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Divtruk 11-09-2009 12:51 PM

Boating the Pacific Northwest, advice?
I am looking for some advice from people that have experience cruising the Pacific Northwest.

In the next year or two I may be in a position to take a few years off to chase a dream. I have always wanted to take the time to explore the Pacific Northwest by power boat. I am talking about extended trips up to Alaska and all points in between. My biggest question right now is what kind of boat?

My initial thoughts are something around the 35-40 foot range. I would like something that is comfortable but not so big that I will have problems handling it by myself. My primary goals will be photography and some scuba diving.

I am beginning to learn about the different types of larger boats. Sedans, tugs, sportfishers, trawlers, etc. Any thoughts or recommendations from experienced cruisers? I have a lot of experience on smaller boats and currently have a 25 foot Wellcraft Coastal in a slip in Santa Cruz. I am trying to get as much time on the water as I can to increase my knowledge and experience. I figure I will end up with a used boat then spend a good amount of time going through it top to bottom before it hits the water. Upgrade where needed, outfit it for my needs, and make sure everything is safe. Once itís ready to go I will look for some experience folks to take my first few trips with.

I do not have a firm budget yet but would like to stay under $100k. And please donít contact me trying to sell me your boat. I am not in the market yet.

finadict 11-09-2009 06:26 PM

Trawlers are the boat of choice for long distance cruising up here. An 8 knot boat is just fine if you have the time. From Puget Sound to Glacier Bay there are only a few areas that are really open to the big water, straits of Georgia, Queen Charlotte sound, and Dixon entrance the rest of the water is pretty protected and if you pick time it's pretty much a no brainer. The reasons for a trawler are many; comfort, safety theres a lot of debris and rocks where you don't expect them with a full keel and displacement the boat tends to push most of the floating stuff out of its way. Rocks are a different story but the keel help protect the running gear somewhat. Economy, a trawler at 8 knots will approach a couple of miles /per gallon. There's a lot more reasons I've just hit the high points. I've made the trip up the inside a few times and look forward to doing it again in a couple of years.

There's alot of trawlers on the market right now, in your price range a Puget trawler, CHB or other taiwan trawlers would be what I would look for. 11-09-2009 09:31 PM

Turning dreams into reality.
Before I grew up, and that's still under review, my original plan was to leave Los Angeles and explore Alaska while actually MAKING $$ as a crew member on some kind of luxury commercial fishing boat.

After trying my hand on a gilnetter, a longliner, a king crabber and a dungi boat, I woke up one day on the Pamela Rae and I liked it. The coffee wasn't bad either. The Pam was wooden salmon seiner circa 1920. I killed many fish and saw some amazing things before calling it quits and starting my family/business in Seattle.

A few years ago I was invited to run the her back up and it still amazes me. I hope everyone can make it up the inside passage in their time, its a journey that changed my life for certain. One summer in the not too far future, I'll sail up on my own steam just for kicks. Good luck with your dream!

bc22 11-10-2009 02:24 AM

i second the idea of an economical trawler type boat. They may be slow, but are good on fuel and are sea worthy. You don't want to be speeding when there's just so much great scenery to take in and lots of places to dive. A lot of boats to choose so you really need to know what you want. Perhaps talk to a local Pac NW boat broker on vessel advice to help get to pointed in the right direction.

pglein 11-22-2009 09:01 AM

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.

Steve_250 11-22-2009 09:24 AM

Nice writeup Pglein!!
That makes me want to go buy a trawler, except I like to troll/fish....

pglein 12-01-2009 09:46 AM

Originally Posted by Steve_250 (Post 2627736)
Nice writeup Pglein!!
That makes me want to go buy a trawler, except I like to troll/fish....

So get a trawler with an aft cockpit like mine. Aside from the fast troll-speed, it's an EXCELLENT fishing and crabbing boat.

805gregg 12-04-2009 05:53 PM

Just get a trailer for your Wellcraft, it would work fine and you can save a lot of money, maybe spend some time ashore in hotels. Life is too short to go 8 knots.

bc22 12-06-2009 01:16 AM

Originally Posted by 805gregg (Post 2649183)
Just get a trailer for your Wellcraft, it would work fine and you can save a lot of money, maybe spend some time ashore in hotels. Life is too short to go 8 knots.

Cruising the pac NW is not anything like cruising in S.Florida or tropics.
The small population is sparse and spread out as are the available services and limited services are more regular than full service marina (but the vast isolation, pristine and remoteness that is a huge part to the draw to some of the cruising and exploring the pac NW). Ever heard of "Desolation Sound"? Although more and more boaters are discovering it every year. Very difficult to explore with a trailerable boat and not miss a huge amount of incredible scenery, vistas, and fishing experiences en route. This is not to say it can't be done, but doing it at a nice slow relaxed pace in a comfortable all weather boat with great range is IMO the best way to go.

Pallasi 12-06-2009 11:15 AM

What is this "hotel" thing you speak of? There's a flat spot at the head of the ferry ramp in Klemtu where you can pitch a tent. Showers are $3.00 cdn.

I jest, but only a little. There's one hotel on the Inside Passage on the 264 nautical miles from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert. There are resorts at the mouth of Rivers Inlet, but if you can afford that leave the boat at home, fly in and use theirs.

Road access at each end and Bella Coola. Getting into Bella Coola requires a 12 hour drive from Vancouver, then another hour or two at 25 knots to get to the Inside Passage at Bella Bella, part way between Hardy and Rupert. Bonus trip features include a descent into the Bella Coola Valley on a switch-back road built across an avalanche slope. Trailering a 17 footer felt like a near-death experience. Do not take this route if you have a spouse. On the way out of Bella Coola the passenger is looking down a sheer unguarded cliff into the Bella Coola River. Some will never forgive.

There's no shortcuts in this part of the world. Speed just reduces your range and gets you beat up if the weather changes while you're crossing Queen Charlotte Sound to get to the good stuff. There's a lot to be said for self-contained turtles.

pglein 12-10-2009 12:22 PM

If you think you can do much cruising in the PNW using hotels for overnight accomodations, I think you will be severely disappointed. You'll be pretty much limited to Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Vancouver, and Victoria as destinations. There aren't a lot of hotels located close to marinas around here, and the best destinations have no services at all besides, if you're lucky, pit toilets.

RCook 12-12-2009 08:05 AM

If it were me I'd be looking at an older 32 Nordic Tug. Tough to find under $100K unless you're willing to do a lot of fixup. Having friends who own one, and having visited with many cruisers of many sizes from the San Juans through BC and SE Alaska, it seems to me the NT 32 is a perfect match for comfortable and economical extended cruising in the PNW. Unless you're taking a bunch of folks, I doubt you'd benefit much from the extra size of a bigger boat.

We've done 30,000 miles, mostly on the BC and SE Alaska coast, in trailer boats, often 2-3 months at a time. It's absolutely delightful cruising, but the comfort and sea-keeping of a 32 NT would be a huge upgrade. Kinda hard to tow from here in Utah, however.

Here's a link to the for sale section of an informative web site for NT owners:

votrechien 12-21-2009 04:10 PM

As everyone has mentioned here, a trawler is your boat of choice. Converted tugs are also quite popular up here both as cruisers and as floating lodges.

While either of these boats may not make ideal fishers, they're both fine for crabbing and for jigging for rock fish like cod.

One of the big issues with choosing a boat that doesn't have the power to go over 10 knots is that in many situations the current in passes will be over this speed meaning you will have to wait until slack tide to continue your trip but then if you have the time this shouldn't be much of an issue :)

pglein 12-28-2009 01:52 PM

Nordic Tugs are very popular here, especially the 32' model. A good alternative is the Camano Troll (had one for several years). Good little boat; packed with features, built like a tank, and pretty seaworthy (though it has it's flaws). However, there are lots of other boats that make great PNW vessels; Sea Sport, C-Dory, Ranger, Coastal Craft, etc... I'm actually a huge fan of the 28' Albin Express Trawler with an Alaskan bulkhead for the PNW. It's got diesel power, a big cockpit for fishing, good speed and efficiency, can easily be single-handed, but still has a great cabin for up to four people, including an enclosed head.

Pallasi 12-28-2009 07:56 PM

Originally Posted by votrechien (Post 2680329)
One of the big issues with choosing a boat that doesn't have the power to go over 10 knots is that in many situations the current in passes will be over this speed meaning you will have to wait until slack tide to continue your trip but then if you have the time this shouldn't be much of an issue :)

I'd argue speed isn't an issue here, since anyone without experience and local knowledge should stay out of these areas unless the tide is slack.

More power would make the Johnstone Strait transit a little less tedious though.

rodsaylor 03-31-2010 11:03 AM

warm clothes and a raincoat, lol

i agree with everyone, a pilothouse anything should work.

blkmtrfan 03-31-2010 11:40 AM

One of my favorite PNW boats that still has some crusing speed:

30' Ocean Sports Roamer

But, unfortunately, you aren't going to find one near the $100k range,
otherwise I would probably already have one myself ;)

rodsaylor 03-31-2010 01:58 PM

lol, hotels at the marina, let me know hot that works out for you, lol

there are some nice marinas with showers and all.

speed, huh? well, on the best possible day on well known waters ill do 35 or so, most of the time its about 20 though and sometimes i feel lucky to get back to shore at 7.

look at the buoy data at the ndbc, if you see wind waves of 6 feet or so, you are going to take a beating i dont care how slow you are going. ha ha


doughnut 03-31-2010 02:10 PM

Gb 35

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