A Evening with Passion

Northwest Navigation Co. | Passion | StaggsonianSometimes you find passion in the oddest places. On Saturday evening Jeffrey and I found ourselves at the door of a rather plain old house. Its 1940s mint green asbestos shingles vaguely reminded me of my grandparent’s house. We had arrived at the house by way of an invitation from Nancy, a petite, fit and trim woman with beautiful silver hair that matches her fiery personality. We had first met her several years ago when she came on the David B for a kayaking trip.  This evening she had invited us and two other couples to the home of Don Stagg, a musician and a collector of pianos and pipe organs.

When we stepped up to the front door, it had been left open a crack to let us know to just walk in. I stepped inside first and was greeted by  Nancy. She introduced us to her guests, Graham and Donna, and Lisa and Ken, then she introduced us to Don Stagg. He’s a tall man of 82 years. His thin ponytail was tied into a ball at the nape of his neck. He wore long-sleeves with cuff links, a tie and a green vest with a chain that was fastened to the middle button hole. The chain we learned later was made from his mother’s hair and held a pocket watch that chimed on the hour. While we chatted with one another, I surveyed the house. The furniture was heirloom, dark colored wood with red and green velvet. It had been reupholstered three times. A grandfather clock that Don had first seen as a young boy stood in the corner. The opposite wall held a watercolor portrait of a younger Don playing the piano. His strong hands and bearded face stood out from the white-washed background and instrument. Everything in the room and on the walls had meaning. As I looked around, I saw not just stuff, but a man’s life and the memories and the passion that drives him. While I listened to the conversation my eyes lingered on the things that made this house different from every other house I’ve been in — pianos.Northwest Navigation Co | Small Ship Cruises | Don Stagg

Set though out the house were pianos, a clavichord, the world’s only double harpsichord, more pianos, and two pipe organs. Each and everyone had been rescued. When Don walked over to an insturment, he’d sit down and play for us. His hands moved with incredible speed and accuracy, his emotion in every note. His music makes you cry. Between bits of music Don would talk. He’d talk about living and working in Montana and Alaska. He’d talk about the mining camp where he was born and the hardworking mining couple that adopted him as an infant. He’d talk about the worthlessness of today’s throw-away electronic culture. He has no electronic gadgets, no television, no computer. He talked about his disdain for the universities and museums that put great instruments like the ones spread thoughout his house under lock and key where they cannot be played.Northwest Navigation Co | Small Ship Cruises | Pianos and Organs

As he talked about his life and his passion for playing I couldn’t help but think about the passion that Jeffrey and I have with the David B. I knew that Nancy had invited us and the others who shared the evening together because each once of us held a passion for something, whether it was music, sailing, felting, publishing, or an old wood boat, it was our love for these things that we all shared and we all got to see in one another. There’s a magic in a person like Don who is passionate. His love for his music and for the care of his musical charges was inspirational. Passion kindles a fire that we all have within us. Some of us move forward with our passions, others keep them ready for some safer future time, but the things we live for are there. What made our evening with Don so special, was seeing him pursue his amazing passion with such simplicity and focus.



Of Ginger Cookies and the Galley of a Wooden Boat

It’s been about a month now that More Faster Backwards has been published and Jeffrey and I are having a lot of fun promoting it in as many ways as we can. Later today we’ll be at the Pacific Marine Exchange in Bellingham doing a book signing. As part of the event, I decided that I wanted to make my favorite Triple Ginger Cookies as a way to show people who come to the signing how special a trip on the David B is. While I was thinking about cookies yesterday we were invited to dinner with some friends on the Schooner Zodiac. We wanted to go, but I also needed to make cookies, so it was agreed that I could use their galley.  It was a perfect evening because I love old wood boats, galleys, drinking wine, and baking while spending time with good friends.

Small Ship Cruise | David B | Alaska | Inside Passage | San Juan Islands | Culinary
Juliet making Triple Ginger Cookies

In my opinion, time spent in the galley is the best. It’s where heart and soul come alive with stories, smells, and tastes. In the summer months when we’re on the David B the galley is central to all of our cruises, whether we’re in the San Juan Islands, Alaska, or somewhere along Canada’s Inside Passage. It’s around the cook stove and galley table that I get to know the people who have chosen to spend their vacations with us. Some of the best times I’ve had on the David B has been while cracking crab or snapping beans with our guests. As our hands flow with motion our stories emerge. Some stories are simple, some stories are harrowing, but all of them bring us closer together.

In a era where the pace of life moves so fast, the galley becomes a refuge where time slows down and we can relax and be people; not employees, workers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers, or whatever labels we place on ourselves. The galley is simply a place to nurture and be nurtured.

After dinner last night, Juliet and I stole away to the galley to start the cookies. She helped me chop fresh ginger and candied ginger while I creamed butter and brown sugar. We talked about all sorts of things while everyone else was in the salon. As the cookies baked, the smell of hot ginger and sugar filled the space. It was intoxicating and added to the warm cozy feeling of being on a wooden boat while outside the wind and rain raged. It also made me remember how much I look forward to the summer and being in my galley on the David B.

When Was the Last Time…

Vacation Cruise on the Small Ship David B

…you took a truly great vacation? When was the last time you went on an adventure? And really got to relax while someone else took care of the details?

A voyage on the Motor Vessel David B is all of that. From the moment you book your cruise, to your last moment on board, it’s all designed around you. Your crew customizes your cruise especially for you. As soon as you step on board the stress of everyday life melts away. Your shoulders loosen up and you begin to relax. Everything has been taken care of. The crew has thought  of all the details, from meals, to anchorages to the daily activities.  You get to enjoy the adventure of cruising. And not just any cruising; cruising on a beautiful unique and eye catching boat in some of the world’s most stunning scenery.

Small Ship Cruises | Alaska | Inside Passage | Phtography

The Motor Vessel David B is a beautifully restored 65-foot wooden workboat that has been converted to carry you and five others in luxury, just six passengers total at a time. Accommodations are in 4 staterooms, three of which have queen-sized beds and one that has two extra-long twin bunks. Each cabin has it’s own private head (toilet) and sink. Then there’s our bathtub. It’s a full-sized cast-iron antique bathtub with a shower with a small fireplace right beside it. It’s a great place for a long soak with a glass of wine after your day.


You can go on any old cruise ship you want, but really, no one likes standing in line with all the crowds. You know the value of privacy and a personalized adventure. The David B gives you just that. It is the perfect alternative to the big mainstream cruise ships for anyone searching for a specialized cruise in Alaska, the Inside Passage or the San Juan Islands.

So what are you waiting for? Read some of our testimonials, check our articles and reviews, look at the pictures of what we do, then call us and sign up.

Schedule and Rates
Toll Free – 877-670-7863 US
Direct – 360-201-8184
Skype – MotorVesselDavidB
When was the last time you had a truly great vacation?

Kicking the Bucket List

Bellingham Bay Rendezvous
David B at the Bellingham Bay Rendezvous - A Gathering of Small Ships for Charter

I just stumbled on to this post that was on NW Windjammer’s Facebook page. I thought it was something worth thinking about for everyone who has ever wanted to travel on historic boats like the David B. The post was done by the Schooner Zodiac’s First Mate, Chris Wallace and she vividly points out something that all of us in the small cruise boat business deal with a lot; that is, that our boats are on everybody’s bucket list, but well-wishing people still end up choosing to book their vacations on the big cruise lines. In the long run, if people don’t vote with their pocket books to cruise on the historic wooden boats, one-by-one, they’ll close up their businesses or non-profits and the boats will be lost to history. Wood boats are expensive to maintain and it’s a tough economy. When you choose to cruise on classic power boats, or the windjammers, part of what you are paying for is for the love, care, passion and future of these very special boats.

Are you one of those people that has always wanted to go on a small ship cruise? …Do you ever walk by these classic wooden boats, (sail and power as well), and say to yourself, “That’s on my bucket list, y’know.”

Well, don’t hold onto that bucket list for too long. Many small ship cruise companies are closing. The stalling economy has hit these business hard. Several small ship cruise boats are for sale and some are just closing their shop doors.

Don’t let this living piece of our maritime heritage slip away! If you’ve wanted to cruise on a Tall Ship- do it this year! …If you’ve wanted to cruise the inside passage on a vintage power boat, do it this year!

…Trust me Disney Cruise line is gonna be around for a long time… plastic boats don’t go away.

Support the men and women who work to keep these ships afloat- become a small ship cruiser this year- kick that bucket list!!


Chris Wallace, Chief Mate
The Schooner Zodiac

Schooner Zodiac on a Calm Day
Schooner Zodiac on a Calm Day

With all Due Respect to our Competition…

With all due respect to our competition, I really think that guests have a better experience aboard the Motor Vessel David B than on any of the other vessels that ply the same routes as we do. On any boat in Alaska you’ll see whales, glaciers and probably bears, but aren’t their other things that you really want if you’re planning on spending a week or more of your time and a pretty good chunk of change on a vacation? Things like comfort, luxury, expertise that you are really looking for. Here is a list of reasons why the David B is superior to our competition:

    • All of our staterooms have a private head (bathroom) with a toilet, connected to the room.
    • All of the baked goods (and almost everything else) from our galley is made right onboard from scratch, including the croissants and pain au chocolat.Handmade Fresh Croissants and Pain au Chocolat
    • There is freshly baked bread at every lunch and dinner.
    • We have a cast iron bathtub (and shower) with a fireplace for your enjoyment.
    • And there’s unlimited hot water to use.
    • The boat has amazing spots onboard for wildlife and nature viewing. The Bridge Deck has a 360 degree view and the galley table area has a 300 degree view. On deck there’s lots of room to sit or stretch out.
    • And you’re allowed on the bridge. You can even drive the boat if you want.
    • You can come in the galley and chat with the Chef. She even likes it.
    • You won’t be asked to do any dishes. Never. Ever. Unless for some reason, you want to.
    • We have real fiberglass kayaks, not the roto-molded plastic, sit on top kind, but tough stable cruising boats like experienced paddlers use. They’re are great for beginners too.
    • We have lots of places to plug in your chargers and CPAP equipment.
    • It’s quiet onboard at night, because we don’t run a generator at night. Ever.
    • We have lots of space under the bunks for luggage.
    • Everything from the galley is cooked on a wood-burning cookstove so it has a wonderful wood smoke taste and there is no diesel cookstove smell in the galley.
    • There are lockable doors on all the cabins.
    • Our small group-size means that you will get to do what you want.

      David B Crew
      The David B's Crew - Chrstine and Jeffrey Dressed Up
    • And the boat is affordable to charter if you want the whole thing for your group,
    • or if you are traveling alone, we never have a single supplement.

And, if all that weren’t enough,

  • we think, the David B has the best looking crew.

So what are you waiting for? Read some of our testimonials, check our reviews, look at the pictures of what we do, then call us and sign up.
When was the last time you had a truly great vacation?