Northwest Mini-Expedition

Northwest Mini-Expedition
| by Diane Kohlhaas

By: Chris Murray

In 1592, a Greek ship captain, Juan de Fuca, sailing under a Spanish flag, cruised up the coast of what is now Washington State and made the first right turn into a large strait that would one day bear his name. The good captain was followed by other explorers including George Vancouver, who was assigned with charting the Pacific Northwest for Britain and is today memorialized for his efforts by a Canadian city and island, among other geographical features. It is in the spirit of these great explorers that I tell the following tale.

As a dealer for Offshore Yachts, I had traveled to the Northwest several times a year. Work trips for the most part mean, fly in, meet a client, sea trial, survey or work a boat show, then fly home ASAP to take care of the girls and give Mom a break.  I’ve always wanted to explore, but with two little girls at home, I knew that wasn’t in the cards.

This summer would be different. I’d just delivered a new Offshore 54′ to a great client in Port Ludlow who I needed to visit, and I had a 62′ listing in Anacortes that I wanted to inspect. The girls were off from school and summer activities didn’t start for two weeks so like Capt. Vancouver, I pulled out a map and began planning.

My wife, Kristi, couldn’t start the trip with us so for the first four days it was just Dad and the two girls, Reagan, eleven, and Finley, eight. In true Dad fashion, there were no rules. We stayed up until midnight running around Seattle the first night to see all we could. The next few days were a mix of work and play. I met a client in Seattle to list his beautiful Offshore 54′ (, then we were off to Edmonds, Port Townsend to check out Fort Worden (and act out a few scenes from “An Officer and a Gentleman”). Afterward, we met with the owners of the new 54′, Dave and Susan Holt, and they took us to a hidden treasure, “The Blue Moose,” for a delightful lunch. Then it was berry picking and clamming. They are an amazing couple, living life to its fullest! Following lunch at Gig Harbor, we trekked back to Sea Tac to get Mom.

Once Kristi arrived the adventure turned north to Bellingham to visit another great couple that had built an Offshore 54′ some years before, Dan & Nonie Brown. They couldn’t have been more inviting and gracious inviting us to stay in their home, teaching the girls how to play pool, and taking us to a fantastic dinner at Dirty Dan’s in Bellingham. The owner of Dirty Dan’s is a friend of the Browns and let the girls create their own desserts. The chocolate sundae with bacon was a particular favorite. My eight year old was thrilled when told that they might put it on the menu.

The plan for next few days was to ferry to Victoria, drive to Sidney, tour an Offshore 80′, and meet with new boat clients. Unfortunately, as often happens with plans that involve kids, exhaustion and a bout of car sickness grounded us in Anacortes for a day and closed the window on the Canadian portion of the trip. We did however make it to San Juan Island for some touring and another wonderful dinner with the Browns at Roche Harbor.

We boarded our flight for home tired and a little sad but loaded with a bunch of great stories. We might not have been the first adventurers to explore the Northwest, and there’s no risk of Vancouver changing its name to Murray, but one of us had a dessert named for her, so that’s saying something. And unlike the original explorers, we endured no outbreaks of scurvy, didn’t eat a single piece of hardtack, and no one spent the night in a storm-tossed crow’s nest.