Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Home: Winding Down, Settling In, Taking Stock

Ghostly sunrise from the St. Helens City docks where we waited
to get re-accepted at our former Portland OR marina.
How the heck did I manage to let 4 weeks slip by since my last post?!?
Astoria Bridge, behind us we work our way up the Columbia River.
I left off posting when we were headed back across the Columbia Bar; blissfully another non-event across the "graveyard of the Pacific" thanks to Wayne's excellent planning and some good luck.
Mt. Hood welcomes us home as we wend our way from the ocean up the Columbia River
toward Portland Oregon.
We arrived back in the exact same Jantzen Bay marina slip we left in the summer of 2018. 
A dock in the middle of nowhere between Cathlamet and Longview.
We stopped overnight to cruise rather than buck the tides.
Ultimately, it was the cold weather and our tropics-spoiled blood that prompted us to get back on the grid to heat our boat more thoroughly than our main cabin propane heater can. For us, that means plugging in an electric space heater and a heated mattress pad. What can I say? Now anything colder than 70 degrees F now feels cold!
Approaching the Longview Bridge. Not far from St. Helens, where we waited for our
live-aboard approval for a slip in Portland Oregon.
We've been on the move since May when we left Florida with my Prius packed to the gills with what last bit of stuff that didn't fit, moved by Greyhound. It's easy for the time to fly when there's a healthy list of stuff that's harder to do when you don't stay in any one place for long.

To name a few... 
Smook, a very affectionate kitty who was kind enough to
welcome me to his home for a house-sit.

  1. filling out the 5-page 2-point type document to get re-accepted into our former marina as live-aboards
  2. setting up a PO Box (as our marina doesn't accept mail)
  3. getting caught up on our snail mail
  4. moving into yet one more very small storage area (goal -- digitize my photos and dump the storage area)
  5. starting to catch up with friends and family
  6. tracking down some less mainstream personal hygiene items,
  7. replacing some of my more threadbare clothing and adding some items for colder weather
  8. acquiring some mail-order odds and ends
  9. setting up to house-sit with Trusted to get in my pet fix and to get off the boat a few times this winter (and just finished my first stint today)
  10. getting an extension for completing my online marketing class that required more regular wifi connection that I could spare for classwork(due now the end of the year)
  11. working on a few freelance writing projects...

Latourell Falls, part of the Gorge Scenic Highway waterfall loop.
Our unexpected reward for returning before November is the most vivid fall colors I can recall in my 20+ years in the Pacific Northwest. While the weather's been chilly, often dropping into the 30s overnight and not getting warmer than the mid-50s most days. But, we've had mostly sunny skies, little rain, and not much wind.
We scoped out the dock area at Beacon Rock, further up the Gorge, for future reference.
It was a treat to make a couple trips up to the Gorge, take in the sights of the area that lured me up to the Northwest back in the late 80s, and get in some great hiking.
Bridge by Bridal Veil Falls, Columbia Rive Scenic Highway waterfall loop.
What next? Well, there's always boat work to do!
Wayne, doing brightwork on the boat over the summer. Other projects await.
Beyond that, we're open. 

I've got a couple presentations to make on our sailing adventures. 
Image from
Eventually, I need to decide what is the "one through message" for my book that will inspire me to pick it back up and finish writing it.

I'm leaning toward developing my freelance work while finding other ways to re-connect with the community around me so I feel like I'm doing more than just passing through.

At the same time, I'm incredibly grateful to have the luxury of options and time to figure it out.
Portland's chock-a-block with cool murals. This one was in the Goat Blocks, by Market of Choice.
Location Location
We're back in Jantzen Bay Marina (N45 47.449 W122 47.189), Portland Oregon.

Up Next
I will do a roundup of our most recent cruising, how far we went, the highlights, etc. - unless I can't resist doing a post with some more "beauty shots" of the Gorge scenic area first.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Red Sky at Morning Sailor Take Warning?

Grays Harbor coastline this morning.
"Couldn't we just [deleted] and go back to sleep?" Wayne, groaned, wistfully. We both knew better. It was 6:30 am. And dark.
Moonrise over Westport Marina, Grayland Washington.
We're working our way home to Portland Oregon, where we expect to roost off Hayden Island, Jantzen Bay. This morning we left Westport Marina, Grayland, bound for Ilwaco, Washington.
Dawn as we left La Push, Washington, yesterday.
"That is one angry-looking sunrise," Wayne observed. "Maybe the sun was protesting getting up, too," I replied, knowing full well how much Wayne is not a morning person.
Dusk view from Quileute Marina, La Push Washington.
Yesterday's sunrise was almost as spectacular from La Push, where we once again took our best guess at first light departure timing.
Dusk from La Push, WA.
Wayne described the La Push sunset as "World class." I agree. We enjoyed from the window at River's Edge Restaurant, for a rare meal out. We don't fish. La Push is a fishing town. I figured it was the freshest salmon dinner I could get. It was. In the cozy warmth of the restaurant, I decided to enjoy the sunset without whipping my camera out. Even the far tamer view at dusk was still pretty spectacular.
Guardian gets a guardian on the NOAA boat next to us at Quileute Marina, La Push Washington.
Normally, we bolt from Neah Bay, cruise about 22 hours straight, cross the Columbia Bar and head into Astoria (or vice versa, on the way out).
Cape Flattery Lighthouse, between Neah Bay and La Push Washington.
This time, thanks to some amazing weather, Wayne's working the rubik's cube exercise on the best time to cross the Columbia Bar, we're taking our time. Plus, like a child dwadeling over bedtime, we are reluctant to end this season's cruising to tuck into the cave-like covered moorage in Portland Oregon.
These rocks off Cape Flattery reminded us of nature's version of Easter Island's statues.
Timing the tides, currents and available light, it's been early to rise, up and out, several mornings in a row. 
Olympic mountains view from Port Angeles City docks.
Many of our most magnificent views were not capture-able by camera, like the whimsically named Graveyard of the Giants. But then, that's what travel is all about, right? Otherwise, we could all just never leave our screens, and take in the world digitally. 

It is not the same as being there. If anything, this trip has intensified our desire to hike the Cape Flattery area, and wander the "enchanted" Elhouwa Valley.

Where has traveling inspired you to travel more deeply?

Oh -- that "Red sky at morning, sailor take warning. Red sky at night sailor's delight."? Wive's tale. Those fiery sunrises have been just as much a delight -- other than our sleepy eyes getting a bit fried from the sunshine.
Rough guess on a Google Maps satellite view of our location at this posting.
Location Location
At the moment, we're two and a half hours outside Grayland, Washington, bound for Ilwaco, by Astoria (N46 43.5 W124 11.8). We still have wifi.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Touring the San Juan Islands with Friends

Wayne takes Ponghki, Frodo and Pete on their first foray dinghy to
Pete's childhood summer hangout, Saddlebag Island, San Juan Islands, Washington.
"You gotta work on your camera technique," Wayne chided. What he meant was a way to take photos unobtrusively. He is right. Nonetheless, it's a rare event for Wayne to catch up with Pete, his friend all the way back from high school. I had to take at least one keepsake shot - even if it looks like Wayne's missing some front teeth (he's not). This was our first ever overnight hosting aboard our trawler, Serendipity.
Saddlebag Island, Washington State Park, San Juans.
Pete, Pete's fiance Pongkhi and her Havanese, Frodo are all based in Seattle. We picked them up Friday eve in Anacortes, in a driving rainstorm. Pete suggested boyhood haunt, Saddlebag Island, less than 3 miles from Anacortes. It had been at least 15 years since Pete's last visit there. 
Colorful collection of seaweed at Cypress Island's Pelican Beach, San Juan Islands.
Our next stop was one of our favorites, Cypress Island. Everything was new for Pongkhi and Frodo, and this was also Pete's first stop on Cypress. We anchored off pebbly Pelican Beach, as it was closer to Eagle's CrestPelican Beach a popular stopover for kayakers, with a campsite, fire ring, covered picnic area and composting toilets.
Salamander on Cypress Island's trail to Eagle Cliff from Pelican Beach.
We spotted two salamanders on the trail to Eagle's Crest.
Waist-high ferns at lower part of trail from Pelican Beach to Eagle's Cliff (or Duck Pond),
Cypress Island. San Juans.
The ferns along the trail were lush and tall. Even though the sun was out, the trail was dark underneath the forest canopy of Douglas fir and red cedar.
Overlook near the top of Eagle's Cliff trail framed by a tapestry of trees and shrubs.
Cypress Island, San Juans.
Though it was definitely fall jacket weather, we were grateful for the sun. 
Fern on Cypress Island San Juans showing its fall colors.
The autumn foliage was gorgeous.
Coral mushrooms alongside the trail from Pelican Beach, Cypress Island, San Juans.
Pete was wishing his mushroom-hunting chef friend was there to advise us. Pete knew these coral mushrooms, technically, were edible, but had an overly strong laxative effect. We took only photos.
Red cypress perched on mossy hillside, Cypress Island, San Juans.
The light was glorious where the trail broke into the open.
View off Eagle's Crest summit. Cypress Island, San Juans.
I love the emerald colored water from this panorama spot at Eagle's Crest summit. The trail is closed spring through summer as that's when eagles nest there.
Pete, Pongkhi, Frodo and Wayne at Eagle Crest Summit gazing Westward, Cypress Island, San Juans.
The top of Eagle's Crest makes for a great lunch stop as well as a truly phenomenal view. Others say it's the best-ever site they've seen sunsets, but that would mean hiking back in the dark.
Sailing "race" standstill between current and lack of wind. Zoom view from Eagle's Crest summit.
We were amazed to watch a sailboat "race" from Eagle's Crest summit. Eventually the sailboats gave up and motored so they'd make it back before dark.
Eastern (backside) view from Eagles Cliff summit, Cypress Island, San Juans.
The view from Eagle's Cliff when you look over your shoulder is also respectable.
Serendipity on mooring ball, Pelican Beach, Cypress Island, San Juans.
Mooring is free off Pelican Beach. Eagles Harbor, on the other side of the island is usually more popular for boaters. 
Dusk view Mt. Baker and Cascades from our boat off Pelican Beach, Cypress Island, San Juans.
Photos can't do justice to the spectacular snow-topped view of Mt. Baker. And this was taken from the deck of our boat!
Tall ship/schooner sailing the San Juans. Viewed off Pelican Beach, Cypress Island, San Juans.
Pete's sailed tall ships, so it's no surprise this beauty caught his eye.
Frodo does his happy dance, his leash wrapped around Pongkhi's legs.
Pelican Beach, Cypress Island, San Juans.
Frodo's "happy dance" is hilarious. We're glad his trip to Pebble Beach rated one.
Pete, no stranger to sailing or the San Juans,  scopes out the view from Serendipity's bow.
Pete spent his early years and childhood summers in the San Juans. This was his first experience cruising to from "the dark side,"  a sailboat rather than a trawler.
Pongkhi and Frodo enjoy San Juan Island sightseeing from Serendipity's bow.
Everyone got along well, despite the tight quarters. Even Frodo adapted well to life aboard, albeit only a two-day stint. As Monday was a work day for Pete and Pongkhi (and Frodo usually joins her at work), we parted ways at the Anacortes-bound Friday Harbor ferry dock on San Juan Island. 

We hope to do this again with Pete and Pongkhi and Frodo!

For a great summary of where to sail, hike and kayak in the San Juans, click here.

Location Location
We're currently moored off Port Angeles city docks, N48 07.249 W123 25.657. Tomorrow, weather permitting, we sail 52 miles to Neah Bay, then day after, 22 hours nonstop from there crossing the Columbia Bar into Astoria.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

What a Contrast! Urban Anchorage > WIldlife Wonderland

NW corner of Fossil Bay, Sucia Island, San Juans, Washington.
Two favorite anchorages, back to back that couldn't be more diametrically opposed. False Creek, Vancouver BC was totally urban, and we were right in the heart of it, between a stadium and a massive geodesic dome housing Telus Science Museum. We left False Creek to make way back to the USA, tying off at a mooring ball on lovely Sucia Island.
Kelp circles. Sucia Island, San Juans, Washington.
Sucia can be reached only by boat or plane. It's an 814 acre marine park, primitive, with a couple docks, mooring balls, potable water, outhouses, covered pavilions, a small bunkhouse, and an attractive trail system. It's very calm and quiet. We came there to ride out a blow.
Intriguing rock formations and madrone. Sucia Island, San Juans, Washington.
Even though the skies were leaden, I couldn't resist a kayak.  Two bays over, in Echo Bay, I startled a harbor seal as I rounded the corner into the bay.
Harbour seal pup, not much more than three feet long. Echo Bay, Sucia Island, San Juans, Washington.
Turns out, he (or she) had lots of company!
Another seal pup -- there were three in the area. Sucia Island, San Juans, Washington.
Working my way down the finger of the bay, I came across three seal pups hanging out on the rocks. The adults kept close eye on me and my kayak from the water. I'd turn around and as many as three would sploosh back into the water behind me. I couldn't tell if they were playing with me, or keeping guard on me because I was closer than they were comfortable to their pups.
River otter swimming, Sucia Island, San Juans, Washington.
Back at the boat, two river otters were having a great fishing day. They came as close as five feet from out bow. There were part of a family of five otters, which we watched scramble up a hill ashore.
Yum yum. River otter feasting. Sucia Island, San Juans, Washington.
The otters had a voracious appetite, coming up for air with a new fish each time, which they made short work of. They must be the hummingbirds of the water - eating their own weight in food!
Heron takes off. Sucia Island, San Juans, Washington.
There were several herons, each staking out a hunting spot, standing stock-still until they speared a fish. They are generally rather skittish if they believe anyone is approaching their area.
Floating feather. Sucia Island, San Juans, Washington.
The gulls made a surprising array of sounds, from the usual screech, to a cry that sounded like dogs barking. While not the most beautiful bird, seeing a seagull feather float across the water struck me as especially elegant.
Location Location
Fidalgo Yacht Club filled Sucia Island Fossil Bay's Western dock with their rally.
We're tied off to a mooring ball at Fossil Bay, Sucia Island in the San Juans (N48 45.028  W122 54.109). Sucia due West from Bellingham, close to Canada's Gulf Islands.

During the summer season until past Labor Day, most of the balls are taken. There was only one boat besides ours on one of the many mooring balls. It was a sailboat, and it  left early morning. The docks, however, were full, one cruising rally on each.
Sucia Island, courtesy Google maps.
This was not our first trip to Sucia, and hopefully not our last, either.