Cruising Off The Beaten Path – A Rocky Start

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While awaiting the splash of our new FPB, we have acquired an enhanced photographic tool: a Toyota 4-Runner. To get a head start on the learning curve of what this beast is capable of and what we should avoid, we turned to off-road aficionados Mary and Scott Flanders. The Flanders are compulsive photographers, who circumnavigated aboard their Nordhavn 46, Egret.

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We spent a few days in Moab, Utah with the Flanders, working our way up the ladder of difficulty. We learned about “airing down” our tires for better traction and a softer ride over less than optimal road surfaces, how to maneuver over and around various types of terrain, and a host of other useful tips.

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Occasionally we’d stop and enjoy a meal.


The purpose of this exercise is to get ourselves into position for better photography. Taking the road less traveled can offer multiple rewards, such as the tonic provided by the photo above after four hard hours driving.

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We look at the 4-Runner and its over-sized tires, four wheel drive, low gear ratios, and disconnectable sway bar the same as if we were on a boat. We’ve got the ability to wander in search of a perfect photo, with the capability to get ourselves out of situations that could trap a less well endowed vehicle.


The rewards so far have been substantial. Like this healthy looking coyote in Death Valley.


Flowers are not something we would associate with Death Valley, the lowest place in the Northern Hemisphere as well as the warmest and driest (less than two inches/50mm of rainfall per year). But the spring holds promise.


And while our previous SUV could take us to some of these places, it was never with the peace of mind that comes with the 4-Runner. This in turn tempts us to be more adventurous. Rather like a well designed and properly fitted out yacht gives its owners the ability to look past the mundane and towards the fulfillment that comes when you find your dream.

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The Flanders are one of only a few cruisers who have circumnavigated on a motor yacht. That they did so leaving the five Southern Capes in their wake is remarkable given their craft of choice. Scott and Mary have a website, which is chock full of interesting stories and practical advice. Check it out at

Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 16, 2015)

9 Responses to “Cruising Off The Beaten Path – A Rocky Start”

  1. Colin Rae Says:

    Hi Steve, a bit harsh about the boat of their choice surely? We can’t all afford (or want) one of your outstanding boats!

    Anyway, they made it round the five Southern Capes safely so that must say a lot about the integrity of their little boat. Or am I missing something?

    Best regards,


  2. Steve Dashew Says:

    Hi Colin:
    Circumnavigating via the Southern Capes is no mean feat in any craft much less a small motor yacht. Our comments were not meant as an indictment of the Flander’s Egret, but as a compliment to Scott and Mary’s seamanship and determination. We’d say the same if they accomplished this on a well found sailing yacht designed and built for work in the high latitudes.

  3. Gene Says:

    I have to agree with Colin…we recently went to see a Nordhavn 55 in Dana Point California and although it is not the exact type of boat I want, when I mentioned the work you are doing with the FPB series the Gentleman from Nordhavn had nothing but nice (and respectful) things to say. However they were intended, your comments hit my ear as a solid insult as well.

    Your boats say everything that needs to be said…can’t beat the view from the high ground.

  4. Steve Dashew Says:

    The Flanders are good friends and their routing with any yacht would have been an accomplishment. That they did with the orginal Nordhavn 46 makes this even more so. We would say the same if they had done it with one of our yachts, sail or power. For the record, this writer thinks the Nordhavn 46 the best of that breed. The way Scott and Mary have Egret set up puts her at the top of their class.

  5. m.voorhees Says:

    Nice ride, sir. Does that model 4R have Toyota’s DAC feature? I’ve found it very useful in inclement weather as well as traversing rocky terrain.

  6. Steve Dashew Says:

    Hi Michael:
    The 4 Runner has the lockable differential, adjustable suspension, and crawl speed control.

  7. Rick White Says:

    You should go to the Overland Expo in 2 weeks in Flagstaff. You can learn all kinds of new things to do with your new toy!

  8. Steve Dashew Says:

    Thanks Rick:
    Will try.

  9. Chris Says:

    I’m sure you’ve visited, which is THE website on overland travel. Here’s a recent article about your new rig: