Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cost to Cruise - Costs for March

Joby Gorillatorch Flare
Here are the costs for March. Overall, we seem to be doing well, some notes:

Maintenance / Upgrades centers around generator fuel leak (replaced return line with 3/16" hose), purchased this cool ‘Spider Light’ - am thinking we might be able to use it on the aft deck as a reading light this summer.

I also purchased an Arduino Uno Starter Kit. This is a small single board computer I am thinking of playing around with to created a more intelligent alternator regulator for the Kubota generator. Plus it brings back memories of 35+ years ago when I was messed around with KIM (KIM-1 that is....)

We spent a LOT of time in transient moorage this month, more than is reflected in the costs as we also got our deposit refunded from Friday Harbor. We had the Cascadia boat-in at Anacortes, plus we spent several days there waiting out storms. And La Conner to make the train coming and going.

Groceries and Dining Out are a bit higher largely due to Kristi's trip down South - is also what makes up the Transportation category. And medical hit us again, with a back billing of increased insurance rates from the first of the year, and one last medical invoice the insurance company would not pay - even after we coordinated with them in January before leaving Friday Harbor.

9 month average! Getting close to that Full Year view! Will we make $3,000 / mo average? (Little hope for $2,000 I think.)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Returning to 'the Islands'

We left Friday Harbor on February 8th and worked our way south to Seattle and Blake Island and back up to hang out between Deception Pass and Anacortes for some time.  Other than Al's quick pass by James Island while I was gone (the docks had not yet be replaced since removal for winter), today is the first time we have entered the San Juan Islands in nearly two months!

We spent the last two nights in Anacortes, reprovisioning and waiting for gale winds to abate.  There is also a Salmon Derby at Anacortes this weekend, and Cap Sante would be needing us to clear out today.

Winds calmed greatly to below 20 mph in the morning, so we were off by 1 PM.  We were bound for Blind Bay on Shaw Island, at the center of the San Juan Islands.  We anticipated that crossing Rosario Strait could still be a bit uncomfortable, preparing ourselves and the boat appropriately.  Remove anything that can slide off the table, counter, or dash.  Secure the doors to the other cabins.  Take off clogs and put on 'real shoes'.

Though there were no white caps to speak of, the waters were a little bumpy.  It was more swells than waves, but coming at us straight on.  We 'hobby-horsed' for awhile, and I realized it wasn't very comfortable for someone at the end of a sinus cold.  The bottom of the trough increased the pressure in my face significantly, so I took another dose of decongestant.  Though the waves didn't come over the bow, there were a few that were getting pretty close!

After a period of travelling into the waves, we came into Rosario Strait below Cypress Island, and Al turned a bit more northward to offset the current of the ebb.  This took us over the waves on the quarter, a bit more comfortable, lengthening the period between crests.  However, from this perspective, they seemed even bigger!

Now, you know I do not like 'bumpy' water.  I know the boat and captain are very capable.  But this does not stop a certain level of anxiety for me in these situations.  Here are some of my thoughts as we crossed Rosario Strait today:

Oh God.  These are pretty big.  And we really aren't into the Strait yet.  Hold on.  Focus on that spot, don't look at the waves.  We're turning?  Why?!  Oh, this IS better.  Huh.  Okay.  Boy, am I glad we aren't SIDEWAYS to this!  That's at LEAST five feet.  My heart is beating hard and fast.  Take a deep breath.  That's better.  Don't look at the waves.  Well that means I am not looking forward to help watch for hazards.  But I am taking care of myself.  That's important too.  Go faster!  Why are you slowing down?  There's a ferry coming?  I'm not looking -- I need to focus on that spot on the horizon.  Yay, it's getting calmer -- can I go pee now?

Once off the Strait and into Thatcher Pass, things went very well.  We had intended to anchor in the south end of Blind Bay, but the shallows have been bombarded with crab pots.  We picked up our favorite mooring buoy off Blind Island instead.  It feels a lot like coming home.

We were surprised to see the ferry Elwha in the dry dock at Anacortes!  Al will have to do some research to find out what has happened.  I think we mentioned that it was at Bainbridge Island when we were there too.  What has this 'problem child' been up to?  The ferry mentioned in the above thought ramble was Yakima.  Salish has been doing the inter-island loop; we have not seen here in the San Juans before.  We haven't seen Sealth or Evergreen State yet.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?

I have returned to Viking Star after 10 days away.  Two of those days were taken with travelling to and fro.

So I had eight days to enjoy being Grammie!

Even though we had 'just been there' for Christmas, three months is a LONG time in a child's life.  Baby Ranger is nearly twice as old as he was the last time I saw him.

One of the first things Ryker told me was that he wanted to come to my house.  He was reminded that Grammie and Papa live on a boat, and he said ' I know!  I want to go there!'  It's a long ways away, you know, it took me a whole day to get here!  Some day, you will get to come visit us for a week.

I really enjoyed staying at daughter Lindsay's house, and being much more a part of their lives than we had been at Christmas time.  I slept in the boys' room, trying out one of the new beds they had just got.  It was made even more comfortable by the stuffed animals Ryker placed there to keep me company, the special 'Sparkly Kitty' tucked close to the pillow, and a favorite super ball slipped under my pillow.

Some of my favorite memories will be a 5-year-olds arms around my neck and the words 'You are the best Grammie ever!' for no reason other than just being there.  And a three-year-old playing the 'I Love You' game that his family shares that went 'I love you, Grammie!'  I love you too, Evan. 'I love you more!'

I am grateful that the reason for the trip -- Milo had surgery -- went as planned, and he bounced back so quickly that we were all able to go to the zoo at the end of the week.

Here they are all lined up!  Not a one is as tall as the smallest bear, yet!  But they will grow so fast.  L to R, Milo 19 months, Emrie nearly 3, Madalyn 5, Evan 3, Ryker 5, Troy 8, Ranger 7 months.
And then I got to go home to Al.  I have heard others say 'How can I miss you if you don't go away?!'  There was none of that going on here.  We truly enjoy being together, and are very rarely apart.

It was nice to be greeted at the train station with a big grin, a kiss hello, and a little-tighter-than-normal hug.  It's nice to be back.  Maybe absence DOES make the heart grow fonder.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

They're Out!

This weekend was one of the nicest weekends so far. Good temperatures, moderate winds, smooth seas. And that seems to have brought out the Boaters! I have seen more recreational boaters out on the water this weekend then the total combined since we left Friday Harbor in February. Why all four of the mooring buoys are taken here at Hope Island, plus there is one more boat anchored! Oh well, always the tradeoffs . . . At least we can hope for mid-week to be relatively uncongested.

And it looks like our Park Host application / background check went through. Yesterday I received a call from a desperate Ranger in Eastern Washington asking if we would be able to host for him. It took me a while to get across that we lived on our boat (He started talking about Boat Ramps, etc.) After explaining that we had a rather LARGE boat, and would need a Semi to move it (45', 18 tons, etc..) he got the problem. I felt bad we could not help out, esp given the financial constraints parks are under these days. But at least we know our application has passed. Guess we will be Hosting Blake Island a couple of weeks in August.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Weekend in Sharpe Cove

Deception Pass is I understand one of the most used parks on the state of Washington. It contains several distinct camp grounds, day use areas, and at least three names moorage points. We have spent several nights in Cornet Bay which is in the South East part of the overall park. This weekend I picked up a spot on the North West side. It might commonly be known as Bowman Bay, but in fact is a small cove just adjacent to Bowman called Sharpe Cove. Both are on the ‘other side’ of Deception Pass from Cornet Bay and have an unrestricted view of the Strait of Juan De Fuca. Our guide book did not have many good things to say about this Sharpe Cove – Too Shallow, Too restricted by many rocks and reefs (including one named Coffin Rock), clogged with Kelp, Poor Anchorage holding, plus exposed to ‘Ocean Swells’. But - it has a dock connected to land (Bowman Bay proper has an isolated dock and several mooring buoys). Being as I had spent almost a week on Viking star, the prospect of getting off was rather appealing! And as I had missed slack in deception Pass it was Sharpe or Bowman.

I nosed in slowly while watching the forward looking depth finder, then poled the water to double check after I got settled. There is plenty of water. I figure about 6’ at the head of the dock with a 0-tide. Given the current neap tides, we are ok. (A minus Spring tide might be more of a problem). I also noted there was a rather inconvenient placing of a piling about 2/3 the way down the East side of the dock! Why not at the end??? Oh Well, in the end it comes to this: There is sufficient water for Viking Star as long as we are not in a minus tide, and as long as we can get the West side of the dock.

Ko-Kwal-alwoot as she became
And what a great place this is! I will say it is perhaps one of the most used parks we have been to; this nice weekend there must have been at least 3-400 people between here and Bowman. Walking, picnicking, kayaking. Here in Sharpe Cove sitting on the beach - tossing rocks seems to be the pass time. There is a well used tide pool area, a bit too well used as signs indicate 20 or so years ago the weekend crowd trampled the whole area to death – latterly. They now have stainless steel pins marking a requested path, letting the rest of the area recover.

Ko-Kwal-alwoot (the Deception Pass Maiden). A classic story of Forbidden Love which ends in triumph and tragedy. There is a carving in her honor, and I noted this web site repeats the story as told on signs around the monument:

Last night Rosario Head provided a site for the best Sunset of 2012 – so far. Tonight might be even better as an approaching Low is pushing some high clouds and mist ahead of it.

Tomorrow I will make my way through the pass and take a buoy at Hope Island. Then head on LaConner after my Work Work phone calls Monday. Kristi’s train gets in around 9pm. I will be able to take a bus out to the station, but with the last run at 8pm we will be looking for a taxi – or perhaps seeing if we can hitch a ride back to La Conner. I am looking forward to Kristi being back with me, and 1st thing we will have some hard decisions to make. That approaching low I am looking forward to tonight will being rather dramatic weather most all of next week (It is a big one they say).

Schoolboy Troy

It was pointed out to me that a picture of Troy was not included in the Photos post of a few days ago.  I was aware of this.  Most of those shots were taken as I arrived at Lindsay's house, and when Evan and Milo arrived for the afternoon ...... while Troy was at school.

I told Lindsay he could have a blog post all to himself when I got a picture of Troy.

This truly is Schoolboy Troy, doing his reading homework before bedtime one night.

A trip to the zoo with all the cousins gave ample opportunity for more photos.

Troy is usually a very cheerful helper.  Here he helps his little cousin Evan across the lily pads.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Just bouncing around…

What has Al been up to with Kristi away this week? After seeing her off on the Amtrak Starlight I had over an hour to kill, so I walked a bit around Mount Vernon. This is a town we have only seen from I-5 - with its noticeable Tulip painted on an old water tower. Downtown is a snapshot of Old Town America: Train station, paralleled by a couple of streets containing the City Hall and Jail, Libraries, department stores, Furniture stores and more. Most of the building showing dates from the mid to late 1800’s. I got some breakfast at the Co-Op where they sold Food by the Pound. After taking the bus back to LaConners I did one last provisioning run and called my God Mother (HOW could I not call her on Saint Patrick’s Day!!!) That evening featured a massive plate of Corned Beef and Cabbage and a promised toast of Jack D.

Next morning was a trip to the Scone Lady, moving to the local pump out where I also topped off the water tanks. It was then decision time: North or South… South would take me back to Coronet Bay, while North targeted Cypress Island. In the end I let my feelings direct me, what did I FEEL like doing?

North it was. To Eagle Harbor. Compounding this decision was a strong front was scheduled to arrive that night with winds peaking 50kts and 7’ waves predicted. Kristi and I have ridden out some strong winds from the SE in this harbor, but nothing this high. Despite being largely open to the East there is one buoy we have found suitable. Even so it was with apprehension that I prepared the boat for the night, putting things away and tripling up on the mooring line. (1 primary plus 2 fall backs). I also set the GPS for a very tight anchor alarm in case the mooring itself failed.

That night it did get windy. Up to the promised 60+ kts peaks and 7’ waves (per NOAA Buoy 86088). However in our protected spot the wind gauged peaked at only 44kts. When I went to bed the winds were the mid to upper 30kts with the waves a manageable solid 2’. Things went well through the night till I got tossed up a bit around 3:30am (what is it with 3am anyway??). Seems the wind had died; and it was the winds that had kept Viking Star pointed into the waves. When the wind died she went sideways. Arg. Oh Well. After about an hour things calmed down. Just funny that I only got knocked around when the wind STOPPED!

This week has been rather busy with Work Work. Two specs are beginning the process of closing on a revised raft. So there are a lot of key decisions that need to be made, and hence a lot of assessment and input needed from their consultant! Wednesday I got a break. I changed the fuel filter, inspected the generator (that one suspect motor mount is 100% gone..), and got a lot of reading in. Even spent some time outside in the sun! Today I had a phone call and some Emails to answer. Have a load of Laundry in the washer now and a loaf of Sour Dough bread doing its final rise. Figure I will pop it into the oven when I get this blog post done.

Have been sleeping OK despite the lack of Kristi (and that one 3am). But I also am using THE WHOLE BED! And I am waking during the night, but just turn on the lights grab my book and read till I fall asleep again (hoping not to lose my place). Though I have been OK with Kristi away it is with the knowledge that this is a short time. I am looking forward to her arriving Monday.

I am currently reading “Passage to Juneau” by Jonathan Raban. It is a based around a trip from Seattle to Alaska in a small sail boat and talks to the trip, the places now and past as well as Captain Vancouver’s travels on these waters. Was interesting to recognize the places mentioned in the beginning of the book that we have been to, and am looking forward to getting to the places we have not been to yet!

Friday I am thinking of checking out James’s Island, see if they have put the dock back yet. If not will continue down to Deception Pass park. Then through the pass Sunday in preparation to meeting Kristi in LaConner Monday evening. Looking forward to it.

Followup: Just finished “Passage to Juneau”; did not like the ending... Its 5am, and I am fully awake for the day. Brewing a pot of coffee, eating the rest of yesterdays bread - it is a bit salty, will cut that in half next time.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Milo Has Surgery

Here we are. The reason for my trip away from the boat. Nineteen-month-old Milo has reflux of the bladder, which had done considerable damage to both his kidneys. Surgery gives a nearly 100 percent successful treatment of the reflux, but the kidneys are not expected to bounce back fully, especially the right one which was most severely affected. The surgery re-attaches the tubes from the kidneys to the bladder, embedding them in the bladder wall, so those muscles can prevent the backflow of urine.

This little family has already endured some big challenges. Casey and Richard are high school sweethearts who became Madalyn's parents shortly after graduation. Little Evan came too early and spent two weeks in NICU, and now has some small vision and speech issues. And happy-go-lucky Milo had what appeared to be repeated ear infections, which run in the family, but were masking the true problem of the reflux and kidney infections. The problem became evident when he was very sick but did NOT have an ear infection.

Legacy Emanuel opened a brand new children's hospital just last month.

Everything is shiny and beautiful.

There was a shift change during my visit, and the new nurse was Amy.

Milo had not been in his room very long. He would stir and fuss a bit, but when he saw me, he reached out for me. Melt my heart! This little guy who had only seen me once since his first birthday, but had spent the afternoon the day before his surgery with all his cousins, his auntie, and me, reached out to his Grammie through his anesthesia fog. Awww.

It hurt a bit to jostle him, so he stayed on his Mommy's lap. His oxygen meter lit up his little big toe...

Mommy had made him a new shark blanket for the hospital, but staying close to her was keeping him warm enough.

When he would stir he would look for Mommy, and reach for her hand.

Finding Nemo was playing on the monitor, and he woke when the credits played and asked for a movie, so Casey set up Cars 2 to play. The hospital had several kid movies loaded and available, along with hospital movies and other videos.

The next day, the catheter was removed. They had been told he may need to go home with it, for 3-4 days, but that was a worst-case scenario. He ate. He walked around. And he peed. Then he could go home.

After they got settle in, I brought the other kids home, and the family was complete again. They are having a quiet day today, and Richard goes back to work tomorrow.

Today, I am taking a break to visit former co-workers, and stop at my favorite Starbucks store. Steve is still the manager at the Cornelius store, and I also saw Debbie. When I took Madalyn and Evan to the Tanasbourne store the other day, I visited Michele and Sandra, formerly of the Cornelius store. Steve and the Cornelius store gave me one of the first Gold cards, which says 'since 2008' on it.

Al reports he is doing fine on the boat. He caught a mooring buoy in Eagle Harbor on Cypress Island and has been bouncing around there ever since. Night before last, he was tossed out of bed with high winds that kicked up some big waves. It actually was rougher after the winds let up, since they had been holding the boat steady into the waves. It is supposed to be a bit calmer for a few days now. He is also booking more-than-normal hours the past week or two -- YAY for pay!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Some Photos...

Arriving at PDX, Union Station

Ryker loves Pokemon!

Grammie and Emrie



Grammie and Milo

Grand-dog, Ninja


Saturday, March 17, 2012

On the Train

I am presently on the train to Portland.  I am travelling south to be there when my grandson Milo has surgery on Monday.  I will gone from Al and Viking Star for 9 days.

I am looking forward to seeing my daughters and their beautiful children!  But, I am also anxious about being away from Al for so long.  The last time we left the boat this long, WE left the boat.  It was in a marina, and it had a friend come by and check it now and then. But Al and I were together.

Now, Al will be alone on the boat.  'Where will you go?  What will you do?'  Though I know he is VERY competent, I still worry about not being there, not being that second set of eyes, not being the deckhand who prepares the lines. 

Also, I know that Al does not sleep well when I am away.  Granted, usually HE is the one that is away, and when he is away, he is usually involved in business, with the stress of air travel (he hates it) and strange, empty beds.  I guess we will find out if he sleeps better or not with me absent from OUR bed.  

I think the anxiety got to both of us a little bit last night.  Al was awake from 1:00 to 2, and I woke when he came back to bed.  Both of us got up and read for a time before coming back to bed.  

We have adjusted well to life on the boat.  We share a very small space, even 'smaller' in winter, as we rarely use the outside deck space in cold and wind.  Of course there is occasional grumpiness on both our parts, but we are very in tune with each other, and can sidestep pretty easily when that happens.

We rarely are ever more than even 10 feet apart!

I think this week is going to be difficult.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A New Duck

But first, another shot of eagles!  I am going to call these the Swinomish eagles.  I think we have seen them both nearly every time we travel the Swinomish Channel!

Today was a beautiful day in Cornet Bay near Deception Pass.  The sun came out to spotlight this guy, a Bufflehead.  I also watched a loon taking a bath, but his camouflage was working too well to make a good photo.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fun Weekend!

We had a blast in Anacortes last weekend with the Cascadia Sail Association sail-in.  Al has been on their email list for some time, lurking, as Viking Star is a power boat, and this IS a SAIL association.  But we were welcomed anyway, and had a great time!  I even wore a flower boa home from dinner on Saturday, awarded to 'the Aliens among us'.

We were present when Destiny was 'painted Merlot'.  We heard lots of stories about 'last year'.  We drank Duck Farts.  We served Mimosas at the Saturday breakfast, including Diane's first ever.  We had a hard time keeping up with this hearty group, and with the 'Spring Ahead' time change also bringing us down a bit, decided to just hold out in Anacortes for the expected bad weather, and to nap.

Good decision.  All the rest of the group cleared out Sunday morning to reach destinations before the weather, and so far as we know, all were safe, though perhaps bounced around quite a bit.  One boat we know was going to stay a few days in the San Juans before going on to their home on Vancouver Island.

Sorry no pictures.  Maybe we will post if someone has any we like...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Good Morning!

This seal was enjoying a little nap on the dock this morning.. Until a seagull sauntered by casually, then doubled back and nipped it's toes!  Ouch!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Heading North Again

The scale gave us a couple of good numbers again this morning, so I guess the week of 'detox' at Blake Island worked, and we needn't feel too bad about the two trips to Pegasus Coffee, and one for pizza, and one for ice cream.  We did walk twice back and forth to the grocery store -- food for the next week to 10 days, and beyond, since our freezers are now packed to the gills too.

Outside Pegasus this morning, I found this interesting plant blooming.  I asked the employee setting up the chairs on the patio if she knew what it was, but she didn't.  Any of you readers have a guess?

On the way back to the boat, I took a picture of a 'new' duck.  I said the boys have mohawks, and called them Punk Ducks.  Here's the closest thing I can find in the bird book.  Is that it????

We did see rather a large flock of them up on shore picking through the grass.  I would disagree about their calls though -- they sounded like squeeky toys to me, just one tone.

We had been anxious about the weather report.  We didn't really want the added expense of another night's moorage, and it would be better for our schedule if we could move on this morning, but NOAA's weather report did not look pleasant.  Being it appeared it had not changed, at all, from last night, Al checked out Weather Underground, and was happy with that one.  The largest waves we saw were just as we left Eagle Harbor.

It is Saturday, and it looks like a sailing club is having an event.  On facebook I posted that there were a 'hundred' participants, but we later heard Seattle Traffic say on the radio that there were about 70.  As they all turned to head north, we saw LOTS of spinnakers.

Another milestone on the hour meter today.  It was Saturday July 2, 2011 when we hit '777' so it was almost exactly 8 months to put the 233 hours on the motor that brought us to '1000'.

Friday, March 2, 2012


We woke up this morning, excited to get underway to Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island.  We were planning to go to our very favorite coffeeshop of all time, Pegasus Coffee.  Also on the schedule, pizza by the slice, provisioning, and the best ice cream ever at Mora Iced Creamery.

However, once we were out of the harbor at Blake Island, we encountered excitement of a different sort!

It started when Al asked 'What are those fast, black boats over there?'  I got the binoculars and took a peek while Al was setting up the radio to monitor Channel 13 - the commercial traffic, and Channel 14, - Seattle Traffic, as well as 16 - the International Hailing channel,  simultaneously.  'It looks like some sort of Navy tugs to me.'  Looking at the AIS readings on the chart plotter, we could now see that these were Navy tugs.

'Something big is coming in,' Al said.  And then he pulled down the binoculars and says 'I see an aircraft carrier!'

When I zoom in my camera, I can see it too!

Should we be excited, or concerned, that we will be in the middle of this?  Well, YES, because our current course and speed will put is RIGHT in the middle of it!  Thank you AIS.  Al is able to call the control tug and ask advice as to where they would like us to go.  They direct us to go between the group of tugs hanging out at Restoration Point on Bainbridge Island and the VTS (shipping) lanes.

We move past the tugs -- this is now looking south on the sound.

And how it looked to the north

Soon a Coast Guard boat approached us with his lights flashing.  We opened our door to talk, and were instructed to give the carrier a wide berth, and to NOT point our bow toward it. (Do YOU note the mounted machine gun on the bow?  We did, though it likely was the least lethal weapon around.).  We told them of our intention to head for Eagle Harbor, and that we would be ducking behind the small island ahead as the carrier passed.

USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74), with two escorts

With the Seattle skyline in the background...

I wondered how it would appear on Radar.  This is the largest warship in the world with a flight deck covering over 4 acres!  Al snapped this photo - see the blip on the upper right hand corner?  Nope, that is a Canadian escort ship.   The one straight out on the right hand side of the screen?  Again no, that is just a tug and barge.  CVN-74 is actually that small one directly behind us.

I was amazed how SMALL it looked, knowing air craft carriers hold a crew of THOUSANDS.  And this was perhaps one of the best returns we got (often it would completely fade from the screen).    Here are some of the websites Al investigated and learned much!

The Ship:
The Class:
Radar Jamming Technology:

Some news articles about her arrival.   Take note:  THIS is the same ship that rescued an Iranian fishing vessel from pirates 4 days after being told by a rather excited Iranian government to 'Go Home and Never Come Back or Else' !

Even more exciting to me -- my Navy son is presently in power school and hopes to be assigned to an aircraft carrier.  In just over a year or so, he could be travelling the world in this style!  Go Micah!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Rocky Raccoon

How about a non-bird post?

Introducing Rocky Raccoon, as we call him.  We have seen several raccoons wandering the water's edge and were surprised at first to see them during daylight hours.  We had assumed that raccoons are mainly active at night.  This population doesn't seem frightened by humans, though they do skitter when we make known somehow that we are watching.  One time one walked right alongside the boat, and when I said 'There's Rocky!' to Al, the raccoon instantly climbed over the dock rail and peeked back at me from there.

Every time we talk about Rocky,  the Beatles song runs through my mind.  I even looked up the lyrics, and it's not at all a happy song.

Besides walking the rim of the harbor, they also climb under the docks!  It's hard work to make a meal, I guess.





Cost to Cruise – February 2012, and a bit of a summary.

Here are our costs for February.  This was a month of transition for us as we left Friday Harbor and resumed the ‘wandering’ ways.  Well, almost.  February expenses were dominated by three key themes:

  1. Get ready to leave Friday Harbor – provisioning, taking care of any bills we had, and getting in those ‘Last Chance’ Coffee House visits and boat maintenance tasks done.
  2. Filling up the Fuel tanks after a long winter of heating (more about that in a bit)
  3. Being successfully bribed by a February $20/night special at Bell Harbor in Seattle.  (Again, more about that in a bit)

Look to prior postings for details on the rest of the '8-month average'

Kristi and I really enjoyed Friday Harbor.  It is a great combination of Small Town with just enough size to have most of what is needed.  All within walking range!  But just as much as that were the People.  From the 1st day we felt so welcomed and invited.  The staff at the Port, members of Friday Harbor Power Squadron and Yacht Club, Saint David’s Church.  Coffee shops (Anne!), and the local shops.  All had a kind of relaxed – recharging feel about them as they recovered from the Summers craziness.  And though people were concerned about us being ‘On the Break Water’ we really enjoyed our spot as it allowed us to keep tabs on the coming and going of the ferry fleet, as well as unobstructed views of the Sun Rises.

Yes, we enjoyed Friday Harbor and intend to return there next Winter.

Fueling. We had topped off our tanks in mid October before heading to Friday Harbor.  Then again in early February just after leaving.  And it was a big one.  320 gallons!  I did some figuring (will save everyone the details) and came up with 230 gallons consumed by our beloved Dickinson heater…  Or, about 2.2 gallons / heating day.   We had the stove turned down about as low as it could go (before it starts to act up – ala: excess soot) and I had hoped for a figure more along the 1.3 Gal/day  low-burn spec.   Oh Well, to be honest we would not have been able to ‘survive’ on the boat over the Winter using only a 30A shore power cord; the Dickinson is So Warm and So Dry and SO NICE.  It is a price of entry I guess.  Over the summer I will be playing with other ideas to try and cut down the winter-over costs – as one of the biggest issues with the Dickinson is it likes to run 7/24, day in and day out.  No turning it off at night and restarting in the morning.  But at close to  $10/day we may have to reassess that!

February also had a surprise for us in that Bell Harbor right in downtown Seattle offered a $20/night special.  So Kristi and I motored on down and spent 10 nights total there.  Hence the ‘high’ Moorage Costs, Dining Out Costs, Personal Costs.  But we did enjoy our time – and to be honest would not have done it without this special.

The Big Question - Looking Back.

We have 8 months of ‘data’ now with a mix of Wintering, Traveling, and Bumming Around the Islands.  This month I added a % of spending column to see where our money is going.  And Wow 28% of our expenditures were for Medical.  This again continues to be such a large number I am shocked (though not amazed).  True, it will decline as we amortize over the coming months (we loaded up on Doctor visits over the Winter in Friday Harbor), but still.  It is 2x the next highest bucket – Groceries.  Some might say ‘Well, you need better insurance’.  Perhaps, but a Full Ride insurance policy (like we had when working) would cost $1,400-$1,700/ month for the two of us.  Well over what we are paying now.  There is some truth we could have saved a bit by either shopping around better (gone off-island), or just not going.  Here our limited transportation options, and perhaps just good common sense won out.   I will still point out:  Almost 1/3 of our expenditures are for Health and Insurance.  Welcome to America….

If we add up the Boat Costs (maintenance, fuel, Moorage) we come to 30% - perhaps this is in line with what one can expect on shore?    1/3 of our ‘costs’ for Housing?  Will be interesting to see how this trends over time – After all a 50 year old Wood Boat, POWER boat, is supposed to be cost prohibitive, right?  (Will be watching this closely as my experience over the past 10+ years does not hold that a Wood Boat costs SOOO much more to operate then a glass one, and to be honest we would not be in this life style if we had a boat that cost us 3-4x what we have into Viking Star)

However, we are still a ways from our $2,000 -  $3,000/mo goal.  Likely over the summer we will get closer with lower moorage and heating costs – plus staying away from Towns!  Even so this Morning Kristi and I talked about what we could do to get even closer to our idea.  Here seems the potential list:

  1. Cut out all Alcohol – No Wine, no Brown Stuff, no Lime Vodka’s at Sunset
  2. Cut out outside meals:  No Lunches, no Coffee Shops
  3. Cut back personal:  No Books, No Hair Cuts, even less clothes (PURCHASES, not wearing)

That could  save around $600 / month and put us on the $3,000/mo goal.  There is perhaps another option that MOST cruisers take:  Go South.  We would dramatically cut our Fuel (heating) bill, and also dramatically cut our medical costs.  In fact, just moving South would likely get us well under the $2,000/mo point – easily.  Perhaps down the road we will do this.  Until then we are enjoying our time here, and looking forward to exploring more north over the coming years.  And unless we have to, we likely will not enable 1, 2, or 3 above.  After all – we are supposed to be Enjoying Life!