, and catching snowflakes.  We left the boat at 6 am in two vehicles (we no longer have my “crew mom” big SUV) and headed to Kevin’s parents house in Wenatchee, WA (on the eastern slope of the North Cascade Mountains) with the turkey in the back of the Jeep.  Kevin’s Grandma joined us for dinner and for our annual birthday celebration!  Mike, Jenny, Kevin’s parents Sue and Darrel and Grandma all have November / early December birthdays.  This year was particularly special as Grandma is turning 100 (yes 100!) on December 8.  We had pie and chocolate cake to celebrate.

Happy birthday November Jeffries – and almost to 100 Grandma Rohlman!

After cleaning up from dinner we headed toward Seattle in a snowstorm.  As Jenny and Sam had not been to Leavenworth, Washington’s Bavarian Village we had to stop in to see the lights and get out in the snow.  Gorgeous and festive!  Driving home to Seattle involved snowy mountain passes, torrential rain and a long slog back to the boat.

Jenny, Zoe, Mike, Sam and Kirsten in the snow in Leavenworth
Sam & Kirsten and a big blue tree.
Mike and Jenny and some snowflakes

On Black Friday we decided to #optoutside and take a quick trip over to Bainbridge Island in the midst of 3-4 foot waves and a small craft advisory.  Barely felt it on Red Rover.  While we didn’t see another boat until we approached Bainbridge, suddenly there was Safe Harbour and our friend Sam Landsman, his girlfriend Anna, his mom and two dogs.  Fun!  Sam took a much better photo of Red Rover than the one I snapped of Safe Harbour.  Thanks Sam!  I’ll do better next time.

Captain Kevin at the helm.  With coffee.
Kirsten, Sam, Jenny and Mike humoring me about how they need to appear in the blog.  You have a blog, they ask?
Awesome shot of Red Rover by friend Sam Landsman (different Sam, Sam of Slowboat fame Sam)
Safe Harbour heads into Bainbridge for a mom drop-off
Kevin #optsoutside on Black Friday

We wandered around town sampling the merchant experiences (and perhaps annoying said merchants), took walks, played with the dog, sampled various bourbons and beverages and went out to dinner with our friends Matt & Carrie.  A relaxing and lovely day all around.

Zoe says throw the stick!
More coffee with the kids
Mike horsing around
Sam, who met us for the first time on Wednesday getting into the spirit of the crazy Jeffries family
Like father like son
Oh hey Kirsten, let us be a part of your selfie?!
Red Rover doing her own selfie.

On Saturday we cruised home on flat water and did a drive-by of downtown Seattle which resulted in many selfies and portraits from the parents and the 20-something crew. Mike and Jenny headed home on Saturday evening and Kirsten, Sam, Kevin and I went out to a fun dinner before returning to the boat to eat pie.

46 degrees – a little chilly for the Tennesseans
Mike learning to drive the boat.  Very dramatic as well.
Ahoy!  I am Captain Mike!
Jenny rolling her eyes at her silly husband.
Hey people – this is my home!
Patagonia commercial.  We may have to print this one – what a nice photo!
Zoe wants to know if that is a giant ball, or what is that?
Keeping dog watch
Another nice shot of Kirsten and Sam with the Space Noodle

And now, on Sunday Kirsten and Sam headed home and Kevin and I have been manning the washer and dryer.  Zoe isn’t sure where all of her buddies went, and keeps looking in various staterooms where she is thinking they might be hiding.

With Thanksgiving over, it was time to add the tiny Christmas tree to the hoat!
A happy holiday season to all!

A great holiday weekend with the kids, Zoe and Red Rover!

Red Rover Photo Submittals for the 2019 Nordhavn Calendar

Red Rover Photo Submittals for the 2019 Nordhavn Calendar

And there it was.  The posting from PAE requesting photos for the 2019 Nordhavn Calendar along with the deadline.  Ugh!  Our trip north was planned late this year.  Not much time to get some good shots in great spots!  So we were on a mission – get north and find some awesome anchorages.  This meant every time we left the boat we tried to tick off the to do items…  Close the back doors, make sure the crane is in a good spot, etc.  And then take photos!  And did we.  This usually involved taking photos as we headed to shore or out exploring.  And another round of photos on the return.  Typically we’d do a semi-circle around the boat taking a dozen (or more) photos trying to capture Red Rover in good lighting and an interesting background.  So we quickly had hundreds of photos to review.  About forty made the first cut.  Many were easy to pitch.  Wrong lighting, some blurriness or just not “calendar worthy”.  Then we went thru them again and we were down to 25.  After two more rounds we decided on 15 photos to submit.  And those 15 are below.

Please let us know which is your favorite!

Red Rover #1
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Red Rover #15