Thursday, December 15, 2016

Welcome to the `Cost to Cruise Blog'

Yes, we have been so neglectful of the blog these past months - two posts in two months...  Shameful.

Promise, will work to get another post or two out this week.  Short:  Kristi and I are in the Portland area for Christmas, holding up from the snow and ice...  Have some thoughts on the dehumidifier we are trying out, have made lots of progress on the 3rd generation of the open source Alternator Regulator.  Plus we are ALL going on a diet - Kristi, myself, boat...   So, maybe some things to add..

Till then, here is November's costs:

Viking Star Cost - November 2016

Moorage caught up with us mostly from the deposit at Friday Harbor.  Maintenance/Upgrades is negative this month due to a check we deposited from the surplus seller  (Some rope, an unused anchor - more to say when talking about Diets).  Transportation is high as we took TWO auto trips down to Portland, and of course personal represents the access to internet / shopping after the summer...

OK, there it is.  Year looks a little high, over out in the 20s target.  Will have more on that when I review the total year after December.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Cost to Cruise Sept and Oct 2016

In my prior post I shared our belief that "Cities make our wallets thin and our bellies fat".  Well here in September and October we can see that trend continue:

In September we  largely were traveling down Canada to get back into the USA, guess we did not spend too much time at The Bus on Saturna Island.  And we largely eat the boat down in preparation for the border crossing.  Though September was not too bad cost wise, we sure made up for it in October!  During that month we not only restocked the boat after entering the USA, but also meet up with several friends and my Son came to spend a month with us.   We visited several ports along the way and dined out A LOT.  All told, a wonderful month - just hard on the wallet.  Now November finds us back in Friday Harbor for the Winter - will need to see how that shapes up...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Last Day of Cruising, 2016

It was worth it waiting out the rain in Keyport, because Friday was a beautiful day on the water!

We woke up early so we could ride as much of the ebb as possible, with our probable destination being Port Ludlow.  But did you wish us 'fair winds and following seas'? That is what we had, so we kept going, hoping for Friday Harbor!

Just around lunchtime we realized we needed to time our arrival at Cattle Pass and kicked it into 'Pirate Mode', running at 2000 rpms to make it in time for the slack. We got there on the dot!

We left just before sunrise, and this was our last view of Seattle as we exited Agate Passage and headed north.
L to R, sunrise, downtown Seattle, Mt. Rainier. 

All was well. It was a smooth ride, but for swells sent out from cargo ships heading down the Sound.
As we head onto the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the seas are still following us.

Ah! Ahead, the San Juan Islands! I can identify Lummi, James, Mt. Constitution and Turtleback Mt.
 I can see the brown hills of American Camp on San Juan Island.
 The closer we get, the rougher the water. The winds are more easterly here, and the waves are more broadside -- not the most comfortable on Viking Star...

Turtleback Mt is growing!

I am paging through our chart book, and my Dad's name pops out at me. He is with us!

Mom is too. Among my small treasures is the egg I gave her for Christmas one year long ago, made from Mt. St. Helens ash.Over the past two years it has become a gauge -- if it remains upright on its stand, we HAVE to say we've had smooth sailing.  Today that's what we get!

Cattle Point Lighthouse marks our entrance into the San Juan Islands.

Approaching Friday Harbor, there are feathers in the sky.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Big Pile of Poo

I am a farm girl. And as such, I can identify all kinds of sh*t. Cows, pigs, horses, chickens. Dogs and cats. Mice and rats.

As a liveaboard boater we see mainly the droppings from gulls and ravens, and can easily recognize otter droppings.

This summer, we learned about bear scat.

And this week, we experienced seal doodoo.

Wednesday we moved from the Port of Poulsbo Marina  just down the way to the public dock at Keyport WA. There is a fabulous museum ( that Al wanted to show to his son Michael, who is visiting us.

We pulled up to the dock and set our lines, but we had to be very careful where we stepped. There were two very LARGE piles of poo on the dock. We speculated. A dog? That would have had to have been a huge Great Dane! I thought a seal or sea lion.

I handed Al the bucket, but he handed it right back and asked for the hose. He said he'd need some pressure for this job. Whoo-eeeee! It didn't smell fishy, but it sure was unpleasant!

That night I heard a 'ker-SPLASH' in the night. When morning came, Al said he'd heard a couple of snorts. As daylight arrived we looked to the dock to see what kind of visitors we had. Yup, seals! There were 9-11 of them, as they came and went, looking nervous at any loud noise (construction noise began before 8AM). They looked curious when I opened the door to say hello and ask for photos.

They really are cute.  Good thing! Because there was a fresh deposit too.

Looks like this one has put in a good store for winter!

Itch, itch, itch!!!

Ah, satisfaction.
(I can almost convince myself this is a cat in the 'loaf' position.)

There's always one ...

Supreme relaxation!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Our 'Home' in the Mid-Sound

Blake Island is a 'must stop' when we are in the Puget Sound. The nature is wonderful, and so are the rangers! We were very pleased to learn that a ranger we met last time has earned a full-time position on the island, and is a great assistant to the head ranger.

We stopped for a night on our 'down-Sound' trip, and on our way 'up', we spent another 4 nights. Here are a few shots from this latest visit:

A seiner fishing off the shore, lit by the setting sun.

Blake Island is often in the flight path for SEATAC.

Downtown Seattle is peeking from behind Alki Point while waves lap at Blake Island.

What is this red stuff? Is it vegetation? Or an egg case from sea animal?
 All I know is it made an appealing nest for some pebbles.

The ever-present deer. This time there were 4-5 that rarely left the little grove near the campground.
 We even had a chance to do some volunteer hosting duties! There were a couple of school groups that came for lunch and the show at Tillicum Village, and we helped supervise the kids (protect the wildlife, haha) when there was free time before their boat returned to Seattle.

Pretty clouds!

And a closer look at the seiner and its tender.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Migrating South

WHAT have we been doing for the past few weeks? We've been migrating south.

I realized the other day that I have neglected the blog, so here's a bit of an update. I'll do it as a list of 'ports of call' since entering the United States, with a couple of photos to accompany.

Prevost Harbor, Stuart Island
Roche Harbor, San Juan Island
Friday Harbor, San Juan Island

Popeye gave me a splash for my birthday!
Blind Bay, Shaw Island
Fisherman's Bay, Lopez Island

A sunset
Eagle Harbor, Cypress Island

A sunrise

LaConner WA
Oak Harbor WA

This 6-year-old sailor (son of a sailor) came along for a ride,
a little wilder than expected with 2-4 ft seas, but he was fearless!

Coupeville, Whidby Island
Jetty Island (Everett WA)
Eagle Harbor, Bainbridge Island

We will make one more hop today to Blake Island, and then tomorrow to Des Moines WA for the furthest south point we will achieve this year. 

There is a series of storms coming through, and it will be nice to have Viking Star tied to a dock behind a breakwater! Al and son Michael will be staying with the boat while I fly to Minnesota to attend a niece's wedding. My daughter Casey will be travelling with me from SEATAC.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Last Canadian Photos

Here are some shots from our trip down the Strait of Georgia, the final stretch toward 'home'.

We are so grateful for the VERY smooth waters of this year's cruising. This is the Strait of Georgia, just south of Gorge Harbour, beginning our first day of two on this body of water.

In Tribune Bay, Hornby Island blocked our view of the sunset, BUT we were compensated with a wonderful moonrise.

Our second day on the Strait was just as gorgeous, but a little windier, so a little rougher.
As we approached Nanaimo we realized the timing was right to pass through Dodd Narrows, so we did and then continued about an hour to Decourcy Island. 

Ah, glossy water! And a heron looking for breakfast.

Another stop, and another moonrise! This one in Lyall Harbour on Saturna Island, home of one of our favorite coffee shops, Wild Thyme, which Al affectionately calls 'the Bus'!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Rebecca Spit

We spent two nights at Rebecca Spit, so that we could reprovision at Heriot Bay. Under threat of rain, we took the dinghy to the hotel dock, had burgers at Terry's Take-Out, and stocked up at the store.

In the afternoon we took a shorter dinghy ride, to the spit, for a walk.

On the 'inside', there is lest driftwood and the rocks are about an inch in diameter.
This is the 'outside' where there is lots of BIG driftwood, and the rocks are a good 6-8 inches diameter!

We stopped to talk to some people. They were visiting from England! And they offered to take our picture.

A fork in the road. Many of these photos have already been posted on facebook, and my sister commented 'I hope you went left -- everyone goes right.' I guess we think alike, since we HAD gone left.

This is the view we enjoyed.....

...from this bench!

Last morning, a lone fisher.

We have been reading labels on Canadian dairy products. In 2013 we had a lesson on 'modified milk ingredients', and we refuse to buy ice cream with them.

FINALLY we hit the jackpot! 
From Rebecca Spit we went to Gorge Harbour on Cortez Island. It is a good place for people watching (we're out of bear country now, though I think I heard a wolf howl one morning). We had Sunday Brunch at the resort restaurant. It was a lovely day and we didn't need jackets, even in the shade! We brought books and sat in lawn chairs and soaked it all in.

This morning we left with perfect conditions for two days on the Strait of Georgia. We are in Tribune Bay of Hornby Island tonight, and plan to go to Nanaimo tomorrow.

Cost to Cruise August 2016

I have a saying, “Cities make our wallets thin and our bellies fat”.  And you can see that in August.  Though not truly Cities, in August Kristi and I spent a lot of time visiting different marina’s as we began to wrap up our time in the Broughtons.  In addition to our monthly stop in Port McNeill to reprovision, we visited Sointula, Alert Bay, a couple of the remote marina’s (those that advertised Cinnamon Rolls were selected ---  see the connection here?).  All were enjoyed very much, and all took their toll to the budget.  As you can see here:

Viking Star, August 2016 Costs

If you ‘back out’ the fuel in July we had been running around $1,000 / mo.  this summer.  Visiting the ‘Cities’ raised that significantly, Oh Well….  It is a choice, and we did very much enjoy each stop.

(A side note:  I had to correct July, the health care insurance did not get added in.)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Back to civilization – and the Summer Lost

On the West Coast there are a few ‘barriers’ boaters may have trepidation crossing.  From some it starts with the Juan De Fuca Strait, separating the central sound from the San Juan Islands.  They are not comfortable passing that body of water and spend their boating time in the Seattle area, or perhaps take the ‘back road’ through LaConner.   Haro Strait and entry into Canada is next with perhaps a bigger barrier being the Strait of Georgia  to get into the Desolation Sound area.   Next come ‘The Rapids’ separating the Desolation Soung area from the Broughtons and Cape Caution further north.  Each of these (as with any water) deserve respect, planning, and benefit from an open schedule to allow for calm passages.   But each of these also acts as a kind of natural filter, reducing the number of boats at each gateway. (Some of the popular guide books filled with massive words of caution don't help - bless them!)

‘The Rapids’ is perhaps one of the larger filters.   Not only for the effort needed to safely pass through them,  but also that it takes time to work through them and explore the waters above.  Many, and I mean MANY, boats do not have that – and remain in the Desolation area. 

Which is why we passed through them last May to head North.

But 'summer' (sic) is coming to an end, the weather is turning colder and wetter (well, not that we would really notice that – more later), and it is time for us to start heading back towards our wintering grounds.  With that, last week we passed through the southernmost Rapids heading South – and began our return.   That most southernmost rapids also marks what Kristi and I kind of call the ‘return to Civilization’.  Now the shorelines are dotted with homes, there are small boats buzzing around, and a large increase in the number of larger boats as well.  And the background sound we hear is no longer the wind, or the flapping of bird wings (seriously), but motors (cars, boats).  We are no longer ‘Out There’; we are in Civilization.  (And yes, I know the Broughtons are not really the ends of the world – but there is a striking difference between the waters above and below the rapids).

So we are back in Civilization, back to where each anchorage largely has access to places to thin our wallets and fatten our bellies.  And where we share each anchorage with upwards of 20-40 other boats…  It has been a fun summer and we are looking forward to our return to the area.  But if you have followed us over this 'summer' you will know it was also kind of a summer lost..  Why?  It rained.  I mean, it rained A LOT.  Except for a couple of marina folks at Port McNeil (who I expect had an almost pavlovian response to whiny yacht-types along the lines of ‘Well, this IS a rain forest’), all others we talked to agreed this summer was a bit dreary.  Yes, the Broughtons are a ‘temperate Rainforest’, and yes, we should expect rain – but this summer was rather exceptional.    Lots of rain, lots of no sun, very little being able to sit on the back deck (I think we enjoyed perhaps 4-5 ‘sun downers’ all summer).  LOT of hours on the generator and heater.    I pulled the record of our solar output from May through August, and you can see the evidence here:

So  in some ways this was a summer lost.  Few opportunities to sit on the back deck, bright-work maintenance left undone – along with some painting as well.  We did hear last summer was great though!  (Well, almost exceptionally great that is – well above ‘normal’ in the sunshine factor)  In the end, we are heading back.  Back to civilization, and the Lost Summer.  Will enjoy the fall and look forward to next year. 

But not to sound too down,  I am remembering one of my favorite reviews from Active Captain (a web site where boaters can comment about different boating locations).  It goes something like this:  “… after overhearing another boaters Admiral whine about the lack of amenities - a friend of my daughter commented ‘Suck it up Princess, you are lucky to be here!’ “   And so it is – Kristi and I know we are lucky to have been here, rain and all.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Minstrel Island to the Octopus Islands

A few more shots from Minstrel Island....

Fishies at the dock



From Minstrel Island we went down Chatham Channel. We poked into Call Inlet and explored the Warren Islands, scouting new anchorages for 'next time', and came across this shipwreck. Depths are pretty deep -- there are better options. We move on to Port Harvey.
 Port Harvey deserves more than a few words. George had some bad luck after last year's season, but he is working to rebuild. The dock was great, and the internet was fine. He told us of walking trails and we set off. I wanted to walk along the mud flats, but Al wanted to walk the forest trail. We had just entered the trail when Al said 'Ooooo, berries! Oh, the bears have been in the berries too!'

And Al saw me staring at the bear poo and said 'You're not going any further, are you?'
 Later, as we were eating the best pizza we'd had all summer (the only pizza?), we heard stories of cougar sightings. Glad I didn't hear about those before....  At supper George took orders for morning pastries -- cinnamon rolls, and bacon cheddar croissants. We got two of each -- and he earns our award for Best Cinnamon Rolls in the Broughtons!

From Port Harvey we went Johnstone Strait to Sunderland Channel, and anchored in Forward Harbor for three days of heavy rain. Ugh.

Then we set out for Blind Channel Resort, going first through Whirlpool Rapids and then to Green Point Rapids. The rain/mist/fog was coming in and out, and we were a bit grateful to follow a barge with a crane on it -- our radar went out early in the season.

Rounding Green Point, we coveted a cute house on the beach.

We arrived at Blind Channel Resort just as cinnamon rolls came out of the oven! And they had a gazebo where we could enjoy the view while we had coffee and our treats. That evening we had a fine meal at the restaurant. Pouring rain kept us from exploring any further, but this will be a definite stop in future seasons!

Our next stop was Lagoon Anchorage off Thurston Bay, Sonora Island. It is quite shallow, allowing entrance/exit only at high tide. Someone has kindly marked a rock with more rocks.

A RARE occurrence this season! Dry deck, bare feet, and a book on the back deck.

Here's that rock, with its marker rocks, at a lower tide. See the heron hunting on the right?
 Now we are ready to run the rapids! There are three, very close together -- Dent, Gillard, and Yuculta. We left our little anchorage early with the high tide, and stalled by exploring Frederick Arm and doing a 'slow bells' approach to arrive at Dent Rapids at slack tide.

Sea lions on Jimmy Judd Island in Gillard Pass.

The biggest drama was meeting these two at the narrowest point of Gillard. Not much we could do to avoid the huge wakes they were kicking up.

We were surprised to see a huge complex on shore. We had excellent internet through here, due to two cell phone towers on the hill. I was able to find out it was the Sonora Island Resort -- very upscale! They don't appear to cater to boaters at all (marina for resort boats only?). There was NO mention of this place in our (admittedly old) guidebooks.

Fall foliage?

Calm Channel
Hole in the Wall is off on the right. There is a rapid at the far end of that too, and we will not arrive at slack. But we are confused -- it still looks flat! So we approach with caution, but swirls and standing waves pop up suddenly around us, and we back off and retreat to anchor behind a hook to wait for the turn. Lunch and a nap before shooting through at the appropriate time.

We then spent a week anchored in Waiatt Bay. We had two gorgeous sunny days, and we soaked it up, which energized us for a few projects. The rest was quite rainy again, but Al was happy to learn that a problem leak appears to finally be repaired by that project!