North Pacific Tale of a New Boater
A North Pacific Tale
In the summer of 2021, my husband Drew and I took possession of our North Pacific 45 Pilothouse, hull number 4516, PLOT TWIST.
PLOT TWIST is our first boat, unless you call the Pygmy kayak Drew built in our garage a few decades back the first one. Drew had always wanted to boat, but it was a pastime that we as a young family could not afford, though he avidly climbed through yachts at boat shows along with all the other curious but cash-strapped attendees. And while finances were indeed a formidable obstacle, Drew faced a far more daunting hurdle.
Not that I wanted to deny him his dream. Not in the least. Instead, he was contending with my lifelong fear of drowning at sea, first formed when I read A Night to Remember when I was twelve years old. The story of the Titanic loomed large in my active imagination, and the ship’s tragic end fed my idea of all that was fearful about the sea.
Several decades passed. Our financial situation stabilized, our children flew the next, and Lonesome Cove Resort on San Juan Island, where we had spent a portion of every summer, was sold to a private party, rendering us bereft of one of our favorite places on earth. Then one day, our friends took us on an overnight trip on their pretty power Beneteau to Poulsbo, Washington. We had a grand time. My fears were calmed. I loved our twenty-four hours on the water. Something happens out there. Time stretches. Light seems infinite. And the intimate geography of Puget Sound mesmerizes. After a very fun twenty-four hours, our friends deposited us back in Seattle and gathered their next guests for another adventure while we drove home, where I had to pick up a prescription at Target. And it suddenly dawned on me that if Drew and I didn’t do something soon, the rest of our lives would consist of driving to Target to pick up prescriptions. Boring.
Within a week, we decided to buy a boat. Quick, yes, but we had already been thinking about how to spend the last third of our life together. We had rejected buying a second home or moving to a waterfront or even a different city. So once again, Drew and I prowled boat shows, learning what we loved and didn’t love about each configuration and make of boat, but more important what we didn’t want, and what we did.
Which led us to Trevor Brice and North Pacific Yachts. The second I stepped foot on one of his boats, I knew. It looked like our lost cabin on San Juan Island. I loved all the wood. I loved how well-built it was. I loved how it made me feel. It felt like home. Trevor says we were fast buyers. From first seeing our first NPY to purchase was a span of just four months, about the same amount of time it took Drew and I to decide that we wanted to marry. At the time of writing now, we are entering our thirty-seventh year of marriage, so this bodes well for our relationship to boating and NPY.
PLOT TWIST was built during the pandemic. While waiting, and to prepare to be responsible captains of a 45-foot boat, we took virtual seamanship and navigation classes. In early August 2021, we took possession of PLOT TWIST. But when time came to actually go out on the sea, all the fear from my twelve-year-old self came flooding back. I, the avid reader of A Night To Remember, had become a writer with an even better developed, some might say hyperactive, imagination, and the biggest terror of my life had just returned in spades. All I could think was THIS IS OUR FIRST BOAT?!? WHAT IF SOMETHING HAPPENS?!! WHAT THE HELL WERE WE THINKING BUYING ONE THIS BIG!!? HOW IN THE WORLD WILL WE EVER LEARN TO DOCK IT, LET ALONE DRIVE IT?!! WHY DIDN’T WE START SMALL AND GET A LAKE BOAT?!! ARE WE TOO STUPID TO OWN A BOAT?!! WE DON’T KNOW ANYTHING!!! OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. I was on the constant verge of panic. Which meant I was still an obstacle for my husband.
But I love Drew. And he wanted to boat. And so, after PLOT TWIST was commissioned, we hired a captain to teach us how to drive her.
Over the past two years, I have faced down all my fears. Turns out, if you prepare well and pay attention and learn all you can, you are not too stupid to own a first boat that is 45-feet long. Drew is a pro at docking PLOT TWIST, and I am not too shabby on lines and fenders nor on calling directions from the stern as Drew slips her neatly into place. We can read radar. We know how to run the complicated electronics. We can navigate and plot a course. And, surprise, surprise! I haven’t drowned. In our first two years as boaters we have gone from the mere baby steps of traversing Elliott Bay on our own, to the (for us) giant steps of traveling north through the Swinomish Channel to the San Juan Islands. We have anchored overnight several times in Liberty Bay. Out on the water, we have spotted orca, gray whales, dolphins and bald eagles. We have taken our own guests as far as Port Townsend and Port Ludlow and Whidbey Island. And this year, our third summer on board, we are headed even further north to the Canadian Gulf Islands. After that? Desolation Sound is our goal.
We love our beautiful PLOT TWIST. We love that we believed in ourselves. We love that we embraced adventure. We love that we took a chance.
But most of all, I love that I dared.