Back in July when we were staying at the Point Hudson Marina in Port Townsend. That's when we caught the bug. It's remarkable that we hadn't caught it before, honestly. We both grew up sailing and boating with our families, and as you've no doubt noticed, we LOVE the marina campgrounds when traveling by Airstream. And still, it never occurred to us until recently that we might want to own a boat.
It started with the small fleet of Ranger Tugs we first saw in Port Townsend. Modern, compact, trailerable, and built in nearby Kent, Washington, the Ranger Tug seemed like it might be the one for us: a boat we could live comfortably in while exploring the waterways of the Pacific Northwest. It was like an Airstream on the water!
We researched every Ranger model online and studied all of the floor plans. We took the factory tour. We talked about options and colors and interior fabrics and everything. But after much more research and experience being on several different boats, we decided that the Ranger might be too much like our first Airstream: wonderful, but a little tight on space for the amount of time we know we'll end up spending in it.
After quite a bit more research, we finally narrowed things down to two models: Nordic Tug 32/34 and the American Tug 34/365. Both builders are in Washington (Nordic in Burlington near Anacortes, and American in LaConner) so it was not too much trouble to make the trip up (several times) to look at boats, take the factory tours, and get out on the water in both models to get a feel for what we liked best. Both the American and the Nordic tugs are very well made and have the classic tug-trawler design we seemed to be gravitating toward.
One of the very first boats we looked at was a used Nordic Tug 34 that had been part of a fractional ownership program. It was nicely outfitted, only a year and a half old, and most importantly, did not have carpet. (Kidding, but only kind of...because almost every single used boat we saw had carpet, and not the nice teak and holly floors that most of the new models were putting in). After being in this particular Nordic 34 (wood floors, "whiskey" Ultraleather interior), we couldn't help comparing every other boat we saw to that early favorite. You know how sometimes, something just FEELS right and you can already picture it in your life every day? It was like that when we bought our house in 1996. From the very beginning, it FELT like our home (even before it was). (It was actually like that for me from the first time I met Kevin, too, but I didn't need to go through all the comparison shopping.) It was the same with this Nordic 34. I've been calling it "our boat" since, well, since way too early to start summoning the jinxing powers that be.
We made an offer, our offer was accepted, and on Friday we went back up to Anacortes for the boat's inspection (which went very well). We should be closing next week and then we'll go up and hang out on the boat, get a few days of training on it from a captain in the area who does on-the-water training (navigation, mechanical systems, boat handling, etc.). We're having the shop add a couple of 160watt solar panels to the top of the pilot house, a 2800watt inverter, a bigger stove/oven (it's got a two burner propane stove top with a small microwave/convection oven, and we're switching that out for an all-in-one Force 10 two burner stove with oven). We're also adding a deck-top fridge/freezer (one that also doubles as a bench seat with a cushion) because this boat has the small 4.3 liter fridge like our first Airstream had (which we already know is too small for the amount of produce and frozen seafood we typically like to be able to have with us).
After all our training and a little toolin' around in the San Juans, we'll be bringing the boat down to Portland (on the water to Olympia, and then via truck/hauling to Portland). We'll do all of our initial cruising on the Columbia River. Then probably next spring/summer we'll take it back up to the Puget Sound and do some cruising in the San Juan Islands, up into Canada (and eventually, Alaska!) We're SO excited!
No, we won't be selling the Airstream...and yes, time on the boat will likely eat into our Airstream time, but we hope you'll still enjoy following along with ALL of our transportation-related adventures!
Here's a funny story for you: If you've known us for a while, you'll know we're not namers (or numberers). We call our Airstream "the Airstream" and we don't have any red numbers on it. Never have, never will. We call it an "it" and not a "her" and we don't (very often) make fun of any of you who like to anthropomorphize your piece of Aluminum but it's just not for us.
We were walking through the marina in Nanaimo, B.C., contemplating boat ownership, when we had this exchange:
Me: "If we get a boat, we're going to have to name it."
Kevin: "Crap. We can't get a boat then. I'm out."
We eventually decided on a name for our boat that seems to fit, is not a pun, and isn't too cutesy. We'll call "it" (still can't bring myself to call it "her" even though I know it's tradition for boats): Airship.
Here is our Airship, in the air (for its hull inspection):
In the front of the boat there's a nice stateroom (bedroom) with a queen-size walk around bunk (bed -- a lot like the one in the Airstream, also a funky shape). There's a hanging locker (closet) on the port side (the left) and a shelf closet on the starboard side (the right), plus two drawers underneath the foot of the bed, as well as some open shelves on either side of the bed. There's also a hatch/skylight that opens up (no Fantastic Fan though) and a couple of porthole windows that open.
Adjacent to the stateroom, is the head (bathroom). The head's got a standard marine toilet, sink with mirror and storage cabinets, and a separate shower with its own porthole and a shower curtain. It's small, but it's not a wet bath like in our first Airstream.
Moving to the middle of the boat (up a few stairs from the front stateroom) is the pilot house (the place you drive from). There are two two-person "Whiskey" Ultraleather bench seats with tons of great visibility (notice how the pilothouse is raised from the rest of the boat), doors and plenty of windows that open on either side, and a great suite of navigation electronics (including radar, sonar, and autopilot).
Next (a few steps back down from the pilot house) is the salon (living/dining area) with a nice kitchen (lots of counter space), plenty of storage, an L-shaped settee (dinette) with more Whiskey Ultraleather that converts into a double bed, another hanging locker (closet) next to the aft (back) entrance, and a hidden tv inside a teak cabinet that pulls down from the ceiling. Outside the salon there's a small cockpit (the back deck, despite the fact that "cockpit" sounds like the place you'd drive from). It's big enough for a couple of deck chairs and a cocktail table for sure (or, to fish for salmon!), and has a propane grill attached to the port side rail. There's a ladder just to the left of the back door that leads to the top deck (also big enough for a few chairs and a cocktail table...you sense a theme here, don't you?)
The boat comes with a dinghy (an inflatable Zodiac with a hard bottom) and a 6HP outboard motor, for when we anchor or moor somewhere offshore and want to row/motor to land or go exploring in something smaller. It's attached to the swimstep on the back of the boat with a cool, Seawise davit system for easily raising and lowering the dinghy into the water.
One of the cool things about this boat is that it's coming to us fully equipped. PFDs, bedding, throw pillows, pots and pans, a coffee maker, toaster, silverware, plates, acrylic glassware, first aid kits, a couple of chairs, flares, the hoses we need, etc. We'll certainly replace a few of those things (pillows, plates) with versions that fit our style a bit better, but for now, it's fabulous not to have to turn around and immediately buy all that stuff.
I'll add more interior photos next week after we close and are IN the boat.