My Boat | SV Due West

Heidi and Kirk Hackler's 1982 Passport 40, Due West, is homeported at Elliott Bay Marina in Seattle.

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Heidi and Kirk Hackler live in Seattle aboard their 1982 Passport 40, Due West, which they’ve owned for almost two decades. During that time they’ve gotten married aboard their boat, raced it to Hawaii and in many local regattas, and cruised throughout Puget Sound. An inflatable palm tree in the cockpit makes their boat easy to spot out on the water.

Tell us about your boat’s name.
Kirk had wanted to name a boat Due West because it symbolized the direction he wanted to go. He picked the name before the boat. Heidi thought it was a fine name, so the former Pendragon became Due West. (Not being into medieval lore, the name Pendragon didn’t speak to us at all.)

Tell us the story of how you found your boat and what makes it special to you.
We met crewing on a 44’ race boat in 1990, each of us having the dream of world cruising before we knew each other. We had been toying with the idea of getting a T-bird as our first boat together to do some local racing and cruising. In 1992 we went to the Winter Boats Afloat Show at South Lake Union, and being January, it was POURING rain. We had been looking at a myriad of boats throughout the day — just for fun — not looking to buy anything.

One of the last boats we looked at was Mike Plant’s (RIP) Duracell, a single-handed ocean racer. Kirk was poking into every nook and cranny of that race boat. Heidi had seen enough, so she decided to go on to the next boat and get out of the rain. As Heidi went down the companionway, she was amazed at the BEAUTY of the boat, all teak interior, nicer than anything we’d ever seen. She totally fell in LOVE with the Pullman berth; never having liked v-berths, this was AWESOME! As Kirk came down below, Heidi said, “Someday when we get our ‘real’ cruising boat I want one of these!” Kirk agreed. We found out she was a 10-year-old 1982 Passport 40 (hull #19.)

The Hacklers' boat kitty, Jackson.

One small glitch: there was a potential buyer talking with the broker and already scheduling a survey that week. So home we went dreaming of someday owning a Passport 40. Albeit not really knowing much about the Passport 40 other than that she was a beautiful boat, Heidi went into full-research mode. And remember, this was before the days of the Internet! She called several brokers and got some information on the Passport 40, found out it was designed by local designer Bob Perry, and found a RAVE review in a back issue of Practical Sailor. Turns out she WAS an excellent bluewater cruiser, but how could we ever afford her?

Months went by with that boat in the back of our minds, and then one day in May we got a call from a good friend with great news — she was still for sale! We called the broker the next day and scrambled to figure out finances (which ultimately included putting her into charter for a time, and us working several jobs at once.) Just as we made an offer, two other offers came in, but ours won!

We were ELATED to be owners of this beautiful, bluewater cruiser! Interestingly, Kirk saw possibly this very same boat at the indoor boat show 10 years earlier, when he was a young, avid racer. And while he thought the fine teak woodworking below was beautiful, he also thought, “This looks like someone’s den, where would you ever put wet sails?!”

What’s the history of your boat?
Due West was built at the King Dragon boatyard in Taiwan, and delivered to Seattle in June of 1982. She is hull #19 out of 148 original Passport 40s.

Due West's spacious galley has plenty of storage.

There were two owners prior to us. The first was a Seattle city policeman who commissioned her in 1982 but apparently only owned her for about a year. The second owner had her for 8+ years and raced her (as Pendragon) to Hawaii in the 1990 Vic-Maui just prior to our buying her.

Coincidently, we found out that Pendragon had been the 1990 Vic-Maui radio boat. Kirk had raced that Vic-Maui on another boat that year, and Pendragon was the boat that relayed his position back to the YC each day so that Heidi could keep track of where he was. Small world.

We also raced Due West to Hawaii in the 1996 Vic-Maui, along with six crew members. Due West proved herself to be a terrific bluewater boat, getting us safely and speedily there in 17 days. We finished 10th out of 17 boats — not too shabby for a “furniture 40,” considering we were racing against the likes of Roy Disney’s Pyewacket! 🙂

What do you like best about your boat?
EVERYTHING! 🙂 We LOVE her beautiful, voluminous interior (we’ve actually had 25 people down below at once time for a party! A bit crowded, but doable!) We also LOVE her excellent short-handed (two people) sail handling, in all conditions. All halyards and running rigging controls are led back to the cockpit, so we can do everything (except reef) without having to go forward. She is a GREAT liveaboard boat, with tons of storage and spacious hanging lockers.

What do you know now about your boat that you wish you’d known when you bought it? Would that have changed your mind?
It would have been nice to have a separate engine survey done before we bought her. Like many used boats, we ended up repowering her within a year of buying her. (Luckily, insurance covered it.) But that wouldn’t have changed our minds. Did we mention how much we LOVE our boat?! 🙂

How does your significant other feel about the boat (be honest)?
SAME — we both LOVE our boat! Since Heidi saw her first and fell in love with her, Kirk doesn’t have the all-too-common problem of the wife not really liking the boat.

Due West's salon

What’s your favorite story involving your boat?
Oh-so-many: losing our new dinghy on our first Christmas Eve aboard; our 1993 wedding aboard; 1996 Vic-Maui Race; 1997 Easter day storm (see below); numerous Swiftsures, Sooksures, Round the County races, and Leukemia Cup Regattas, and 15 years of Opening Day … wonderful trips to the San Juans and Gulf Islands; or most recently, running aground on an ebb tide at dusk … hard to pick, but we will say that running aground was the most surrealistic, “twilight-zone”-like, and we hope to never repeat that experience again! … Our cruising friends calling us “the racers” and our racing friends calling us “the cruisers,” but we’ve managed to get several racing friends into cruising, and several cruising friends into racing.

Describe the most challenging situation you’ve experienced on your boat and how it performed.
The 1997 Easter day storm, when a beautiful Easter morning turned into a raging 60-plus knot gale. We had been rafted up with several other cruising friends in Eagle Harbor. Winds were forecast to build by late afternoon, so we planned to leave by noon and scoot across the bay back to Elliott Bay Marina before then. But the storm roared in early, and by the time we ducked our nose out of Eagle Harbor at noon, it was pushing 60 knots in the bay (still only 25-30 inside the protected harbor.) We had been towing our dinghy, but noticed a boat that had left earlier and was now returning, towing its overturned dinghy. YIKES! Need to get our dinghy up NOW… so we headed south into Blakely Harbor to hoist the dinghy up on deck.

When things start to go wrong, they generally happen in multiples … as we were raising the dinghy on deck with a spin halyard, the lifeline on the opposite side parted and went slack. Random?! Heidi pointed out, “You’re never supposed to leave port in the face of a storm, maybe we should just drop the hook and stay in Blakely Harbor for the night?” while Kirk countered, “If we can’t sail across Elliott Bay in 60 knots of wind, we have no business trying to sail around the world.” Point taken. Heidi: “If we’re going to sail across the bay, I’m going to drive because if I’m not at the helm, I’ll just be worrying.”

Due West racing

So off we went in 60 knots of wind and 6-8’ seas (on the beam) in Elliott Bay, SMALL handkerchief corner of a jib rolled out, and maydays left and right on the VHF. It was NOT fun, but it was exiting. Nearing the Elliott Bay Marina breakwater, we started the engine to motor in, but it sputtered and died. DAMN! Tried again, it started, then sputtered again … meanwhile, somehow the wind had whipped the lazy jib sheet around enough to untie the stopper knot in the end, WTF?! ….and under the boat and into the prop?! Heidi tried to start the engine one more time, while Kirk yanked the jib sheet at the exact right second to spin it off the prop (end slightly chewed!), and amazingly, the engine stayed on long enough to make it back to our slip.

We called the marina for line-handling assistance, since getting into our slip in 60 knots is almost impossible, but with four dockhands it was much easier. We slid sideways down the fairway at about 4 knots, and then full throttle into our slip. Turns out our fuel had gotten contaminated, and the rough seas had stirred up the tank enough to bring the gunk up and clog the filter. How the engine stayed on long enough to make it back to the dock we’ll never know. Kirk had the anchor ready to deploy outside the breakwater just in case. Lessons learned: our boat sails fine in 60-plus knots, but next time we’ll stay in the harbor! Whew! What an adventure.

Where do you plan to take your boat? Do you have a dream destination?
We hope to retire and sail south within a couple of years to WARMER climates. We don’t necessarily have the goal of “sailing around the world,” but there are many places around the globe that we’d like to visit, including Central America, Galapagos, the Caribbean, Thailand, South Pacific, Greece and Turkey. Kirk’s dream has always been to sail up the Bosporus in front of Istanbul, Turkey, and on into the Black Sea. Given the variety of locations we want to go, we’ll have to decide at the Panama Canal if we’ll go left or right (plan du jour)… Heidi will be happy anywhere that it’s WARM and there are palm trees — in the 20/20-zone.

If someone gave you $10,000 that you could only spend on your boat, what would you do with it and why?
Replace our radar that just died, maybe a new stereo with outside speakers (those also died), funny how so many of the things we installed/replaced before doing Vic-Maui are now needing to be fixed/replaced again 15 years later! Heidi would LOVE to have new galley countertops — our 18-year-old laminate countertops are looking a little tired.

How long do you plan to own the boat? What would it take to get you to part with it? And what advice would you give to the next owner?
We hope to own her until we’ve gone where we want to go, and/or no longer enjoy cruising. At this point it would take a LOT to get us to part with our boat because we’ve never found another boat that we would trade her for. As for advice for the next owner, please treat her as well as we do, she’s a great gal!

If you could have any other boat, what would it be and why?
Probably another Passport. But if someone was going to give us one, Kirk would take an Outbound and Heidi would take a Swan. We would never want a boat that was more than just the two of us could handle.

What didn’t we ask you about your boat that you wish we had?
If there was one thing we could easily change on our boat, it would be nice to have a separate shower rather than the whole head being the shower … but that’s a small inconvenience to pay for an otherwise amazing yacht.

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