Come mid-September a distinct bite in the late afternoon air announces the summer cruising season in Maine is drawing to a close and it’s time to raise the hook and head to the Bahamas.

Anywhere in Maine
Somesville, near Southwest Harbor
Soft light, extraordinary place
Salem harbor
9/11 Memorial, NJ
9/11 Memorial, NYC
The water seems different, must be the Sea of Abaco
The sun sets on another cruising season

Buying Dragonfly #1 – Nordhavn 47

Holy cow, we just bought a Nordhavn.

Springtime in the Exumas

Susan and I are lifelong sailors, mainly racing dinghies such as Snipes, Lasers, J22’s, etc., but have also had larger keelboats along the way (Beneteau 393 in the BVI and C&C 29 on San Francisco Bay).  

Racing Snipes in Nassau

As the years rolled along, it became clear that while we loved being on and around the water, wearing 4 mil wetsuits and taking waves over the Snipe bow were not sustainable for the long term.  The nail in the coffin came when I blew out my back racing a Laser, resulting in L5/S1 surgery.  

How we came to buy this Nordhavn 47 is kind of an interesting story.  Our search led us to power, and then trawlers, and then Grand Banks, and then to TrawlerFest in Baltimore a couple of years ago.  There were a great variety of boats, so we spent lots of time on Kadey Krogens, Selenes, Defevers, a Krogen Express and three Nordhavns (a 40, 43 and 47).  We met Jeff Merrill, a very knowledgeable Nordhavn broker and started the deep dive on the Nordhavn product.  

Several weeks after we got home to Park City, UT, we received a Fedex box from Merrill with every Circumnavigator issue and lots of product info on the 47.  The magazines were lying around the house and we’d flip through them every now and again. 

Susan is a professional teaching chef and had been a panelist at a healthy eating / child nutrition event when she was approached by a Mom who asked if she would be interested in getting involved in improving the public school lunch program.  The woman gave Susan her card – Eric, Ann and Bear Bloomquist.

One afternoon Susan was having tea and reading an old issue of Circumnavigator when she came across the profile of owners who had a child named Bear.  Well, there just aren’t too many people who name their kid Bear, so she digs out this family card she remembered receiving, called Ann, and asked “Do you happen to have a Nordhavn?”  Holy cow, they just finished 11 years living aboard Nordhavns (a 40, 47 and 64 – Oso Blanco).  Who would have thought in a town of 7,000 people we’d find another couple with a Nordhavn background by sitting on a food panel and reading Circumnavigator?  So of course we had them over for dinner, learned all about Nordhavns, Susan and Ann founded a non-profit to improve school lunches and became great friends.  Thanks Circumnavigator!

Our search then narrowed to resale Nordhavn 47’s and we identified a very nice 47 on San Francisco Bay that had been on the market for about a year.  We visited it with Jeff Merrill, and about a month later we were finally ready to go forward and called Jeff to write an offer.  And Merrill’s reply is:  “The boat went under contract this morning”  You have got to be flipping kidding me!  Susan’s reply was “Wow, we need Health, Time, Money AND a Boat.”

Later, Susan was on Yachtworld looking at available 47’s and asked about Winkin, an equally nice 47 on the east coast.  I remembered Eric telling me that Winkin was originally Oso Blanco, the boat they had built when they moved up from their 40 to a new 47.  What a small world!!!

So we put Winkin / Oso Blanco under contract and planned our due diligence trip for mid December.  Four days before flying to Rhode Island, I slipped on ice and snapped my fibula – ouch!  Hmm, can we still fly across country and spend three days on a boat with cast and crutches? 

Coco feeling Dad’s pain

Time for rally caps – we changed hotels to have an elevator, changed the rental car to have a minivan, and rented a wheelchair as the forecast was for snow and ice and we needed a way to get up and down ramps and docks.  It was a great trip – Jeff, Susan and Dave Balfour (the seller’s broker) were all super and helped me on and off the boat and I was able to crawl up and down the stairs dragging the cast behind me.  Most of my own due diligence was done looking in floor hatches and cabinets at floor level.  I never did see in the high cabinets.  The sea trial was done with snow flurries blowing across the bow in 25 degree weather and snow and ice on all of the decks.  The boat heater was not operational as the boat had been winterized for the season so the inside temperature wasn’t much higher than the outside temperature.  Merrill being from southern California spent most of his time in the engine room!

It’s a great boat and we’ll start our adventures in April when we splash Dragonfly and start exploring New England and then the Bahamas.

When in the Abacos we met some serious fishing folks who invited us out and they landed a blue marlin – a Really big deal in the fishing world – so that was pretty cool. Yes, it is most definitely catch and release with these Hemingway trophy fish.

The fish I thought I caught

So I thought it would be fun to do some fishing and see what I could land.

The fish I actually caught
Always the curious one

Three Winters in the Bahamas

We had sold the Deer Valley home and furniture, put the things we valued in long term storage, and moved aboard a Nordhavn 47 trawler named Dragonfly. After spending May – September in New England and Maine, we were heading south like everyone else. Tied up in a marina along the C & D Canal (connecting Chesapeake and Delaware bays), Susan took little Coco for a walk and was chatted up by a guy on a Huge powerboat named Coping. Ray played the 20 questions game, and when Susan said we didn’t have specific plans for where to spend the winter, he made the very compelling argument to skip Florida and head to the Abacos and spend the winter at the Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club. It sounded very fancy, but we later learned that it was organized by a bunch of drunks, I mean boaters (but you knew that) who thought it would be fun to create a boating club in the Bahamas for cruisers. They knew the Queen wouldn’t bless the club, so they made former University of Texas football coaching legend Darrell Royal an honorary member, and named the Club after him. The rest is history, though it is surprising how many yacht clubs offer reciprocal privileges when you mention that you’re a member of a Royal club.

And so this is how we came to spend three winters in the Abacos, followed by spring cruising in the Exumas. If you’ve never been, this area is famous among boaters, first and foremost for the water. Clear, clear, and more clear, with unbelievable shades of blue, green and everything in between.

Best sunset photo of the Bahamas, off Elbow Cay with Elizabeth Ann, a Fleming 55
Family Island Regatta, Georgetown, Exumas
Spending the day on a deserted island, east of Cambridge Cay, Exumas
Sunset off Lubbers Landing, Abacos
Sport fishing off Marsh Harbour in the Abacos and the boat caught this huge Mahi Mahi
Highbourne Cay in the northern Exumas – a personal favorite!