On December 3 we became landlubbers, moving from Baraka into our “shack on the tracks”, a small cabin in Richmond Beach just north of Seattle. We moved our furniture from the garage where it has been stored for eight years, back into our house. We are finally home again. In another week we’ll move Baraka from Shilshole Marina to Edmonds, just 3 miles north of our house, where we can work on boat projects in preparation for a 2015 trip to Alaska.
Great to be finally home!
By now we had expected to be prepping for an Alaska trip over the summer, but find ourselves still enjoying the comforts and delights of being in our home after 8 years away. Dave turned over the garden and with son, Joel, brought in a yard of topsoil. It is now planted and thriving with summer vegetables and herbs. We whacked down a rogue ivy hedge and holly bush, and did major pruning of apple trees and cut our wall of laurel down to a manageable height. We borrowed Uncle Dan’s chopper and took 600 pounds of ground up yard waste to the dump.
Inside, we installed new flooring in the bedroom, and a gas fireplace insert to replace our expensive baseboard heating. Dave did all the fireplace work himself, including permits and passing 2 inspections. We are now replacing single pane windows with doublepane. I have volunteered as community webmaster, and today Dave is in a car show with his 1960 Nash Metropolitan, QT Pie, while I help out with the Strawberry Festival.
Dave is making an outdoor table from the huge ancient ship’s wheel my brother Bruse gave us. Brother Brian introduced us to his Pizza Que which makes fantastic wood-fired-like pizza, so we got one and now have 32 notches on the peel handle!
As for Baraka, I have started cleaning and resewing the cushions, and replaced the tattered sacrificial on the jib. Otherwise Baraka has been sadly neglected, in her slip since we moved her to Edmonds last December. This will change soon, as we prepare for a summer cruise, up around Vancouver Island, though not as far as Alaska this year.
We managed to extricate ourselves from the seductive siren calls of landlubbering (constant wifi! running water! washing machine! and a bodacious veg garden!) to move back aboard Baraka for the months of August and September. Tomorrow we cast off for an easy motor 13 miles north to Everett, where we will meet son Joel to watch him kite surf for a few days.
It is strangely familiar to stow each item back in its place. After living aboard for more than 8 years our routines are set and it is easy to step back into this life.
Our plan is to sail north a bit, back to our old home waters of the San Juan and Gulf Islands, and maybe work our way as far as the Broughtons. No schedule this time, we can do just as we please.
Joel Flies his kite
We spent a couple nights in Everett Marina to meet up with Joel. He brought his kite-surfing gear and gave us a fun lesson with the training kite. In the morning we dinghied to the Jetty to try to launch his 12 meter kite. Got it airborne briefly, but the breeze was too slight to fly. We motored up tp Port Townsend where we got to say hello to Carol Hasse of Port Townsend sails, and spent a couple nights at anchor off the cute historic town. Jan’s maternal grandma arrived here as a young girl from Hawaii and graduated from high school here.
Dave helps Joel catch air.
Government Buildings, Victoria Harbour
Sunday we motored across Juan de Fuca to Victoria, boosted by current far longer than the tide tables indicated. We has an easy check-in by phone, and tied up to the Causeway, floating docks in the inner harbor, right in front of the Empress Hotel and Government buildings, lit up like Disneyland. Buskers line the quay. Lots to see and do - we will park here until Friday.
After most of a week tied up in front of the Empress in the heart of Victoria, we peeled ourselves away during the annual Dragon Races - paddling teams from all over the west coast meet to compete in the inner harbor. The Harbor Patrol let us sneak out between races. Quite a colorful event. We sailed up to Sidney Spit, anchoring in the midst of crabpots and vacationers. Ashore we hiked the long spit, then down-island to the old brick mill area and salt marsh, home to migrating birds. Another day sail brought us here to quaint Ganges on Saltspring. Dave is looking at tides and currents to plan our next couple days north, including hitting Dodd Narrows at slack water. Even if we time that right, we may have to contend with tugs and log booms or barges in the narrow channel. Always exciting!
After a nice stop at Sidney Spit we sailed up to Clam Bay on Thetis where you can dinghy through the dredged cut to Telegraph Harbor. Then up to Newcastle Island off Nanaimo. We timed Dodd Narrows exactly right, joining the line of pleasure boats parading through at slack water. Dinghying up the channel to Departure Bay, Joel’s Kenmore Air seaplane landed just in front of us. We enjoyed dinner at Protection Island’s Dinghy Dock Pub and long walks on Newcastle. Lots of fun memories here. In Nanaimo we hit Thriftys for groceries and the Bastion where one of Joel’s pennies was plastered over.
One of the great pleasures of being back aboard Baraka is swinging quietly at anchor in pretty bays. We sailed down the outside of Gabriola and tucked into Silva Bay for a nice calimari hors d'ouvre at a marina pub, and great blue cheese hamburgers back in the cockpit. Now we are underway to Vancouver’s False Creek where we have arranged an anchoring permit.
Baraka was anchored in False Creek, in the heart of Vancouver for 13 nights. Vancouver offers free anchorage there for up to 14 nights. Dave and I took the train to Edmonds for a family-filled week to celebrate Jan’s off-the-charts Dad’s 95th birthday. He is in amazing health, as vibrant as always. His kids hope for his genes.
Back aboard we enjoyed the delights of False Creek with long walks on the shorewalk and good eats from the Granville market and Urban Fare. False Creek is active with small foot ferries, standup boarders and kayaks and tourist vessels including a hokey pirate ship and huge innertube thing that hosts bbq parties. We thoroughly enjoyed our False Creek sojourn. Cruising friends on Orca III kept an eye on Baraka through a big blow while we were away, and we enjoyed a chance to catch up with Nunga, special friends from our Moulin Rouge days.
Finally it was time to move along. We lashed the dinghy on deck and motored out into a Strait of Georgia blow, 22 knots on the nose with waves breaking over the bow. We raised jib and staysail and a reefed main, then motorsailed across to make our landfall back at Silva Bay. Lovely quiet night swinging at anchor. Today we are timing the tide for Gabriola Pass to head to Pirate’s Cove.
From Telegraph we dinghied around the corner, then took a ferry to cute Chemainus. The town's response to a collapsing timber industry was to encourage tourism by painting lovely murals all over town. You can get a walking tour map to find them all.
Ladysmith advice for hikers
Tied up to LMS marina here at Ladysmith for 2 nights for laundry, internet and hot showers, and to explore the town. After the bottom fell out of the BC timber industry these small towns were struggling. So tourism is important - and Ladysmith has done a good job with boat restorations, an historic walking route, good bakery and other amenities. Yesterday we walked the Holland Creek Trail, which starts at the edge of the city.
It gave our boat legs a good workout. Signs warn of bears fishing in the creek, but we didn’t see any wildlife beyond an enormous green slug. Today we will make a last trek uphill to the 49th Latitude grocery to grab some provisions for the next few nights at anchor. Then we will drift south a bit to Telegraph Harbour.
Lovely lazy days. We spent a couple nights in Madrona Cove, an easy dinghy ride to Saltspring’s Ganges, where we caught the Saturday market, and caught up with Wendy and Ken of Cop Out, last seen near Picton, NZ! It was great fun to spend an evening reminiscing about our shared Pacific crossing.
Ganges also offers great grocery shopping just steps from the dinghy dock. We loaded the fridge and motored in calm to Montague, a provincial park with pretty trails and shell middens, then today drifted south past busy Active Pass to a quiet anchorage in Winter Cove. The rock striations reveal a dramatic geologic history. These islands were once crumpled by great force, pushing horizontal layers vertical and creating many long skinny reefs. Our chart plotter shows the NW-SE orientation of the crumpled folds in the lay of the Gulf Islands. I just read Cascadia’s Fault again. Very timely. With days shortening we are reading more, and just resumed our Rummikub marathon.
Yesterday we strolled a nice trail through Winter Cove to Boat Pass where we watched kayakers decide not to brave the rapids in the narrow cut. A baby seal got too close and was swept through. Later we saw him bouncing in the eddies, looking for a way back into the cove. Earlier we’d ridden the dinghy through, a wild ride in the dips of whirlpools. We woke this morning to fine drizzle and an empty bay, so we pulled anchor and headed back across the border to the state part here at Stuart Island. On the way we had to turn aside for 2 freighters steaming toward Vancouver or Point Roberts. Clearance into the US was an easy phone call now that we have our Nexus clearance, BR numbers and customs sticker. Really nice not to have to arrive in a port of entry.
This trip has been a stroll down memory lane, returning to many favorite anchorages in the Gulf Islands and San Juans. From Prevost, we motored to Roche Harbor, anchoring off the marina for a few days. Roche was an historic lime kiln site, loading up to 1300 barrels a day for shipment worldwide in its heyday. For many years the cute resort kept its charm, but today it has moved upscale with a huge marina with mega-yachts, and townhomes ranging up the hill, dwarfing the classic Hotel de Haro. Roche seems the most changed of all the places we re-visited this trip. We took the dinghy around the corner down Mosquito Passage to explore English Camp, and found some nice trails.
On Sept. 21 we headed to West Sound Marina guest dock on Orcas, to visit Don and Joyce of Windy Thoughts, good friends from our Moulin Rouge days. They seem unchanged by the years, enjoying island living. It was great to see them and share cruising stories.
On Sept. 23 we anchored at Fisherman Bay on Lopez, and enjoyed a couple days of Holly B’s bakery - best cinnamon rolls in the world,, then rolled down through Cattle Pass to anchor at MacKay Harbor for some more hiking and a quiet night.
On Sept. 27 we crossed Juan de Fuca and tied up at Point Hudson in Port Townsend. Dave’s sister Malinda joined us for a couple days to explore the charming Victorian town. On Sept. 30 we motored the final leg, back to Edmonds Marina, where we will park Baraka for awhile.
This trip seems to have convinced us we want to keep Baraka, at least one more season, to explore Alaska waters in 2016. It’s a great boat, comfortable and familiar, and there is nothing quite so sweet as swinging at anchor in a gorgeous setting.Dave reports we made 23 stops, with 13 nights in marinas and 43 nights at anchor. We had fresh crab for dinner quite a few times. A good trip!