Getting settled in Anacortes. Working (yep, that “W” word). Sailing. Connecting with friends and wildlife. We’ve had a lot going on and it’s all good.

Since Anacortes, Wash., will be our home base for the winter, we’re trying to get connected. We bought used bikes (both for $140 and then another $160 to outfit them with new tires, tubes, carrying racks and fenders from the Bike Spot…cheap transportation and my favorite kind!). This week, Clay and I are going to the town’s bike and pedestrian advisory committee meeting. I’m going to worship band practice at a local church I visited. We’re excited to see how we can contribute!

I’m also now a regular at the Fidalgo Artisan Yarn Company. If Alice is parked outside, you know I’m inside knitting up a storm or buying more yarn. I used one of the store’s wonderful hand-dyed, super soft alpaca/wool blends to make a hat for one of our boys, Stewie (Kyle’s college roommate). I also finished a lace scarf while there; it’s made with Lambspun‘s hand-dyed Prism, another yummy yarn, and is gracing the neck of one of my Fort Collins friends. I also recently finished a Carradal shawl, made with another beautiful local yarn that I bought at Bazaar Girls in Port Townsend last spring.

Clay’s working part time at the Marine Serviecenter and has other offers of work. His reputation for being a master craftsman and amazing shipwright is spreading around town.

We’re not staying in our Anacortes Marina slip all the time, however. We just took a week and sailed around the San Juans. Deer Harbor Marina and Jones Island were among our stops. We enjoyed visiting with DH staff and hunting for morel mushrooms on Jones. We didn’t find morels, but did identify a new-to-us mushroom, the strobilurus trullisatus, or what we named the Pinecone Mushroom. The deer on Jones were extra friendly; they encircled us as we entered the apple orchard, clearly wanting our help getting apples from the high-up branches. We didn’t indulge them; they were a bit indignant.

One day, after participating as presenters via Skype in a conference that took place in Fort Collins about the Third Age (see pp. 26-27 for an article I wrote about the topic), we picked up our friends Amy Lewin and April Stutters, and their exchange student, Chiarra, who’s from Germany. (They were on Lopez Island.) Together, we sailed over to Vancouver Island to Butchart Gardens. What a beautiful place with interesting history. I recommend it to anyone traveling in that area.

Once we bid the group farewell, Clay and I sailed back to Friday Harbor to check into customs. While on the dock waiting for clearance, who should sail up but our good friend Chris Bowman–we met him in Desolation Sound last spring. He’s back in the area for a couple of months, so more fun is sure to come! One of his first requests was a blackberry pie, so I made one for him with fresh Washington blackberries. He and Clay enjoyed it for dessert and breakfast. Spoiled men!

So we’ve been busy, but at the end of the day, we often enjoy beautiful sunsets. We’re truly blessed.



A: I got to have both in one day!


Little did we know our trip to Anacortes to help friends work on and clean up their new-to-them boat would lead to so many exciting things! But first, let me backtrack.

When we returned from our July trip to Colorado, we didn’t know where we would head next or where we’d spend the coming winter, but we had faith our intended path would become clear just like it has throughout this whole adventure so far. Alas, we haven’t been disappointed.

That’s what friends are for

The first place we headed after working on Sundown in the Seaview North boatyard in Bellingham was Anacortes, Wash. We went there to help our friends Bob and Sandy work on their new-to-them Roughwater motor yacht.  It’s a 1983 and needed a lot of cleaning, painting, varnishing and repairs. We’ve been happy to help!


We also connected up with some friends from Fort Collins! Mary Carraher, Will Moore, Diane Westervelt and Jeff Pape. They were vacationing on Lopez Island and we sailed over there to meet them. Sunset beverages and tapas were enjoyed by all!

Gotta float the boat

When we returned to Anacortes from Lopez via Bellingham where we picked up our new solar panels which are now installed, Clay had the opportunity to interview for a job at a local boatyard, Marine Servicenter. They hired him on the spot (NO surprise given his amazing skills, work ethic and experience). So far, he’s built out their office with a new multi-desk area; laying a new teak deck on the owner’s boat may be next. It’s as much of a job as he’d like it to be—part time, full time, whatever. But we can’t anchor out in Fidalgo Bay when the weather turns bad, so we put ourselves on three waiting lists for a slip. Ancortes Marina, which is located right next to Clay’s job spot, came through in record time. Clay’s boss introducing him to the management didn’t hurt, but I believe prayer for the right spot trumped that connection. We’ll be moving into our slip by Friday, Sept. 9. Don’t think we’ll be tied to it permanently, though. We plan to cruise the San Juans and back up to Canada for fishing as much as possible.

You may be wondering why Clay got a job. Here’s why: while my income floats the boat, I don’t make enough for extras like trips back home and boat upgrades (e.g., solar panels). Having Clay contribute to our income will be nice. After all, he’s been goofing off for a year; it’s time to pay the piper! Also, it’s always been our plan to work a bit and then cruise a bit, at least till we’re old enough to draw from our pensions, so Anacortes is our first pit stop for the work part.

Bikes are back

Since we’re staying here at least through the winter, acquiring some ground transportation seemed reasonable and there’s NO better kind than bicycles! Clay found potential options on Craigslist and this morning those potentials became ours! Clay has a Norco (Canadian made) 2 X 6 (12 speed) and I have a circa 1980s Diamondback Ascent 3 X  6 (18 speed). They both needed a little lovin’ so we went to the Bikespot during today’s Open Streets event (Yes! This town just hosted its 3rd annual open streets event!) and got hooked up with fenders, bike racks to accommodate our panniers, and new tires and tubes. Thank you, Nick and Carolyn (Bikespot’s owners)! For $300.00 TOTAL, Clay and are are back on two wheels!



While cruising down the street, we also met the woman who coordinates Safe Routes to School programming for Skagit County, as well as the guy who chairs the area’s bike/ped commission. He and I are having coffee in a couple of weeks. (I’m trying to contain my excitement here!)



So, it seems we’re meant to be in Anacortes and we can’t wait to see what the next few months hold in store and how we get to help this wonderful town become an even more robust bike friendly place! I’m actually feeling rather giddy…like a little kid at Christmas!


The lesson here is that if you prayerfully leave yourself open to possibilities rather trying to script every move you make, wonderful opportunities show themselves. Thank you, God, for giving us this new twist in our adventure! Oh yea, and thanks for the chance to wash my hair today! It’s the little things…


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

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.

Continue Reading »

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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