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Posts Tagged ‘cruising’

Glossary:

Haida (hI-duh) = the people
Gwaii (gw-eye) = islands
Haanas (hah-nus) = beautiful

Heck, Hecate Strait in the right conditions is a piece of cake! Using all the navigation and weather tools at our disposal, we timed our crossing of this infamous piece of water perfectly. We had no more than a SE 15 knot wind and about 1 meter (3 foot ) seas. We also crossed the shallow bar near the Queen Charlotte City entrance on Graham Island (like seven-feet-at-low-tide shallow!) at high tide, so never saw less than 21 feet under the keel. But it was cold; even the camel hair blanket I was wrapped in like a burrito and multiple layers of warm clothes didn’t stave off the chill.

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A deer swimming across Ogden Channel.

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Exploring Larsen Harbor before crossing Hecate Strait.

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Half way across the strait. No land sighted in either direction.

Once we docked, we went to the visitor center and were greeted by a man who’s lived here for 96 years, Sergius; he moved to the islands when he was 4! How cool to be welcomed by a centenarian and his partner, Maevis, who’s 74 and a retired teacher. Both were as sharp as a tack and very interesting to talk with.

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Serg, Maevis and Clay

We hung out in Queen Charlotte City until this afternoon taking care of chores again, like laundry and shopping for fresh produce. We ate dinner a couple nights at OV’s or the Ocean View Restaurant, Pizzeria and Pub, and per usual chatted with many people with interesting stories. Briana, the young bartender/university student from Ontario who’s working on the island this summer, and I became friends. We talked about all sorts of things while Clay and Chris played pool. I hope she’ll take us up on our offer and join us for a day or so when we come back north before crossing back over to the BC coast.

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Me and Bri

Yesterday we rented a car and drove up island to the town of Old Masset where we toured its maritime museum and then to Naikoon Provincial Park where we hiked out to the beach and waved to Alaska. Chris is from Pittsburgh and a hockey fan, so dinner last night was at the Yakoun Pub where we watched his Penguins win the Stanley Cup. Okay, the guys watched the game and I knitted. Much more productive.

Now we’re in Sandspit, just across Maude Channel from Queen Charlotte City till early tomorrow when we’ll begin our journey into Gwaii Haanas, a national park reserve, marine conservation area and an UNESCO world heritage site. Entry into this special area requires taking an introductory 1.5-hour class and getting permits. We did both this morning. The presenter shared protocols for going ashore at specific places, safety tips, general “leave no trace” principles and asked that we practice “yah’guudang” or “respecting all living and non-living things and the connection between them.” I like that, but wonder, “shouldn’t we always practice respect toward others and nature all the time?” Seems like a given to me.

While we’re on the subject of respect, I need to vent. I am sick of the lack of respect I receive as a woman in this nautical world. People assume Clay makes all the decisions and is the sole operator of the boat; they don’t look to me as a leader and that pisses me off. The latest example is from today’s intro class. The presenter showed the “captains” in the group the areas which are closed temporarily in the park. I wasn’t included. Really?!?

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I’m angry I feel I have to prove myself to gain even a little respect. If I had genitalia hanging between my legs, I wouldn’t have this issue, even if I did something stupid like run my boat aground in well-charted waters, like some MAN did here over the weekend. Granted, I don’t have the experience some other mariners do (including my husband), but I can’t help that; it comes with time on the water which I gain each day. What I do have, though, is intelligence plus common sense and a penchant to thoroughly process a situation, which lead me to make smart decisions. I’m not on this boat as a sparkly accessory; I’m an equal partner in an adventure of a lifetime with my life partner, and if I had to move this boat alone, I could, would and HAVE! Whew! I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point and my blood pressure’s a little lower.

Now, dinner’s waiting for me, cooked by the man of the boat—who’s often the galley slave—so I’ll sign off for now with a promise to post again next time we have connectivity. By then, we’ll have explored the amazing Gwaii Haanas, and will have many tales to tell and photos to share.

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Gwaii Haanas, here we come!

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Where in the world are we? Look here.

With weather still in our favor, we left Shearwater on Sunday, May 28, for “The Outside” (a.k.a. the eastern edge of the north Pacific Ocean). We sailed across Milbanke Sound and up the west side of Price Island (we’re pretty sure it was named for our friends Larissa and Jim). Along the way, we passed McInnes Island, a weather reporting station we hear about on VHF; it’s fun to see the places named on the radio. (more…)

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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. (more…)

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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.

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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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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…

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