Roberta and I will be off to a slow start on our cruising this year.
Over a decade ago I was told I needed a new right knee. I ignored the Doctors and the knee got worse. Finally, this year it became obvious that I could delay no further.
Knee replacement is not an easy surgery. Actually, I’m not sure there is such a thing as an easy surgery. That said, I found a clinic in St Helena Ca that offered minimally invasive total knee replacement, and on April 26 had the surgery.
I’m now a week past the surgery and am well into the recovery. The Doctor mentioned that the surgery took twice as long as anticipated. My delaying the surgery for a decade meant that I had damaged the ligaments around my knee. The Doctor fixed them but it wasn’t easy.
I mention this only because we are unlikely to start cruising until July. I need a month or two of rehab before I’ll be “boat-ready.”
It’s frustrating because we lost virtually all of the summer of 2016 to boat repairs, and now we’ll be off to a slow start this summer due to my surgery.
And … our 2016 cruising was more of a “checkout” ride than it was cruising. The boat had just undergone its own version of surgery on a much grander scale.
Arguably, we did more than we should have to the boat. We’ve been cruising in far-off lands where even minor repairs to the boat have been a struggle. This was the first year where the boat has been in the United States with my home mechanics and we could do anything to the boat that we wanted. We were so excited by the idea of making the boat new again that we got a bit carried away.
The repairs extended beyond last year’s cruising and were still going up until March of this year.
Here’s just a small sampling of all we did:
At rest stabilization: During our cruising in the Med we had a difficult time finding calm anchorages. We have giant plates (called flopper stoppers) that we hang from the boat to smooth the roll while at anchor but they only work up to a certain point. We’ve been talking about taking the boat to Hawaii and I’ve heard that calm anchorages are very rare. This led me to exploring options for stabilizing the boat while at anchor, and ultimately deciding on a stabilizer-based system. What started as a fairly simple idea quickly became expensive and complicated. I discovered I needed bigger stabilizers. A naval architect was engaged to verify the hull could handle the larger stabilizers and he recommended beefing up of the hull. I also needed to provide hydraulic power to the stabilizers while sitting at anchor and this meant finding room for a giant electrically driven hydraulic pump in my already-crowded engine room. We got it done, but … had I really understood what I was getting into…
Making the boat new again: Sans Souci has been through a lot. I still think of it as a new boat, but the boat was starting to show signs of age. We decided to spare no expense in resetting the clock. This meant new carpets, fixing all the fiberglass dings, replacing all the non-skid, fixing dings in the teak decks, reupholstering everything, a new couch, sanding down and refinishing the tables, fixing scratches in the teak floors, and a whole lot more.
Updating the electronics: We basically gutted all electronics on the boat and started fresh. This meant replacing all the navigation electronics, entertainment electronics and internet systems. We now have HD tv all over the boat, four beautiful monitors in the pilot house (as opposed to three smaller ones), the ability to pull up any video at any tv on the boat, and two high-end radars available at all times.
Replaced all the raw water cooling systems: We have struggled to keep the engines cool when in horribly hot places. I’ve been unable to run full throttle without the engines overheating even when running in fairly cool water. I’ve worked around the problems but wanted them solved once and for all. This meant up-sizing the sea chest and all the raw water plumbing. I also wanted all the thru-hulls replaced and beefed up.
Replaced our tender: We have an AB Inflatables DLX 15’ tender that has been awesome, but has reached the end of its lifespan. We also had an 11’ backup tender that never gets used. We bought a new identical tender to replace the 15 footer, and swapped the 11 footer for a couple kayaks.
Major maintenance on the various systems: We did things like replacing the engine mounts, going through the exhaust systems, rebuilding the windlasses. Every system on the boat had extensive maintenance.
Swapped the shore power cables: I had two 50 amp cables which used a Glendinning shorepower cord retrieval system (basically automated cord in/out system.) The two 50 amp cables were removed and replaced with a single 100 amp cable. It’s a very long story but this increases the number of marinas in which I can have access to adequate power for the boat.
The bottom line — Sans Souci is now a new boat!
And, on a different topic…
Many of you remember the GSSR run that we did across the Bering Sea in 2009.
That trip was the best trip of our lives. I can’t imagine how any trip could ever be more fun or more interesting.
We traveled with three boats; Grey Pearl (a Nordhavn 62), Seabird (a Nordhavn 62) and our own Sans Souci (a Nordhavn 68.) I can write a book (and, indeed have) on the great things about traveling with a fleet of boats, as opposed to going it alone. The benefits include safety, entertainment, logistics and more.
I would never have tackled the Bering Sea alone. It would be a dream come true for the three boats who formed the GSSR to someday ride again.
Unfortunately though, I’m very sorry to report that our GSSR team of boats is looking more busted up than ever.
My medical issue is nothing compared to what Braun Jones (Captain of Grey Pearl) went through last year. I don’t want to say too much about someone else’s medical issues, but suffice it to say that he had major issues which included open heart surgery, months in the hospital, and a very long recovery. Braun is a fighter and he’ll be back cruising the world on the Pearl at some point, but .. it has definitely slowed him down short-term.
And, as if that wasn’t enough .. I recently spoke with Steven Argosy (Captain Seabird) who announced he would be selling the Bird!
Here’s a link to the “for sale” ad for Seabird:
Seabird being for sale led Roberta and I to a late and nostalgic evening of looking at old videos from our journeys together. It has been years since I’ve looked at the videos.
My personal favorite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzlaibBLzOE
All of them can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChV-EdhsKLQtOzIf0f6fkGA
I never really pushed Steven on “why” he and Carol were selling Seabird. The decision to sell a boat is a personal matter and I’m sure there were lots of things that contributed to the decision.
If I were to speculate as to “why” Seabird is for sale, my guess would be that Steven and Carol, like us, just finished a circumnavigation. It’s the first time their boat has been home in many years. I think they want to enjoy a bit of time at home before (and if ever) setting off on another big adventure.
I completely understand that feeling. International cruising can be stressful and expensive. Nothing is ever as easy as it should be. It is tough to get back and forth from home to the boat. Getting spare parts can be a challenge. Finding a place to haul the boat can be difficult. Clearing in and out of countries can be time consuming. Marinas can be expensive, or worse yet – not available. Language is a constant problem. Finding shore power is a problem. International travel certainly has its rewards, but those rewards come at a steep price.
A boat should be matched to its intended use, and the needs for regional cruising are different than for world cruising. If Roberta and I were to give up our interest in “exploring the world by boat” I might think about buying something smaller with more speed.
Today, as I sit here icing my knee it is hard to envision crossing another ocean, but … it’s premature for us to be thinking about limiting our cruising horizons.
Which raises the question .. what lies ahead for us?
Our “official”current plan is to take the boat from Seattle to Hawaii at the end of this summer.
That said, we’re very soft on the idea and keep hoping one of us will suddenly have a wonderful idea for a direction to head. The best would be if some group of boats were to form with some remote destination in mind.
I read a cruising guide to Hawaii recently and it was somewhat depressing. The water is rough between the islands and there aren’t many good anchorages. There are also some challenges getting our dogs in and out of Hawaii. The rules have loosened recently, but it will still be a process each time we want to go from the mainland to the boat.
On the other hand, we really don’t have a good alternate idea. Our winters are committed for the next couple of years, so we need somewhere with good summer cruising. The Pacific NW where we are now is awesome in summers. But .. I’m really more of a warm water guy. The Pacific NW is beautiful with lots of well-protected anchorages, but the water never really warms up. You can’t swim in “beautiful.” By the time this summer ends I’ll be in the mood to move the boat somewhere with warmer weather and water. The most obvious places, like Mexico, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, are all winter cruising grounds. They are miserable or hurricane prone during the summer.
And, speaking of Hawaii…
I just read an interview with some other Nordhavn owners, Dick and Gail Barnes, which somewhat re-motivated us to go to Hawaii.
(CLICK HERE) to read the interview.
Anyway, there’s no need to decide today….
Nordhavns are going places!
In 2004 we were part of a fleet of 18 power boats that crossed the Atlantic. It was my first experience with ocean crossing and a very cool experience.
There’s another group about to retrace our route. They’ve been posting regular updates as they do all the preparation required for the trip and anyone contemplating crossing oceans should consider following their blog.
Follow their passage at: nap2017.blogspot.com/
And, here’s a couple of amazing journeys
Nordhavns continue to push the limits of what is possible. I was particularly blown away by two amazing quests this past year. One Nordhavn went to the top of the world while another ventured to the bottom!
A Nordhavn (N68 – the same as our Sans Souci) ventured to the North Pole. (click to read)
And another Nordhavn (an N76) headed to the south pole. (click to read)
And, while I’m thinking about Nordhavns “going places”, I just saw this posting from James and Jennifer Hamilton on Dirona, a Nordhavn 52:
To follow their quest: www.mvdirona.com
Congratulations to all these people for these amazing journeys and to Nordhavn for making boats capable of taking their owners to such remote destinations.
I should mention that you might start to see ads appearing in boating magazines and websites for Boatblogs.com. Behind the scenes, it’s me offering to others the same software that I use for my own website and blog. I don’t like to mix plugs for my own products with blogging, so .. I won’t say much beyond, “If you want a website or blog, check it out!”
There’s a chance I’ll run the boat this next weekend. If so … I may send another blog. I haven’t been on the boat since the mechanics finished all their work. I’m very curious to give her a try!
Thank you all,
Ken and Roberta Williams
(and, the pups Toundra and Keely)
Nordhavn 68, Sans Souci