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We’re already in Shearwater, BC! In the last two weeks, we’ve wasted no time traveling 400 miles to this northern village. What’s the rush, you might ask? Well, Haida Gwaii off the northwest coast is our first main destination and we want to get there. No dawdling. Continue Reading »

We said our goodbyes to Anacortes Marina on Friday, May 12, a couple hours later than planned. The 20-30 knot SE wind didn’t allow an easy departure; Sundown went every way but out.  So, we waited a couple hours for the wind to die down enough for us to get off the dock with some help from our friend David. (Thank you!)

From Anacortes, we enjoyed smooth sailing to Jones Island; it’s such a sweet little place. On Saturday we crossed Boundary Pass and checked into customs in Bedwell Harbor, on South Pender Island. Easy peasy. We love Canada! Our next stop was Walsh Island and Princess Cove where friends Chris, Dutch, Ruth and Harold were waiting for us. Check out the fun we had (thanks for the video, Ruth!).

After a couple of nights, Chris, Clay and I sailed on to Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, the last big city as we head north. Chris (who we met last year in Desolation Sound and who we’ll be buddy boating with all summer) treated us to an amazing dinner at Asteras Greek Taverna. It’s a “must try” if you’re ever in that town and want a great meal.

From Nanaimo we crossed Georgia Strait to Jedediah Island. Stern tying in Deep Bay was an adventure due to the way the current swirled through there. Once we had both Sundown and Chris’ boat, Puget Escape, secure in the ways we liked, we took off for a great hike and successful oyster mushroom hunt. Needless to say, dinner last night was extra tasty!

A motor sail up the west side of Texada Island today took us to Westview Harbour/Powell River back on the mainland. I immediately went for a run to decompress and check out the town. Clay and Chris beat a path to Powell River Outdoors, where Chris bought a fishing license and they both bought MacDeep lures, guaranteed to catch the big ones! We’ll see…

Tomorrow we’re heading to Hariot Bay on Quadra Island. There’s an historic waterfront hotel and pub, and small quaint community to explore.

Oh, and the weather has been amazing! Lots of sun, relative warmth and only a little rain. Life is good.

WorldMap

Where in the world is Sundown?
Look here!

Our sweet Sundown, a 1982 Hans Christian 33t sailboat, feels newer and more beautiful than ever. And she should as we’ve invested more time and several boat bucks (1 buck = $1,000!) into her over the winter. As we make final preparations to set sail for British Columbia this weekend, we thought you’d like to see some of what’s new.

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A Weems & Plath barometer to help us better predict weather (a generous gift from our friend Chris Bowman who felt Sundown wasn’t complete without it).

Sundown’s original Kenyon stove gave up the ghost…well, the oven did. And you know what time it is when your oven quits? Time to get a new one! We now have a shiny three-burner Force 10 (kind of like a Wolf stove for boats). The oven holds an accurate temperature and the stove top has pot holders to keep what’s cookin’ from sliding off the stove when under way.

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Because $@#! happens! Replacing the original hand-pump-to-flush head with a fancy electric one was the BEST improvement ever! Just tap the rocker switch and “swoosh!” Poo begone!

We installed a ProFurl roller furling for the genoa (the big sail out front). So rather than the genoa being attached to the head stay (the cable the runs from the top of the mast to the very front of the boat) with bronze hanks, which is very traditional, it’s now attached to a rod that runs the length of the head stay and rolls up around it. The photo on the left shows the hanked-on genoa in a down position and tied to the life lines. The photo on the right shows the genoa on its furling. Thank you Dave O’Connor of Bellingham Sails & Repair for modifying the genny for the new system!

We have Advanced Elements inflatable kayaks! Given our experience in BC last year, the farther north we traveled, the more limited off-boat physical activity became. There was nowhere to run, bike or even hike, and the water was too cold for swimming. Having a way to escape the confines of the boat, get exercise and feel independent will revolutionize this summer’s cruise and keep this sailor in a much happier head place!

A new-to-us cutaway Seagull guitar also has joined the fleet of boat toys. It sounds great and will help us stay in harmony as we sail on.

We’ve also done some varnishing, gel-coat repair, re-painted her boot strip on the last haul out and many other maintenance projects to keep Sundown as bristol as possible. If only we could all age so beautifully!

Many of our followers have been asking what we’re up to and why we haven’t posted anything new lately. Our recent weeks have been filled with work and more work, so there hasn’t much to write home about—except for one special event. Our son, Blake, is back in the U.S.A. from the Middle East where he was working as an EMT! HUGE answered prayer!!! Continue Reading »

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Clay on Sundown. Compliments of our friend April.

Happy New Year! The past several weeks have flown by and now we find ourselves on the light side of the Solstice, anticipating spring and another sailing season. Continue Reading »

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On Matia Island with Mt. Baker in the background

What a weekend! On Friday, we sailed almost the whole way from Anacortes, Wash., to Matia Island on the northeast side of the San Juan Islands. Today we retuned back under sail most of the way. Friday’s sail dealt us a little excitement when the wind did a 180-degree shift when we hit a little squall, but we managed (or I should say Clay did, as I was below decks indisposed…I managed to keep my balance!). Today’s return “home” was perfect. The sun was out. The wind was blowing on our nose steadily between 13 and 17 knots, Sundown’s sweet spot for sure.

While moored in Rolf Cove, we enjoyed the antics of a seal, some river otters and many birds. Hiking around the island proved to be a fungus fanatic’s mecca. We couldn’t identify the mushrooms we found as fast as we saw them. Therefore, we didn’t eat any of the shrooms, either. Better safe than off on some wild trip of the psychedelic kind.

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But the best part about the weekend was it gave us time away from the dock. Last year this time, we were exclusively sailing or motoring, and anchoring in hidey holes protected from the forecasted winds. We were constantly on the move, unsettled. It felt…well, unsettled and scary and perhaps a little too disconnected. This year, we have a home base in Anacortes Marina. We’re really liking this community and becoming known in small ways, but I think we also need to leave as often as the weather permits, to enjoy the serenity of island time and nature, as well as to keep up our skills. So we’re hitting a balance now I felt we lacked till now. Either way, we’re living aboard and feel blessed.

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Sundown at the end of a rainbow, Deer Harbor, Orcas Island, Wash.

Which day do we choose as an anniversary date? The day we left Fort Collins (Sept. 10)? The day Sundown arrived in Bellingham (Sept. 13)? The day we sailed away from Seaview North’s dock (Oct. 14)?

It really doesn’t matter, because at the end of the day, we’ve been living aboard and doing life different for a year. Wow! The last 12 months went fast. I remember thinking often, “A year from now, I’ll feel so much better and will have so much more experience.” And actually, both are true.

My take aways

So what’s different than a year ago? For me, a lot! For example, I don’t break down in a nervous fit of tears every time we start the engine, put up the sails or when I struggle to tie fenders on with a clove hitch knot. (Really, that did happen.) I now regard the sails as my friends; they stabilize the boat and provide a quiet, peace-filled ride when there’s sufficient wind to only use the sails for propulsion. When there’s not enough wind (see below), the engine and Grateful Dead provide a steady drone I try to block out.

I appreciate wind more than I used to. It’s always been the one element I dislike the most (So how funny is it I now live on a sailboat? Someone has a sense of humor!). Rather than being afraid of forecasted wind speeds above five knots, I now think “good sailing” wind is 15-25 knots. We don’t even hoist the sails unless we have at least eight knots of wind, because Sundown is a big girl! Her 15 tons of solid beauty requires more than a breeze to move her at any reasonable pace.

And finally, Sundown feels like “home” and living in a tiny house that floats suits me. We have everything we need and then some. Life is good.

Clay’s contemplations

One year living on Sundown. It is hard to believe! I remember the day we launched, as I walked over to the water with the boat hanging in the slings and felt so satisfied that all our hard work was going to pay off. I also felt a little nervous when I realized I’d never actually piloted the boat before. But when I took the helm to motor her around to the dock, she operated as expected.

When we left Seaview North’s dock last year on this day (Oct. 14), we motored due to lack of wind to Sucia Island where we’d been before. It was a 21-mile ride, which felt like a long day. We’ve sailed 2,574 miles since then, and some days average 50 miles or more.

It’s been a year of many firsts and a lot of growth. We visited many new places and made a bunch of new friends. And I feel like my relationship with Kim has grown in many ways. It has been amazing to see her become so comfortable with all the aspects of sailing.* We have had great adventures roaming through the islands both on land and at sea.

So as the sun sets on 365 days of living afloat, we’re looking forward to the promise of more adventures to come.

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*Editor’s Note: I only could have made it this far with Clay’s help. His calm demeanor when things get exciting and his saintly patience with my ineptitude as I stumble along on the steep learning curve I’ve been climbing has been remarkable. He is so knowledgeable about this whole boat thing and I’m immensely proud of him. Thanks, Honey!

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