Skiffy-a-saurus Wins Again!

Skiffy-a-saurus Wins Again!

By Jeffrey Smith

We built a new skiff for this season and we’ve been really loving how much it’s changed things.

It was kind of a last minute decision, and the builders really rushed to get it done for us. We only loaded it on board the day before our season started, It’s huge by comparison to our old skiff (which by an interesting requirement at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, had been known as Skiffy.)  The new one is so big (to us) that we named it Skiffy-a-saurus.

We use it for all the things we used to do. It’s really good and stable (people can stand up and move around while we’re moving) and it easy to climb in and out of at the beach. We’re using it for getting into kayaks too, but but now we’ve added a couple other activities to our skiff repertoire. The best one– skiff exploring.

We didn’t use Skiffy much for exploring, because it’s capacity was so limited, usually only half the group, but now, everyone can go at once. Now when we get to a new cove or harbor and drop the anchor, we all pile in Skiffy-a-saurus and head out to explore the shoreline. We putt along at 3 or 4 knots, sometimes shutting down the motor to drift and listen, and really get to see what’s there. On this last trip alone, we watched eagles and gulls, saw deer feeding at the water’s edge, spied on crab crawling across the bottom, even drifted while harbor porpoises and icebergs circled the boat. But the best one yet… We watched a brown bear right up close!

Barnacles for Breakfast – Paw licking good!

It was morning, just before breakfast. The sun was lighting up one side of the little fjord we were anchored in. The other side was still in the shade. A brown bear swam across from the sunny side into the shadows on the other side. It was probably a half a mile down the shore. We watched it for 15 or 20 minutes, then Christine suggested we go take a look with Skiffy-a-saurus. Everyone got their cameras, and we all quietly climbed in.
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I headed us over to the shore, then hugged the shore as I idled us close to where he was. At about a hundred feet from the bear, I shut down and let the tide carry us along the shore. We were just feet from the rocky edge. Slowly we got closer and closer, The grizzly didn’t seem to notice (or care) that we were there. No one made a sound. When we were even with him on the beach we were probably only 30 feet away! About 15 of that was deep water, so we calmly took pictures and watched as he poked among the rocks, eating barnacles and mussels.  Then we followed him back down the beach for almost another 10 minutes. It was fantastic. Chalk another one up for Skiffy-a-saurus because this moment was only possible because of it.

Skiffy-a-saurus wins again.

“Say that’s a nice skiff you have there!” – Grizzy admiring our Skiffy-a-saurus

Trip #294 Recap – May 6 – 17, 2017 – Canadian Inside Passage

Trip #294 – Northbound Bellingham to Ketchikan Trip Recap

Twice a year the M/V David B relocates from Bellingham to Alaska – Northbound in May and Southbound in August. It takes us 12 days in total and there is a lot to see and do along the way. Here are Captain Jeffrey’s highlights from this year’s Northbound trip through the Canadian Inside Passage.

Day 1) 06 May – Bellingham to Garrison Bay
After a little delay to handle some customs paperwork, we were off. Beautiful weather, and a quiet anchorage with an evening class about Tides and Currents.

Day 2) 07 May – Garrison Bay to Nanaimo, BC
On to Canada, with lots of help steering and operating the boat. We ran Dodd Narrows a little early, just for fun.

Day 3) 08 May – Nanaimo to Tenados Bay Desolation Sound
An early start and long day of crossing the Straits of Georgia, but with perfect weather and Orca whales just before we got to Desolation Sound. Lots of discussion of cruising boat types and what people liked and a little about bouys thrown in. No other boats could be seen from our anchorage.

Day 4) 09 May – Tenados Bay to Cordero Channel Cove
We didn’t need to leave to early to make our Yulculta Rapids time so there was time for a beautiful hike to a lake, then on through the rapids, also a little early, and very swirly.

Day 5) 10 May – Cordero Channel to Blind Bay Lodge to Pearse Islands
No time schedule again, but lots of miles to make. We stopped in at Blind bay lodge to go for another walk, then headed up Johnstone Strait. More discussion of route planning and currents. Had Pearse Islands anchorage to ourselves.


Friendly Squirrel at Blind Channel

Day 6) 11 May – Pearse Islands to Alert Bay to Blunden Harbor
Made a morning stop at Alert Bay to visit the native cultural center, then on across Queen Charlotte Strait to a quiet anchorage by ourselves again.Several guests went kayaking in the beautiful early evening light. Sunsets are already noticeably later.

Day 7) 12 May – Blunden Harbor to “Amy’s Fancy Cove”
Early morning start for a very smooth crossing of Queen Charlotte Sound, with beautiful sun and a light breeze from astern. Amy chose the evening’s anchorage, a tight little cove with the tree branches right to the water’s edge, which were alone in, again. Sea Otters, shearwaters and Jaegers along the way.

Day 8) 13 May – Fancy Cove to Bottleneck Inlet
A late morning start, and lots of navigating through narrow tree lined passages. Everyone who wanted to has had some time at the helm, with J. taking us through Reid Passage and H. going through Jackson Narrows later in the day.

Day 9) 14 May – Bottleneck Inlet to Butedale to Coghlin Anchorage
Always the required brief stop at Butedale, which is slowly crumbling into the forest, lots and lots of waterfalls, then Whales! Humpback whales lunge feeding right off Kingcome point. Of course, we were alone in the anchorage.

Day 10) 15 May – Coghlin Anchorage to Kumealon Inlet
D.drove the boat for the entire day, through Grenville channel. There was kayaking and skiff rides before dinner. We happened to be at the reversing rapids at the Lagoon just before slack water, so we came back in the skiff with better raingear and cameras and got to explore the lagoon for the first time. Again, by ourselves, and a great toast to Christine on her Birthday.

Day 11) 16 May – Kumealon Inlet to Brundige Inlet
Left early, and drove through Prince Rupert, just as 2 ships were maneuvering to and from the dock, lots of discussion of passing situations etc. Very seldom have we been in Brundige by ourselves, but once again, for our last night, we were alone.

The Skiff at Kumealon Inlet

Day 12) 17 May – Brundige inlet to Ketchikan, AK
One last early morning start, and a good chance to see how the new Tin Hat was in bigger seas, probably three to five feet, and as expected, much more comfortable than before. Just as we were approaching Ketchikan, the welcoming committee of bald eagles and whales showed up. J spotted the whale first, and we were able to turn and watch for a couple minutes before we headed into town, the trip a complete success!

If you would like to book a trip on our Southbound 12-day trip, we still have spots available. Just email Sarah@northwestnavigation.com for more information.


Last Minute Discounts for Alaska

We still have a 8 spots available for Alaska Trip #302 – July 30 to August 6 from Juneau to Petersburg. Here is a sample itinerary. Since we are just over two months away, I am able to offer a 20% discount on this trip. Normally this trip price is $5,900 per person, but with the discount you save over $1,000 for a discounted price of $4,720. Contact Sarah@northwestnavigation.com for details and to make your reservation.

Not ready for Alaska? Consider the San Juan Islands. We still have plenty of spots available once the David B returns from Alaska in August. Just look at our Schedule and then email Sarah@northwestnavigation.com to reserve your spot today!

New Video – One Boat Two Hearts

Last summer at the Victoria Classic Boat Show we met with Steve Stone from OffCenterHarbor.com who asked if he could do a video shoot of the David B. Someone from the boat show had suggested that the David B’s story would be a good one, and so we were introduced.

The next morning Steve came to the boat and videotaped us as we talked about the David B and what it was like to restore the boat as well as what it is like now to cruise in Alaska and the Inside Passage. The video is heartwarming and they did a great job of capturing who we are and what the David B means to us and to our guests. I hope you’ll take the time to watch the preview and then sign up with OffCenterHarbor.com to see the entire clip. It might just make you cry — but in a good way.

http://www.offcenterharbor.com/videos/david-b-one-boat-two-hearts/?awt_l=sR7nMY&awt_m=3VggOkPJh644w9k

The Tin Hat Project

It’s for Real – We’re Doing It!

We’ve talked to quite a number of you about expanding the pilot house on the David B and we’re really going to do it. We’ve got a real plan, a tentative timeline, and we’re ready to move forward.

A Brief History

David B restoration project - pilothouse rebuild
Original pilothouse, current pilothouse, sketch of proposed pilothouse

The David B was built with the pilothouse on the foredeck about where the mast now is, and behind that there was a small bunk space and the galley. The owner prior to us moved it to it’s present location. For years we’ve talked about rebuilding the pilothouse so that it is back in it’s original location.

The Reasons for the Move

We’ve always felt that we could make the boat much more comfortable for us and our guests, and better suited for its present service because we’d have:

  • More, cozy interior space with great viewing windows
  • More, usable upper deck space for wildlife viewing from a higher level
  • Better visibility from the bridge windows, especially for navigating in the ice
  • Covered outer decks for outdoor viewing, out of the rain, and also wind protected
  • More hanging space for guests’ personal gear like rain gear
  • Indoor access to the staterooms all the way from the galley

All around it will make the boat a better experience for everyone onboard.

Aluminum — Our (not so little) Secret

We’re going to have the shell of it built of aluminum, lifted into place with a crane, and we’ll trim out the inside and outside using wood. Before you start picturing it a sad grey metal, we’re going to paint it white with black trim and varnished doors and no one will be the wiser. (It’s common on older wood boats to make use of metal structures. A boat right next to us in the marina just got an aluminum house this fall.) It will also be lighter, and stronger, plus the logistics of having it built ashore allows us to have it made while we’re in Alaska and put it on when we return, so we’ll have the full winter to finish.

 

One day I realized that it was kind of like putting an aluminum hat on the boat, and the project name was born: The Tin Hat Project

The Timeline

  • December 2015 — Planning and Design work
  • January 2016 — Investment proposal complete
  • March 2016 — Regular outfitting for the boat starts
  • June 2016 — Aluminum house constructed
  • October 2016 — Lifting the shell aboard
  • Winter 2016-2017– Completion of the interior and systems
  • March 2017 —  Regular outfitting for the rest of the boat
  • May 2017 –Sailing with the new tin hat.
Prposed layout for David B Pilothouse Rebuild
Proposed layout for David B’s pilothouse Rebuild


The Money

Our proposal for the project and the investment opportunity will be complete before Christmas, but the basic details are that we’d like to borrow from those of you who already understand why the David B is such a great experience. We have done a similar thing in the past, offering interest or interest with trip credits, and this will be structured in the same way with very favorable rates for you. We’ll keep you posted and the full proposal will be available soon.

 

If we haven’t already talked about it with you, send me an email to let us know if you’re interested.

 

It going to be a really exciting project,

 

Captain Jeffrey

The David B is in WoodenBoat Magazine!

The David B in Wooden Boat MagazineWhen we first stared Northwest Navigation Co. and bought the David B in 1998 we often dreamed of seeing her restored. We also hoped that someday there would be an article about the David B in WoodenBoat magazine as that magazine has always been a source of inspiration. This was especially true during the toughest times of restoring the David B when the end seemed impossibly out of reach. When things were difficult we’d often pull out our favorite copy of WoodenBoat – issue #140 Feb/Jan 1998 which featured the restoration of a boat called the Eda Frandsen. Its owners had done a beautiful job rebuilding it, and just prior to her relaunching a fire nearly destroyed her. Somehow, that didn’t deter the Eda Franden’s owners and they kept going. Their story helped inspire us. If they could rebuild an old wooden boat (twice) and get through major obstacles, then we could too!

So, seventeen years later Jeffrey and I have finally made our dream of seeing the David B in WoodenBoat magazine come true. Just yesterday Issue #242 Jan/Feb 2015 arrived in my mailbox. As I tore open the packaging, I felt both the joy of accomplishment and the fear of criticism as I flipped through the magazine to my article. There it was on page 72. The head of the article has a beautiful picture of the David B at anchor in Fords Terror from one of our Alaska cruises a few years back. I scanned the article and hoped I still liked it. I did. The rest of the pictures were restoration photos. I sometimes forget how much work we did during those first years and reading the article reminded me of how far we’ve come with the David B  and how far we will continue to go as we spend our summers cruising in the Inside Passage and Alaska.