Monday, February 21, 2011

Feb 21, 2011 - Bowman Bay (Deception Pass)

We have big news for this blog entry.  We are getting a different boat!   Yes, after 4.5 wonderful years of boating with Synergy we are once again moving up to a bigger boat.  We are not going bigger because we need more room, or because we don't like Synergy.  We are going to get a different boat because Synergy was never designed to do what we have in mind for her beginning in 2013.  We are heading down the west coast of the US so we can spend a year or more boating in Mexico.  It could be done on Synergy, but it's really not a boat that was designed to handle rough ocean conditions.

But first, here is my blog entry for what is likely our last trip on Synergy.  With clear skies and cool temps we decided we needed one last trip out on our beloved boat before we put her up for sale.  We are meeting some friends out this weekend, which is a 3-day weekend for some people, but not for us.  I have a job to do on someone's boat Monday, and Kathy has to work all day Monday.  So, we will just be out Saturday and Sunday while our friends are planning to be out until Monday.  We spend the night on the boat Friday night at the dock so we can get up early Saturday morning and be underway in time to watch the sunrise.

Sunrise while passing La Conner Marina.
There are small craft warnings for today, but conditions were very calm in Shelter Bay so we decided to chance it and see if we could get to Eagle Harbor on Cypress Island.  As we near the twin bridges and head out into more exposed waters the wind kicks up, and so do the waves.  We battle some rough conditions and our weather station is reporting winds in the 30-40 knot range at times.  We are in email contact with our friends who are still back in Shelter Bay getting ready to leave.  We make it to Eagle Harbor, but it's kind of rough there and we decide to leave and head for Deception Pass. 
Rough water.  35+ knot winds.  Near Anacortes.
On the way we find out that our friends the Daltons are having engine troubles and had to turn back.  They have hopped on our other friends boat (the Swigert's) and are heading for Deception Pass to meet us.

"Synergy" and "Off The Chart" on the mooring float in Bowman Bay.

I get our old Boston Whaler in the water and shuttle people to shore so we can hike around Deception Pass State Park.  This is a very busy park and there are a lot of people here hiking around today. 
Shuttling people to the beach for a hike.

The kids goofing around at Deception Pass State Park.

Hiking around Deception Pass.
"Off The Chart" was having water pump problems (water for the sinks and toilet) so we hooked our boat up to their boat and supplied water to them for the bulk of the weekend.  Since they didn't have a working water pump they had to leave Sunday after we left, since they no longer had water when we disconnected them from our boat's water.  It was a nice weekend out.  We had decent weather, except for Saturday morning when we tried to get to Eagle Harbor.  Everyone had fun hiking around shore, and the bay was quite calm for us with virtually no wave action to disturb us.

We are going to miss our Bayliner.  It has been a GREAT boat.  In fact, Kathy and I were both commenting that this is the first time we are going to really miss one of our boats.  It's such a great layout and we've done so many things to her that make it a great cruising boat, but it just wasn't designed to do what we intend to do in the coming years.  Thank you Synergy for a wonderful 4 years.  We will miss you!!!!


So, what are we buying, you ask?  We are getting a 1976 Hatteras 48' LRC.  LRC stands for Long Range Cruiser.  It is a boat that was designed from the keel up to handle rough offshore conditions.  In fact, the boat we are buying has travelled up and down the east coast of the US, been to the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, and then spent the last 25 years going from San Francisco to Mexico, and San Francisco to Alaska.  It is a capable boat that will take us on our big journey more safely than would have been possible with our Bayliner 45.

Our "new" boat is in the San Francisco area and I will be bringing her back to La Conner sometime this spring when the weather permits.  I have quite a few people that want to crew on that trip.  I don't think I'll have trouble finding people to help me move her when the time comes.

Here are a few photos of our new boat, which we are naming "Adagio".  Adagio means "leisurely", or "slowly and gracefully."  Our new boat is a slow boat with a top speed of around 9 knots, so Adagio seems to fit her, and our intentions of leaving for a year to leisurely and gracefully enjoy life afloat. 

Our new boat "Adagio" underneath I-5 in Stockton California.

Hauled out two weeks ago in Stockton California for a "survey".

I will be creating a new blog site for Adagio and once I get that done the link will be posted here. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

January 2, 2011 - Sucia, Patos, and Clark Islands

It's been windy for several weeks and we were becoming concerned about being able to get out for our traditional New Year's cruise.  Fortunately, the winds died down the day we wanted to leave and were forecast to be fairly calm for at least a week.  What a break!  We plan to be out for 4 days.  The lack of winds were offset by very cold temps however.  The highs during the day will be in the mid 30's with lows in the 20's.  That's pretty cold on a boat, especially when you think about the non-insulated hull sitting in 40 degree water.  It makes for a very hard to heat interior but our diesel furnace did a great job keeping our boat's interior at a quite cozy 68 degrees.  Installing the furnace is probably the best thing we have done to this boat; it allows us to boat year round and enjoy the beauty of the San Juans during the winter when most other boaters stay home.

We left our Shelter Bay dock at noon on Thursday (Dec 30) with the goal of making it to Sucia before it got dark at around 4:30.  There is some wind after we pass Anacortes and our alternate stop for tonight is Eagle Harbor on Cypress.  After bouncing around in some lumpy waves for a while and watching our cat get sea-sick we decide to head to Eagle Harbor.  As we near Eagle Harbor the winds die down and we decide to go for Sucia and endure another hour of rocking and rolling if the winds don't cooperate.  They do cooperate and we make it to Fossil Bay on Sucia Island with plenty of daylight to spare.  There is only one boat here, a Nordhavn 47, which is on the dock.  Amazingly as we near the dock he unties and heads out of the bay.  We take his spot and are the only boat on the dock for the night! We go for a little hike before dark after we don our ski jackets, gloves and hats.  The temp is near freezing but we won't let that stop us from enjoying the last few minutes of a wonderful sunny day.

Our first night.  The only boat on the Fossil Bay dock on Sucia Island.

Beautiful winter sunset.   Fox Cove, Sucia Island.
"Mushroom Rock" in Fox Cove, Sucia Island.

Oh no, my antennae are showing again!

On Friday morning Kathy gets up before the rest of us to check out the fantastic sunrise.  I regret sleeping though this one! 

Sunrise in Fossil Bay, Sucia Island.
 We take a nice long hike to the other side of the island.  We check out Echo Bay and Shallow Bay.  In Shallow Bay we play "word scamble" in the sand.  One person rearranges the letters of a word and writes them  in the sand with a stick while the rest of us try to figure out what the word it.  It was fun. 

Amazingly, there are only 2 other boats here this New Year's Eve afternoon.  It never ceases to amaze me that so few people go boating during the winter.  The often crowded summer "hot spots" are deserted, and there are so many capable cruising boats in Puget Sound.  Where are these people?  Why outfit your boat with all the creature comforts of home, and then stay home????

What a day!  Shallow Bay, Sucia Island.

China Caves, Shallow Bay, Sucia Island.
Word scramble in the sand.  What "word" is this? 

Mt. Baker as seen from Echo Bay, Sucia Island.
 When we return from our hike there are two new boats on the dock.  We talk to a young women from one of the boats and she said they came by Patos Island a few hours earlier and there was nobody there.  Patos is an island we have tried to get into for years but with only two mooring buoys we've never been there at the right time to find an empty buoy.  We hop onboard and get moving ASAP.  It's about 4 miles away and we are there in about 30 minutes and find there are still no boats there.  We grab the buoy closest to shore and immediately get in our dinghy to go explore the shore.  We gather a bunch of fire wood so we can come back after dinner to have a beach fire.  The shore is incredibly interesting with amazing eroded sandstone that looks like we landed on another planet.  It is so unique and interesting.

Calm day.  Eroded sandstone shoreline.  Patos Island.
A person can spend hours checking out the interesting sandstone.

Patos Island sandstone.  Glorious afternoon winter sun.
Synergy on a mooring buoy.  Kevin and Cindy on the fantastic sandstone.

Campfire on New Years Eve 2010.  Making great family memories!!
In the morning after breakfast we row to shore to go for a hike out to the lighthouse, and then around the island.  It is still cold outside with temps in the low 30's.  That's certainly not enough to deter us from getting outside, getting some exercise, and getting to know this amazing island.
All alone for New Years!  Patos Island.

Our only mooring companions for 24 hours.  Patos Island.

The lighthouse on Patos Island.

We walk around a loop trail on Patos and run across several places where there is ice on the rocks.  The kids love playing with ice and we spend quite a bit of our afternoon taking chunks of ice to the shore to float them out so they can become targets for the kids throwing rocks.  It's not very often that we have cold temps like this, so this is a unique boating experience for us.

Kevin walking on ice.

This ice was so clear it was absolutely transparent.

Carrying ice to the sea so it can become target practice.
As usual we play several games with the kids back on the boat.  Uno, Sequence, and Sorry are among our favorites.  We play Sorry and we do it all in Spanish; a fun challenge!  We now have a mooring neighbor but he is so quiet we don't even know he is there.  In the morning, after a very calm night, we get up just before sunrise and begin motoring over to Clark Island.  Clark Island is a very interesting island with a sandy beach on one side, and a smooth rocky beach on the other.  We motor for about 90 minutes and then grab a mooring buoy at Clark Island.   After breakfast we row in to shore and take our cat Zappa with us.  He loves the sand!  Zappa catches a bird not long after arriving; he's quite a hunter.

Zappa catches a small bird on Clark Island.  Rocky beach side of the island.

Zappa, Cindy, and Kevin in a huge Madrona tree, sandy side of Clark Island.
At about the time we are ready to leave the wind picks up and it gets really cold.  The temps are still in the mid 30's and with a 10-15 breeze the wind chill is quite apparent.  We row back to the boat to warm up and head home. 
Heading back home.  Swinomish Channel, La Conner.

The famous La Conner "Rainbow Bridge".  It is still cold outside.
This was a great trip.  The weather was great, there was no competition for moorage, and it was New Years!  Another memorable and thoroughly enjoyable New Years trip to build on our long running tradition.


Word Scamble Anwer:  netlos actaully spells "Elston".  Oddly enough it also spells "Stolen".  Yikes!

Monday, December 13, 2010

12-12-2010 - Christmas Lighted Boat Parade (La Conner)

It's that time of year again.  Time flies when you are having fun!  We've been participating in the La Conner boat parade since we moved here in 2003.  We watched it in 2002 and decided that if we moved here this parade would become a tradition for us.  We have done it every year since, except one year when the weather was absolutely terrible with very cold temps and high winds.  We instead gathered on our boat tied safely in its slip, with our friends, and turned on the boat lights.

This year's parade theme was "Rudolf and his friends."  Kathy came up with the idea of making the side of our flybridge a giant sleigh with Santa riding inside, and friend Jen convinced Kathy that it could be done.  A rope would lead to the bow where a large herd of reindeer would be towing the sleigh.  The herd of reindeer would be all of the kids that come along in our annual tradition.

That plan all sounded great, until I started with a blank piece of paper and tried to figure out how I was going to make it happen.  Sounds easy enough, but I struggled with the concept for a day before coming up with some possible ideas.  Once I had the basic idea figured out I printed out a picture of our boat on our broken laser printer (something in the toner cartridge has fallen apart and the resulting printout is, well, quite unique) and sketched out what I was going to try to do.

How do I make a sleigh out of the rope light we already have?  Hmmmm...

The boat parade concept.  Our printer is broken, can you tell?  Hint, Hint Santa!
I started on Saturday the weekend before the parade to make the sleigh.  The sleigh was the 'centerpiece' of the decorations and if I couldn't pull it off, there would still be time to do something else.  3-4 horus of work with some wood scraps, about 50' of PEX flexible plumbing pipe, about 80' of rope light, and a few hundred wire ties to hold it all together, it was starting to take shape.  Much to my surprise, it looked pretty good once darkness arrived and I turned on the lights.  We invited our usual boat parade crowd over for dinner at our house on Sunday and several of us guys went down to finish the decorations.  Even with 4 of us putting up lights we worked on it for a few hours.  It's a lot of work decorating a boat!

I know you are dying to see the boat, so here it is:

"Synergy" ready for the 2010 boat parade.
On the day of the big even we took the boat over to the La Conner marina guest dock for a free night of moorage and to gather with all of our yacht club friends on the dock.  We had a great time and there was a light dinner before the parade at the clubhouse.

Boats gathering on Satruday for the parade.
 About an hour before the parade start our friends started arriving at our boat.  We had the Daltons (Mark, Jenn, Aidan, Grace), the Southards (Jamie, Sarah, Braden, Will, Emily), the Schornack kids (Vaughn, Mason, Tess), and the Swigerts (Steve, Sue, Aubrey).  That's a boat full, for sure.  At parade time it was pretty warm (upper 40's) but the rain had arrived and was coming down strong and steady.  Our plan was to have the kids on the bow singing Christmas carols but the rain certainly made that a bit less appealing to the kids.  Fortunately these kids were in the Christmas spirit and belted out "Rudolf the red-nose reindeer" as we passed by the parade judging boat.  Only a few kids were left on the bow by the time we got to the end of town, but several of the Mom's were still singing up a storm.  What troupers!

Looking good!
It's fun walking the dock on parade night.
After the parade was the always fun Swinomish Yacht Club party.  The house band rocked the clubhouse all night long.  There was great food and lots of friends to talk to.  Santa even made an appearance, arriving on a big red firetruck!

Kevin tells Santa what he wants this year!!!  :-)
The highlight of the event for Kathy and I though was when the awards for the best decorated boats were presented.  Guess who took first place?  We did!  Wow, that's two years in a row.   I don't see how I can keep this streak going, as I really struggled with the whole sleigh project.  I wonder what the theme will be next year, and what Kathy and Jenn will come up with to challenge me.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nov. 28, 2010 - Thanksgiving, Westsound and Jones Island

We ended up in Sandpoint Idaho last week and had our traditional Thanksgiving dinner over there a few days early with Kathy's parents and Steve's Mom and Sister.  That freed up our Thanksgiving weekend to allow for a longer boat trip.  It snowed in western WA a few days before Thanksgiving which caused all sorts of driving problems for people.  A boat is relatively immune to such issues, so we decided to escape the mess on the roads and seek out some peace and quiet on the boat.

Leaving snowy La Conner on Thanksgiving morning.
The wind forecast for Thanksgiving evening is not good with 30-40 knot winds coming.  We really feel like we want to spend Thanksgiving night on a dock, so we can sleep easy if the winds do kick up.  We are going to try the Orcas Island Yacht Club reciprocal dock in Westsound.  Since we belong to the Swinomish Yacht Club there is no cost to use the dock.  We arrive after a nice easy trip to the islands and find the dock empty.  Nice!

Thanksgiving.  Synergy at the Orcas Island Yacht Club dock in Westsound.
 We have a very nice, but non-traditional, Thanksgiving dinner; pizza!   It was unique and it was great!  After dinner we play games and enjoy being tied to the dock when the winds do indeed kick up a little.  For once though we get a good nights sleep despite being in 30 knot gusts.  In the morning I take a little exploratory walk in hopes that a nearby bed and breakfast's restaurant is open for breakfast.  But, it's closed for the season.  We have breakfast on our boat instead and then depart Westsound thankful for the nice solid dock we were tied to last night.

We are now headed to Jones Island where we spent New Years Eve this year.  It's a great island, but we have not been back since.  We've heard they are rebuilding the dock so we don't expect to find any dock space there this time.  We are also worried that we might not find an empty buoy too as this is a popular island (at least in the summer).  As we enter the north bay we find it completely empty so we grab a buoy.  After lunch we row over to the dock (under construction, and a TOTAL mess) to go for a long hike.  We bring our cat along, which we do when there aren't other people (or dogs) around.  We are gone for about 2 hours and have a great time getting some exercise on this cold but beautiful fall day.

Talking a walk on Jones Island with our cat Zappa.

Zappa isn't your typical kitty cat....  He's really more like a dog in many ways.
Our friends the Dalton's are coming later today to join us at Jones Island and we hope the buoys remain open all day. Nobody else arrives and the Dalton's grab the buoy next to us.  Perfect!

Our two boats alone in the north bay of Jones Island.
They row over for a visit shortly after arriving.  It is really nice to have such great friends to meet up with out here.  We have seen almost no other boats despite the great weather, which makes this island experience even more special as we know that no one else is enjoying this wonderful place.  We have it all to ourselves.

On Saturday morning we meet the Dalton's at shore to go for a hike.  They have never been here before and the kids immediately start exploring.  We all hike around the island which has a wonderful trail circling it.

Cindy, Grace, and Kevin peeling bark from a Madrona.

Jenn, Aidan, Grace, and Mark.  What a nice day!
Kevin, Grace (holding Zappa) and Cindy.

Picnic time.  Hot chocolate with whipped cream for the kids.

Kevin says "Shhhh.... don't tell Mom where I'm hiding!"

Kathy and Jenn go for a row, and some alone time.

It's a very nice day filled with activity and fun in the sun.  Saturday night, after we all eat dinner together on our boat, we witness 3 major lighting flashes to the north, probably north of Sucia and Patos.  Everything is calm where we are with clear skies, but it's pretty ominous looking to the north.  A bit later we all row to shore for a beach fire and some left over fireworks from the 4th of July.  The weather is very calm, for a while.  The wind starts to whip up a bit, and it starts to rain despite the clear skies overhead. 

Beach fire and marshmallows with our friends.

After some fun fireworks we pack up our stuff and head for the dinghies.  They are bouncing around like corks on the waves, and it looks pretty spooky in our flashlights.  This is going to be an adventure.  Then I notice that one of our ours is missing.  Great; now we can't even row back.  Fortunately Jenn is willing and able to row her family back to our boat and then come back for us to get us to our boat, with our one-oared rowboat in tow.  Thanks Jenn!  The Dalton's pile into thier dinghy and row back to their boat.  As I pull our dinghy back onto the swimstep to secure it, the remaining oar slips over the side and into the cold waves.  We watch helplessly as it disappears from view in our fading flashlight beam.  "Oh, well, I think they sell them in pairs anyway."  It's a rough night with some pretty big waves pounding us.  It starts to calm down around 3:00AM I guess.  And this was supposed to be a night with NO wind?

Sunday it was calm again but us adults were pretty tired because of the waves and wind.  It never seems to fail, a few nice days/nights followed by a rough and tumble night.  It wasn't forecast at all, but that's not unusual for our neck of the woods.  It was probably totally calm last night just 5 miles away.  Mark goes out in his dinghy looking for our missing oars and finds one on shore, and the second under teh new dock.  They appear undamaged.  Phew!  I know now that I need some sort of tether on these oars to keep them attached to the boat.  We row to shore after breakfast to hike around the other side of the island, which is just as nice as the side we hiked yesterday.  After lunch it's time to leave, and Grace gets on our boat to play to with Cindy on the ride back to Shelter Bay.  Another fantastic weekend on the water, with our great friends.

Spectacular rainbow on our way home.  So that's what the pot of gold looks like!

Just a few more minutes before we are home.  Bummer!!!