Guest InterviewDennis and Julie – N76 Sea Fox

Dennis and Julie Fox aboard Sea Fox 76-03
So, Dennis, tell us a little something about your cruising to date and where you have been so far?

Cruising so far?  We owned and operated several Sea Sports in the San Juan Islands on salmon fishing excursions for P.R. with our customers for our manufacturing business in Bellingham, WA.  That is how we developed our love for all things boating.  We eventually graduated to larger boats and began venturing further from Bellingham.  In 1995 Julie and I owned a 50 Delta which we cruised from Bellingham to Glacier Bay, Alaska and back during that summer. 

David Wright (ABT TRAC) at the helm and Dennis son David Fox on the flybridge of one of my Sea Sports that Davids family built in Bellingham for years. I owned 6 of these over the years. March 1992
We actually negotiated the sale of our core business on the VHF radio somewhere around Ketchikan, AK, that was when you could get a secure line on the VHF in Alaska.

After taking delivery of our Krogen 48-03 in Solomons, Maryland during the summer of 1996 we did our non-stop breakdown cruise to Boothbay Harbor, Maine and south to the Exumas for winter in 1996. We returned to the northeast the summer of 97 to complete the Great Circle thru the Erie Canal, Great Lakes and Tenn-Tom back to Florida and the Exumas by December 97.  We continued to cruise the east coast spending winters in The Bahamas until our 58 Krogen was completed (but thats a whole other story).

Sea Foxs, original Full displacement trawler, Krogen 48-03 Solowons Md. at Washburns Boatyard for commissioning
Nice and snug
After taking delivery of our Krogen 5801 and commissioning at Washburns Boatyard in Solomons, MD we did our breakdown cruise to Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia with Bill Parlatore of Passagemaker magazine and Chris Washburn of Washburns Boatyard on board.  They shipped their motorcycles to Halifax and rode them back to the Chesapeake while Julie and I voyaged south to Florida and out to the Bahamas by December 2001. 

Winter of 2002-3 Julie and I headed down island to Trinidad where we cruised the Caribbean until returning to Ft. Lauderdale in April 2004 to participate in the Nordhavn fleet in the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally to Gibraltar.  We wintered in Barcelona, Spain and during the summer of 2005 we continued to Marmaris Turkey, spending two summers in the Med.  I forgot to mention that during this time frame we were also partners in a 70 steel Dutch barge named Vertrouwen which was based in France for touring the canals of France, Holland and Germany during the summers. 

Vertrouwen 70 Dutch Mini-Peniche, the name means reliable in Dutch
In the Fall of 2004 after securing the Sea Fox at Port Vell in Barcelona, Spain we moved the Vertrouwen from Potsdam, Germany via the rivers and canals to Amsterdam, Holland about 800 kilometers overland.  Check out the book by Roger Van Dyken Barging in Europe.  The present owners have been known to charter her out, depending on where she is located an if you can handle a single screw barge, you may be able to bare-boat her, if not they will provide a captain.

Barging in Europe
Why did you choose Nordhavn? 

After arriving in Gibraltar and crossing the Atlantic with a dozen Nordhavns, and no one having any serious mechanical issues, I knew my next trawler would be a Nordhavn! Finally in the Fall of 2013 James Leishman sold us a gorgeous 55 Nordhavn located in Dana Point.

These things are built tough! Sister-ship to Sea Fox 50 named Worknot doing Baja Bash. Owned by Gale and Mary Plummer now on 57-11
We ran the 55 Nordy from Dana Point to Ensanada, Mexico where we participated in the FUBAR.  One of the problems with the FUBAR was we met Don and Lilly Weipert aboard their beautiful 76 Nordhavn Spring Day and we once again became dreamers.

Sea Foxs, Chinatsu 40-2 Taken in trade on 55 Nordy
We traveled the 55 Nordy on down through the Panama Canal and up to the Chesapeake Bay for summer of 2014.  Then returned to Florida where Don Kohlman sold the 55 to Richard and Olive Whittaker who owned Chinatsu a 40 Nordy in Dana Point that we took in trade and James Leishman sold her for us.

Sea Foxs. 55-28
On returning to Florida, James Knight sold us a 50 Nordhavn turned out to be a great boat, just a little small for us.  So he resold the 50 and we bought a 57 Nordhavn from him. We owned her for a short while when Gale Plummer on M/Y Worknot reminded me how great a vessel Dons 76 was and that I should sell him and Mary the 57 really cheap (thats how I remember it Gale) and buy Spring Day which is what we did last winter, and she became Sea Fox.  By the way, Gales retirement GPA is really in trouble, got to get him and Mary on the anchor in The Exumas with communication relying on Bahamian wi-fi 🙂

Changing Zincs in Stuart Fl. Really..Go Daniell
Last summer we ran Sea Fox up to Nova Scotia to the Bras dOr Lake to cruise the Maritimes in company with Milt and Judy Baker aboard Bluewater and the little ramada that he puts together each summer. 

Sea Foxs, Bra Dors lakes Nova Scotia, Milt Bakers fleet
After returning to Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart, FL this winter we decided the 76 Nordhavn was more boat than we needed to do our kind of boating up and down the east coast, apparently we will not be crossing any more oceans.  Being a serial boat buyer, this seems like a good time to quit, its only fair after owning 5 Krogens and 5 Nordhavns.  Unfortunately, Andy Hegley sold her within a week of her going on YachtWorld and now Julie and I are in Bellingham watching it snow.

Maine & port Washington NY August 2017
What has been your cruising highlight so far?  The NAR 2004 Nordhavn Atlantic Rally.  It was an adventure to cruise in Europe especially with friends after successfully crossing the Atlantic with them. 

N.A.R. 2004 Sea Fox, departing Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale
Just a great photo of N.A. R. boats Mid-Atlantic Vessels from front to back are: Grey Pearl N62 owned by Braun and Tina Jones, Goleen N57 owned by Christopher and Sonia Samuelson and in the back, is Sea Fox then owned by Dennis and Julie Fox
Do you travel with an animal/s on board? 

We love dogs, especially Keela on Worknot 57 Nordy. But for us, we prefer they live on somebody elses boat.

If you cruise with pets, do you have any fun stories about them (how you potty-trained them for the boat, or what they do while cruising?)

When Keela lived aboard Worknot Gale and Marys 50Nordhavn which was a full walk around.  They moved our 50 wide body Nordhavn for us.  When she tried to run around the boat at full speed, she crashed right into the bulkhead on the portside!  Who put that wall there?

What training or skillset would you consider a must have prior to buying a boat? 

Taking the Coast Guard classes and start off on a small boat.  Also, go down to the marina in your area each week and throw $100. bills into the water as this will prepare you well.

What upgrade do you most wish you could make to your boat? 

Theres not much on a 76 Nordhavn that needs to be changed or added.  Other than being larger than we need for our type of coastal cruising, which no longer includes crossing oceans, the 76 Nordhavn is a perfect vessel.  And we certainly loved the livability not to mention the ride.

Photo by Mary Flanders aboard Sea Fox, en-route to Puerto Vallarta, MX
In your past life what did you and Julie do? 

I was born on Route 66 in the middle of the Mojave Desert, in Barstow, California and yes we built dune buggies, as the Mojave River is dry.  Julie moved to Barstow during high school from San Francisco, when her father was transferred to the local Marine Base as Sgt. Maj. Harry Dunlavy USMC.  If Id known what a Sgt. Maj. USMC Ex-POW was I would have never had the nerve to ask her out on that blind date 54 years ago. Fortunately he did not allow his daughters to date marines!

Julies Father. Sgt. Major Harry C U.S.M.C. Dunlavy X-POW China Marine
I worked at several different occupations in California before moving to Bellingham, Washington in 1978.  U.S. Borax in Boron, Calif, Southern California Gas Co., a few years in the Ironworkers in Los Angeles and providing labor service to the oil refineries in Central Californias Santa Maria Valley before moving to Bellingham, WA.

Moving to The Pacific Northwest in December was a shock! I actually did not know the ground could freeze!

After being in the plumbing business for a few years in Bellingham we began doing business with Wright Brothers Manufacturing.  This was the family owned business that David Wright of T.R.A.C fame and his father and uncle owned.  More about that later.

After building a successful manufacturing business with distribution from L.A. to Alaska, Hawaii and Japan, we sold out to MAAX Hydro Swirl of Canada for lots of Looneys and went boating on the high seas ever since 1996

The old and much remembered Julie K
Dennis, if there is one thing Julie does that irritates you while underway what would that be? 

Julie doesnt like to take over the helm unless I really need her to.

And Julie, if there was one thing Dennis does that irritates you what would that be? 

Makes me drive when I would really rather read a good book.  And when traveling, anchoring out and not taking the dinghy down so we can go to town.  (Im really a townie)

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

Its almost impossible to run out anything on a Nordhavn 76, its more of a problem having duplicates of thing you bought, and never really needed.

What is the shortest trip you have made?

50 which happens to be the exact length of a 50 amp shore power cord.  Been there done that.

Sea Foxs Mazatlan MX Fubar 2013
What is the longest passage you have made?

Trans-Atlantic with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004 from Ft. Lauderdale to Gibraltar.  And cruising The Med to Turkey.

Sea Fox, 57-11 now MY WORKNOT
What have been the tallest seas and strongest winds you have encountered? 

Christmas time in the West Indies while traveling to Trinidad, short, wicked and tall.

If you didnt own your current boat, what boat would you like to change to?

Having just sold our 76 Nordy this year, apparently there is no perfect boat. Except maybe a 55 Nordhavn?  Theres still hope, Dan, do you have that psychiatrist on staff yet?

Sea foxs. 55-28 Mexico 2013
When you purchased your Nordhavn, what were the key features you were looking for?

Livability, seaworthiness and a mid-ship master stateroom, preferably more or less all one level and of course the legendary Nordhavn reliability.

Would you describe yourselves as more hunters or more gathers? 

Dennis is definitely hunter, he would not know what to do if he were not hunting for something.

Julie is a gatherer, usually helping Dennis pick up the pieces from his hunting.

Why did you name your vessel Sea Fox? 

Sea Fox, obviously, since our last name is Fox.  It made it an easy choice for our boat.  Since we live in Bellingham, WA we keep a boat there which we named Julie K.  You know you have two oceans, you really need two boats.  Just ask any salesman!

Present Julie K 55 Nordic
What other names did you consider?  

None for the east coast, it helps identify which boat we are talking about.  And when we change boats we always name the next one Sea Fox (on the east coast).

What is the one lesson every boater should learn? 

Its all about the weather. Keep the Admiral happy by not going out there in bad seas.

What is your favorite anchorage and why? 

Pacific coast: Garrison Bay in the San Juan Islands near Roche Harbor.  Its just a short dinghy ride to Roche.  You can get Dungeness crab off your transom while at anchor and dinghy to Wescott Bay and buy oysters directly from the farm.

East coast:  Our favorite anchorage is Portsmouth off Dominica, West Indies. Julie learned to scuba dive there and it was the greatest diving we found and wonderful people ashore.  Truly a tropical paradise!

Sea Fox, school children in Panama Anchorage
Biggest surprises with your cost of ownership?

Every day is like Christmas you just never know what the next surprise will be.  After cruising for 20+ years nothing surprises us.  Its just the price of admission.

What is your favorite activity while aboard?

Julie loves to cook, read and do crafts.  Dennis likes to work on the boat list and plan the next voyage or boat purchase.]

M/Y EVRIK on her way to becoming Sea Fox Now she is M/Y Worknot
What is your favorite Marina and why? 

East coast:  Sunset Bay, Stuart, FL.  It is a gathering place of both our friends on Krogens (which weve owned 5) and our Nordhavn friends (which weve just sold our 5th).  You can get anything done on your boat in Stuart, and every other service too.

West coast:  Lopez Islander Marina is a nice marina and Lopez is The Friendly Island locals always wave at pedestrians.  It is also a mostly flat island so the biking is really good. This is where we spent our first night on a boat, a 27 Sea Sport built in Bellingham, WA by David Wright of ABT fame.  He and his family owned Wright Brothers Manufacturing in Bellingham.  It was started by his grandfather and taken over by his father and his uncle when he was a young man. They built the best boats in the world of which we owned 5 over the years. We have him and his family to thank for our early retirement.  They were a huge part of our success which allowed us to cruise the world on our trawlers since 1996.  Jr. only works at TRAC because he loves his work and is very good at it.

What is your favorite quote and why? 

If not now, when?   If it ain’t broke, dont use it.

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

While learning to drive the dinghy in The Bahamas Julie used the tiller on the outboard while underway for leverage to shift her position in the dinghy.  Causing a sharp starboard turn and increase in speed that resulted in her being thrown overboard into the warm Bahamian waters, another lesson learned.

Whats the biggest mistake you have ever made on the water? 

Relying on local people for a weather forecast in the water.  Even the taxi drivers in Athens, Greece really dont know the weather on the water.

What is your most hated boat job? 

Dennis Washing and waxing the boat, its like washing  your house.  Did you know that a boat gets bigger when you add fresh water?

Julie -Launching the dinghy, and even worse is med mooring, trying to get the attached cable to the front of the boat.

Tell us a little something about Sea Fox? 

She is a small ship and I have never heard that bulbous bow leave the water! Ever!  I believe the 64 Nordys and larger are the ultimate platform for exploring the worlds oceans. Of course the Sinks and the Flanders did it on their 46 Nordys and had just as much or more fun than the larger Nordy owners!

What is the one thing you are most afraid of? 

Dennis I cant say that either of us are really afraid of anything with boating.  We try to be prepared before we depart. 

Whats your favourite photo ever taken while at sea and why? 

A favorite photo is us on the bow of our Nordhavn 55 with a beautiful sunset on the Mexican coast between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, taken by friends Scott and Mary Flanders, they were on passage with us.  By the way Scott Flanders is also a serial boat buyer as well, hes just hiding in Utah!

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

Absolutely, paper charts !!  Never know when that computer is going to die, but it will when its a very important approach.  The most reliable thing about computers used for navigation on board a vessel is that it will quit when it is needed the most.

Julie tell us something about yourselves that nobody knows? 

I love to sing but too shy to sing in public. 

If you were to give one piece of advice to someone thinking of cruising the world, what would it be? 

Go now!  I was 50 years old when we cast off and if I knew then what I know now, Id have gone when I was 45 years old.  Also buy the biggest boat you can afford and leave.  You can make more money but you cant make more time.

Sea Fox, 55-28….The Foxs first Nordhavn
If you were advising someone as to the best area of the world to go cruising, where would it be, and why? 

We really like The Bahamas, The Caribbean to Trinidad, lots of places to anchor and beautiful clear water.  Of course we love the Pacific Northwest which is so beautiful, but the water is cold. 

And finally, where to next? 

Next on our plate?  We arent quite sure but we arent going to be crossing oceans on long passages. We are presently on shore in Bellingham trying to decide if at 73 years of age do I have another boat left in me?  Its becoming much harder to meet the challenges of living aboard.

Sea Foxs 76-03 perhaps the final chapter?
Thank you very much for your time, will be watching this years progress closely. 

Good luck with your travels!

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