NEWS & NOTES
Nord2AK Recap Douglas Cochrane
The seeds were planted in 2012. We had been cruising for several weeks in the remote waters of northern British Columbia, where it isn’t unusual to go for several days without seeing another boat. Then surprisingly, two other Nordhavns sailed into Sea Otter Cove where we were anchored on the west side of Vancouver Island.
The Nordhavn family is a close knit community. Two Nordhavns in the same anchorage usually means a party. Three boats in a distant location increased the odds, especially since we already knew Jim and Lynda Frantz, the owners of N40, Albedos. Over the next couple of weeks, Orion, Albedos, and an N62 named Island Greeter sailed south, hopscotching each other from cove to fjord to anchorage.
When we reached Barkley Sound, near the southwest corner of Vancouver Island where the Pacific Ocean meets the Strait of Juan de Fuca, we were joined by Skookum, yet another N40. Of course this called for another party. Nicky Hudson onboard Skookum organized a picnic on a small island, with hot dogs, marshmallows, and kayak tours. Imagine four Nordhavns anchored together just off a sunny beach— it was practically a world record!
Fast forward to 2015. Orion was returning to the Pacific Northwest after three years cruising the South Pacific. We reminisced about our friends who we hadn’t seen in over three years. “Why don’t we organize a rendezvous?” “With a bit of planning, we might get 8 or 10 boats together this time.” Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into.
Jim and Lynda were the first couple to respond to our invitation. The four of us began planning what, when, and where. We considered all the usual places, such as Port Ludlow and Anacortes. But Nordhavns have long legs, so we decided to look further afield. Before long we had agreed on Petersburg, Alaska, a charming little village with a good harbor, a great harbormaster, and a deeply rooted Norwegian background. “Nordhavn” sounds Scandinavian enough, so it made sense to gather in the “Little
Norway” of Alaska. Nord2AK was born.
Our target of 10 boats meant roughly 20 people, and the local hotel had a conference room that would seat 20. But it was already becoming apparent that we might attract more than 10 boats to our party. The other location was the Sons of Norway hall, which would comfortably seat 100 or more. We girded our loins, pulled out our checkbooks, and made the leap. After renting the bigger hall, we hoped for the best. We put together a shoestring budget and started accepting deposits.
It didn’t take long to prove that the bigger hall was required. Sign-ups came pouring in as we began our event planning. By December we were beginning to panic: the event had grown to 50 people. We were concerned that it was getting too large. The leadership team held a vote and announced that registration was closed. But Jim Franz, who was keeping the attendance list up-todate, apparently didn’t have the word “no” in his vocabulary. In February we made a firm decision to cap registrations at 70. But by the time the event opened on Friday, July 8th, we hosted 28 Nordhavns and 92 people in Petersburg.
And what a party it was. Pacific Asian Enterprises (parent company of Nordhavn) president Dan Streech gave the keynote address, sharing stories about the company’s past and present, and even a few tidbits for the future. Early on we had decided not to seek the usual list of suspects for presentations. Nordhavns cruise the oceans of the world so we felt
that there was plenty of expertise within our membership to fill the slate. These are people who are living the dream, not just writing or lecturing about it. We organized two full days of classes in subjects ranging from advanced radar techniques and current leakages at the dock, to fishing, docking, and great cruising grounds.
The catered dinner on Saturday night featured a full Norwegian smorgasbord and a troupe of young dancers in native costumes who got everyone on their feet in a Norwegian version of the conga line. Boat tours and cocktail parties,broke out all over the harbor and throughout the warm and welcoming village.
Usually Monday morning hits an event like this like a bad hangover. But Nordhavn owners are hardy folk. We arranged a boat parade at the early morning tide change. This was the largest gathering of Nordhavns in history and it was a thrill to see so many beautiful yachts circling around in front of the town for an hour of photo ops. Then we all steamed off in a line for Portage Bay, a large scenic anchorage 25 miles farther north, where we spent two sunny days on dinghies and kayaks, exploring, visiting, and reducing the local halibut population. No one left with an empty freezer.
It was a solemn and rainy Wednesday as one by one, we hauled anchor and departed for our various destinations. It had been a record-breaking and heartwarming event.
The takeaway? Nordhavn owners are wonderful, adventurous, innovative people. Nearly all the boats are owneroperated, mostly by older couples with some younger families who raise their kids onboard. Many of us have migrated from sailboats to trawlers as we got older. A substantial contingent live aboard and the rest spend about six months a year cruising.
The level of expertise is understandably high as these are boats that spend a healthy amount of their lives cruising remote areas where Vessel Assist doesn’t exist.
Pacific Asian Enterprises is very supportive of the community, even though many of the boats are now in second or third ownership. Although Nord2AK was entirely organized and operated by volunteers, PAE made a substantial contribution to its success.
Will we do this again? Perhaps… there is already discussion of gathering in Prince William Sound on the west side of the Gulf of Alaska. All plans are fluid and we are driven by the whim. So time will tell.
This Photo: One of the first of 28 Nordhavns to arrive in Petersburg, Alaska. Below: The group poses for a picture.; 92 attended the festivities.
Sleepy residential Petersburg, site of the largest Nordhavn rendezvous.