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Old 11-22-2009, 09:01 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Gig Harbor, WA
Posts: 1,117
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I'm a fan of boats that at least have the ABILITY to go a little faster when needed; My Albin is a perfect example; the deep-V planing hull (with a full keel) is plenty economical up to about 8-10 knots, but can do 17 knots when needed. Another one to consider is the Nordic Tug (a semi-displacement), which is economical at low speeds, but can hit 20 knots if it needs to. The tradeoff on the semi-displacement is poor seakeeping in a following swell. The trick is to outrun the waves.

Key things I think are valuable in PNW waters:

-Protected prop and rudder(s). There are lots of logs and rocks.
-Diesel heat. Safe, economical, and lightweight by comparrison.
-Enclosed helm. It amazes me how many cruisers are built with only the flybridge as a helm. Doesn't work here. You'll see lots of people build flybridge enclosures either out of canvas or glass. That's like killing a fly with a sledgehammer. Start with a boat that has a comfortable indoor helm. If it has a flybridge helm, that's a bonus that you will enjoy in the summer, but don't waste your time/money enclosing it.
-Bruce or Plow anchors with lots of chain and a windlass. You'll be anchoring a lot, and it will be in deep water often with a muddy or rocky bottom. Danforth's are worthless up here, and you'll appreciate the mechanical help lifting all that weight. Make sure it's a windlass with remote controls and the correct bow-roller so that you do not have to leave the helm to deploy or retrieve the anchor. Especially since you'll be travelling solo, it's helpful that you not have to go forward to do this. It's often wet, rainy, and windy up here, and a slip can lead to a fall overboard, which can lead to hypothermia very quickly in our cold waters.
-Swimstep suitable for tender storage. In Canadian waters, the preferred method of anchoring is the stern-tie. You drop the anchor off the shore, and run a 100-200' line off the stern and tie it to a tree. This requires the rapid deployment of a tender (preferably powered) to get the line to shore. Especially important when travelling solo. A good swimstep with easy access is incredibly helpful when performing this maneauver.
-"Toy" storage. Especially since you've cited photography as one of your goals, you will want a place to put a kayak (or two) that won't be in the way. A lot of the anchorages you will encounter will be very fun to explore in a kayak where you can get into every nook and cranny.