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I learned two valuable lessons today. Well, was reminded of two things I already know:

1. Always wear gloves when sailing, just like when I’m bicycling! Gloves will protect my hands from the sun, rope burns and injury from tending lines and sheets.

2. Don’t think you’re stronger than a jibing mainsail–even if it’s an intentional jibe. You aren’t and never will be.

My right-hand ring finger’s second knuckle has a “skin flap” that Clay said would either heal if he splinted it or if I got stitches. I chose the former. And I will not forget to wear my gloves next time we sail!

The last five weeks or so have been non-stop action! First, we sailed (or motored when there wasn’t much wind) from northern British Columbia to Bellingham, Wash., in nine days—two of those days we sat out weather on the hook. So in seven travel days we did about 375 miles. When you go five to six knots an hour, that’s 50-60 miles a day, and 10- to 12-hour days. Whew!

After securing Sundown on Squalicum Harbor’s dock, we took a shuttle to Seattle, flew to Denver and then drove to Fort Collins with one of our sons. We’ll take the traffic in San Juan Channel in July over that on Interstate 25 any day!

The next three weeks was filled with lots of family, friends and fun. We cuddled with our dog; paddled, biked, ran and swam; cooked for dozens of people multiple times; celebrated birthdays; ate at our favorite restaurant, Los Tarascos; worked (yes, that “W” word); and more! While we went home rather emergently, everything/everyone ended up being fine.

Now we’re back in Washington. The first few days here I was on deadline and cranked out several magazine articles and columns. While being home afforded me time for face-to-face meetings and working at Unite for Literacy‘s office with my colleagues, all of which are very valuable, I didn’t get much time to write. So once we arrived in Bham, my keyboard almost ignited I was typing so fast!
On Monday, we had Sundown hauled out, pressure washed and blocked at Seaview North. She sat on the hard in the boatyard for a couple of days while we performed some routine maintenance, such as:
  • Replacing the cutlass bearing on the propellor
  • Making sure the engine was aligned properly (it was)
  • Replacing a couple zincs
  • Re-painting her hull and boot stripe
  • Buffing her topsides
  • Polishing all of her stainless steel rigging, and finally
  • Cleaning the deck and windows.
The pressure wash peeled up the “N” on one side of Sundown’s transom. Clay called  Graphic Partners in Loveland, the company who made our port of hail lettering, and they are shipping another set of letters to us ASAP and free of charge! Thank you, Shavon!
And while we were in Fort Collins, Dave from UK Sailmakers made small adjustments to our mainsail and genoa. He’s also serving as our postbox here in Bellingham. We appreciate him very much!
So, Sundown’s shiny, ready to sail and we’re off to Anacortes, Wash., to meet up with our friends Bob and Sandy. They just bought a new boat and want Clay to do some work on it. We like that town and love “Sob and Bandy,” so it will be a good time. We’re hoping Clay can get more work while there to help pay off the extra expense of our trip home and the boatyard bill. Time will tell.
pauseLife has been on fast forward for years–either dreaming about, working toward or living this adventurous sailing, cruising life. But alas, it’s time for us to pause and make a trip home to Colorado to visit family and friends, and for me to work a bit there.

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We’re having a wild time here in British Columbia!
In Ocean Falls, Clay made friends with a seal while setting a crab trap. After he vacated Lightfoot the dinghy, the seal hopped in it. I’m going to start calling him the seal whisperer. (Make sure your sound is on and the volume is turned up!)
One day we were “bear-ly” dressed in Eucott Bay’s hot spring (check out the map below). While soaking in the rock-rimmed “tub,” we watched a grizzly on the opposite shore. Once back on Sundown, we saw another grizzly and two black bears!
The next day, Clay went out fishing in Lightfoot. I stayed behind to work and am sorry I did, as he had a close encounter of the whale kind. He says he didn’t know whether to try to get to shore, make a run back to Sundown or just stay put. He choose the latter,  and to hold on tight to the dingy and his bowels.
We’ve also enjoyed the company of Pacific White-sided Dolphins, many kinds of birds and some sea lions. Here’s to living life on the wild side!

Where in the world are we?

Roscoe_morning_01Towering granite domes and walls rising out of the sea. Messages in the form of pictographs from ancient First Nation peoples on some of those same walls. Hundreds of waterfalls careening thousands of feet. Rock fish caught with almost every cast. Not another boat sighted for days. This is what we found in Roscoe Inlet.
At the recommendation of Gary and Sharon Robinson, a couple who follow our blog and also are from Fort Collins (they’re retired Colorado State University professors in electrical engineering and pathology, respectively), we ventured up Roscoe. We met them in Shearwater. Gary was ready to catch our dock lines as we arrived, excited to say “hello” and let us know he follows us online. We were pleased to meet him, too. (Actually, Kim  almost jumped off Sundown and hug Gary because she was so happy to encounter someone from home. She thought better of it, though, sparing us all an awkward moment.)
Roscoe Inlet is truly an amazing spot. Gary said it resembled Yosemite National Park; I was a little skeptical. As we wound our way deeper into the channel and turned corner after corner, the scenery got better and better, and my skepticism vanished. We went from Yosemite landscapes into the realm of the Lord of the Rings. The things I wanted to share with Kim in Prince William Sound (PWS) was the awesome snow capped peaks, waterfalls, eagles, whales and solitude. True wilderness. Here in British Columbia (BC) we have encountered all of these things. In PWS, the cliffs were not so spectacular as here, but there were glaciers. There are glaciers here in BC, too, we just haven’t gotten to them yet. In PWS there was a sense of true wilderness. (Well, in 1980 there was wilderness and I imagine PWS is still relatively wild.) Anchored at the head of Roscoe Inlet, we were so deep into the wilderness and remote, we didn’t have VHF reception.
The Valdez oil spill occurred after I was in PWS. Even still, environmental impact was evident, unfortunately. For example, I learned to start fires in the rain using creosote timber washed ashore from docks. We encounter the same leftovers from logging and fishing here in BC. It’s astonishing the amount of garbage left behind by those industries. And the pictographs of the First Nation people that lived in this inlet that we think are so magical are just graffiti of another era.
Had we gone onto Alaska or even out to Haida Gwai, we would have missed spending time in this otherwordly place.
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Sundown in Emily Bay.

I woke the morning we were going to make the next big leap north toward Alaska feeling confident and ready. But as we crossed the north entrance of Raymond  Passage out of Shearwater on Denny Island, I had an overwhelming gut feeling we needed to immediately change direction. I said as much to Clay and we did. Rather than continue out and around Price Island and up Hecate Strait, we went the opposite direction up Return Channel (the name was not lost on me) to Emily Bay in Briggs Inlet. It’s a beautiful spot surrounded by granite walls and high forested mountains with a small river at its head. Perhaps, for whatever reason, north British Columbia is meant to be our destination, not Alaska.

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Clay scantily clad on the beach?

When we’re not sailing, you probably imagine we’re strolling on white sand beaches at sunset, dipping our toes in the surf. Actually, we’ve only walked on two sand beaches in our journey so far and we had our Bog boots on. One of the beaches was about 100 yards long by 50 feet wide until the flood tide when it shrunk to about 100 feet long and 10 feet wide, but there was sand, nonetheless. The other was during gale force winds (34-47 knots knots) with rain coming down in sheets. It was marvelous! We HAD to get off the boat that day after being cooped up for a couple previously, so we dressed in our foul weather gear and dinghied to the Hakai Institute landing in Pruth Bay to hike to the west side of Calvert Island where we could check out the Pacific Ocean. Then we hiked to the island’s northern shore—just because we could. Continue Reading »

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