A group of 100 yachters recently visited Petersburg and other towns in Southeast. They were traveling in a fleet of Nordhavn yachts. They gathered in Petersburg to exchange notes on living life aboard. KFSK’s Angela Denning reports:
The first one I meet on the 57-foot yacht “Albedos” is Izzy, a small, tan poodle. Izzy’s life, along with her owners, has been completely tailored for living on the water.
Here on the back deck she has her very own small patch of bright green fake grass in the corner.
Jim Frantz is the boat’s owner.
“If you’ll notice there’s a drain in the corner so the whole thing drains to the boat drain in the corner of the poop deck,” he says.
Lynda Frantz is Jim’s wife.
“And we’ve also got the automatic washing machine for the poopy pad,” she says.
“You see the lanyard that also ties on to the grass and the tray?” Jim asks. “Well, if things start to get a little stinky out here, ‘Woosh’, over the side it goes.”
Boat living is about making a small space fit your needs.
The Albedos is a fiberglass boat but inside it’s all wood-trimmed. There are two state rooms each with its own shower.
The galley is customized down to the color of zip ties on matching coffee mugs. The red one is Jim’s and the blue one’s Lynda’s.
“Jim’s done a lot of little things,” Lynda says. “[He] kind of adapted this wine rack thing to hang so it doesn’t take up room and he made his little cup holder so that’s not taking room.”
Efficiency is key.
“Things are tight on a boat, you don’t have a lot of room. Even in this lovely boat, you’ve got to make everything count,” Lynda says.
The Albedos is one of 30 Nordhavn yachts docked in Petersburg’s harbors. This one is just a year old, costing $1.4 million.
“We make our own water from salt water so we have our own desalination plant on the boat,” Jim says. “We’ve got a central vacuum system. Lynda insisted on that.”
“We can stand up in the engine room,” Lynda says.
“Yes, we can stand up in our engine room which is nice,” Jim agrees.
The couple appreciates the yacht’s creature comforts. Forty-seven years ago, they got engaged on a canoe. Then they honeymooned in an open boat in Canada’s San Juan Islands. Lynda calls it primitive.
“It was cold, windy, and wet,” she says. “There was no cover on the boat. No head. We had a little Primus stove.”
But even after decades of boating together they won’t say that they’ve fine-tuned their program.
“Really if you were to cruise with us you’d really wonder about the teamwork.”
Lynda: “Yeah, we’re both first born,” Lynda says, laughing. “We each have ideas.”
Angela: “So, who’s the Captain?” I ask. They both point at each other.
The boat is made for long voyages with a range of 5,000 nautical miles. The pilot room is full of computers for navigating which suits Jim just fine. He’s a retired commercial pilot.
But Lynda likes to take the wheel too.
“The draw for me is being out and the kayaking and the simplicity,” she says.
Jim puts it like this: “The way I like to explain it is imagine a little Forest Service cabin up in the woods that you like to visit when you have time. Well, this is a cabin that you just take with you wherever you go,” he says. “So, you can get the cabin to be a little more comfortable than that Forest Service cabin.”
Jim knows they’re not alone. The group of visiting yachters rented out Petersburg’s Sons of Norway Hall for three days to share their experiences.
“Many who have crossed oceans,” Jim says. “In our case, the West Coast, we’ve cruised about 30,000 miles up here over 30,000 miles.”
There will be workshops covering how to cruise Prince Williams Sound to organizing your galley to how to tune stabilization fins.
Inside the hall, tables are set with blue tablecloths accented with wooden sailboat center pieces.
Douglas Cochrane greets fellow yachters.
“We’re having our icebreaker party tonight to get to know everybody and then tomorrow and Sunday will be classes so it’s going to be a great deal of fun,” Cochrane says.
“What’s the first thing that you guys want to talk about when you meet?” I ask him.
“Oh, where have you been? Caught any fish lately? What are you plans for the next year? Where are you spending the winter?” says Cochrane.
Cochrane has been living on a 57-foot yacht with his wife for eight years, since their retirement. He used to race sailing boats in Oregon.
“We used to be sailors but as we got older it wasn’t as much fun standing out in the rain and the cold,” he says.
Since retiring they’ve covered 20,000 miles and 14 countries by boat.
He helped come up with the idea of getting Nordhavn owners together.
“The thing about this kind of lifestyle is that we’re totally independent but we’re also totally responsible,” Cochrane says. “We create our own water, we create our own electricity, we have our own sewage system. And we have to store food for months at a time sometimes because you don’t get close to big markets. So you have to be really responsible for your own existence. But on the other hand if you don’t like your neighbors you pull your anchor and leave and go someplace else.”
Petersburg is someplace else to these yachters. And although it’s sunny and warm outside some of the visitors are already talking about wintering their boats here.