Sunday, September 30, 2012

Splish Splash & Away We Go (Sorta)

Cat in Rodney Bay Yard , St. Lucia, wheeling
Journey toward her splash spot.
We did it! 

Bottom paint done and cured in time for our escape from the sweltering, dusty, mosquito-infested yard.  Honestly, it really is a nice yard, as far as boatyards go; we didn’t even hear any karaoke (even though we were closer to it)!  We also met a lovely couple from Slovenia, Thomas and Lily, also camping out on their boat in the yard for bottom cleaning and paint. 

Journey, getting lowered into the water before
we hopped on board to sail her.
But boats belong on the water, swaying in the swell, cooled and refreshed by the trade winds. 

Our last sunset from Rodney Bay Yard
Great "welcome back!" sunset from back out
in Rodney Bay after the yard.
We made it out in time to see a glorious full moon rising over the hills of St. Lucia, setting across the water.  We haven’t made it out of Rodney Bay yet.  But our to-do list before setting sail list has only a few items left to do before we truly do set sail.

How We Got Really Dirty

Journey on Travel Lift base in
Rodney Bay Marina yard

Putty colored… everything.  Us (especially my nails), our cockpit, our cabin floor, everything around the boat.  No, no photos as I didn’t want to risk getting grit in my camera.

Hand wet sanding what was left of the midnight blue – but think grease-colored – antifouling paint on Journey’s hull is a dirty, gritty job.  Even with lots of water to keep everything washed down, including us, with soap, too, it’s still just nasty.

But lots of sanding is what it takes to make sure our hull is not encrusted with barnacles and other sea critters between now and our next planned hull painting in about 2 years, in Panama.

Back to work again
Along the way, lots of hurry-up-and-wait.  We’re in the yard at 8 am.  No, we’re not.  11 am, no, we’re not.  1:30 pm.  Oh, wait, could you be here, now?  Ok.  Oh, that takes another several hours and it’s actually 4:30, shortly before quitting time that we can begin.  Next morning, several, “Stop!”s as the Travel Lift was replaced with stands.

Journey's transom now shows where we
consider the home we hailed from.
Portland OR, though the folks
in Milltown Sailing Club made it
tempting to call Everett "home."
Then, we find out that we’ve got to start and finish painting today, for the paint to set for 12 hours before the Travel Lift “splashes” us back into the water.  The yards will be unstaffed for holiday this Sunday and Monday, so we have to be out this Saturday or wait until Tuesday.  Just as we’re ready to paint, it starts to rain….

As my friend Larry says...
"Everyone likes a girl
with a clean bottom."
Looks like we’ll be out of “the yard” and back anchoring before indulging in a romantic motel escape after all.  Ok, I confess – power, giving us the ability to run our on-board air conditioner meant our boat was cooler and drier than many local motels.  Home sweet home, getting sweeter, bit by bit.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pigeon Island: How the Brits Blew It

Wayne & me at the peak of Pigeon Island
 The day before we went “On the hard” (aka dry dock, or boat tossed onto land for maintenance, in our case) we did a brief exploration of the “island” in our “backyard,” Pigeon Island.

Back in the late 1700s, the Brits used it as a lookout point and interception to keep the island from the French, who were in charge previously and colonized neighboring Martinique, in view ~25 miles away across the way.  

Stairs and some slightly rocky trails
aside, the hiking's still easy it
almost seems like cheating to get
such great views with so little effort.
The Brits found a way to turn this awesome assignment into tough duty by insisting their troops dress in sweltering woolies, including long sleeved jackets and pants.  Centuries later, they finally relaxed their dress code into something more climate appropriate.  Yet even today, to enjoy "50% off" beaches in the area, one has to head to (French) Martinique.  Historical bru-ha-ha aside, it’s a beautiful spot, with easy hiking and fabulous views, well managed by the St. Lucia National Trust.  We paid $27 EC total (about $10 USD) for the two of us to visit.

Jambe de Bois Callaloo soup, just before it was
totally finished.

It was tough getting a photo of  the excellent
Jambe de Bois veggie roti before it was totally gone.
We’d heard rave reviews about Jambe de Bois’ food and ambiance, and, dang!  The reviews were spot on.  I ordered the callaloo soup (think spinach or swiss chard) and Wayne the vegetarian roti (veggie curry in a burrito); the veggie roti was exceptional and only ~$3.50 USD for a very generous serving.  For the moment, it’s a lunch spot only, but when the tourist season begins, next week, Oct 1st, they’ll resume serving dinner.  We chatted with some escapees from the adjacent all-inclusive behemoth resort, Sandals, who were considering a Jambe de Bois meal to break the repetitive albeit included Sandals’ cuisine.  We encouraged them to go for it!

Snorkeling is also rumored to be good at Pigeon Island, though we may hold off on that for other venues, like Soufriere on St. Lucia or one of the other islands. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Life “On the Hard”

Sunset from our boat deck "in the yard"
Rodney Bay Marina St. Lucia
While it is possible to scrape barnacles off your boat hull (the outside part of the boat, generally below the water) while it’s still in the water, to paint, it’s gotta be on dry land.  Painting “anti-barnacle and other critter” paint is important to keep your boat ship-shape.  Our boat, Journey, sat in a lagoon full of happy boat attaching critters for 15 months, so we were definitely way overdue for hull scraping and painting.

Our boat Journey goes into the Travel Lift "sling,"
preparing to go "on the hard" for painting
The “easy” way to do this is to get your boat winched up out of the water and “onto the hard” with a Travel Lift (a big-assed boat elevator or crane of sorts). Since boats queue up to use the Travel Lifts in boat yards, and Rodney Bay Marina is no exception, the boats are then set onto well-placed stilts (one hopes!) in the boat yard propped up until ready to “splash” back into the water, so the Travel Lift can move onto moving the next boat   In between comes the real nail-biting… when your boat is casually whisked inches past 40 or 50 other boats in the yard also undergoing maintenance work or simply in the yard for “dry dock” storage in a barnacle-free environment.

Yes, that is a rooster to the left of the stand,
at home in the St. Lucia Rodney Bay boat yard.
Once dry docked, to get into your boat requires a ladder.  We finagled that, plus power, as unlike most normal folks, we are camping out in our boat while it’s in the boat yard – we believe we are the only overnight boatyard inhabitants, not counting the chickens.  However, when nature calls, we have to amble down our ladder and toodle-ooo off the bathroom, weaving our way through a forest of spookily suspended boats.  Otherwise, that, along with any other waste drained, will simply drain out to the boatyard ground below our boat.  To be avoided.  Thanks creative use of bread and paper towels, I was able to cook dinner (perfectly buttery local avocado, the size of child’s football, mixed with tomato, salt, pepper and freshly-squeezed lime juice for our salad, and leftover chicken curry) and clean with minimal waste.

Wayne ladders his
way onto our
boat, Journey.
As we got a late lift, we didn’t get too much done  our first day.  It didn’t help that I forgot that one of the three spots marked “water” on our deck is no longer leads to a water tank, but a “dry” storage area.  That took some … undoing.  To my husband’s credit, he was exceedingly gracious about my screw-up.  But we did get two of our three sails up while we were waiting, and a lot of barnacles scraped away.  More of that tomorrow, then prepping to paint, and painting.  It’s a hot, dirty job, and we’ll spend the next couple of days on it.  We may yet splurge for a hotel, though, just, well, because.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What to Do on a Rainy Day

Pigeon Island point in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
St. Lucia is a verdant, tropical rainforest island.  We hail from a rainforest (though the Pacific Northwest is not tropical – part our inspiration for this journey!). Thus, we understand gorgeous green foliage wouldn’t flourish without rain, and, we are here in the rainy season.

Rain grayed out our ability to see the lush hillsides
Usually, when it rains here, it’s intense, but brief, and warm enough to dance in the rain.  Sometimes it lasts longer.  A solid day of rain at anchor provided the perfect impetus for organizing parts.  

We are incredibly grateful to Ned, Journey's prior
owner for setting us up well to have what we need
for repairs
We are blessed with a prior owner who kept lots of parts and spares.  You never know when something will require repairs, and odds are what’s needed is not cheaply available at a Home Depot a few minutes away.  However, having the parts and finding them when you need them, takes organizing.

In the few days since we did the organizing, it’s paid off several times, already.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Good News & Good Folks: Cruiser’s Nets & Yachtees

Colorful burgees (flags representing various
yachting clubs and organizations) from
visiting yachtees from around the world
gaily festoon the St. Lucia Yacht Club.
with burgees is a welcoming tradition among
yacht clubs worldwide.

Far from the snobby image I once associated with sailing, the boating community is just that – a community.

“No way are you going to be able to stay on your boat ‘on the hard’ [when a boat is brought onto land, generally either to be worked on, stored or both].  It’s too hot and dusty.  Come stay at our boat – we have a forepeak cabin with its own bathroom.  If you do decide to stay at a hotel, be sure to check with the marina to see if you can get any hotel discounts through them, “ advised Ilsa, a fellow Rodney Bay yachtee.  We felt truly really touched by such generosity from a near stranger.  “It’s just what yachtees, do,” Ilsa countered, casually brushing aside our heartfelt appreciation of her offer.

Fellow “yachtee” Gary helped us
find a good deal on a used dinghy,
told us where to get an affordable,
pay-as-you-go multi-country phone,
invited us to our first “Sundowner”
social and is just an
all-around great guy.
We met Ilsa and her husband Svein when fellow Rodney Bay Marina cruiser Gary invited us to his “Sundowner” (here, that’s byob drinks and hosted nibblies).  Gary came by after we introduced ourselves as “new arrivals” on the local cruisers “net.”  Cruisers nets are VHF radio-based community information exchanges.  The Rodney Bay St. Lucia net was started 20 years ago; we were invited via the net to attend the 80th birthday party of its founder.  “Stick,” a local electronics wizard and live-a-board yachtee currently hosts the Rodney Bay Marina net.  His program covers weather, arrivals and departures, ride shares, “treasures of the bilge” (stuff yachtees want to get rid of from their boat, but figure might be useful to someone else in the community) with an open forum for special needs.

We look forward to making our contribution to the community, beyond sharing the “treasures of the bilge” we announced on the local net.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Food without Bar Codes

Sometimes we get a little extra protein
along with our veg.  This hitch hiker is one
of the reasons we  rinse all produce
in a mix of bleach and water
before we bring it aboard.

One of the experiences we looked forward to in going abroad is at long last to seek out native foods, purchased more directly from their growers.  We like the idea that food would be more about flavor and nutrition than picked far before its time for sale several week later, with way too many steps along the way, from farm to table.  Ultimately, we want our produce be less a bar coded unit, and more, well, delicious.

As well as buying from Gregory (see prior post, “The Milkman Did It!”), other independent food sellers, taking the local bus when I can to buy from the open-air market, I also buy locally produced food in the market.  I’m never quite sure what to do with it, or whether we’ll like the result.  Especially when it’s cheap, I figure it’s worth a try.  Dasheen, plantains, green figs, custard apples, soursop, and “five-fingers” are some of our new favorites. Look for some photos on them soon. 

Fish guy posing at Castries market.  Not who
we bought our Dorado from.....
Then there’s the local fish guys who boated by with some freshly caught Dorado….

Fresh Caught Dorado…. $50 EC (East Caribbean currency –
$1 USD = $2.7 EC) in this case, a kilo … or 2.2 lbs,
but looked it was more like 1 ½ pounds,
skin, bones and all.
  That would make it
~$18.50 USD or ~$12 lb. We could buy a full Dorado dinner
 in town for this or less.
Wayne, who normally doesn’t care for fish, did like it, though. This was cooked simply, with salt, pepper, lime juice, garlic and onion.  Or, maybe it was just what the chef wasn’t wearing.
This Dorado was cooked simply, with salt, pepper,
lime juice, garlic and onion.  

They Don’t Warn You About Karaoke in Paradise

Sunset from our cockpit at anchor in Rodney Bay
St. Lucia.  Clean, swimmable water and a
fresh breeze make a few off-key
sound waves worth it.

Sound travels all too well over water….

We’re anchored at least ¼ mile from shore.  But bad karaoke hits-from-hell (“Byyyyyye, byyyyyye, Miss American Pieeeeeeee…”) worm their way into our otherwise quiet cabin.  Most likely, they’re inspired by good times and a little liquid courage in the form of cheap rum drinks.

Guess that’s payback for an easy 10-minute swim with snorkel and flippers, and a 5-minute kayak to St. Lucia’s silky beaches.  We’ll take it.  

Too bad the internet access doesn’t travel as well as the karaoke.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Milkman Did It!

Our friend Gary calls this "the death boat" since
it scrape-clunked his.  Gregory, its captain
must've gotten the message
as he's quite careful now.

No milk deliveries (yet?) but Gregory glides up twice a day in his boat, offering up fresh fruits and veggies.  He’s pricey, but his produce is excellent.  Friends Sven and Ilsa are Gregory regulars; they like supporting him and the crops from his folk’s farm in Soufriere.

Great tip from Gregory.  Papayas
or "paw-paws" go from just
ok to "Wow!" with a
squeeze of lime over their
pulp, after seeding them.
We appreciate Gregory's vsits
more now, that we're
at anchor.

Lawn Boys in St. Lucia?

These big-clawed guys measure about
1 to 4 inches, maybe ¼ teaspoon
of meat.
  Not worth it, especially
if there’s a mosquito or two less.

We got crabs at Rodney Bay Marina.  Not VD, thanks to monogamy, sex is safe.  These fellows are part of the landscape, literally.  They burrow into the lawns and creep out at dusk.

Nawwww, they’re not Dungeness, but we’re thrilled they’re not spiders or rats and ecstatic for any mosquito reduction assistance.
Monogamy does not mean
monotony – he keeps
me smiling, too!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Religiosity at Anchor in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Our Guardians:  Pookey (the Father),
Frog Prince (the Son) &…

St. Lucia is a G-- - fearing land, where Catholocism is avidly embraced. 

In the interest of going native, we’ve embraced our own Religiosity in the form of Pookey (the Father), Frog Prince (the Son) & Gumby (the Holy Ghost).  They are our Guardians, our Protectors.

They’ve served us well our first night on anchor, here in the Rodney Bay Harbor.
 Gumby (the Holy Ghost)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One Ringy Dinghy Two Ringy Dinghy

Rodney Bay Marina is still one of the nicest
marinas in the Caribbean. We're just itching
to see our first sunset from the water.
Dinghies, for the uninitiated, are boats for the boat.  Now this might not make a whole of sense on the surface.  Why would a boat need a boat? 

Think of it a bit like a mobile home, situated in an area where the resources you need to live, are rather wide-flung.  Unless there’s a killer bus system, that’s cheap, runs when you need it, where you need it, and makes it easy to lug your stuff along, like your groceries. 

Precisely because it’s tough to find someplace that achieves all that, many folks own cars, for the convenience.  In the case of cruisers, we have to have boats, to easily get us to various points of shore when we don’t want to take our whole (boat) home with us.  And of course, busses don’t “walk on water” so if we’re at anchor, then we might need our dinghy to get to shore.

Our boat, Journey, came with an inflatable dinghy, and a motor for it.   Both were old, and did not like going 15 months in the tropics, unused.

Yesterday, with help, we were able to our 1996 Johnson dinghy motor running.  And our dinghy was, sadly, due for retirement.  We found a replacement, for about $600USD, which we expect will last us at least a year or two.

So today, we will finally be able to escape our Rodney Bay Marina slip, and anchor, albeit just a stone’s throw away, initially.  Our dinghy makes it possible.  

St. Lucia sunset Rodney Bay Marina...
not too shabby
The adventure begins… one baby step at a time.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Breakfast in St. Lucia

Breakfast on Journey in the Rodney Bay Marina....
eggs, local oranges and a fresh baguette
from the local store.
Most Affordable Restaurant In Town

We're here.  Our luggage arrived, belatedly, and is unpacked.  We're frantically going through every nook and cranny, taking inventory, cleaning, discarding, replacing, adding.  This is normal for a boat that's sat idle for 15 months.

But, ya gotta eat.

And there's no place like home.  Until we get our dinghy and motor going (more on that in a future post), we're tethered to the slip Rodney Bay Marina.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Our Date with Destiny

July 24 to August 3, 2012: 
What do we have in common with Preston Sturges, “Golden Age” movie mogul, Howard Hughes and John Wayne?

We all sailed Destiny, a 1934-built, 85’ wooden schooner.  Destiny was custom-built in 1934 for Preston Sturges.  Howard Hughes bought Sturges out.  John Wayne leased her to sail from California to Hawaii. Destiny’s current owners, Dawn and Mike Hilliard, got comfortable with celebritydom, too.  Dawn worked for “Animal Planet” and Mike’s linked to the entertainment industry through his grandfather’s pioneering work in cable installation.

Today, after 78 years, Destiny sparkles, thanks to the Hilliards to the tune of $2.7 million.  They spent 7 years lovingly restoring her.  Destiny’s prior owner quipped, “Destiny needed you like a drunkard needed a drink,” though, “as a parched, temporarily tea-totaling aristocrat needed a really, really good Bordeaux.”

We joined Mike and Dawn and their two rotund kitties, Rustle and Bad Ju-ju, as crew. Our fellow Milltown Sailing Club compadre, Diane Kissinger, completed the crew.  This was Destiny’s first ocean adventure since her rebuild and the Hilliard’s first open ocean sail. We’d sail over 1,000 miles, from Roche Harbor, San Juan Island, which is a stone’s throw from the Canadian border, to Santa Barbara, Southern California. 

We wanted experience working a watch (divvying up our time sailing 24/7) together in the open ocean.  That stretch, from the Pacific Northwest to Southern California is known to be one of the most consistently snotty stretches of ocean, worldwide.  Sailing it is considered a solid notch in a sailor’s belt; that too appealed.  Even though we’re hardly the star-struck types, how often would we likely get the opportunity to sail a schooner, the likes of something John Depp would sashay across in “Pirates of the Caribbean?” 

I did have a major concern, however, which had nothing to do with my relative level of sheer sailing ignorance and ineptitude…. After falling in love with the simplicity of our 27’ O’Day sailboat and getting accustomed to its small 27’ size, I feared a severe and nasty case of a near-ubiquitous sailing disease… bigger boat envy.  Instead of going from a 27’ sailboat up to a much bigger 37’ sailboat, we’d now be going down from an 85’ sailboat, with not only several staterooms (bedrooms), but also a hot shower, a near commercial-sized washer and dryer, a full-sized standing refrigerator freezer (in addition to a chest freezer), multiple deck loungers, Sunbrella cushions and coverings for nearly everything, and a state-of-the-art navigation system and overlapping alternative energy systems, to our comparatively Spartan 37’ boat, Journey.  Yikes!  “Destiny doesn’t hide,” chuckled Dawn, used to gawkers with camera, snapping away.

Regardless, we were determined accept our date with Destiny.  Door to door, getting to Destiny was an 8-part, 13-hour commute… a car ride to the train, Amtrak train to an Amtrak bus, another bus, another bus, a ferry ride, another car ride and a dinghy ride.  All that, just a few days after 3 weeks of sailing and a mad scramble to and around Portland, OR.

That night, Maggie, Mike’s Mom hosted us all to a fabulous home-cooked send-off dinner of salmon encrusted in a cinnamon and orange rub, salad, rice and a birthday cake for Mike’s Dad, Les, and their friend Katie.  Dinner was followed by a thorough discussion of boating safety and emergency procedures.  There were also some uncomfortable conversations where conflicting practices between contributions from standard unpaid crew and guide services.  In the case of the former, $10-20/day / person toward food is customary.  In the case of the latter, their wallets were smarting from a just completed $1400 Costco run and your average boat doesn’t offer $400 designer Thai silk settee pillows, long hot showers and washers and dryers on board.  Tip to prospective cruisers … initiate this conversation earlier and more explicitly with the captain.

The next morning we joined the Hilliard’s friends and family for a send-off celebration, paying careful homage to all sea superstitions…. Gifts, blessings, a good (un-regurgitated, for those who read the Port Townsend post) rum offering to Capt. Nemo, a clean axe cut of the dock lines and no bananas on board.  Success… under fair morning skies, we set sail.

Destiny was a floating home for the Hilliards, so their digs were not set up for bumpy seas and company.  We all did our best finding the right place for everything.  As is often the case, it seemed there was more stuff than right places, especially the dive tanks on deck, which left as is, would become deadly missiles on the loose.  Thus, we tucked into Reid Harbor overnight, a short hop from Roche, where there would be minimal distractions so we could more efficiently finish getting ship-shape and ship out.

We did, on yet another fine, sunny morning.  Unfortunately, as we headed south, and away from the coastline by a good 70+ miles, it ceased to be balmy.  We were mostly on the front edge of the storm the majority of our trip, sailing and motoring dead downwind, though at one point we clocked 42 knots per hour in gale winds.  Temps hung out in the low 50s, though no rain up until we anchored in Santa Barbara, where a got a brief but respectable downpour.  My foulies (nasty boating weather attire) got a good workout, and Dawn bailed me out by finding a spare pair of rubber boots, which, amazingly, fit! 

In the first part of our trip we were shaken, rattled and rolled pretty well.  One of the more amusing moments was watching one of the kitties, Bad Ju-ju, sway cross-eyed, drunkenly, with the rolls.  She got even, fully living up to her name, as she expressed her displeasure in a stream of cat pee, twice, on Dawn and her bedding, which was en route to the well-traveled companionway exit.  I discovered that I am much more prone to nausea from odors (like cat pee, cigarette smoke, diesel fuel and oil from fresh caught albacore) but that even an 80-ton vessel can have one helluva consistent swing on her back porch.  At least, in my more charitable moments, when I didn’t refer to her as  “a rolly b----,” that’s how I described having the ever-lovin’ s--- knocked out of us as the boat rocked a minimum of 10-15 degrees side-to-side and up to 27 and more degrees, with water regularly sloshing under the bulwarks (low openings in a rail just above the deck) across the cockpit, and once up to my waist and down my foulies.  Wave sets got up to 15’ tall, which may not seem like much unless your desk is low and you’re looking up at them from your position in the cockpit and they’re coming 6 seconds apart from several different directions.  Worse, our bunk (bed) was parallel to the waves, with one side getting soaked by a now spurting porthole (window – which in this case looked like the window on a washing machine in spin cycle) and the other side a hard fall several feet above the floor.   We relocated into the settee area to sleep, akin to sleeping in a U-shaped Denny’s booth.

The motion created other challenges.  Adams “oil on top” gallon-sized peanut butter is not pretty when it flies off the seemingly momentarily stable galley (kitchen) countertop.  Ditto bowls of salad and spaghetti noodles.  Crossing open areas on a lurch with minimal grab-holds (some boats have more than others and / or less open areas – Destiny at this stage, has less) is exciting at best.  Refrigerators are not designed to be kept closed by duct tape and contents within them don’t like being jarred rapidly in multiple directions when their door is open.  Bilges (below deck areas designed to collect water to before it drains out) on boats with lots of recent remodeling continue to wheeze and gasp as they struggle to expel the swirling bits and pieces of construction waste. Sometimes this occurs at especially unwelcome times, such as 2 am, shortly after a night shift.

Whether more sail or less sail and which sail(s) – we had 7 and 85 lines between them, more motor or less motor, back inland or sticking outside the shore currents were stressful daily decisions with ambiguous answers.  Is the head (toilet) only flush #2? Or always flush?  The seemingly obvious is often not so, and there are consequences to guessing wrong.  They are the bane of passage making. 

All was not doom and gloom.  We saw beautiful sunsets, magical moonrises, whales, and one glorious morning, a pack of about 125 porpoises frolicking in our midst.  Learning about the various boats – what they are, where they’re from, where they’re going, what their cargo is, how fast they’re going, their weight, width and length -- that crossed our path was interesting.  On and off watch was a great time for storytelling, sharing hopes and fears, really getting to know each other in a way most of us rarely do. 

More than anything, we were there to test our mettle.  And we did, and were even on speaking terms enough at the end to opt to stay an extra night to celebrate our safe passage over a phenomenal steak dinner we cooked together, wondering what the future Destiny and destiny, held for each of us, and where in the wide embrace of the ocean we would meet again.

All that, and, with all due respect to Destiny and the Hilliards, I am at least temporarily cured of boat envy.  As much we enjoyed our brush with fame, we’re much more comfortable quietly observing the scenery rather than being part of it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sailing Desolation Sound: Highlights, Lowlights & Mulligans

June 30 –July 22 ’12:  Everett to Toba Inlet, Roundtrip

Looping back to conclude the Desolation Sound Trip, then will do a summary of our schooner crewing experience from Roche Harbor to Santa Barbara that followed, then quickly get real-time where we are now, in St. Lucia.  As well, photos and maps for this post will be added soon.
If you’re feeling lazy and just want the Desolation Sound 30 second (one point / second) “elevator speech” this is it!
  1. Distance traveled:  650 miles, over 22 days on our 27’ O’Day sailboat, mostly motoring and working the tides, see the blogs and maps (coming soon) for the route 
  2. Best scenery:  Prideaux Haven area and Toba Inlet
  3. Most awesome moment:sunset at pristine Toba Inlet, Toba Wildernest
  4. Most difficult water:  Porlier Pass on the way into Montague, even though we were only off optimum passage time by one hour
  5. Biggest rush:  getting sucked under Deception Pass bridge at 2 ½ times our usual boat speed
  6. Worst stretch:  the Straits of San Juan De Fuca (“Fu—a!”) from Port Townsend to San Juan Island under full moon neap tide influence – required repeated contribution to Capt. Nemo
  7. Coolest wildlife moments:
    stumbling over the J-pod of Orcas (“killer whales”) off San Juan Island
    gossamer jellies swarming around Tenedos Bay and the vivid red lion’s mane jellyfish we saw twice in Roche Harbor
    raccoons making a midnight marauder run at Nanaimo Yacht Club
  8. Weirdest name for a community event:  “Meat draw” meat raffle fund raising event at Garden Bay
  9. Best freshwater swimming hole:  (Ohhh that’s tough!  Can’t choose just one!)
    Unwin Lake for skinny dipping
    Black Lake is the easiest access and a sociable crowd
    Cassel Lake as the nicest place to hang out with the gang
  10. Best waterfall:  need to revisit and go into Toba Inlet before answering that one, Cassel Falls is nice, but there’s lots nicer OR & WA State waterfalls  
  11. Best trail system:  Montague 
  12. Worst trails:  bluff trail that leads above Roscoe Bay, long, steep and not that interesting; trail from Unwin Lake to Melanie Cove was too much of a scramble for us
  13. Best restaurant:  we didn’t eat out much but Fountain CafĂ© on a good night in Pt. Townsend (they weren’t at their best this time but our waitress got an “A” for effort)
  14. Best meals (though hands down, PBJ is the easiest):  
    lemon-artichoke chicken in vermouth
    lamb with bok choy and top ramen
    deviled eggs, served “sunny side up”
  15. Grossest meal:  crab (at least Wayne feels that way – it was one of my best, once the prep mess was gone)
  16. Best drinking water:  Toba Wildernest
  17. Best shower:  Toba Wildernest (Wayne really missed out!)
  18. Best facilities:  Nanaimo Yacht Club with Milltown Sailing Club reciprocals – who-hoo!!!
  19. Nicest surprise anchorage:  Copeland Islands, across from Lund, free and beautiful, even if stern ties are kinda a pain in the butt, but stay away from the West –mosquito-infested side -- even though the sunsets make it almost worth it
  20. Most rustic:  Refuge Bay
  21. Ritziest:  Roche (rich!) Harbor; see how the other half lives, though the Sculpture Garden  “donation suggested” is a deal and the sunsets are free
  22. Best pump-out:  Lund Marina, but they do charge $10 for it, if you’re caught (just sayin’ – ignorance can be bliss)
  23. Best seafood deals:  shrimp from Squirrel Cove shrimper $5/lb and 2 motley one-armed Dungeness crabs for 2 beers from a Lund marina fisherman – truly buying local!
  24. Surprisingly expensive:  Canadian beer; $2/bottle and up
  25. Most over-rated:  Secret Cove & Squirrel Cove
  26. Nicest surprise:  fantastic weather and warm water the duration of our stay in Canada
  27. Worst customer experience:  Telegraph Harbour Marina, Canada, where the answer to every question we asked was “that’s for marina guests only and will cost $1.60 per foot”
  28. Worst Guide Book:  Discovery, opinioned, un-updated, omits some of the most necessary info (like anchorage info) and is sometime just plain wrong – then again -- we wouldn’t have heard about Toba Wildernest otherwise
  29. Grossest moment:  donning rubber gloves to break my brick-like s--- in the head (toilet) into flushable pieces
  30. Most grateful to (besides my awesome husband):
    Milltown Sailing Club, especially
    Dave & Laurie Moller for loaning us their guidebooks and charts
    Slavek Milosovek, who loaned us 500 feet of ½” polypro (floating line) for our stern tie
    Walt Drechsler, for his consistent and genuine warm welcome to Milltown Sailing Club, at the Everett Marina upon our return and for helping us out by returning the stern tie line and the guide books when we were really pressed for time

Mulligans (if we had it to do over)
  1. Faster boat to get up to areas like Toba Inlet sooner and better dinghy with a useable outboard and/or kayaks for better exploration
  2. Travel itinerary unaltered by needing pump outs (boat with through holes) – why don’t guide books list who has pump out facilities and put them on their marina maps? -- and better icebox management (insulated freestanding icebox)
  3. Bring stool softener to avoid grossest moment again
  4.  If you suspect you’re anchored too close to another boat… you are.  Move!  Or at the very least, make sure you and they are anchored securely.
  5. The trip?  Oh yeah!  It’s beautiful, and despite the challenges, we loved living simply.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Coincidence? There Are No Coincidences.

Days 19-22:  Montague - Roche Harbor - Coronet Bay - Langley - Everett

Considering that whilst I write this post, we're now in the tropics and in between we also crewed a schooner from Roche Harbor to Santa Barbara, it's time to pick up the pace and get this blog current, pronto!

So.... a summary on the Desolation Sound trip, with photo updates to this post, soon.

July 18, 2012:  Montague to Roche
From Montague to Roche Harbor was relatively uneventful except we had some challenges picking our way through to narrow John's Pass through the fog. We enjoyed a brief visit from a couple porpoises who were no doubt wondering why the heck we were going so slow, but were unwilling to stick around for an explanation.  After two weeks of incredible summer weather in Canada, we felt all the excitement of a wet blanket returning to a "June-uary" Pacific NW summer.  By afternoon the weather cleared and we walked through the Roche Sculpture Garden, took in a vivid red sunset, and connected with the co-captions of Destiny, the 85' schooner we planned to crew.

July 19, 2012: Roche Harbor - Coronet Bay
Nearly two years prior, Wayne and I looked over the bridge of Deception Pass with awe.  It high, windy as hell and despite how high the bridge crosses the water, the current was not only evident, it was palpable.  Never in a million years would we expect to find ourselves crossing under that very same bridge, in a small sailboat.  "Crossing" is far too mild a word -- it was more like exploded like a rock from a slingshot, or more aptly, "flushed."  Normally our boat travels at a speed of 4-5 knots; as we were jettisoned under the bridge, we hit 12 knots!  Despite that, our only scare was the powerboaters headed directly toward us, blithely coming the opposite direction, unaware our helm control (ability to steer) was minimal. They smiled and waved while we were too freaked out to pause long enough to "find religion."  Still, we survived as I'm here to blog about it.

Coronet Bay is a calm spot just beyond Deception Pass.  We anchored neared than I'd have liked to another anchored sailboat.  "We're swinging the same way, so we've anchored far enough away," Wayne insisted.  So, I took a nap... until... "Danaaaaaa?"  I looked out our companionway and it was filled with the rear end of the sailboat we "anchored far enough away from."  Wayne was successfully holding us about 5' away from crashing into each other.  

We rapidly re-anchored, much further away from the sail boat.  "Gee, that boat sure must've had a lot of road [anchor rope] out,"   Wayne mused.  "You can go back to your nap now."  However, I was certainly cured of my desire to blissful drift off, even though my "nap" was all of 5 minutes.

July 20, 2012: Coronet Bay - Langley
The pouring rain reminded Wayne we had an as-yet unused tarp that would shield us from the downpour while we made our way back.  I called it "the Ark."  More important... it worked.  Along the way we were accompanied by some Native Americans in traditional attire, paddling a long carved wooden canoe.  

When we arrived at Langley, we found out Wayne's former Boeing supervisor, Dell Bergeson and his wife Katrina, his boss and his boss's daughter were all there for the weekend for a wedding.  We'd tried prior to our trip to connect with Dell and Katrina, but were unable to.  Here, within a day of our leaving the area, maybe forever, we bumped into them unexpectedly. We caught up over pizza and drinks and were happy to say what we hope is a "see you again soon!" though not sure when or how.  We were sure, though, that we were meant to meet before we left, that there are no coincidences.

July 21, 2012: Langley - Everett
Langley is a relatively short hop to Everett.  We planned that on purpose, as once there, we'd have to gas up our boat, take it to the pump out, refill the water tanks, unload it, clean it, return our stern tie spool, guidebooks and charts, hand over our boat keys to our co-owner [now full owner], load up our vehicles with all our worldly possessions and drive the 325 miles, each in our separate vehicles, from Everett to Portland OR.

Walt Drechsler, Milltown Sailing Club's Commodore (aka "guy in charge") became our hero, again, that day.  He was working on his boat that day, saw us pull up in the marina, and unloaded the stern tie spool, the guide books and charts and promised to get them where they needed to be.  On top of that, he asked, "Is there anything else I can do to make this easier for you?  Just ask."  And he meant it.  Great guy.  Great club.

Everything else went as smoothly.  We even managed to meet Anna Suarez, my best friend of 30+ years in Portland at 10:30 that night. She was out for the weekend, and happened to be in town, was headed home the next morning for Redwood City.  Not sure how long it will be before we see each other again. We hadn't planned originally on being in town for another couple of days.

Did I mention I believe there are no coincidences?