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Bob Hansen Interview

By Kevin Koenig

Bob Hansen is an industrial farmer from Madera, California. Up until five years ago he had never owned a boat larger than 14 feet. But then a medical close call made him realize his dreams of the nautical life weren’t promised—and that the time he had left was fleeting.

Power & Motoryacht: You don’t live anywhere near the ocean do you?
Hansen: Nope. Madera is about 100 miles from Monterey. I grow grapes, almonds, and pistachios on an industrial farm there.

Power & Motoryacht: So what was your impetus to get a boat?
Hansen: My wife had brain surgery in ’07. She had a meningioma—a nonmalignant brain tumor—and she’d been having seizures for 20 years and they finally diagnosed it. She had surgery in San Francisco and I told her if you get out of this I’m going to buy a boat.

Power & Motoryacht: That’s pretty cinematic!
Hansen: Yeah, I had an uncle who was a Marine in World War II, and he once told me you’re given two yard sticks in life, 72 inches, and every inch is a year. So we were 62 and we looked at our yardsticks and we were like, “We only got ten inches left, we better get going.” I mean, if it’s not you, what if it’s your wife? You don’t have to die, what if you have a stroke? I’m getting my memories in while I can.

Power & Motoryacht: Wait, so was your wife into boating?
Hansen: No, not at all. She’s from Canada and grew up ice fishing. But I had taken her sportfishing and she loved it just as much as I did. So it was an easy sell.

Power & Motoryacht: So then what, you’re a real newbie at this point, right?
Hansen: I found a great broker on the West Coast, and I literally went from a 14-foot aluminum boat to a 60-foot Hatteras. The broker really helped me and we purchased her in June 2008 in Florida. Then we hired a captain, and took it up to Beaufort, North Carolina. And we stayed there for the summer and then come the fall we went down to the Bahamas, Harbour Island. We did Christmas down there. I never knew what Junkanoo was. I mean can you believe that, not knowing about Junkanoo?

Power & Motoryacht: Yes. I can. What is Junkanoo?
Hansen: Oh ho ho! It was in James Bond, man! All the islanders dress up and it’s this big festival and it is so much fun. They do it at Christmas and New Year’s in all the islands. And now we’ve taken our children and grandchildren to see Junkanoo.

Power & Motoryacht: So how do you mainly use your boat these days?
Hansen: We live on the boat four months a year. I dock her in Puerto los Cabos in Mexico. We put about 400 hours a year on her motors. We go up to La Paz in the summer and go snorkeling and diving. I do fishing tournaments here. We were in the East Cape Bisbee last year with my son, son-in-law, and two grandchildren, and my son-in-law’s father. So it’s a family affair.

We have done things on this boat that my children and grandchildren will never forget. We saw a space shuttle at Cape Canaveral go off from the boat. My grandkids have handled lines going through the Panama Canal. I mean, imagine that? It’s been such a joy for us. Some people say with boating the most joy comes the day you buy it and the day you sell it—that’s not me. I intend to wear this thing out.

Power & Motoryacht: What’s your advice to someone with a similar dream?
Hansen: Everybody dreams to do this, but people just don’t for whatever reason. I’d like to be an inspiration for people who sit there and are like, “I’d like to do this but the sun isn’t right and there’s a cloud over there, maybe, so I’ll hold off.” No you got to go do it.

Because my uncle was right man, you only get 72 inches.