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

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

 

Boating in Seattle

mooring balls pnw bainbridge island

Boating in Seattle spending weekends on the boat

Scott and I live in Renton, which is about 40 minutes from Downtown Seattle. One great thing about mooring our boat, Kokomo at Elliott Bay Marina is we can go spend a night or two on the boat and feel like we are “getting away” from it all.

Seafair 2017

Seattle has had one of the driest and hottest summers in history and we wanted to be sure to take advantage of every nice weekend we could.  Seafair is our big summer celebration in Seattle.  The festival ends with the hydroplane races on Lake Washington and the Air Show that includes the Blue Angels.

For us to go to Lake Washington to see the races and air show, we would have to go through the Ballard Locks and during the summer time, this can take hours to get in and then hours to get out.

We decided to watch the air show from Elliott Bay and hope that the Blue Angels would make a few fly overs.

Scott and I took his sister Cherie and her family out for the day. Unfortunately, due to all of the smoke from the B.C. fires, Seattle was very smoggy and visibility was limited. Yet, we still all managed to have a good time.

When the Blue Angels flew out of Boeing Field, they first came right over us and then over the city. It happened so fast, I didn’t have a chance to take a photo.

Just when we thought they were gone and gone, they made one final flyover above us! That made the day perfect.  So if you are thinking about watching the Blue Angels on Elliott Bay, know that you won’t get to see them very close.

Where to go for an afternoon?

The following weekend, Scott and I invited our friends, Matt and AJ for a day on the water with dinner. That morning we woke up to 8mph winds and it was cold and cloudy. They were not scheduled to come down until 2pm and we were worried the weather would get worse. Luckily, the day got warmer and sunnier so the plan was still on.

I had remembered a few years ago that my sister took us over towards Bainbridge Island for lunch in a cove.  I found out it’s called Port Madison and we decided to zip over there for a visit.  It was a quick 20 minute boat ride going about 18 knots west.

Just as we approached the entrance to Port Madison, we saw a large pod of dolphins! They were so quick, that none of us captured a shot of them.

Port Madison is deep and we only went in about one quarter of the way, as it got very shallow, about 4′ deep. Yes, I know our draft is only 2’9″, but 4′ is shallow enough for me to be a bit freaked out! We turned around just before Treasure Island.

After we turned around, before Treasure Island it was nearly as bright, so the scenery was much better.

It does get very chilly going across the sound, even on a hot 90 degree day. We always end up bundled up after a few minutes on the water.

Once back into Elliott Bay, we had to wait for the one of the cruise ships to leave. We have two ships docked across from us and they leave around 4pm daily.

We finished the day relaxing on the boat and enjoying a fantastic dinner with Matt and AJ.

What to make for dinner?

Knowing that we were all going to be out boating all day, I didn’t want to come back and have to spend an hour prepping dinner in our small galley. Planning ahead, I decided to make my Chicken & Tortellini Salad with Grilled Artisan Bread. Another perfect weekend on #Kokomo!

Print Recipe
Chicken & Tortellini Pasta Salad Yum
This hearty chicken and tortellini pasta salad is perfect for a hungry crew on a hot day.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta according to the directions. You can do this ahead of time and mix with a little bit of the dressing to keep it from sticking together. When ready to serve, mix all of the ingredients together, season with salt & pepper and serve chilled or at room temperature. Serve with grilled artisan bread.
Share this Recipe
 

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.
#KokomoSeattle

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!

Prepping for the big trip!

Prepping for our first trip to the San Juan Islands!

Next week, we are leaving for the San Juan Islands for a five night trip.  My brother, Ron and his wife Patsy are joining us. We’ll tag along with my sister Susan and her husband Kurt, who will be on their trawler.  We stayed Friday night on the boat last weekend to relax and then do some prep work on Saturday.
Friday night, we decided to eat at Maggie Bluffs restaurant, as we didn’t want to bother prepping dinner on the boat.  What a great spot to relax and enjoy the views!

 

seattle outdoor dining

seattle marina dining

 

shrimp cocktail seattle dining

 

Mac was once again a trooper. For an old dog, at 14+ years old, having to walk to the boat which is a quarter mile, he does very well.  But he doesn’t really enjoy “boating”. So with that said, he will have a dog sitter next week when we go to the San Juan Islands.

 

dogs at Elliott Bay marina

people pets marina boating

 

old golden retriever boating
Got any snacks mom?

I decided to relax on the bow, enjoy the sunset while catching up with my favorite boating magazines.

relaxing on boat

We had a full moon and once again, we find that this is certainly a great retreat after a long busy week.

yachts summer pink sky

Heading out on our own!

Saturday, was our day to take the boat out by ourselves – our first time!!! We wanted to measure how long it took us to get to Shilshole Bay at 7 knots.  It ended up taking us 30 minutes, BUT our boat cannot go that slow. The engines rumbled and were not happy. We were testing that speed, as that is how fast my sister and husband will travel in their trawler.  So on the way back, we increased our speed to 14-15 knots and it hummed happily.
This means we will be far ahead of them. With that said, we plan on leaving about an hour after them and catching up in Mukilteo.  We will get to La Conner a few hours before them, barring any issues. (fingers crossed!!!).
summer seattle sound
We were planning on having me practice docking the boat along our main dock where the yachts park, but we had too many rolling waves that were making me uneasy.  I want to practice in calm waters to fully understand what I’m doing.  I will say, that Scott is doing an AMAZING job operating / docking the boat.  He was my instructor!
Our next big test was to bring it back to our slip and this time docking with another boat next to us! I wasn’t sure if I should be on the bow to push off, or on the stern to jump off. I decided to stay on the stern and Scott brought the boat in perfectly, swung the stern to port and we tied off in less than a minute! Wow!!
boat slip neighbors

 

We spent the rest of the day, taking stuff off of the boat that we wouldn’t need next week, to make room for storage (under the seats, closets, etc).  Our plan is to go down for the day this Saturday, get gas, clean, load up anything we can in advance and get things ready.
In order to feed six people and have plenty of food and beverages, we knew our little galley fridge would not be sufficient. Scott and I bought a great cooler, Coleman 120 Quart Coastal Xtreme Series Marine Cooler from Amazon and when we are at port, we leave it on the swim step. Obviously, when under way, we bring it on board.
beverages cooler boating
We are scheduled to leave Thursday, July 20th no later than 10am after we load up! We are headed to the La Conner Marina for one night, then to Fisherman’s Bay on Lopez Island for one night, then to Deer Harbor on Orcas Island for two nights, then to Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island for our last night.

Stay tuned for the stories of the big adventure!  Scott and Ally

Getting To Know Our New Boat

Getting to know our Bayliner boat, Kokomo

bayliner ciera des moines marina

Getting to know our new boat, Kokomo

It’s been two full weeks now that we have owned the boat and we headed back to Elliott Bay Marina to spend Saturday and Saturday night on it. We wanted to utilize this time to figure out all the ins and outs of the boat and also take my brother in law out on the sound with us for tips and practice.

The first thing Scott and Kurt did, was open up the engine hatch and check everything out on our two Mercruiser 250HP 5.7ltr engines. We had just had the oil changed this week by Monkey Fist Marine in the marina and all looked great there.  They said it really needed it badly. Remember, the previous owner hadn’t ran the boat in almost two years!

Kurt wanted to look at the spark plugs and instantly that one cracked. So off I went to West Marine to get a bunch of spark plugs and some other stuff, including self-repair tape for the “just in case” incidents.  They replaced a few that they had removed and Scott will do the rest of them when in a few weeks.

 

Off to Blake Island

Then we headed out to the sound, so Kurt could listen to the engines and make sure everything sounded great. To be honest, I got freaked out last weekend when the engines would make different sounds as we moved across the sound, so I wanted Kurt (who used to be a Chief Engineer for the Ferries) to listen to them.

As we pulled out of Elliott Bay, a bizarre wave came at us – it was absolutely HUGE and we took a 6′ nose dive. There were no ferries, no freighters  and no cruise ships. It was unexplainable! Let’s say it freaked all of us out.  Kurt wanted to head to Blake Island across the sound.  It was a bit choppy with NNW at 8 mph, but he wasn’t worried at all.
satellite map elliott bay
About 1/4 of the way of the trip, we were going full throttle when we heard and felt a huge “thug”! What the hell was that?!! Yep, we hit a log and thank God, it was not a big one. We were all okay, but now I was a bit white knuckled between the white caps and the log.  The key to the trip, was we were finding out that the “sounds” we were hearing was that there was cavitation (see below) in the engines as we were going up and over the waves.
Soon, we planed the boat and found the perfect RPM and we made it to Blake Island State Park in about 40 minutes.

 

They have 30 minute docks and overnight moorage. We pulled up to the 30 minute dock and walked around a little bit. We checked out Tillicum Village and then we had lunch on the boat. Of course, I had to get my photo with my Cougar flag (I do this in every new city).

salmon bake indian reservation
Soon, the park ranger came knocking on our door – we had stayed too long.  By now the winds had shifted slightly and as we returned back, we had to close up all of the cockpit, as we were getting sprayed everywhere.

 

What is Cavitation?

The aeration (bubbling) and boiling effect of water caused by creation of a low pressure area. Generally caused by a solid shape (propeller blade) passing through the water, in such a position and speed, that a low pressure area is formed due to the inability to move through the water in nonresistant manner. An example is, a propeller blade that has a rough edge would not cut efficiently through the water, thus creating a low pressure area. If the pressure drops below the vapor pressure, a cavitation bubble will form in that region. These bubbles will collapse when they reach the higher pressure region of the blade. This causes a rapid change in pressure and can result in physical erosion. You may notice burns (erosion) at some area on the face of the blade.

We finally got back to the marina!

By the time we got back to Elliott Bay, the winds were fairly strong from the north, at about 12 mph. We headed to the fuel dock and twice, the winds pushed us off of the dock. The staff at the fuel dock was super helpful and on the third approach we nailed it. It didn’t help that a 70′ yacht was sharing the same fuel dock! LOL

I’m always a bit nervous doing the “S Turn” back to our slip between 3 yachts, especially in the wind, but Scott did an amazing job.  We still don’t have a slip mate yet on our starboard side and so we have a bit of “room” when docking. This time, the northerly winds pushed us right into our side of the dock and he did great! We wouldn’t have even hit them if they were there. LOL  Mac was happy the ride was over too. It was a bit too bumpy for him! As you can see by the photo of the cabin – things went flying! Lesson learned – secure everything!

sweet golden retriever face

 

We then spent the next two hours cleaning all of the salt water off of the boat! It was a mess! We couldn’t see a thing out of any of the windows!

 

 

Relaxing after a fun day

The best thing we love about boating, is relaxing after a fun day, in the sun with gorgeous surroundings! This weekend, we had a new yacht neighbor join us “Invader”. It is one of the largest yachts in North America at 164′ and it is owned by a media mogul.

 

Super Yacht, Invader

Scott & I ended the day grilling steaks on our new Magma Gas Grill  – it works perfect for us! We just made a simple blue cheese salad to pair with it. Mac surely was tuckered out too.
Another thing we learned about the boat this weekend, is how fast we go thru water. I was prepping dinner, when I heard the water pump – we were nearly bone dry! We have an antibacterial hose, Teknor Apex Zero-G Hose that we use to fill the water tanks directly from our dock.

After dinner, we strolled to the west end of the marina to take in the sunset – Elliott Bay Marina really is a beautiful place.
Unfortunately, for the month of June we won’t get to spend much time on the boat, as we have trips or commitments. We will try and squeeze in a night towards the end of the month – but will definitely use it a lot in July and August. Until then……..

#KokomoSeattle

We are Finally Boat Owners!

We have bought our first boat!

We have finally bought our first boat. After my last post, we put an offer on a 31′ Bayliner Ciera 2000 cabin cruiser in the beginning of April. I owned one before and Bayliner boats are very prominent here in the northwest.  We had looked at many boats, but we kept coming back to this one.
The boat was located in the Des Moines Yacht Club on the hard and was in mint condition. The owner kept heaters in the cabin, cockpit and engine room. He didn’t accept our initial offer, but we settled half way in between.  Now the fun begins as we try to schedule the survey and mechanical inspection.  The challenge here was both the weather windows and the seller’s schedule, as he travels every week.

Survey

Finally, we scheduled the survey with Terry Larson of Northwest Marine Surveyors and sea trials for the second week of May! Yes, a whole month after our offer. This was one of the frustrating things about this process, as we were at the mercy of the owner.  Even our broker, Eddie from NW Yachts said this was one of the more difficult deals in regards to scheduling he had dealt with.  The boat was surveyed on the hard for a few hours, then the seller put it in the water so we could go to sea trials that same day.  We went out on the sound with the seller, surveyor and our broker.

 

Sea trials went great. It was a fairly windy day and I as you can see by the photo, there were lots of boats lined up on the dock. When we returned I started asking the seller what all came with the boat, so we could prepare and purchase anything needed. First I asked about the life jackets. He had them, but they were up in the shed at the house. (??!!) I was just out on the sound, are you kidding me? He had no distress kit, no first aid kit and the fire extinguishers were from 2000, the year the boat was built!
The survey only found some minor issues, that were not major nor deal breakers.  We then scheduled the mechanical inspection for a few days later.  The seller had upgraded almost everything on the boat, including the engines, the cooling systems, the electronics – in fact, he went a bit overboard our broker said. Even the electronic winch and davit system for the dingy he put in was a huge investment and a bit overkill for the boat.  But we’ll take it. Now we needed to schedule the closing….not as easy as you would think.

Boating Supplies

I wanted to be prepared for when we finally took possession. Knowing that he was leaving only the bare necessities on the boat, we went shopping. First to Fishery Supplies in Seattle to buy all of our boating items: PFD’s (we bought two inflatable ones for us), distress kit, first aid kit, boat cleaner, rags and much more.  Then we went to get stuff for the galley: dishes, glasses, utensils, etc. I also stocked our toiletries. The idea is that we want to be able go down to the boat and enjoy it without having to pack anything (besides clothes and food).
Back to the boat – the seller hardly used it in two years.  We are going to drop it in saltwater for the summer and I wanted it cleaned, buffed and waxed.  The seller refused to do that, so we paid someone to come out while it was on the hard and take care of it.  We finally went to closing on May 17th. It was a bit surreal to be finally signing the papers! When you buy a boat, it is much like buying a house. You sign at a title company and the funds go into escrow.

 

We signed with VanNess Vessel Title on Wednesday the 17th  and we wanted to take possession on Saturday, May 20th. If we didn’t, the seller was going to be out of town starting on Monday, May 22nd for two weeks!  The catch for us was, the seller wanted the funds in his account before he would hand over the keys, but he couldn’t sign until Friday the 19th. In the end, it all worked out!! Thank God.

Taking possession of the boat – finally!

Our broker Eddie moved the boat to a guest slip at the Des Moines Marina and we met him on Friday evening.

 

While we were so excited, we were also extremely anxious and nervous. Remember, I hadn’t operated a boat in 18 years and Scott has never. And this is a twin engine boat, which can be easier or harder depending on your experience.  Eddie spent about 45 minutes with us on the boat and took Scott to the fuel dock. I wish I had thought of taking video of all of this, but my phone was on the boat and I was on the dock.  During that time, he showed him how to dock it (who can learn in 5 minutes?) and then he backed it up into the slip. From there we drove both of our cars to Elliott Bay Marina in Seattle, so we could leave my car there (so we had a way to get home after we got to the marina) and also load up our dock box with some supplies. (It was a long night!!)

The trip from Des Moines to Seattle

Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to get up the next day and have the fun begin!! Our good friend Randy, drove us and Mac to the Des Moines Marina, where we loaded all of our gear and got things put away. After about an hour, the winds really picked up and we knew we had to get going.  My sister Susan and brother in law, Kurt were meeting us at our dock at Elliott Bay, so we could throw them the lines in case we needed help docking. The trip would take about an hour. I had no problem pushing the boat off the dock as the winds were coming from the north and all I had to do was untie the lines and we were off. And we were nervous as hell.
The trip was easy and fun. It was a gorgeous day, in fact, fighter jets from Whidbey Is were doing maneuvers over head. When approached downtown Seattle the views were stunning and we were glad we were mooring in Seattle, at least for the summer. Elliott Bay Marina is on the northwest side of Elliott Bay.

 

Scott and I had picked out our slip a month earlier. We had walked the docks and picked one that (at the time had no neighbors) and was close to the entrance. We picked M95.

Arriving to Elliott Bay – Uh ho!

As we entered the marina, we soon realized that we were not on the west side of M dock, which was right in front of us. We figured, we would simply pull into the marina and head down our dock lane. But not so. Turns out we were on the other side of the M dock which required Scott to turn a sharp right and then a sharp left to dock. The catch is we had to maneuver between two huge yachts and it was very windy.  The image below doesn’t do it justice, as it has two small boats inside, but when we went through, there were two 65′ yachts on both sides.

 

Luckily, we made it just fine, but our hearts were racing like mad. We wanted to dock this boat and get off (LOL). So I threw Kurt the lines from about 10′ away and told him to pull us in. We were ready to relax, have a beer and enjoy some sun!

 

 

 

Sleeping the first night on the boat

Even Mac did very well. He had troubles at first getting on and off, but soon that was a piece of cake. He wasn’t to sure of going down the stairs to the cabin, but food finally encouraged him.  We slept that night on the boat peacefully and woke up to a gorgeous morning.

 

That morning, we explored the marina. We knew it had two restaurants and then we found the fuel dock and marina store. The store is much bigger than we expected. They even have a great wine selection!
We are staying the entire Memorial Day weekend on the boat, Friday – Monday.  My sister and her husband are coming down on Saturday morning to spend a few hours with us. He will help us practice docking, entering the marina and other maneuvers so we can be comfortable using it on our own. The weather is forecasted to be warm and sunny, so it should be a fantastic weekend. This is what we have been waiting for all these years!  #KokomoSeattle