The Intracoastal Waterway

There is so much I don’t know.   

First, it’s “intra” not “inter” coastal.  Intra meaning within, inter meaning between.  The intracoastal waterway (ICW) is a 3000-mile inland waterway running from Boston, Massachusetts, southward along the Atlantic around the southern top of Florida, then following the Gulf coast to Brownsville, Texas.  It consists of natural inlets, salt-water rivers, bays, sounds and artificial canals.  Its history dates back to late-1700s.

Not unlike the West coast, we are a part of the migration of boats traveling south in the late fall to southern Florida, Florida Keys, Bahamas, Caribbean, or Jamaica. Our migration, starting from Gloucester Point, VA to Norfolk, down the ICW to Beaufort, NC, Charleston, SC to Fort Pierce, Florida in hopes of finding sun and warm weather.  Our route is a combination of the ICW and open Atlantic Ocean cruising. The migration puts stress on the marinas and facilities.  We call ahead and often get a giggle from the marina dock master because we are calling a little late to reserve a slip, especially this year with the COVID-19 limitations.

We left Waterside Marina in Norfolk on Friday, October 9 after an awesome visit from my sister Julie, nephew Matt and Chelsea, his SO.

We delayed our departure one day and spent the majority of that day studying Dozier’s and Skipper Bob.  Kind of like Waggoner’s and Charlie’s Charts. I’m glad we spent the extra time because within the first 20 miles we encountered five bridges and one lock.  A lot to grasp at the start of the cruise.

We have been introduced to: Bridge Architecture 101.  We contacted the bridge operators to open two vertical bridges, two swing bridges and one draw bridge.  The Gilmerton Bridge (vertical) operator had a little fun with Orenda. With two boats ahead of us, the bridge raised and the operator radioed for each boat to proceed. We held back thinking the operator would also radio us to proceed. Instead he said “Hey Capt, you want to come on through? It’s at 90 feet, think you can squeeze under?”  So ok, we need to put on our ‘east coast’ pants, or what Scott said!

The Waterway Guide explains that the first 200-mile long stretch of the Atlantic ICW consists of locks, canals, rivers, land cuts and open water sounds. It also states that some of the open water has long fetches and shallow depths. The Currituck Sound at mile marker 42 is one large open water sound. It can span from 3 miles to 8 miles wide.  The center channel is supposed to carry 11-foot depths.  We experienced less than one foot under the keel most of the way, our shallowest moment was 0.4 feet! I googled the Currituck Sound and was amused with one question “Can you swim in the Currituck Sound?”  The answer was of course, but swimming was difficult because the water is only knee to waist high!  I did not know a sound could be so shallow.

Our first day on the ICW we made good time, often traveling at 7.5 knots, watching the depth constantly.  At the depths we were traveling, on the West coast, we would have slowed to ‘crawl’ speed to make sure we had time make adjustment before going aground. But folks we have chatted with say “you’ll get use to cruising in shallow water”.  Our first night, we anchored in 4.3 feet under the keel or 11.3 feet of water.  Who anchors in 11 feet of water?  Who would have known?

So the water in the ICW is often brownish.  The brown color is from tannic acid. Tannic acid is released from decaying vegetation which happens to be a characteristic of the inland canals of the ICW. Tannins are released from the roots and leaves of decaying cypress and juniper trees.  I understand the tannic acid can give boats a brown “Mustache”. We will find out when we haul out to have work done in Florida!

There is this “canal effect”. I didn’t know. It’s the tendency of the stern to swing toward the bank in narrow waters.  We experienced “the effect” at the Punga Ferry Bridge when the operator encouraged us to ‘speed her up’ as they were waiting for us so they could close the bridge. The “effect” was quite scary!

Other things I didn’t know – what is – ‘no tidal rise and fall’ and ‘hurricane holes’.  And insects, look like mosquitos, but aren’t.  When we woke in the anchorage, the entire boat was covered with insects, hundreds of thousands of billions of insects! The insects turned out to be Chironomidae, or non-biting midges, locally and not affectionately known as muckleheads.

We picked up the midges at an anchorage called Cypress Swamp on the Alligator River.  The following day during an all-day rain, we traveled the Alligator River – Pungo River Canal.  The canal, or often referred to as ‘the ditch’ is scenic, heavily wooded and relatively narrow.  Hoping to make progress on insect control, I spent the majority of the cruise on the boat deck spraying water and trying Pinesol and dish liquid in an attempt to discourage the midges. In the end, we lost the battle, emptied the water tank and succumbed to a couple of beers at anchor in the head waters of the Pungo river, within earshot of the River Forest Marina in Belhaven.  And so, the following morning, we limped into the marina.  We were met by Henry Boyd, Dock Master who took one look at Orenda and said, “Oh you got into the muckleheads, you must have been in the Alligator River!  You got it bad.”  Yep. No mention in the cruising manuals about insects, no mention from fellow boaters who have traveled the ICW.  I just didn’t know.

We spent the entire day cleaning the boat and just past sunset we declared good enough. Today we are cruising to Beaufort, NC via the Neuse River and Adams Creek. Our plan was to moor in the channel near Beaufort, but we are both wary of another mucklehead attack!! So we contacted Beaufort Docks on the historic Beaufort Waterfront and were able to secure a slip a day early.

We are enjoying Orenda and learning so much, and I still have so much to learn!  To be continued……

Oh My Gosh ….

Header photo by Julie Mollica, thanks!

Our last blog, Bashing It! describing our Baja cruise north to San Diego to sell Epoch was posted from San Diego, CA  238 days ago, on February 8, more than half a year has passed. What a year it has been! For all of us, I’m am very sure!

Epoch sale started in mid-February. We were moored in Chula Vista, California Yacht Marina and moved everything off the boat and into a “POD” delivered to us by EVERYTHING moved. On February 18, we took a last look at little Epoch and flew out of San Diego to Savannah, GA to meet our N5536.

Exciting time! We met Don Kohlmann at the airport and the following day, James Knight and Jay Flaherty were on April K with Paul and April at Thunderbolt Marina in Thunderbolt, GA. 

Following the survey and sea trial, Scott and I flew to Ohio, to my childhood home in Strongsville to help care for my mom, 93 years old, still living at home, who had fallen two days before Christmas and fractured her hip. Scott spent a week in Strongsville then flew home to Washington state while my siblings and I spent long days with my mom in the Skilled Nursing Facility. We all stayed with my mom in hopes our encouragement and cheering would help her heal quickly.  Mid-March, we were greeted by COVID-19, Ohio, California, and Washington all implemented social distancing or stay-home orders, boat sales became protracted and my beloved mom passed away. All in the same week…. Oh my gosh.

My siblings returned to their lives and to quarantine and I stayed at my mom’s home, too apprehensive to fly. March passed. And April. And most of May. Initially my flights were cancelled, but finally mid-May, I reunited with Scott in San Diego.  I joined his “camping” on Epoch. Remember, we had moved EVERYTHING off Epoch in early February into the POD. 

Early June, buyers drove from Westport, WA to inspect and survey Epoch. Steve D’Antonio a Marine Consultant was coming! Steve’s knowledge of Nordhavns and reputation for detail and buyer advocacy is well known which made me a bit anxious; Steve was absolutely outstanding and a nice guy to have onboard ! Mid-June the new buyers accepted the condition of Epoch with one stipulation; replace the exhaust muffler!

The muffler replacement was a big deal. Scott worked with Harco Manufacturing to have a new muffler fabricated which involved trading lots of email correspondence, measuring and developing a design drawing. The Marine Group Boat Yard crew installed the new custom muffler in a day and a half. The factory muffler insulation was built by Temptech and arrived a week later.  We installed the custom insulation ourselves in about 30 minutes, sweet fit with built-in fasteners. 

During our time at Chula Vista, some of our Taco Runners returned to San Diego from Mexico. We visited with Mike and Elaine on Pardita, Linda and Vince on N60 Last Arrow, Michele and Hugo on N55 Gitana, and our special friends, Max, Zoe on N55 Red Rover and their humans Alison and Kevin! Very fun times and wonderful to catch up!!

We also happened to be assigned the slip next to the very first Nordhavn trawler built, N4601 named UUB V. Colorful Captain George purchased her on the East Coast and after extensive cruising now lives onboard in Chula Vista, CA.

The Epoch sale closed in mid-July, uneventful with only Scott, I and Mark Gilbert on-board.  A few miles offshore, a couple of pics and Epoch was no longer ours. We docked our little Epoch, bid farewell to her for the last time, and headed back to Washington state via a 19-hour road trip. 

Scott’s comment on the way home was he has never been so boatless in his WHOLE life. Well, I said, you still have the roll-up beach tender in the POD.  Oh my gosh, you’re right he said.

So, meanwhile there’s actually more to Adventures of Little Fish. Paul Smith on April K, N5536 on the east coast and Scott had become email pals (per se).  Paul and April cruised April K during the summer and eventually ended up in York River Yacht Haven Marina in Gloucester Point, VA a good location for us to move onto April K.  So Ok! We flew to Norfolk, VA mid-August. We met Paul on a spotless, mechanically maintained and well-equipped yacht ready for cruising! Paul spent most of the day with us doing ownership turnover; so patient and helpful.

Our POD traveled across the US, west coast to east coast and arrived at York River Yacht Haven Marina on August 25. We placed the POD in the nearby boat yard. We rented a U-Haul pick-up truck and in 90-degree weather, 85% humidity, we unloaded the POD packed up 6-months ago into the U-Haul, drove the short distance to the marina and loaded into dock carts and then onto the boat.  We only had a day and a half before the POD was picked up!

We have been busy unpacking and making the boat ours, transferring licenses, reprogramming electronics, getting various subscriptions converted and even replacing SIM cards.

Two of my best friends, sisters Julie and Robin drove in from Pennsylvania and we had a wonderful fun first visitors onboard!

We are expecting the name and hailing port graphics installation any day now.  We have named her Orenda, which loosely means a supernatural force believed to be present, in varying degrees, in all objects or persons, and to be the force by which human accomplishment is attained or accounted for.

Where are we going next? As it is nearly October, we will likely start heading south. Of course, it depends on COVID-19, marina availability, weather and studying the cruising manuals to learn about this new and exciting east coast.  Oh my gosh, what a year it has been!

Bashing It!!!

Header photo by Theresa, thanks!

Bash, a verb (strike hard) or a noun (a bash on the head or birthday bash). Or the term I kept hearing about, the Baja Bash.  My study of the Baja Bash revealed that it is a West Coast phenomenon, usually left to paid delivery captains or unfortunate cruisers who need to get out of Mexico before hurricane season because of insurance policies.  It is the inevitable return trip from Los Cabos to San Diego.  Or the flipside of the downwind Baja Ha-Ha rally which takes place in the fall.  I believe the Baja Ha-Ha is called just that, because it is fun.  The bash, not so much, traveling against prevailing winds and seas along 800 miles of open coastline! Reading the Baja Bash II, by Capt. Jim Elfers, Rule #1 – Plan your return to the U.S. for July in an attempt to avoid the typically strong onshore northwesterly winds. So, it’s now January and we are starting the bash!

This is how it all began:

Epoch traveled to San Jose del Cabo with the Nordhavn Taco Runners, a noggle of 7 Nordhavns.  We were leap frogging the Baja Ha-Ha rally. The Baja Ha-Ha is a cruiser’s rally, mostly sailboats that travel from San Diego to Los Cabos in the fall every year. And it was so fun. No schedules, no hassles, no deadlines.  Just cruising, fishing, cervezas, margaritas and laughs. And beautiful sunrises and sunsets, everyday!  After a couple of days stay in San Jose del Cabo, we traveled with Red Rover across the Sea of Cortez to Puerto Vallarta, then on to La Cruz. Fun times in Mexico with warm mornings, sunny days, wonderful food, and a community of boaters who are the definition of “happy.” Ahh, wintering in paradise!

Beautiful Cerveza! I love beer.
Jeff and Shannon on Igloo N47, Alison, Kevin and Max (Zoe is under the table) on Red Rover N55 and Alec on Audrey Mae, N57
Dinner in La Paz with Kevin, Pat and Alexa on Noeta N50, Alison, Norm and Clarice on Salish Aire N46
Happy! Mexico!
Theresa and Jeff on Boomerang, our boat neighbors in La Cruz.
Beautiful sunset in Marina Riviera Nyarit, La Cruz

Scott, enjoying conductivity in La Cruz, his internet surfing happened on a Nordhavn 55 which perked his interest. Located on the US East Coast in South Carolina, he began his inquiries.  And the domino effect commenced!  An offer was made on our little Epoch N47, Scott made an offer on the N55, the buyers of little Epoch sold their N40, and so it goes, one event setting off a chain reaction of similar events.  Schedules for surveys, sea trials, and haul-outs were established. We departed La Cruz on January 20, 300 miles across the Sea of Cortez to San Jose del Cabo. After a quick trip to Seattle, we consulted with our weather guru, Rich Cortney, and began our “bash” on Monday, January 29.  Adios beautiful Mexico…. So much for wintering in Mexico!

Tradition dictates that boats headed north should hug the coast to avoid a thrashing.  They say run when you can and hide when you have to (sounds like an active shooter drill, eh?), and don’t even try to keep a schedule.  We left San Jose del Cabo at 8:15 AM after getting 1000-liters of fuel and waved adios to our friend Alec on Audrey Mae N57.  We came around the notorious Cape Falso in 3-5 foot seas at a 10-second period.  Cape Falso is known for incredible wind sea conversions and is the determinate for permission to pass and proceed northward.  3-5 foot seas at 10 seconds was awesome!

Cape Falso

Rich recommended we run the rhumb line which we did for a long while until the seas got too rough and bumpy; 8-10 feet at 10-12 seconds with nasty wind chop.  Moving about the boat required us to use the walls and railings for support.  Opening the refrigerator was out!  It was Thursday afternoon when Scott decided to get closer to the coast to get into calmer seas.  About 30 miles south of Abreojos, seas calmed down; 2-4 foot at 12 second periods. We made water, did laundry and caught up on overdue boat chores.  Seas were a gentle swell, 19 knot winds. A pleasant night cruise.

Pilothouse at night

12 miles south of Bahia Torugas (Turtle Bay), the NE wind picked up to a steady 25 knots with gusts of 35 knots.  Our closest place of refuge was Turtle Bay and needing rest entered the bay at 5:30 AM and anchored with an east breeze at 6-8 knots. The lugger main engine was shut down for the first time in 72 hours. When we woke around 9:30 AM, I had a text message from my friend in the Tri-Cities who was following our progress, “36 mph winds with gusts of 40 mph.” Included was an emoji squinting face with the tongue protruding! Yep, unfortunately she was correct, our winds were fierce. The anchor held but with the extreme force of the wind, we destroyed our anchor snubber.  

No more anchor snubber!

We showered and began our departure preparation from Turtle Bay after consulting with Rich who gave us the thumbs-up to continue north.  Scott was inside the anchor locker checking things out when the wind blew the anchor locker lid and it whacked Scott in the head. Ouch! Minor injury, thank heavens. I wanted to get a photo but Scott said no!  We weighed anchor at 1:30 PM in 20 knot winds, traveled north around Punta Eugenia and entered a very calm sea state of almost no wind, 1-2 foot seas on a long period.  We continued east of Isla Cedros in calm seas, 2 – 3 feet at 10-12 seconds.  All night long we had calm seas.

Around 5:00 in the morning I woke to the United States Coast Guard weather warning, “Securite, Securite” pronounced sea-cur-i-tay, suggesting we switch to 22-Alpha.  What?  “Gale force winds … San Diego and 60 – 150 n.m. offshore… Urgent marine weather message, NW winds 30 -40 knots, gusts to 50 knots, seas 19 – 23 feet, exceptionally dangerous sea conditions.  Precautionary measures should be taken immediately…..”  But we were in calm seas with little wind! 

We estimated we would be in Ensenada by 3 or 4 AM.  We increased the throttle to 1850 RPM which got us to about 7.5 – 8 knots.  With the increased speed we would be in Cruiseport Village Marina only a couple of hours earlier than we had predicted.  The Coast Guard weather warnings continued and were unnerving. We contacted Rich for consultation.  Rich confirmed the approaching weather. We discussed the run to Ensenada, landing in Cruiseport Village Marina at the same time the storm was predicted to arrive (hello storm!), in the middle of the night, and tired.  The run to Ensenada was changed to seeking anchorage in Bahia San Quintin to let the weather blow through. We cruised to Bahia San Quintin, traveling 5.5 knots to anchor for the night.  This cruise was enjoyable, calm, hardly a breeze (complex and confusing to be seeking anchorage now) but obviously the safest and smartest decision.

It was Monday, and we woke to high overcast skies with the sun promising to peak out. The night was very rolly, 16 knot winds from the NNW, 2-foot wind chop.  Our 10:00 AM consultation with Rich revealed a big ridge of pressure over San Francisco which was not moving very fast and causing weather off San Diego; 35 knot winds with 20-25 foot seas. Our 18-hour run to Ensenada would be delayed until Wednesday. Our predicted initial weather when departing late Wednesday afternoon would be 5 -7 foot seas at 10 seconds; and as we continue north, hugging the coast, we would get into a 2-4 foot sea state with a 12 second period. Ok.  Arrival into Ensenada was planned for Thursday, February 6 around noon.

Using the fiddles to keep the pots on the stove at anchor in Bahia San Quintin

We woke to flat water on Wednesday which was nice as the previous two days were very rolly.  Outside was sunny but we turned on the heat pump for heat instead of cooling as we had been air conditioning for the last few months. Mid afternoon we weighed anchor for our last overnight cruise for a while. 109 n.m. to Ensenada.

Our hitchhiker talking with the burgee.

Rich’s forecast was spot on with 5-7 foot seas at 10 seconds. He suggested we run the rhumb line. But at Punta Colonet, seas picked up to 8-10 feet on a short period, very rough and uncomfortable, so we moved closer to the coast to find calmer water. We cruised into Ensenada just after sunrise, calm seas and an easy run into the marina. I stepped onto the dock with lines in hand just about 192 hours after departing San Jose del Cabo. Land!

Cruiseport Village Marina, Ensenada Mexico

Friday was reserved for checking out of Mexico. Cruiseport Village Marina provides check-out services. Anna in the marina office prepared the paperwork; printing, copying, stamping, signing, stamping, copying! Then Alberto took us to the Health Department, then Central Services to visit immigration and the Port Captain. Our only involvement was to pay a fee to leave Mexico, 480 pesos. Alberto said “bap, bap, bap, we do it, just like that!” Later in the day we traveled to the Banjerito with Alberto to cancel the TIP (Temporary Import Permit) for the boat. We were extremely appreciative of their services. We can’t imagine figuring out all the paperwork and location of the offices on our own.

Scott with Anna, Evonne and Albeto, the staff in Cruiseport Village Marina. They were awesome!
Jose Venustiano Carranza, one of the main leaders of the Mexican Revolution. Assassinated in May 1920. But more phenomenal is he was 6 foot 6!
Last night in Mexico; Birrieria Guadalajara for dinner.
Night cap at some tavern we equated to the Anchor Inn in Anacortes; Caroline!

We departed Ensenada at 6:00 AM, and as Rich predicted, 1-2 foot seas with a long period. Calm. We never saw more than 9 knots of wind. We crossed into the United States at 3:00 PM and checked into US CBP on ROAM App and were cleared to return to to the US. We tied up at 4:00 PM in San Diego at the Police Dock, where we started this adventure. Bitter Sweet.


The facts:

Approximately 770 nautical miles and 350 gallons of fuel, eleven days (8 travel days and 3 stay days), weighed anchor twice for a total of 72 hours, one day in a marina, 12 conversations with our weather guru, Rich Cortney, 24 degree water temperature change, 34 degree air temperature change, one injury requiring first aid (you remember the anchor locker lid?), one radio contact (there was nobody out there), one major spill inside the refrigerator, one hitchhiker, three audiobooks, 11 sunrises and 10 sunsets, two people at the beginning and two people at the end.


I am an anthropomorphizer. Or so I have been told by my daughter and niece.  I love our Epoch. We have worked on her insides, beautified her surfaces, and lovingly brought her back to life. We named her.  She beams when we bath her! She took us to the west coast of Vancouver Island, to Alaska, she kept up with the “big kids” down the US coast to the Baja, then mainland Mexico, and brought us back safely. She is royal and she is mighty.  And I thought she would be with us for all of our retirement dream, our “epoch time.” But [we] are letting her go. I am sad and I am a little mad. I will miss her.

I do not relish in the buying and selling of things as Scott does.  He is euphoric with the sport of hunt and capture! This is his time. So much to plan and coordinate and talk about! He can’t wait to meet the N55 on the East Coast. He knows so much about her already; her previous care takers, her performance, her features, her travels. He corresponds with her seller who has shared so much information. Paul has been super! We had the opportunity to meet Epoch’s buyers in Seattle, Gary and Christine. They are very nice and knowledgeable and excited. They have kids. And a puppy named Ida!  I think they will be awesome.

So, ahoy my Epoch N4717 See Ya!  Safe travels my friend.

Ahoy N55. I look forward to meeting you. I do hope we grow like each other.  My friends and family, wish me luck! New boat (to us), cruising the east coast of the US, new friends we haven’t met yet.  Change… A new Adventure! We plan to cruise the east coast but will cruise home to the west coast someday.  As they say, life is good now but the best is yet to come.  Humm….we’ll see.

We’ll see.

Southeast ALASKA

Saturday, June 1, 2019 was the day we began our Alaska bound trip! One of our dream trips, bucket list item, a promise made long, long ago.  It is now December and the trip is only wonderful memories, but I thought I’d share some of our adventures, photos and the fun people we met along the way.

So here we go, welcome aboard! We departed from Shilshole Bay Marina in Seattle and cruised to Drayton Harbor, Semiahmoo Marina (Blaine, WA) to visit our friends who are making a life change for the summer months (selling their 44 DeFever Aft-Cabin and purchasing land in Concrete, WA). Semiahmoo Bay is beautiful with walking trails along the bay and a spectacular Mt.Baker back drop. Marilyn and Bill Hoober (Zula and Zeek are their traveling pups) have been boating friends for a very long time and we have enjoyed both cold and warm water diving with Bill. We will miss them on the water but are excited for them and their new adventures as dirt dwellers!

Epoch with Mt. Baker.
Beautiful scenery in Semiahmoo Marina.
Marilyn and Zeek and me with my new friend Zulu.

We spent a couple of nights anchored on San Juan Island, Roche Harbor and Sucia Island in Echo Bay.  We departed Echo Bay early in the morning. Mid-morning (I was taking a nap in the pilothouse and Scott was at the helm) Scott yelled, Ab, Ab, get up! We have someone here!! I woke quickly and looked out the pilothouse confirming that we were in the Strait of Georgia.  Somehow, “we have someone here” just didn’t make sense.  Scott slowed our boat down and opened the pilothouse door.  A large inflatable boat with US and BC police markings came along side and asked us some questions – did we own the boat, what was our destination and how many crew were on board. Our answers must have been satisfactory or we weren’t who they were looking for so they thanked us and took off! Very strange.

Sucia Island – we planned a hike but the mosquitos were relentless!
Sandstone bluffs
Lighthouse compound
Whales surfacing and blowing

We checked into Canadian Customs in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.  The process required we dock at the Customs Dock and call the Customs telephone number. After a 15-minute wait on the phone, they cleared us. We anchored that evening off Newcastle Island and dinghied to the Dinghy Dock Pub on Protection Island for supper and of course, cold beer. Very fun!!

Dinghy Dock Pub. Welcome to BC!
Me and Murry. Murry told me secrets about the Royal Family!

From Nanaimo we continued to the upper end of the Strait of Georgia to Discovery Passage.  Discovery Passage and the channels above Desolation Sound, known for their rapids, is the beginning of the wilder and less traveled wilderness of the north! We anchored in Gowlland Harbour, a large protected bay with considerable log booming activity. We planned a 12:45 pm entrance the following day into Seymore Narrows. 

Gowlland Harbour

Seymore Narrows is the narrowest portion of Discovery Passage.  Mariners are advised to navigate Seymore Narrows only at or near slack water. I read currents can run 16 knots on the flood and 14 knots on the ebb, flooding south and ebbing north. Interesting. Almost in the middle of the channel is Ripple Rock, an underwater mountain which had two peaks. It is known to cause considerable turbulence when tidal streams are running at strength.  In 1958, the top portion of Ripple Rock was blown to smithereens in the biggest non-atomic explosion of that time.  The explosion is still considered a major feat of engineering.

Johnstone Strait

We continued on to Johnstone Strait. Johnstone Strait extends 54 miles and has a mean reputation for strong currents and choppy seas. And we experienced some choppy seas. We started the strait with 5 knot winds which picked up to 20 knots and some chop, so we ducked into Port Neville to anchor for the night. The following day the strait was “behaving nicely” so we cruised to Port McNeill enjoying sunshine and calm seas. Port McNeill is described as a small modern city with grocery stores, liquor store, auto parts, restaurants, banks and recycling! We were assigned a slip in the Port McNeill Municipal Harbour for a couple of days. We visited with Neil and Dianna on Plamor N50, cruisers we know in Anacortes Marina and the crews of Starina and Car’d Away.

Port McNeill, a good place to provision
So many eagles.

Traveling with Plamor, we traversed the Queen Charlotte Strait and anchored in Blunden Harbour. From Blunden Harbour we rounded Cape Caution to Fury Cove.  Cape Caution is known to be a fearsome barrier to exploring the remote northern areas of British Columbia and on into Southeast Alaska. In fact, we have met experienced cruisers that were resolute that this is the last time they would round Cape Caution.  We had flat conditions and safely anchored in Fury Cove at the southeast entrance to Fitz Hugh Sound. 

Queen Charlotte Strait. Nice and flat!
Humpback whales.
Fury Cove

We anchored two days in Pruth Bay at the head of Kwakshua Channel.  The entire area of Pruth Bay is part of the Hakai Beach Institute which is used for research – Archaeology, Ecology, First Nations Culture.  In 2010 the area was a luxury fly-in fishing resort!  We hiked the beaches with the Dianna and Neil and enjoyed a late afternoon happy-hour.

Beautiful beach

The north end of Fitz Hugh Sound divides into two channels. We continued to Fisher Channel which is a continuation of the “Inside Passage” route then to Lama Passage into Shearwater Resort and Marina.  The day was nasty, rainy and cold and we were fortunate to get a slip in the marina. We enjoyed a happy hour with Neil and Dianna on Plamor, Park and Carol on Akeeva N50 who we also know from Anacortes, and new friends Toru and Chizuru on Chisato N40, and Larry and Monica on Gryphon N46. A Nordhavn gathering of sorts!

Shearwater Marina

The following day we said our good byes to Plamor and headed to Rescue Bay via Mathieson Channel.  We saw lots of whales and tried to get photos, Scott yelling “Get the tail. Get the tail!” 

A note about “Get the Tail!” I have read that humpback whales are known for their aerobatics. They may grow 50 feet in length and reach 45 tons. Humpback whales cruise at 5 knots, but are capable of 10 knots. Faster than Epoch! When sounding (diving), it raises its tail flukes high. Once you see the tail, the whale will be under the water for a time. So the tail sight is usually the last of the whale sighting. Until next time!

Get the tail!

It was a sunny day in Rescue Bay and we were visited by Gryphon crew and Chisato crew on kayaks. 

Visitors from Gryphon and Chisato
Having an “anchor” beer in the cockpit. We usually (always) have a beer when we get settled, either tied up at a dock or on the hook.
Ivory Island Lighthouse

It is around the 21st of June, the sun is rising at 4:15 am.  Sunset is after 10 pm so we had plenty of daylight cruising. We weighed anchor early and set out to Klutz Inlet on the east side of Graham Reach. We took Finlayson Channel to Klutz Inlet. Klutz Inlet has very steep rocky walls, snowcapped mountains and waterfalls.  Gryphon and Chisato where also anchored in the inlet near the waterfall. We put a crab pot down at the suggestion of Gryphon as they found the spot to be a good place for crabbing.  Later in the evening a sailboat entered the bay and decided to anchor between Epoch and Gryphon, a little close we thought. First the gal on board tossed the anchor over the bow. The anchor didn’t grab. Then the man on the sailboat pulled up the anchor and saw the anchor rope tangled. He tossed the anchor over in frustration and went inside the cabin. The following morning (we slept with one eye open in case they drifted) we had a giggle.  As Gryphon weighed their anchor, the sailboat began moving closer and closer to Gryphon.  The man on the sailboat came out and tried to hold his sailboat off Gryphon.  He was in his skivvies!  I clicked a photo or two.  The name of the sailboat was Dazed and Confused.  And indeed they were!

Klutz Inlet with Chisato and Gryphon
Grizzly Bears, yikes!
Beautiful Sunset in Klutz Inlet
The following morning, Dazed and Confused!

Our cruise up Grenville Channel, part of the main Inner Passage route leading north to Alaska was  spectacular. The channel is very narrow at one point, only 0.2 miles wide. The channel is deep with steep mountainous sides.  We encountered white sided porpoises swimming on the bow. For dinner we ate our fresh crab caught in Klutz Inlet!

White sided porpoises

The following day we entered Chatham Sound to East Dixon Entrance and ALASKA! It was in East Dixon Entrance Scott began his “Rig for Sea ” command when the sea state became unsettling. The Dixon Entrance is the second of the two main bodies of open water to be crossed on the Inside Passage and can develop nasty chop or breaking waves. When we “rig for sea,” I pad the cabinets with towels and empty cardboard egg cartons, secure the coffee maker, install the refrigerator rails, lock cabinets, freezers and lay the rocking chair over.  This is when I remember the saying – The difference between adventure and adversity is Attitude! Right? We anchored in Foggy Bay for the night after traveling 78 n.m. We were looking forward to a couple of days rest once we got to Ketchikan.  Our clearance into Alaska from BC was performed by Roam App.

Chatham Sound
What were they doing in Dixon Entrance?
Whale surfacing.

Tongass Narrows is the transition from crossing Dixon Entrance to arrival in Ketchikan. As we got closer to the city, changes from remote and unspoiled to civilization began to appear. When we arrived, 5 cruise ships were moored in Ketchikan.  Cruise ships are an imposing sight, towering 10 stories high and dwarfing the city. The cruise ships can carry 2000 passengers each.  You do the math, that’s a lot of people!  We were assigned a slip in Bar Harbor South, not too far from town.  We stayed 3 nights, visiting the town in the afternoons, after the cruise ships departed. We enjoyed exploring town, shopping for t-shirts, and visiting with the locals. We also made a trip to Safeway to stock up on produce and liquor store for beer.

CRUISE ships…
Puppy dogs are allowed in the taverns in Ketchikan. They even serve them small glasses of water!

From Ketchikan we crossed Clarence Strait into Kassan Bay, a very small village on the east side of Prince of Wales Island. I read that the Kassan village had a cannery and some boom and bust periods with a population of 500 when the cannery was operating years ago.  We tied up to a Public Dock and headed up to investigate how to pay for the moorage. Here we were, back to remoteness.  We finally located someone who told us moorage was free and to be sure to visit the longhouse and cemetery along the boardwalk.  We walked the boardwalk, past the Trail Café, open only on Friday and Saturday, to the long house, totem poles and the cemetery. The first tribal Chief of Kassan, Chief Sonihut is buried in the cemetery. Returning to the boat, a man sitting on his front porch yelled a greeting to us.  We stopped and chatted for a time.  “Skip” built his home many years ago, by hand, out of materials he brought by boat to Kaasan. His little home was decorated with crabbing buoys and driftwood he found on the beach. He invited us in, insisted we listen to his Bose Speakers, and gave us a tour of his garden.  He had “wacky plants” growing in his garden along with tomatoes, lettuce, squash, beans. Skip was certainly living off the grid, but looked forward to the infrequent visitors he encountered. Thank you Skip for your hospitality!

Welcome to Kassan!

The cafe, only open on Friday and Saturday.
Chief Sonihut gravestone
Public Dock at Kassan
Beautiful night sky!

We anchored a couple nights before heading to Wrangell. In Wrangell we were assigned a slip in Heritage Harbor. Wrangell has the feel of the Alaska Frontier.  The dock hand at Heritage Harbor, a young man, was very helpful and provided suggestions for taverns and food.  Fewer cruise ships call at Wrangell and compared to Ketchikan, the town appeared more laid-back and less commercialized. We quickly learned that Wrangell is known for its 4th of July celebrations so we decided to stay a few days and enjoy the celebrations. 

We signed up for a jetboat tour on the Stikine River.  The Stikine River has its source in a small lake in BC and is about 200 miles long and flows through glaciers and gorges. During our adventure in the jetboat we saw so many eagles and got close up to a glacier but the bergs were more interesting to me with their beautiful turquoise coloring.

Jetboat ride on the Stikine River
Floating hotels! Really, it is.
Eagles nest
Floating Bergs
Beautiful Scenery

The 4th of July activities were quite interesting. A greased pole contest, lumberjack contest, axe throwing. In between contests Scott and I would walk to the Elks Lodge for Moose Drool! Like I mentioned, Wrangell has the feel of the Alaska Frontier! We spent time with Toru and Chizuru on Chisato, Monica and Larry on Gryphon and our new friend Frank on Island Greeter.

Chizuru, Frank, Scott, Monica, Larry and Toru
Climbing, climbing

From Wrangell north to Petersburg, our next destination, we traveled the Wrangell Narrows, 21 miles in length. Essentially all water traffic (ferries, cruise ships, barges, commercial and recreational boats) must pass through the Wrangell Narrows which connects the lower and upper portions of Southeast Alaska. Wrangell Narrows reportedly has the highest concentration of navigational aids in the world with 67 lights and buoys. The passage is jokingly referred to as Christmas Tree Lane for its red and green blinking lights.

Christmas Tree Lane
Fishing Resort. So many eagles!
Petersburg, the back drop was gorgeous!

Petersburg is famous for its Norwegian heritage. Also known as the halibut capital of Alaska. Its economy depends on its fishing fleet and seafood processing plants. In the marina, we were surrounded by fishing vessels. The town is quaint and we spent two nights enjoying the company of Jan and Tom on their Defever Sunchaser and Darlene and Jeff Gidley on their Krogen 44 Mana Kai.

Scott, Jan, Tom, Darlene and Jeff
Scott chatting up the neighbors.

From Petersburg we cruised Clarence Strait. We were enjoying the long days, beginning the day at 5:00 am, docking at Thorne Bay by 7:30 pm. Still day light! We read that the city of Thorne Bay was once the largest logging camp in the US and used by cruising boats as a communication and supply center along this part of the Inside Passage. Fun and maybe supper in town! So we tied up to the dock and started the short walk into ‘town’. We were greeted by the Liquor Store owner who barked “You are late!” And I guess we were. The town was closed up tight! Supper on the boat.

Thorne Bay

From Clarence Strait we decided to circumnavigate Revillagigedo Island via Behm Canal. Behm Canal was magnificent! Remote wilderness, hemlock, spruce and cedar growth on vertical granite slopes. Waterfalls and wildlife! So many whales! We anchored one night in Saks Cove, another night in Manzanita Bay.  Both anchorages in the Misty Fiords National Monument.  Just beautiful scenery! We explored Rudyerd Bay, Punchbowl Cove. Amazing steep gorges!

Behm Canal scenery
Vertical granite slopes
Photos just don’t capture the awsomeness.

We spent two nights in Prince Rupert located on Kaien Island. Prince Rupert is the first port of entry from Alaska into Canada.  We enjoyed some shopping and the Wheelhouse Brewery.

Prince Rupert
Breakers Pub
Epoch surrounded by fishing vessels

We cruised the 45-mile Grenville Channel. Grenville Channel, similar to Behm Canal has steep, granite mountains, snow-covered peaks and waterfalls that tumble thousands of feet.  We anchored in Baker Inlet. To enter Baker Inlet, a large, sheltered anchorage, we needed to travel Watts Narrows. Watts Narrows is reportedly 200 feet wide and surround by overhanging trees which restrict maneuvering room. The cruise manual said the tidal streams can be turbulent and suggested boats wait for slack water.  Our afternoon navigation through the narrows was uneventful but we thought very beautiful! The next morning, we were fogged in. The sun came out and finally at 9:00 am we weighed anchor and began our ‘adventure’ though Watts Narrows. Scott had me on the bow with the video camera. Gosh, I thought, now the water is running scary fast and boiling and ……here I am on the bow videoing the whole journey! When we successfully maneuvered the narrows, I came back into the pilothouse.  Scott said “that was scary!” What an understatement and for Scott to think scary!  Yikes!

Watts Narrows
Watts Narrows

We traveled Grenville Channel, Wright Sound, McKay Reach, Ursula Channel to Bishop Bay and the Hot Springs! Air temperature 71 degrees F, porpoises, whales. Around 8 pm we tied to a buoy in 100 feet of water and ate a late dinner. The following morning we dinghied to the hot tub, hiked around some and relaxed in the tubs.

Bishop Bay Hot Springs

We traveled Fraser Reach and Graham Reach and saw so many whales. We continued to Finlayson Channel, Oscar Passage, Mathieson Channel and hit huge seas coming around Ivory Island.

Getting better at the “tail” shots!
Whales surfacing and blowing
Two humpbacks. What are they doing?
Surfacing side by side
Grizzly bear hunting

We continued to Seaforth Channel and into Shearwater Marina where we provisioned, recycled, disposed of garbage, and Scott changed the oil in the lugger. Scott invited most of the dock over for cocktails and we met Bob and Maria on their Seahorse Pilot Trawler, XTRA Tuff.

Bob and Maria and their pups Buoy and Molly on XTRA Tuff.

We traveled with Bob and Maria the following day to Fury Bay, then weighed anchor the following morning very early to get around Cape Scott. We were heading to the west coast of Vancouver Island, Bob and Maria were planning to cruise the Queen Charlotte Strait, the more traditional passage.  The seas were so calm, we could clearly see Cape Scott this time; last time it was so foggy. Since the seas were calm, we headed around Brooks Peninsula to Columbia Cove and anchored for the night. This was our longest day of travel, 111 n.m., 16.5 hours.

Cape Scott
Seas were calm

Our next stop was Tahsis, Westview Marina. We spent two nights, caught up on laundry and talked with John Falavolito, the marina owner. We stayed at Westview Marina last summer and used a photo of our boat docked at the marina for our Christmas card. John thought the photo grand!

Westview Marina, Tahsis, BC
The fishermen put the fish guts out for the eagles to eat!
Having a beer on the patio after our long walk to the Post Office.
Westview Marina is a great fishing Lodge

We anchored at Hot Springs, then cruised to Bamfield for a night. The boardwalk in Bamfield is always delightful.  We also stopped in Port Renfew for a night before heading to Victoria.

Bamford boardwalk
Port Renfew

We had an easy cruise to Victoria. We spent two nights taking in the sights and celebrating my birthday. We visited with Mike and Jenna on R Lil’ Ship, N40. 

Water taxi ballet!

We were back in Anacortes on July 29, in time to visit with my sister Julie from Athens, Ohio who was visiting her daughter Molly in Seattle.

Scott and Julie in the Brown Lantern.

Thanks Scott for a super, awesome, spectacular trip! You are “Captain Extraordinaire!” Or as my brother Joe would say – a very excellent driver!

The last stretch of the Baja!

Epoch docked in Puerto Los Cabos

Our cruise from Magdalena Bay to San Jose del Cabo, Puerto Los Cabos was another overnight cruise down the last part of the Baja. We traveled with four of our Taco Runners, Igloo, Audrea May, Red Rover, Partida and Pairadice, a Selene MV we met in Magdalena Bay. Our entry to San Jose del Cabo was spectacular! Kevin, on Red Rover tossed his drone up and took a video of the group in formation! Although in the video we don’t appear very close together, on the water I thought we were very close (I could see the whites of Alison’s eyes at the helm of Red Rover!) We all radio communicated abort plans if something went amiss. Epoch was to peel off to port.  To see the photo, take a look at

Our stay in Puerto Los Cabos was shorter than planned because of a storm predicted to be coming from the south.  Partida left for La Cruz the day after we arrived. We left with Red Rover for Puerto Vallarta two days later. Our visit to Puerto Los Cabos was enjoyable, our last weekend with Igloo and Audrea May for a while. We will truly miss Shannon, Jeff, Alec and Lisa!

Alison, Kevin with Max, Jeff, Shannon and Zoe. And another puppy that played with Zoe.

We all went to Flora Farms one evening. Flora Farms is a 25-acre organic working farm in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains. The location was beautiful and the farm was beautiful! Flora Farms has a Field Kitchen, Farm Bar, Grocery, and Culinary Cottages & The Haylofts which are hand-built straw-bale luxury homes for the culinary-inclined.  Our cocktails and dinner were spectacular.  We would have liked to tour the luxury homes, but our time that evening was limited.

Flora Farms – We were greeted by Nicki Garvies, from Gig Harbor, WA. Small world, eh?
Flora Farms
Andres and “Skinny” were serving up the masterpiece cocktails!
Beautiful produce
The whole gang at Flora Farms for dinner

Sunday was football day! The Seahawks (for Alison and Kevin), the Steelers (for Jeff and Shannon) and the Browns (for me, of course). We traveled to a Sports bar in District X by Uber and gosh, didn’t they have a television for each of the games! Pick your team!  We had hot wings and sliders, the all-American Football tailgate stuff!!  Yum!

Fans all lined up on one side of the table…..
………to watch the TV screens on the other side!

The marina had about 240 slips. They offered a water-taxi to get around the marina which you contacted by VHS radio. Scott and I had a laugh one afternoon when we requested a water taxi to get to the Marina Office. As we traveled in the taxi to the office, there in the water, sunning itself, was a barracuda.  The taxi operator gaffed the barracuda in route to the office, yelling Ceviche! Ceviche! He was quite pleased with his catch!


So, about 850 Baja nautical miles! Well done Taco Runners! It was a blast!!

Ensenada – The Taco Runners have arrived!

Ensenada at the head of Bahia de Todos Santos is a Port of Entry into Mexican waters and is about 65 n.m. from San Diego. Marina Coral greeted the Taco Runners with a banner and provided convenient International Arrival or Entrada Internacional at a small location near the marina.  They presented a streamlined clearance process where all the representatives from all the required port authorities come together (Centro Integral de Servicios). The Taco Runners gathered at 9 am to apply and pay for visas, arrival and exit paperwork and Pasaporte de la Conservacion (Conservation Passport), all mandatory for entry.  We were unfamiliar with the Conservation Passports. Further explanation told us there are 182 protected biosphere reserve areas on Baja California that the Conservation Passport allows access to.  All visitors who are in these areas for any recreational activities are required to have the passports. We were also told the passports can be difficult to obtain unless you are at a Port of Entry so we purchased extras in case we have visitors on board. Just a few more pesos! 

Centro Integral de Servicios
Entrada Internacional

Marina Coral is about 2.5 miles NW of Ensenada harbor.  The slip in Marina Coral gave us access to the resort swimming pools and hot tub. Although we did not take advantage of these niceties, we did visit the ATMs to stock up on pesos.  We stayed two nights in Marina Coral and then moved to Cruiseport Village Marina inside the Ensenada harbor and adjacent to the cruise ship docks.  Cruiseport Marina was closer to the downtown area and stores. We needed some major provisioning, so we Ubered to the Walmart Superstore with Alison and Kevin on Red Rover. We knew this would be the last port we would be visiting for nineteen days.  We needed to stock up on BEER and a few other items. We estimated our probable beer (and visitors) consumption and calculated we would need four 30-packs or ten 12-packs to make sure we would not run low. We purchased milk, cheeses, lunch meats, fruits, vegetables and a few other items.  We also bought Pepsi Cola, candy and Lucky Strikes. Why? We heard that these items could be traded for services in the small villages.  Scott proudly held up his 10 packs of Lucky Strikes and proclaimed “This is the first time I have ever bought cigarettes!” Our Uber driver helped us load all the groceries (and beer) into the trunk of a Kia! The poor Kia was almost dragging bottom back to the marina!

Ensenada! Our first port in Mexico!

We spent an afternoon with Alison and Kevin on Red Rover on the boardwalk.  Many little shops selling handmade trinkets, outdoor restaurants, produce and fish stands.  Alison was a great guide taking us to Lily’s Tacos for lunch where we ate “the best fish tacos in Ensenada” and sampled toppings ranging from hot to killer hot! We went to Mexico’s oldest cantina called Hussong’s and had a cold cerveza. 

Oldest cantina on the Baja
Scott and Kevin; cold cervezas!
Fish Market

Vince and Linda on Last Arrow organized an adventure to a local boutique winery called Misiones de California Vinicola.  We enjoyed a lesson on wine tasting and a 6-course gourmet meal served family style including oxtail sopecitos, asparagus cream with jamon crackling, grilled octopus with new potatoes con chili olive oil infused, fish tiradito, New York steak with demiglass sauce and potatoes, fish of the day with herbs and risotto, and sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream. Vince hired a van and car for transport to the winery. We all dressed in our “Liveaboard best” and had an awesome time!

We traveled in a van and a car to transport everyone.
A lesson on wine tasting. Very interesting and lots of vino!
Vince on Last Arrow. Our organizer!
Shannon and Jeff with our Vintner!
Kevin and Alison enjoying the wine!

We departed Ensenada in the afternoon of November 1st for an overnight run to Bahia San Quintin. Adios Ensenada, we will be back!

Mexico courtesy flag and our 2019 Nordhavn Taco Run flag!

Turtle Bay is halfway! A lesson in ‘Industrious!’

Turtle Bay residents helping with our dinghy.

Turtle Bay is the halfway point on the Baja between Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas.  The bay is huge and can safety anchor a couple hundred boats in 20 to 30 feet.  We Taco Runners are sharing the bay with the Baja Ha Ha rally flotilla, a group of mostly sailboats running from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. The flotilla runs annually and this year is estimated to have 140 boats. 

When we entered the bay (Bahia San Bartolome) we were greeted by pangas offering “water taxi” rides to shore, delivery of fresh water or garbage pick-up. Compensation for these services is what you offer to them. Cigarettes, candy, pesos, US dollars.  Gracias!

We dinghied into shore and were again met by young Turtle Bay residents helping us pull our dinghy onto the beach. They would point to their eyes meaning “we’ll watch your boat” for 2 pesos! The Mexican people are very industrious and helpful, and always polite! 

Making the deal! Uno, dos pesos?

Scott and I walked the semi-paved roads mostly looking for some kind of internet service. After a couple of hours, we gave up and succumbed to a cold cerveza and fish tacos!

Quaint home, interesting decorations
Village center
Walking the streets looking for internet!
Beautiful church
Fish tacos and cervezas!

We heard that annually, the Baha Ha Ha boaters challenge the residents of Turtle Bay to a baseball game which was scheduled to begin this afternoon.  So we headed to the baseball field with Mike and Elaine from Partida.  Again, a young industrious Turtle Bay resident named Angel, 12 years old offered to guide us to the stadium in exchange for a few pesos!  Gracias!  We arrived a little early and watched the boys from Turtle Bay warm up.  We had a laugh when a young black lab ran onto the field and grabbed the baseball.  All the kids started running after the lab, which of course they couldn’t catch.  The lab was having a blast dropping the ball, then picking it up again and running a different direction!  The stadium began to fill up with Baja Ha Ha folks and the game commenced, starting with singing the Star Spangled Banner! 

The game is played like this:  Everyone takes the field (Baja Ha Ha boaters and Turtle Bay residents) at the same time, together.  A line of batters gather at home plate.  Again, Baja Ha Ha boaters and Turtle Bay residents. The commentator, a long-time Baja Ha Ha skipper introduced each of the batters in turn. The name of the batter may be correct, but what comes next was a hoot! The 9-year boy described as a prosecuting attorney working pro bono, or the 6-year old “socialite” from New York runs a glitter store, or the Turtle Bay teen who has just been drafted on the Nationals Baseball team!  The youngest player was a little guy of 4 years who eventually scored (base running proved challenging at first!) No score was kept and all batters hit the ball regardless of the number of pitches. 

Watching the game with Elaine and Mike on Partida and Baja Ha Ha sailors

And in the stadium was again, an industrious Turtle Bay resident, probably in his 70’s selling cold Pacifico Cervezas for 20 pesos (2 USD).  Muchas Gracias! Well played Turtle Bay! Well played Baja Ha Ha!

That would have made a great video! POOM, POOM, POOM!!

Marina del Rey; heading out to meet Al in Venice Beach
Alison, Kevin, me and Scott

Traveling the coast of California has been awesome.  The cruise to Marina Del Rey was a “short” day cruise from Channel Island where we stayed close to shore.  We were traveling with Red Rover N55, Alison and Kevin Jeffries and their two pups, Zoe and Max.  Marina Del Rey is huge with traffic lanes to enter and exit, separating the power boats from the sailing and human-powered vessels, (i.e. stand-up paddle boards (SUPs), rowers and kayaks). The marina is brand-new and beautiful. Oddly, we were requested to send photos of the boats prior to approval for a slip assignment.

Marina del Ray

A few days earlier I had texted my nephew Al who lives in Los Angeles to see if we could get together, letting Al know our schedule.  I said we would be in Marina Del Rey on Wednesday.  Well, when I contacted Al to say we’re here, Al said, Aunt Abby, you are a day early!  It was Tuesday!  We were a day early! I’m thinking Early dementia? Retirement? Boating? Perhaps the new normal of not really needing to know what day of the week it is….hum.  That evening we Ubered to Venice Beach, known for its “laidback lifestyle in a beach-chic neighborhood”.  My nephew was able to track us down in Venice Beach, first by car, then by electric scooter!  What a hoot to see Al sailing down the sidewalk on a scooter towards us!!  We had an awesome visit! We ate at a great rooftop bar and restaurant, then returned to Epoch to share memories and beers!

Visit with Al!

The following day we cruised to Dana Point on limited sleep (at least on Epoch) and when we arrived, we washed the salt and dirt off the boat.  The washing of the boats was Alison and Kevin’s banner idea and I had to be talked into the endeavor.  Heck, here we are in Nordhavn Headquarters and our boats are an embarrassment!  Epoch was “horrible” (Scott’s word) and our quick wash and rinse took most of the grime off the boat!

Nordhavn Headquarters in Dana Point, CA

Friday evening, PAE hosted a taco party to celebrate the 2019 Nordhavn Taco Run and their mileage pennant program.  PAE created the pennant program to celebrate usage of the boats.  Nordhavns are known for circumnavigations, around the world voyages and ocean crossings and PAE believes owners should be celebrated.  Nordhavn owners log their miles on the Nordhavn website and earn pennants for milestones.  We/Epoch received our first burgee for 5000 miles!

Our first burgee for 5000 n.m. Alison and Kevin on Red Rover N55 with 10,000 n.m.!

Becky Peters was the margarita maker and emcee for the pennant awards.  It was a super fun party and we reunited with friends and met new Nordhavn “friends we hadn’t yet met”!

Becky Peters! Thank you!!

Later that evening, I was invited on to Vincent and Linda Cummings (also Taco Runners) brand new N60 Last Arrow. What a beautiful, stunning new boat. We had spent time with Vince and Linda during the summer of 2018 traveling the west coast of Vancouver Island with  They were skippering a Coastal Cruiser named Doll Face at that time but we knew they were having the Nordhavn built!

Nordhavn Film Festival Red Carpet

Saturday was the Nordhavn Film Festival. This was a new idea for PAE and about a year ago, they announced the event.  With a grand prize promised for the winner, 18 Nordhavn videos were submitted. 10 videos were shown during the festival.  Generational liveaboards, love stories, cruising lifestyles, and boating passions were celebrated in the videos. We laughed, ooh-ahhed, and wiped a tear or two.  A film made by the crew of the Nordhavn 120, Aurora, won the contest with a sensitive film about the rescue of a dolphin and two sea turtles entangled offshore in fishing lines or nets. 

Clearly communicated to the film festival invitees was the appropriate dress for the event.  The event was deemed “Black-Tie.” Ask Scott what he plans to wear to any family event; weddings, birthday celebrations, dinners, funerals, etc. and he will say, “shorts”.  And shorts are what he wore!  

Dress Rehearsal in the forward stateroom…..

Other Nordhavn owners joined in on the “liveaboard black-tie” style!  The evening was awesome! Red Carpet, cocktail hour, dinner, emcee Chuck Hawley, and the wonderful, entertaining, thoughtful and funny films made the evening truly awesome and magical!  Hats off to PAE, Jim Leishman, Dan Streech, Amy Zahra, Becky Peters and judges!  You can see a taping of the livestream and the top 10 videos at this link:

“Liveaboard” Black Tie. Really?
L-R: Everyone’s friend “Lugger” Bob Senter, Shawn and Elizabeth on Freedom N43, Alexa and Pat on Noeta N50, Alison and Kevin on Red Rover N55, and Scott!
Vince on Last Arrow N60 and Scott
All dressed-up!
Yummy food, fun times!

The day following the Film Festival, Sunday was a slow day and the day I decided to try my new stand-up paddle board (SUP) we purchased the day before on Balboa Island. California requires every vessel carry one wearable US Coast Guard-Approved PFD for every person on board if the vessel is 11 feet or longer.  Well, my Mirac SUP is 11’6”.  Required, so, I grabbed my Crewsaver Crewfit 35 sport PFD which was easily retrievable from the hook in the cockpit. The PFD fits like a low-profile vest; has 3-bladders, one at the back of the neck and one on each side with a clasp in the middle.  

Standing on my new SUP!

I wasn’t planning on falling in.  I am a rule follower and wearing it was easier than trying to tether it to the SUP.  Ready! Scott was in the kayak and as we leisurely paddled in the marina (me on my knees) we talked about PFDs, would they really work when we needed them, do they really deploy automatically, how difficult was it to re-arm, did it deploy slowly with your head gradually emerging out of the water…..blah, blah.  Just general conversation as we paddled.  I finally felt brave and with Scott’s encouragement, I STOOD UP!  Yep, all was well, standing on my new SUP.  Standing and paddling. My kids can do it. My grandkids can do it.  I can do it.  Then I slipped off the SUP and POOM, I was solidly knocked to the left.  POOM, I was knocked to the right and POOM, I was bumped forward!!!  And then Scott started laughing, belly laughing and pointing – THAT WOULD HAVE MADE A GREAT VIDEO!!!  When I finally got my bearings and a grip on my SUP, I laughed too! Getting up on the SUP with the PFD deployed was a challenge but I finally hoisted myself up and paddled back to the boat.  So, our conversation had answers.  The PFD worked; it deploys automatically. Not gently, but with GUSTO (the website said the capsule fires within 5 seconds!).  And Scott was able to re-arm my PFD which will remain on the hook in the cockpit to be used (if I accidentally fall over) when I am outside on the boat deck where I know it will automatically deploy and save me!  But for my next SUP adventure, I will trade it out for my NON-inflatable Mustang Survival PFD.

My [Mom, daughter, sister, Nan] lives on a boat. What??

Epoch N4717

You live on a BOAT?  Can you walk around on the boat?  How do you cook?  Is sleeping on the boat a challenge?  How do you find your way?  Are you cold?  Is it like a cruise ship?  Like on the ocean?

Some of our family and friends have been to the boat, so they have an idea about this boating thing. But for others, the idea of living on a boat is beyond comprehension.  My sister calls me “outdoorsy”!  Ha!

So, for my family and friends, I thought I’d write a blog about Epoch and what it is actually like – to live and cruise on a boat.

Epoch is an ocean crossing trawler motor vessel, a Nordhavn 47 or also stated:  N4717.  Our boat is 47 feet in length.  17 is the hull number; 17th hull built in the 47 series.  The beam is 16 feet (the boat width) and the draft is 6 feet (the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull or keel). Draft determines the minimum depth of water the boat can safely navigate, so to say.  We cruise at around 7 knots per hour.

Epoch at anchor

There are 8 “rooms” on Epoch.  Starting at the stern or back of the boat is the cockpit, an outside area with access to the swim deck.  We enter the boat from the cockpit into the salon.  The salon is the living space and has a television, chairs from home and an L-shaped settee and table.  The salon looks into the galley.  The galley has a full-sized stove (propane) and oven (electric), dishwasher, trash compactor, microwave, refrigerator and two freezer drawers with an ice maker.  Starboard to the galley is the GE clothes washer and dryer closet. 

Washer and dryer

Forward is the pilothouse or wheelhouse where we “drive” the boat.  In the pilothouse are the Navigation/Communication Electronics, autopilot, VHF radios, electrical cabinet, instrument displays for wind, water depth, heading, and stuff we like to know.  We have a helm chair and a L-shaped settee with table. Behind the settee is the watch berth, an area you can sleep on.  Scott uses the watch berth when I am at the helm during our overnight cruises.  He is supposed to sleep but I think he has one eye open the whole time!!  We spend most of our time in the pilothouse when underway.  The pilothouse has two doors, port and starboard to access the boat deck, bow and flybridge. And a coat closet!

Pilothouse helm chair and electronics.
Pilothouse watch berth and settee
Coat closet

Stairs down from the pilothouse lead to the staterooms.  The guest stateroom is forward. On the port side of the guest stateroom is a double berth.  It is also equipped with a hammock that can be easily installed to sleep smaller people (like you Mayzee and Hadley!).   The starboard side of the guest stateroom is a desk and office. In the guest head (bathroom) is a shower, sink and toilet.  At the bottom of the stairs to port is the master stateroom.  The master berth is a walk-around queen.  The head is similar to the guest head.

Forward head.
Guest stateroom

From the master stateroom you access the engine room.  The centerpiece of the stand-up engine room is a single lugger marine main engine rated at 174 HP.  The main engine is configured with dry stack exhaust and a keel cooling system. A wing engine is located aft and to starboard in the engine room.  It functions as a “get home” engine in the event of a main engine shut down.  The wing engine has its own shaft and folding propeller for auxiliary propulsion should it be necessary. 


The engine room also houses the Northern Lights generator, water maker and storage space for extra parts and tools. From the engine room you access the lazarette. In the lazarette we store scuba tanks, more extra parts and an air compressor for diving.  There is a hatch from the lazarette to the cockpit.   

Epoch also has a flybridge with two helm chairs and a settee.  We have not had the opportunity to use the flybridge very much during past cruising, but with Mexico cruising planned, I’m sure we will use the flybridge a lot.


The electrical system in Epoch can run appliances, make and heat water, charge batteries.  We have hydronic heat and air conditioning! The boat has a bow thruster, a crane for deploying the tenders and water toys, an electric motor (windlass) to lower and raise the anchor (121 pounds), and stabilizers.  Stabilizers are little fins on the side of the boat that keep the boat from rolling in the ocean. We also have a flopper-stopper, when deployed when at anchor, will reduce roll.  We carry 1500 gallons of fuel, 400 gallons of fresh water, and 400 gallons of holding tanks (waste water). When we are at marinas, we plug into “shore power.” When at anchor, we use the generator for electricity.

Filling Epoch with fuel can take all day!

We have two tenders or dinghies on board.  One is used to explore bays, marinas, estuaries.  The other tender has wheels we can lower which will be used to run through the surf to explore the beaches in Mexico.

Safety equipment? We have our EPIRB, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. An EPIRB is registered to our vessel and is meant to help rescuers locate us in an emergency situation. We also have PLBs, Personal Location Beacons, designed to be carried on our life jackets. In the unlikely event we need to abandon ship, we have and our Winslow 6-man offshore life raft. The life raft is packed into this case and has a hydrostatic release for deployment. Our “Ditch Bag” containing survival equipment is kept close by in the pilothouse.  We also have our Lifesling and MOB, Man Overboard Recovery system.

Ditch bag. Does it contain a beer or two?

Maintenance and operation of the boat takes work.  Scott spends time in the engine room changing oils, filters, maintaining the water pumps and systems.  Epoch runs 24/7 during some cruising so Scott keeps the systems well maintained. When we are not making water and water is available in the marinas, we fill the water tank with a hose.  And twice a year, we fill Epoch up with diesel fuel. Me? I do similar things on board that I do at home.  When we are underway, Scott likes to be at the helm. I do the majority of the engine room checks.  Scott docks the boat. I am the deck hand and put out fenders and lines.  We use headphones to communicate during docking or anchoring so we don’t yell at each other!

“Marriage savers”??

For fun, we read about the places we are going.  We fish and crab.  We enjoy beverages on the flybridge or cockpit if it is warm enough.  We actually love cruising the days away and enjoy anchoring or docking in marinas for the evenings.  We like to explore ports and villages, learning about the history, culture and yummy foods.  We take our tender with beverages and explore or visit other boaters. Since we don’t have a vehicle when we get to marinas, we walk a lot.

Shopping with the “Hornet”. One of two grocery haulers.

 We read, Scott maintenance manuals and I enjoy fiction and biographies. We both read cruising manuals all the time. I listen to audiobooks and have picked up a new hobby called English Paper Piecing (thanks to my daughter Eileen!).  We keep in touch with friends and family by email, text or cell phone and I send postcards!  Yep, postcards!

English Paper piecing

Just in case you were wondering, we do sleep on sheets and pillows in bed.  We have an espresso maker for our morning lattes.  We watch the ‘Today’ show sometimes. We have computers and a printer/fax on board. I make cookies and use the crockpot.  Sometimes we grill dinner in the cockpit. Our beer is COLD!  Storage of stuff is sometimes odd.  We store things in many locations like drawers, small cabinets, under settees or in floor hatches. Daily question, “where did I put that….?” Really, all the comforts of home. It is our home.  Living and cruising on a boat is different, but the same.  And….. the scenery and weather is always changing. 

Come visit ! Please !

Puerto Magdalena – waiting out the storm

250 n.m. south of Turtle bay is Magdalena Bay. We anchored in Man of War Cove for a few days rest and to wait out a predicted tropical weather depression, later named Raymond. Magdalena Bay is huge, 25 miles NW to SE and 13 miles E-W.  The bay is rimmed by 2 elongated islands, Isla Magdalena and Isla Santa Margarita. Our anchorage was inside Isla Magdalena and the village of Puerto Magdalena, founded in 1871.

The town of Puerto Magdalena consists of around 50 buildings and dirt roads.  Prominent in the village is the desalinization plant, church, preschool, Port Captain’s office and Harbor Light, a restaurant Mira Mar, and large 3-sided concrete frames, perhaps hurricane remnants. 

Our first night at anchor we were invited on Gitana N55 for Dorado, freshly caught on the cruise from Turtle Bay.  The Nordhavn Taco Runners had temporarily split up; those that preferred to travel only during the day and those who preferred to travel all night with the weather and arrive at the new anchorage in the mornings. We traveled with Red Rover and Gitana as the overnight cruisers. The fish was delicious!

The weather had been sunny and in the 70s. By Tuesday afternoon (we departed Turtle Bay on Sunday), the Taco Runners were reunited with the arrival of Partida, Last Arrow and Igloo. Not only did all the Taco Runners arrive in the bay but so did about 130 Baja Ha Ha sailboats! The Baja Ha Ha is a two-week cruisers rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico that takes place every fall. The lights on the sailboat masts in the evening were brighter than the village of Puerto Magdalena. 

The restuarant Mira Mar is only open on Wednesdays so we inquired about “reservations”. They were planning fish tacos, served as a buffet with rice, slaw and a couple of toppings at 4pm.  There were so many cruisers at the restaurant and it was fun to meet and talk with the Baja Ha Ha rally sailors.  

Interesting, the Baja Ha Ha leaves from San Diego and do not check into Mexico until Cabo San Lucas, 183 n.m. south of here at the end of the rally. To leave Mexico, you must first check into Mexico as we did in Ensenada.  It appeared (from radio communications) to be a bit of a problem for some Baja Ha Ha cruisers who were needing to return home. The Baja Ha Ha schedule was delayed and some crew were planning a panga lift to Puerto San Carlos to check in, then a bus to Cabo San Lucas to catch flights.  Sounded like quite an adventure, considering our location and the language! Two of our Taco Runners, Gitana and Last Arrow also headed out early to Cabo San Lucas.

Just two regular Baja Ha Ha sailors.
Mira Mar staff making cocktails!
Scott, Alec and Jeff sharing stories.

The five remaining Taco Runners spent 6 more days in Magdalena Bay waiting out the storm which arrived Sunday morning, very early. Epoch pitched with the other boats in the bay for the next 32 hours, bow and stern, up and down.  The anchor held through sustained winds of 20 knots with gusts over 30 knots and rain. We had discussed a storm party on Red Rover for Sunday afternoon; however, it was too rough in the bay to travel in the dinghies.  Scott and I entertained ourselves watching movies and reading.

While at Magdalena Bay, we enjoyed the beach, collecting shells and watching the puppies play.

Quincy in the lead, followed by Zoe and Max.
Lots of pelicans!

We shared another dinner at the Mira Mar with the Baja Ha Ha left-behinds (around 20 sailboaters that decided to stay in Magdalena Bay).  They renamed themselves the Baja Yee Ha!  

The Baja Yee Ha sailors!

And we celebrated Mike’s birthday (Partida) on Red Rover with caribou tacos made by our Alaska friends on Igloo, “Beat’s me” black bean salad, fixings and a delicious fruit crumble. 

Alison, Shannon, Jeff and Kevin.

Our last night in the bay, I was anxious to get traveling again!

Me, Elaine and Shannon