The Gardyne Family Cruises to Alaska on Their Nordhavn 40: Next Stop, the World
By Peter A. Janssen
The Gardyne family from Alameda, California, across the bay from San Francisco, didn’t want to wait for their retirement to start cruising around the world. Two years ago, they bought a 2002 Nordhavn 40 in Seattle and drove it home, on something of a trial cruise. And they were hooked. On April 17, the Gardynes – Dougal and Jen and their daughter Cassidy, 7 – passed under the Golden Gate Bridge on their Nordhavn, appropriately named Cassidy, and turned north. “Our goal is to see the world,” Gardyne said.
It wasn’t an easy decision. First, they had to get off what they called “the rate race.” Dougal is a mechanical engineer; Jen a CPA with a career at a large utility company. They had to sell their house, car and a lot of their possessions. Cassidy had to leave her friends from the second grade. To help her prepare for her life afloat, the family watched videos of other people cruising with children her age. They decided to home school her on the boat, and she keeps a journal of her experiences.
Cruising above Seattle, Cassidy joined the Slow Boat Flotilla in Roche Harbor in the San Juan Islands, and recently arrived in Juneau, Alaska. The boat has a single 105-hp Lugger diesel, plus a 27-hp Yanmar wing engine and electrical bow and stern thrusters, and cruises in the 7- to 8-knot range.
Once they got to Juneau, the Gardynes decided to stay a while. Young Cassidy was looking forward to spending time with people her age, so they enrolled her in a Girl Scout camp; the bus picked her up in front of the marina. And they made side trips, taking a visiting friend back to Tracy Arm to see the glaciers, eagles and bears, and later another trip over to Gustavus and Glacier Bay for three nights; more bears, more glaciers. (Full disclosure: My daughter and son-in-law lived there for a few years while working for the National Park Service; it’s one of the most beautiful spots in the world.)
Soon it will be time for Cassidy to turn around and head south down the Inside Passage. The Gardynes plan to spend some time cruising in Mexico before deciding whether to head east through the Panama Canal or turn west and aim for French Polynesia. Either way, they are living their dream as a family.
As they originally wrote on their blog, they didn’t want to wait too long to start their trip. “The advice from other cruisers ‘to just go’ really stuck with us. It’s never the right time. There’s always one more project at work. You never have ‘enough’ money. But we are young and healthy now, so let’s get ready for the trip of a lifetime.” Read more: