Summer 2020: First stop, Port Blakely Harbor

On late afternoon of Tuesday, June 23, with a lingering list of boat projects, crap still piled up on the settee looking for a permanent home, we shoved out of our home marina in Elliot Bay and pointed for Bainbridge Island’s Port Blakely Harbor.

Seattle was warm and blustery, a rarity on a Seattle summer day. After I took us out of our slip and motored us out of the marina, C and our 12-year-old daughter, A, raised the mainsail. With the wind coming out of the north, we enjoyed a lovely beam- to broad-reach sail with A at the helm for most of the time.

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Provisioning a sailboat for three months off the grid

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who will find this blog post interesting, thought-provoking and maybe even useful. The rest of you will find it boring AF.

For those of you in the first group, I would appreciate you reading this and commenting with suggestions and even criticisms. See, aside from the freedom, adventure and beautiful scenery that cruising by sailboat provides, it also provides me with three other things I really enjoy: 1) Planning, 2) problem-solving and 3) organizing.

And provisioning on a sailboat for an extended amount of time requires all three.

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Mystery Bay Marine State Park: A bird-watcher’s paradise

Mystery Bay Marine State Park is a little bay outside Marrowstone Island, just east of Port Townsend. The park and the greater Killisut Harbor between Marrowstone and Indian islands are gems. Mariners willing to navigate the tricky, yet well-marked, shallow entrance to the harbor are rewarded with a protected bay teeming with birds and aquatic life easily explored by dingy or kayak.

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Our plans, they are a-changing

Well, that didn’t take long. 

Our plan to spend the summer cruising the Salish Sea up to Canada may have to be modified now, thanks to the ever-growing threat of coronavirus. 

This pandemic is changing all of our lives. As I write this, the Oregon governor has issued an executive order that all Oregonians need to stay at home unless conducting essential activities, more than 100 people have died in Washington state, more than 1,000 in Italy and chances are high that our kids extended spring break from school will turn into the beginning of a very early summer vacation. 

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Why we got the boat we did

Our Nauticat 39. Finding a pilothouse sailboat became a priority for us because we wanted to be able to sail year-round in the Pacific Northwest even though I have Raynaud’s.

C and I decided three years ago to make our dream of sailing the world a real-world goal. At the time, we had the Aequus Aer, a 28-foot Pearson sloop that we used for family trips to other marinas in Puget Sound.

But to sail beyond the Sound, we needed a bluewater-ready boat. And the Aequus Aer just wasn’t set up to do that. So we started our search focusing primarily on boats over 35 feet to fit our family of growing kids, built to endure rough seas and with enough storage, water-carrying capacity and battery bank to allow us to spend at least a week or more away from shore power.

It was during this time that my lifelong struggle with cold feet and hands started to get tremendously worse. I developed Raynaud’s Phenomenon, a condition where the blood vessels constrict in my fingers and toes in response to cold.

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Our Summer 2020 cruising plan

In June, we got rid of 85% of our stuff and moved out of our house in Southwest Portland to move full-time onto our boat for the summer. We will spend three months sailing the Salish Sea with our kids. Our tentative plan is to explore:

I left my full-time job in April and am transitioning to freelance writing and editing in the fall. My husband will continue his current job, which he can do remote almost 100% of the time.

A view of the Coal Harbour Marina in downtown Vancouver, B.C.
A view of the Coal Harbour Marina in downtown Vancouver, B.C.

Downsizing for the future

My kids are from my first marriage, and they spend 50% of their time with their dad (big thanks to him for agreeing to let us take the kids for the summer!) He is based in Portland, so we aren’t leaving Portland completely. But once we return from our trip in the fall, we plan to split our time between Portland and Seattle. We’ll be in Portland when the kids are with us and in the Puget Sound area on our boat when they are with their dad.

I’m going to miss that kitchen. Thankfully, the cook is coming with me!

Part-time cruising the Salish Sea

Since getting our first boat four years ago, and our current boat, Polaris, just in the past year, we’ve only been able to take it out for a week at a time. Still, we’ve seen so much: Orcas, gray whales, sea lions, otters.

We’re so excited to dedicate the summer to exploring this beautiful and rich body of water. I thought that cruising was something I wouldn’t be able to do until I was much older, certainly without kids in the house anymore, and probably closer to retirement.

This is the beginning of something new. Something, for now, that is only part-time. But something big, indeed.

Thank you so much for following our journey!