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Archive for the ‘How to Live Afloat’ Category

Friends are made fast when cruising. Since we’re confined to a boat the majority of every day, it’s wonderful when we get to interact with people. (Yes, Clay and I have each other and we actually still like each other, but I’ve already heard all of Clays stories. He loves having a new audience.)

Our friends Bob and Sandy, who we met in Deer Harbor on Orcas Island, traveled with us for a few days when we first entered Canada. We window shopped in Ganges, hiked around Wallace Island, played cards and just hung out. Our time together with these kindred spirits came to an end when they decided their turn around point was just before Dodd Narrows. So Clay and I continued on as a duo until we anchored in Walsh Bay in Desolation Sound preparing to go through the Yuculta and Dent Rapids. That’s where we met our new friend, Chris Bowman.

Chris recently retired from running the nano fabrication facility at Carnegie Mellon University. He’s on solo trip in his 36-foot Catalina, Puget Escape. We became fast friends in the course of a week (was it only a week?)–eating dinner together every night while reviewing the next day’s weather and routes, listening to music and just getting to know one another. He’s super smart, well-educated, an experienced sailor and a pilot, so we appreciated having his opinion about conditions. (It was the old “three heads are better than two” theory at work.)

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Chris and Puget Escape sailing across Queen Charlotte Strait

It also was comforting having each other nearby to render aid if necessary, like when Chris’ dinghy painter got wrapped around his boat’s propeller and Clay got to use his newly honed propeller unfouling skills (see one of our recent blog posts for details). Or when we snagged an underwater logging cable with our anchor. Chris was preparing to help free us from the bondage just as we were able to unhook ourselves from the steel tether.

Clay and Chris also fished together. It was fun to watch the two of them head out in Chris’ RIB (or rigged inflatable boat, which is a big dinghy with a large outboard motor on it…think FAST!). They both sported large grins making them look like they were up to something, which I’m sure they were. Their excitement was contagious when they caught lingcod, black bass and rock fish, as well as crab and prawns. Together they laughed off the days the fish and the lures got away.

But the Broughton Islands are Chris’ turn around point. After a couple more weeks, he’ll head back south to Olympia, Washington, where he moors his boat. We are continuing our northerly passage bound for Alaska.

The frequent goodbyes are a bit sad, but on the flip side, it’s exciting to see who we get to meet and befriend next. Who knows, maybe we’ll even find our friend Steve Jones. If all has gone according to his plans, he should still be making his way back to his home in Craig, Alaska, and might just be around the next bend.

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I have to confess that I have some misgivings about this trip to Alaska. The scenery gets more breath taking, but the resources get more scarce. The farther north we go, the more I think I’m developing a case of fuel insecurity…as in diesel for the boat and food for us. (more…)

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CAUTION: This blog post sounds a bit like an advertisement, but I mean every word of it!

Can something be clean and still green? Absolutely! As long as the green isn’t mold. (more…)

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Arugula, spinach, mushroom pizza with garlic and olive oil on a homemade, GF crust.

What to eat? What to eat? We ask that of ourselves everyday. It’s not a question because it’s challenging to cook onboard Sundown, but because there are so many choices!

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Editor’s Note: This blog is longer than we prefer, but so much has happened since our last post. If you don’t want to read every word, we hope you enjoy all the photos we’ve included and get the gist of what we’ve been up to.

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Turn Point, Stuart Island

Winter in the San Juan Islands tends to be windy. We listen to the weather forecast everyday on the VHF and monitor the conditions on nifty apps like Wind Alert, because the weather is so critical to our travel plans. Should we stay or should we go?  Either way, it’s prudent to know what we’re getting ourselves into. (more…)

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Fancy fabric

One of the first things we did when we arrived in Bellingham in September was to seek out a sailmaker. We wanted to have the sails which came with Sundown (her original ones!) inspected. Right in Squalicum Harbor Marina, UK Sails has a shop and a very knowledgeable and experienced sailmaker, David O’Connor. (more…)

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weatherSailors for all history have taken advantage of the ebb and flow of the tide. Here in the Pacific Northwest, and in particular the San Juan Islands, the currents created by the tide have a profound effect on your movement by water. Depending on the time of day and location within the islands, there can be plus or minus two or more knots for or against you. In light winds, that means the currents could cause you to sail backwards! (more…)

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