Wednesday, September 14, 2016

And So: the Journey Ends

All good things must come to an end, and our Summer 2016 journey up the Inside Passage to Alaska is no exception. 

Monday morning we pulled the anchor at 6:30 a.m., threaded our way out the unusually shallow channel at Fisherman's Bay on Lopez Island (saw less than a foot of water beneath our hull on the depth sounder, several times, yikes!), and headed south.

The Strait of Juan de Fuca was kind, with light winds and no waves over 3 feet, mostly 1-2 feet. Admiralty Inlet and Puget Sound were calm, sunny and beautiful. And then downtown Seattle and majestic Mt. Rainier came into view.

We headed under the Agate Pass bridge, texted friends Rick and Linda on Bainbridge Island that we were about to pass their home, waved to each other, then pulled into our slip at the marina. And it's a wrap.

The Summer 2016 journey up the Inside Passage was everything Summer 2015 was meant to be, and we're so glad we did this trip. Thanks for following along.

It's good to be home.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Last Visitors Aboard

Daughter Adrienne and her husband Justin moved from Denver to Seattle this summer, and we're thrilled they're nearby. After work Friday they drove to Anacortes and walked on a ferry to Friday Harbor to meet us aboard. We sat up talking past our usual bedtimes.

Saturday morning Phoenix moved to Stuart Island, and on the way into the anchorage, Justin dropped a crab pot. Crab season is closed at home, but it's open til September 30 in the San Juan Islands.

Adrienne and Justin dropped the kayaks as soon as we settled at anchor and took off to explore Reid Harbor. They reported finding a family of otters, with 5 babies, playing under a dock. 

No photos of the hike we took to the old Stuart Island schoolhouse which no longer has a teacher or students with a year-round island population of only 24.

We had a favorite meal for dinner, and this is the result. Dungeness.

And all sat in the cockpit talking til long after dark, with a beautiful moon. 

Sunday morning as we left the anchorage, Adrienne and Justin pulled the crab pot. Bingo!

Seven crabs: 3 were female or too small so went back in the water, but 4 were large male "keepers", meaning we each get one more crab feast!

Sunday morning we drove Phoenix down the west side of San Juan Island looking for whales, a common place for the resident Orca Killer Whales to hang out in summer months. Adrienne and Justin set up the hydrophone and dropped it to a depth of 100', marveling at the beautiful sounds of echolocation that could be heard occasionally, telling us whales were somewhere in the vicinity, though not seen. 

And after an hour of drifting with engines off, we were rewarded with a group of Orcas swimming near shore! We were all thrilled, and re-started the engines to head for the ferry terminal. But wait! We spotted a couple whale watching boats a mile north, motored slowly in that direction, and soon were surrounded by a couple dozen Orca whales on all sides of the boat. We could hear their loud "blows" (breaths) as they surfaced, and several came within 100 feet of the boat. Lots of smiles and gasps of wonder aboard Phoenix. 

Adrienne got better pics with her DSLR and telephoto lens than our iPhone, but we don't have any of them yet, so this will do.

Late in the afternoon, we fueled up at Friday Harbor, walked Adrienne and Justin to the ferry, and headed to Fisherman's Bay on Lopez Island to anchor out for what might be the last night of our 3-month summer journey. 

We sure enjoyed all our visitors over the last three weeks!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Friday Harbor, San Juan Island

The last two days with daughter Mackenzie and son-in-law Matt aboard passed quickly: they had to work, so spent all day on their laptops and phones, and we did boat cleaning and maintenance projects. Wednesday evening we put them on the ferry at Friday Harbor to travel to Seattle for the rest of the week.

Thursday friends Charlene and Darrell on "Rephyl" arrived, a 45' Navigator like our boat. We met them in July and spent a terrific week buddy-boating around Cape Caution, to Hakai/Pruth Bay anchorage on Calvert Island, and Shearwater. They then returned home for their daughter's wedding, so it was wonderful they came to the San Juan islands now to see us before we go home.

We had happy hour on Phoenix and talked non-stop, sharing stories and photos,

and went out for dinner and talked til long after dark, enjoying the moon and stars.

Friday morning we walked around town and visited aboard their boat until they had to return home mid-day.

Last Sunday our dear friend and neighbor George died suddenly. His deeply loved wife Josi is heart-broken of course, and suggested we go to Friday Harbor House for a martini, as that was a place they loved and visited often, and George's favorite drink. So we did, talking about fun things we've done with George and Josi over the past 12 years (buddy boating, many dinners, Spring Training baseball games in Arizona and more), and the friendship, kindness, intelligence and gentlemanliness we'll miss in George.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Wescott Bay, San Juan Island

Monday morning we pulled the anchor and made the short trip from Stuart Island to San Juan Island across Haro Strait. Wind and waves were higher than we liked since we were towing the dinghy, but we went "outside" in Haro Strait anyway, hoping to spot some Orca Whales for Mackenzie and Matt. Sadly, no luck. So we turned into Mosquito Pass hoping to anchor in Garrison Bay, but Labor Day crowds were too thick, so continued to Wescott Bay where we found a nice spot.

Daughter Mackenzie and son-in-law Matt took off in the dinghy to drop a crab pot, then Cathryn, Mackenzie and Matt took the dinghy in to Roche Harbor for groceries and wine.  

Four hours later: crabs!

So guess what we had for dinner? Crab feast! A favorite anytime, but especially when boating. 

Reid Harbour, Stuart Island

Sunday morning we crossed the border back into U.S. waters and were able to quickly clear Customs via telephone because all 4 of us have NEXUS/Global Entry cards. Sure is easy, and well worth the $50 fee (every 5 years), in-person interview, finger-printing and criminal background check run by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. 

Stuart Island, in the San Juan islands, has a pretty anchorage on the south side with lots of room for many boats and good holding in thick mud. 

All 4 of us took the 6-mile hike out to Turn Point Lighthouse at the NW corner of the island. 

And went on the self-guided tour of the beautiful home where the Lightkeeper's family used to live, and Docents work still.

Prawns for dinner wrapped up another great day.

Montague Harbour, round 2

We had great fun with Aaron and Julie at Montague Harbour previously, so decided to take daughter Mackenzie and son-in-law Matt there too. 

Mid-day Matt went for a 5-mile island run while Mackenzie and Cathryn hiked the trails and beach around Grays Peninsula, and Bob took care of a few boat chores. Bob got the short end of that stick!

The "kids" enjoyed lounging in the sun on the bow of the boat.

At 6:00 we dinghied to shore and caught the Hummingbird Pub Bus for a 15-minute rollicking ride to the Pub for dinner. The driver hands out "instruments" as each passenger boards and a sing-along, play-along follows.

Blogger won't let me attach a short video clip of the wild bus ride back home, but it's a hoot. Guess you gotta be there.

Clam Bay, Thetis Island

Thursday night we docked at the swanky Galiano Island Oceanfront Resort in Sturdies Bay because it's a 5-minute walk from the B.C. Ferry Terminal where daughter Mackenzie and son-in-law Matt arrived Friday morning, having flown up from LA where they live. We haven't seen them since March, so are thrilled they're able to join us aboard for 6 nights.

We rushed to catch the 11:15 slack tide through Active Pass and headed north to an anchorage in Clam Bay on Thetis Island. After a quick boat tour and briefing, and dropping the anchor, we headed through the shallow inter-island passage in the dinghy to explore Telegraph Harbour and stop for a beer on the dock at Thetis Marina.

Then went for a beach walk.

The weather cooperated for happy hour in the cockpit.

Beginning of the long Labor Day weekend, so lots of boats in the anchorage.

Montague Harbour round 1

We connected with boating buddies Aaron and Julie from back home who are on a 3-week vacation on their lovely boat "Eight Bells". We anchored near each other in Montague Harbour on Galiano Island two nights, went out for dinner one night, Julie cooked for us one night, and we enjoyed a beach and trails walk together. We hadn't seen Aaron and Julie since March, so it was great to catch up!