Thursday, July 30, 2015

Post-Discharge Appointment

So back to Harborview we went yesterday for Bob's first Burn Clinic (out-patient) appointment. Cathryn felt mild PTSD being back, every place we walked bringing up difficult memories, but Bob felt his 12 days there were a blur, he mostly saw the inside of a hospital room and was on narcotics anyway, so was unfazed by returning.

Doctors and Nurses handed out all good news! Bob will not need skin graft surgery. He only needed Tylenol. no narcotics, to handle the 2-hour bandage removal and peeling/scrubbing crusty dead skin procedure. His wounds have made remarkable progress in the 8 days since we last saw them, and almost all has "healed", meaning tender new skin has grown in. One place, about 6 inches long on his left calf, hasn't fully healed and is still raw and bleeding. That was bandaged up and treated with silver and topical antibiotics, but the rest of his appendages (both forearms and hands, left hip, and most of left leg and foot) are now left un-bandaged. Liberal use of moisturizers on the new skin, and tubular compression wraps to reduce swelling, support the new skin and vascularity, and protect the new skin from sun, bumps, scratches and other damage is the extent of it.

Bob can take regular showers again, and we'll change the bandage on his calf daily, probably for two more weeks until it heals. He'll continue to wear the tubular compression wraps for a month, until the next out-patient appointment. We're to email photos of the calf wound to Dr. Mandell two weeks from now, and as long as things continue so well, that's it. Can you believe it? We can't!


















We made the two-hour drive home in rush hour traffic feeling surprised and elated by how quickly things went from "desperate" to "it's over". And of course, it's not "over". We were told it will be at least a year before Bob's new skin will be fully healed, toughened up and a normal color like the rest of his skin. Discomfort interfered with his sleep last night, and he's back on Tylenol. But to think it's 3 weeks today since The Terrible Day, and now he's mostly healed, we're home, and he can do normal activities as long as they don't hurt and he has the energy. Isn't the human body and modern medicine incredible???

We remain eternally grateful for the fabulous help we got, and continue to get, from family members and nearby friends, and the love,  emotional support, emails, cards, text messages and prayers from our larger circle of friends spread over the U.S. and Canada. We are so fortunate!

On returning home, we found friend and neighbor Josi had put dinner in the oven for us, complete with wine, crackers and cheese while dinner cooked, The weather meant we could sit out side, quietly by ourselves, and enjoy it.

We expect this to be the last blog post/FOB update. From here forward it's just a long slog as we do what needs to be done to finish the healing.

The blog will resume when we return to a norma life and continue our boating and travel. We still need to get "Next To Me" home, and after yesterday's good news are at least entertaining the idea of doing it ourselves in a few weeks. We'll have to see how the routine wound treatment goes.The idea of reclaiming the last few weeks of our originally planned summer cruise is intriguing. Stay tuned.



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tripus Interruptus

So, where did we leave off? July 7 and 8 were spent anchored out in Pruth Bay off of Calvert Island and the private Hakai Institute, an archaeological and marine biology research facility. We’d just passed the last major “gateway” (rounding Cape Caution) into the truly remote segment of the Inside Passage!

























Most of our readers know what happened next, but for those who don’t, well, here’s the story.
We woke up July 9 to a warm, sunny morning. Around 8:30 we pulled anchor to head north, with a planned destination in the Bella Bella/Shearwater area, 50 miles away. Above is a picture of our actual voyage, a 12-mile round trip, only the first half of which was under our own power.


At 9:30, just as we were about to turn north into Fitzhugh Sound, the “engine overheating” light came on, and the buzzer sounded: not a happy sound! We shut the engine down feeling relatively safe given that we were a quarter mile offshore, in 800’ of water and with no wind, waves or current. Bob went below, opened the engine room hatch and quickly determined that it was a broken serpentine belt. Not a big deal, in that conditions were good, we had a spare belt, and installing the new one was within Bob’s mechanical skill set.
So, into the engine room Bob went, and here’s where things began to go very, very wrong!  While wrestling the new belt on, for some reason the coolant hose on the front of the engine came off, burst, or the clamp gave way. Given the rapid progression into the very bad things that followed, we never had a chance to go back and determine the cause of the failure.
Bob, sitting in front of the engine, was instantly sprayed with two gallons of 190-degree engine coolant which resulted in 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 16% of his body: his hands, abdomen,  forearms, left leg and left hip. Luckily no coolant sprayed his head, chest, face or more “tender” parts.
So, 20 days later after a boat rescue by the staff of the Hakai Institute, and boat and helicopter rescue by the Bella Bella unit of the Canadian Coast Guard, a one-night stay in the Bella Bella hospital, three commercial flights from Bella Bella to Port Hardy to Vancouver to Seattle aided by morphine, and 12 days in Seattle’s Harborview Hospital Burn Center, including 2 days in Intensive Care, we’ve been home almost a week.



















Cathryn spent all but 3 nights with Bob in the hospital (daughter Adrienne flew in from Denver for 5 days and stayed with Bob those 3 nights while Cathryn slept at son Ryan’s nearby condo), supplementing the care from the pros and advocating for Bob’s needs. Adrienne participated in Bob’s care including Wound Care treatment and bandage changes, not an easy thing! Son Ryan visited regularly and spelled Cathryn and Adrienne so they could go out to dinner one night for an evening’s sense of normalcy. Bob’s sister Lynn and her husband David transported us to Harborview on arrival from Bella Bella and came to the hospital every other day or so to spell Cathryn so she could nap and shower at Ryan’s condo, accompany Bob on walks around the hospital halls, or attend to other needs we had.

























Tuesday, July 21 Bob was discharged to home, where Lynn and David met us to help get us settled in with groceries and lots of other assistance. Bob’s Harborview Hospital Physical Therapist lectured Cathryn to stop doing things for Bob that he could manage alone, so no surprise to anyone who really knows Bob, first off he started making his own coffee (above)! Bob looks fairly normal in this photo back home. Just don’t think too hard about what’s underneath those bandages. It ain’t as pretty as the rest of him.
We’ve been well cared for during this time by lots of professionals in two countries and half a dozen family members. Cathryn’s sister Anne flew up from Houston the day after discharge and spent 6 days running our household, earning the nickname Cinderella. Sister Susan arrives tomorrow to continue. Lynn and David have been  here delivering things, running errands, helping feed us, transport us, and lots more. And we have lots of friends (many of whom are nearby neighbors) who are offering help. We’re forever grateful for the love and support of the many wonderful people in our lives.

Now we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and working to figure out how to get “Next To Me” home from Port McNeill where she was transported 80 miles south on July 14 by Rod, staff from the Hakai Institute, with crew Blake who also works there. Are we lucky or what?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Port Hardy to Allison Harbor, Really


Distance traveled:  27.5 miles

So Monday at 11am we pulled out of Port Hardy, too late to round CapeCaution as winds come up in the afternoons, but early enough to make good progress toward the Cape.


It was a pleasant and uneventful trip, and we got the anchor set early enough to enjoy a relaxing afternoon.



Allison Harbour has good protection from the wind, but some still found its' way in to offer a little chop inside. Anchored in 60 feet of water, with 225 feet of chain out, we rocked gently all night.



There were only 4 boats anchored, so everyone had plenty of room to swing on the hook.




And Monday night found us setting the alarm clock for 4:30am again. 



OK: Make That Port Hardy

 Distance traveled: 38 miles


Given the relatively favorable forecast, many boats who'd been holed up in Port McNeill 3 days waiting for the gale force winds to calm and seas to settle planned to depart early Sunday to begin their one or two day (depending on speed) rounding of Cape Caution. The alarm went off at 4:30a.m., and at 4:55 we dropped our lines, along with Kiwi friends Tom and Christine on "Takahe", headed north. Pretty soon we had a flotilla in our wake, though eventually boats broke up into separate groups having chosen different paths to Cape Caution.



















Alaska-bound cruise ships make this leg of the trip too.



















27 miles later during a routine check of the battery charger's status, we noted one bank of batteries was extremely low and the other was lower than normal. This shouldn't be the case when the engine and alternator have been running at cruising speed for 3 hours. We stopped the boat so Bob could go into the engine room with his multi-meter. He quickly reported that it seemed the alternator had failed. A quick VHF call to Tom and Christine explained our situation and told them to proceed without us. God's Pocket Dive Resort was only 9 miles away, so we called there to see if we could come in, and Bill, the owner, said he was on his way to Port Hardy, 10 miles away, and we should go there instead. So Port Hardy became the new destination for the day. Unfortunately it was Sunday and everything was closed.


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Monday morning Bob was at the door of the repair shop when it opened at 8am, and soon James showed up at the boat to help change out the alternator for a new one. 11am found the batteries newly happy, the crew newly happy, and Next To Me ready to head, again, for Cape Caution. Whew!



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Check-in/OK message from SPOT Bob and Cathryn

Bob and Cathryn
Latitude:51.65424
Longitude:-128.12119
GPS location Date/Time:07/07/2015 13:06:10 PDT

Message:We are happy, well and having fun.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
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Bob and Cathryn

You have received this message because Bob and Cathryn has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Ready for Adventure
FindMeSPOT.com

Monday, July 6, 2015

Check-in/OK message from SPOT Bob and Cathryn

Bob and Cathryn
Latitude:51.05834
Longitude:-127.50705
GPS location Date/Time:07/06/2015 15:10:41 PDT

Message:We are happy, well and having fun.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
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Bob and Cathryn

You have received this message because Bob and Cathryn has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Ready for Adventure
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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Best Laid Plans

The alarm went off at 4:30, and just before 5am we pulled out of Port McNeill after 3 days of waiting for gale force winds to subside. Accompanied by Tom and Christine on "Takahe", very nice Kiwis on a 36' Grand Banks, we traveled 27 miles, approaching Mary's Rock, when our alternator failed. Brilliant Bob has a huge number of spares on board, including an alternator, so we detoured 10 miles to Port Hardy. There, Bill from God's Pocket Dive Resort helped Bob install the new alternator, only to find its' pulley assembly doesn't match the failed one. So we'll stay here tonight and Bob will be at NAPA when they open at 8am tomorrow. If he gets the needed part, and installation goes smoothly, and the sea conditions are calm, we'll be on our way mid-morning, hoping to round Cape Caution before the afternoon winds come up. Keep your fingers crossed for us! We're happy and in good spirits despite the disappointment. Text from Tom and Christine says they made it to Allison Harbour and also hope to round Cape Caution tomorrow, so maybe we'll meet up on the other side.

Check-in/OK message from Port Hardy BC


Latitude:50.72306
Longitude:-127.48788
GPS location Date/Time:07/05/2015 11:40:30 PDT

Alternator failure causes us to make a side trip.  We have a spare but the pulley assembly is different so we need to make a NAPA visit when they open in the morning.

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Eight Days In Blunden Harbor?

Well . . . we hope not! One of the blogs we follow (svcambria.com) is a few weeks ahead of us on this journey north, and when they left Port McNeill 4 weeks ago, where we are now, hoping to round Cape Caution the next day, the wind came up, and they spent 8 days anchored in Blunden Harbour on the other side of the Strait waiting for conditions to calm.

Shortly after we arrived at Port McNeill, the Gale Force Winds forecast earlier arrived, and it's been blowing like stink ever since. No fishing, no exploring in the kayaks or dinghy. But we had plenty of chores including changing the engine and injector oil, grocery shopping, laundry and lots more. So we've kept busy, and met some nice folks hanging out, just as we are.

The couple who own this North Island Marina, Steve and Jessica Jackman, are amazing: friendly, smart, knowledgeable, and willing to answer all questions and offer "local knowledge", the most important thing cruisers in unfamiliar waters are looking for. Jessica caught our lines, tied us up and fueled our boat on arrival. Steve spent 45 minutes on our boat the next day giving us advice on how to stage our crossing of Queen Charlotte Sound. He has a friend who has NEVER refused to go out on the Sound, but this week he's in port, hiding from the wind and waves.




The white tent above is the social gathering spot for cruisers. Steve and Jessica have a huge barbecue they fired up tonight, and boaters brought whatever they wanted to barbecue, side dishes and drinks and enjoyed a meal with music, lively conversation, and great sea life watching: seals, eagles and more.

We also attended a local car show today, a fundraiser for a non-profit. Bob says his sister Lynn once owned a car like the one below.



















Every car shone and was in perfect condition.


















Some brought back memories, others were older than that.




















We've be-friended Tom and Christine from New Zealand, cruising on their 36' Grand Banks "Takahe". They spent 4 years cruising the South Pacific on a 44-foot sailboat before coming to North America. Our plan is to buddy-boat tomorrow for a Queen Charlotte Sound crossing. The weather forecast looks OK, not great, but the next week looks worse, so as we did on Johnstone Strait a few days ago, we'll stick our noses out tomorrow morning and see how things look. If all goes as planned, the alarm clock will wake us at 4:30am, we'll cast off our lines at 5:00 am, and we'll arrive in Allison Harbour (or Blunden Harbour if conditions are not good), spend one night there, then round Cape Caution on Monday, the "gateway" that keeps lots of people in The Broughton Islands, never to continue to northern B.C. or Alaska. Queen Charlotte Sound is exposed to the Pacific Ocean, Japan being the next land to the west. So ocean swells with waves on top combine to make it uncomfortable if the wind is up. Wish us a good couple of days! We won't have internet for a while probably, but our SPOT (satellite) messages will appear here, letting you know where we are.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

On to Port McNeill in Gale Force Winds?

Distance traveled: 46.6 miles

Awake at 5:45, we listened to the weather forecast on the VHF radio, calling for Gale Force Winds on Johnstone Strait just outside the harbour where we spent the night. The current and wind were moving in the harbour, but our view of the Strait included no whitecaps. So 25 minutes later we cast off our lines to "poke our nose out" to see for ourselves what the conditions looked like on the Strait. If it was bad, we could always turn around, tie up at the dock again and go back to bed, right?



















But it was pretty nearly calm on the Strait, so after identifying several "bail out points" where we could duck out of the wind and waves if necessary, we proceeded northwest.


















We're normally a 7-knot (8 mph) boat, but the current was ebbing northwest, the same direction we were traveling, so it gave us a 1-3 mph boost the whole way, significantly shortening our trip. And it stayed calm, WHEW! So much for weather forecasts.


















Three times, "bursts" of activity startled us in the water near our bow, and each time it turned out to be a pod of 5-7 dolphins (or porpoises? we're not sure what they were, except not the Dall's Porpoises so common in Puget Sound). They surfed our bow wave, dove from one side under our boat to the other side, and raced alongside, always briefly. Sorry, we weren't quick enough to get photos.


















And after 5.5 hours, we pulled into North Island Marina at Port McNeill, not far from the northern tip of Vancouver Island. So much for those Gale Force winds!


















For our entertainment, a group of young people were practicing their paddling skills in the marina, half of the crew facing each direction and paddling against each other!

And a fog bank rolled in during the evening, in the distance. After a bunch of days putting lots of miles under our hull, it looks like we may spend more time than planned in Port McNeill.



Check-in/OK from Port McNeill BC

Latitude:50.59182
Longitude:-127.09058
GPS location Date/Time:07/02/2015 11:44:29 PDT

Message:We are happy, well and having fun.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Let's Not Do That Again! Johnstone Strait at It's Worst

Distance traveled:  48.5 miles

We timed our departure from the Octopus Islands anchorage to coincide with Slack Tide at the Upper Rapids 3 miles away, And we hit it on target along with several other boats.



Conditions were calm and uneventful for awhile, but eventually gave way to wild eddies and whirlpools, big waves and opposing currents that had Next To Me sometimes traveling only 2 mph. Waves are high in these stretches, and we recalled having a similar "bad day" through the Helmcken Islands stretch last summer. It wasn't scary, just slow and disconcerting, sometimes finding our sideways "crabbing" leaving us making no "speed over ground". 

















But the scenery remained spectacular. Boating traffic thinned out considerably, as did communication on channel 16 on the VHF radio.  We saw several tugs chug past hauling HUGE piles of timber. And lots of clear cutting attested to the health of the Canadian timber industry.


















Late in the afternoon the tide turned from flood to ebb, meaning the current and wind were opposing, so big waves formed. In addition the wind increased to 30 knots making the last two hours of travel very uncomfortable if not scary. Finally, late in the day, we pulled into Port Neville, a "lonely" former Government dock now overseen by a retired couple who serve as caretakers. It's not a marina, just a single dock with no electricity or water, a place to tie up out of the weather. We had a delightful evening here a year ago with two other boaters. Chet (or is it Chuck?) who lives here caught our lines again this time, as he did both times we visited northbound and southbound last summer. He and his wife live an unusually adventurous life, wintering with no nearby neighbors, and occasionally having to shoot a bear who tries to enter their home.

















We "rocked and rolled' all night in the current and wind, so were happy to be tied to the dock instead of at anchor, where we know we'd have worried about dragging anchor, so would have slept badly.



Check-in/OK from Port Neville BCC

Latitude:50.49289
Longitude:-126.08783
GPS location Date/Time:07/01/2015 17:22:29 PDT

Message:We are happy, well and having fun.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Return to the Octopus Islands, June 30

Distance traveled: 37.2 miles

























We left Lund at 5:30 a.m. with the goal of hitting Slack Tide 4 hours late at the Beazley Passage Tidal Rapids. These rapids reverse directions with each tidal swing (approximately every 6-7 hours) and run to 12-14 knots at Spring Tides near the full or new moon. With our 7-knot boat, we have no chance of getting through except near slack tide. Lady Luck was with us, and we arrived 10 minutes early, sliding through in calm water and without incident.


















The scenery in this stretch is staggeringly beautiful. Especially early in the morning with the spectacular light. Near the Octopus Islands, the final half mile takes you through a disconcertingly narrow, shallow (11 feet) , rock-lined passage, which can only be navigated at idle speed and with great caution. We've done it before, but it's always a challenge when tired at the end of a long travel day. And it's gorgeous!


















So we anchored in Waiatt Bay with fewer boats this early in the season. Wind was gusty through the night. Kayakers enjoying an adventure are common in this area.


















After getting settled in our anchorage, we dropped the dinghy and traveled to the "Art Shack" or "Driftwood Museum", which goes by different names to different boaters.




















The cabin/shack is privately owned and only has a roof and posts, no walls, but the owners kindly allow cruisers of all kinds to install creative artworks commemorating their boat and visit. Some are 20 years old as indicated by the dates on the pieces.

















This, our third visit, we installed a piece made of driftwood found at Blakely Island near home, using a wood-burning tool borrowed from brother-in-law David. We also re-found art installations from friends on "Eight Bells" and "Gold Rush" who have visited in previous years (we were here with Gold Rush in 2009 and with Eight Bells in 2014).



Check-in/OK from SPOT Bob the Octopus Islands BC

Latitude:50.27073
Longitude:-125.23831
GPS location Date/Time:06/30/2015 11:11:35 PDT

Click the link below to see where I am located.
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Monday, June 29, 2015

Secret Cove, Sechelt Peninsula, to Lund, "End of the Road"

Distance traveled:  48.8 miles

After three loooooong days of travel, we finally had a short one that allowed for play time. It's not common to see a tugboat hauling THREE barges loaded to the gills as below!

Another sunny, hot (90s) day found us in Lund on the Mainland side of the water in time for a late lunch at Nancy's Bakery. We hit the art gallery to arrange the purchase of a piece sister Susan wants.

Lund is a charming SMALL town, at the end of the road. Highway 1 begins at the southern tip of South America, continues north through Central America as the "Pan American Highway" and then up the west coast of the U.S.A. as highway 1 along the Pacific coast. After crossing into Canada, it finally ends here at Lund. Really. 
























We've been here before and enjoyed our time again.

Check-in/OK message from Lund BC

Latitude:49.98057
Longitude:-124.76344
GPS location Date/Time:06/29/2015 17:19:09 PDT

Click the link below to see where I am located.
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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Check-in/OK message from Secret Cove


Latitude:49.53410
Longitude:-123.96552
GPS location Date/Time:06/28/2015 18:41:28 PDT

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

What's Next?


Anacortes to Bedwell Harbour

Distance traveled: 38 miles

We'd already traveled 23 miles from Friday Harbor to Anacortes with sister Susan and her husband Bob, but we arrived before noon, so it seemed to early to stop for the day. After bidding Adieu to the crew of Allure, we turned around and headed north.

A couple hours later we crossed the International boundary with Canada and began seeing BC Ferries instead of Washington State ferries. These are bigger and travel faster.




Soon we arrived at Bedwell Harbour on South Pender Island where we quickly cleared Canadian Customs by phone:  "No, we don't have any firearms, nor more than $10,000 cash, nor raw poultry or eggs (avian flu concern), nor alcohol beyond "Ship's Stores".


So we anchored for the night along with 30-40 other boats, near Poet's Cove Resort.



Nearly bedtime, the sunset was spectacular, and our anchor neighbor, a large Hatteras, enjoyed the view too. On waking the next morning, the wind had swept us disconcertingly close to one another, but the wind also carried us apart soon after.


Check-in/OK message from Bedwell Harbour, So. Pender Island


Latitude:48.74894
Longitude:-123.23227
GPS location Date/Time:06/27/2015 17:27:34 PDT

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Adieu "Allure", June 27

Distance traveled: 23 miles

We got an early start Saturday to travel together back to Anacortes where both boats got pump outs and fuel, and the Shaffers turned in their charter boat. Again, ferries appeared in narrow passages where no regular ferry routes are charted.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Lopez to Friday Harbor, June 26

Distance traveled: a whopping 6.2 miles

Short travel day meant we got a slow start before pulling anchors and heading west from Lopez Island to Port of Friday Harbor where we were assigned adjacent slips. Lunch at the Cask & Schooner, walking the town to pop into galleries and shops, mostly looking, made for a nice afternoon. We got a few tiny boat projects done and Bob S did some work.


Susan and Bob S have friends/clients who live in their Texas neighborhood half the year, and in Roche Harbour half the year, where they keep a boat and live in a condo. They arrived from Texas today, drove the 10 miles to Friday Harbor, and we met them for dinner. We very much enjoyed meeting Tom and Cyd who have lots of great stories about the many trips they've made to Alaska on their beautiful Grand Banks Eastbay.

This was our last night with the Shaffers, and after dinner we sat on the aft deck of "Allure" sipping fine whiskey provided by the Shaffers. What a trip it has been, and we can't wait to have a reprise next year!

Check-in/OK message from Friday Harbor


Latitude:48.53970
Longitude:-123.01591
GPS location Date/Time:06/26/2015 16:45:55 PDT

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Two More Great Days

Day 1:  Stuart Island anchorage in Reid Harbor, distance 12.7 miles


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After a good night's sleep for all 4 of us, we pulled our anchors and made the short, easy trip to Deer Harbor Marina on Orcas Island. We saw our first clouds, and the sunny skies gave way to cloudy, but flat, calm conditions.

Fittingly, shortly after we tied up at the marina, a Seaplane landed, painted to look like an Orca Whale. Cute! 

Afternoon filled with work (Bob S), laundry (Cathryn), minor boat project (Bob W) and dealing with business stuff at home (Susan) before walking up the hill 1/2 mile to dinner at the Deer Harbor Inn and Restaurant, where the food was fantastic, view excellent, and weather perfect. Starting to sound redundant, huh?

Day 2:  Deer Harbor to Fisharman's Bay anchorage, Lopez Island
Distance:  13.2 miles

Thursday morning the Shaffer crew on "Allure" took the lead in navigating us from Deer Harbor to Fisherman's Bay on Lopez Island. Flawless execution!


They even did everything properly when an enormous Washington State ferry appeared in narrow Harney Passage just after Crane Island, not a location of a usual ferry route.

Both boats dropped anchors, about 100 feet apart, and off we went in our dinghies to explore the tiny village on Lopez, where we had lunch and poked our heads into shops and galleries.


Our last dinner onboard was halibut eaten on the aft deck cabin in the sunshine.