Archives for posts with tag: trip report
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Photo: Natalie Menacho

These are photos of some of my favorite moments, so far, from our trip around the San Juan and Gulf Islands this summer. Click any photo for a larger view. I hope you enjoy them. Read the rest of this entry »

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OK, I may be biased, but my fiance, Natalie, writes a great blog over at The West County Bramble. She’s been doing a much better job than I have posting about our day-to-day travels.

Here’s a link to her post about our stop in the little town of Chemainus, BC, on Vancouver Island, where we happened upon a First Nations (Canadian native peoples) ceremony as well as a very well done musical. Both were quite unexpected.

The town is full of murals. Below, Natalie sneaks into the scene of one of my favorites.

In the top photo, our boat, Carmana, lies just offshore in gorgeous twilight.

Link Trail: The West County Bramble > Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC Read the rest of this entry »

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Well, a few weeks ago we were on relatively remote Wallace Island. It’s a 200-acre silver of land in the Gulf Islands in British Columbia. It’s not on the ferry route so you have to get there of your own devices.

We stern-tied our boat, Carmana in tiny Conover Cove and had a walk around. We’d read about this place in the book Once Upon an Island, at home in West County last winter, so it was nice to finally make it up here and see it on a glorious summer day. Then, come evening, we rowed to watch the setting sun, and made something extraordinary happen… we got engaged.

You may have seen Natalie in posts of our trips or seen her photos. She’s amazing. I’m looking forward to life of adventure together. Woo-hoo!

Natalie wrote about it on her West County Bramble blog. Check out the Wallace Island post in two parts. Part 1 and Part 2.

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Here’s more on our trip through Saltspring Island on Natalie’s blog, The West County Bramble. It’s a nice little town and a good provisioning stop in British Columbia’s Gulf Islands.

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A couple of weeks ago we were in Vancouver and spent the afternoon at Granville Public Market on Granville Island. It’s a big market hall with, I’m guessing, a hundred or more vendor stalls, offering meats, fish, pastries, bread, chocolate, fruit and vegetables, just about everything. It’s like going on a food holiday. Everything’s delicious.

It was a bit of a trek to get there as we were anchored on the other side of the Strait of Georgia on Gabriola Island. If you’d like to see more photos of Granville Market and read about our trek, check out Natalie’s blog: The West County Bramble.

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All photos: Gregory McDonald

Our good friend Greg managed to get these amazing photos of bull elk while he was camping at Usal Beach on California’s Lost Coast. He estimated he was no more than 10 yards away for the close ups. Amazing!

Thanks, Greg!

More photos below. Read the rest of this entry »

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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.

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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