Guest Interview – John & Tina Philippson – M.Y. Sockeye Blue N75

John & Tina Philippson

So, John, tell us a little something about your cruising to date and where you have been so far?

We started as sailors with our Beneteau Oceans 350 in 1990. Our longest cruise was 5 months with our 3 young children. We cruised from Vancouver to S.E. Alaska and around the Queen Charlotte Islands. As the kids got older they no longer wanted to spend their weekends with mom & dad in a phone booth, so we sold the boat. We then did mostly charters with friends in places like the Caribbean. When the kids all left for college we returned to boating but this time went power with an Islander 37. It was designed along the lines of a Back Cove or Hinkley. It was a great weekend boat for us to entertain with and cruise the Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands.

Panama Canal – West to East 2014

Then we got the opportunity to purchase Sockeye Blue a Nordhavn 75. Our serious cruising started. We left Vancouver May 2014 for San Francisco. With no real long term plan other then to cruise to the USA east coast. From San Francisco we went on to San Diego to prepare for the longest leg of the journey, 12 days at sea. We needed to be south of latitude 10N to satisfy our insurance policy. Hurricane season starts at the beginning of June. We left San Diego May 20th for Papagayo, Costa Rica. Then we moved on to Panama, spending a month in the beautiful San Blas Islands, and then the winter in the Caribbean visiting, Columbia, Dominica Republic, Porto Rico, US Virgin Islands,  Turks  & Cacaos and stopping on the USA east coast where we have now been for 1 year.  

My dad at the helm

Turks and Cacaos 2015

Why did you choose Nordhavn?

Their reputation speaks for themselves. Nordhavn’s one of the strongest ocean going power yachts built. Safety is our deciding factor. With our Nordhavn we feel safe and we live in a very luxurious yacht.

La Paz, Mexico 2013

San Juan Islands 2013, A favourite photo

Yorktown, Virginia 2015

Summer 2015, Yorktown, Virginia

What has been your cruising highlight so far?

We visited 14 countries and 15,000nm  in our 2 years cruising. We both felt Cost Rica was the best experience so far.

Why did you like Costa Rica so much?

Costa Rica is a very interesting little country. They are very focused on the environment and Eco-tourism.  The people believe in the goals of a cleaner environment and in building a tourism industry based on that environment. We found a very clean and beautiful country. The people were happy and were enjoying life more so then most countries we have visited. We would defiantly go back for a visit. 

Costa Rica, 2014

World Cup Costa Rica, 2014

Do you travel with an animal/s on board?

No pets.

In your past life what did you and Tina do?

We have always been in business together. We have bought, started and operated many businesses. Our current business is in Manufacturing. Our company Kost Klip makes merchandising and marketing hardware for most of the largest retailers in North America.

Tina, if there is one thing John does that irritates you while underway what would that be?  

John is a very calm, relaxed and rational captain; I wish I could eventually acquire these attributes, as my personality is more like running around with my hair on fire.  If you can call that an irritant, we will be able to cruise together for years to come much the same way we have worked and lived together hip to hip, 24/7, for the last 36 years.

And it’s only fair I ask John the same question, so John, if there was one thing Tina does that irritates you what would that be?

She leaves the dish water in the sink after doing dishes. I hate putting my hand in the dirty, cold and sometimes greasy water to pull the plug.

I love her for who she is not what I may want to change her into.

Dawn arrives at the Golden Gate Bridge, Spring 2014

Onto irritating things, have you ever run out of something while at sea that has caused problems?

Internet, No serious problems but life offline is getting more and more difficult. There is always satellite, but the cost is not palatable.

Tina doing boat yoga!

As we travel with many guests, sometimes, (God forbid) we find we run out of beer, but there always seems to be ingenious ways of replenishing the beer supply in even the most remote of areas.

Happy hour on the aft pilothouse deck!  San Juan Islands, 2013

Cooking for ten, Fort Lauderdale, Spring 2015

Champagne and Oysters, Chesapeake, Summer 2015

Would you describe yourselves as more hunters or more gathers?

We are hunters and gathers of people, and have a yacht that can accommodate 10!  So we invite friends and relatives to join us on our journeys.  We have had many full houses in the last 2 years, which has made for some very fun and memorable times. We love to entertain and Sockeye Blue allows us to do this in style anywhere in the world.

Six friends on aboard for a four week cruise up the US east coast, Spring 2015.

Why did you name your vessel MV Sockeye Blue?

Sockeye salmon go to sea 4 years then return home to their birth place. We too have gone to sea and will return home to our birth place. Tina and I both grew up in a small fishing town. So our histories are with the sea and fishing. The boat was blue and the oceans are blue so hence Sockeye Blue.

Tuna fishing Cape May, Summer 2015

Dinner 18ib Tuna

What other names did you consider? 

Blue Orca, Forager, and Oolichan 

Sunset, Yorktown Virginia, Spring 2015

What is the one lesson every boater should learn?

Respect the sea.

What is your favourite anchorage and why?

Small pocket bays and inlets in the PNW, because of their seclusion, peacefulness, and majestic splendor.

Exploring the Chesapeake, Spring 2015

What is your favourite Marina and why?

Our favourite Marina is Point Roberts Marina in Point Roberts, Washington.  It is the closest marina in the USA to Canada on the west coast and Tina’s best friend is the manager there.

Point Roberts WA

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you while at sea?

This is a funny and scary story. While transiting from San Diego to Costa Rica on day 9 just 15 miles off Acapulco MX we were in a developing weather system that was moving north. Mostly squalls and depressions that were a blast of wind, rain and lighting lasting not more than 30 to 60 minutes each. In the morning the system had moved on north of us and developed into the first hurricane of the year. As it turned out the hurricane was named Christina. So we joke now that Tina is the only one we know who has been in a hurricane that was named after her.

Coming home after a day at the beach. Cartagena, Winter 2014

What’s the biggest mistake you have ever made on the water?

Well let me count the ways. I have had a few stupid captain moments. Running aground (mud) this summer twice!

What is your most hated boat job?

John – Washing the boat.

Tina – Beds and Heads  (we have 7 heads)

Tell us a little something about MV Sockeye Blue?

Sockeye Blue is a Expedition Yacht Fisher (EYF) 75 built in 2009. This boat had 2 owners in the 3 years before we bought her in 2012. Nordhavn designed this model for avid sports fishermen that wanted to travel anywhere in the world to trophy fish. We bought the boat as a Nordhavn trawler to cruise anywhere in comfort and safety. We like to fish, but we did not buy the boat to be used as a fishing boat. The design of the EYF (Expedition Yacht Fisher) is more along the lines of a sport fisher. 

In 2011 Sockeye Blue sank in 10 to 12 feet of water. This happened at the dock in San Jose de Cabo, Mexico. The previous owner was having a special bait tank installed, and needless to say, it was not done well.

We bought a water damaged Sockeye Blue from an insurance company. We intended to put her on a yacht transport and ship her to Vancouver to do a complete refit. After an exhausting 6 month search we were unable to get the right ship to transport her to Vancouver. So a decision was made to repair her in La Paz, Mexico. This would be a very challenging project. We were faced with 3 currencies, Canadian, USA, and Mexican, 2 languages, and one time zone difference. La Paz is at the end of a 700 mile two lane, dead end road. La Paz has a good boating community and does have some boating services but nothing on the scale we were looking for. We put together our own team of specialists; they consisted of American and Canadian boat technicians and 4 marine electricians, and local laborers. The project leader was a local, he was key in keeping our project onside with all the local authorities. We rented housing and vehicles for the team. With up to 10 employees working we needed to supply them with all the material they were going to need to repair the boat. This was to be the most challenging part of this project. The logistics were pretty over whelming. We were able to purchase all equipment and supplies needed and move them into Mexico under Marine law that allows boats to be repaired while in transit.  No duties or sales tax needed to be paid moving our supplies and equipment into Mexico.

The boat was stripped of all mechanical and electrical. All new equipment and all new wiring was installed. From the start in June 2012 to our finishing December 2012 the team worked 9 hour days and 6 day weeks. At one time we had 7 marine electricians working. Supplying them with material was key to keeping the project moving. Nordhavn’s are very complex ships and rebuilding one is a very challenging task. I will add that we did the project in record time. We left La Paz for San Diego in January 2013. The run up to San Diego was uneventful. Not one system failed us everything worked as it was designed to. This was unbelievable and a testament to the quality of the team that did the refit.

Seattle WA, Summer 2013

Our next stage of rebuilding the boat was completed in Vancouver. This was mostly commissioning stuff like bedding, carpets, and some navigation equipment upgrades.

We are very pleased with the outcome. The job was much larger than we anticipated, and if asked to do it again the answer is no. We continue to do work on Sockeye Blue and she has now taken us 15,000nm and she has never let us down. We love her.

What is the one thing you are most afraid of?

John – Spiders

Tina – Snakes

What’s your favourite photo ever taken while at sea and why?

Our friend took this picture this summer while we were visiting Yorktown Virginia

Sockeye Blue in Yorktown Virginia

What would you never leave behind (besides each other) when heading out to sea?

Our satellite phone.

US Virgin Islands, January 2015

Crab fest, San Blas Islands, Fall 2014

Tina tell us something about yourselves that nobody knows?

We are both into sustainable food systems and health eating. We are members of the Slow Food Movement.  Where ever we visit we seek out fellow foodies and we support the local farmers markets and small food producers in every port we visit.

Foraging the farmers market in Qupose Costa Rica, Fall 2014

And finally, where to next?

Cuba for 6 to 8 weeks then back to the USA to prepare for our North Atlantic  crossing. We will be in Europe for the next few years. We plan to spend the first two years visiting the British Isles and the Baltic. Then if we are still enjoying ourselves we will continue to explore new cruising grounds.

San Blas Islands, Fall 2014

Thank you very much for your time, will be watching this year’s progress closely. 

Good luck with your travels!

John and Tina’s website can be found at: SockeyeBlue

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