Portrait of a Cruiser: Andy & Julie Nemier
Andy and Julie Nemier are full time power-boat cruisers on board their Nordhavn ’62 Infinity. Having left Vancouver in 2013 they are “loosely” circumnavigating and are currently in Australia. Although they mainly cruise double-handed their son and daughter do sometimes join them on board for long passages.
Published 3 years ago
Names of Owners: Andy & Julie Nemier
Crew: We were fortunate to have our daughter Chloë with us as far as Hawaii, and then both Chloë and our son Kal for the passage from Hawaii to Tahiti. But most of the time it’s just us, husband and wife team.
Boat Name: INFINITY
Boat Type/Model and Size:
Ocean-going trawler ‘NORDHAVN 62’ – 20m LOA, 5.8m beam, and draws 2m at full load displacement of 77Te. She was built in Taiwan in 2001, and is hull number 18 of the 37 built.
Your Home Port: Vancouver, Canada
How did you start cruising?
Julie was working in the movie industry as a make-up artist in the summer of 2000, which meant that I was the ‘stay-at-home parent’ for the kids’ summer holidays. I tried to keep the kids occupied with fun things to do, so naturally that involved a visit to our local marina. Call it fate perhaps, but the perfect boat for us (at the time), just happened to be for sale! When Jay had finished work for the day, I brought her to the Marina to have a look. We signed a contract for the boat that same afternoon. She was a Newport 27 Flush-deck sailboat, the first boat we owned, and we loved her. For the next 4 years, we spent all our free time sailing up and down BC’s inside passage.
Describe what sort of cruisers you are:
We are now (more-or-less) full time power-boat cruisers. I still have to work, but my work is in an industry which enables me to fly out to a project or contract, to top-up the cruising kitty. Julie usually stays with INFINITY while I go to work, but occasionally she flies back to Vancouver to visit the family, or tend to home-life matters (taxes, doctors, etc)
What type of cruising are you doing currently?
We left Vancouver in 2013 with the very loose plan of circumnavigating. Nordhavn’s are specifically designed and built to cross oceans, in luxury. Since 2013, we have enjoyed 29,000 nautical miles under INFINITY’s keel.
What were the key reasons you selected your current boat?
The dream of travelling to distant & foreign shores with our own boat would just not go away. The notion started in 1982 as a 17 year-old in College, which grew to an itch that just had to be scratched 30 years later. By this time, Julie and I were on our 4th boat, and we both wanted to explore the option of cruising in an Ocean-going Trawler. We wanted the protection of a Pilot House, and the ability to transit 2200 miles, without actually doing 3500 miles. We also wanted something robust, strong and fit-for-purpose.
At the time (2012), 3 manufacturers stood out that had ocean capable vessels in production. Kadey-Krogen, Selene, and Nordhavn. After 2-years of incessant research, I then selected Nordhavn as our next boat. They are purposely built to safely cross oceans and had a certain tangible pedigree and quality that I wanted in our life. We eventually narrowed our search to the iconic ‘Nordhavn 62’ which has lived up to all expectations. When Julie first saw the N62, and how she could make the vessel our floating home, we were sold.
She’s the perfect ‘little ship’ which has also become our home. There is space to stretch out, store personal items, and display ornaments and pictures as you would in a regular home. Inviting guests onboard for any length of time is never an issue. Everyone has their own space, and everyone has their own bathroom.
All engine HP ratings are designed for commercial duty, and all fuel is pulled from a polished dedicated day-tank. We enjoy the salty look of the N62, which the long cambered foredecks allow it to shed water like you imagine it would. There is plenty of space for the dinghy and enough real-estate to safely launch & recover it using the 1500lb hydraulic Davit. We cruise at 7.5 – 8.0 knots, burning 6 gallons an hour, and hold 2500 gallons – so any ocean crossing is possible. After 7 years of ownership, I’m still amazed at how capable, and incredibly stout the N62 actually is.
What other boats have you owned?
We’ve owned 4 other boats: a 27’ Newport flush-deck sailboat, a Catalina 36 sailboat, a 17’ Northstar jetboat, and a 50’ Cruisers 5000 (1200 HP)Sport boat.
What changes have you made to your current boat?
There are ‘oh-so-many’ changes we’ve made to INFINITY. Many were made out of necessity, but most were made just to make the vessel ‘our-own’.
So far we have tackled: upgrading the vessel’s sanitary system, stripping and reconditioning the teak decks, reupholstering the upper aft-deck seating area, installing new stainless steel vessel signage, making new canvas covers everywhere, totally redesigning the salon seating, galley counter-tops, and pilot-house seating, building a new master-stateroom TV cabinet, replacing all overhead panels, installing new screen doors, installing a deck shower, installing new navigation and weather electronics, installing new batteries, and replacing several worn-out hydraulic and electrical motors.
Most useful equipment fitted, and reasons for this choice:
Iridium-go for weather and emergency comms, and an Ipad for redundancy in navigation. The dive compressor also has been great for both underwater maintenance, and pleasure diving.
Equipment regrets, or things you would do differently:
None. All equipment on board is specifically purposed and well thought out. We have sufficient redundancy in all equipment and carry enough spares to ensure we can always be underway when desired. I would say we are hardly “unstoppable” as per Lin & Larry Pardey, but we seem to have things dialed-in for world cruising.
Perhaps the only negative aspect I have found on board, is that cruising in general is not a holiday, it is an adventure. And this takes a lot of work. By the time we reached New Zealand, we had ‘over-boated’ and required a well-earned break.
List the countries you have cruised:
Canada, USA, Mexico, Hawaii Islands (Oahu, Big Island, Kuwaii), Kiribati, Bora Bora, Tahiti, Moorea, Tuamotus (Rangiroa, Fakarava), Cooks (Rarotonga, Aitutaki), Fiji, New Zealand, New Calednoia, Vanuatu and Australia.
Future cruising plans:
Our cruising plans are always made in the sand, at low water. God willing, (and barring all other life-decisions) our next destinations could be the Kimberley’s at the top of Australia, followed by the Indonesian Islands, and then on to Singapore. That should get us into 2021, and we’ll take it from there.
List the oceans/seas you have crossed: North and South Pacific Oceans.
Approximate sea miles: 29,000 nautical miles.
Scariest day on the water:
The scariest day on the water for me, actually turned out to be while we were sitting at anchor. We had been at anchor in this location for a few days experiencing endless tranquility, and the forecast indicated continuing great weather. So, somewhat unprepared, a vicious local weather system passed right over us. Seas rose over 5m with breaking waves, while sustained winds rose over 50 knots, and howled through the rigging.
INFINITY was pitching up and down wildly and then BANG! The anchor chain ran out uncontrolled when part of the snubber rigging failed. I knew that the short sacrificial length of rope securing the bitter end would snap like a piece of string. I flew out of the Pilothouse in terror and grabbed a length 1” nylon line that was fortuitously laying on deck. I had to work fast as the chain was flying out of the hawsepipe. I bent the line on with a rolling-hitch and secured it to our centre-cleat. It held – Thank you God! The reef was just 30 meters behind us!
Two more lines soon joined the chain. Now that that was in-hand, Julie and I went around the boat securing everything. It was kind-of a disaster really. The Flopper-stoppers were both deployed and there was no way we could recover them now. They held strong for many hours but the 6mm stainless-steel wire harness eventually parted.
So there we were. Connected to the seabed, pitching and rolling wildly for the 12 hours the Storm Force winds lasted. By luck, I installed separate retrieval lines to the Flopper-stoppers, so we were able to recover them as conditions allowed. It was an altogether horrible experience and probably the worst boating experience we’ve had to date.
My mistakes were foolishly trusting one weather source, and anchoring too close to shore. It was the first time I had ever done that and I got properly spanked for it. In my defence, the storm was not forecasted by PredictWind, nor NOAA, nor BouyWeather, but it WAS predicted by the local Surfers’ forecast which I was not monitoring at the time.
Top tip for all coastal cruisers out there who wish to anchor close to shore – check the Surfers’ forecast!
Best cruising moment:
We have had so many of these… and that is exactly why we continue to cruise. Early in our cruising days on INFINITY, we swam with whale sharks in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. This incredible and unexpected experience opened our eyes to what sort of adventures were possible with cruising.
A year later, while making our first Pacific Ocean crossing, I had one of those emotional moments of Gratitude. INFINITY was cruising at an easy 8 knots, the only sound you could hear was the swishing of water flowing past the hull. The sun was dancing off the sparkling seas, and there was a gentle Pacific breeze cooling us down. I had the hammock set up on the bow, and as I sat in it gently swaying with the vessel movement, my daughter Chloë read to me. Right then, at that moment in time, life was perfect. Thousands of miles away from land, in our own little world, I felt blessed.
However, our best cruising moment has to be diving the “wall of sharks” in Fakarava, Tuamotus Islands. We set out in darkness at 0530, and suited-up as dawn approached. We hit the water at 0600 and made our way to the edge of an underwater valley. You could actually see the morning shafts of light piercing the water as they brought light to the crystal clear water. Countless dark images appeared as the light grew stronger, and they were sharks. Hundreds of white tip sharks were feeding on the nutrients that the turn-of-the-tide brought through the pass. Julie and I were both awe-struck with the magnificence of that moment.
Favourite cruising area and why:
Hawaii and Fiji.
I was so impressed with Hawaii and the ‘Aloha spirit’ that one day, when we eventually retire from active cruising, we will return. Perhaps lay down some roots there.
But if I have to pick only one area, I would pick Fiji. Fiji is so natural, so beautiful, lush landscapes and crystal-clear water. Yet, it has all the modern advantages (communications, banking, etc), with none of the unpleasantness of modern society (crowds, fast-food, etc). Markets are abundant, no one in Fiji goes hungry, no one. And largely, the islanders are very happy to see you. The locals and cruisers mix with warmth and hospitality. We spent about two months in Fiji, with about 6 of those weeks at anchor. I had some work to do on our hydraulic windless and was able to order the parts from NZ, and install and test at the dock. What a great place!
Believe it or not, I believe the best anchorages are in British Columbia – not more than 50 miles from home! They are a different sort of deal to the tropics that we are used to, but the Inside Passage offers 100’s of unique, safe hidey holes in the middle of God’s mountainous splendor.
However, you cannot beat the clear waters, and protection of Musket Cove in Nandi, Fiji. I distinctly remember paddle-boarding around the cove and thinking I was in my personal heaven.
Isle de Pins (Isle of Pines), New Caledonia was also a great spot, and certainly worth a mention here.
Favourite cruising apps:
iSailor – bought out by Wartsilla in 2018, so is now called Wartsilla Sailor. It’s a full vessel navigation package for the iPad, and has become my most trusted navigation device (honest). In its latest form, you lease the charts yearly, but they are updated as required, so you know you have the latest charts available.
GPS HD MotionX – An application (again for iPad) which charts your position LIVE on a Google-Earth map. This app was invaluable for navigating through areas of Fiji where there are no charts available. You literally pick your way through the reefs by zooming in and positioning your vessel between the bommies as you go. This was surprisingly accurate, and an unexpected bonus to our safety. Obviously, we used our eyes as our number one nav tool, but knowing what I know now, I would not consider navigating through the Tuamotus islands or Fiji without both those applications. For those interested, our main charting software is NobelTec, Ver. 9.0
Favourite cruising websites:
Noonsite.com of course!! I also follow many of the Nordhavn owners who have their own websites. But most of my time online in spent on Forums, which are the lifeblood of cruising information and ‘How to’. I consider the Nordhavn Owners’ Group (NOG) the “Oracle” of cruising under power. Many, many smart people hang out there, and I love learning.
Favourite cruising books:
I have read every word Jimmy Cornell, Webb Chiles, and Lin & Larry Pardey have ever written. Jimmy for the “how to” and the Pardeys and Chiles for the inspiration. They have enabled us to go far, and go safe. I would also recommend all books written by Steve and Linda Dashew. These are the iconic pioneering cruisers of our time.
What advice or message would you want to pass on to anyone new to cruising or thinking about casting off the dock lines?
My advice is: Do it. Go now. Do not wait for the right time, as there seldom is the right time. ‘Life’ has a habit of getting in the way. Just know, that hundreds before you have done this, and it is possible. You will get help from the cruising community wherever you go. Friendships formed between cruisers at sea have a special bond that seem to last a long time. It’s special actually. Make it happen – 2020 is your year!
Why cruise? What is it that inspires you to keep cruising?
Personally, I enjoy the freedom that full-time cruising provides. You’re able to travel to places that are only possible by boat, under your own terms, with your own vessel, answering only to nature. There is something so wholesome about it and (hoping I don’t sound too cliché), I feel a greater connection to the universe when at sea. I have to say cruising is certainly a lot of work, but when you are anchored in that pristine secluded bay, at peace and with all your needs (wife, kids, food, water, etc), nothing can beat this feeling, and we welcome the opportunity for more.
Any other comments:
We have been sailors for years, and even have a small inflatable catamaran onboard for fun. However, when we were seriously preparing ourselves for ocean crossings, moving to a power vessel seemed to be the right choice for us. Our sailing experience has made us more well-rounded cruisers, better prepared for a life at sea, and we still employ a sailors mentality. I suggest though, for those cruisers who wish to cross oceans safely, and in comfort, then they may wish to consider the option of cruising under power. Julie and I certainly feel privileged to have experienced both.
Andy & Julie Nemier
- Sue and John Woods of MY Solita were our first motor boat owners to take part in this series.
If you think you have an interesting story to tell and would like to take part in our Portrait of a Cruiser series, please contact Sue at [email protected] for a questionnaire.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of Noonsite.com or World Cruising Club.
Related to following destinations: Aitutaki, Australia, Bora Bora, British Columbia, Canada, Cook Islands, Fakarava, Fiji, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Hawaii (Big Island), Ile des Pins, Kiribati, Moorea, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Oahu, Queensland, Rangiroa, Rarotonga, Society Islands, Southern Cook Islands, Tahiti, The Whitsunday Islands, Tuamotus, USA, Vancouver, Vanuatu