The 10,000-Nautical-Mile Cruise

David and Sue Ellen Jenkins are breaking in their 40-foot power catamaran — on a 10,000-nautical-mile cruise.

September 9, 2017
Alaska, Yachting
Knot Wafflen’ cruising Alaskan waters this past summer. She is bound for California in the fall and Florida in the spring. Peter Robson

I never wanted a boat to be a flowerpot in the water,” says David Jenkins, quoting a neighbor in Annapolis, Maryland, to describe his own feelings. “The purpose of a boat is to use it.”

That’s why he and his wife, Sue Ellen, are on a 17-month shakedown cruise of massive proportions: 10,000 nautical miles, the West and East coasts of the United States (plus British Columbia and Alaska), until October 2018. What better way to use their 40-foot Aspen C120 Knot Wafflen’?

I know what you’re thinking: In a boating world full of nautically themed puns, the name Knot Wafflen’ is pretty special. David was in the waffle business for 30 years as owner of Carbon’s Golden Malted. “If you’ve ever had a Belgian waffle in a restaurant and the machine flipped over,” David says, “there is a 70 to 80 percent chance it was our equipment and our flour.” He sold his company in 2012, so he literally is not “waffling” anymore, and the k-n-o-t spelling choice reflects that he’s no longer tied up in business.

Alaska, Yachting
Knot Wafflen’s christening. Capt. Blake Eder

A long-standing admiration of Aspen Power Catamaran founder ­Larry Graf’s boat designs led the ­Jenkinses to their C120. Graf, who cruised a self-designed, 26-foot powerboat from ­Virginia to Bermuda in 1996 (the first completed Bermuda Challenge), was also the inspiration for the extended shakedown cruise. “I knew Larry was an adventurer,” David says. “So I approached Larry with the idea to take [Knot Wafflen’] from Anacortes to Annapolis.” Graf was on board, and Blake Eder, David’s brother-in-law, agreed to be Knot Wafflen’s captain.

“It was our first major waterfall, so that was sort of like a first date.”

David Jenkins, Owner, Knot Wafflen’

The first leg out of Washington State was a 40-mile jaunt to the San Juan ­Islands, where the ­Jenkinses, according to ­David, encountered Sue ­Ellen’s favorite ­experience so far: On Sucia Island, they kayaked into an area bursting with Canada geese, goslings and herons. “[It was] all in one panoramic shot that was 40 feet away from us,” David says. “It was just amazing, just amazing wildlife.” These two are avid kayakers, so they’ve casted off from their versatile vessel as often as possible on this cruise.


After the San Juan Islands, Knot Wafflen’ headed north into British Columbia, cruising first to Chatterbox Falls inside Princess Louisa Inlet. “It was our first major waterfall, so that was sort of like a first date,” David says.”It was very, very gorgeous going in.”

(Left) The Jenkinses kayak off Sucia Island. (Right) One of Knot Wafflen’s first waterfall sightings. Capt. Blake Eder

But the Jenkinses’ first date wasn’t their last. David says that, for him, the true highlight of the trip so far was Kynoch Inlet in the Fiordland Conservancy. “That’s where I kayaked with 20 otters,” he says, as well as saw waterfall after waterfall, with 20 new thousand-footers, born from the rain, sighted on the yacht’s way out. “Oh boy, another waterfall” became a commonly heard reaction to those usually coveted views.

The Jenkinses are voyaging to some destinations only accessible by boat, like Fiordland and Tracy Arm in Alaska. “We are able to get to places that are undeveloped that you wouldn’t be able to see any other way,” David reflects.


And the journey to far-flung ports isn’t over. Next up? Cruising south into the Sea of Cortez, where David says he looks forward to new adventures. For now, he says, his favorite port is simply “the next one to come.”


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