Jumping Aboard In Seattle


In the middle of our first Great Loop, the direction of our lives took another drastic turn. Until then, we had only vague notions about what lay in store for us in retirement and no definite plans in the hopper. Our ideas were sketchy as to where retirement would take us. Our only discussed plan was to accomplish the Loop and while doing so get a better idea of an area, in the more southern climes, to settle down in a little house or condo. Pretty typical ideas for a newly retired couple, right? How could we ever imagine that three years later we’d still be homeless, other than our Kismet, and spending the winter so far away, across country in Seattle, Washington?

We enjoyed many sunsets in a park on Queen Anne Hill overlooking downtown Seattle while Mount Rainier glowed in the distance.

Jim and I still ask ourselves where exactly our turning point began. Did it begin with the feeling of freedom we felt as we headed off to experience a boating adventure? Did it materialize as we became interested in a different kind of boat, one that was meant for long-distance travel? Did the opportunity to meet and befriend a varied amount of people have some effect? Were we suddenly catching a second wind that made us feel as if we could define and accomplish anything we set our minds to? Well, we’ve come to some conclusions and of course it’s not just one of those things but a combination of all of them, that helped steer us in a new direction.

When a friend, Rick Garton, introduced us to a new model of boat being manufactured out west, north of Seattle, we were intrigued. We’d been researching trawlers for some time while creating a list of must-haves on our next boat. Amazingly the Fathom 40 met almost all of our requirements. While Rick was considering becoming a dealer for Fathom Yachts for the Great Lakes area, we discussed how we might all work together not only to raise the awareness of this new, innovative trawler, but to sell some as well. We scheduled a trip out to Seattle, in August of 2007, to tour Fathom’s hull number one as well as their facilities. It was love at first sight. In the weeks that followed we made the decision to go forward, ordered our boat, which turned out to be hull number six -- our new Kismet.

Staying at a B&B for three months was a good people experience for us, giving Jim and me an insight into other lifestyles, age groups, and ethnicity.

In the midst of ordering hull color and other options, a question popped out of the blue. “Wouldn’t it be great to be able to watch the construction of our new boat?” And just as had happened when we learned about the Great Loop from a passing cruising couple, the Millers (in our first BoatUS log), we were both, at the same moment, one hundred percent “onboard” for another adventure. Before this idea, we only had hazy plans as to where we were going to spend the winter of 2007/08, so it was easy enough to switch gears and see how we could get the most out of the experience of ordering a new boat.

We set travel dates while researching and making reservations to stay at a B&B, we inquired into cruising destinations available in the Pacific Northwest, and the search began to rent space in a marina for the month of March. We packed our pickup truck to the brim with as much boat gear and living essentials as we could, leaving little room for luxury items. We left at the end of November for a four-and-a-half-month experience. It took about five days to drive from Traverse City, Michigan, to Seattle, Washington, where we’d reserved a room in a B&B, on top of Capitol Hill, close to downtown.

While waiting for our boat to be built we spent many good weather days exploring the surrounding parks and attractions.

Our first month was filled with meetings and getting to know the many long- and short-term guests of the Capitol Hill Guest House; they came from all over the world. It was interesting to hear about their home countries and why they were in Seattle. December was a busy month with trips north to the factory in Sedro Woolley and preparations for the Christmas holiday. We were lucky in that we’d reserved a room in a very homey environment where we could prepare our own meals in a spacious kitchen. We ended up making some long-term connections while living there.

There also was a surprise waiting for us, the fellow who roomed just across from us, Tom, actually grew up in Traverse City, our home town. We spent a lot of time talking about what he experienced when he was growing up there and we filled him in on what was currently happening. We also met Jacques, an adventurous traveler himself. Jim struck up a lifelong friendship with Hsu-Yu, from Taiwan, the father of a student who was rooming in the house. The Innkeeper, Michael was a delight, and made the holidays away from home meaningful with big elaborate dinners. We loved this glimpse into the diverse lives of so many different kinds of people.

We loved to visit the Pike Place Market, absorb the daily visual feast, and satisfy our tummies. Seattle is a seafood lover’s dream city

We had about three months to wait for the launch of our boat so we tried to use this time wisely, because we knew that when we finally got aboard we’d only want to focus on cruising before we had to return to the Great Lakes. We had some work to do on some projects, a book that we were writing, website designs, our Blog and a few other ongoing ventures, so we tried to keep to a work schedule that went into effect if the weather was bad, or that was pitched if it warmed up and the sun appeared.

On these fine-weather days, we went sightseeing, walked in the parks, visited the Pike Place Market, drove out to national parks and scenic areas, toured museums, or met friends for Happy Hour. We also spent this time shopping the after-holiday sales for items we’d need for the boat -- sheets, towels and small appliances. Jim spent a lot of time at the marine stores researching and ordering boat electronics and supplies. Once a week we’d drive north to visit the Fathom factory and see what was new on the boat, and to take photos to document the process. All these activities kept us surprisingly busy.

The day Kismet splashed was an exciting for us. We’d waited four long months to move into our new home

Time flies when you are having fun. February 18th arrived quickly and Kismet was lowered into the water at LaConner, Washington – an exciting day for us. To be able to have the experience of staying close to where the boat was being built and watching the final creation floating in the water, as it was intended, was a thrill. We moved all the items that had begun to crowd our room at the B&B over to the boat and the fun began. Hooks went up, blinds were secured, and a place was found for everything.

Elliott Bay Marina is a huge well appointed marina with all the amenities a boater could dream of






We had the electronics installed and learned how to pilot a single screw. Our maiden voyage was from Anacortes, south down Puget Sound to Seattle. The waters were new to us and our electronics were yet to be installed, but this cruise was a major one for us. The day was uniquely warm and sunny. I’m sure you’ve heard that in the Pacific Northwest this is a rare event, and it is. Jim and I were able to cruise on beautiful blue, calm waters with snow capped mountains within view the whole way. We’ll never forget this first cruise. We’d found a slip to rent in Elliott Bay Marine at the bottom of Magnolia Hill, on Puget Sound, for the month of March. The back of our boat overlooked downtown Seattle. It was the perfect setting for our base during the month of March. The days started to fly by.

As soon as we felt we were all moved in and comfy, our thoughts turned to cruising. Our first venture out was to Poulsbo, Washington -- recommended by a number of people as a must stop. The quaint picturesque Poulsbo sits just above the well-protected Liberty Bay a short 20-mile run from Elliott Bay, Seattle. We spent hours in the little town shopping and getting some exercise.

First venture out was to Poulsbo, Washington. We were not disappointed in our first little jaunt

Our next trip was through the locks and into Lake Washington to anchor out. Again our weather luck held strong and it was a peaceful night tucked into Cozy Cove. After this trip we were prevented somewhat from more outings by a long, windy weather situation, and so we made some road trips while waiting for the good weather to return, our favorite being the Hoh National Rain Forest on the Olympic Peninsula. We had some friends from home visit during this period and we did get one good afternoon to make a return cruise to Lake Washington with them.

We’d decided to reserve our most desired trip, to the San Juan Islands, until we had to head back up north to where the boat would be pulled out in mid-April. So at the end of our month at Elliott Bay Marina we headed north for a 10-day trip to the San Juans. We had visited here before by car but never in our own boat.

Our maiden anchorage on Lake Washington was memorable. Good weather and an ideal location made for a
memorable evening.

Our first stop on the way north was to anchor at Kiket Bay just short of Deception Pass, which has the reputation for being one of North America’s most treacherous passes with currents that run as fast as eight knots. After waiting out weather in Anacortes for a few days we headed out during another perfect weather situation for our 10-day cruise through the islands. We were able to visit Friday Harbor twice, anchored in Reid Harbor, Stuart Island, docked at Lopez Island to visit friends, and later, our last night, we anchored in Hunter Bay at Lopez.

We’d encourage any die-hard boater looking for a new boat to order one, then go watch it being built, stay at a B&B, make some new friends, explore an unknown city, become familiar with the local foods, culture and history. Coming from a small town in northern Michigan, we liked the contrast of the big city life in Seattle. We’re still houseless but not homeless. The only difference being that now our home moves from one location to another -- the scenery changing, as do the people. We have embraced our lifestyle decisions wholeheartedly and hope for many more surprise turns and adventures in the years to come.

We always wanted to visit Friday Harbor. It was all we expected and then some.

We often ask ourselves, especially during our time in Seattle, while sitting back and reflecting on our current situation, “How did we get here.” At moments like these, we want to pinch ourselves. This cruising adventure feels too much like a surprise dream. I’m proud that Jim and I recognized an opportunity to change our lives, we took a risk and jumped onboard. Sometimes it’s just that simple.

At home on our new Kismet