Like many sailors, for Steve Allwine all it took to fall in love with sailing was that first lesson. Since then, he learned to sail on the Salish Sea and when the right boat came along, he snapped it up. Steve and family’s 2002 Hunter 326 Belldandy is the perfect boat for their coastal cruising adventures and has taken them on cruises to Desolation Sound and Princess Louisa Inlet (above). Belldandy is homported at Shilshole Bay Marina in Seattle.
How long have you owned the boat?
I’ve been Belldandy’s caretaker for 5 years now. She’s been a great companion for me and my family.
Tell us about your boat’s name.
Well, this is super nerdy, but I renamed her after a Japanese Anime character, who, in turn, was named after the Norse goddess Verðandi.
In the Japanese take on the Norse mythology, she is the goddess who represents the destiny of the present. A “Carpe diem” sort of character.
Have you owned other boats before this one? If so, what kinds?
Although I grew up in the Pacific Northwest with my parent’s small 16-foot Bayliner ski boat, Belldandy is my first boat.
Tell us a little about your boating background.
Other than the childhood trips to powerboat on Sun Lakes in Eastern Washington, I got into sailing somewhat by happenstance. I had gotten to the end of my training for flight lessons, and realized that the one thing more expensive than boats are small planes.
At a charity auction, I picked up a voucher for a handful of sailing lessons from the Center for Wooden Boats in South Lake Union. After my first lesson, I was hooked.
Not long after, I wanted to learn how to sail larger boats, so I signed up for bareboat chartering classes with San Juan Sailing up in Bellingham. After a few years of chartering other people’s boats, I came across a tidy little Hunter 326 for a reasonable price.
Once I saw her, I knew I had to put in an offer, and it all worked out.
What’s the history of your boat?
Belldandy’s previous, and first owner, kept very good care of her. When I came across her on New Years day she had been used as a day sailor out of Des Moines Marina. She was almost entirely stock, had reams of preventative service receipts and only 300 hours on the engine.
At the time, she was named Island Rendezvous.
What do you know now about your boat that you wish you’d known when you bought it? Would that have changed your mind?
Nothing. She had been steadfast reliable in every way. She has a great, little fuel efficient engine, good sails and is exactly as one would hope in a boat — trouble free.
What’s your favorite story involving your boat?
Recently, I was able to take my wife and our newborn son on his first sail. Not long after, we discovered the easiest way to have a newborn sleep the entire night is to sleep on a boat.
I foresee many more family trips in our future, even if they’re just short trips to Port Ludlow or Port Townsend and back.
Describe the most challenging situation you’ve experienced on your boat and how it performed.
While sailing with a flotilla in Desolation Sound in the fall, a strong storm was moving into the area. The predicted winds for the next few days were as high as 70 knots, so we all had to high-tail it into a well protected harbor. As a group, we decided to leave the anchorage of Prideaux Haven for the docks at Heriot Bay
Being one of the smallest boats in the group meant that we also had the slowest hull speed. As the winds and waves started building, and the rest of the flotilla started shrinking on the horizon, we rounded the corner of Hernando Island.
I have a whole new respect for the north end of the Straight of Georgia and Sutil Channel.
At the worst of it, we had winds gusting to 30 plus knots and a steady beating of 6-foot seas quartering from our stern. With a portion of the sails out to steady the boat and the little 18-horsepower engine near the redline, we’d chug up one wave at 2 knots, then race down the backside at 9 knots. Over that time, the helm would require a death grip to maintain our heading with the spade rudder.
Thankfully, nothing broke or went wrong on that passage. Belldandy handled the conditions well. But for myself, and my only passenger, my mother, it was a very rough ride in our coastal cruiser.
Where do you plan to take your boat? Do you have a dream destination?
She might be a little small and a little light, but I’ve always wanted to circumnavigate Vancouver Island with Belldandy. Unfortunately, for now, my and my wife’s work schedules aren’t conducive to a three month trip.
One day, with a larger boat, I’d like to circumnavigate the Pacific. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the South Pacific, New Zealand, Australia and Japan, but not on a small boat.
If someone gave you $10,000 that you could only spend on your boat, what would you do with it and why?
Hmmmm, I’m not sure. Maybe a beefed up alternator to better keep up with the inverter + microwave. Right now she’s set up exactly how I want her. I guess the only thing I wish my boat had was a separate shower inside. Getting the entire head wet when showering isn’t very fun, and using the aft deck shower isn’t exactly modest.
I’ve already spent a fair amount on upgrades for longer cruising, comfort and peace-of-mind:
-New Raymarine chartplotter, radar, depthfinder, radio, autopilot, AIS and displays
-35 lb CQR anchor, electric windlass and 50-feet of 5/16 BBB chain with 150-feet of anchor line
-120 watt Soliban solar panel (zip in!)
-Dingy davits + aluminum RIB w/ Torquedo motor
-2,800 watt Magna inverter/charge controller, and isolated 8D house bank
If you could have any other boat, what would it be and why?
Don’t tell Belldandy, but there’s a looker of 48-foot deck saloon Tayana that sits for sale down at Shilshole Bay Marina. I’d love to have an offshore boat of that level to be able to take my family on an extended, multi-year cruise to the South Pacific.
What didn’t we ask you about your boat that you wish we had?
Not much. I really enjoy reading about other’s boats, so I decided that I should chip in my story.
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