Our Favorite Caribbean Vacations

caribbean island lookout point

Favorite Caribbean Vacations

Scott and I have many favorite Caribbean vacations. Though we live on the West Coast of the United States (where most folks go to Hawaii or Mexico), we only go to the Caribbean. There’s something about the smell of the tropical air, the warm breezes and the steel drum music that takes you away instantly.  Our love for the Caribbean started on our honeymoon, during our first trip to Antigua.  Antigua is located in the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea and also the Atlantic Ocean, as you can see in the second image below.

caribbean lesser antilles barbados

barbados less antilles atlantic ocean


For our honeymoon in 2003, we stayed at the Sandals Antigua Resort.  We picked Antigua because the resort was unique and looked romantic. Since then, the resort has doubled in size, but kept it’s quaint beach front. Now Antigua is one of our favorite Caribbean Islands.

swimming in the caribbean sea
March 2003

We returned to Sandals Grande Antigua in 2011 after their big remodel. During this trip, we took our first circumnavigation tour of the island on the Wadadli Catamaran.  The tour took about seven hours and was so fun!

catamaran tour caribbean island

In 2016, we came back to Antigua which I wrote about in my blog. We spent so much time touring the island, both on land and at sea, that I wrote four blogs about our trip. Click on the titles to links to the blogs.

Antigua sting ray city tourist

caribbean sea animal

M/Y Lady L
M/Y Lady L

antigua english harbor

antigua caribbean island view

caribbean island lookout point
Shirley Heights Lookout Point view of English Harbor
tourist spot antigua
This rock island has the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Read our blog for more details.
tourist island excursion antigua
View from the top of Bird Island

sail boat washed ashore caribbean

antigua sunset


We have only been to Nassau, which is the capital of the Bahamas. Surprisingly, it is almost parallel with Miami. Be sure to keep that in mind if you visit the Bahamas (or Key West) in January, as it can be cold!

caribbean islands map

When Scott and I visited Nassau in 2008, Florida had a freeze and we had a few days where it did not get above 60º. However, it is a beautiful place and we hope to return and visit the Exumas and the swimming pigs someday.


tropical vacation sailing

caribbean cruising ports

tourist market Bahamas

tropical vacation nassau


Jamaica is located due west of Haiti & Dominican Republic. We have been to Jamaica five times over the past twelve years. The primary reason is that the island folks are extremely friendly and it’s affordable from Seattle. Again, we have always stayed at a Sandals Resort each time. We have been to Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios and White House.

caribbean islands map

tourist towns caribbean

  • Montego Bay

Our first trip was to Montego Bay and Sandals resort, was located across the street from the main airport’s runway. I’m not joking! It turned out to be a cool thing and we didn’t have to drive for hours to get to our hotel. When the planes fly over, everyone waves!

jamaica resort beach

cat sailing jamaica

Unfortunately, a huge tropical storm came through during our trip so we did not do any water excursions.

  • White House

White House is located on the west side of the island and Sandals Resort is located in a 500 acre wildlife refuge park. There is nothing around it, but it is gorgeous! It has a great bay for Hobie Cat sailing and it is really peaceful. There is a bit of a drive to get there (about 2 hours) but the roads have improved. Scott and I have been to White House three times.

caribbean sea jamaica

One of our favorite things we have done, is visiting Floyd’s Pelican Bar, which is located on a sand bar. You take a small dinghy from your boat out to the bar. They sell (warm) drinks and cook up some food.

sand bar jamaica tourist

sand bar caribbean sea

sand bar jamaica


tropical sun caribbean sea

tropical beach caribbean


We have also taken a few cocktail cruises during our stay in Whitehouse.

  • Negril

On one trip to Jamaica, we split up our vacation between Whitehouse and Negril. We drove north for about an hour and it was an easy trip. Negril is very cute and has many famous tourist attractions. We did not do any of them, as we simply relaxed by the pool. The resort offered a free glass boat tour in the bay, which was fun. But beware, because the resort at the end of the beach is nude and they also do boat tours!

shopping tourist caribbean island

tropical caribbean sailing cats

Negril Sandals boat snorkling

  • Ocho Rios

Ocho Rios is located on the northeast end of Jamaica and about two hours from the airport. Unlike many of the other cities we traveled to, the highway was paved and easy to drive on. However, this was not our favorite place at all. It might have been because we didn’t like the resort at Sandals or because it wasn’t as tropical as on the west side. The water is rougher and not as turquoise and clear.  We did take a catamaran cruise to the Dunn River Falls (we didn’t do the chain to the falls). Of course a squall showed up, so it wasn’t a great day on the water.

tourist excursion jamaica

rain squall caribbean sea

Dominican Republic

We visited the Dominican Republic in February 2017. I did write a blog about our trip and voyage. It is a beautiful island and it has cool caves. It just was not our favorite of all of the islands we have been to.

tropical island caribbean

As we visit more places, I will be sure to add them to our list!

Favorite Boating Blogs

Thinking back on how this dream of living on a boat started, it all began when I started following other boating blogs. Business would be slow at our wine shop and the weather was miserable. Why not immerse yourself in someone’s journey? The unfortunate part of following other bloggers is that in some cases their boating journey comes to an end. I remember feeling a bit depressed, know that they had to be sad too.

Some of our favorite old blogs were found on Sail Blogs. Here you can search through the list of active blogs and read where they are in the world and what they are doing.

Our Favorite Boating Blogs Right Now:

  • Sailing Britican – This is a family of three on board their 56′ sailboat and they have traveled over 18,000 miles over the past three years. They share a lot of tips, lessons and advise on their blog.


  • Quit Your Job & Live on a Boat – Author Ed Robinson wrote his first book “Leap of Faith – Quit your job and live on a boat” which tells the story of how he and his wife left the rat race and are now living on their trawler in Florida. You can follow him on Facebook too.


  • Sailing Totem – This is a family of five on their 47′ sail boat, which left the Puget Sound in 2008. They are still cruising and both of them co-author many articles in 48º North and Sail Magazine.


  •  Lahowind – This was one of my favorite blogs to follow. Jereme & Kim from Florida decide to leave the rat race for one year onboard their 37′ sailboat along with their dog Oliver. They traveled all over the Caribbean, got engaged and returned home a year later. They sold their boat, married and had a child. Now she blogs about family and raising their baby. Kim is a professional photographer and her photos & videos of the Caribbean are stunning. Check out her photos & video of the pigs in the Exumas!


  • Jill and Jake Adventures – This couple started sailing in February 2015 from the East Coast down the ICW onto the Caribbean. Be sure to start reading from the beginning to really feel their adventure.


  • Sailing La Vagabonde – This is a YouTube blog following an Australian couple as they sail on their new Catamaran across the oceans of the world.

I am always looking for new blogs to follow, so if you have any favorites, please share with us!  Cheers! Scott & Ally


A Summer to Remember

Pacific Northwest Summer

Pacific Northwest Summer has come to an end and it surely will be one to remember for a long time.  Everyone teases us for all of the rain we get and how dreary Seattle is. So imagine their shock when we say we didn’t have any rain for almost four straight months setting an all time record! Of course, we watered our plants and yard every day, only to get a $1000 water bill this week! Finally, Autumn is here and we are looking forward to it.

The Summer of 2017 will always be the one where our boating journey began. Scott and I really lucked out having a great weather summer. Normally in Seattle our summer starts on July 5th and doesn’t last very long.  Thanks to our great summer, we made sure we took advantage of our time on our boat.

mountain views seattle marina

Pacific Northwest Cruising Destinations

In the short four months we have been boaters, we covered a lot of water in the Pacific Northwest.  When Scott and I first got the boat, we didn’t expect to make that many trips at first, but we got the cruising bug instantly.  Where did we visit?



We also went through Deception Pass on our way home from the San Juan Islands.  That was on our bucket list!

Labor Day in Seattle

We enjoyed the three day weekend of Labor day turning it into a four day mini vacation. We started in Gig Harbor, then Seattle and then the Ballard Locks!

One of the coolest things we did this summer that I recommend every boater do at least once, is go through the Ballard Locks! We had so much smoke from the fires in Eastern Washington that all of our photos and videos have a “burnt sienna” look to them. Check out our video below:

It was definitely a summer to remember.  Seattle usually has a mild Fall season in September and October, so we are looking forward to spending some weekends on the boat coming up. Stay tuned! Cheers, Scott and Ally (and Mac too)

pnw boaters golden retriever

Going through the Ballard Locks for the First Time

luxury charter yacht pnw locks

Ballard Locks

Scott and I didn’t want to finish the season without going through the Ballard Locks for the first time.  They are also known as the Hiram M. Chittenden locks.  We invited my college friend Jen and my sister Susan and her husband Kurt to join us as all three have been through them before.

We decided to go through the locks the day after Labor Day, thinking that it would be less busy. Friends of ours have their boat moored inside the locks and this past summer it often took them hours to get through. The weirdest part of the trip was that everything was “orange” as Western Washington was engulfed in ash and smoke from the fires in Eastern Washington.

Before you go through the locks, you do need to have on board, two 50′ lines each with a 12″ eye on each end. These are not cheap and luckily we had our rewards from West Marine that we used to purchase them.

Entering the Locks

As we entered the locks, we immediately saw a huge yacht in front of us. We slowly followed it and what we thought was a fire boat behind it. Turns out it was their tender!

Thank God we had Jen, Kurt and Susan with us, as we had no idea what to do.  There are two sets of locks. The large one holds many boats and the outside boats tie up (using your 50′ lines) to the cleats at the locks and then boats inside tie up to one another.  In the small lock, you simply tie up to the wall and go through individually.  As we got closer to the actual locks, we figured out we were probably heading into the large locks.


Once inside, the lock workers shouted down to us to tie off to the sail boat next to us.  We used our own line on their cleats.  Make sure your fenders are up high, as you will be locked in tight with the other boats!

Then a few minutes later, they had another 30′ boat tie up to us. Once we were all tied up you can see how tight we all are inside the big lock.

In this entire process, this huge M/Y Spirit, a 178′ yacht came in behind and next to us. She was coming down from Alaska for maintenance work at one of the shipyards. She sleeps 11 guests and has a crew of 13. It’s available for charter for just $270k per week during the low season.

Once all of the boats are tied up, they close the locks and they raise us up to the height of the locks, which is about thirty feet or more.

Our Lucky Day!

We really lucked out on our first trip through the locks as we literally came straight into the big locks without waiting, tied up and then waited a total of fifteen minutes before they filled up the lock. The sailboat next to us had been waiting on the wall for over an hour and a half! Overall, it took us less than an hour from the time we entered the channel to when we left the locks.

You do feel a bit weird having all of the spectators watching you. We felt like we should do the parade wave!

There is not a lot to see as you travel through the Fremont Cut. It is very industrial and there are a lot of large vessel shipyards.

We planned on having lunch at one of the restaurants at South Lake Union , but there was no transient moorage as they were setting up for the Boats Afloat Show next week. When you are at South Lake Union, you do have to be watchful to stay out of the fairway for Kenmore Air.

The crew decided to have lunch at Ivar’s Salmon House located at the north end of Lake Union. They have a nice long dock, with easy access.

Going back through the locks again

After lunch, we headed right back to where we came from. We had no idea if it would be crowded again.  As we approached the locks, there was only one small sailboat in front of us.  You will see a red or green light at the locks, which will tell you if you can enter or not. Within about ten minutes the green light for the small locks came on and we followed the sail boat.

The locks crew had us use our small lines to tie up to the moving wall. Again, make sure your fenders are up high, so you don’t rub on the wall.  After we were tied up, they closed the small locks and the two of us went down about thirty feet and off we went.

I have to say that this journey was one of the coolest things I’ve done in awhile! Originally we were going to moor Kokomo inside the locks. Can you imagine us going through these on our first day of owning and operating a boat?! Crazy. If you have the opportunity to go through them either on your own boat or someone else’s I highly recommend it.

Cheers, Scott & Ally on Kokomo


Labor Day with Family in Seattle

pnw fires sunset seattle

Spending Labor Day in Seattle

We spent Labor Day in Seattle this year. Scott and I left Gig Harbor on Labor Day morning and headed back to Elliott Bay Marina first thing in the morning.  His brother and his family were coming down for an afternoon cruise on Kokomo.

The winds had calmed down from NNW 9mph to about 5mph. Since we were scheduled to go through the Ballard Locks the following day, Scott & I decided to head towards Shilshole Bay and check out the vessel traffic.

There is a resident seal that sleeps all day on one of the green buoys and everyone was excited to see some marine life!

Checking out the entrance to the Ballard Locks

We made our way up the channel into the entrance of the locks and there was a line of boats waiting to go through the locks. Soon, we turned around and headed back out. What was shocking to us was how many paddle boarders and kayakers were literally in the channel entrance with a line of boats coming in.

On our way back to the marina, a large yacht passed us (M/Y Ocean Pearl) and I said “I bet it’s heading back to our marina”.  Sure enough, it was waiting along our dock when we arrived. This is a 115′ Christensen custom yacht and is available for charter. It accommodates up to 11 guests and primarily stays on the West Coast.

It was a fun afternoon with everyone.  When we came back to the marina, we kept looking for our resident seals, but they never appeared.

By 5pm on Labor Day evening, Seattle skyline had turned into a “burnt sienna” theme due to all of the smoke and haze from the Eastern Washington fires. It did make for some beautiful photos though.

Night time brought out an orange moon that hovered over Seattle.

The next day, we woke up covered in ash from all of the fires. What a mess! Just the day before a vast majority of the boats in the marina were being cleaned and scrubbed after the big holiday weekend!

Since it had been so warm last night, we slept with the hatch open.  Great, we breathed in soot all night!

Marine Life at Elliott Bay Marina

Scott and I walked down the dock early the morning to run into all of these fellas! We’ve been at Elliott Bay Marina since May and never have we seen them on the docks.  We know they are a nuisance, but still it was cool for us to see them for the first time.

Every morning our dock starts to move up and down, probably due to the tide change. I tried to capture it and on this morning it was pretty mild.

As I walked back to the boat, I was thankful that our boat doesn’t have a heron on it making a big mess. Then we decided to take a peek at our own canvas and sure enough, it looks the same. Ack! That will be on next weekend’s project list.

Stay tuned for our next blog, as we go through the Ballard Locks for the first time!

Cheers, Scott & Ally on Kokomo


Labor Day Weekend-A Trip to Gig Harbor

pnw boating yachts

Labor Day Weekend at the Gig Harbor Marina

Scott and I had no plans for Labor Day weekend, so we decided to go down for one night on Sunday on our boat KokomoGig Harbor is located just southwest from Seattle.

We were able to make reservations at the Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard about one week out.   After we made our reservations, they emailed us our slip number (B24), the codes for the restrooms and a map of the marina.

The weather was warm and sunny, 85 degrees with winds NNW winds at 9mph.  We went through Colvos Passage on the east side of Vashon Island as it would be quicker and ideally more calm.  There were a lot of boaters in the passage, along with gobs of green floating plant life.

Unfortunately this past week, Washington state has been battling some major fires in Eastern Washington and near Mount Rainier, so as we got closer to Gig Harbor the skies got smokier.

It took us about 1 hour to get there and as soon as you exit the passage, it does get extremely windy. You have Commencement Bay to your east and the Tacoma Narrows to your south. We were trying to figure out where the entrance to Gig Harbor, as we could see it on the map, but not physically.

Getting into Gig Harbor

As you can see by the image above, the entrance is very narrow and not visible from boaters coming from the north until you start to travel west.  As Scott and I approached the narrow channel to the harbor there was a lot of marine traffic – both boaters and kayakers!

The entrance to the harbor is just around the corner of the beach sticking out (hard to seer!!)

Once inside the harbor, it was very crowded with boats anchored and on mooring balls. Scott and I were not sure where to go when we first entered the harbor, as the fairways are not marked. But we had a map from the marina, so we were able to figure out which way to go. I will tell you that if it’s windy and during tide change, the current is very strong inside the harbor.

Our slip was next to the permanent moorage and all of the guest slips are single slips, which we enjoyed. You do have to be careful that you don’t hit the posts holding up the roof though.

After a quick lunch on the boat, we decided to check out this cute town. The marina is literally in the heart of the town with lots of shops and restaurants within walking distance.  Much different than our trip from the San Juan Islands, when we visited Oak Harbor!

Looking back at the Gig Harbor Marina

Scott and I decided to try and find 7 Seas Brewing and on our way, we stumbled upon the Skansie Brother’s Netshed.  The netshed was built in 1910 just after Andrew Skansie built his home in 1908. He immigrated from Croatia in 1907 and was one of the first settlers in Gig Harbor. This is now maintained by a non-profit organization and it was full of historical items.

This tour is free to the public, but they do rely on donations. Be sure to stop in and check out this historical place. You will also notice along your walk, that many of the buildings have historical significance and stories in regards to the early settlers of Gig Harbor.

Where is 7 Seas Brewing?

Scott and I continued walking north through Gig Harbor, looking for the brewery and we then stumbled upon Arabella’s Landing Marina. This marina was sold out, but is also very popular for guests.


Eventually, we found 7 Seas Brewing, which was not on the main drag. In fact, it appears to have been originally some sort of grocery store or shopping center. It was over 90 degrees and by now we were hot and thirsty.  It was so refreshing to sit inside and cool off. The staff was super friendly and surprisingly, children are allowed. They even offer retro board games for families to play.

We each ordered a flight of four samplers for just $5!

Shopping for Gifts

Our good friends watched our golden retriever Mac this weekend, so I was on the hunt for a thank you gift. Gig Harbor is full of quaint boutique shops and so this was not a difficult task.

On the main drag, we came upon “For the Love of Spice” store. I love to cook and so do our good friends, Dave and Kathy. I knew I would find something here. We met the owner, Windy and she hand makes all of the spices herself. They also feature an olive oil and vinegar bar, artisan made pastas, rare and unique grains, flavored sugars, and infused salts. We lucked out that they happened to also be doing a wine tasting. For $5/pp, you get to try three wines out of a selection of over ten wines. Scott and I purchased a bottle, so one of our fees was waived.

If you love to cook, this is a must visit!

Wait, there’s more!

We continued our way back to the marina and came upon Heritage Distilling.

Scott and I have only been to one other distillery and Heritage was sampling everything they make! You buy the tastings in packages and we both decided to sample two 1/2 oz liquors plus one cocktail, called a Bevanda for $7.50.

The Brown Sugar Bourbon was a bit sweet. We bought a bottle and I plan on glazing our Thanksgiving turkey with it! Yum.

People were lined up along with small bar trying all kinds of spirits. The guy next to us, sampled the vodkas above including the Ghost Pepper vodka!

Now that we had covered all three beverage groups for tastings, it was time to head back to the boat and relax before heading out for dinner.  I happened to find out earlier that one of my childhood friends, Ben was also in Gig Harbor on his boat with his wife Maria.  They came over on their dinghy for a quick visit and it was great hearing their boating stories. Ben has been super helpful these past few months with advice and tips on boating.

Dinner in Gig Harbor

Many of our friends had told us we needed to go to the Tides Tavern for dinner. Since we were only here for one night, then this was where we were going.  It was Labor Day weekend and yet we were lucky to get right in.  They offer good pub grub and seafood. Our server was very friendly and funny.

After a long day of boating, walking, shopping and drinking we were ready to call it a night.

Labor Day

The marina was very calm in the morning. We made breakfast and headed out about 9:30am. It was warm & sunny with winds about 14mph NNW.  The harbor was once again filled with boats and kayakers, so be careful as you exit the harbor. Considering it was Labor Day Weekend, Gig Harbor was still easy to get around and visit.

The Colvos Passage was very choppy and windy coming home, as we were heading right into the wind.  Scott and I arrived back to Elliott Bay Marina about an hour after we left.


If you haven’t been to Gig Harbor, we highly recommend it. It is an easy boat trip from Seattle and a fun day for everyone.  Scott & Ally on #KokomoSeattle


A Quick Boat Trip to Kingston – Boating Journey

ferries washington state

Visiting Kingston, a small quaint town just across from Edmonds & NW from Seattle

Visiting Kingston, which is in the state of Washington, not the UK. Why would I even mention that? That’s because as I was trying to find the phone number for the Port of Kingston Marina on google as we were approaching the port and the only one that kept popping up was in the UK! Luckily there’s a great app that we used all summer, DockWa that is like open table, but it’s for dock reservations! Super easy to use.

Scott and I planned a boating weekend with our close friend Randy and his girlfriend Meghann on our boat Kokomo. Originally, we were going to do a two night trip going to Edmonds first then Kingston. Unfortunately, like many marinas in the summer time, Edmonds was completely booked by a yacht club.  Instead, we decided to stay Friday night at our marina, do a cocktail cruise and then have dinner in Ballard.

We spent an hour before their arrival prepping the boat, making the beds and gassing up. One thing to remember in Washington when getting gas for your vessel is to save your receipts!  You pay road tax when you buy gas, but the state will reimburse you for that tax, since you are not driving on roads.  Here’s the scoop on Fuel Tax Refunds.

Seattle activities

This happened to be Hempfest in Seattle this weekend, which is held at the Seattle Sculpture Park along the waterfront.  This also brought out all kinds of fun people, including these rafting on large ruby ducky’s.

hempfest sculpture park

personal water floatation

hempfest seattle

While we attempted to enjoy some appetizers and a cocktail overlooking Downtown Seattle, it was nearly impossible as the wakes from other boats were sloshing us all over the place. I don’t recommend trying this!

Soon we turned back to our marina and the clouds were beginning to roll in. What a cool sunset and view they created.

sunset seattle boating

After we provisioned the boat, the four of us headed into Ballard for dinner.

dock carts provisioning

An evening in Ballard

We made reservations at Moshi Moshi Sushi and the food was fantastic! It’s located on Ballard Avenue in the heart of all things exciting! I used to live in Ballard from 1999 to 2002. Back then, there were only a handful of restaurants on Ballard Avenue. Now there is one every fifty feet it seems.

ballard avenue eateries bars

The four of us finished the night at one of our favorite old time stomping grounds, The Conor Byrne Irish Pub. They have live music and the bar is very old.  It was so fun going back and revisiting an old fav.

irish bar ballard seattle

Off to visit Kingston!

Since we couldn’t check into Kingston until 1pm, we had decided to wait  until the afternoon to leave.  Meghan and Randy arrived to our doc about 2pm and we set off soon after.

Soon after this video, we thought we were having engine trouble. We stopped, checked the props, all was good. We think the issue was we were having trouble getting the boat to plane out and it was struggling a bit.  After trying again, we were off and running!

The conditions were warm and sunny with winds coming from NNW at about 9mph. There were lots of sail boats taking advantage of the winds!

Turns out that Kingston is only about 12 nautical miles from Elliott Bay, so we arrived in about 30 minutes!  The marina is located around the corner from the Mukilteo-Kingston Ferry Dock.

We finally arrived (after just 30 minutes!)

Our friends Cory and Stacy were already at the marina on their boat Bold Adventure, a 37′ Larson. They were in slip 16 and we were in 18. So that worked out perfect for them to meet us.  It is a bit tricky entering the marina, because you don’t know at first which side of the dock to be on, but we figured it out quickly that the even numbered slips were on the inside.

As we approached our slip, we soon realized that the bow line was NOT THERE! What the??  Well, it was, but it had come loose from the railing and we obviously dragged it all the way from Seattle! That line could have gotten caught up in our prop.  Luckily, it was in perfect shape, so no damage done (or so we hope!)

We were ready to relax and have a beer now with Cory and Stacy.

The marina is quiet and the staff was super friendly.  After lunch, we decided to explore the town.

Visiting Kingston is an easy two block walk

Kingston is not very big. It has a few restaurants and shops along the main road, which leads to the ferry terminal. We stopped into a d’Vine wine bar and they were doing a wine tasting! Imagine that. LOL. We met with the owner and she was super friendly and it was fun to talk shop with her. The wines were from Long Cellars out of Woodinville and they were fantastic! We bought a bottle of the Faiken Red.

Just around the corner from d’Vine is Sweet Life Cakery and they specialize in cupcakes. Scott was in heaven and bought a half a dozen cupcakes, including a chocolate salted caramel cupcake.  I just now realized that I should have taken a photo of the cupcakes! Instead I was too excited about the “giant chair” right outside. In fact, these chairs are all over town! Here’s the back story about them.

Summer Concerts in the Cove

All summer long, Kingston has free concerts at the marina park which are sponsored by the Kingston Chamber of Commerce.  Saturday night, they had Sister Mercy a rhythm and blues band. They were fantastic! We brought a picnic dinner and sat on the lawn for a perfect evening!

Randy was generous to bring two phenomenal  bottles of wine, including the Caymus Select Cab and the Five Star Cellars Merlot. Both of which, were stunning wines and a true treat!

The marina is very quiet and we couldn’t have asked for a better night to relax and catch up with good friends.

The next morning, I made another frittata in my Good Times Xpress Redi Set Go Cooker! oven. I can’t imagine not having this on the boat! If you don’t have one, go get one today! I use it regularly to make omelets, frittatas and toast bagels when we are on the boat. There are tons of recipes that come with it too!

Uh Ho, Not again!

We planned to leave Kingston soon after breakfast as we knew we had a couple of hours of cleaning to do when we returned.  Unfortunately, when we started the port side engine we heard a terrible sound so we shut the engine off. Uh ho! Not again. Scott opened the engine door and we tried starting it again. Watching it, the serpentine belt was not moving. Great. This was the same engine we had to replace the power steering pump on during our trip to the San Juan Islands. Scott determined that the belt just wasn’t tight enough, so after a few adjustments we gave it another shot and Voila! We were in business once again. Whew!

We left Kingston during low tide and the channel was about 11 feet deep.  However, some folks in the bay were not so lucky and were grounded until high tide came back.

Now that we know Kingston is so close to Seattle, we’ll plan a few more trips to visit Kingston.

Once back at Elliott Bay, we spent a couple of hours cleaning the inside and out. It is amazing how nice it looks when it is cleaned! As I was cleaning the back end, I had my sunglasses on my head and suddenly they fell off into the darkness of the marina below. Always an adventure when we are on #KokomoSeattle

Lessons learned on this trip:
  • Make sure all of your lines are secured, even after you leave the marina
  • Don’t wear your sunglasses on your head when working on your boat


Our first boating trip to the San Juan Islands – Part 3 Oak Harbor back to Seattle

Our First boating trip to the San Juan Islands – Part 3

Our first boating trip to the San Juan Islands has come to an end. We started in Seattle to La Conner (Part 1) and then La Conner to the San Juan Islands (Part 2). Not knowing originally how long it would take us to get home, we planned to stop half way at Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island on our way home on Monday, Jul 24th.  Now that we have done the trip, one regret we have is that we didn’t stay longer on each of the islands to allow time to explore them. It’s a long way up and expensive, to simply turn around and come home. But we had fun, non the less.
My brother Ron and his wife Patsy moved on to my sister’s boat, Semper Fi in the morning and we departed soon after.  We really lucked out on the weather and the conditions of the sound. We decided to go south along Lopez Island, through Cattle Pass and then towards Deception Pass.  Deception Pass is very very tricky to get through. Because of the severe currents that create whirlpools, it’s best to go in during slack tide.  Given this information, we had to go through between 10:30am and 12pm.


first boating trip deer harbor map

first boating trip deer harbor marina

first boating trip calm san juan waters
first boating trip san juan channel
Leaving San Juan Channel towards Lopez Island
We went back and forth if we should travel north back through Thatcher’s pass, which we knew or head south through Cattle Pass, which was unfamiliar to us. But since Cattle Pass was east of Deception Pass, it made more sense.
first boating trip san juan straits
As you come through Cattle Pass, especially at high tide, be very careful to not get too close to the end of Lopez Island. There are a number of small islands and reefs and we almost slammed straight into one.


first boating trip nautical chart cattle pass
We went through Deception Pass very quickly at about 18 knots, but it was definitely like driving on black ice!

first boating trip deception pass

After we got through the pass, we came upon Hope island in the channel. We weren’t sure if we should go through on the west side or east side and no other boats were around for us to see what everyone else was doing.

first boating trip map hope island
Well, we quickly found out that we should have gone on the western side of Hope Island, because we were suddenly in only 4 feet of water!! We carefully and slowly made our way towards Whidbey Island.

first boating trip scenic hope island

 first boating trip oak harbor skagit
Skagit Bay was extremely windy and choppy on our way to Oak Harbor. When we arrived to the channel, the tide was super low.  We stayed dead center, but even then we were only about 8′ of water.  Then when we got to the Oak Harbor Marina, we weren’t sure where to go in. We tried calling the office, no luck and they didn’t have a VHF channel posted for the harbor master.  But we did have our slip number, so we eventually figured it out.  Luckily when we pulled in, another boat was next to us and they had to help us dock as the current was really strong.
The slips have picnic benches and there are seals that lay around on the logs surrounding the marina.  This marina is a city marina, so it’s not super fancy, but it does offer the basic amenities, including free Wi-Fi.  I will warn you though, it is very noisy due to the fighter jets from the air base that fly day and night!

first boating trip oak harbor marina dock

first boating trip kokomo oak harbor dock


first boating trip seals oak harbor


first boating trip oak harbor marina picnic tables
We walked into town, about a 15 minute walk from the marina. There are lots of memorials throughout downtown in honor of the fallen service men who served our country.

first boating trip oak harbor memorial

first boating trip oak harbor navy memorial
Downtown is very small and there’s not a lot to see or do. They have a few small shops, a couple of taverns (which we found one….that was interesting!!) and we ended up having dinner at the Loakal Pub.

first boating trip downtown oak harbor


first boating trip jo jo tavern


first boating trip loakal pub
While at the Loakal, we ended up buying drinks for a jet engine mechanic who was headed to Japan for a two year tour. He has been in the Navy for over 20 years – we were truly thankful for his service and longtime commitment.

We ended the evening enjoying the sunset, but again it got hard to talk due to the loud jets flying over. Not super romantic. But we were so exhausted from the entire trip that we fell into bed early and slept in the next day.

first boating trip nautical magazines

 first boating trip oak harbor marina seals

first boating trip oak harbor sunset

The Journey Home

We left Oak Harbor at high tide (yea!!) around 9:30am and we had placid waters all the way home!! This is so rare for the Puget Sound.  Scott made the comment that if it was always like this, he would go up north regularly!!

first boating trip departing oak harbor

first boating trip calm puget sound

first boating trip kokomo wake
I tried taking photos of the whales we encountered, but this is what I got every time! See the tail? Oh, yea, it’s already underwater!

first boating trip whales
The sight of Seattle and our marina, Elliott Bay Marina was a very welcome sight!

first boating down town seattle

first boating elliott bay marina

first boating elliott bay marina slip
We got home around 12:30pm and gassed up (another $300).  For the next three hours, Kokomo was scrubbed & cleaned from top to bottom. We took off all of the vinyl/canvas windows and scrubbed them clean. It was so nice to have a shiny boat again.

first boating kokomo clean

first boating dock duties

first boating cleaning
Lessons learned from this trip:
  • pack light! We ended up wearing the same clothes multiple days, no need for a new outfit every day.
  • Food – pack light! Our fridge holds A LOT of food, we were amazed! But we brought enough food to feed an army and so did my sister-in-law. We used every nook and cranny to store food.
  • Stay longer and explore the islands.
  • Fuel- if you travel between 18-22 knots, you will burn through a lot of fuel. Our fuel tank is 148 gallons and when we left Seattle, we put in 75 gallons, then in Deer Harbor we put in about 90 gallons and upon our return we put in another 90 gallons.
While we don’t have any major trips like this scheduled for the rest of the summer, we are going on a quick weekend trip with friends closer to home in August. Stay tuned for our next adventure!
Scott and Ally on KokomoSeattle

Our first trip to the San Juan Islands – Part 2 La Conner to Fisherman’s Bay, Lopez Island & then to Deer Harbor, Orcas Island

San Juan Islands Boating Trip – Part 2

San Juan Islands Boating Trip – Part 2.  On Friday, July 21st we left La Conner around 1:30pm after replacing our power steering pump on the port side engine.  We were headed to Fisherman’s Bay on Lopez Island through the Swinomish Slough and up and around Anacortes and via Thatcher Pass & Guemes Channel, about 26.6 nautical miles. If you missed Part 1, Seattle to La Conner, read here.

The slough is a no wake zone and is very shallow. It took us about 30 minutes to get through it. The weather was cloudy and quite a bit colder than the day before.

As soon as we came out of the slough into the bay, we headed into the Guemes channel around Anacortes. Going across the Guemes channel was a bit choppy and you definitely want to be on the look out for logs! Within a few minutes, we were now in rain which makes in a bit hard to see.



One other word of CAUTION when docking at Fisherman’s Bay is the current is wicked! It might look calm, but you will need help from either the harbor master or crew from another boat. We struggled and we also watched boat after boat, struggling with the current.


Fun on Lopez Island at Fisherman’s Bay

That evening, friends of Kurt’s were also moored at the marina and they had just gone crabbing. Looks like we’re having a crabfest on Semper Fi!

Boating on Semper Fi
Bryce, Kurt, Scott, Susan and Mike


Ron, Susan and Scott


After our fabulous crab feast we headed to the bar at the Islander Resort where they had live music and lots of beverages! Trust me, if you get to this bar you will have a ton of fun!


We had custom t-shirts made for Kokomo
Day 3 of our San Juan Trip

Saturday morning (Day 3), we followed Kurt’s dingy out to the bay in our dingy LilMo to put crab pots out. It was so shallow, that Scott and I stayed in the bay in about 2 feet of water and I made him pull the engine up. I didn’t want it to get caught up in all of the sea grass. It was bizarre how low the tide was.

The marina had quite a few boats anchored in the bay, including this very cool “pirate” ship! Everyone who came into the marina, took a moment to take a photo of it.

We let the crab pots sit for a few hours while we waited for high tide to leave Fisherman’s Bay and head to Deer Harbor, Orcas Island.  It was scheduled for 5p, but checkout was 12p.  Knowing that we couldn’t go anywhere, the marina was very flexible with our departure time.  We ended up leaving about 2pm, as that was half way between low and high.  I still recommend going low and slow thru the bay and channel!

As soon as you come out of the bay you enter the San Juan Channel. It was pretty windy and rough for us.  We headed due west towards Friday Harbor.

Again, you need to look for logs and it’s difficult as we had 2′ white caps going through the channel.  We got through pretty quickly, going about 20 knots and got into Deer Harbor within about an hour.

Welcome to Deer Harbor Marina
When we arrived to the Deer Harbor Marina , we first went to the fuel dock and also pumped out. My brother Ron was incredibly generous to fill up our tank. I kept asking him “are you sure??!! it won’t be what you expect!” Another $300 in fuel and we were set to go.
I will say the marina staff wasn’t the friendliest welcome committee. We had made our reservations weeks ago, along with my sister.  They gave us our slip assignment and when we got to the spot, one of the dock hands came out and said he was going to put us in the slip across from the assigned one and walk us in stern in first and put Kurt’s boat in front of us.  That made no sense, as we wouldn’t be able to leave and we couldn’t use our dingy. The kid argued a bit with us and asked why we needed to leave during the day. I replied “Well, we are here to go boating and crabbing”. Apparently they were trying to squeeze in a 52′ boat behind Kurt’s boat, but they gave up. The moorage is also quite a bit more expensive than say Fisherman’s.  We paid $34/night at Fisherman’s and for Deer Harbor, with power it was $63/night. Plus you have to buy tokens for the shower.

They do have a cute gift shop with lots of clothing items and souvenirs, plus a well stocked grocery store. On Saturday and Sundays they sell freshly made donuts in the morning and they have local artists selling goods too.

We were able to snag a picnic table on the dock, that we used for our meals and gatherings!

A day of crabbing & fun

The next day, Kurt went out to pick up the crab pots they dropped on their way in. Oh, are you wondering how many crabs we got in Fisherman’s Bay? None…..he forgot to cut the plastic zip ties that hold the doors together when they are shipped. LOL  This time around he got five (the limit for one person per day) beauties! We celebrated with Mimosas, pre-made that we got from The Wine Alley! Yumm!

Scott and I spent the morning zipping around in our dingy and checked out all of the cool boats that were in the harbor!

That afternoon, we all went out on Semper Fi to check the pots, since Scott and I both had crab licenses.  Unfortunately, they lost a pot either from a high tide or someone took it. It was a very fun relaxing afternoon hanging out with everyone on one boat.


We met a local traveler from Olympia, Ray who has been a live-aboard for a long while and his dog Rex.  Rex got all of the attention and he had “human” eyes. But I could never quite capture his look.

The day ended with a great crab feast, salad and birthday celebrations!

Including two of our favorite wines from Gamache Cellars & Five Star Cellars.

Soon after this “party” photo was taken, the guys headed up to the Island Pie, a pizza place to order a pizza and the gals chatted away.  We were parting ways the next morning as we were headed home and Ron & Patsy were staying a bit longer on Semper Fi.

Stay tuned for Part 3 – Deer Harbor to Oak Harbor! #KokomoSeattle

Our first trip to the San Juan Islands – Part I Seattle to La Conner

Boating to San Juan Islands – Part 1

Boating to the San Juan Islands for the first time. When we bought our boat, Kokomo in May, we hadn’t planned on taking a trip this summer to the San Juan Islands, as we wanted to become more familiar with the boat, etc.  But my sister Susan thought it would be fun for us to boat up there with them and invite my brother and his wife.  So we mapped out a 6 day vacation leaving Seattle and head first to La Conner, which is 54 nautical miles.

My brother Ron and his wife Patsy, stayed with us the night before and we headed down to Elliott Bay Marina first thing in the morning. We learned right away that all of us over packed both food and clothing.  Our boat, Kokomo has lots of storage, but it’s not that easy to access and if you don’t use it, things get cramped quickly.  It took four carts to load the boat with refrigerated items, beverages and their stuff (and remember, we had already loaded our clothes and non perishables the weekend before!).

The winds normally come from the north or northwest, but on Thursday they were 8 knots from the south – which really helped us out a lot!

crane on puget sound

boating on puget sound

My sister Susan and her husband Kurt were traveling on their 34′ trawler Semper Fi at about 7 knots and they left Shilshole Marina around 8:30am on Thursday, July 20th.  We knew we could catch up to them traveling about 17 knots, so we didn’t leave until 10:15am.

trawler boating

We caught up with them around the north end of Whidbey Island, around 11:45am.  Scott thought it would be funny to circle around them, but you know the story of the Tortoise and the Hare? Well, more on that later.  After we circled around them, Kurt called me to say we had a loose line. Turns out one of the lines on our dingy had come loose and was flying all over the place, including under the engines, yikes! Soon enough Karma caught up to us and about an hour later.

We started hearing a rattling / pinging noise from one of the engines, so we stopped and decided to check it out. Since we have two engines, we can use each of them to compare what the other should look like.  We noticed right away that the power steering pulley was at an angle and there were also some metal fragments from the ball bearings.  Not sure what we should do, since the serpentine belt was still working, but noisy, I called my brother-in-law Kurt (retired Chief Engineer for the Washington Ferries) and he zipped over on his dingy for a quick assessment. Determined that the power steering pump needed to be replaced, we now had to limp into La Conner on one engine – and 8 knots, right along side Semper Fi.

boating mercruiser trouble

Luckily for us, the waters (as you can see in the photos and video) were very very calm for the sound. So calm, that Patsy and I decided to sit on the bow and enjoy the smooth ride up.

Ron relaxed on the stern…….

To get to La Conner, you enter a channel and then up the Swinomish Slough.
boating swinomish

swinomish canal

We had made reservations a few weeks ago and were fortunate to be on G Dock on the outside on the end, since we didn’t have much steering control. Semper Fi was right next to us.

trawler la conner

We called the local NAPA store and they had the part. The La Conner Marina staff was so helpful and drove Scott down to the store. He had taken the old pump with him and when he got the new pump, they informed him that it didn’t come with the pulley shaft and that a machine shop, La Conner Maritime Services would have to use the hydraulic press to remove it from the old one and put in it in the new one. They would be able to do that in the morning.
The La Conner Marina is very quiet and has nice facilities for restrooms and showers. That evening, we all walked into town for dinner. La Conner is super cute with  lots of quaint restaurants and shops.  We were drawn in by fresh oysters (not me!) at the Oyster and Thistle Pub and decided to eat there for dinner.  Now that I’m looking at a map, there were many other restaurants to choose from…..but we stumbled on this quaint cute place first.

Knowing we had to fix the boat, Scott woke up bright and early and headed to La Conner Maritime Services.  He picked up the part and we thought we were on the home stretch, when he realized it was not threading (connecting) to the engine. Uh ho!  Turns out it couldn’t reach and it needed an adapter piece. We called all of the parts stores, nothing.  At this point we are preparing to limp home on one engine and transfer my brother, his wife and all of their stuff over to my sister’s boat. Not a fun moment.
Kurt and Scott were not giving up and they went to La Conner Maritime that put the shaft in to try and find this piece in the back room. Still no luck. That’s when Kurt got the idea of taking the old part off of the original pump and using it! Voila!! That worked great. Scott then added power steering fluid and went to put the cap on when there was no cap.  The new pump didn’t come with one. Now what??  Wait – why don’t we go back to the machine shop and get the cap off of the old pump Voila again!  Note to self:  always keep your old parts until you are sure you are done with them!

We were finally on our way to Fisherman’s Bay on Lopez, Island! Let the vacation begin!  Stay tuned for part two!