by Kurt Hoehne

48 North | April 2019 issue

Kent Powley and Cathy Sherwood Report in from the Galápagos Islands

It will come as a surprise to some that Kent Powley and Cathy Sherwood are now full time cruisers cavorting with iguanas in the Galápagos Islands. The two had a long history of racing in the Seattle area, both on keelboats and their Tasar dinghy.

Cathy Sherwood has sailed Northwest waters for 35 years and was even commodore of the racing-focused Corinthian Yacht Club. Powley grew up sailing on the Great Lakes and raced on everything from dinghies to 12 Meters. He raced collegiately then in marquee events such as Newport-Bermuda, SORC, Annapolis-Newport, Chicago Mackinac and all the major Pacific Northwest Races including Swiftsure. As a youngster, Powley cruised with his family, and no doubt living in the Pacific Northwest set the cruising hook for both of them.

Having worked in the marine industry since 1989, Powley had a lot of experience to draw from in choosing a boat. While working for Marine Servicecenter, he commissioned several Jeanneaus and was impressed. After living aboard a 1990 Jeanneau 44SO for a couple of years, they upgraded to a 2005 Jeanneau 45SO with the plan of extended cruising. With their on-the-water experience and Powley’s systems skills, there’s no doubt Coquette is fully prepped for cruising.
Sherwood explains some of the boat buying considerations. “First of all, the construction quality, comfort, and functionality. But Kent also had to like to look at the boat!” The 45-footer has more interior living space and a larger cockpit than the previous 44. It didn’t go unnoticed that it also has a taller rig and longer waterline. Sherwood says, “being racers, we are performance oriented, so no bow thruster and no in-mast furling. Instead we have a Dutchman system to handle the main, since it’s pretty big.”

One of the biggest challenges so far has been the lack of wind. With help from friend (and Port Townsend Rigging owner) Lisa Vizzini, their cruise started with a long passage from Neah Bay to San Francisco in late August. After that, they did some California cruising before joining up with the Baja Ha Ha from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas.

They soon left Cabo San Lucas, which they describe as “our least favorite stop,” and spent December cruising Mexican waters including La Paz, La Cruz, and the plentiful great anchorages of the Barra de Navidad area. There were stops at Ixtapa, Acapulco, and Huatulco/Chiapas. 

From Mexico, Coquette headed to Bahia del Sol in El Salvador, where she spent most of January. “It has a great cruising community,” Sherwood reports, “and is very affordable and

wonderful to visit.” From there it was on to Costa Rica, with stops in Bahia Santa Elena, Playa del Coco, Manuel Antonio in Quepos, and Golfito. “Cruising is great in Costa Rica.” While here, they left Coquette briefly to join cruising friends as “line handlers” transiting the Panama Canal.

Powley and Sherwood wrapped up the Central American sojourn cruising through western Panama. “There is terrific cruising there. We wished we could have spent more time in this area.”

In March they made a 5-day-10-hour passage from Panama to  the  Galápagos  Islands.  Like  all  other  cruisers  stopping  at the Galápagos, Powley and Sherwood found the wildlife extraordinary, but that’s not the only thing. “The landscape     is amazing – so many volcanoes,” Sherwood says. They have found, however, that without a guide, their freedom to go around has been very restricted.

At the time of this writing, Powley and Sherwood are gearing up for their Pacific Puddle Jump. Their next landfall is going to be the Marquesas in French Polynesia. Their original plan was to head  to Hawaii, but now they’re thinking about Tonga and maybe Fiji.

What about jobs to come back to? “We both retired last summer – woo-hoo!” says Sherwood. With that kind of woo-hoo, a tall rig, and a long waterline, Powley and Sherwood can enjoy ample time in the South Pacific before heading back to further explore Central American waters whenever they’re ready.

Follow the fun adventures of the Seattle-based “Coquette” crew at svcoquette.blogspot.com or on instagram at sv_coquette.