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.

6kw genset(1)6307410380532479365..jpg
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.

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
Red Rover #1
Red Rover #2
Red Rover #2
Red Rover #3
Red Rover #3
Red Rover #4
Red Rover #4
Red Rover #5
Red Rover #5
Red Rover #6
Red Rover #6
Red Rover #7
Red Rover #7
Red Rover #8
Red Rover #8
Red Rover #9
Red Rover #9
Red Rover #10
Red Rover #10
Red Rover #11
Red Rover #11
Red Rover #12
Red Rover #12
Red Rover #13
Red Rover #13
Red Rover #14
Red Rover #14
Red Rover #15
Red Rover #15


West Coast of Vancouver Island – Part 2

West Coast of Vancouver Island – Part 2

West Coast of Vancouver Island – Part 2

As I write this we are cruising east in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and it is totally flat, glassy water without any wind, waves, or anything.  Unbelievable.  With many hours of cruising left to go, it seems like a great time to draft the next chapter of this story.  (EDIT – I wrote the first portion in the Strait…and finished up at home but regardless here’s the story!)

When we last left off, we were in Ucluelet at the northern entrance to Barkley Sound.

Thursday, September 6 – Ucluelet to Tofino, Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia:  26.5 nautical miles

We left Ucluelet early in the morning and headed out to the Pacific.  The seas were pretty calm but as we were headed into the waves it was slightly bumpy, but not a big deal.  Zoe just isn’t as much of a fan of head seas!  As we were nearing Tofino we could see a large stack coming up out of the waves ahead…checking on AIS we saw that it was indeed Abby and Scott on Epoch, their Nordhavn 47 and around them, the Slowboat flotilla, heading south on their circumnavigation of Vancouver Island!  Fun!  We took some photos of Laura and Kevin on Airship, Sam on Safe Harbor and Vincent and Linda on Doll Face and of course had a good chat on the VHF.  The flotilla boats were some of the first cruising boats we had seen in days.


Scott and Abby on N47 Epoch
Beautiful coastline

We cruised around the point into Clayoquot Sound in the sunshine scanning the shores for the Middle Beach Lodge where we had stayed 17 years prior.  Gorgeous all around.  We had heard from others (including the Slowboat crew) that it is hard to find moorage in Tofino, especially as a larger vessel.  We had tried calling the marinas over the prior days to be told that no, there wasn’t any space for a 60 foot power boat because there was a big fishing tournament about to start, and/or generally that if we were 28 feet they could welcome us.  Anchoring in Tofino is a challenge because of the currents that run past the town at up to 4 knots.  Plus there are water taxis and tour boats zipping around at all times.  These small fast moving boats don’t seem to have any sense of speed other than full throttle.  They run their boats like precision race car drivers. Quite the talent really.

Just a few miles west of Tofino

So we weren’t hopeful for a slip in Tofino and had been looking at where we could anchor farther away and perhaps hop back with the dinghy.  Or maybe where else we might go and come back to Tofino on the way home.   Add to this that the weather forecast predicted that a storm was coming with 30+ knot winds.  Good times. One more call to the Tofino Harbour Authority and we struck gold!  Yes, they could take us at the 4th Street Dock if we wanted to raft to a 54 foot powercat.  No problem.  We can do that.

Squishing the powercat


After tying off to the powercat, and then tying lines to the dock around him, oh and adding our fenders to his boat against the dock to ensure he was not potentially going to be squished, we headed out to explore Tofino.  Seventeen years ago we ate the best halibut and chips I have ever had in Tofino.  We searched but I think the little spot is gone.  Lots of other cool places and spaces however!


Fish cleaning area on the dock

Zoe accompanied us for some of the exploring but she was a little sleepy after the morning ocean jaunt and had a nap for a portion of the afternoon.  After a lovely dinner out we returned to the boat to a happy doggo.

Friday, September 7 – Tofino

Friday morning brought the first wave of the storm with an all-day serious downpour and some wind.  We decided to stay put for the day.  One of the reasons that we wanted to stop in Tofino (other than the great town) was that we had ordered a few things from Fisheries Supply in Seattle to be delivered to Tofino.  A new American flag (as the other was lost somewhere around Victoria) and a new pump for the blackwater system.  Alas, the package was stuck in Customs.  So we spent the super rainy day doing a few boat projects including changing the duck bill valves on the blackwater tank pump.  Good times.

Gortex is your friend!

We also wandered out of the boat into the rain in our rain gear to see what was happening around town.  A new totem pole was being raised and the community was getting ready for a community-wide dinner where all could come together to celebrate the new totem pole.  Very cool.

Just after raising the Totem


The bad weather didn’t seem to stop the tourism however.  Boatload after boatload of tourists dressed in Mustang survival suits and now, long yellow rain jackets kept descending upon the marina, loading into fast open RIB boats and going out to search for whales and bears.  I’m not sure how they could see them exactly.  One gentleman we met said that it was likely that they were “whale listening” as there was little chance they could see a whale unless it was right on top of them!  I decided these people looked like “ketchup and mustard people” and for some reason found their gear and collective march to be pretty hilarious.  As we saw them all day, my hilarity just never ended!


Alison’s ketchup and mustard people

Saturday, September 8 – Tofino to West Whitepine Cove, Clayoquot Sound: 17 nautical miles

On Saturday morning we decided to head out in a dry spell.  We knew that the winds were coming next so we scoured our guidebooks for safe, yet pretty harbors.  We landed on West Whitepine Cove, a gorgeous bay with a rushing creek running into it and lovely scenery.  On the way we cruised through an area of Clayoquot Sound with a tremendous number of sea otter colonies.  They are so funny and adorable. They float around on their backs looking up at us like, hey, what are you guys doing?  Wanna swim?


Red Rover heading to West Whitepine Cove


We anchored in the cove, all alone once more.  A dinghy excursion was in order to check out our new anchorage!  And of course, that’s when it began to pour once more.  It rained and rained and rained and rained some more.  And then it rained again.


Alison with the anti-bear equipment


It was another “embrace the rain” type of day


Rain may have been an understatement…



While enjoying a little red wine with the rain we noticed a pair of porpoises that were hanging out in our cove, diving and playing near the boat.  After watching them for a bit two more showed up!  It was like we had our own porpoise playland.

Oh and not to be forgotten, it was Zoe’s 9th birthday!  Happy Birthday Zoe!  We cooked up some chicken thighs for our birthday girl and gave her lots of loves.

Hey Humans!  Why is there kibble in my birthday dinner??

Sunday, September 9 – West Whitepine Cove to Bacchante Bay, Clayoquot Sound:  31 nautical miles with a detour

The wind came up on Saturday afternoon but didn’t really begin to blow until the early hours of the morning on Sunday. Of course.  Even in our very protected anchorage the wind speeds reached 30 knots.  We swung around, drank coffee and watched the storm feeling great about our purchase of a Rocna anchor last year.


Just as abruptly as the storm began, it stopped.  The rain stopped, the wind stopped and some blue sky opened up.  Wahoo!  We quickly packed up, pulled the anchor and headed back out, thinking we would transit Hayden Passage at slack tide and move north to position ourselves for a visit to Hot Springs Cove the following day, ocean conditions permitting.


Hayden Passage was simple and easy.  We transited toward the ocean a bit, and found lumpy conditions.  After exploring a few coves we decided to visit Bacchante Bay, a gorgeous destination with steep mountains, a grassy meadow and beautiful scenery.  We were once again all alone in this pristine, wild anchorage.

Our anchorage at Bacchante Bay
Dog and her ball


One of the images in this series is going to be in the 2019 Nordhavn calendar!
This was a small island before the entrance to the bay that we took the dingy to explore
Queen of the mountain!


I have the stick!
The streams were running fast with all the recent rain
Hey!  There’s a boat on my nose!

Monday, September 10 – Bacchante Bay to Quait Bay (with a detour to, but not reaching Hot Springs Cove), Clayoquot Sound:  44 nautical miles

In the morning we continued to explore the bay a bit more and enjoyed coffee and breakfast with a stunning view.  We then decided to head out of the bay, gain a bit of cell service and check Environment Canada for ocean conditions with an intent to go to Hot Springs Cove.  The website said 1-3 meters with lessening winds and calming seas in the afternoon.  Well… not really.  We approached the ocean and noted that the swells were not as large in the more protected waters.  As we headed into the swells to go out and make the turn into Hot Springs Cove the wave heights grew.  Waves were crashing and water was spurting into the sky on either side of the channel, and the waves were up to 15 feet, and although well spaced, we were down in the wave troughs looking up at walls of water.  Not so good.  The entrance to Hot Springs Cove it just didn’t seem safe, sane or perhaps possible to move our slow boat in there.  So back we went.  And once again, I have not made it to the hot springs in Alaska or BC.  Hmm.

For those who know Zoe, you understand that this was not a look of enjoyment!  She was glad we turned back to flat water….

We decided to move back toward Tofino and ventured back through Hayden Passage.  We checked out Matilda Inlet and the small First Nation village of Ahousat and then cruised onto Quait Bay.


Warrior man?


Our guidebook noted that the floating lodge in the bay was closed but that a caretaker was stationed there.  Of course, the guidebook was published after last summer so some things do change.  We anchored not far off of the floating lodge and a rushing creek behind it.  After taking Zoe for a well-earned “shore leave” and a floating afternoon cocktail we decided to go see what the lodge was all about.  There were numerous fishing boats tied to the docks and it appeared to have a variety of people walking around on the upper deck.

Hey humans, that’s a big floating building over there.  Let’s check it out!
The longhouse in the foreground, the floating lodge in the background.
Alison has already used this fireplace in a real estate consulting report – tax deductible trip?

A man (who we later learned was Chris) in a chef jacket shouted down at us to come on in and join the party.  Well why not?  After taking Zoe for a quick walk Kevin took the doggo back to the boat and I wandered up the stairs, dressed in full rain gear, headed to a party with a bunch of people I had never met.  And it was a blast.

The party ended up being a mix of people having a tuna tournament in Tofino, out for an evening of fun and the staff of the Tofino Resort & Marina.  There were deck jumpers – enjoying a nighttime plunge into the icy waters below, beer, wine, food and a lot of fun and laughter.

We learned that the floating lodge had a variety of land-based buildings as well, including a long house a spa, and more.  We were encouraged to come back in the morning and explore the surrounding grounds and of course have breakfast!

Tuesday, September 11 – Quait Bay

With an invite to explore we got up in the morning and headed to shore.  Chris reappeared and asked us to come up for breakfast.  Well ok!

The floating lodge was once called Pinkerton Lodge and then became Clayoquot Wilderness Resort.  It will have a soft opening this fall and a grand opening next spring as The Tofino Wilderness Resort.  We would love to go back next year and see how this really, really cool place comes back to life.

The resort was originally built by the Sunkist company.  And it appears that no expense was spared. The floating lodge was a floating restaurant in Victoria for the World’s Fair.  It was then moved to Quait Bay (with an exciting high tide float through the very narrow entrance to the bay) and remodeled into a hotel.  The long house and adjacent spa building were developed along with a spectacular boardwalk that winds through the forest, along a raging creek up to a series of beautiful lakes.  Several cottages sit along the lake shore.  The creek is also the source of power for the resort as an extensive hydro power system was created.  It is a self-sufficient place with no roads leading to the resort.  Future guests will access the resort via a quick 20 minute boat ride from Tofino.

Dining area in the Lodge
Dock on the lake above the lodge


The dam and pipe that powered the water generator – and a little wayfinding signage.


The spa, hot tub and 22 foot deep natural pool in the foreground

Apparently the resort was really only ever open for a few years.  It has been sitting dormant for years and Chris and team are working hard to put the place back together.

Chris made us an awesome breakfast of French toast and sausages and we enjoyed the resort’s WiFi for awhile.  We explored the boardwalk and the lakes and enjoyed it all!

Now if only every day was gorgeous like this

After wandering around the shore we decided to go check out Freedom Cove in the dinghy.  This famous cove is home to Catherine and Wayne who have built a completely sustainable floating island that they live on.  Their gardens and outbuildings have been extensively covered in the media.  One of the many videos about the cove – watch here!  We chatted with Wayne from the dinghy but as we had Zoe with us, we created a bit of havoc with their three chihuahuas who were taking their job of homeland security quite seriously.  Visitors are welcome at Freedom Cove and the owners take the time to tour people through their unusual property – no dogs though!  We were told that it would be polite to provide a $20 bill as a gracious thank you for the tour – something to keep in mind if you head to Freedom Cove.

A pink and teal delight


After an afternoon of dinghy wandering we headed back to the boat to lounge about and then take another hike up to the lakes.  A beautiful afternoon, even though it rained a bit!


Wednesday, September 12 – Quait Bay, Clayoquot Sound to Effingham Bay, Barkley Sound:  43 nautical miles

On Wednesday morning we got up bright and early and took Zoe to shore for a quick doggie break prior to departing back to Barkley Sound.  As we motored toward the Pacific, fog rolled in and out around us, and we noted some remarkedly shallow areas under the keel!  The ocean swells began and wala!  We were back in the Pacific.

Red Rover at dawn
Heading towards Tofino area


Entering the fog out on the Pacific
Easy rolling morning


Our cruise south was truly uneventful with very little wind and long rollers that simply gave us a bit of speed as we cruised down them.  Easy ocean.  When we arrived at Barkley Sound we cruised past Ucluelet and headed down to Coaster Channel, a mid-point entrance into the Broken Island Group.  I was less delighted about the idea of coming into a channel with waves breaking on rocks on either side of it, but Kevin assured me that it would have far more elbow room than it looked.  After a few swift turns by some rocks, with the swells propelling us forward, we were back into the calm waters of the Broken Island Group.

We headed to Effingham Bay and surprisingly, there were other cruising boats there!  WHAT!?!  Other people were actually on the West Coast of Vancouver Island?  We anchored mid-bay and took the dinghy down for some exploring.

Fetching the stick!  One of Zoe’s favorite beach activities
Nurse log


As the fog rolled in, we decided to hang out in the boat and entertain Zoe, who had been a most patient doggo during the ocean portion of the trip.  Kevin held an evening show for Zoe with her toys as the primary players.  She enjoyed it immensely and decided to chase said toys all over the boat.  Good times!

It’s a doggo play day!
Oh hey humans…

Thursday, September 13 – Effingham Bay, Barkley Sound

On Thursday morning, we anticipated the arrival of the Slowboat crew who were joining us for the evening in Effingham Bay.  I did a conference call (a little work had to happen) and Kevin messed around with boat projects.

When the Slowboat crew arrived we all said hello and some of us set out for more dinghy exploration, visiting these outer islands and the gorgeous landscapes that challenging weather creates.  We even ran the dinghy through a sea cave as the swells entered and exited the cave.  So very cool!

The Slowboat Flotilla joins Red Rover in Effingham Bay


Exploring the sea caves by dinghy





In the evening, we had the Slowboat crew over to Red Rover for dinner.  And they brought dinner!  The very best kind of guests!  Kevin and the gentlemen played with his new underwater drone, learning that it was going to take some practice.  They were getting the hang of it by the time dinner came around.  We all celebrated Sam’s birthday and gave him lots of peer pressure to buy a Nordhavn.  😊  Always fun!


Leaving Barkley Sound – just beautiful

If you are reading this asking, “what’s the Slowboat crew?” we can fill in the blanks.  Slowboat is a flotilla run by Sam Landsman, Laura Domela and Kevin Morris.  These awesome people lead small groups of slow boats (and now and then a faster one) on several trips each summer including an epic Alaska trip and a few circumnavigations of Vancouver Island.  This was their second trip around the island this summer.  We met the Slowboat crew for the first time last summer in Petersburg, Alaska and have enjoyed get-togethers with them ever since.  If you’d like some expert knowledge, the Slowboat flotilla could be a great fit for a first trip north. 

Fellow Nordhavn owners Scott and Abby were along on Epoch, their N47, and Vincent and Linda Cummings who have a N60 on order were also on the trip.  Always fun to see the Nordie family.

Friday, September 14 – Effingham Bay to Port Renfrew, British Columbia:  46 nautical miles

On Friday morning before the crack of dawn we headed out to sea once more, cruising with the Slowboat flotilla back into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Conditions truly could not have been more easy – it was a smooth ride and fun to have friends to chat on VHF / messenger with as we went.

The Slowboat crew was heading to Port Renfrew.  Originally we had thought we’d bypass this stop and head to either Sooke or Victoria.  In the end, we decided it would be fun to stop – and why not?  So we headed to Port Renfrew, a really cool little marina.

Port Renfrew


Apparently the marina had been rebuilt after a monster winter storm came through and took down the breakwater, damaging the docks.  We were told by the marina staff that within a few hours of the storm passing, work began.  The cost?  Several million dollars.  Impressive.  The small marina is lovely.  It has a restaurant that is currently serviced by a food truck on the upland area.  The marina is being reworked by the same people who own the Mill Bay marina and restaurant where I have spent many years being Crew Mom watching Kirsten row at the Brentwood College Marina.  So it was a welcome sight!

Kevin and Zoe and I had lunch at the restaurant and enjoyed some beers with Abby and Scott before heading out for a good long walk.  We promised Zoe afterall.  We wandered into the Beach Camp area and then turned around and walked to the “town” or Port Renfrew which is centered on a very cool pub.  The pub sits alongside a wharf that includes a small hotel, fishing excursions, commercial fishing infrastructure and more.  Super cool.  I’d stay there in a minute.

Beer thirty


Alison wants to stay at this little hotel on the pier someday
Humans!  Do as I wish!

After our walk we went back to the restaurant (sans Zoe who went to nap on Red Rover) and met up with the Slow Boat flotilla for dinner.  We then retired to Epoch (N47) for tasty beverages.  A good time was had by all!

A fisherman had left a few fish heads out on the dock for the seagulls…  Zoe found them fascinating.

Saturday, September 15-  Port Renfrew to Port Angeles to Home (Shilshole Bay Marina, Seattle):  127 nautical miles

Saturday dawned bright and early once again.  We headed out of the marina slightly later than the Slowboat crew as we had a dog to walk!  But we caught up.  The Slowboat crew was headed to Victoria for what else?  A victory celebration!  Their circumnavigation was complete.

The Red Rover crew was headed back to the US.  We enjoyed completely and totally flat conditions on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which is almost unheard of.  And of course, some fog with a bajillion small fishing boats darting about without any visibility.  Eventually the fog broke and Port Angeles was ahead.  We checked in at customs, surrendered our limes and lemons (where do they put all of this stuff?  I’m betting they have an awesome bar at Customs & Border Patrol) and headed back out, thinking we’d spend the night in Port Townsend.

The sky blended in with the sea


Making our way home under the watchful eye of the lighthouse
One lonely sweet potato, all the US Custom officers left us after clearing back in at Port Angeles.

Well, as we neared Port Townsend we read that the following day was expected to bring 3-4 foot seas in Admiralty Inlet and the Puget Sound.  Not a big deal really, but likely a good bash all of the way home.  So… instead, we decided to just go for it.  We made some dinner, drank some Redbull and waved at Port Townsend out of the port side windows.

We don’t normally cruise in the Sound in the dark due to crab traps and logs.  But crabbing season was over, there was a nice bright moon and after we passed the south end of Whidbey Island, nice conditions.  Windy but easy seas.

Seattle Traffic, who controls commercial shipping traffic in the VTS (Vessel Traffic Service) seemed a bit concerned about our nighttime presence as they kept calling us.  We were cruising just on the outside of the shipping lanes, attracted their attention.  “Red Rover!  What are your intentions?”  We chatted multiple times and listened as they informed the Alaska bound cruise ships and tug boats of our presence (I think they can see us on AIS). The other captains were told to watch out for a southbound yacht, Red Rover, and that the RR captain had been told to be monitoring closely.  Kinda fun.

A cruise ship heading north as we headed south

We pulled back into Shilshole at 10:30 pm, 16 hours after we left Port Renfrew.  A long day, but it afforded us a nice Sunday at home.

What a fantastic trip!