Well, as most of you know by now – it’s official! We are the proud new owners of “Happy Dance”, our Jeanneau Sun Odyssey Deck Salon 43′! The papers were signed and our piggy bank was emptied on July 2nd, and we immediately left the dock for a four day cruise.
We headed out in a light drizzle, but nothing could have stopped us from grinning like crazy fools as we pulled out of the slip and headed to open water. Driving a 43′ boat with a 13’8″ beam is a little like driving a semi-truck, from the back bumper! You definitely have to plan your turns, and remember that the boat turns on an axis that is centered over the keel! Happy Dance actually handles incredibly well, and much better than our previous boat, the Cal 39′, Escapade.
The current ran with us all the way to Sucia Island, so that even while running the engine at a light load, we still made it there in less than 4 hours. Through the tide rips and boat wakes, Happy Dance handled really well, powering through most of the waves, and only slapping a little when I took a large boat wake dead on. There was some helm when going into current whirlpools, but nothing unusual. We have a 6’6″ bulb keel, and about 24,000 pound displacement, so it’s similar to our old Cal, but we have a larger engine and 3 blades instead of 2 on the prop – and that’s a GOOD thing. Add in a spade rudder and voila – we have steerage!
When we got to Sucia we cruised around Echo Bay a bit, to decide where we’d like to anchor. We chose a spot near the south bank next to the end of the South Finger. As we settled in, an adult eagle and a fledgling were circling around the trees on the bank and landed within a stone’s throw from us – a very nice welcoming committee! We cooked up some brats and fresh corn on the cob on the bbq, and sat in the cockpit to enjoy our first dinner aboard Happy Dance. It was awesome! Lots of giggles and sighs, as we absorbed our new surroundings.
It poured rain all night, which was actually perfect for our first night at anchor. There wasn’t a breath of wind, and the sound of the rain on the cabin was so peaceful. We woke (really late) to the clouds breaking up, and by the end of our second cup of coffee, we had sunshine streaming in. After a few hours of sorting through the cabin, updating our log books, and getting the feel of our new home, we decided it was time to venture out for a paddle.
We had our kayaks launched in no time, and having a swim step on the stern of the boat made it much easier to get into them! Our old boat just had a ladder into the water, which made getting in and out of the kayaks a little bit of a challenge. I wouldn’t say that we’ve achieved gracefulness, but at least there are a few less “whoooaas!”.
Sucia is a great place to explore, both by kayak and by foot. We did both during our stay and enjoyed every minute. The tides were really low, due to the full moon, so the tide pools were great fun to explore. I found lots of teeny little hermit crabs and red rock crabs, and even a 4″ crab hiding under a sandstone cliff. There were lots of sea otters too, running in and out of the water as we walked or paddled by.
On the 4th of July, the skies cleared completely and Mt. Baker put on a show from our dining room window…ha! It was a gorgeous sunset, but of course I hadn’t brought my camera battery charger and it was dead…soooo, you’ll have to trust me on this! The sunset and sunrise were incredible, with Mt. Baker and the Cascades shining in the sun at the end of the bay. Amazing beauty all around us.
We didn’t want our escapade to end, but we had to head back to get the Inn ready for a full house. Summer has arrived and we will now be full until my birthday in September, when we have another little getaway planned (at least that’s what Marty has been telling me!).
Our inaugural voyage was a complete success and made us so confident that Happy Dance is truly the boat for us. We can see ourselves living comfortably and safely on her for the next 20 years or so! There are so many adventures to be enjoyed, it’s an incredible feeling to realize that we are at the door to our dreams coming true! I have dreamed of this day since I started sailing 14′ C-Larks in Portage Bay at the Seattle Yacht Club when I was about 12 years old. I just keep shaking my head and grinning, and being amazed how dreams really do come true. I am reminded of that daily when I wake up next to my sweet MartyMan and see him smile at me. It’s NEVER to late to live happily ever after.
Submitted by Sue
s/v Happy Dance