Close Encounters of the Best Kind
10 months I had dreamed of that day:
Meeting Sean and his family at anchorage somewhere.
The anchorage turned out to be off Sandy Island on the Oregon side of the river. Celia, Sean, Elizabeth and Lewis were entering the anchorage as we first spotted them, aided by the very distinguishable shape of their Kadey Krogen 42 and their AIS track.
"Our Tern" anchored fairly close to shore, and Sean guided us towards them, but I'm so used to deep anchorages that any time I get in less than 50 feet of water I start to hyperventilate and sound like Rain Main. So we anchored a little further out, with beautiful views all around.
As soon as possible, we lowered our tender and made our way to finally meet them, a French bottle of champagne in hand. Big smiles on both sides, and despite the forced social distancing keeping Di, Princess and me on our tender, we felt immediately close to all on "Our Tern". We spent our first evening there, catching up on so many things, and Celia kindly invited us for dinner, again taken from our safe distance.
Next morning, we volunteered our croissants for the "petit-dejeuner" and came by boat again bearing our whole croissant reserve, with a couple of French fruit jams. More good times!
"Our Tern" is a beautiful boat. Sean and I had exchanged emails regularly as he took such good care of "Enfin" and he had shared his extensive electrical upgrades with me. He did an incredible job on his electrics (in part being inspired by the 12V battery cable management on "Enfin"), and the rest of the boat is in stunningly good shape too.
Di and I always have had a special place in our hearts for Kadey Krogen 42s. We had agreed that it would be our "backup" plan should we not find an affordable Nordhavn 40. They are beautiful boats with a great shape, very seaworthy and a great layout. One has gone around the world, so I kept a very close eye to the KK42 market as I was looking for "Enfin".
Unfortunately -despite their commercial success over the years- KK42s stopped being produced back in 1998. Most second hand models when I was looking were from the late 80s and early 90s, with a huge price differential between the older less well maintained boats and the newer pristine ones. "Our Tern" clearly is top condition, and is even our preferred 2 cabin / 2 head layout. I would have loved a full visit, but Covid didn't allow. Their successor, the KK44 was squarely out of our price range.
We spent 4 nights at anchorage, pushing our departure back twice, just enjoying the company, the beauty of the place and the relaxed pace. On Celia's recommendation Di, Princess and I went blackberry picking on a nearby beach. The fruits were incredibly abundant and easy to pick, so we grabbed bags and bags of them. They were delicious too, just tart enough to be interesting, but also sweet enough not to be bitter.
Sean and family played in the water (locals find the water warm, whilst I had to wear my wet-suit!), whilst Di and I walked Princess on the beach regularly.
Princess even got a small taste of freedom: On the island, with little other temptations, I decided to let her free. Huskys are unfortunately prone to escaping and following their running instincts, so having them off-leash is always a perilous activity. I was a pleasure to see her finally "free". We can also tell she's a lot more mature now, as she kept good track of Di and me, her pack. She responded well to my recall and got tons of rewards, treats and pets for a job well done.
"Our Tern" has a full array of water toys, from a large floating dock to a couple of inflatable standup paddle boards, on top of their tender. The crew made full use of the combination of all toys, paddling, towing, swimming, and generally having plenty of fun.
Lewis had so much fun that he fell asleep sitting on the board. Here's a future sailor in the making!
As for me, I took a couple of longer swims, including a return trip from Enfin to shore with Princess. She's an excellent swimmer and much faster than a human unless I wear my fins. So, like ashore, she forces me to push myself and it was great exercise for my continued recovery. I used to swim a mile a day -way back when- but this much shorter distance was already an effort for me. I had to pace myself and use my big wave resting stroke, on my back and breathing deeply. Still, despite the current I made it without having to call Di to the rescue, and Princess made it too. Now we're going to have to look at rigging a ramp for her to get easy in and out access to and from the boat.
Enfin performed great during the whole time. I tested the water maker for a short period and got good tasting clean fresh water, confirming that the automatic flush cycles did their job and protected the high pressure membranes. Batteries are no worse for wear than before our long stay in France. They're older of course, and have lost some capacity, but still allow us to run the boat the way we're used to at anchorage. All systems are working fine and the boat is ready for more cruising.
Eventually it was time to leave before the weekend rush and silliness of what feels like hundreds of ski boats and jet skis.
The day was much colder and rainy. Perfect for our little Enfin that allows us to navigate in heated comfort in our cozy pilothouse. Yes, I turned the heater on: Since it uses engine heat anyway, it's "free" heat and makes for a toasty and comfortable ride.
Fighting the current to get back to Salpare took us most of the day, but I was happy to see that we were making reasonable STW (Speed Through Water) that was very close to what we did with a clean hull. It seems our underwater ablative paint is still doing its thing and has some life left in it.
I had dreamed of this cruise for a long time, and I knew this day would come eventually. When it did, it did not disappoint, and all on Enfin have a big great smile to show for it, and new memories to cherish forever.
See you soon out there "Our Tern". Thanks for everything!