THE BOAT RIDE, story by Frank Durksen, Sr.

I told a friend that I had one heck of a boat ride this Wednesday.

I had listed a 40′ Nordhavn Trawler in Sidney, BC. The owner agreed that I could move, NORDIC CURRENTS, to my docks in Anacortes so it would be easier for me to show.

I traveled to Vancouver Island by BC Ferry on Tuesday, January 16 with Galen, a friend of mine who is a veteran captain. On the way over to Swartz Bay the seas were perfectly calm and I took photos of the
red setting sun from the top deck of the ferry.

Little did we know that this was the last time we would see calm seas on this expedition!

We spent the night at The Sidney Waterfront Inn. When I got up in the morning I turned on The Weather Channel. The weather lady was predicting 45 knot winds. I could not believe it. It had been so nice yesterday. She had to be wrong.

Ever since I got into the boat sales business I have had a 20 kts. max policy. I never leave the dock unless the winds, or forecasted winds are less than 20 knots. Only a very few times have I ever made an exception. This would be one of them. I felt a little uncomfortable
about my decision but I had confidence in my experienced captain and in our vessel.

The winds were already starting to pick up when we left the dock at
7:30 am. As we left the sheltered waters behind the Sidney Sand Spit
and began to cross Haro Strait on the way back to the United
States we were suddenly hit by the high winds that were predicted. In
a very short time our wind meter read 25 knots then 30 and the
numbers continued to climb.

The waves seemed to come from all directions and they were very
choppy, lifting our 40 foot vessel then dropping it suddenly. The
bow was crashing down, spraying sheets of salt water over the top of our pilothouse. We were experiencing what some mariners call “confused seas”. It was very uncomfortable and the seas were definitely confused. In fact it was the worst sea conditions that I had experienced in my 25 years as a yacht broker.

I looked at gauges above the pilothouse windows, the spastic
wind meter had jumped to over 40 knots and was continually moving
as it recorded the gusts. Next to the wind gage was the depth
sounder telling us that there was now 749 feet of water under our
“If we went down here they would never find us”, I said to Galen with a grin.
“That’s for sure,” He replied.

Yes the movie The Perfect Storm had come to my mind. Which caused me to ask myself; “What am I doing out here? Who will be Elly’s caregiver if I do not come home?”

Yet I was never really afraid. I knew that a number of 40 Nordhavns
had circumnavigated the world and had undoubtedly faced meaner
seas than what I was experiencing today. So I was confident that we
would be safe despite what we were going through at the moment. I had
built Nordhavn 40, hull number one, for myself in 1998 and named her
FIRST FORTY. So I was very familiar with her solid construction and
amazing sea keeping abilities. But I had never experienced anything like this before.

Up and down we went. I must confess that I am prone to get sea sick. But not today. Long deep and slow swells nauseate me. Smashing through 15-20 feet of chop was an exciting thrill ride. I loved it!

By nine o’clock we were on the lee side of Spieden Island where the seas
settled down. Although the current coming against us slowed our speed over ground to 3.5 knots nevertheless it was a nice break from the rocky ride until we entered San Juan Channel where the wind and waves picked up again. Galen suggested the we get out of the choppy channel so we entered Wasp Passage to Harney Channel between Shaw and Orcas Islands. A beautiful scenic route. Now the water was calm, the currents were with us and our speed increased to 8 knots. Just when I was thinking; “this is great”, we got nailed again leaving Thatcher Pass into Rosario Strait. More wild seas and powerful 50 knot wind gusts from the south. 

Our NAIAD Stabilizers did their job keeping us steady as possible in
these extremely adverse conditions. We heeled slightly to port as
NORDIC CURRENTS resisted the wind and accepted continuous baptisms of sea water. We finally entered the calm waters of the Guemes Channel. I sent Elly a text telling her that we were almost home. I was beginning to relax when, ” Bam!” we got one more 45 knot shot of wind that screamed through the rigging and caused the mast supports to shudder over the pilothouse as we rounded Cap Sante rock on the way to the security of my dock in the Marina. 

Because the currents were with us we were at the customs office by 1:30. This was more than two hours before my estimated time of arrival. The little Nordhavn did a great job. I am just getting over the adrenaline rush now.

This was exactly what I needed to take my mind off “other things”.