Monday, April 17, 2017

A Week With Grandpa

If you dig deep down in your memory, you may remember that back in May I mentioned that Grandpa was supposed to join us for the beginning of our trip but he threw out his back and had to cancel last minute. Luckily the stars aligned and he was able to fly into Sidney to join us for the last week our trip instead.

Our first day was spent crossing Haro Strait and returning to the U.S. after three months away. After a quick check-in at the border station in Roche Harbor we weaved our way through the nooks and crannies of San Juan Island to anchor in what is one of our favorite anchorages of all time, Garrison Bay. I never get tired of picturesque English Camp perched in this little protected bay along with the always-fun hike up Young Hill. We arrived in time to squeeze in a quick sunset hike. I can't tell you how glorious this hike felt. After months of cool, rainy, wet weather this mid-July evening was the very first time it had felt like summer. We spent the next day hiking and basking in the warm summer sunshine. After the hike, the boys and I headed back to the boat while Jason and Grandpa sought out the off-the-beaten-path and hard-to-find oyster shop tucked away close by. They came back with rave reviews.

We arrived at Watmough Bay on Lopez Island with enough time to hike out to Colville Point. Our final morning on anchor greeted us with blissful sun-soaked fog magic. Fingers of God-light stretched through the fog and occasionally danced across our dewy decks. Eventually we pulled up anchor and headed back out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca for the the trip to Port Townsend where we spent a lovely afternoon and evening.

The following day we enjoyed a sweet sail back down to Seattle. It was the perfect way to end the trip. At one point a large container ship crossed in front of us so isaac ran forward to ride the bow over the huge waves. The monstrous waves swallowed the front of the boat and isaac emerged soaked up to his waist. I'm happy to say I have it on video. We sailed all the way to Seattle to find ourselves in the middle of a weeknight sailboat race which made dropping the sail very interesting to say the least. As we motored into the marina, Isaac triumphantly assumed his grumpy sea captain pose as we passed by the beloved sea serpent and skeleton pirate sculptures on the breakwater. With a mixture of relief and sadness we tied up in our slip before breaking open a cold beer to celebrate our second circumnavigation of Vancouver Island.

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Sidney Spit

Oh man, I am so very far behind. I swear I will finish blogging this trip someday.

After we left the big city we dropped the hook at Sidney Spit where we were treated to some seriously gorgeous evening light and an equally beautiful sunset.

On our first morning there I packed a lunch of pancake sandwiches and we paddled into shore. After checking out the brick beach, the sun finally broke through and we planted ourselves in a sunny, grassy meadow for a little yoga and relaxation while Jason took a meeting. It felt epically good to relax in the sunshine.

After Jason's meeting was done we continued around the island back to the beach where we waded through water as parts of the spit slowly disappeared under the rising tide. Back on the boat we spent cousin Emma's last evening on the boat enjoying yet another spectacular sunset.

The following morning we pulled up anchor and headed across the way to Sidney where we hugged Emma good-bye and sadly watched as a cab whisked her to the airport. We spent the rest of the day in Sidney getting ready for our next guest, Grandpa Sam, to arrive in the evening.

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Culture Shock!

After our exploration of the sea cave at Port Alberni was done we headed to our staging ground of Dodger Channel to spend a last night on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It's an extremely beautiful spot, it feels so rugged and open.

Bright and early the next morning Isaac and Emma once again raised the anchor and we set off for the Strait of Juan de Fuca in foggy, glassy swells. I love quiet misty mornings like this...especially when we can see orcas off in the distance.

Conditions in the strait were calm and we motored most of the morning. The sun broke out and winds finally picked up so we were able to raise the sails and enjoyed a lovely downwind sail. Jason even motivated the crew to drag out the gennaker which we somehow managed to keep in the air and out of the water which is always a happy thing. When winds picked up to about thirty knots we dowsed the gennaker and continued to clip along downwind at a good pace.

After thirteen hours we finally pulled into Victoria. We docked in the heart of downtown Victoria at 8:30pm which gave us just barely enough time to high-tail it to our favorite fish n' chips spot in the world, Red Fish Blue Fish, which was due to close at 9pm. We stepped off the dock, after 2 1/2 months of wild solitude, straight into the Victoria Buskers Festival. It was seriously crazy culture shock. To go from thinking that having ten people around is a lot of people, to stepping into the middle of a crowded musical festival in a big city was surreal and just a little bit mind-blowing. It was a crazy experience to wrap our dazed minds around as we hustled towards the always-long line for our share of delicious fried salmon.

After dinner we headed back to the boat. At the head of our dock the string duo of Tequila Mockingbird were jamming out tunes from their well-loved cello and violin. They were seriously good. As the hour crept closer to 11pm we pulled our exhausted selves away from the fun and collapsed into bed.

The following morning Jason came beaming back down into the boat. He had recognized the boat in front of us as Nereida of Gene Socrates fame and he had just had a conversation with her. Gene is the oldest woman to have circumnavigated the world solo, nonstop and unassisted. She has now done it three and half times and is gearing up for her fourth. Amazing! We all casually, ambled up on deck in hopes of having a few words with her. It was so cool to meet this quiet, mild-mannered woman from England with such incredible experiences and successes under her belt.

After our conversation with her we spent the morning checking out the sights and wandering around the city looking for good sushi. After lunch we polled everyone and it was unanimous, everyone wanted to leave the city and head back out to hang on the hook, so we bid the big city farewell and headed out.

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Port Alberni Yacht Club

The next morning we saw humpbacks in the distance as we sailed to Port Alberni Yacht Club, a favorite stop from last year's trip. We had explored a sea cave there but were limited in how far we could go because our only source of light was my iPhone. Isaac had been anxiously looking forward to returning to the cave with proper flashlights so we could explore further and Aaron had been anxiously awaiting the cave so that he could properly try out his new powerful flashlight.

We arrived at the Port Alberni docks in time for dinner. Once again Port Alberni lived up to its extremely friendly and welcoming reputation. On our last visit the dock the host gave us fresh king salmon steaks and this time he had made extra servings of fish and barley which he invited us to finish. Feeling extremely thankful and with full, happy bellies we took an evening walk over the hill to a rocky beach where we watched the sun set.

The following morning we waited until low tide and headed for the cave, flashlights in hand. We entered the cave and squeezed through an uber-tight opening that last year had wigged me out because I had imagined spiders smearing across my back as I scraped through. We entered the small cavern beyond and Isaac anxiously shined the flashlight down into the passageway he had been dreaming of exploring since last year only to find that it didn't go too much further. Oh well. It was still super cool to be back in the cave with its glittery walls and ginormous cave crickets and so cool to share it with Cousin Emma.

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Thar Be Dragons!

After our paddle to Benson Island, Emma and Isaac pulled up the anchor and we headed to Wower Island where we spent a peaceful evening. The following morning we paddled out into some big swells with white water all around us where they were crashing into the rocks. Sea kayaking was new to Emma and it was fun to share the experience with her. The swells were a bit intimidating at first but Emma handled the bigger water beautifully. On the way back to the boat we pulled ashore on a tiny gathering of islets where we ate our picnic lunch.

After lunch Isaac and Emma pulled up the anchor again and we moved on to Island Harbor. Not only did Emma bring her happy spirit, she also brought warmth and sunshine and we finally had warm enough weather to take a quick dip. Emma, by far, outlasted everyone else in the water, grinning ear-to-ear and laughing all the while. We retired to the foredeck to dry out in the sunshine and for some music. Isaac broke out his guitar and Emma, her harmonica. We were treated to a blissful afternoon of music and sunshine.

The following morning we dropped the kayaks into the water with visions of sea caves dancing in our heads. Poor Jason had to paddle me there like the Queen of Sheba the whole way because one of my ribs was out and I couldn't paddle. When we arrived we took turns gingerly inching our kayaks into a sea cave. It's always such an unnerving feeling as swells pick you up and suck you deeper into a cave.....especially when it sounds like a fire-breathing dragon lives at the end. Having survived the first cave we headed over to poke our noses into another. Next we were off to explore another little islet where we gathered nodding onions to spice up our lentil soup for the evening.

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