NEWS & NOTES

Nord2AK Re­cap Dou­glas Cochrane

Passage Maker - - Contents - By 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.

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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.

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