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

We are on the Pacific Ocean!

Isla Cedros

Here we are on the Pacific Ocean 28oN, 55oW anchored on the east side of Isla Cedros, a big volcanic rock of an island (21 miles long) in Mexico. We are traveling as the Nordhavn Taco Runners with Alison and Kevin on Red Rover N55, Lisa and Alec on Audrey Mae N57, Jeff and Shannon on Igloo N47, Mike and Elaine on Partida N46, Hugo, Michele and friend Hugh on Gitana N55 and Linda, Vince and friend Sam ( on Last Arrow, N60.  It is sunny, temperature is in the mid 70s, about 4 knots of wind in 46 feet of water. It is amazing to me that we are on the Pacific Ocean and the boat is not moving. Just a gentle sway.  We are not in a protected bay or cove, instead anchored inshore about a quarter mile from the island, on the Pacific Ocean. This Pacific Ocean is far different than the Pacific Ocean on the Washington and Oregon coasts where we cruised in 6-8 foot waves at 10 seconds or 9-11 foot waves at 8 seconds. I do like this Pacific Ocean in Mexico!

Village of Cedros

Shortly after we arrived at our anchorage, with limited sleep having traveled all night from San Quintin, the water toys came out! Dinghies, SUPs, kayaks exploring the shore of Isla Cedros. Eventually, everyone seemed to gather (unplanned) at Red Rover’s swim deck.  Pent-up energy released! People and puppies all having fun, swimming, jumping off the flybridge. The sun was shining and the margaritas were flowing!

Party on Red Rover swim deck!

After a good night sleep, the following afternoon we congregated on Epoch for a fish fry and birthday party.  The fish were caught on the way to Isla Cedros.

Dos Bonitos!

Three Pacific Bonitos, one on Red Rover and two on Epoch. And I think all the boats caught Skipjack Tunas which we understand are not great eating fish so they were released.  One of the Bonitos were made into Poke Bowl (Hawaiian appetizer of raw fish) served with tortilla chips.  The other two Bonitos were either grilled or baked in three different marinades.

Baked Spicy Bonitos!

We had 16 celebrators on Epoch (a new record!)  Many side dishes were brought over by dinghy; bean dip, ceviche (fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices), rice, green broccoli salad, black bean quinoa salad, caribou with honey mustard dip, Bannock (still warm from the oven). 

Jeff and Shannon and Kevin
Lisa, Michele and Linda
Mike, Sam and Hugo
Alec and Hugh
Elaine and Alec

Scott poured his famous Benton City Coolers! 

Food and Benton City Coolers!

Brownies and Klondike bars for dessert and a candle each for the birthday couple on Igloo!  

The Birthday Kids! Jeff and Shannon, Igloo N47

We finished the evening with dessert Tequila, a combination of Sex Appeal Cream de Coco al Agava and Milan chocolate tequila, served very cold! Yumm!

Every dish, every bowl, every utensil in the galley used!

Bahia San Quintin – A story of landing

Sunset on the Pacific

Bahia San Quintin was our first overnight as the Taco Runners, a 15 hour run (110 n.m.) from Ensenada. We left Ensenada in the afternoon, traveling overnight so we could arrive at the anchorage in daylight.  The bay is a 5-mile-wide crescent shaped anchorage south of a 10-mile-long sand bar.  The bay is open to the ocean. This is important to know because to get to the beach on the dinghy, we had to “land” the dinghy through the ocean surf.  Charlie’s Charts (a cruising manual), page 18 states, “Landing a dinghy through the surf can be hazardous, few cruising sailors have found it necessary to do so in the US and Canadian waters so it is a technique that will probably be learned in situ.” 

Scott was well prepared and had installed Beachmaster wheels on our smaller dinghy. The wheels can be folded down to allow for easy maneuvering of the dinghy once on the beach. The technique of beaching a dinghy through the surf requires waiting for a slack period in the incoming swells and then quickly accelerating forward past the breaking surf zone. This also requires quickly pulling up the outboard motor before/while beaching the dinghy and expediently getting all crew out of the dinghy before the next incoming wave crests. Yikes! Right?

Adjustable Beachmaster wheels

We were ready for our first beaching. On our way to the beach we met Alison and Kevin in their dinghy with their two puppies, Zoe and Max coming back from the beach.  How’d the landing go?  Their story of beaching their dinghy with the pups was both informative (for me) and entertaining, sort of.  They were wet, Zoe was wet and looked a little perturbed, and poor Max was wrapped in a towel shivering! They had overturned during their beach landing and overturned getting back out to the bay but were in good spirits, as they always are!  To say the least, I was apprehensive and a little scared! I quickly tied everything down in the dinghy and without a word or preparation, Scott floored the motor and we beached! Yay! We pulled the dinghy up the beach and had a nice walk finding sand dollars and enjoying the sunshine. Then it was time to get back out through the surf.  We were successful, but the last incoming wave that hit us was so enormous that the dinghy went airborne bow up about 6 feet!  Gasping, I found that I was still in the dinghy and when I looked behind me, Scott was there too with a huge grin.  All good.

You got this mom!

Today we are in Crescent City, in northern California waiting for weather to travel south to Mexico, joining the Taco Run in San Diego! We are traveling with another Nordhavn, 5505 named Red Rover, friends Alison, Kevin, Zoe and little Max. On board Red Rover are Laura and Kevin of Slowboat fame.

Trinidad Bay

Header photo by Kevin, thanks!

We left Shilshole Bay Marina, WA on September 11 after spending a couple of weeks completing boat maintenance, upgrades and provisioning. Our first stop was in Port Angeles, then Neah Bay before our big left turn South! At 11:30 pm (Dark!!), we departed Neah Bay to cruise to Grays Harbor. This was my first overnight travel. My daughter Eileen sent me a text “you got this mom” which became my mantra for the cruise. We arrived in Grays Harbor after crossing the bar (quite terrifying!) at 9:30 pm (Dark Again), 21 hours from when we left. After two days in Westport, WA we then cruised into Crescent City, CA arriving 11:00 am (daylight Yah!), September 21. Sea Quake Brewery greeted us shortly after with cold brews, on tap!