Thursday, December 26, 2013

December 26, 2013 - Gulf Islands, Canada (Part 1)

Merry Christmas from Canada!

We are spending the holidays exploring the Canadian Gulf Islands.  Now, we've spent years roaming these waters during the crowded summer months, but never during the middle of winter.  We are hoping to visit a new place or two, locations that are generally so crowded during the busy cruising season that we have always passed right by them.

We had planned to leave on Friday December 20 at about noon when school got out, but several inches of snow closed school for the day and the wind kicked up to about 30 knots.  Cindy and Kevin wanted to play in the snow at home and were not too interested in being couped up inside the boat missing the white fun.  So, we decided to stay at home Friday and leave Saturday morning instead.

We hit the fuel dock on our way out and chatted with Tony (now working part-time at the fuel dock since his retirement as an on-air personality on THE prominent AM talk radio station in Seattle) about our destinations.  One place we hope to visit is Wallace Island.  Tony has been there before and mentioned that he left a memento in the the cruisers cabin. 

It was cold outside as we motored a long day from La Conner to the customs clearance station at Bedwell Harbor on South Pender Island, BC.  After we cleared customs we had time to drop anchor nearby and settle in before dark.

Anchored in Bedwell Harbor, BC 

Kathy out for a row in the light rain just before dark.
Kevin and Cindy both enjoy reading, anytime, anywhere!
We got up early Sunday morning to do some motoring in the dark before sunrise.  It's always good to practice before you have to do it in an emergency.  We learned that our new exterior lighting needs a little tweaking, and also that a few interior lighting issues exist that make forward visibility less than perfect.

Motoring out of Bedwell Harbor in the dark.

Two of our new "Night Lights".  they are bright, but it takes a lot of candlepower
to illuminate the water to any level of usefulness.  We aren't there yet.

Sunday was a pretty short day of motoring heading to Wallace Island.  This is a place that we poke our bow into every summer, but it is always packed full of boats so we have never opted to spend any time there.  Well, things are quite different during the winter.  We were able to actually get right on the dock which makes shore access so much easier than when you anchor out and have to dinghy to shore.

At the dock - Wallace Island Provincial Marine Park.

Cindy "exploring" the rocky shoreline of Wallace Island

The old cruisers cabin.  Decorated with thousands of items from previous
boating visitors to this wonderful island.

The beautiful north end of Wallace Island
We ended up spending a few days here.  This is a nice island with a good trail system that goes from one end of the island to the other.  We walked most of the trails and very much enjoyed our time here.  Oh, we found Tony's memento which he left here years ago, when they were here with Gary and Ellie on Tangywasser (also from Shelter Bay, and friends of ours).

Tony (aka Big T?) left his mark here 6 years prior to our visit.

The north end of wonderful Wallace Island.

There are a lot of interesting stops during a hike along the main trail.

Kevin gets ready to test the home-made slingshot.  Perfect slingshot stick
courtesy of the Wallace Island trail.
We departed Wallace Island around noon on Christmas Eve day.  We are headed to Annette Inlet, which has been a mandatory stop for us every summer.  We really enjoy this bay in the summer.  It is well protected from all weather.  It is not very crowded.  It is fun to kayak, and it's also a great place to turn the kids loose on the sailboat, or the kayaks.  We also swim here during the warmer summer conditions.  This time we had the entire bay all to ourselves!  Wow, this would never happen during the summer.

We left the anchor light on so that Santa could find out boat.  We hung our stockings over the "fireplace" with care, and then watched a movie together on our new lounger.  The settee in the salon can now convert to a bed, or a great place to lounge and watch a movie.
Zappa takes a Christmas nap.

Putting our presents "under" the tree.  Christmas Eve.

The stockings hung above the "fireplace"

No, our kitty Zappa was not one of the Christmas presents.
Try to tell him that though  :-)

Getting ready to watch a movie on the new salon lounger.
Christmas Eve.  Will Santa find us.....?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December 3, 2013 - boat project updates

It's been a while since I posted anything about the progress being made on the boat over the past months.  We got to enjoy our new Naiad stabilizers this summer, but I must report that it was a VERY calm summer with virtually no wind, and therefore no waves to really test them out.  In our limited experience so far with them, we feel that they are going to be a great addition; they really do eliminate almost all of the side-to-side roll in rough water.

First I'll show you the galley.  In the galley, we have replaced the old energy hungry home refrigerator with two modern 12 volt marine units.  These use less than 1/10th the energy consumed by the home unit, and we can turn one off when we don't have large capacity needs, further improving the energy consumption.
Two marine refrigerators have replaced an old home refer.
New "raised dot" high-traction floor.  Spill proof and durable.

New convection microwave and gas cooktop.  No need to start the generator to
cook something on the stove.  Also, nice new tile backsplash to complete the update.

New wood wall to enclose the refer and provide a
natural end to the counter top.

New tile back splash and the new cooktop and microwave.
In the salon we have created a new "U-shaped" settee, and we are just now completing a new bookshelf with storage cabinets underneath.  First the settee.  This is where we will be spending a great deal of time.  We eat here, play games here, do homework, work on projects and do crafts here.  We also watch movies here, and just hang out with other boating friends.  It's our living room, dining room, movie room, school house, and our play room (rec room?).  The table top is temporary and will be replaced with something more durable than particle board.  It can be lowered and a cushion placed on top so it becomes a spare bed, or a great place to lounge and watch a movie.

Here is our new settee.  This space had two chairs and a table in it when we
bought the boat.  This is a much better use of space, at least for us.
 On the other side of the salon we have taken a completely non-utilized space and created a 7' long bookshelf, as well as 7' of storage cabinets underneath.  This was very much needed, as books and magazines completely obliterated our counter tops.  We have regained our counter top space.  A side benefit is that there is less to worry about flying about when the water gets rough, because the items in the bookshelf are not going anywhere thanks to the "sea rail".

Excuse the mess, the kids were decorating for Christmas last time out.
The surround sound receiver and satellite TV receiver are built into
the cabinet in the corner..  New outlets and switches on the aft wall.

One section of the new bookshelf and storage cabinet.  This was just a
solid wall before with a big empty cavity behind it.  We gained a LOT of
usable storage with this change.  Cabinet doors not yet made for the cabinets.
The stairway that leads to the sleeping quarters and both heads (bathrooms) previously had carpet on it.  If you've ever been on a boat with carpeted stairs you know that they can be dangerous.  Never wear socks on a boat with carpeted stairs!  One big wave while negotiating the steps can lead to a dangerous fall.  Each of us has had at least one "slip and slide" event on these steps.  So, the carpet had to go.  We replaced the carpet with the same "raised dot" flooring we used in the galley, and under the settee, but in a different color.  I have seen this exact flooring on multi-million $$$ yachts, so I figured it was a "safe choice" for our boat.

The steep winding stairs that lead below.  Now
much safer with the high-traction raised-dot flooring.

New wood faces for each step, and the new raised
dot flooring.  Very high traction, and it will last for
decades, unlike carpet.

Once you get down those stairs you find both sleeping quarters, which we have completely rearranged to meet our needs.  In the master stateroom, we now have a true walk-around queen bed.  This is quite a luxury on a boat.

A walk-around queen bed.  No crawling over your spouse just
to get into, or out of bed.  Plus it's much easier to make the bed.

On the other side of the room we have created a bunk bed that converts to a couch.  The upper bunk folds down and becomes the back of the couch.  It will be great when we have guests, since we can accommodate quite few more overnight guests than we could when we bought the boat.

The bunk bed that converts to a couch.  Right now it's become
a storage unit for excess remodeling supplies!  New carpet.
In the forward stateroom, the V-berth, we have completely changed the sleeping arrangements.  When we bought the boat it could sleep two people, on the same level.  We gutted this room, insulated the side walls, and rebuilt it in a totally new and unique configuration.  I have to say, I've never seen a V-berth like this before.  It will now sleep four people, comfortably.  We also picked up some extra storage space in new cubbies, which will be great for the kids to store their "stuff".  This is our kids room, and they love it!

New 3-level V-berth.  This is a unique room, and
it will sleep 4 people.  With two people it seems huge.
Also new carpet.

The "cave".  Our kids love this space. It is like a little fort, and it has a great
storage cubby for their things too.

View from the upper bunk.  The large bed on the right is big enough for
two adults, if needed.  
On the outside of the boat the radar mast has been reinstalled after being quite extensively modified.  We added two more mounts, one for a second radar, and the other for a satellite dish.  We also moved the forward navigation light to the mast, as well as a new weather station sensor.  The anchor light is up top.  We have installed a new hi-tech H.I.D. remote control search light to replace the old HUGE (and not very bright) unit that was mounted on the front of the flybridge.  There are also a few deck lights mounted on the mast.  All of the mast lighting is of the brand new modern LED variety.

The radar mast, and some new antennas on the side
of the flybridge.  New red and green navigation lights
on the side of the flybridge (LED of course).

Radar mast from the rear.  

Radar mast from the front.  Lots of new equipment has been installed here.
And finally out back, we have a new swimstep (larger than the old one) and we have mounted our rowing/sailing dinghy here.  We also have two swim ladders installed under the swimstep that disappear when not in use.  One of them can be deployed with the dinghy in its cradle, making it much quicker to get someone back onboard should they unintentionally fall overboard..  The swimstep is fiberglass and will be maintenance free.  The swimstep mounted dinghy that can be deployed very quickly in an emergency if needed.  The big dinghy up top has been repositioned to free up a lot more open space on the boat deck.

Larger swimstep.  Dinghy quickly deployed in an emergency.
I still have a long list of projects, from watermaker installation, anchor stabilizers built and installed, solar panels, new boat deck railings, a teak TV enclosure, new corian countertops and sinks in the both heads.  I want to move the house battery bank in the engine room, as well as install better engine room lighting and more storage shelves for spare parts.  I also plan to install a new high output alternator on the starboard engine and reconfigure the overall charging system.  Oh, and I'd like to remodel the pilothouse dash to accommodate all of our new electronics and engine gauges.  The projects never end, but, it is a boat after all.

I'll update this again in a few months after more has been done.

Happy Holidays!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

November 24, 2013 - Cypress Island

Finally, we get a weekend out on the boat as a family.  With a road trip to Vancouver BC one weekend, several weekend birthday parties for the kids to attend,weekend Cub Scout activities for Kevin, and then end of soccer season for Kevin, not to mention my guy's boat trip last weekend, we just haven't had any free weekends, until now that is.

We got off the dock Friday afternoon right after school and made it as far as Skagit Island in time to set the anchor and settle in for the night.  Slack tide in the morning was at 7:20AM so we were up at 6:30 to pull the anchor and get moving.  It was almost pitch black when we started motoring, but it quickly brightened up as we neared the prime crabbing ground and the minefield of crab floats/lines waiting to snare one or both of my props.  Fortunately, I was victorious again, and the crab pots did not pose any issues for us. 

Motoring toward Deception Pass at about 6:45AM.

It was a beautifully calm morning.  A hot cup of coffee in hand and a fantastic sunrise to watch.  No other boats in sight.  This is just perfect!  I love boating this time of year!

Pretty sunrise.  Deception Pass behind us.  Smooth waters ahead.
We motored north to Cypress Island to grab a DNR mooring ball for the weekend.  There are almost no boats in sight for the 90 minute trip, other than a tug, a few commercial crabbers, and a Washington State Ferry.  The kids play some games in the salon, which is nice and warm thanks to the diesel furnace I installed two years ago.  I can't imagine boating in the NW during winter without a true furnace.  It was 32 degrees outside, yet almost 70 inside.  Toasty warm and dry.  A furnace adds 6 more months of boating here in the northwest.

After breakfast we put on some warm clothes and row to shore so we can go for a hike.  It's still below 40 outside, so warm clothes are a necessity.

Adagio swinging gently on a buoy.  Cindy and Steve.  Mt Baker behind.

We found this  strange hand-carved wooden boat-like creation during our

Beautiful Mt. Baker, where we will be skiing this winter.
We hike for about 3.5 - 4 hours.  We actually never made it to our destination (Eagle Cliff) because we took a wrong turn on the trail system.  I hate to admit it, but we were actually a bit lost.  We knew how to get back, but we certainly didn't end up where we intended.  Oops.  Lesson learned; we will ALWAYS take a picture of the trail map sign before we start our hikes in the future.

A beach full of great skipping rocks.  Nice find!
We walk around Duck Lake and also find an old "trapper's cabin" in the woods.  It was build in a very remote location.  It must have been a bit strange to live in the middle of a small island, in the deep forest, with no view of the water.  I can't imagine why they built this cabin HERE.  There are so many spectacular "view lots" surrounding this wonderful island.

The remains of an old cabin, deep in the woods.
The kids discover that Duck Lake is frozen solid.  Even some large rocks
tossed high in the air by Dad could not break through.  It has been cold
here this week....

Saturday night we start to decorate the inside of our boat for Christmas.  We hope to get out for some Christmas Cruising this year.  The kids cut snowflakes out of paper and made red and green paper chains.  We also hung some Christmas lights around the Salon.

It's starting to feel like Christmas.   Kitty Zappy ignores the fun by napping
on a chair.
Radar mast is back up.  The boat is looking good.  Some new antennas,
some new paint, new electronics on the mast, new navigation lights
and spot lights too.  Oh, we have a new swimstep this year too.
It was GREAT to be back out on the water, in the cold.  This is a magical time of year.  The crowds are gone, the water smooth and skies clear.  The low sun angle makes for some great photography too.  We had a lot of fun hiking around Cypress despite getting a bit lost.  But most of all, it is great family time, without the normal distractions of home life.  It's just us, doing the things we enjoy most; being together, playing games, being on the water, and getting out for some healthy exercise.  This is the life for me  US!

November 17, 2013 - guy's boat trip, Skagit Island

It was my annual (sometimes semi-annual) guy's boat trip.  It's my chance to catch up with my friend from our previous life in Snohomish before we moved to La Conner.  The number of friends are dwindling over the years as people move out of the area (ward to Texas and Jake to Portland) and as people get busy more tied down with their families.  Sadly, Ted and Ryan couldn't make it this time, so I was left with my two old faithful boat trip companions, Mike and Ron.  Bob was able to go at the last minute which was great.  He hasn't been out on our boat since I hosted Mike's bachelor party weekend in the islands back in about '97-'98.

It was extremely windy Friday night as my friends arrived.  It was also after dark so we decided to go into town for dinner and then head out on the boat in the morning.  It was still a bit windy, but not dangerously so on Saturday so off we went.  The forecast for the rest of the weekend wasn't good, with wind to 30-35 knots and some rain.  So, we stayed close to home and motored about 45 minutes to Skagit Island where we dropped the hook.

My camera was broken, and my cellphone camera was also out of commission so I have no pictures to share at this time.  I will get some from Bob and Ron then post them here.

We had some strong winds Saturday night which kept me awake for the majority of the night.  Sunday it finally got nice about 2 hours before we had to leave.  Bummer, we never even got off the boat to walk around Skagit Island.  We pulled anchor and made it back to the dock just as it was getting dark.  These short winter days make for shorter boat trips!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

October 20, 2013 - Skagit Island

We decided to head out for an overnight trip since the weather has been quite nice this past week or two, and it looks like it will continue to be nice for another week or so.  It's really been quite a nice stretch of weather, although the sun never showed itself this weekend.  There was no wind to speak of so the anchorage was extremely calm.

We missed the slack at Deception Pass due to Kevin's soccer game Saturday morning.  I also had to work for an hour or so Saturday morning before Kevin's game.  Since we were staying close to home we decided it would be a good opportunity to try a new location.  We anchored on the east corner of Skagit Island, just south of the tip of Kiket Island.  We have seen friends of ours here before but have never tried this location.  It is very good with a great holding sticky mud bottom.  Our Rocna anchor set instantly giving us assurance that we would be fine for the night in our new location.

Playing Scrabble 
 We weren't paying much attention to what was going on outside the boat.  We had one of the window blinds down and could not see out one side.  I looked out and much to my surprise was a boat that we know.  It is our friends Andy and Cindy, with their children Sailor and Hudson.  We see them every year at Fisherman Bay for the 4th of July fireworks.  They keep their boat in Shelter Bay, which is where we keep our boat.
Our friends Andy and Cindy anchored near by

Now we are playing Yahtzee
 Andy, Cindy, and kids come over for a visit late in the afternoon.  We end up spending hours visiting and have a great time.  The kids (our kids and their kids) watched a couple of movies and also played together up in the vee berth until it was past everyone's bed time.  It was GREAT fun.

The next morning was a bit foggy and the sun never did poke through the haze.
Zappa watching some seaweed drifting by
 Andy and Cindy pulled their anchor and left mid afternoon on Sunday.  We pulled anchor a few hours later and headed back home.  We pulled into our slip about 30 minutes before dark.
Cindy and Andy, their kids are inside their boat.  We had a boat just like
this one about 6 years ago.  It is the boat we took to Alaska .
Our radar mast will be going back on the boat this week which means I can once again get our two radars installed.  I can also install our permanent navigation lights as well as our remote control spotlight.  Once these items are all up and running we will not feel the need to rush home before dark.  We are  going to start doing some night boating to get more comfortable running around in the dark.  Not many people boat at night around here, but we have had to several times during our years of boating when emergency situations have forced it.  That is not the time to find out if your boat is well setup to operate at night.  We want to be prepared for anything, and comfortable with operating our boat in all conditions.

Until next time....