Archives for category: — Washington


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In case you’re traveling in the Pacific Northwest, I made a ferry map you may find useful. It shows routes for the two major ferry systems: the BC Ferry (blue routes), the Washington State Ferry (green routes), as well as the Victoria Clipper (red routes) and Coho (black route) ferries. All ferries accept cars and motorcycles, except for the Victoria Clipper, a high-speed ferry, which carries passenger only.

Seaplanes are another option. They fly pretty much everywhere. Kenmore Air is the biggest operator. NW Seaplanes is close behind. Saltspring Air flies within the Gulf Islands.

Note: the BC Ferry travels throughout British Columbia. I’m only showing their Gulf Island routes on this map. Also, if there’s anything on this map that I missed, please let me know.

Thanks!

Correction: A previous version of this map showed a Victoria Clipper route from Friday Harbor to Victoria. The route does not exist.

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While we were in Seattle, Natalie found an amazing fabric store called, appropriately enough, Seattle Fabrics. They specialize in fabrics for outdoor, recreational, and marine use. Want to make your own sleeping bag? They have the patterns, nylon, fill, zippers, and notions. If the bag ever gets ripped, they sell sealer with which you could repair it. Want to make your own parka? They have patterns for that too.

They had braided line, elastic line, elastic line with reflective thread. Their notions section (buckles, snaps, D-rings, etc.) filled a whole wall. They had ripstop nylon, marine canvas, duck canvas, camo, gortex. Pretty much whatever you’d want. I’ve never seen a fabric store more geared to the how-to, outdoor enthusiast.

If you happen to pass though Seattle, check out there store at 8702 Aurora Avenue North or find them online at the link below.

Link trail: Seattle Fabrics

More photos of this great store below.

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Natalie walking on Turn Island near Friday Harbor.

If you’re regular reader of this blog, you may know that WCXC has taken to the water. We’re spending the summer and fall exploring the Pacific Northwest by sea. We’re sailing around the San Juan Islands in Washington State and the Gulf Islands in Canada.

I’ve gotten pretty behind in posting about the trip but my girlfriend, Natalie, has been posting about our travels on her lovely blog, The West County Bramble.

Here are some recent posts of hers you might like:

Wooden Boats! – Our trip to Seattle’s Wooden Boat Festival

Hurray for Birthdays! – We took a trip aboard the Virginia V to Bainbridge for Natalie’s birthday.

A Beautiful Sound. – We moor our boat in downtown Seattle for the afternoon, go swimming in Lake Union, then head out Bainbridge Island on our own.

I’ll post more about our trip but I hope you’ll enjoy Natalie’s post as well.

Happy travels,

Nik

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A couple of weeks ago we boarded Seattle’s historic steamer, Virginia V, at Lake Union and sailed to Bainbridge Island.

The Virginia V is quite an experience. You really get the feeling of traveling in another time. And she’s so quiet. Gliding through the ship canal she barely made a sound.

She was built in 1921 and became a part of what was then known as the “Mosquito Fleet,” a group of hundreds of small vessels that plied Puget Sound in the era before state-run public transit. All the vessels were privately owned, initially unregulated, and often competed for business on the same routes, with the first ship to the dock getting the lion’s share of the fares.

The Virginia V is powered by a 400-hp, double-expansion, three-cylinder steam engine, built in 1898. The 115-year-old engine has a maximum RPM of 200, although it mostly spins at about 80 or 90 RPM. She used to be oil-fired but today burns diesel to develop steam.

Our route took us down the Washington Ship Canal and through the Chittenden Locks. Lake Union is at a higher elevation than Puget Sound, hence the need for the locks.

Locking through is a neat experience. The huge, steel doors of the lock were open at one end as we came into the locks, then shut behind us. The water was then drained out of the lock as the ship dropped about 25 feet down. The doors at the other end of the lock were opened, and out we went, into the Sound.

The Virginia V doesn’t sail very often—she is crewed solely by volunteers. If she has a trip scheduled, and you happen to be in Seattle, make of day of it. It’s a very unique and enjoyable experience.

Link: Virginia V Public Schedule

Read further for a gallery of photos from our day aboard, as well as a quick video.
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Last Friday we had our boat, Carmana, hauled out at Canal Boatyard in Seattle for some upgrades and repair work. We had a new chartplotter/display fitted so we can see where we’re going—I navigated by a little, hand-held GPS on the way down from Canada. The new display meant getting a new transducer. The new transducer meant a larger hole through the hull. And that meant hauling her out.

It’s amazing the amount of work a boat takes. Of course, everyone tells you that before you buy one. It’s funny—some people, when we said we’d bought a boat said, “Congratulations!”. Others said, “Uhh, oh…”

We scrubbed the water tanks, installed new LED lights, oiled the interior teak, and had the propane system inspected—a new regulator and propane sniffer are on the way. We put a grill on the stern rail, a house warming gift from my parents. We got bigger fenders. We’re putting an LED anchor light at the top of the mast to save on battery power, since the anchor light stays on all night when we anchor. We had the battery charger replaced so that we can charge the batteries from shore power. Natalie shined up the brass light fixtures in the cabin with lemon and vinegar. They look like new! I installed a water filter and fixed a leak in the water line. It took weeks just to track down the right fittings. We cut vents into the hanging lockers so they won’t smell musty. I replaced the pump for the head and got a new toilet seat. That looks new as well. Natalie even sewed a grill and winches covers by hand, with an awl. There are lots of little things too, zincs that need to be replaced and hatches that need latches.

We’re itching to get going though. We’re itching to get out into the San Juan Islands and pull into little coves, drop our anchor—we’ve got two to choose from now—prop our feet up in the cockpit or row Carmanita, our little dingy, to shore. We’re itching to get out and live…

That said, seeing the neighborhoods of Ballard and Fremont has been nice. Our endless runs to Fisheries Supply reveal new little coffee houses and taquerias almost every day. This is living too. Every day seems like two. We spend the mornings driving around for parts and the afternoons and evenings installing them. We’re living in the boatyard at the moment, so showers are few and far between and we don’t have running water. We have baby wipes and Crystal Geyser by the gallon. Our days are full and our lifestyle is lean.

We’re looking forward to heading out. This Friday we launch from the yard and head down the canal to Yacht Masters on Lake Union for some rigging work. Sunday is Natalie’s birthday and Monday we’ll head back down the canal, through the opening drawbridges, through the gates of the lock, on to Puget Sound, and out into the world.

We’ll see you there.

Here's the seaplane at the dock at Lake Union.

Here’s the seaplane at the dock at Lake Union.

A couple of weeks ago I got on a seaplane docked at Seattle’s Lake Union and flew to Victoria, on Vancouver Island, to pick up our truck, which we’d left behind when we sailed from Canada. It turned out that flying was the most convenient, quick way to get there. Sweet. The plane belonged to Kenmore Air and the flight was $140 one way.

Here are some photos of that trip.

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A nice view of the Aurora Bridge

A nice view of the Aurora Bridge

We’ve got the boat on the hard at the moment at Canal Boatyard in Seattle. While we’ve been pretty busy with boat projects, we did manage to take a walk the other evening on the Burke-Gilman Trail, a bike and cycle path that runs alongside the Lake Washington Ship Canal to Lake Union and on to northern tip of Lake Washington, where it ends. We took it as far as Gas Works Park on Lake Union.

Here are some photos. Read the rest of this entry »

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About a month ago, we bought a mid-sized sailboat, an Aloha 32 named Carmana and sailed her down from Friday Harbor to Seattle for our first shake-down cruise. We’ve been moored here for the last couple of weeks, hanging out in Ballard (Seattle’s version of Brooklyn), and getting to know the local marine suppliers as we address mechanical, safety, and comfort issues before we head out again: a new chart plotter, battery charger, a new pump for the head, some stuff to keep the holding tank from smelling (Go Noflex Digester! That stuff works.) new fenders, stern anchor… You get the idea.

Despite all of the little projects, we’re really happy with the boat. She’s roomy for a 32-footer, sails well, and gets admiring looks up and down the dock. And she makes a good home for Natalie and I.

That’s the quick low down on the boat. We’ll be up here exploring all summer and give you the low down on the places we visit. Also, if you’d like to read and see pictures of our trip in more detail, Natalie’s blogging about it over at her site, The West County Bramble. Check it out!

OK, here’s the low down. For in-depth low down, we’ve been using the Waggoner Cruising Guide. Not only does it cover everything about every harbor we’ll ever visit, it’s a primer on Northwest cruising. I wished I’d bought it before I even bought the boat as it would have informed some of my choices.

Here’s our take on things though. Every town has been cuter, cooler, and more scenic than the last.
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We’ve been looking for a boat for our Pacific Northwest trip and spotted this one for ourselves. We put in an offer on it last week. Traveling up to the Pacific NW four times since last fall, looking for a boat to call our own was getting expensive. We saw this boat online and made an offer. We haven’t even seen it in person.

It’s an Aloha 32, a Mark Ellis design that’s similar to the Niagara 35, a capable boat that was, alas, out of our budget. Both are well-built, spacious, and do away with the ubiquitous v-berth to make room for more galley and salon space. (The berths in these boats are aft.) From what we hear, the boat does have some delamination issues in the deck. Whether they are major or minor issues, the survey will reveal.

We’re leaving to head up north in about a week, boat or no boat. I hope this one passes it’s survey. If not, at least we’ll be up there to continue our search. Good luck, Carmana!

 

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We park next to a huge, mobile sling used for hauling boats out of the water.

If you’re into into historic towns and boats, and you find yourself in the Pacific Northwest, do yourself a favor and check out Port Townsend, Washington. It sits on peninsula that forms the entrance to Puget Sound and is one of those rare, old towns which is situated to engage the sea. A drive to the local boat yard confirms this. Everywhere vessels from from small sailboats to huge trawlers are on the hard, awaiting refits and repairs. Cape George boats are built there. It’s a nice place.

The area along the waterfront, is known as “downtown.” When we asked about a good local pub, the folks at the natural food store pointed us up the hill (toward “uptown”) to the Uptown Pub. This is a classic bar with good vibes, good food, and local beers. We happened to be there for open mic night and also saw some talented musicians. One guy even came up with his cello… and rocked, playing it traditionally and like a guitar. It was pretty amazing. We’re considering it as a home base for our upcoming Pacific Northwest Trip.

To get there, take Highway 20 north from 101as it runs along the Olympic National Forest. More photos below. Read the rest of this entry »