Where are they now?
Wayne and Pat Davis
Nordhavn 35 Envoy
I just saw Wayne Davis at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show a few weeks ago. He flew in from his home in Texas, having recently checked in on his boat, Envoy, a Nordhavn 35, currently sitting in Wrightsville Beach, NC. It’s the second Nordhavn for Wayne and wife, Pat, and – all tolled – they’ve amassed more than 27,000 miles under the two keels. Pretty impressive. But what’s more impressive is the overall total miles they’ve accumulated on Nordhavns they haven’t owned: an astonishing additional 9,000 (est) nm.
You see, Wayne and Pat enjoy something that not a lot of boat owners have the privilege of doing: serving as crew on board other Nordhavns. Yes, they do still own a Nordhavn, but they are content with the notion that they will no longer cross oceans as they did when they had their first Nordhavn, a 46 also called Envoy. So they enjoy adventure on the high seas in crazy, far-off places…all at the effort and expense of others. There are rare qualities that they possess – strength of character, patience and know-how - that make them very desirable crewmembers. Anyone who has had the displeasure of traveling long distances with a less than amiable crew knows how the discord can buzzkill the most anticipated of journeys. To avoid such a mutiny, it’s vital to make sure you pick mates who are not only knowledgeable seamen, but whose practices, procedures and personalities are complementary to those of the Captain’s. Sounds simple enough, but often times that’s not the case. So perhaps that’s why Wayne and Pat are so highly coveted by their Nordhavn cronies. As far as we can tell, when it comes to owners, Wayne and Pat have served as crew on more Nordhavns – that weren’t their own – than anyone else.
We know that patience and personality are basically innate virtues, but seamanship is something learned. For Wayne, his love for boating was influenced by his parents who had small fishing boats during his childhood. When he married Pat, she did not share his enthusiasm for being on the open water. Not one to be discouraged, Wayne bought a small sailboat and did his best to convince Pat otherwise. In 1998, Wayne thought it would be fun to participate in the Carribean 1500, a sailing rally from Norfolk, VA to Virgin Gorda. Unfortunately, weather is unpredictable and the couple wound up sailing right throught the eye of Hurricane Mitch. “It was blowing 72 knots,” recalls Wayne. “I figured that was the last time she’d ever step foot on a boat again.” But the opposite happened. Pat relished being out in the elements and the adventurous spirit that had taken hold of her. From that point on, they continued to sail extensively.
Eventually family life and jobs – Pat, an elementary school principal, Wayne, Professor of Medical Education at University of Michigan – took center stage. After a number of years away from the sea, the couple reflected on their life and realized their best days had been on a boat. They were eager to get back into the cruising game, just not on a sailboat. Typical of sailors who loved the boating but hated the work of sailing, the couple set their sights on a trawler and fell upon Nordhavn.
They purchased their first Nordhavn, the 46-footer, back in January 2000. They put over 20,000 nm on her going up and down the East Coast, over to the Bahamas and across the Atlantic to the Med as part of the 2004 Nordhavn Atlantic Rally (NAR). They spent three years cruising Europe, taking the boat to such favorite places as Turkey and Croatia, Italy, and Barcelona. During that time, they got the opportunity to cruise parts of Eastern Europe they’d not seen before, and on a Nordhavn, no less. But it wasn’t their 46. It was Nordhavn 62, Autumn Wind, owned by Bill and Arline Smith who the Davises had acquainted during the NAR. They, along with Nordhavn 62 Grey Pearl, also an NAR boat, had signed on to take part in the Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally (EMYR). It was an amazing two months of running hard at night and incredible sightseeing during the day; places like Lebanon and Israel which, only weeks after the EMYR’s conclusion ,was hit by Middle East violence. “It was an incredible experience,” said Wayne, adding bittersweetly, “Places we visited and enjoyed became locations that thousands of Europeans and Americans scrambled to evacuate from.”
At the end of their third year, they unexpectedly wound up selling their boat to a New Zealander (who still keeps the boat in Europe.) It was a hard decision because the couple still enjoyed cruising. During their time on both the NAR and the EMYR, the Davises struck a bond with Braun and Tina Jones, owners of Grey Pearl. Having earned such high marks as crew on Autumn Wind, this time it was the Jones who sought Wayne and Pat’s assistance. After four seasons in the Med, Braun and Tina shipped Grey Pearl back to the States to commence cruising the Americas. They needed help bringing their boat through the Panama Canal and up to Costa Rica. Pat had family business to attend to, so Wayne jumped on the boat for the 2 ½-week long trip. It was a fantastic journey for all on board. And it led to other fantastic journeys.
The trip really got Wayne inspired to buy another Nordhavn. Since plotting truly ambitious voyages was more or less off the table, the Davises honed in on a semi-displacement Nordhavn 35. They purchased hull number 4 in 2008, giving the interior a complete overhaul; new foam, new fabrics, new window coverings. And just as their 46 did, their 35 draws crowds. This past fall Wayne single handed her from Rhode Island down to North Carolina. He disembarked the boat to find a group of curious onlookers waiting for him. “I felt like a rock star!” he said.
Fast forward to Spring 2009 and the Great Siberian Sushi Run (GSSR). Grey Pearl was one of three boats embarking on the challenging route from Seattle to Japan via the Bering Sea. Wayne and Pat were tapped by the Joneses to crew the leg from Anchorage, AK to Japan, not exactly a cream-puff cruise. Still, the couple couldn’t back away from the opportunity, and as a result wound up with one of the most exciting adventures of their lives. “I can unequivocally say that this was the best trip I’ve ever done,” said Wayne. “We were going where people just don’t go.”
But was he scared? I mean, we’re talking the Bering Sea here! Going the wrong direction, no less. “The challenge was there every day, but we had a great deal of confidence in the boat and in the owners. It was very exciting. There was just something about going through the Aleutians and landing in Russia. We don’t know any other production powerboats who have ever done that route.”
2010 bought more exciting expeditions. The GSSR continued (minus the Siberian) and once again Pat and Wayne hooked up with the Jones – this time in Okinawa where they traveled 2,800 nm. to Tainan, Taiwan, where they visited Ta Shing, builder of - not only all the GSSR participants’ boats – but of the Davises’ 35 as well. Once again, Wayne and Pat were treated to a surreal experience with the staff of Ta Shing serving up a serious “welcome back” party for the owners and their beloved boats.
Phew! That’s a lot to keep up with. But Wayne and Pat aren’t through yet. They’ll have fun tooling around South Florida and the Caribbean in Envoy, then they’ll gear up for more crewing duties on board Grey Pearl in 2011, focusing on Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean.
“We love our Nordhavn, it’s been great fun,” said Wayne. “Plotting course, being self-sufficient and going wherever our hearts dictate is a very satisfying feeling.” Is ownership better or not as enjoyable as cruising? Different, says Wayne. “Crewing has provided us a new way of cruising we never thought was possible. We’re thankful we are able to do it.”