Don & Sharry Stabbert

                                                                                             Don and Sharry Stabbert

Don and Sharry Stabbert are ocean cruisers who own and operate Starr, their 77′ Steve Seaton trawler. They have made ten crossings of the Pacific and one crossing of the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and Adriatic.

Don & Sharry run Starr without crew, however, they invite experienced sailor friends for any passages longer than 5-8 days. They know many passage makers where the couple do watches 6hrs on and 6hrs off but find that they start to get rummy after 5 or 6 days of running.
When making a passage running 24/7 with a single engine, it is imperative to have a person at the helm at all times looking out for other boats and drifting debris.  One of the biggest hazards is getting a net or abandoned lines in the propeller.  The helmsman must be ready to instantly pull back on the throttle if any vibration or engine rpm changes are detected.  For example, on the 2015 passage from Hawaii to Seattle the propeller twice picked up large drifting nets in the prop.  The boat was 1000 nm from any land and fortunately the net was able to be cut away.

Having departed Hawaii at the end of May 2018, they have just completed the passage from Honolulu to the Aleutians, Seward, Prince William Sound and then across the Gulf of Alaska to Sitka and south to Seattle covering 4600nm.

Below is a link to their most recent blog about Dutch Harbor–2018–Departed-Ballard-North–AKA-Dutch-harbor-at-0900-Alaska-time

They are currently at SBMC in Ballard preparing Starr for the 2019 cruising season. The next destination is the current topic of discussion. On the list are Mexico, Hawaii, South Pacific or just stay in Seattle and cruise the PNW for a while.

Guest Interview by James Ellingford

Don and Sharry Stabbert – MV Starr

                                             Starr.        Interesting name.              What other names did you consider?

Our previous power boats were named Skookum;, which means “powerful  and strong” in Pacific NW Chinook language (as in “Skookumchuck Rapids), but as this name would be hard for Port Captains or Customs Officials to understand and pronounce, we thought Starr would be better.

Previous boat a 47’ Bill Garden                     SKOOKUM a 47’ Bill Garden trawler

Previous boat a 63’ Ed Monk Jnr   Skookum a 63’ Ed Monk Jr

What’s the biggest mistake you have ever made on the water?

Relying on Vector charts when we found that they sometimes were missing critical data.  We now run both Vector and Raster charts at the same time.

Tell us a little something about Starr?

Starr is a 77ft long, 100T, single-screw boat.  We use about 150HP from our 400HP Cummins 855. The boat is interesting, in that when we bought her we noticed that the rudder activity was just not right.  I used to operate tugboats as a young man and I knew she didn’t feel normal. I talked to some naval architects and the guys we were talking to recommend that we go to twin rudders on the single screw.  Starr has (2)-12sq ft rudders that are placed 34inches apart on a 50inch propeller.  She now tracks like a slot car!

When we come across the Alenuihaha channel, the notorious channel between Maui and the big island, which as you know can get lethal, we were in 10ft seas, 5 second periods on our quarter but when you go down to the lazarette you see that the rudder only moves a few degrees either way. In the run from Seattle to Hawaii we had a Nordhavn owner on board who couldn’t believe the rudder moved so little while we continued to track dead straight.

(Sharry) – One of my favorite things to do on an Engine Room Check is to go into the Lazarette and wait, and wait, and wait to see if the tiller arm is really going to move.

(Don) Most recently, 18 mo.ago, we did a major refit which included cutting the stern off and adding 23½” to the stern and a lot more.

If you want to read the details go to:

MV Starr’s RuddersMV Starr’s Rudders, for more information see:

Now at this point I usually ask the question “Are you scared of spiders?”  however, in favour of Sharry’s suggestion which is to replace the spider question with “So what are you afraid of?” the usual question will no longer be asked.   So, what are you afraid of?

Hang on, I want to respond to this…I looked up Australian spiders and have decided that I am now afraid of spiders.

Sorry Sharry, that question is now deleted and will never be asked again in favour of your suggestion, so, what are you afraid of?

Sharry – This is going to be hard to believe, but I am afraid of drowning.  I have this huge fear of the water and as a matter of fact, I wouldn’t even take swimming lessons as a child. It all stems from when I was a toddler: my earliest memory is of going to the ocean with my family, and falling down in the waves, and being washed around under the water only to be rescued by my father scooping me up, wrapping me in a blanket and putting me in the back seat of a car. That’s my earliest memory, and to this day I still think I am going to die by drowning.

Don – Mean sharks, Nasty sharks, Bad sharks, any sharks but really nothing else scares me.

Don & Sharry enjoying a drink at Waikiki Yacht clubDon & Sharry enjoying a drink at Waikiki Yacht club

What’s your favourite photo ever taken while at sea and why?

Both of us agree that our favourite photo is one taken by Victor Grabner (N50 owner) on the passage from Japan to Hawaii in 2011; it is at that “golden” time of day when the sun is setting on the ocean.  He captured the reflection of the water and the sunset on the exterior of Starr’s Pilot House and life ring.

Photo taken by Victor GarbnerPhoto taken by Victor Garbner

What would you never leave behind (besides each other) when heading out to sea?

We both totally agree on this one, we would never leave behind our espresso machine.

Sharry tell us something about yourselves that nobody knows?

For me I think my fear of drowning is probably the biggest thing that nobody knows – I don’t usually tell that story.

As for Don, well most people don’t know that Don was raised on a ship from the age of three.

My father was the Captain on a hospital missionary ship that serviced the First Nations communities up and down the British Columbia and SE Alaska coasts. The ship was my home until I was 19.  My job from 14 years of age was working in the engine room as the engineer!  Remember, this was a 130ft ex-World War II mine sweeper; our ship was the sister ship to, Jacque Cousteau’s ship, the Calypso, and John Wayne’s, Wild Goose II.  The ship was powered by twin 500 HP Jimmy 268-A “screaming” 2 cycle Diesels, and had (2) 3-71 30KW Gen sets.

MV Willis Shank the boat Don grew up onMV Willis Shank the boat Don grew up on

What were the fondest memories from these times Don?

If the truth be told, because there weren’t other kids on the boat my age, but….. my fondest memories were that I was always doing projects, stripping down outboard engines, building or fixing something on the boat – while other kids were playing baseball I was rebuilding engines.

Don with his much loved outrigger canoeDon with his much loved OC-1 outrigger canoe

As you know, the crew of Pendana are headed to Alaska next year what advice could you give her crew?

Plan on more than a single season and take lots of warm clothes!  Trying to see the Pacific Northwest in a single season is like trying to see Europe in five days.

And finally, where to next?

Well, right now our plan is to take the boat back and forth between Hawaii and Seattle.  We look forward to our granddaughter getting older so she can come with us on longer trips – we would love to go back to the South Pacific with our grandchild.

Don & Sharry’s much loved grand-daughterDon & Sharry’s much loved grand-daughter Kat

Thank you very much for your time.

Good luck with your travels!