Meet Sidekick, 1987 Nordic Tugs 32, offered at $65K
 
Note: Pics, Specs and Videos look best when opened on new tabs.(right click the image)

Specs

 

All sagas have a beginning, middle and end.

The Beginning.

The Thompson family bought Sidekick after deciding to downsize from a 50ft 1928 Ex-RCMP patrol boat into something more practical/relible and tougher. Before buying Sidekick in 2015, we chartered a Nordic Tugs 32 to determine if such a craft could meet our needs. The vote was unanimous! If there are two words to describe an older Nordic Tugs 32 they are tough and practical. Sidekick had been sitting dockside in Anacortes for 4 years because of paperwork problems. The boat was in the wife's name, she died intestate, then the husband died in South Americal, also with no will and no recognized death certificate. The final heir was a 24 year old son in California who had never even seen the boat. It took a lawyer six months to get Sidekick her new Coast Guard Registration.

A careful going over, a new bottom job, and we took moorage in Everett, where we cruised Sidekick through the San Juans, Canadian Gulf Islands and Desolation Sound.

After a couple years, my wife, Roslyn, had satisfied her curiosity (Roslyn is a Texas girl but, while we live in Dallas, I grew up on the West Coast). We put Sidekick up for sale in the Spring of 2017 and got an offer in about 2 weeks (75K), which, with some sadness, we decided to take. After fooling around with the buyer for a couple months, we unwound that contract and I decided instead to take Sidekick to Alaska, just for the adventure of it. Several friends asked if I liked Ketchican or "SouthEast Alaska" and I found myself saying, "Who gives a shit. I just want to make the trip. I'll let you know after I get there!"

The Middle

The trip from Everett to Juneau took about 3 years. We wintered over in Prince Rupert (2017), Ketchican (on the hard) (2018) and then in a Juneau boathouse we bought in 2019. Over the course of the trip, My boys and I have seen the entire BC coast and SE Alaska. From jumping porposes to fluking whales to bear cubs on the beach. From Whirlpool Rapids to Cape Caution to the Dixon Entrance. From the Misty Fjords to Holkham Bay to Glacier Bay. We seen rough seas and calm. Headwinds, tailwinds, sidewinds and no wind. We've toasted kindred spirits in every two bit town from Bucaneer Bay, B.C. to Gustavus AK. It was life changing without doubt. We could fill an entire website with pics and videos of all that we've seen. But, if you haven't been there, you need to see it off the bow of your own boat. There is no substitute.

The End

We had plans for 2020 but....Covid took that summer right out from under us. Sidekick has cameras and smart plugs with heaters so she can be managed from Dallas. She's cozy in her house. But as they say in Texas, we've ridden this horse and it's time to offer Sidekick to someone who yeans for the same experience of off-grid cruising to the fullest. Sidekick is not meant to be a "trailer queen" as we call about show cars that never get dirty.

A few more still pics


Comments on the equipment list and specs


1. Cruising speed and fuel consumption. Every boat has a sweet spot that balances speed with economy and noise. Sidekick seems happy at about 1600rpm and 7.5+ knots. I left Ketchican with a mostly full tank (200 gallons) and traveled 350 KM to Juneau, bouncing in and out of little towns and bays over several weeks. When I took fuel across from Aurora harbor, Sidekick still had about a half tank, and that includes running the diesel stove and slow cruising in coves and harbors.
2. Top speed. With a clean bottom, Sidekick's Yanmar can hit her 2400 rpm "red line" and does between 10 and 11 knots.
3. Berths. Specs show sleeping for four in a roomy v-berth and double berth settee. But the helm also has a comfortable berth, which is where I usually sleep when single handing. There are two deck chairs that allow seating for 5 around the settee.
4. Gear. Sidekick has a new downrigger and a complement of fishing tackle/crab pot. It all stays with the boat. There is foul weather gear, life jackets that stay on the boat. The dinghy is a light weight inflatable with a nice electric motor. We got tired of dealing with unrelaible two stroke dinghy motors. Sidekick has a 200 watt "suitcase" solar panel setup that attaches to the pilothouse roof or stores under the settee. The head is electric and almost brand new. The Dickenson diesel stove is fantastic, providing heat and cooking capacity. The power inverter is big enought to run the microwave, boil water or heat an electric skillet with the house batteries. The barbeque grill is the only propane device and we keep the bottle in the cockpit. The refridgerator is electric. We have a camera that can be used as a backup camera for docking on the port side or for viewing forward. The screen can be seen from the helm and kitchen/settee while single handing. There is a spare anchor and a second roll of anchor rode that also serves as a stern tie. We have a cradlepoint wifi on board that provides wifi wherever there is cell phone coverage. This device can stay on the boat if desired. The two fish finders/depth gauges have separate transponders, giving added backup when a sounder "winks out" as they do periodically. There are both paper and chartplotter charts from Seattle to Skagway. We cruise with a large format paper chart at the helm in conjunction with the chartplotter zoomed to about an hour of range.
5. New head: I've got a silly video of the new head, which I sent to my wife to prove I'd upgraded the potty. She didn't really like the manual head on Sidekick although a manual head has advantages. This new electric head has not had a butt sitting on it. After the install in 2019, I winterized the boat and drained the fresh water system. While the video doesn't show the entire bathroom, you can see that it's pretty nice :) More pics are on the way.

More pics of head sink, v-berth, engine bay, battery box, boat shed.
And someone asked about the dinghy. The oarsman is 6'2" and weighs in at 240. So, this dinghy was all we ever needed. Worth about 300 bucks. The pic was taken in Buccaneer Bay, BC. The boys and I had been to "sea" for a couple days and they spied what looked like girls on the beach. I stayed behind to watch the boat - didn't want to know what happened next.
A recent oil sample test was performed by a local expert hired by a potential buyer from Canada who had to withdraw due to COVID travel restriction. All "Green".

- a few travel pics -

Look closely at the chart plotter and out the window. Sidekick is rounding Cape Caution, an appropriately named landmark at the top of Queen Charlotte Strait. You don't want to make a mistake out there. Even a calm day has six foot seas.

I left Port Hardy at 3:30 AM to hit favorable wind/tide conditions. When this picture was taken, I'd been at the helm for at least six hours and needed another three before safely dropping anchor and taking a pee. In order to hit the seas at the best angle, Sidekick went within 200 yards of where Captain Vancouver grounded during his voyage of discovery in the 1790's. I could understand how it happened :) "If you haven't been aground, you haven't been around." And, yes, Sidekick has been aground. What did I just say about grounding? :) She grounded on her keel but it was superficial. She never took any water and the keel was repaired to spec at a top marine yard in Anacortes, 2018.

Here's a shot of Dylan at an abandoned cannery along the coast above Bella Bella. The next is a typical waterfall tumbling into the inside passage along a stretch of water affectionately called "the ditch".

No trip would be complete without inquisitive whales. There were two traveling by Sidekick near Kethican. Just saying hi. No other agenda that I could tell.

You may wonder why I'm showing travel pics and not concentrating exclusively on the boat itself. To us, Sidekick is both a boat and a means to an end. These pics reflect the end objective with the boat representing the means to that end. If you want a boat exclusively to enjoy cocktails at the dock, buy another boat.

Next, a shot of us at punch bowl cove in the Misty Fjords National Preserve. We had some tough weather getting in (4-5 foot beam seas), so we were the only boat at anchor for most of the day. Everybody else stayed home. ha. Sidekick is a tiny speck about a half mile out into the cove. Perfect weather after the storm blew through.



We did some hiking up to a mountain lake. I carried the machete while Steve had the bear spray. No bears sighted on the hike although we saw one from the boat later in the trip.
After an hour climb of maybe 1500 feet elevation, the lake was a classic. Not a soul anywhere but the two of us.

Back on the boat and out of protected waters, we did some salmon fishing, just to prove anybody can do it. We ate this little sucker because it was tougher to catch than you might think.

We have more impressive fishing pics but who doesn't?

- a few travel videos -

The vastness and amazing wilderness of SE Alaska is hard to visualize with still pictures, for two reasons. Things "happen" before you can grab your camera. And a single pic can't show the scope of what your senses are trying to absorb. So, I've uploaded a few brief movie clips taken about halfway between Ketchican and Juneau. These give a sense of the total immersion into the wilds that a boater confronts.

The first clip shows a litte herd of Dall porpoises helping guide Sidekick into Holkham Bay, on the west side of Stevens Passage. You'll see these videos best if you open to a new tab (right click on the video)

The second clip is a panorama of Holkham Bay once your boat crosses the bar. There was nothing but nature confronting us as Sidekick cruised in.

These next two pics show Sidekick's new home in Juneau's Aurora hardor. She's snug inside her boathouse with a nice front-deck, covered patio. The second pic shows Aurora harbor looking from the north. Sidekick is in the second boathouse from the shore in the first row. When Sidekick finds a new owner, the boathouse is also in play. A package deal would simplify things for anyone wanting to keep Sidekick in Juneau for a while

Since the boathouses are grandfathered into the marina and no new boathouses are allowed, these few existing houses are pretty attractive.
 

Here's a final picture of sunset over Gastineau channel, outside Juneau. It's easy to get caught up in the weeds of day-to-day, whether it's boating, beachcombing or beating your head against a wall. Somebody asked, "Why Alaska?" When we headed north, it was for the adventure of getting this far, without much concern over what we would find.

Roslyn snapped this pic on her cell phone about 300 feet from our boathouse, the last night of her last visit in 2019.

Well? Any questions?

 

Is it all over except the crying? For Sidekick, hopefully not.
But cry if you want to. :)

That actual moment, captured in this image, is etched forever in my little wandering soul.

Let me leave the travel pics with two poems written while venturing north on Sidekick. The first was written in a fit of relief over having rounded Cape Caution in reasonable seas. The second was written after emerging from peasoup fog after crossing a bar out of an inlet whose mouth was bone dry at low water. Inside the inlet, it was just Sidekick and yours truly with the motor off drifting around on water so calm the stars reflected right back at you. The trick was getting in and out. Over the bar, high water is not calm. You've got water flowing both directions creating sets of whirlpools - just to keep you on your toes.

 

Separately, I'm shooting for $65 (Sidekick) and $25 (Boathouse). A package deal? Let's talk.

Rex Thompson
rex@smu.edu

One tiny piece of advice: When I buy older real assets including boats, bikes, cars, RVs and recreational property, I always try to vet the current owner. My goal is to assess both his/her credibility and character/skill set/knowledge base. If you'd like to see our shop in Dallas and examine other projects we've chronicled over the years, go to www.AtTheWorkshop.com and click on the various tabs. It will give you a good sense of who you're dealing with. My advice is always, "If you don't feel comfortable with the current owner, don't buy the asset unless you're the smartest guy in the room." Feel free to drop an email with questions. We have a qualified boat mechanic and expert on Nordic Tugs available in Juneau to show the boat.

- Q&A -

This section addresses questions sent to my email about Sidekick and the boathouse. My goal is to be as truthful as possible - to insure that potential buyers are really excited about the boat AFTER inspection :)
0. Specs: The spec sheet contains most details of how Sidekick is outfitted. To see it clearly, open it in a new tab and zoom in. Do this for the pics also.
1. Electronics: The electronics (furuno radar and fishfinders were new in 2016. I replaced the chartplotter in 2018). The marine radio, waterproof handheld radio, Robertson autopilot, all function as they should. The boat has a nice sound system with speakers at the helm and the salon. I replaced the sterio with an Alpine that has a screen. See the pic of the camera (facing forward as it feeds into the Alpine "backup camera" screen). This is visible from the galley and settee. In backup mode, the camera faces backwards along the Port side to assist in docking.
2. Genset: Sidekick does not carry a genset and I've never wished for one. When at anchor, the 200W solar keeps the batteries charged and the 3,000 watt inverter can run the appliances as needed. The boat motor heats the hot water tank when not on shore power.
3. Bow Thruster: New in 2016. I can't recall the exact specs but it works perfect.
4. Engine hours: Specs show a bit under 5900 hours. Let me comment on this. The original owner of the boat was an avid fisherman and he propped the boat to troll 4 Knots at about 1100 RPM. Most of the hours are trolling hours. Sidekick had a second set of engine/transmission controls in the cockpit, which were removed. Everybody has their own opinion on things mechanical, but experts generally say that wear on a diesel is a function of how much fuel has run through it. Engines run at full speed (say, 2400) burn two or three times as much fuel as when run at fast idle. If you examine the pic of my feet at the helm, the Yanmar is running at 1700 rpm, you can see that oil pressure is good. After sitting for a while (months), on startup the engine smokes a bit till it warms. After that I haven't noticed anything important. Update on engine wear: A potential buyer from Canada who had to withdraw due to Covid travel restrictions had a local expert inspect the boat and send an oil sample for analysis. The oil report came back green with no recommendations for further anything. I've posted the oil report.
5. Dinghy: Sidekick has an 8' Avon inflatable and a modified electric trolling motor (shaft cut down so it fits the dinghy) with 12v AGM battery. This system works perfect for me. I can easily lift the dinghy onto the cabin top when cruising. The motor is quiet and never gunks up like two-stroke dinghy motors after the winter. The stern pic shows the dinghy and a 2hp merc outboard. That motor failed me one too many times and now resides in Gorge Harbor (at the bottom).
6. When last hauled: I put Sidekick on the grid last summer, cleaned the bottom, touched up the bottom and replaced the zincs. This would be a good year to completely repaint the bottom.
7. Timing for sale: I'm a patient seller. I'm booked to visit Juneau May 15-22, remove personal items and give Sidekick a good clean and a short goodbye cruise. A perfect time to meet potential buyers would be May 19 (afternoon)-21st. We can go over all the systems with sea trials-surveys and so on at that time. Our goal first and foremost is to find Sidekick a good home. I won't sell the boathouse until Sidekick sells and, as I mentioned earlier, a combination sale would be perfect if someone wants both assets. But I'll put boathouse buyers on a waitlist until the boat sells.
8. More interior pics: I'm working on getting more pics soon. Hey, I've added a few more now.
9. Leaks: Sidekick's bilge pumps kick in rarely. The stuffing box drip is normal. Above deck, one needs to attend to routine caulking at the deck fittings. When we wintered over in Prince Rupert we developed a leak at the chimney, which discolored the headliner because I didn't notice it for like 4 months. That leak was easily stopped with caulk in the screw holes that fasten the chimney flashing to the cabin top. We had a small leak at the funnel mounting, which was also completely stopped with fresh caulk. The portholes have leaked a little until recaulked now and then.
10. Deck-fiberglass issues: When I bought the boat, the survey showed that the cockpit fiberglass had some deterioration from two sources. One was the stern control box, which was mounted on top of the lazarette. Water was leaking into the lazarette and along the underside of the cockpit floor. The second source was inadequate caulking around the deck hatch in the cockpit floor. Removing the stern controls and caulking the hatch stopped the leaks. But with two people in the cockpit you could feel some flex in the cockpit floor. So I built support from the keel to the floor up next to fuel tank. This solved any flexing in the floor. When we wintered over in Ward Cove outside Ketchican, there was a fiberglass shop in the marina. I asked the owner to look at the cockpit floor and make arrangements to reglass as needed while the boat was wintering over. He opened the hatch looked at my supports and said, "Why? What you've done is all you need and it should have been there in the first place. No need to fiberglass anything." The support is easily removed if, for some reason, the fuel tank has to be removed. The only other place to watch is the windlass because it is secured with deck fittings that should be caulked now and then.
11. Last survey: Update: The potential buyer from Canada had a careful inspection when the oil sample was taken. The expert was Steve Birkinbine who used to have a charter business chartering Nordic Tugs. His report, which the buyer thought was quite good, is available somewhere, but I don't have a copy or I would post it. When/if I get one you'll see it here.
I had a survey in Anacortes when we bought the boat in 2016. There were a few little things that I fixed myself easily. In April of 2018, we considered selling Sidekick because my interpid wife had decided she'd like to explore other vacation ideas :). The boat was surveyed as part of that deal. No issues were raised about the fiberglass or structural integrity of the boat (normal wear & aging for a boat her age) , but the surveyor attempted to create a bargaining tool for the buyer by flagging a lot of silly stuff. He said the windlass needed replacement ($6K), the bilge pumps didn't have float switches ($1K), the exhaust pipe needed reglassed ($1.5K), the anchor line wasn't galvanized ($1K), and the SS shaft should be pulled and inspected-replaced ($3K) Here was my reaction: I flew to Anacortes and greased the deck switch for the windlass (9 minutes of my time), replaced one float switch from inventory on board, no new wiring required (35 minutes), put a rubber sleeve over a tiny leak in the fiberglass exhaust (1 hour of my time and 10 bucks for parts). I pointed out that the anchor chain is Stainless Steel, the best money can buy. Asked why they thought the shaft needed replacement, they said it just should be checked and replaced if needed - no symptoms. The cost of pulling the shaft to inspect was the same as the cost of the shaft! The young buyer was "worried" that he wouldn't be able to use the boat that summer.
My response was to take Sidekick to Alaska with nothing more than I had already done in about 2 hours of routine shit. He was not the right buyer. I invited him to be present while I "fixed" everything but he didn't show up. When I handed the salesman the "for sale" sign as I was about to pull off the sale dock he said, "I'm not sure you can do this." I replied, "What do you mean? Are you saying you don't think I can singlehand this boat out of your slips here?" They never called to complain that I terminated the contract with Nordic Yachts to list Sidekick. I found out later that the "buyer" was a friend of the salesman. Both of those surveys are on the boat so I'm approximating the exact details.

12. Could I bring Sidekick back to Seattle? Maybe. Could I spend some time with a new owner showing him or her the ropes. Of course.

Here's a Reference Guide to some of the systems on the boat. It leaves me feeling a little inadequate trying to explain things in thin air. This doc will be updated in May as my memory sharpens. It's a start.

Sidekick Systems Reference Guide