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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Considering Cruising? 3 Awesome Resources

Wayne and Dana aboard s/v Journey, our
Pearson 365 sailboat in the US Virgin Islands
on our first year of cruising.  Photo taken by our
fellow cruising friend Michael of s/v Goldilocks.
If wondering what wandering the world via sailboat -- aka "cruising" is what brought you to this site, let me introduce you to resource we used when deciding whether or not to cruise, and how to prepare.


Cruiser Livia's Interview with a Cruiser came out in 2010, just in time to help us before we took off on our cruise.  After a 5-year hiatus, the site now is going gangbusters with Livia's latest interviews.
Livia, of Team Giddyup, put together a brilliant website called "Interview with a Cruiser."  In each interview, she asks 10 questions and publishes the answers.  Thus Interview with a Cruiser is a great compendium of cruiser interviews -- here's our recent interview based on our 5 year, halfway-around-the-world journey aboard s/v Journey.

I was surprised at how accurately Beth Leonard
nailed the concerns I had about cruising. 
Wayne and I are relatively low-budget cruisers,  as more well-funded cruising endeavors and many in-between.  Beth Leonard's "The Voyager's Handbook:  The Essential Guide to Blue Water Cruising" definitive guide addresses the concerns that arise, what influences how much cruising costs as well as a plethora of valuable overview and planning information.  We recommend it as a must-read for anyone considering cruising.  












Latest edition "World Cruising Routes."  We used
the 6th edition, the newest at the time we left
to go cruising.

From a route-planning perspective, Jimmy Cornell's classic "World Cruising Routes," now in its 7th edition offers vital and well-researched wisdom on how best to get from point A to point B, following the path of least resistance - i.e., intelligently.  Billed as a piracy-tracking source for cruisers, Cornell also started Noonsite, our go-to resource on the latest info regarding check-in and check-out for every country that's cruise-able (and even why some are aren't).

By the way, there is no financial or other "payback" for me in recommending these resources.  It's simply  a "pay it forward" in gratitude for all the good advice, encouragement and help we got along the way to cruise.




Location Location
We're now in Portland, Oregon, in a Puget Trawler docked in a covered slip at Jantzen Bay Marina (N45.47.449 W122.47.189).  For now, our cruises will be what we can fit in together on our limited time off.  In the future, our goal is to explore smaller areas more deeply, rather than passing through quickly, limited by crossing great distances using the prevailing tradewinds and a very tight budget.  For now, though, wild oats sown, it's back to work for us.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Ignore This at Your (Minor) Peril

View across the Columbia from Sauvies.... the infamously volcanic Mt. St. Helens still somewhat snow-peaked.
Ahhh, the glamours of boating.  Such a romantic life -- and it is -- often.  But also not always.

Take the other night, for example.

After a blissfully uneventful ride out to our favorite beach on the Columbia River, a relaxing day in soaking up the summer sunshine, we were hungry for supper.  We mellowed to the sweet guitar strains of Steve Morse while I began cooking us up some chili.  To enhance the breeze, I pulled out the window screen in the galley to let the air flow unfiltered and pointed the fan to blow the steam out.

  • Ingredients, pan, and other necessary accoutrements pulled.
  • Chopping, browning, draining done.
  • Final ingredients added, and set to simmer.

The salivating scent of chili spices prompted me to remind myself we could wait the 25 or so minutes for the concoction to cook.

And then...

Busy washing up everything but the simmering chili pan, my hands were occupied as I gazed placidly at the nearby shore.

Suddenly, a particularly violent set of wakes (which occur when the force a ship's movement through the water creates displacement which can create ripples in the forms of waves) from a tugboat's passage on the other side of the river rocked our world.

Wayne watched the sequence unfold in the kind of hypnotic slo-mo action that arrests rather than prompts action.  He retold his observation on the chain of events....

  1. The screen, left loose behind the stove cover, ever so gently tipped toward the hooked stove lid
  2. The hook on the stove cover, popped up, unhooking the stove cover
  3. The stove cover responded to the gravitational pull with a rapid downward decent
  4. That decent ejected the simmering chili off the stove, through the air, slamming onto the the galley floor
  5. The force of the landing knocked the lid off the saucepan
  6. The contents of the saucepan exploded onto the floor
  7. A royal, scalding mess ensued
Depriving us of our delicious dinner.

Destroying the cleanliness of my recently vacuumed floor.

At least we didn't get scalded.  
Squeegee and a dustpan shortened the work of cleaning up my colossal mess.
Once I got past my shock and profound disappointment over the decimation of our supper, I determined the most efficient clean-up tools were a squeegee, a plastic dustpan and Wayne pointed out as there was far more than one dustpan full of goo, the saucepan made a more ample receptacle.























Wayne then took a hammer to the tenuous stovetop cover's hook, securely embedding it into the wood.  "If you ever want to use this, you'll need a screwdriver to loosen it," he informed me.
Natch. Latch hammered in. Preventative maintenance for future chain reactions complete.
We supped on tortilla chips and hummus dip.  Easy.  We devoured them in a mix of hunger and disappointment, perhaps even finishing before the chili would've finished cooking.

Despite getting waked again, I made the chili the next night for ourselves and friends without incident, and it was good.  While prepping it, I carefully tracked all wake-able items, stashing them into fiddled areas, sinks and other safe areas whenever possible.

Our former sailboat stove was gimbaled (used a rotating device which kept the stovetop level even when the boat was not) and had a fiddle (bar across the open area, also to prevent objects from sliding into the open air when disturbed).  I also deployed all sorts of tricks to keep things from flying... silicon potholders, storage tubs, baskets, etc.  In our near 20,000 miles of cruising, airborne incidents of the gastronomic variety were very rare.

"You look so graceful, even when the boat's moving," commented our chili-eating friend Ellen.  "You can tell you've spent some time on a boat."  

But not enough time on this boat, yet!  Truth be told, several times I'd narrowly averted similar spillage disasters on this boat on our passage down.  A little preventative maintenance and that mess could've been avoided.

If you're new to boating, or newly entering less-than-always placid waters, take a good look at what could go wrong, and take steps to avoid it.

After all, isn't it so much nicer to learn from someone else's mistakes?


Serendipity making her maiden voyage into our very protected slip at Jantzen Bay, Portland Oregon.  No wakes there.
Location Location
This post was inspired, written and posted off of Sauvie's Island (N45.47.449 W122.47.189).  When we're "home" in our still new-to-us Puget Trawler, in our slip at Jantzen Bay on Hayden Island, we're in a very protected spot.  About the only boat motion we get is stepping on and off the boat.  However, there's still much to be done to set out boat up so things don't go bump in the day or night.  Meanwhile, when we're out and about, vigilance will be our modus.  Some mulling, measuring and shopping is in order.



Monday, July 31, 2017

Rapid Re-entry : a Place Now Home

The boat we now call Serendipity is nosing her way past the railroad swing bridge outside La Connor Washington
on our maiden voyage with her.
After 5 years of wandering followed by 2 months of wondering where in the world we were going to live and how, the answer became readily apparent.
Our new master bedroom aboard Serendipity, a Puget Trawler now in Portland Oregon.
Here.  Portland Oregon.
Portland image pilfered from Willamette Weekend Things to Do.
What's happened this month?  Whoosh!  We feel like the guy in the now vintage Maxell ad!
This is how it feels July's gone for us (click here to check out this classic oldie but goodie Maxell ad).

  1. A car
    a $480 repair the day after we bought it
    car insurance
  2. A storage area the size of a closet with all our "worldly" possessions
  3. A visit to consider a boat to call home.
  4. A boat we call home - miraculously - given to us!
  5. A gorilla run to Goodwill, the Dollar Store and a military NEX to begin stocking basics like knives, forks, spoons and plates, food (~$600)
  6. A train ride and cab ride to the boat we now call home
  7. Insurance and registration for a boat we now call home
  8. Sage advice from the former owners of the boat we now call home
  9. Just enough time on the boat to feel semi-comfortable taking command of it.
  10. An all-too-brief trip to the San Juans.
  11. Taking our boat into the open ocean and across the Columbia Bar then down the Columbia river to Portland
  12. Two jobs (Wayne and I each getting re-hired by former employers)
  13. Some freelance contract writing projects
  14. Lots of qualification paperwork for a place to potentially call home
  15. A slip (a place for our boat to call home).
  16. A mailing address and mailbox.
  17. A bicycle
    A bicycle lock (both for a mere $25, but a $60 tune-up is scheduled)
  18. WiFi access that isn't dependent of my phone as a hotspot
  19. Electricity that isn't driven my our engine, batteries, a generator or a solar panel
  20. A marina laundromat.
  21. A grocery store (among other conveniences)  in walking distance
Moving in is never a pretty process.  Figuring out what goes where is especially challenging in small spaces.
After the last 2 1/2 years of little that required locking, we found ourselves with 5 keys and one marina access key card on my lanyard
  1. 1 car key
  2. 1 boat key
  3. 1 storage area access door
  4. 1 storage box padlock key
  5. 1 mailbox key
All  -- except the marina access key card which stayed on my lanyard -- dropped into 14' of opaque water between our boat and dock finger.  Resulting in...




via GIPHY

1 day wasted trying to figure out the best way to recover said keys....
  1. boat hook (too short)
  2. magnets on a string (not enough metal on the ring or keys)
  3. a diver that's not too hideously expensive (we'll hire one check when going down to put on zincs, do some hull cleaning and a prop check).
  4. 1 hour wasted getting the duplicates we fortunately had to the locksmith so we each are now fully keyed.
  5. 5 minutes -- keeping all my keys on a floatie attached to a floating yellow lanyard with a very robust clip
This month wasn't all work and no play....  We got to
  1. cruise San Juans and catch up with friends met cruising in French Polynesia
  2. in Port Angeles catch up with cruising friends met in New Zealand as well as making some new friends at the marina 
  3. check out Neah Bay's cool Makah Indian museum and enjoy the present of free crab twice in a week
  4. Make two overnight trips camping aboard our new water home at our favorite beach on the Columbia river
  5. Slowly, too, we're beginning to catch up with our friends and family, many not seen for 5-7 years.
Tomorrow, I officially rekindle my longstanding gratitude with West Marine, in the form of cetol, and zincs, to start -- oh -- and work.  Wayne's already starting his 2nd week back at Horizon Air.

Soon, I hope to make headway sussing out the Rubik's Cube known as galley set-up, with placement strategies that can keep chaos contained when we venture beyond our slip.

Gumby and his Ozzie sidekick (a gift from Chris & Chris of
s/v Scintilla) aboard Serendipity; these mascots
seem appropriate icons for our lives!
Location Location
We're now in Portland, Oregon, docked in a covered slip at Jantzen Bay Marina (N45.47.449 W122.47.189).  That's less than 1/2 mile from West Marine, and less than a 15 minute drive to Horizon Air for Wayne, when there's no traffic.  The light rail transit line is said to be a 5 minute bike ride away; will test that out soon.

Up Next
Watch for more catch up on cruising the San Juans and Trans-Pacific posts still to come as well as more on Serendipity, the Puget Trawler formerly known as Jacari Maru.  Let's hope August is half as busy with at least twice as many posts! 

Wishing us all a mellow August -- especially Larry and Nancy, we wish you excellent cruising on your new Ranger Tug. We will do our best to love the one you entrusted with us and we now call home.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Surprised in Port Angeles

Port Angeles, Washington. Dungeness crabs, just caught by our friendly neighbors Kurt and Donna at Boat Haven Marina.
Shaken and stirred from the square current vs wind waves from San Juan Island to Port Angeles, docking took us two shaky passes into Port Angeles' Boat Haven Marina. "Take whichever slip looks better, P29 or 31, then let me know where you land" Jerry told us when we called in.  We bailed on our first choice slip because we couldn't tell if there was sufficient room to share the slip with the decrepit pilot house fishing boat, as its tarp cover ballooned in size with a fluttering gray.  On our second try, Serendipity's bow tapped the pilot house boat's dinghy, protruding off the adjacent dock finger. 


Kurt agrees to pose to show off part of his catch.  Boat Haven, Port Angeles, Washington.
On this cool gray morning, we looked up at a row of corrugated of boat garages, a patchwork of jagged metal, fraying fiberglass and unfinished wood.  Clearly not on the guest dock, we wondered just what kind of place we'd arrived at.  A few minutes later we noticed a couple peering into our boat.  Admittedly at that moment I was not feeling particularly friendly, but their curiosity overcame my crankiness.

Thus began a series of correcting my mis-perceptions about the denizens of Port Angeles Boat Haven.
Kurt and Donna, just part of the incredible boating community at Port Angeles Boat Haven Marina.
First there was Kurt and Donna -- the curious couple.  They moved up to the area after retirement from Salinas, exchanging their California home for a home, a boat, a boat house (water garage for a boat) and a big truck.  Their boat house was a stone's throw from our slip and a cousin to their trawler.  We invited them aboard to scope it out -- boat owners like checking out boats similar to their own in almost the same way same species dogs give each other's butts a friendly tip-to-tail whiff.

From there Kurt and Donna gave me a lift to the distant marina office for a gate key, a quick tour of the town in their truck, plopped a quarter into my hand for the shower and offered to take us crabbing the next day.  We already had plans to join friends Robyn and Marc, cruisers who chase perennial summer by bouncing between Whangarei New Zealand and property in Squim Washington USA.  We last Robyn and Marc them about nine months prior in New Caledonia.
Cal, a live-aboard on a sailboat next door to "our" slip at Boat Haven Marina.
"No need to plan dinner!" was the cheery text subject line accompanied by a gorgeous Dungeness crab picture.  Clearly, Donna and Kurt scored, as there were several takers for their crab catch before we were in line for one.  In fact, they landed 9 crabs, each as beautiful as the next.  We read their text whilst chomping down on a generous brunch at the equally friendly Empossible Eden Cafe, heartily recommended by Kurt and Donna.  One of the waitresses raced out into the cafe parking lot as Wayne nearly pulled away without his hat.

"Err, we don't have anything big enough to boil them in," we lamely confessed, when Kurt proffered us some of their beautiful freshly-caught crabs.  We're still in the process of setting up our galley, and planned to wait until we arrived in Portland to complete the process.  

While Donna scrambled for a large enough boiling pot, Kurt tracked down a two live-aboards -- spry 93-year-old Elmer and his fishing buddy Cal.   Cal set us up his crab boiler - on the spot.  That way we didn't need to make arrangements return Donna's pot after they headed home.

Meanwhile, Kurt grabbed his bucket of crabs, home-made mallet, knife and cooler and set off to the dock's fish cleaning station.  
JulieAnne, from Forks, crabs she caught skittering in her kayak.  She and her brother visit her Gram at Boat Haven.  
There, we chatted with JulieAnne, the adorable and fish-savvy grand-daughter of marina resident Julie.  JulieAnn alternated from the docks to her kayak, netting minnows for crabs, catching crabs for the feeding herself or some of the marina's other non-human locals.

Meanwhile, quick as a wink,  Kurt got to work -- all 9 crabs were split with a mallet, rinsed, stripped of their carapace, gills, tails and "butter" and rinsed again.  Kurt gave us two crabs.  
Cal's crab cooker set-up.  Boat Have Marina, Port Townsend.
Cal's propane tank and stand with huge seawater-filled pot atop it was boiling for us when we returned.  

"How long do they cook?" we asked Cal, then had a hard time tracking the twelve minutes Cal told us it would take as we were so handily entertained by his feeding pregnant lady Waldo the sea lion and her mate, Archie.  Cal fed them fish scraps, enticing them to first splash-clap for them, then pull them off the dock or from his hand, when he didn't drop them directly in the water.

Lady Waldo the sea lion drops by Cal, who she knows has a soft touch for her and her mate Archie.  Port Angeles, North Puget Sound.
"These will be the best crab you've ever eaten, promised Cal.  We're looking forward to proving him right; even brought along cocktail sauce in the hopes of some crabby serendipity; just didn't expect them and the use of a to boiling pot to be part of our Port Angeles adventure.
Cal explains to Waldo what he expects from her in order to be fed.  
Waldo eyes Cal's fish offering with great interest.  Port Angeles, Washington.
It took far less time for Kurt to clean 9 crabs and Cal to cook them than for us than for this post to be written!

"Are you sure you don't want to just take the next year off?" Wayne asked, plaintively.

Tough call, but we gotta get to work so we can be in a position to pay forward all this incredible kindness.  It's a tough act to follow; we hope we're up to it.

Come to Port Angeles.  For a mere $1/foot, you'll find about the friendliest folks ever and all sorts of delightfully unexpected entertainment.
Waldo agrees to clap (or as Cal calls it - splash) for dinner.  Yes, in case there is any doubt --
both Waldo and Archie got plenty of eats from Cal!
Location Location
We're in Port Angeles, Washington, N48.07.575 W123.27.272.  Tomorrow, all too soon, we plan to head South toward Portland, where we'll dock Serendipity.  We're tentatively planning to start at oh-barely-light-hundred to hug the shore on the way to to our probable next stop, Neah Bay, 50-something miles toward Portland.

Watch for more posts on our short but sweet time in the San Juans as well as more on Serendipity.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Unbelievable Serendipity!

Puget Trawler "Jacari Maru" in British Columbia, owned by Larry and Nancy.  Starboard aft view.  Photo provided by Larry.
Our cruising was done, for now, and it was time to settle down, as "dirt dwellers" in Portland Oregon.  We mollified ourselves with visions of dishwashers amidst full kitchens, cushy recliners, a queen-sized bed, endless hot showers, easy-streaming wifi... basically, the life most of my friends, family and colleagues take for granted.  

Yet for most of the last 5 years, we gave up these mainstream modern conveniences in exchange for our nomadic life, ultimately traveling halfway around the world via a small sailboat.  Our living space was about 150 square feet.  We got rid of nearly everything when we left, except for a few boxes, mostly photographs.

Yet Portland's giddy real estate market left us feeling a bit shell-shocked, with a month-to-month rental starting point of $1,500+/month for a 2-bedroom apartment in a crummy neighborhood.  That's twice what it was when left the area in 2010.

And then... in came a most unexpected message from some friends....


Pacific Northwest Cruising friends, Larry and Nancy.  Photo provided by Larry.
We met about 6 years ago when the fellow I crewed for some pre-cruising experience dropped anchor a bit near to the only other boat in "our" anchorage in British Columbia. The anchorage was particularly deep, with few spots shallow enough to for even somewhat ample anchor chain to comfortably reach.   After much heated back-and-forth discussion between the two captains over the VHF radio, we reached anchoring detente; both boats stayed put.  

As is oft the case, we were on a similar cruising track, and the other boaters, Larry and Nancy on the Puget Trawler Jacari Maru, came by to break bread; initiating our friendship.  In the several days that followed, we continued to meet.  When I asked Larry and Nancy how they met, their long, entertaining answer spanned two days.  They were very supportive of Wayne's and my plans to sail the South Pacific. They too planned some adventurous sailing, though enough years had passed they contented themselves with cruising the Pacific Northwest.

Recently, much as Larry and Nancy loved their 1978 40' Puget Trawler, they decided after 10 years of cruising Jacari Maru through the Pacific Northwest, and even into Alaska, it was time to downsize.  They purchased an almost-new 2015 trailer-able 27' Ranger Tug.  Meanwhile, the monthly La Conner marina (about a 4 hour drive North of Portland) and insurance payments for their now unused 40' Puget Trawler continued.

Larry saw this post and with Nancy's blessing, decided to make an incredible offer....


Puget Trawler "Jacari Maru" bow view in British Columbia, owned by Larry and Nancy.  Photo provided by Larry.
"Would you like our Puget Trawler as a live-aboard?" asked Larry.  "We can sign the title over to you if you're interested."

I was flabbergasted by the sheer generosity of their offer.  So was Wayne.  At the same time, we were keenly interested. At the same time, while one adage advises to "never look a gift horse in the mouth" another describes boats as "large holes to throw money into."

Wayne and I looked into Portland marinas where live-aboards were allowed and were pleasantly surprised to discover there was ample slip availability.  Covered slips with extra live-aboard fees would run a little over $600; far less than an unfurnished apartment and in a far safer neighborhood.  Besides, unlike apartments, live-aboard boats do not need furniture; it's already all built in.

We still needed to make sure the boat would work for us as a live-aboard if Wayne was working a swing-shift and I was aboard when he was trying to sleep.  When we had a similar scenario aboard our sailboat Journey in Jacksonville, Florida. We were not at our finest.  Every time I stepped aboard or tried to cook, I woke Wayne up.  We needed to take a good look at Puget Trawler together, and assess its suitability for us.

We hopped into the car we bought the day before to pick up a few items for our trip North, and discovered one of our car cylinders was shot.  We limped the car back to Wayne's parent's place, who kindly loaned us their truck for the weekend.  Of we went. 


Port view of Jacari Maru, Puget Trawler in British Columbia.  Photo provided by Larry.
Fortunately, the Puget Trawler had a very different layout from our former sailboat, an extra bedroom (cabin / stateroom), an extra bathroom (head) and easily 2-3 times the interior living space.  Unlike Journey, where the entire boat living areas were all on the same level, the staterooms  and bathrooms were all a half-level lower than the kitchen / living / dining room area.  Not only were the staterooms nicely separated from the main living area, Wayne could at long last reclaim his "man cave!"  Watch for interior photos in a future post.

We decided to take Larry and Nancy up on their incredibly generous offer.

We spent two nights aboard and did some preliminary provisioning.  Larry spent hours walking us through the boat's particulars and followed up with many emails.  

Wayne and I made up lots of to-do lists and did some preliminary boat provisioning, including buying 2 knives, forks, spoons, bowls, and plates Goodwill while we had a vehicle by the boat.  We plan to take the train up to the boat in a few days, to avoid the complications of having to retrieve the car later after bringing the boat back to Portland.  

Wayne and I contacted our insurance agent - coincidentally the same company that Larry used -- for a boat insurance quote.  ""Do something big for the 4th of July," encouraged Walter, our agent.  "Oh, wait a minute - you already are!" he added.

We met again with Larry and Nancy and signed the title agreement.  When the time comes for us to sell the boat, we'll give the proceeds less expenses to Larry and Nancy.  It's only right.

"Our new boat is Jacari Maru," Larry said.  "We're keeping the name, so you're going to have to re-name the boat.  I already even stripped the name off the Puget Trawler."   With Journey, the prior owner named the boat, and we kept the name. 

Sure, we figured eventually we'd get a boat again.  Never in our wildest dreams did we expect it to happen this soon or in this way.  Given the nature of how the boat came to us, we've decided to re-name the boat Serendipity.  Thank you Larry and Nancy for this incredible, unexpected and wonderful opportunity!
Serendipity's current home.  We'll relocate her to Portland Oregon soon.  Image pilfered from La Conner Marina's website.

Location Location
At the moment, we're back in Portland Oregon wrapping up a few loose ends before we return to Serendipity in La Conner (N48.23.47 W122.29.48) this Thursday or Friday, July 6th or 7th.  The plan is to get us and Serendipity ready as quickly as possible for a brief cruise in the stone's-throw-from-La Conner San Juans before bringing her down to Portland.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Limbo-land

Portland Oregon railroad bridge, as seen from our temporary digs, at Wayne's folks, looking East.
What's it like when you're done cruising, if you go minimalist, like we did?  It's a little weird.

No home.

No car.

No storage unit.

No furniture.  No appliances.  No electronics (besides what phones, Kindles, iPads and laptops were still usable).
Columbian River canoeist, Portland Oregon, as seen from our temporary digs, at Wayne's folks, looking West.
"Wow!  I can't believe you pretty much got rid of everything.  So many of us have talked about doing it, but you did!" exclaimed a former HP colleague when I bumped into her in downtown Vancouver.

Indeed we did.

We sold our house at a break-even price in the real estate bust of 2007, renting until we left. 
Columbia River Gorge as seen from Crown Point; what drew me to the Portland Oregon area from the very beginning.
Once we left, we didn't know for sure how long we'd gone, and when we were done if "home" would be the US.  Thus, we didn't want a storage unit.

Before we left the US, Wayne's folks in Portland Oregon kindly stored our legal paperwork, some clothes, keepsakes, art and a tiny bit of camping gear.  Fortunately that camping gear included a queen-sized airbed, so we will have a bed temporary bed once we move into an apartment.
Our final box as it was received in Portland ~three months after we sent it from Australia.  Not everything survived shipment.
When we sold our boat in Australia, we mailed some tools and a few souvenirs.  We took a subset of our clothes, electronics with us for driving tour of Australia.  Nearly everything else either was left aboard our boat for the new owners, sold via Gumtree (Australia's Craigslist equivalent), given away or thrown away. 

When we flew back to the US from Australia, we pared down further still, including our remaining cookware and camping gear with the sale of our Landcruiser.

Since January when we readied our boat for sale -- for 6 months -- I have not had a space to call my own.  Life has been out of suitcases and boxes, often scattered hither and yon.  No dressers.  No cupboards.  A few inches of closet space.  Shoes hopefully out of sight under our borrowed bed.  Dirty clothes tucked away in the corner, until washed using someone else's machine.

We're lucky.   

One of many tents we see marking "home" for Portlanders, under bridges, overpasses, in traffic medians and elsewhere.
Whenever we go into town, we see the many Portlanders who've set up residence in tents, or lay sprawled, blanket-wrapped, across sidewalks and tucked into doorways, often in the shadow of condo high-rises, whose residents paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to tower above the have-nots for the convenience of a chi-chi natural grocery store and a movie theater a block away.

Our in-laws let us move temporarily into their guest bedroom -- their sewing room, really.  They let us invade their kitchen.  Take up residence in their favorite chairs.  Hog us their bathroom.  Ride the coat-tail of their internet.  Wash our dirty laundry.  Borrow their cars. 

When living in someone else's space our goal is to alternately add value and become invisible.  It's an odd state of being.  A somewhat impossible one whilst everyone tries to be considerate of sharing a space normally enjoyed by two, not invaded by two more who often have little idea of how things are normally done.  We've grossly violated our ideal visit time of three days.

This prosaic explanation of Portland art harkens to my puzzlement over our current state:

'My chosen form is an ordinary flower - some might even call a it weed. A universal childhood memory that becomes a metaphor for a child's lost innocence and joy.  To a child, it is a flower full of wishes. But, to an adult, it is a weed that must be eradicated.

I wanted to make the flowers invisibly large and powerful so that their emptiness gives attention to how they hold space.  They become templates of the possibility that wind and air filled them once and that they have left a mark in your life.

Lastly, this piece also represents Portlanders, who are continuously finding the beauty in what is often perceived as ugly.'

-Deb Hiller

Slowly, though, we're making progress.

Thanks to one of Wayne's former colleagues hand-delivering his resume to a former employer, he has a handshake offer to get his former Portland job (otherwise he'd still be waiting).  The required prerequisite criminal check may take as long as month, so no start date yet,  Now at least, one of us knows where they'll be working. 
We're not the only unofficial temporary dwellers in the marina.  Only a window separated us from this other interloper.
We're reluctant to go with any long-term lease until we know where I'll end up working, given how bad traffic can get for Portland metro commutes.  We don't want to repeat the mistake we made in Everett, where only one of us had a sane commute.  

My job hunt continues, a bit more challenging given my 12-year hiatus from the kind of job I currently seek.

In a few days, we'll rent an apartment and pay the financial penalty of month-to-month rent over a more favorably priced lease that might lock us into someplace I don't want to commute from.  We were shocked that today a two-bedroom apartment in a bad neighborhood is over $1500/month; twice what we paid in Everett 5 years ago in a much better neighborhood (Everett prices were comparable to Portland's). In October, rent controls begin, and with it the expectation that rents will escalate in open, uncommitted apartments.

However, if there's one thing cruising taught us more than anything, we'll figure out a solution, due to our resourcefulness and flexibility.

While we may be done cruising for a while, everyday life continues to provide an adventure -- just of a different kind.

Portland Ports, as seen at sunset from our temporary spot on the Columbia River.
While looking forward to our own place, we will certainly miss these views!
Location Location
We'll be looking for a place to call home in Portland Oregon metro area, though at the moment I am visiting my Mom and Dad in Florida, as it's been 2 1/2 years since I last saw them.  

Up Next
While "Galley Wench" is done cruising for a while, there are still plenty of untold tales yet to tell, with videos and photos.  And for those wondering about what happens when one returns, homeless and unemployed from cruising halfway around the world, the occasional post like this one, will give you a sense for what it's like.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

TONGA: Magical Island of Kelefesia

Kelefesia's long tongue of a beach, viewed from the bluff.  Kelefesia is part of Tonga's magnificent Ha'apai island group.
One of the most awesome aspects of cruising is the cruiser community.  Friendships are quickly formed, information is readily shared.  Even though we're often drawn to cruising by the desire to get away from it all, like the early pioneers, we know we're in this together. 
Steve and Patty, our friends from s/v Armagh, from Kelefesia's bluff -the site of that fabulous view in the first image.
Sometimes, our connectedness saves lives. Other times, it makes the crucial the difference between the mundane and the magical.  This post is a big, belated thank you to our friends Patty and Steve of Armagh; we cruised together from the Galapagos until New Zealand, reconnecting again in Fiji and New Caledonia.  Many of our best cruising memories are times spent with our friends from the good ship Armagh.
Tonga's Ha'apai islands.  Kelefesia -- too small to list -- is part of the Ha'apia island group.
When Wayne was antsy to leave Tonga for New Zealand, Patty convinced us we'd be making a big mistake if we bypassed Tonga's Ha'apai islands.  Thanks a variety of weather challenges, we weren't that wowed with Tonga at that point.  Patty prevailed, pointing us to a post on Ha'apai's crown jewel, Kelefesia,  the southern most island in the Ha'apai group, and only 35 miles north of Nuku'alofa, where we would check out of Tonga before heading to New Zealand.

We agreed to join Armagh, crossing our fingers the weather was sufficiently settled, especially for Kelefesia, which is neigh impossible to visit otherwise.

Luck was on our side!
Driftwood on the beach at Kelefesia, Tonga, a Ha'apai group island.
While Ha'apai's Uoleva was cruiser party central, a place of splendid sunsets and good company, and Ha'afeva was a great place to snorkel a shipwreck and clean a hull, Kelefesia was pure magic.

We should've realized that something amazing was in store for us when we caught a fish (an embarrassingly rare event for us) and flew past Armagh, another rarity.  We found out later our speed advantage was due to Steve's forgetting to pop up the wheels of his dinghy, dragging it reduced their normal boat speed to a crawl.
Where we anchored in Kelefesia.  Ariel image pilfered from Islands for Sale.
In any case, all we arrived at Kelefesia in good light and in calm conditions, a pre-requisite for visiting this reef-strewn spot of  paradise.  Thus it seemed fitting my first-ever video is on Kelefesia....
 

 Click here to watch it on commercial-free on Vimeo.


Fabulous coral gardens await those who visit Kelefesia.  Tonga's Ha'apai island group.
Location Location
This 5-minute video was inspired by Tonga Ha'apai's Kelefesia island, which in researching for this video I discovered is for sale! We anchored at S20.30.132 W174.44.429 October 27-28, 2016.  Kelefesia wins the honor as one of my top 10 South Pacific cruising picks, no mean feat given we sailed over 18,000 miles.  We've since sold our sailboat in Australia.  We're currently in Portland, OR, USA looking for work.  Someday we hope to return to cruising, and to see our friends Steve and Patty of Armagh again.
s/v Journey and s/v Armagh at anchor of the small island of Kelefesia, Tonga.