Kevin and Alison Red Rover N55
So, Kevin and Alison, tell us a little something about your cruising to date and where you have been so far?
We are fairly new to the Nordhavn community, having just purchased our boat in June, 2016. We brought her up the coast from San Diego to Seattle, which was our first blue water trip with overnight passages. Since bringing Red Rover home we’ve been pretty focused on a series of projects and improvements which has limited our time out to short trips to the San Juan Islands and harbors around the Puget Sound. We are heading to Alaska this June which we are super excited about! Prior to owning Red Rover we owned a 4788 Bayliner pilothouse that we put 10,000 nm on in 8 years, simply cruising around the San Juan Islands and the Puget Sound. We were raising kids and building businesses and spending our free time – 4 seasons of the year, learning every harbor and channel in the San Juans. We’re excited to expand our cruising resume rapidly in the next few years! We do spend a significant amount of time on our boat as we live on it full-time. We sold our house in May, 2016 with a goal to purchase our Nordhavn and start the next chapter of our lives.
Why did you choose Nordhavn?
We met the Nordhavn folks at the Seattle Boat Show about 10 years ago when we owned a 4788 Bayliner pilothouse and were cruising the Puget Sound / San Juan Islands and Pacific Northwest waters of the US. We walked through a few models and talked with the sales team, who handed us a copy of the NAR (North Atlantic Rally) video. With the “must have” high of the boat show we came home, popped the DVD in and were transfixed. At the end of the video, we looked at each other and said, “I want to do that.” And on that day, a dream was born. We considered other trawlers, both of name brands and one-off steel vessels. But it always came back to Nordhavn. No other brand was as proven in circumnavigation. No other brand had the safe record of successful journeys. And, in following the blogs of multiple owners for years, we felt that we would join an incredible community of people who seemed to be a lot like us. In the end there was no other option – just Nordhavn.
What has been your cruising highlight so far?
As we are fairly new owners (less than a year) and we have this pesky thing called work to deal with, I’d say our cruising highlight would be our trip up the west coast from San Diego, bringing Red Rover home to Seattle. We learned quickly about blue water cruising, overnight passages and how to handle large seas. At the same time, we experienced incredible wildlife, with dolphins riding in our bow wake and sightings of hundreds of humpback whales. A dawn trip across the bar, and under the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco Bay, followed by 7 am celebratory beers welcomed in the Fourth of July weekend. Sunrise off the Oregon Coast was unforgettable as was the feeling of turning into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, knowing that we were just hours from home.
Do you travel with an animal/s on board?
Yes, our four-legged first mate is a black lab mix rescue dog named Zoe. She wants everyone to know how much she appreciates the stabilizers – her favorite thing other than a squeaky toy.
If you cruise with pets, do you have any fun stories about them (how you potty-trained them for the boat, or what they do while cruising?)
When we were still cruising on our previous boat, we were at Roche Harbor taking Zoe for a walk by the swimming pool / field. Zoe was retrieving tennis balls happily. Suddenly, we noticed that she wasn’t bringing the ball back to us, but rather was chasing Canadian geese down to the shoreline. We thought, “of course she’ll stop.” Zoe had other plans. The geese swam into the water and Zoe went right after them. She almost made it out to San Juan Channel before some kind kayakers diverted her wild goose chase.
What training or skillset would you consider a “must have” prior to buying a boat?
We seem to learn things the hard way. We moved from a 22 foot ski boat to a 47 foot cruiser with about a day of instruction from the owner and broker. Not the easiest six months followed. But we learned. Kevin later earned his Captain’s license and when we moved to the Nordhavn, the learning curve was much softer. If we had to do it over again, we’d find a friend with a larger vessel and actively participate for 6 months to a year, shadowing their every move and learning navigation, knots, the impacts of tides and currents, anchoring and more. We did make our children take a 6 week Power Squadron safety class with us in the early days of boating. I’m not sure they remember much from it, but the idea of safety first was drilled into their heads.
What upgrade do you most wish you could make to your boat?
We’re about to pull the trigger on this one. We’re going to update our navigation system to a Furuno based system this spring in advance of our summer trip to Alaska. Alison would love a king-sized bed too, but that’s not in the cards.
In your past life what did you and Alison do?
We’re still in our past life – sadly. We aren’t quite ready to leave on our big adventure but decided to buy our Nordhavn now and spend a few years working, refilling our bank account and taking smaller trips. In our current life we commute from our boat each day to work. Alison owns a real estate consulting and marketing firm named Red Propeller. I own an architectural signage company named Waypoint Sign Co. There is a bit of a nautical theme here it seems.
Kevin, if there is one thing Alison does that irritates you while underway what would that be?
When Alison is at the helm she cranks up her music and sings. And talks to me but isn’t looking at me (of course). As such I can’t hear her, the VHF or really anything. We then have the battle of the volume control.
And Alison, if there was one thing Kevin does that irritates you what would that be?
This is going to sound like I’m lying, but honestly there isn’t anything that irritates me while we are underway – not really. But there is one thing that I always find funny. When we pull into an anchorage and after we’re all settled, we take the dinghy down. Kevin always takes the dinghy for a rip-roaring spin I hear to “make sure everything is operational.”
Onto irritating things, have you ever run out of something while at sea that has caused problems?
Limes. Sunset margaritas in beautiful anchorages are not the same without limes.
What is the shortest trip you have made?
We like to cruise to lunch every now and then. We’ve been known to cruise directly across the Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island for a great burger and beer at the Harbour House pub. In about an hour we are sitting at the pub overlooking the marina enjoying a tasty meal. We’ve also cruised to pubs to watch Seahawks games, which gives a new meaning to Sailgating.
What is the longest passage you have made?
San Francisco to Seattle – 5 days and 4 nights.
What have been the tallest seas and strongest winds you have encountered?
When we were coming up the west coast we encountered two days of 15 foot seas and 40 knot winds. The first stretch was north of the Channel Islands and the second stretch was just south of Monterey where there is nowhere to hide. After the straps on the dinghy broke loose and it was flopping in its chocks (which we managed to tie back down in big seas), and we were maxing out at 3 knots we turned around and spent a few days waiting out the weather at the Morro Bay Yacht Club. Nicest people in the world there – we were somewhat reluctant to leave after they had fed us, poured us drinks and welcomed us into their community.
If you didn’t own your current boat, what boat would you like to change to?
We love our boat to distraction. But I think we’d move to the N60 if we had the chance. A big move, eh? The larger cockpit would be lovely.
When you purchased your Nordhavn, what were the key features you were looking for?
Safety in all sea conditions! A proven brand, boat, design and company. Range and comfort while at sea.
Would you describe yourselves as more hunters or more gathers?
We heard a different version of this lately – a pioneer or a settler. We like to think of ourselves as pioneers. The pioneers set the path and the trail and the settlers fall in line behind them. Not that we are blazing any trails in the world of Nordhavn, as many people have amazing accomplishments, but in our little world we are a bit different from our counterparts. It has been fascinating to talk with our social and work circles about the fact that we sold our home and moved onto a boat, all while still working and maintaining a “regular life.” We’ve had people tell us that our life change inspired them to talk with their spouse/family about changing their own life, and that our move gave them courage. Never thought that would happen!
Why did you name your vessel Red Rover?
We have a bit of a story with the word red. Alison’s company is named Red Propeller – RED stands for real estate development and a propeller of course moves something forward. Her company helps developers move their projects forward in the market. Kevin’s company also engages with the real estate development community and as such Red Rover has been made possible by real estate development and urban design, which both Kevin and Alison are fairly passionate about. Rover – moving about and exploring the world – which is what we want to do with our Nordhavn. And there’s the children’s game – Red Rover. Red Rover, Red Rover send ____ (insert person’s name) on over. In the game, the runner can be caught and made into a part of a new team. This could be seen as joining a new community. As such, the name also is a nod to the idea of joining a new community, the liveaboard, cruising, Nordhavn community. And of course, the name is also a dog reference. And we’re pretty serious dog people!
What other names did you consider?
Havn Fun, Rover, Atlas, and a few exploring type names. Oh yes, and Pendana. But then we met those people from Australia! Poor form you know.
What is the one lesson every boater should learn?
Learn to control your boat without using any thrusters. We had an incident this winter with the thruster joysticks going out and we were thankful for the lessons from our old boat that didn’t have any thrusters (old school boating).
What is your favourite anchorage and why?
Shallow Bay on Sucia, although we are a bit concerned (well Alison is) if we can anchor there in our Nordhavn with the draft and size of the vessel.
Biggest surprises with your cost of ownership?
Nothing on a Nordhavn is ever simple or inexpensive. While we knew this would be the case, we are constantly balancing paying for work vs. doing work ourselves.
What is your favorite activity while aboard?
Sitting in the cockpit with a cool beverage listening to the natural world around us in a beautiful, quiet and peaceful anchorage.
What is your favorite Marina and why?
Roche Harbor on San Juan Island in Washington. It is just a special place. There are seaplanes buzzing in, a crowded marina full of happy and boisterous boaters, a nightly flag ceremony with color guard (who sometimes jump into the freezing water after the ceremony), a historic hotel, church bells that ring out a song several times a day, crabbing, the best doughnuts in the world, a sculpture park and more. It is Americana meets Nautical World meets the natural environment.
What is your favourite quote and why?
Maybe two of them – “If it is to be, it is up to me” and of course, Robert Frost’s “I took the road less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” Probably apparent why we like these.
What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened to you while at sea?
We had a couple of guests with us in a secluded, silent anchorage. It was a clear night and there was a meteor shower. Therefore, everyone in the anchorage was outside lying on their backs, watching Mother Nature’s show. One of our guests started laughing which sounded like a donkey…. And everyone else in the anchorage began making farm animal noises (cows, sheep, goats, you name it). The more it happened the harder our guest laughed to continue the cycle. We went from individual boats to a laughing, snorting anchorage that night.
What’s the biggest mistake you have ever made on the water?
The first weekend out with our first “big” boat we arrived at the anchorage, dropped the anchor and said, yep, we’re good. Set an anchor? What’s that? Ha! How far we have come.
What is your most hated boat job?
Kevin – Anything related to the black water system.
Alison – Making the bed in the forward berth (our daughter’s bed). For some reason it is just terribly difficult to do and I dread it.
Tell us a little something about Kevin?
Kevin is a mountain boy and a motorhead. In the 17 years that we have been together he has owned six boats, a motorcycle, a snowmobile, multiple lifted vehicles, a Bobcat (yes the neighbours loved this – every man in the area would come outside when he turned that thing on), and so on. When we met I loved sailing, and skiing and non-motorized sports. He’s influenced me a bit!
What is the one thing you are most afraid of?
Kevin – Something happening on the boat while at sea that we can’t deal with, hence the decision to go with a Nordhavn and the redundant built-in systems that reduce risk. And spiders. Thankfully there aren’t many living out on our dock.
Alison – Missing out on living life because I am too sucked into my work world. Forgetting to prioritize living first. And heights. There’s that.
What’s your favourite photo ever taken while at sea and why?
From our previous boat – our two kids and two Labrador retrievers sitting on the bow while underway with big wide smiles.
What would you never leave behind (besides each other) when heading out to sea?
Road trip food – a holdover from our car-cruising days. Must haves: beef jerky, Reese’s peanut butter cups, M&M’s, Cheetos, Red Bull. And then of course there are saltines and PB&J for Alison’s at-sea-stomach.
Alison tell us something about yourselves that nobody knows?
We’re actually pretty shy people. I know, sure doesn’t seem like it but it is true. Oh and we’re yacht club drop-outs. We wanted to join a club to find people to cruise with and to spend time exploring away from marinas. What we found was that most people want to cruise to the marina and hang out there. Not our thing.
If you were to give one piece of advice to someone thinking of cruising the world, what would it be?
You don’t have to be retired. You don’t have to have a full plan in place. You can work and cruise and then do some more work…and cruise again. Don’t wait to start living. And, buy a Nordhavn. You’ll be delighted with the confidence that your boat will give you as well as the incredible community that you will become a part of.
If you were advising someone as to the best area of the world to go cruising, where would it be, and why?
We have not yet been terribly far into the big world of cruising (but we’re getting there). In the meantime, we realize that we live in one of the world’s greatest cursing grounds and we’ve been so lucky to call the Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands our backyard. The fact that the mountains meet the sea in protected water with hundreds of islands and coves to explore makes this a stunning part of the world for cruising. And it will always be home no matter where we go.
And finally, where to next?
Alaska, leaving the first week of June (weather permitting). We’re working on the plan right now and are super excited to spend 6 weeks cruising Alaska. We’re planning to head directly from Seattle to Ketchikan, via the western side of Vancouver Island in order to maximize our time in Alaska.
Thank you very much for your time, will be watching this year’s progress closely.
Good luck with your travels!
More on Red Rover can be found at their blog HERE.
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