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The new Knotty Dog
A FEW DELAYS
We had a few minor delays on the arrival of the new boat, but it is finally here and IT IS AWESOME!
The boat arrived in San Francisco from New Zealand about June 20th. We lost a week of commissioning due of course to the week of July 4th July when the whole of the United States takes off. We got the call mid July from Mark, the West Coast representative for Protector Boats, located in Alameda, CA. He said the commissioning was done and he would have the boat on the trailer and heading north due to arrive Saturday July 20th. The weather was crappy and looked like it would be crappy when it arrived and then on through the weekend but so be it. Oh well, we didn’t care, sea trials in the rain and choppy seas would be a good test for her and us.
PACIFIC HEIGHTS AND MOVE FROM HELL
The excitement and anticipation of the boat arrival was finally allowed to build. We had a frustrating sale of our house in CA turning out to be much like the movie Pacific Heights with Michael Keaton. So we were ready for some fun. We needed it. We also had been so busy all summer with the move, and remodeling that we just didn’t allow ourselves to get upset about the boat being a little late. It was only a couple weeks late anyway. How could we complain when we have some friends that our still waiting for their Selene that was due a year and a half ago? Can’t complain, no sir. In retrospect, it probably was a good thing that it was a little late, as we were able to concentrate on the challenges of getting our furniture moved onto an island which is another horror story that we may have the energy to relate one of these days. Hey, if anybody can learn from our mistakes, it’s worth retelling. It turned out to be the move from Hell. Hey, but that’s all behind us now.
JERRY THE CARETAKER
But, back to the boat….we soon found out that Jerry, the driver of the trailer and temporary caretaker of the new Knotty Dog, is an old hand at trailering and delivering these Protector boats all over the country. When he’s not trailering Protector boats, he’s trailering fancy and expensive show horses to horse shows. He and his wife train and breed these beautiful animals in Temecula, California. It was a two day trip for Jerry to get to Anacortes from Alameda, Ca where the West Coast Headquarters for Protector Boats is located. They are located in one of the old warehouses on the old navy base and it’s worth a trip just to see inside the warehouse as inside next to the boats are huge models of sharks and all kinds of crazy things that are made for the movies. What a place!
Jerry reached Anacortes, WA, Friday evening of the 19th of July and instead of checking into a nearby motel to get some rest he insisted on sleeping in his truck so he could keep a keen and watchful eye on the new Knotty Dog. I guess there had been one instance where one of these boats was stolen right off the towing ball during a delivery and was trailered away in the dark of night. Jerry said he wasn’t “takin’ no chances”.
Poor Jerry didn’t have a chance to recuperate from his last delivery as Protector called him on the road as he was driving across country after delivering another Protector to Cape Cod, in Massachusetts. He said he got a call on the road from Linda at Protector asking if he “couldn’t just do one more delivery for them” and that would be to take the Knotty Dog to an island just north of Seattle. Though tired and homesick, and not even home from his last delivery, and being the nice gentle man that he is, he made one more exception to help Mark and Linda at Protector out. He said he “just couldn’t say no when Linda asked him so sweetly”. Knotty Dog was going to be his last delivery because he’s “goin’ to retire”.
Mark has been our contact from start to finish on the boat. He’s a young, handsome, conscientious, knowledge transplanted Australian who takes the Protector boats very seriously. He caught a flight that night from San Francisco to Seattle. Upon arrival in Seattle he rented and drove to Anacortes to met Jerry and the boat arriving there about 1:00 AM. Mark checked into a motel for the night as Jerry insisted on sleeping in the truck to watch the boat and at the break of dawn he and Jerry were in line at the ferry landing. They gave us a call as they waited to get on the ferry and said they’d be arriving in Friday Harbor on the 8:00 AM ferry. We said we’d meet them there and then lead the way across the island to Snug Harbor, Knotty Dog’s new home to be.
ARRIVING BY FERRY
Boy, it was an exciting moment for all of us including Ziggy. We’d been on San Juan Island since April and were ready to get out on the water again. We were up early, way early due to the excited anticipation of the boat coming. Zig, Larry and I jumped in the old pick up truck and headed across island to the little town of Friday Harbor. We grabbed some hot coffee from a little café that overlooks the ferry landing and began to wake up while we waited and watched for the ferry to arrive.
It was a grey, wet, hazy morning, and when the ferry finally appeared right on time coming around Brown Island heading into Friday Harbor, it was barely visible through the light misty fog. It was a picturesque sight. We impatiently waited as the ferry slowly, sooo slowly, came in and docked. Then we waited impatiently for the walking ferry passengers as they seemed to take forever to walk off the ramp and up the street. Never before did things seem to take so long as when you are waiting for something you are very excited about. I perched myself on the upper sidewalk directly opposite the ferry opening to get the first glimpse and Larry and Zig were parked partially down the block in the truck so that they would be in good position to catch Mark and Jerry’s eye the moment they got on land so he could lead the way across island.
Finally the cars and trucks began to slowly unload. First off the ferry was a huge 18 wheel truck filled with a load of logged trees, now just long branchless rough cylinders, and just behind, hidden by the big load, was Jerry and Mark hauling our 28 foot Protector, our new Knotty Dog. It looked like they were hauling a ghost as it was completely wrapped in white plastic to protect it from road debris and the side pontoons were deflated bringing its width down to 8 foot 3 inches making it a legal width to trailer a load on the highway and across state lines. It was an odd bumpy shape but nevertheless you could make out the image of a boat underneath.
Larry waved to Mark and Jerry and I ran down the sidewalk, hopped in the truck with Zig and Larry and off we went with Mark and Jerry following us through the little but bustling town of Friday Harbor filled with ferry arrivals. We made our way slowly through town and headed out on the rural road beginning our trek across the island. It was a rainy day, the skies were dark grey and the pavement was wet but the day was bright with the anticipation of our new boat. It was exciting as Zig and I looked out the back window to see our new boat being trailered behind us on this road cutting across this pastoral landscape, past hay fields, quaint farm houses and barns, organic farms, sheep, cattle and horse ranches, and through areas where the road cuts through old forest, past duck ponds, and alpaca ranches and finally to weave our way down the small road past our house, down to the end of the road, and finally arriving at the quaint little bay of Snug Harbor.
Snug Harbor is a small little harbor tucked away in the varied landscape of the island. Most visitors don’t discover it. It really seems like what I imagine what old San Juan Island used to be like. You’d never even know it was there. It’s quiet and sleepy and friendly. I guess the reason it got its name is because it’s tucked away and protected. There are a few quaint little cottages just set back from the harbor’s edge, a small little office and a few small rustic wooden docks filled with all sorts of small little boats and racks of colorful kayaks. The marina is used mostly by people, locals with small day sports fishing boats, family style boats, whale watching boats, a few sail boats and small trawlers. There’s nothing flashy here, just real folks just enjoying the summer with their kids, boats and fishing rods. It’s a family place, and also it’s the place where many outfitters leave to go whale watching and to kayak around the island. Depending on the tide and the whale activity it can be quite a bustling place filled with people out enjoying the season and nature.
RACING THE TIDE
When we reached the end of the parking lot, Larry got out and opened the old wooden gate to the marina. It is designed to look like the dorsal fins of orcas. Slowly and carefully Jerry drives his truck in towing Knotty Dog past the narrow opening and headed down to the small concrete launch ramp. We were all watching the tide table concerned about getting the boat launched within the next hour before the tide went out and the water became too shallow in the little harbor for the launching. If we couldn’t do it here before the tide went out we’d have to start all over and tow her to Roche Harbor several miles away to launch her.
Mark worked quickly and carefully starting the process of removing the protective plastic which took about 45 minutes. There was no time to waste as we had to beat the outgoing tide but he was being very careful not to damage or pull the radar platform in the rush. As the plastic was carefully removed and the first side of the Protector was exposed, Mark simultaneously started the process of filling the pontoons with air. She looked kind of funny as the pontoons were flat and wrinkly at first but soon she started taking shape. First one side filled and then the other. The people at the marina were excited to watch the process and I’ve got to say the guys all seem to gather around those powerful engines as they are pretty darn impressive.
By the time the plastic was off and the pontoons were fully pumped with air, Jerry and Mark carefully backed her down the little concrete ramp and Knotty Dog finally touched her belly in some Pacific Northwest water for the first time. Wow, it was an exciting moment for us! Once she was disconnected from the trailer and free floating for the first time, Mark brought her around to the outside of the marina and back inside into to fill what has been our unoccupied slip for several months now.
A COUPLE OLD FOOLS?
We got protective fenders down, lines on tying her to the dock and voila, she was settled in to her new slip! We were now able to finally check her out. Boy she’s going to be fun! I thought wow this is such an extreme boat compared to what we’ve been used to, I couldn’t even imagine being out on the water with all that power that literally has the capabilities to run 60 mph! We spent the last 3 years going 9 mph, imagine that and now we switch to this. For just one moment it seemed crazy. I also thought what fool would try to go 60 mph out on these waters with all those logs and dead heads? Especially a couple old fools like us. And again for just one moment I thought, “What the heck were we thinking buying this boat? Can we handle this boat? It doesn’t have a galley, stateroom, head to speak of, nothing, just a machine designed for pure speed and transportation.”
But, then I said to myself, “Oh yes, this is going to be fun, pure fun!”
FEED THESE HUNGRY GUYS
But, first things first, and that was to feed these hungry guys as we had to get Jerry back to Friday Harbor in time to catch the afternoon ferry. It was about lunch time and they hadn’t had a chance to have breakfast and now it was nearing lunchtime. We needed to feed these blokes. So we hopped into the car and headed over to Roche Harbor for a nice lunch. It gave us an opportunity to chat with Mark and Jerry. Jerry, bless his heart, was one of the sweetest men we have ever met. Though he was tired and homesick, and his truck was just starting to have some problems that he would have to have checked as soon as he got to the mainland in Anacortes, he was full of great stories and down to earth talk. Well, we really enjoyed talking with him and hearing about his life with his wife and their adventures raising some pretty fancy show horses and building some very high end stables for some pretty famous people. He says his wife is the real talent but you soon learn Jerry is a very humble guy, down to earth, but he sure doesn’t have to be. You just love the guy immediately. I wished that he didn’t have to rush off so quickly as we would have loved to have kept him longer to hear some more stories.
SO, LONG JERRY AS HIS TRUCK PINGED DOWN THE ROAD
So, after lunch, without even a bit of rest, Jerry headed out and you could hear what ever it was on his truck that needed attention, pinging down the road as he disappeared past the forest trees making his way back to the mainland.
We’re soon back at Snug Harbor, and Mark gave us a thorough walk of the boat, telling us where everything is, how it works, what could happen and what you do in case it happens, etc. etc. etc. It was great. The boat is small and there’s not much to know compared to the Nordhavn so this looked manageable but very different. He knew we were anxious to take the boat out, but wanted to make sure he had covered everything clearly. He was a gentleman and made sure I understood the systems as well. I’m glad he took the time to explain everything to us so thoroughly. It gives you more confidence as you begin to get to know you new boat.
THE MOMENT HAD ARRIVED
Soon, it was time to finally take her out. Larry slowly took her out of the slip as Mark stood nearby. He drove her out past the boats nearby our slip which now I noticed, by the way, all seem to have these sharp props sticking up out of the water. They create a bit of an obstacle course for us getting in and out of the dock, like swords ready to pop our pontoons. I never noticed them before but now they will be something we’ll have to watch out for with this new inflatable boat, especially on those windy days that may make docking a little difficult. We have a slip that is tucked way inside into a small corner slot and I’m sure will be a bit of a challenge the first few times getting as we get used to putting the new boat in there and particularly getting her in there without bumping into some of these exposed props.
We’ll get it mastered!
THE ZIGGY FACTOR
She was quiet and smooth as she slowly glided out of the marina. Soon we were out in the clear of the shallow and rocky areas of the inner harbor and for the first time we began to accelerate. She just naturally picks up speed and strength. She’s strong and smooth as silk. She’s quiet too, stealth like. The power you feel behind those throttles is really something indescribable. It’s like riding a stallion, you know she’s got lots more in her but you are afraid to let her go totally. She took the chop like a knife spreading soft butter. Zig and I sat in the back on the comfortable bench and it was strange for both of us to be riding at water level. It’s like riding in some extravagant dinghy. We are so used to being high up in the pilot house of the 57 Nordhavn that this felt earthly.
We were down at water level with all the birds who were skimming by. Seals would pop their heads up to see us and we could see whales in a distance, blowing and slapping the water at our level. I felt like a fish, a fast flying fish. The wind is blowing in our faces. I look at Ziggy and the wind has sand blasted his fur to his face and body in a nice neat comb. His eyes are squinting in the wind and his body is perched tensely and precariously forward leaning as far into the wind as I felt was safe. (Always pushing the limit this dog.) His nose was angled high to the air, nostrils expanded and contracting, picking up all the new sea smells. He is taking it all in and enjoying the thrill of the ride.
We zoomed across the water. It felt supernatural. Ziggy was loving every moment of it especially when the speed picked up. I had to strain to keep him close by as he wanted to ride right on top of the pontoon, inching his way up beside the pilot house. We’ll need to figure out where and how this little tike will fit in to this boat to be safe. We need to find a place for him to roost but right now on my lap is the safest. That doesn’t give me hands free but I’m sure we’ll figure it out. Zig is dangerous, having no fear as his first instinct is to get right up front and be the hood ornament. He pushes the limit hanging the front half of himself out over the side with nostrils to the air and his fur sand blasted back with the wind depending on me to hold him from near disaster of going over board.
But soon the smooth ride is over as we hit some choppier water and the underbody slaps the waves. Zig gets nervous, scared, he begins to shiver and now seems to be very satisfied snuggled on my lap and inside the protection of my engulfing arms now. We’ll get this figured out won’t we Zig? We’ll get him used to it, but now at these speeds it’s too dangerous to let him be free on the boat so we have him tethered to the back seat with just enough length to keep him safe and of course he’s got his new multi colored life jacket on at all times… just in case.
WHAT A DAY
What a day. It didn’t even matter that it was raining and the windshield wipers were working over time. During our trial ride, Mark explained several techniques of trimming the boat to get the most out of the speed and how to cut the waves to achieve the smoothest of rides without discomfort. I never realized there was such an art to this. A lot has to do with how you set the trim tabs and angle the engines whether they are up or down to get the smoothest most efficient ride. He told us how to turn into the wakes, to slow down a bit, change the trim tabs, height of the engines and then give the engines gas to punch through them, etc. I imagine this will take practice to get it all down smoothly and without thinking so it comes naturally. You have to be in tune to the water and its movement to be able to react and trim the boat quickly and properly.
I love the new electronics, the Garmin 4212. At first it appeared to be like one big colored cartoon on the screen with a huge highway line going down the center. It was almost too easy to read, appearing comical. But that’s probably a good choice for this boat when you are going at high speeds. You want to have something that can be easily and quickly read so you can keep you eye on what’s ahead. It does have a mind of its own, for instance it likes to keep the boat centered on the screen which we don’t like as we have no interest in taking up half the screen to see where we’ve already gone, we’d rather take the full screen to see what’s ahead especially at these speeds.
I really like the radar overlay. What a simple system which allows you to be immediately to identify land masses and buoys and not wonder what some of blotches are and then coming to the same conclusion or identification. Again, it’s technology taking over for thinking again, taking away the challenge in some respects, like forgetting how to multiply once you get used to the calculator, etc. I think it’s a good choice though for this fast boating. The auto pilot is great as it goes the coarse but if you see a log or something that requires you to make an instantaneous turn, it reacts immediately when you grab and turn the wheel. When you are done with the evasive maneuver it goes right back to the auto pilot mode again. It worked out very well as were going a good clip and suddenly came upon a log that was hidden by some choppy water, and the boat reacted quickly and safely.
The dash instruments, or what I call the gadgetry, are simple and clear. The dials and gauges are laid out symmetrically across the panel and resemble the smart look of a dashing sports car. They are simple to understand and easy to read. We quickly figure out that on this boat you don’t want to spend much time figuring out the charts and gauges as you need to keep your eye out for logs and dead heads and what’s visibly up ahead like kayakers and such but still making sure you are on the right track and the are engines running smoothly and not over heating, etc. Everything is designed to be able to take a quick glance at the instruments and get the info you need quickly. They seem to be designed to be easy to read and visibly quick to understand.
HEATERS TOO BUT NOT MUCH ELSE
We’ve got heaters to keep us warm in the cooler weather too and for boating up here in the cooler months will be a good thing. The best thing to me is, there’s no galley or head to speak of and all the other stuff that you have to take care of and worry and clean. That includes, no cooking or cleaning either. This means more trips to restaurants and B&Bs. I think this boat will work just fine in the interim until and we decide on a new cruising boat.
TOTAL SUCCESS AND VERY HAPPY
Well, we had a fine day and the boat runs great. Mark has been wonderful and patient. We were lucky to have him spend all this time with us and we enjoyed having him stay over night with us. We loved hearing about his adventures in his younger years as crew and engineer on some big yachts. We laughed so much. We also heard stories about what the Protector can do and it’s pretty amazing. I hope we do the boat justice. We told Mark he always has a place to stay with us any time as he’s a great guest and good company and we loved his guitar playing too.
The next day we took the boat around the top of the islands and down the eastside taking Mark back to Friday Harbor so he could catch the afternoon ferry back home. We said our goodbyes and were on our own for the first time with the new Knotty Dog.
We filled her up with fuel in Friday Harbor and had a swift fun ride back to Roche and then out Mosquito Pass and out past Mitchell Point to finally see our house from the water view. We had been watching people out enjoying the water from our deck for months and now finally we were one of those people again out on the water.