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Halcyon, True North 34...Doug & Nancy
Doug and Nancy are Puget Sound natives. They graduated together at South Kitsap High School in 1977. High school sweethearts, they married in 1978.
Around that time Doug’s parents set off on a South Pacific adventure. They traveled by air, freighter, and the occasional copra boat. The two of them spent several wonderful years living in the islands in places including Tahiti, Cook Islands, American Samoa, Western Samoa, Truk, and Guam. They planted a travel bug in both Doug and Nancy. More than that the taught them the reason to travel is not just to see a place, but to meet it’s people, and to really do that you have to live there.
Sometime in the early 80’s Doug & Nancy decided that what they should do is buy a boat and sail through the Pacific. That began a 3-year quest to find the right boat. One that would be both a sturdy "Blue Water" boat and a comfortable home. In 1984 they bought Xantippe a True North 34, and promptly changed her name to Halcyon. (Bad luck to change a name you say? Well that may be true, but what is true is that we live up to our names. Xantippe was Socrates’ wife, known for being ill tempered and difficult to live with. Halcyon is a bird that has the power to calm the wind and waves while she nests on the sea).
They lived aboard Halcyon in Port Orchard for 5 years while they paid off the boat loan, outfitted her for cruising and saved up a cruising kitty. Then finally on the 1st of June 1989, at the age of 30, they both quit their jobs, and began a life of Cruising.
They still had quite a list of things to do on Halcyon, so they took the lists and headed North to Canada for the summer to work on the boat and get used to "not being employed". (It actually does take getting used to).
After a summer of working on projects, exploring the Gulf Islands, fishing for salmon, eating oysters and blackberry pie, and bird watching. They found that they now had routines for things like launching the dingy on and off the boat, anchoring in different kinds of bottoms, and stowing groceries aboard. The lists weren’t finished, but the season was upon them. Now it was time for the big "O".
One September morning, anchored in Friday Harbor, they stowed the boat like never before. Then raised the anchor and headed out to sea. They stopped 4 or 5 times down the coast, spending over a month in San Diego. As they headed south they met up with more and more boats heading the same way. Friendships grew and by the time they got to Mexico they were part of a cruising community. The Mexican class of ‘89.
The plan had been to spend 4 or 5 months in Mexico and head for the French Polynesia in the spring. But one day over quesadillas and beer, they decided that 5 months in Mexico just wasn’t enough. They stayed another year and explored the Sea of Cortez.
Mexico was a wonderful experience for both of them. Lots of wildlife to see diving, snorkeling, and exploring. They had a wonderful time with other cruisers and made friendships to last a lifetime. The summer in the Sea of Cortez was HOT, but bearable with so much water to snorkel and cool off in. There was one near miss with a hurricane, but they got lucky. They did a couple deliveries of boats from Mexico back up to the US, which helped refill the cruising kitty. Then they crossed to the mainland and worked their way South as far as Zihuatanejo by early ’91 where they did the provisioning for their crossing to the Marquesas.
Now a portion of the Mexico class of ’89 and ’90 became the "Class of 91" crossing the Pacific. It’s called the ‘coconut milk run’. Start from Mexico and take in as much of the Pacific as you can before the South Pacific Hurricane season starts, when you head for either New Zealand, Australia or cross the equator. Halcyon worked her way through the Marquesas - the most beautiful islands anywhere, the Society Islands – expensive and upscale, Suwarrow in the Cook Islands– a bird sanctuary with one family with boats as visitors, American Samoa – US money, US post office and Western Family brands (not to mention Oreos), Western Samoa – lovely islands with a unique culture of their own, and then Tonga – favorite kingdom in the world. They loved each place they went. Then time was up, hurricane season was approaching. So they headed for New Zealand from Nukalofa, Tonga.
Arriving in the Bay of Islands New Zealand was a fantastic sight. It is a giant, island studded bay with enough evergreen trees to remind you of the Gulf Islands, but enough tree ferns to let you know it wasn’t. New Zealand welcomed the cruisers with open arms. It is a fantastic country and they very soon fell in love with it and it’s people.
Halcyon worked her way South to Whangarei where she had her own ‘slip’, the first in 3 years. Doug accidentally bought a van at an auction so they began touring both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. After 6 short months, and many wonderful times, they sold the van and once again prepared Halcyon for sea.
From New Zealand they sailed straight for Fiji where they spent the whole cruising season. This time their pace was much slower and they had many wonderful experiences with the people of Fiji, and the most fantastic diving and snorkeling in water where you can see for miles and that is teeming with life.
Now the cruising kitty was dwindling. At this point the plan was to head for the Marshall Islands and work their way toward Guam to look for employment. Then they got a job doing a delivery for a fellow cruiser who had hurt his back. They left Halcyon in Fiji and delivered Windsong from Fiji to New Zealand, then flew back to Fiji and did the trip again in Halcyon. The 10 day sail from Fiji to New Zealand is not the most pleasant. You are going from the tropics to the sub-tropics. It gets colder and you will most likely have headwinds a good deal of the trip. Still the thrill of making landfall in the Bay of Islands is worth it.
They were hired to take Windsong the next cruising season to Hawaii, and then possibly to Seattle. A paid trip home! They outfitted Windsong for a long windward trip, and put Halcyon on the hard. Took on a New Zealand friend Jim Shaw as crew, and in the spring headed for Hawaii. Nine days out, Easter Sunday, Windsong was capsized and dismasted in a late season storm of hurricane force. You can read more about this adventure here.
So they found themselves back in New Zealand, overseeing repairs to Windsong and giving Nancy time to heal. Once Windsong was done they still longed for a trip home, so they used now precious cruising kitty funds and flew home for a round of hugs.
Once home they moved into Doug’s Mother’s VW Westfalia Van. Their 3 month stay turned into 9 as they found work at the Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort in California where their good friends Brent & Anna lived. It was a wonderful change and allowed them recover the cost of the trip home.
Back in New Zealand it was again decision time. It was down to this: Head west, go through the Med and run out of money on the East Coast of the US, or head North and East and run out of money on the West Coast. They decided to do the latter.
This time cruising season was spent heading against the tide of incoming cruisers. They went to Fiji, then Tonga, then American Samoa to re-provision. From American Samoa they went to Kanton in the Phoenix Islands. Here they waited out the hurricane season with the fantastic people of Kanton. There were 45 people living on the Island and 5 cruising boats in the harbor. They got to know everyone by name and it was one of the most wonderful experiences of their whole trip. They learned that the longer you stay, the harder it is to leave and the more of your heart you leave behind. Which is a good.
Now started the beat against the wind. 2 weeks of bashing to Palmyra Island, 2 weeks of resting there, then 2 weeks of bashing to Oahu, Hawaii. In Hawaii they made repairs on Halcyon, looked for work and thought about settling there, but in the end decided to continue on back to Washington.
The trip from Hawaii was long, cold and lumpy. By the time they reached Port Townsend they were wearing everything they owned and ½ of it was wet, but they were home. Six years had gone by since leaving Port Orchard.
Now they have been back longer than they were gone. Cruising was so much more rewarding than they had ever imagined. Plugging back into jobs and staying put in one spot was so much harder than they ever imagined. Halcyon is ready to go again. The cruising kitty is growing. In the meantime potlucks with the Family Yacht Club are much the same as in the Sea of Cortez or the Bay of Islands.