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Roberta,Ken And The Pups Cruise The World On A Relatively Small Boat

[Kensblog] July 4th at Roche Harbor

Greetings all!

Roberta and I are back on the boat. We had to leave the boat for a month to take care of some business, but are now ready to start the summer cruising. Sadly, it will be a short year due to our late start.

And, even worse, I’m not expecting the blog to be particularly interesting this year. Roberta even asked, “Why are you going to write a blog? We’re not doing anything exciting.” She is right about that. My guess is that we won’t be going very far; perhaps no more than a hundred miles north of where we’re sitting now.

That said, we are planning to have FUN!

Yesterday while walking the docks I spoke briefly with another Nordhavn owner. We were talking about cruising plans and I mentioned that we’d be planning to transport Sans Souci to the east coast at the end of the season, and asked if he’d ever consider cruising another part of the world.

He didn’t have to think before responding, “Why would you ever leave the Pacific NW? This is the best cruising in the world!

Having cruised over 25 countries I can confirm what he said. You could cruise between here and Alaska for a lifetime and not be bored. And in fact, that’s exactly what most of the boaters around me do. There are many reasons for this: Clean water, protected waters, sunshine in summer, sheltered bays to drop the anchor, welcoming marinas, wildlife, fishing, and all the natural beauty you could ever want.

 
Sans Souci cruising in Alaska in 2009
Sans Souci cruising in Alaska in 2009
 
I’m not sure I can explain why we ever left the Pacific NW or why we’re contemplating leaving it again. Cruising internationally is expensive and in many ways not very practical. Anyone who has been following my blog for years knows some of the challenges we’ve faced. Weather, wind, swell, lack of good anchorages, cultural problems, language problems, immigration problems, Med Mooring challenges, etc. The list is of infinite length.

Perhaps a psychologist could answer the question better than I, but I’ll take a quick stab at it.

I like warm water cruising. Summers in the northwest aren’t bad, but the water never really warms up. We found one bay last year where the water did get into the 70s, but generally speaking swimming is out of the question. And, I confess that I liked it in the Med. Whenever I’m on the boat I constantly am thinking about wanting to get the boat back to Europe. In particular, I’d like to get the boat back to Montenegro, a small country from where Croatia, Malta, Italy and Greece are easily reached for summer cruising.

 
Anchored in front of the ancient city of Knidos in Turkey, in 2012
Anchored in front of the ancient city of Knidos in Turkey, in 2012
 
As for Roberta, she loves adventure. She grew up wanting to be an archeologist. Being able to drop the anchor in places like Turkey fascinates her.  And, whereas I’m focused on getting the boat to southern Europe, she dreams about taking the boat to Ireland and Northern Europe.  

Our current plan, which is “written in sand at low tide”, is to mosey over the next few years back to Europe. Exactly how we’ll get there, or when, we don’t know. I’m in touch with a group of other Nordhavn owners with similar cruising plans, in hopes we can put together a group to cross the Atlantic together.

Our first step will be to transport the boat to the east coast later this year and then cruise the east coast next summer. Where we’ll finish next summer, or exactly where we’ll cruise, we do not know. Anything is possible. And, that’s the great thing about boating!

With that preamble… Let’s talk about July 4th

We’re currently at our “home marina”, Roche Harbor, on San Juan Island, about 80 miles north of Seattle.  We have a long history with this marina.

Back in my working days (over 20 years ago) we used to “fly up” on Fridays hang out on the boat, and fly back to reality on Monday mornings. On three day weekends we’d take the boat a few miles away for some anchoring. Lots of the boats in this marina are used as weekend retreats.

 
Arrival by Kenmore Air
 
Regular visitors to Roche Harbor will enjoy the video above and will notice something unusual. Kenmore Air always lands in the bay in front of the marina. From time to time I’ll wonder how they can find a spot given all the boats in the bay. But, this time, the pilot didn’t even try. He just bypassed the bay and landed in the entrance channel. We had a bit of a bounce on the way in as we crossed a wake but were standing on the dock in front of our boat within 45 minutes of departing Seattle.

 
Roberta in front of the hotel at the marina
Roberta in front of the hotel at the marina
 
Roche is an incredible marina. In fact, it is much more than a marina. Here are just a few of the hundreds of things that make it special:
  • A grocery store on the dock
  • Customs has an office on the dock (we are on the Canadian border)
  • Trash pickup at the end of every dock
  • A black water pump out boat (called the Phecal Freak) that comes to your boat on command
  • A wonderful anchorage in front of the marina. Even though we have our own slip, we’ve been known to anchor in the bay in front of the marina, just for fun
  • Three restaurants in the marina
  • Really nice helpful staff.
  • A long history. In operation over 100 years!
  • Constant action in the marina. It’s a social place, not just a boat parking lot
 
About the hotel
About the hotel
 
 
Boats decorated for the 4th
Boats decorated for the 4th
 
 
Kids having fun!
 
The video above shows just one of the many activities on the docks for July 4th. Everyone, on virtually every boat, had their barbecue going. In the evening there was one of the best fireworks shows I’ve ever seen, and we had a front row seat from the back deck of Sans Souci.

 
I’ve spent a lot of Monday mornings standing in the departure line for Kenmore Air, hoping to get to work in Seattle before anyone asked, “Where’s Ken?”
I’ve spent a lot of Monday mornings standing in the departure line for Kenmore Air, hoping to get to work in Seattle before anyone asked, “Where’s Ken?”
 
And, a couple of things for those of you interested in technical stuff

 
During the month we were gone my underwater lights caked with crud. To get rid of it I baked it using the underwater lights for 24 hours. I then used a long-handled broom to sweep off the crud. It worked!
During the month we were gone my underwater lights caked with crud. To get rid of it I baked it using the underwater lights for 24 hours. I then used a long-handled broom to sweep off the crud. It worked!
 
Recently I gave a presentation at a Nordhavn event on “communications in far a way places” talking about the various ways of getting internet while on a boat. (Click here) to see the slides I used. Taken out of context they may not make sense.

 
It’s hard to tell in this picture, but I have two shorepower cables out of different sizes; a 50 amp and a 100 amp cord. The 50 amp doesn’t go through my Atlas shorepower converter. The other thicker cable is the 100 amp cable. It provides plenty of power but is a beast to work with. When I’m not using a lot of power I run off the smaller cable in order to put fewer hours on our Atlas shorepower converter.
It’s hard to tell in this picture, but I have two shorepower cables out of different sizes; a 50 amp and a 100 amp cord. The 50 amp doesn’t go through my Atlas shorepower converter. The other thicker cable is the 100 amp cable. It provides plenty of power but is a beast to work with. When I’m not using a lot of power I run off the smaller cable in order to put fewer hours on our Atlas shorepower converter.
 
I hope all of you also had a great 4th of July!

Ken and Roberta Williams
MV Sans Souci
Nordhavn 68


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