Life Without Mac

Life without our golden retriever Mac

Scott and I have been so overwhelmed by the outpouring of condolences for the loss of our golden retriever Mac. Last Thursday we said a very tearful goodbye to our boy, who would have been 15 in April. This is the first time in twenty-eight years that I have not had a golden retriever or a dog for that matter, in my home.

Our friends and family have been asking, how are we doing these past few days.  Let me tell you, it’s been a tough journey.  Scott and I deliberately took a quick trip to Las Vegas to distract us from our sorrows.  If you love going to Vegas, this trip was not your typical “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” trip. It’s hard to enjoy the bling and scenery, when your heart is so heavy. Keeping ourselves occupied, we did go see Treasure Island, as I had not seen the pirate ships before.

life without Mac

We stayed at the Bellagio and ironically their courtyard garden theme was “The Year of the Dog” for Chinese New Year.

life without Mac

life without Mac

In fact, everywhere we went in Vegas, the theme was “Year of the Dog”; a cruel irony, but that’s part of life. Unfortunately, just 48 hours we were back home to an empty house.

Grief is like an ocean

There is a quote that says “Grief is like an ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” ~ Vicki Harrison

That quote described my first full day at home without Mac. As I did chores throughout the house I was constantly reminded of our loss. His fur balls would appear, his leash still hung on the coat tree and the cookie jar was still on the counter.

Scott and I have decided to take a break from having a dog and give ourselves time to grieve for both Maggie and Mac. With that said, we are donating their beds, bowls and toys to the Seattle Humane Society.  Gathering up his things, was overwhelming.

life without mac

My entire home is full of “all things golden”, from coasters, to door mats, to trivets and pictures.  Those things are simple reminders of the love we have for the breed and our precious pups. As time moves on, we will slowly replace some of these. Right now, it’s far too painful.

The love from social media

When I posted on Facebook that we were saying goodbye to Mac, I had no idea that over 275 people would react. The number of condolences and kind thoughts have been overwhelming. Mac made an impact on so  many people, even those he had never met.  Many friends posted photos of their lit candles or memories with Mac. Some left us messages on our Facebook pages. Some cried with us.

Thank you to all of you for your love and support. The love that has come out of this sad moment, has shown me that there is a lot of good in people and life. Never forget that.

Life without Mac, what’s next?

Scott and I bought this house because it had a huge yard for the dogs and we had planned on having children.  Now it seems silly to live in this big house all by ourselves.

life without mac

So this spring, we will most likely put our house up for sale. Are we moving onto a boat finally? Not yet.  Most likely, we’ll simply downsize for a year or two.

Scott and I don’t know yet what our boat plans are for 2018. We will either look for the next boat, a 40′-45′ cruiser or keep Kokomo for another year.  We’ll keep you posted on that plan.

Seattle Boat Show Weekend

This weekend is the Seattle Boat Show – one of the largest boat shows on the West Coast. There are three locations for the show this year and we are hoping to take lots of videos and share those with you on our new YouTube channel. So stay tuned for next week’s update.

power boat show pnw

Scott and I are planning on staying on the boat this weekend, so we can finally say we stayed on it during the winter. Again, another distraction from our sadness.

The day we pick up Mac’s ashes and deliver his dog items to the Seattle Humane Society will be extremely emotional. It’s part of life, but it’s never easy. I remember cleaning out my childhood home after my father died and then just four years later, taking care of my mom’s apartment when she died. The best advice I have for myself and Scott, is take each day one at a time. As the quote says, “grief comes in waves”.  Take one day at a time.

life without mac

Thank you again to all of you who left us condolences here on our blog, social media pages and sent us cards. It means more to us than you realize.

life without mac

Our new chapter is here……….Scott and Ally

Saying Goodbye to our Golden Retriever Mac

saying goodbye boating dog

Saying Goodbye to Mac

Sadly, Scott and I are saying goodbye to our golden retriever Mac tonight.  To say we are heartbroken and devastated is an understatement. Anyone who has ever had the joy of living with a pet understands this.  They are more than animals, they are our kids.

When Scott and I met, I had Maggie, my four year old golden retriever. Immediately, we wanted to get a second dog when we got married. Mac arrived in June 2003 and we were so blessed to have such an awesome dog.

saying goodbye to mac

He and Maggie hit it off and became best friends for life.  Soon after we got Mac, we moved from Bellevue to Renton to a house with a huge yard. They loved to chase each other and romp in the grass. Their other favorite spot was my family’s home at Tyee Beach on Camano Island.  Mac and Maggie would swim for hours in the sound, if you would let them.

saying goodbye camano island

Life After Maggie

When Maggie was 15 1/2 years old, we had to say goodbye. Suddenly, Mac was living a new life and he wasn’t sure what to do.  Maggie was the alpha dog in their relationship and now there was no one around to boss him around.

We spread Maggie’s ashes in the sound at Tyee Beach since it was her favorite place.  Scott and I put Mac in the boat (not knowing how he would react) and we motored out just a bit.  We had friends and family along the beach celebrating her life with us and it was a very emotional moment.

saying goodbye dogs


The Wine Shop Dog

Since Mac had never been alone, we decided to bring him to work at our wine shop. There he greeted all of the vendors and customers at the door and politely waited for treats. He was a great store mascot! We would throw him birthday parties at the shop and one customer gave him a card with $20 in it!

saying goodbye to Mac

Scott and I sold our shop, The Wine Alley in October 2015 and now Mac was back to being a house dog. He had such a following, that customers insisted we bring him to wine tastings on a regular basis, which we did. In 2016 he started to slow down and getting in and out of a car required a ramp, which meant we couldn’t do as many things as we used to.

Of course, swimming at Camano was still at the top of his list and that is where we will spread his ashes too. He was never a great swimmer, but he learned to love it and it was hard to get him out of the water.

saying goodbye to mac

Mac the Boating Dog – Not

When Scott and I bought our boat Kokomo in May 2017, we assumed Mac would LOVE boating with us. Unfortunately, it was not his favorite past time. Probably because it was long walk to the dock and at 14 years old, he wasn’t into it.  Once on the boat, he did great, mostly slept or begged for food. I shared a blog post about boating with Mac last summer.

We always made sure he was comfortable and never stressed when we were boating. Mac loved all of the marina dogs he met and he loved that he could dine with us at Maggie’s Bluffs.

And our guests loved boating with Mac. He was always such a great boy to be with.

Thank You Mac

I can’t imagine what our lives would have been without Mac in our family. We traveled all over with him to Mt. Rainier, to camping in Eastern Washington, to visiting Cave B Resort and wineries in Washington.  Now he is with Maggie running around chasing her and it comforting to us to know they are once back together.

sweet golden retriever face

We miss you more than words can say and your memory will live in our hearts forever. We love you, Mom and Dad

Here’s our tribute video to Mac:


Fletcher Woodworks Gift Items

Fletcher Woodworks Cutting Boards & Utensils

This past Christmas my brother in-law, Kurt gave us some great gifts from his Fletcher Woodworks business. If you recall, Kurt has helped us out tremendously on the boat, including helping us dock on our first day.  He is also a very talented woodworker!

We have a joke in our family that if you want him to design cabinets or counters for you, be patient because he has to grow the tree first. After Kurt retired from the Washington State Ferry system, he started this business with his two sons, Chris and Spencer. Everything they make is handmade with custom wood and gorgeous!

Cutting Boards

This year Kurt gave us a Birdseye Maple cutting board and honestly this picture doesn’t do it justice. You have to see it up close.

wood cutting board handmade

Here’s a close-up of the grain:

handmade cutting boards seattler

Cheese Knives & Spatulas

In addition to the cutting board, Kurt also gave us four utensils. The cheese knife is displayed above on the cutting board. The utensils are made out of Leopard wood, also known as Lace wood. The knife has a very sharp edge on it too.

handmade wood products seattle

I know what you are thinking……these are way too nice to actually use! However, they are designed to be used regularly.  They also have a wood finish that is food safe to use on the cutting board and utensils. Fletcher wood finish is made of organic beeswax and organic flaxseed oil (linseed oil). They chose this mixture over mineral and other oils because of its food safety, rich color and tougher finish. Flaxseed oil naturally soaks into the wood pores and polymerizes with time to form a stronger finish.

Fletcher Name

So you are probably assuming that Kurt’s last name is Fletcher, but in fact it’s not. My sister and her husband live in Ballard and in a quaint neighborhood (one street) called “Fletcher’s Village”. This quaint street has a handful of Storybook Tudor homes that were built in the 1930’s, featuring European style homes with clinker brick & stone work exteriors. As you enter the village, there is a big wooden sign over the street for “Fletcher’s Village”. Now you know where the name comes from!

Fletcher woodworks

Fletcher Woodworks On-line Store

Fletcher Woodworks has an on-line store with all of their products available. These are locally handcrafted items from the Pacific Northwest and are great gift items. Of course they would go perfectly on a boat, but also serve great in any kitchen.  So the next time you are looking for that unique gift, remember Fletcher Woodworks handcrafted gift items. Check out their website and on-line store at

Fletcher woodworks products for sale


Stay tuned for the end of the month, as we are heading to the Seattle Boat Show! We plan on staying on the boat that weekend for our first winter stay over, so we’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Cheers! Scott & Ally

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Where Do We Begin?

Earlier this year, I thought I was moving to Belize  and so we started the process of getting rid of “stuff”.  In order to move onto a boat, we would have to tackle this necessary evil, so that turned out to be a blessing.

Scott and I looked at each other and said “Where do we begin?”. Of course, the answer was the (wait for it…….) THE GARAGE. Oh my!  First, we had to tackle all of the items we had been storing for The Wine Alley, including 10 years worth of accounting stuff.

Luckily, we have a shredding company just at the bottom of the hill, Shred-It which charged us only $70 to shred 7 boxes! Per the IRS, we still have to keep the most recent and other docs from 5-7 years ago.

Then we had to tackle our real stuff – this should be fun.  We started listing items on “Letgo and OfferUp” apps. We also listed some books on Ebay and Amazon. But we really need to make room in the garage (it was a pig stye!).  So we had our first garage sale.


Unfortunately, we live at the end of an alley way and it’s not that easy to get in and out of our driveway. Plus, the weather turned out not to be nice, but we did pretty good. We got rid of all of the furniture, patio heater, tons of construction items, electronics, etc. We now can get the car in the garage and walk around!
But even after all of that, it’s still overwhelming looking at all of our stuff. Everything that didn’t sell, we gave to NW Center for the Blind and boy did they get a huge haul.  Personal and family heirlooms we will give to our nieces and nephews.
We just keep reminding ourselves and when the dream finally arrives, this is how we will need to store our “stuff”.







Yeah, I think we’ll be wearing the same clothes over and over! Cheers!

Setting & Reaching Goals

When I started blogging originally, it was 10 years ago when I was approaching the big “4-0” and it chronicled my journey in trying to have a child.  Four years later, we gave up and came up with the dream to sail the world.
Since that time, we have traveled across the US to Annapolis and Miami to attend boat shows, read book after book about sailing and trying to absorb as much information possible before we make the plunge.


Now it’s 10 years later, so that means I’m approaching the big “5-0” this year. Time to set a new goal. I must be crazy because I decided to sign up for the Lake Union 10k run (6.2 miles) in August and I started training this month. I’m not a runner, nor have I ever ran a 10k. Luckily, Scott has decided to also run it with me.  
The motivation, is not just about accomplishing the feat, but rather getting back into shape.  Many people don’t realize how important it is to be physically fit to operate a boat – especially a sail boat. You need to have the strength and endurance in order to safely enjoy boating and sailing. Now, this is not typically how you sail (see below).
How do we begin training? Well, a few weeks ago I had the brainy idea to just go to the track and start running!  I made it around the first lap (1/4 mile) and was completely out of breath. I stopped for a few seconds and made it another round. Repeat. By the fourth lap, I was down to running, walking and all with the help and motivation of Scott, who was by my side.
So guess what happened the following day? Yep, I could barely walk as my legs were so sore. The pain lasted at least 4 days. A week later, we decided to run in our neighborhood, a mile at a time and walking in between for a total of 3.5 miles. Next day, couldn’t walk again. LOL  This is not going well and I only have 12 weeks left to train. However, I never give up on anything I start, so this will happen.  Thanks to technology and smart phones, I came up with a much better plan. I downloaded “10k Runner” training app and I love it! You run about every other day and the first day of training, you run for 1 minute then walk and repeat for 30 minutes. The next day I felt awesome! We are only in our first week of training with the app, so we will keep you posted! Cheers!





All Things Dogs, Boats & Sun

As most of you know, we sold our business last Fall. I am currently pursuing job opportunities in the sales & marketing field, but if you know me, I just can’t sit around and not be busy.

So what does someone like me do then? I start a couple of side businesses related to everything I love, Dogs, Boats and Sun!

First up, is our T-shirt and Gift line. We had the logo custom designed for us:

The items are sold at Cafe Press under AllysBoatingTshirts. You can get different styles and colors, along with some great items perfect for your boat!

We do get a commission from each item, so we really appreciate everyone’s support and share of the site!

Of course, I couldn’t stop there. As you know, I read lots of real life sailing stories. Almost everyone of them had a difficult purchase experience. They found a boat, took time off, traveled to another state to view it, only to find out it was NOT what it was described as. The photos were not current and the boats smelled horrible.  
I decided, that the yacht industry needs an unbiased independent “concierge” to help yacht buyers.  So I created a new business called “Yacht Buyer’s Concierge” and my rates & info are on my website posted here..
For a nominal fee, I will come out and take 40 photos and a video of the interior and give the buyers an unbiased report of the vessel. This will save them time and money, if, in fact it doesn’t look like it does on the broker’s side.

Feel free to share my concierge site as well. If I go back to work full-time, I will continue this service as this gives me a great opportunity to view vessels and help us figure out the right one when the time comes.  Cheers!  Ally

New Reads for the Year!

It’s funny that I have found a passion for reading books, because growing up I never read. My mom could read a mystery novel in a day, but I never liked reading. That was until I stumbled upon a book “A Sail of Two Idiots: 100+ Lessons and Laughs from a Non-Sailor Who Quit the Rat Race, Took the Helm, and Sailed to a New Life” and I was hooked for life. That was three years ago and ever since then I read everything I can about sailing and life in the Caribbean from books, blogs and stories in sailing magazines.  
So that makes buying gifts for me easy!  This past Christmas my husband bought me two new books and actually they were not about sailing, but living the dream in warm sunny weather. (Close enough).  

The first one is by Ryan Stone called “Leavin’ The Grind Behind…: Get Palm’d in the Virgin Islands.

What I love about this story, is I could totally relate to him. They were from the Seattle area and fell immediately in love with the British Virgin Islands. So much so, that their life revolved around their next trip (which was a few times a year). He had an encounter with the famous “Foxy” of Foxy’s Bar in BVI and supposedly it is rare to meet the man in person. This bar was made famous (again) by Kenny Chesney in his video “When I See This Bar”.



Ryan eventually started a business focusing on their passion for the Caribbean life selling swag on the internet. But sadly, it appears they are no longer doing that. (But I like the idea!)


His story was quite different. He was dumped by his wife over the holidays and as a cargo plane pilot found himself sitting by a pool in the Philippines feeling depressed. The next moment, another guest at the pool convinced him to move to the Philippines and he did. A few days after he arrived, he met his (future) wife and he’s never been happier living on the beach.

I can’t keep up with all of the magazine articles – in fact, I’ve started a binder to keep track of “to do” articles, places to go, “how to”, etc. Again, we subscribe to Cruising World, Blue Water Sailing, Sailing, Cruiser’s Outpost, Multihull Quarterly, Multihulls, Passage Maker….that’s just a few of them. Okay, so at least I recycle what we don’t keep.  A more carbon friendly media is sailing blogs and I stumbled upon a new favorite! (I’m always bummed when the sailors go home). This new one is called “Jake And Jill Adventures“.
I love getting their updates and they also have a YouTube channel, so you can follow them along virtually. They are selling swag on their website too, so stock up!
Well, that’s our newest reads and someday down the road, we’ll have something real for you to read too! Cheers and happy dreaming!


Seattle Boat Show – The Largest Boat Show on the West Coast

For years, Scott and I have been going to the Seattle Boat Show. This show is in January and is located in two spots. One at the Century Link convention center and also at Lake Union. At the convention center they have a lot of ski boats, fishing boats, lots of booths and a handful of sail and large power yachts.  They offer a free shuttle to Lake Union where they have a lot of trawlers and a power yachts.

We stopped at a few booths, mainly with the purpose of talking to marinas. We quickly found out that many marinas don’t offer space for live-a-boards, or if they do, they have a long wait list. (Yikes, we don’t have a boat yet, but once we do, we’ll need a spot!).  We did talk at length with Foss Harbor Marina in Tacoma. Very nice guy and they don’t have a wait list. In fact, one of their residents happened to be there and she not only sold us on the marina, but also on composting toilets. (yes, odd, but very useful info).  He said we could come down any day and take a tour, which we will do one of these Saturdays. With Scott working from home, he has the flexibility to work anywhere, so this could be perfect.

We did talk to City of Des Moines Marina, Port of Everett Marina, Port of Edmonds and Shilshole Marina. Some had a few wait lists and some didn’t. Guess we’ll have to figure that out when the time comes.  
From there we also talked to yacht charter and lesson companies. We talked at length with Bellhaven ASA Sailing & Power School in Bellingham. Here we can get our certification to bareboat a catamaran anywhere in the world. San Juan Sailing also offers this service. 
Another fun thing we would like to do is simply charter a power boat here in the PNW and there are many companies, that offer day training and charters, including Ship Harbor Yacht Charters, Blue Pacific Yacht Charters, Crown Yacht Charters and Anacortes Yacht Charters. For information and rates, visit their websites.
We found a few new cool items too (of course, when we’re finally boat owners!). One was the Electric Paddle. Simple idea, your small motor runs off a battery and it can last up to a few hours. Perfect for your tender. This company is local and is based out of North Bend, WA!

Another new product to the market is Bella d’Vine the “ultimate outdoor beverage holder” from Sun Chaser products. They retailed for about $15 and we definitely will get these when the time comes.
For long term cruisers, you might wonder how do you get your mail? Well, we found a company that does just that! Dockside Solutions will receive your mail, scan it and forward it to you. How cool is that!?  And this is also a local company based in Seattle. Visit their website for rates.
 Scott immediately fell in love with Yacht Controller. This device lets a captain single handle his vessel with a joy stick. They can range in price of anywhere from $9,000-16,000. One cool thing about it, is it controls your prop in seconds (or a few rotations), whereas if you did it manually, your prop would rotate too many times to making docking more difficult. Scott does not want to be “that guy” coming into the marina where everyone is watching him dock the boat and then hit a piling.
We did see a few boats that inspired us, but to be honest most of the boats at Lake Union were all trawlers and we are not looking for a trawler. It’s just not our style for a live-aboard. Again, older Meridians are perfect for what we are looking at. The ones they had at the show, were a bit too small.  We did go on the Meridian 408 Aftcabin 2007. Keep in mind, we’re looking for something we can live on, so it has to be “apartment like”. Here are a few shots of it:

One thing we look for at shows is storage. Notice above, the closet. That’s a big one compared to most. We look to see how many storage compartments are under the bed, under the couch, etc.  We also look to see how they utilized the storage. Here are a few cool ideas:

It was a cold and damp day, so we didn’t spend a lot of time lingering around all of the yachts. If we found a warm one, we definitely took our time to check it out! I like the idea of a fireplace, but Scott felt it was a waste of space. Sure, on a hot summer day it would seem so, but when it’s 40 degrees outside and you live on it then that’s a different story.
Needless to say, this was a quick show for us due to the weather. We are looking forward to the Fall show, Boats Afloat at Lake Union next September where it should be warmer.

For now, look for my next blog on “new reads”. There are so many new books coming out, that I can’t keep up. Follow me on Twitter at @allyr2 for tips and stories about boating!

Caribbean Bound!

We are headed to Antigua in a few days! Antigua is one of our favorite Caribbean islands. We first visited it during our honeymoon in 2003 and then returned five years ago in 2011. On our last trip we circumnavigated the island, which takes you from the Caribbean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. That transition is significant and the swells were about 4′ high. But we loved it so much, that we have booked two excursions for this trip.

One of the excursions, includes swimming with the stingrays! I’m both nervous and excited about that. Then we are also doing an “Eco Adventure” to learn about the island and also go caving. That’s what the Caribbean is all about…island time and learning about their nature.
Anytime we go on vacation, I’m watching the weather forecast like a hawk……I admit, I’m addicted to weather!  I have six weather apps on my phone and I tend to check them a few times a day.  Here’s the forecast for Antigua from one of my favorite site, Perfect weather, if you ask me! We’ll be there for 10 days, so it’s great to see sun on the forecast for everyday!

Another favorite site, is and they say the same thing:
Since we’ll have so much time to relax and lay by the pool, I’m bringing 4 of my books about living on board in the Caribbean. There’s no better place than that, to really get the feel of the story.  Stay tuned for lots of photos! Bon voyage!

New Reads

Well, knowing that I was having another surgery in October, I bought more books. Now I have so many to read, I can’t catch up! If you don’t already know this about me, I am not a reader. Yep, you heard that right. Except, I LOVE to read true stories about people who go and live their dream on the water.
During the summer, I would grab a book, sit on the deck, soak up some rays and plow through a book. Now that winter is here, I haven’t spent as much time reading as I normally would.
 Right now I’m reading Living on Island Time, All the Time: Sailing and the Pursuit of Happinessby Kristen Miller. She and her husband are in their mid 20’s and buy a small sail boat and sail to the Caribbean via the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway). They live a very primitive lifestyle. For example, during hurricane season, they rode out the season in the Dominican Republic in Luperon. Because they only had a couple hundred dollars to live off of for six weeks (before they could tap into their savings), they didn’t do much except exercise & clean the boat. I give them kudos to that, as I know we couldn’t do that. We would probably spend the days drinking and soaking up the sun.



 The book is only 154 pages, so when I bought it, I thought, better have a backup book. As I searched for another, I came upon a three book series by David Beaupre. His first book, Quest and Crew: A True Sailing Adventure (Volume 1)is an autobiographical memoir beginning in 1999 when he came across an article about living in the Caribbean for $15,000 per year.  Now he had to convince his wife. And so began his adventure and soon his second book,Quest on the Thorny Path: A True Caribbean Sailing Adventure (Volume 2) came out in 2014. Finally in April 2015, his third book Quest for the Virgins: A True Caribbean Sailing Adventure (Volume 3) was released. I haven’t read them yet, so don’t ruin it for me. I think I’ll have some great reading material for our trip to Antigua in January!



 This past summer, one of my favorite books I mentioned a few blogs ago, Convergence: A Voyage through French Polynesia told a story about a sailor, John Silverwood they met one day. John & his wife Jean  had two kids and they became friends while anchored one week. Soon that family had to set sail for  Figi and then Australia. About one hundred & seventy miles into their trip, disaster struck. They were hit by a rogue wave, lost their boat and had to be rescued. John was severely injured and lost his leg in the ordeal. He also wrote a book about the event, called Black Wave: A Family’s Adventure at Sea and the Disaster That Saved Them. While I try to only read happy go lucky in the sun type books, I was intrigued by this one, as it could save our lives some day. I haven’t read this one yet, but probably will wait until after our two sailing trips in Antigua. (that will be another blog, but we are so excited).


Knowing how much information I am trying to absorb, Scott gave me a handful of books for my birthday – all about living aboard.


The two on the left, are simple and basic. Great tips and guidelines. Right now I’m reading “Living Aboard a Boat” by Mark Nichols. This is a great book for anyone considering living on a boat. He starts from day one and shares with you the pros and cons. He tells it as it is. One thing Mark doesn’t do, is tell you the obvious things you should do (i.e. buy life preservers, etc). He gives in depth detail about buying a boat and he learned by experience, as one of his boats was a lemon.
I haven’t read the fourth book yet called “All in the Same Boat” by Tom Neale. I figure, I better save something to read for next year! Scott’s parents saw the books and asked us “so when is this happening”. Well, actually we get that question all of the time and we don’t know yet. It will all depend on when I go back to work now that we sold the wine shop. Then we can save up some money, pay off some debt and hopefully go boat shopping by next summer!! That’s the plan at least. So stay tuned for more new reads!  Cheers! Ally