Sea lions, smooth seas and the Nordhavn Film Festival weekend

Sea lions are loud.  And stinky.  And they grace every marina we have visited in California.  They drive Zoe absolutely insane.  She races from one end of the boat to the other, violently shaking whatever toy she has in her mouth, growling all the while, with her hair sticking up on her shoulders.  We’re not sure if she wants to join in their boisterous sea lion parties, if she is “protecting” us from their goofy hugeness, or if she just is generally confused about what they could possibly be!  Whatever the case, we’re hoping she chooses to ignore them soon or she’ll be growing some more gray hairs on her chin.

We left the Monterey sea lions on October 6th and began a 33 hour run to the Channel Islands Harbor Marina in Oxnard, California.  As Laura left us in Monterey, it would be just Kevin and I for this overnight passage that involved rounding Point Conception.  As we had Rich’s magic weather fairy wand with us, the sea state was of course exceptional.  Thank you Rich!  We did some fishing (but no catching), had a pilothouse dance party, ran around taking sunset photos and ate a tasty crockpot dinner of pork, apples, butternut squash and shallots (it feels like summer to the Seattleites but apparently it is actually fall so we should eat like it).  Our night watch schedule was back to 3-4 hours each.  At 3 AM I woke Kevin up to help with a question around some upcoming oil rigs and associated chart notes that I was uncertain about.  We were in dense fog, which wasn’t a challenge just an added element of the night.  Kevin decided to stay up and take over for the rounding of Conception and I went for a snooze in the captain’s cabin, leaving the door to the pilothouse open.  Snoozing was difficult however as Kevin and Scott (N47 Epoch) were chatting up a storm on the VHF.  It turns out that they weren’t discussing engines (a topic that they seem to have endless enthusiasm for), but that there were crabpot buoys in our path, in the thick fog, off of Point Conception.  The beam of the light bar picked them up.  Whew.

Sunset prior to Point Conception


Hello ocean, I am Zoe!
Tired doggos take over the captain’s cabin.

As the sun rose, we again experienced another gorgeous day. So much so that we came into our next port enjoying our flybridge.  YES!  We checked in with the Sheriff’s office at Channel Islands Harbor Marina, which was a new experience, and headed to our assigned berths for the night. After a celebratory beverage in the cockpit, we walked to SeaFresh Channel Islands restaurant for dinner.  The dogs were delighted to see terra firma and be able to come along although they didn’t have any fish.  We’re impressed by the general dog friendliness of California (save the state and national parks).  Our dogs are welcome in many places, which is fantastic!

Riding in the flybridge in our new Stidd chairs.
Epoch and Red Rover at Channel Islands Harbor Marina.

The next morning we left for a quick seven hour day cruise to Marina Del Rey.  We stayed close to shore and enjoyed the sights of Malibu and the California coast.  Marina Del Rey is enormous.  Apparently there are 6,000 boats in its marinas which are grouped together in one huge floating city of vessels.  The marina even has traffic lanes for entering and exiting.  There are two outside lanes that power boats must drive in, while the middle lane is reserved for sailing and human-powered vessels.  The outside lanes looked awfully close to the jetty, but there was enough depth.  Marina Del Rey is also home to several college and recreational rowing boathouses, including UCLA.  We had fun watching the rowers, and imagining what our daughter, Coach Kirsten, might have to say if she was with us.  In addition to housing another giant flock of sea lions, Marina Del Rey is in the midst of a huge overhaul.  We had been directed to tie up to brand new docks.  That is to say, after we sent photos of our boats for approval. Another new experience!  The team at Marina Del Rey is awesome and they provide a first class experience.  From the golf cart ride to the office for check-in (the dogs even got to go for the ride), to the friendly staff to the on-dock comfy furniture and gathering areas, Marina Del Rey impressed.  We will be back.

Earlier we had learned that the Santa Ana winds were expected in southern California on Thursday, and that there would be a significant impact to the seas, especially near LA. A quick and as always, educational call with Rich confirmed the expectation and we adjusted our plans to cruise to Dana Point the very next day. A night out was in order however, so we Ubered to Venice Beach to wander, eat and have some adult beverages.  Abby and Scott’s nephew Al lives in LA and he joined us, guiding us to a great rooftop bar and restaurant.

Venice Beach

In the morning we were back out in the Pacific with more flat seas, off to Dana Point and the Nordhavn mothership!  SO EXCITING!  We had been to PAE’s offices twice previously – once to look at different models of these incredible boats just prior to the recession (plans then went on hold) and the second time for the PAE 40th Anniversary party.  But we had never arrived with our own boat. Really, for us, this was a special moment.


The gentlemen of Red Rover and Epoch had a plan for the black tie film festival that required a shopping trip.  So off to Fashion Island we went to support the Newport Beach economy.  We washed our grimy boat, watched the noisy sea lions on the next dock, picked up some items that we had shipped to PAE and chatted with Dan Streech and Becky Peters in the Nordhavn lounge.  PAE’s offices are in the Dana Point marina, in a building that used to be a restaurant.  The team saved the bar as a lounge and it is a great place to hang out, have a beverage and chat with the local team and other visiting owners.  We think it is super cool.

Zoe goes to the Nordhavn Mothership for the first time. Of course, they are dog friendly!

On Thursday evening we met up with friends Hugo and Michelle Cookson on their new boat, N55 Gitana, which is beautiful!  We met Hugo and Michelle in January of this year when they were trying to decide on their next Nordhavn.  They previously owned a N47 in Europe and have some amazing cruising stories.  Hugo and Michelle are the third boat of the Nordhavn Taco Run and are now running south with Red Rover and Epoch to San Diego where we’ll meet up with more of the Taco Runners.  We did find Vincent and Linda Cummings (also Taco Runners) on their brand new N60 Last Arrow in Dana Point, but they need to do a few more commissioning items before they join us in San Diego.  We’re looking forward to seeing them next week!

On Friday our friends Shawn and Elizabeth of N43 MV Freedom (haven’t seen their videos? check them out here) arrived to spend the weekend with us and attend the weekend festivities.  We have missed cruising with them, and our dogs have missed Sandy and Mr. Sully their pups.  It was so great to have them on Red!  Later that day, our friend Eric Bescoby of N40 Sprezzatura flew in from New York and took up residence in the captain’s cabin.  We met Eric cruising in Alaska and he has since found his way through the Panama Canal and up the east coast. Pretty cool!

Shawn and Elizabeth

On Friday afternoon, PAE hosted a SUPER fun event for us – a taco party to celebrate the 2019 Nordhavn Taco Run and mileage pennant recipients. The Nordhavn team is close to, and cares about their owners.  One way that they do this is through their mileage pennant program.  Owners can log their miles on Nordhavn’s website and earn pennants for milestones.  How fun is that?  Becky Peters, who is an absolutely wonderful person, put on this fun party and also runs the pennant program.  THANK YOU BECKY!

The tacos were delicious, the conversations were fun, and the pennant presentations were great!  We were super excited to earn our 10,000 nm pennant and to stand among our friends receiving their distance pennants.  We earned our 5,000 nm pennant in just a little over a year of cruising on Red Rover, while both of us were working full time.  Working and cruising is totally possible, but I have to say, cruising and not working is delightful!  At almost three and a half years into owning Red, we are at about 11,500 miles and counting.  The number should grow a bit more sharply over the coming years!

Taco eaters
The Nordhavn lounge/bar
Listening to Becky present!


10,000 nm!
Vince and Linda with their new boat burgee, Dougal and Jen onto their second Nordhavn!
Abby and Scott, Michelle and Hugo, Shawn and Elizabeth, Dougal, Jen and their daughter Cassidy with Becky
These miles make us happy!
Proud Abby and Scott

Somewhere along the way, PAE president Dan Streech sort of “announced” in the Nordhavn Dreamers forum that there would be an after party on Red Rover.  This seems to happen wherever we go, so we of course joined in the story and of course, had an after party.  Two to be specific.  One for Friday and one for Saturday night.  One of the last guests at the Saturday night party in an hour that began with the number 2?  Nordhavn’s own, Devin Zwick of course.  It isn’t a late night party without Devin!

Red Rover’s late night salon scene

On Friday night and then again on Saturday during the day, we welcomed a gaggle of Nordhavn owners and friends onto Red Rover for great conversations and lots of laughter.  It was really fun to meet people that we only “know” online as well as to connect with friends we haven’t seen in some time!

The gorgeous sunshine and endless stream of boats parading through the marina prompted us to lower the dinghy, grab a road pop and join in the action.  Fun!  We then needed to head back to the boat and get ready for the night ahead.

The very famous Lugger Bob, Shawn and the most famous of all… Zoe.

The Nordhavn Film Festival was a brilliant idea by the PAE team.  Owners were asked to submit 5-10 minute films about the boats themselves, the community and in general the passion around cruising on these world capable boats. Ten finalists were selected by a team of judges with a $10,000 first prize for the winner.  We were so proud of our friends with films.  So. Much. Work. So. Much. Talent.  We had planned to submit a film, but the stress of leaving our regular life got to us this summer and we chose to relax a bit.  If there is another festival we may create a video.

The festival was a black tie event and included a red carpet complete with photographers, live music, a multi-course seated dinner, a photo booth, and screenings of the top 10 films. Of course, it was also live streamed.  So how how did Kevin and friends dress for this event?  In shorts of course!  Shorts, jackets and ties.  Now known as Liveaboard Black Tie.

When you have great legs…show off!

We felt that as this was a boating event… we should take a boat to it!  Hence, the dinghy ride to the red carpet.

007.  Bond. James Bond.
Elizabeth is already onto her next film.
Silly dinghy people in really nice clothes.


Despite his shorts, PAE asked Kevin and I to do an interview for the livestream, which made me nervous as I was wearing sparkly high heels that added 3.5 inches to my already 5’11” self.  But we did it and I didn’t fall over.

The shorts boys – Pat, Kevin and Scott with Lugger Bob who was looking sharp!
Add Shawn!
Now that’s some sparkle.
I love this photo of us.
The tent scene


Mike Potter, waiting for Nicole – N62 Pendana
One of our fun photo booth cards!

The festival was elegant, fun and a few times, brought tears to my eyes when a film expressed how I feel about our boat and our life on it.  It is sometimes hard to believe that we are actually living this adventure and that we have made such strong friendships in such a short amount of time. The festival also allowed us all to laugh – with a few film makers who added a good dose of humor to the mix.  Our friends Alexa and Pat Shanafelt of N50 Noeta created a hilarious film that introduced some new vocabulary words – Noodle and Noggle.  Curious?  Watch their film here!  You might see us in there.

In the end, a film made by a crew member of the Nordhavn 120, Aurora, won the contest with a poignant film about a rescue of a dolphin and two sea turtles entangled in fishing line/nets offshore.  Our friends Shawn and Elizabeth were the first runner up of the festival with a gorgeous film that spoke to the main elements of the Nordhavn “thing” – the boats themselves, the adventures possible in the boats and the incredible community between the owners.  They also had a special message about getting started and not waiting to be a certain age, retired or with a big bank account.  Watch it.  Oh and look for Kevin in there too.

Shawn and Elizabeth with their prize

You can see a taping of the livestream and the top 10 videos at this link.  We loved seeing all of the films and so appreciate all of the work that everyone put into them!  Family and love were also a big theme – from the liveaboard family story of N55 Mermaid Monster to the love story of N62 Pendana, to the story of passing down a passion for boating in the N60 “Father to Son” film.  I think ultimately it was the combination of all ten films that spoke to what the Nordhavn cruising lifestyle is.  It is too big of an idea for only one film to capture.  Much love for all of the films!

On Sunday after seeing Shawn and Elizabeth off in the morning we lurked around our boat, watched the Seahawks game, took another dinghy cruise and had a fun dinner with the current group of Taco Runners – Epoch, Gitana, Last Arrow and Red Rover.

Max is blissed out on the dinghy
Zoe checking out the scene

On Monday morning it was off to San Diego with Gitana joining our small flotilla.  Now that we’re three boats, we are a Noodle!  Yes!

The Taco Noodle heads south

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