Share This Story!

(Chartering a Nordhavn 52 in Alaska)

Anything worth doing is worth doing right. Whether you are learning how to fly a drone, bake a new dish or cross an ocean in a trawler…there are a lot of things to contemplate.   I’m not much of a cook or a pilot, but I have been involved with hundreds of clients to help them get ready for far fetching offshore adventures.  This is certainly something that you need to prepare for correctly.

In January of 2016 I gave a presentation at Trawler Fest entitled, OPEN WATER, OFFSHORE CRUISING: PREPARING FOR THE REALITY.  Talking about cruising offshore is a very large subject to distill into a 90-minute seminar, but I showed a lot of photos, handed out sample check lists and told some “I learned about traveling on the ocean from this” stories.  After class, two of the folks in the audience came up to introduce themselves as future trawler owners looking for guidance and we have been in touch ever since.

James Le Voguer and Danielle Claude are like so many of my clients who are excited about the possibilities and who have a vision of what they want to do.   Their ambition is to see the world by water in a boat they can operate by themselves.  Most trawler buyers have some boating skills, many have an aviation background, but relatively few have ever gone out for several days on a sister ship similar to the boat they want to own.  Even though they are financially capable and are at a stage in their lives where they have time to take off, they aren’t sure if they are really prepared for the mental, physical, psychological and emotional aspects.

  • What should we expect?
  • What do we really need to know?
  • What is it like?
  • How are we going to figure out if this is something we want to do, can do and will enjoy?

There are a number of books, blogs and websites to read as well as boat shows and TrawlerFests to attend – enough to give you a tune you can hum and an ear for what sounds good…but it’s not the same as actually going out there singing and dancing.

This is where Josh and Natasha Tofield come in. I’ve known them for many years and helped them sell their previous boat, a Nordhavn 40 which was staged in Kodiak, Alaska.   After selling their 40 they ordered a new Nordhavn 52 (both Nordhavns have been named Samba) and it has been based up in the same Alaskan waters which they have determined is the best place in the world to cruise.   In the offseason, they reside in Arizona, but they come alive each summer when they are aboard in Alaska.   Retired, friendly and willing to share, Josh and Natasha make Samba available by reservation a few weeks each summer.  This is an incredible opportunity to “try before you buy”, to simulate the lifestyle and speak with a couple who not only get it, but have done it, are doing it and are happy to share it. It’s an incredibly stimulating encounter.

In the summer of 2016 James and Danielle signed up for a Samba charter. I kept in touch, primarily with James and Josh, and we coordinated a way to maximize this working vacation as a learning trip.  We talked about a curriculum and defined expectations so that both hosts and guests would treat this like a training camp with the end goal being to listen to the sounds, feel the groove and dance to the beat.   By the end of the week they would master the moves; starting with the basic steps, picking up the tempo and then fully embracing the song and becoming one with the music of cruising on a boat at sea.

Living on a boat for a week as guests/crew to learn about boating on Samba is a marvelous way to book an adventure holiday.  There is no expectation of room service or a mint on your pillow, this is a collaborative effort in close quarters with hosts who start out as your guides and will most likely end up as your friends.

The whole Samba experience was a huge success for James and Danielle. There was time on the water just soaking up the views. They learned about navigation and engine room inspections. Launching the dinghy to go exploring they saw Orcas on one side and Grizzly’s on the other with bald eagles overhead. When you are cruising in Alaska, you can also learn about fishing (Natasha is a pro) and then eat your catch; dining on salmon, halibut and prawns – Natasha is also quite a cook!

It was a very satisfying week for Josh, Natasha and their lab Loxie too. Not many luxury trawler owners will make their on-the-water home available to strangers and even fewer have the knowledge, temperament and enthusiasm to make each day productive no matter what the weather turns out to be.   If you have not been to Alaska before then it’s too hard to explain, I don’t like to use the term bucket list, but however you keep score of the things in life you want to accomplish this should enter your rankings. If you are interested in the trawler lifestyle and want to see Alaska then you have an easy choice, book a charter on Samba.

Josh and Natasha are already planning their schedule for summer 2017.  I know this because I’m aware of two of my clients who have already signed up.   Samba as a word is commonly defined as a Brazilian musical genre and dance style combined to celebrate exuberance and joy; but Samba as a Nordhavn 52 trawler exemplifies a vessel that dances with the tides and is in rhythm with the sounds of Alaska. I should mention that JMYS has no business affiliation with Samba.  Quite simply, we are friends, I like the way they operate and I’m comfortable recommending the Tofields to my clients.

James and Danielle have their house on the market and when it sells they will be ready to cross off the final check list item before beginning their trawler acquisition in earnest.  Their week aboard Samba let them see that they could learn the moves and get into the groove.

Photos for this article provided by Josh, Natasha, James and Danielle.

Below is a brief excerpt from the Samba website which includes detailed information on chartering Samba, including stories, testimonials from clients, photos, pricing, etc.

“We love Alaska; we love the seaworthiness of Nordhavn, and we particularly love sharing our knowledge of this beautiful country and these sturdy vessels with our guests. We welcome two people per charter and completely focus on your Nordhavn learning experience and your Kodiak adventure.  Our basic charter is one week long with flexible itineraries and a program of learning the systems aboard a late model Nordhavn and sharing our experience of outfitting two Nordhavns for advanced cruising.  Other topics such as boat handling and navigation can be enjoyed while wildlife viewing in the spectacular waters of Kodiak.   When the charter ends, you will know the systems: electrics and hydraulics, fuel and propulsion, maintenance and navigation.”