The black art of anchoring

The black art of anchoring

We spent 6 fun-filled weeks in Desolation Sound after the Sceptre Rendezvous. We had glorious weather, really very hot for a while and the water was in the 70’s – heaven! We spend a couple weeks traveling through the Gulf Islands, hitting our favorite spots. We are slowly making our way back to the Vancouver area from the San Juan islands in Washington, having made our annual boating trip out of Canada as required. Photos for your enjoyment:

Canada day dinghy parade

Heading north – Desolation Sound or bust!

Waving goodbye to our friends in Garden Bay, Pender Harbour. We stayed behind to repair a raw water intake problem.

Taku Resort – we stayed at the marina for a couple days. A really beautiful place on Quadra Island

Toasting the cruising season

Island artwork on Quadra

Rebecca Spit park – a favorite of ours.

Parenting was good this year! Had several great meals from our prawn trap


Boating tradition – the happy hour!

Kayaking in Squirrel Cove

Buddy boating

Removing a line we used to stern tie our boat in a close spot

Ralph caught a salmon!

Hiking on Cortes Island

Lovely lake near Grace Harbour

Delicious plums at the marina where we stopped on Texada Island

Reminds me of home

Hauling groceries at Friday Harbor – lots of good beer here

Strange as it may seem to some of you in other parts of the country, summer is ending here in the Pacific Northwest. A couple weeks ago the weather turned cool, we haven’t had much rain but I expect that will start soon. It seems to me like the days got an hour shorter overnight – kind of a shock to the system!

Now, a word about anchoring. We are anchored out almost all summer, except the for occasional marina or mooring rental. Like a lot of things, it seems like everyone has their own special technique when anchoring. Our technique is to slowly travel around the anchorage, checking depths and studying the position of other boats and obstructions, choose a place we want to end up, take the anchor the appropriate distance away, drop the anchor slowly. When it reaches the bottom we back slowly while letting out chain until we have the amount of chain out that we want (this is called scope* – see note below). Depending on the type of bottom of the anchorage, we back up harder to endure that the anchor is set. Most of the time we end up where we had hoped to – it’s not exactly an easy thing but we have some years of experience. Even so, occasionally we have to pull the anchor up and try again.

Sitting at anchor we have a chance to observe a lot and that is where the title of this post comes from. It is almost fascinating to watch the different approaches people take. The other day a boat stopped and dropped the anchor and all of the chain – all of it! And this is a shallow anchorage. Anyway, watching others is an interesting pastime out here on the water.

*scope – the amount of chain our rode (rope) or a combination thereof, usually expressed as a ratio. You take the distance from the anchor to the bottom and put out several times that in scope. Right now we are anchored at about 4:1 (100 feet of chain, 25 feet of depth).

Hello 2018!

Hello 2018!

Hi friends! It has been a while. We left home on April 1st, early for us. Our idea was that we would get to the boatyard a bit early and get a head start on boat projects. But first, Jacob joined us for a road trip to Minnesota to visit our family and watch the musical production at the U of M law school, over which Amy was the Producer. We had a fun road trip (even though we hit a blizzard in Wyoming and were not able to go to Yellowstone!) and an even more fun time in the twin cities. The play was funny and entertaining.


Jacob flew home and Ralph and I headed for Canada. Another road trip, and we arrived in British Columbia on April 11. Over the winter at home, Ralph worked on wood to replace the wall lining in the quarter berth. We carried that on top of the car the whole time, so it was nice to arrive at our destination. Being in BC a little earlier than usual was a treat, watching spring arrive was wonderful.


Aside from getting the boat prepared for the summer (which takes some time in itself), we worked on so many projects while in the boat yard, to name a few: Installed a wash down pump/hose for the anchor, repaired our starboard water tank, finished and installed a new table, put up new shades on the windows and repaired our bow roller furling.



I turned 50! 🙂


During this time, we took a break and flew back to the twin cities to attend Amy’s graduation from Law School – very proud parents as you can imagine! I took another break and flew to LA for my grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration. You know me, I don’t like to miss a party – especially one this important.


We were lowered back into the the waters of the Fraser River on June 9th. We had some friends over and took off for the Gulf Islands the next day around 11am. As always happens when we set out after a hiatus, we had to remember how to do everything. However, in spite of a rain squall it was a more or less uneventful crossing of the Georgia Strait. We arrived at Montague Harbour marine park around 6 pm, tired but happy. We kicked around the Gulf ISlands and visited some of our favorite places for almost 2 weeks.


This weekend we have been attending our Sceptre Rendezvous and Fun race in Mill Bay on Vancouver Island.  It is always such fun and we had a good race, in that we did not finish last! So, in a nut shell – all is well here! We are still at it and enjoying our boating life. Will try to update again before so much time goes by.

Hugs from us!




(Mostly) Lazy days in the San Juans

(Mostly) Lazy days in the San Juans

Most of the last few weeks we have enjoyed spectacular weather. There have been some smoky days and we had a day of rain, but otherwise the sun has been shining. The temperature at night has gotten pretty chilly, though, and it is apparent that summer is on it’s way out.

We have visited several places since we left Anacortes – Cypress Island (again), Clark Island, Friday Harbor, Turn Island, Garrison Bay, Stuart Island, Jones Island and now we are back in Friday Harbor. We have spent a long weekend here at the marina as guests of friends of ours and it has been really great. The summer crowds are gone and it has been nice to be able to take our time getting things done before we head out again.

Tomorrow we plan another stop in The San Juan Islands – Blind Bay on Shaw Island – before we head back to the Canadian Gulf Islands. It is likely that we will head back to the boatyard in two or three weeks depending on the weather etc. Although our time on the water was a bit shorter this year, we have enjoyed every moment! The three of us have been having a wonderful time together.


We met up with our friend Ron at Cypress Island and had a good hike and a good time catching up.


Eagle Harbor at Cypress Island – a very muddy beach. Charlie and I toughed it out but I was a mess!


As I was saying….yuck


Homemade eclipse watching tools


Reed Lake on Cypress – very pretty place


Lakefront property!


We set up and used the sail kit that we got with our walker bay – fun!


The Skipper in action


Caught these red rock crabs at Clark Island – quite delicious!


We bought clams and mussels in Wescott Bay. I had never cooked them before but they turned out really great! I’m a convert.


We are trying out 4 of our new solar panels now. They are working great! We have two more to install (this is not the permanent mounting).


Charging even on a cloudy day


One of many beautiful sunsets. This is Reid Harbor on Stuart Island


Jones island has deer all over the place and they are not shy.


Scenes from Friday Harbor


Scenes from Friday Harbor


Saturday farmers market in Friday Harbor. We bought some fantastic tomatoes and cucumbers.


These tomatoes were fantastic!


Last night in Friday Harbor


Fall is approaching

Family Fun in Anacortes, WA

Family Fun in Anacortes, WA

Ralph and I worked our way down from Desolation Sound, where we spent an amazing 3 weeks. The weather could not have been better and the water was as warm at 78 degrees in some places, averaging 70. We got a bit of sailing in, and have been having a great time. We crossed back in to the USA and spent 3 days at Sucia Island in the San Juan’s – what a beautiful place.

While we were in Desolation Sound the smoke rolled in from the BC wildfires and there was smoke everywhere for a couple weeks. I didn’t take a lot of photos in the smoke so we are bit short on photos this time.

Amy, Jacob and Amy’s boyfriend Drew joined us in Anacortes for several days. We had such a wonderful time, it was really sweet to be with all of them for a little while. We are leaving Anacortes today, our plan is to spend some time in the San Juan’s before heading back to Canada and to the Gulf Islands for a while before we put the boat away. For the last 10 days or so the winds are southerly and it has gotten colder. We hope to squeeze at least a few more weeks of summer out of the area. Fingers crossed.

Boy and his best friend – they had a good time together. 

Amy & Drew

All 5 of us (photo credit: DH)

Amy was the only one to brave the 55 degree water

Toga at anchor with stern tie in Pendrell Sound (Desolation Sound) – a beautiful fjord with warm water for swimming 

Not much wind but beautiful views 

Hiking at Sucia Island 

Breakfast is served

Whale watching has been good this year

Smoky sunsets

Getting a little sailing in 

Cypress Island

Interesting plant life

A good time was had by all!

What do you DO all day?

What do you DO all day?

This is a question that we get asked quite a lot by people who aren’t familiar with the cruising lifestyle, so I thought I would tell you about our day today.  Of course every day is different, but this is a day in the life:

We are in Desolation Sound and anchored in Squirrel Cove, which is a large anchorage.  The weather here has been perfect for the last week, sunny and warm. The water temperature here is in the 70’s.  

 I wake up first, like most days, Ralph is up first, like most days.  Charlie and I lounge for a little while and I read a couple chapters of my latest book (title is “north of normal” – kind of a fascinating read). Ralph puts on the water for coffee.  I convince Charlie to get up so I can make the bed and then we head out in the kayak so he can have a shore trip.  There is nowhere here for me to get off the kayak but Charlie is used to that so I just go to a good place and he jumps off so he can run around for a while.  As we head back to the boat I see that Ralph has decided to row out and join us in our new dinghy, which is a Walker Bay 8.  We want to get a closer look at the entrance to the lagoon that is at the end of this cove, which has a short section of rapids.  We have a good tour but don’t try to enter the lagoon as one could get stuck in there depending on the tide.

Back on the boat, I prepare breakfast while listening to satellite radio.  By the time we drink our espresso, eat breakfast, putter around and clean up it is almost 11 am.  Ralph does some work on the windlass prototype he has designed and installed on the boat while I prepare for a shore excursion.  I rearrange and check our food supply, collect all the trash and recycling and gather the laundry in a very large dry bag.  About 12:30 we load up the dinghy and motor a couple of miles away to the town of Squirrel Cove. 

At the dock we meet an older man who is bringing in books to donate to the tiny book exchange.  He feels grateful for the books because once he was very ill here and spent 6 weeks at the dock recovering and reading every book and magazine. Such a neat guy. 

In town we go to the laundromat, get awesome burgers and fries from the Flying Squirrel takeout window,

Lake swimming

Friends caught and prepared these mussels and clams. Delicious!

walk Charlie and grocery shop.  The market is small and unfortunately their supplies are low.  We are able to get some frozen meat and a few other things to replenish our stores.  

With everything done we head back to the boat at about 4 pm.  Only a few moments after we get back we see a boat approaching and it is some friends we made a couple of years ago up here – Bill, Paddy and Libby (their pup) – we invite them over for happy hour.  We catch up over snacks and gin & tonics with no ice – ice is something we haven’t seen aboard Toga for a while.  Turns out we are both heading to the same place next so we make loose plans to get together again in a day or two.

We are both hot so we decide to take a swim and then rinse off with fresh water on our swim platform – we have a shower there for that purpose.  We spend some time putting away our groceries and clean laundry and then Ralph takes Charlie to shore for his evening shore leave.  We’ve had a lot to eat today so we just have a poached egg on toast for dinner at 9 pm.  

So – that’s about it! We are having a great time.  Sometimes we look at each other and talk about how wonderful this is! I’m trying to add some photos but the available bandwidth is an issue. Hope you are all enjoying summer.  XXOO

Not much to report

Not much to report

Hi friends! Long time, I know.  We drove up to BC and we’ve been in the boat yard about 10 days.  We had a very nice drive up and have had mostly very good weather (very hot right now) since we got here, with the exception of a wind storm that was pretty powerful.  Feels kind of scary when you are living in a boat that is standing on supports in the yard.

Things are going as they seem to go with boat work, which is forward and backward on the progress toward getting back in the water.  For example, we recommissioned our domestic water system and while trying to get all of the air bubbles out, the pump failed.  We were able to fix it, but the point is that quite a few unexpected tasks arise along with the expected ones.  During the winter at home, Ralph works on projects to bring here to install/replace things aboard.  He is busy every day working on those tasks.  I am less busy than he is and my tasks are arguably less interesting (more domestic in nature), but we enjoy our days.  We make plenty of time for relaxation and fun. Springtime here is truly beautiful, and we enjoy the antics of all of the different birds around here from Eagles to Geese.  

Based on the way things are going, we think it will be 2-3 weeks unti we are back in the water and off for our summer cruise.  Talk to you soon!

Full functioning galley

Found this fun store where they have just about any food for man or beast you can think of in bulk

One of my jobs is to try and keep Charlie reasonably clean. It’s quite dirty here. This is a do it yourself dog wash, which is a great idea.

There are some shallow areas in the river by the boat yard. This is the first of two sailboats we have seen grounded since we got here. The tides are considerable too.

Spring in BC – so pretty

Cooking on board is pretty much like at home for us. This pizza turned out pretty well. Kudos to the chef!

Celebrated my 49th birthday last week with friends – fun party!

A recently completed project – replacing our shaft seal. If you think this looks easy and quick – guess again!

Ralph’s usual place these days – the engine room

Corn, Cows and Coffee

Corn, Cows and Coffee

Ralph, Charlie and I decided that it would be fun to take another long road trip after we put Toga to bed at Shelter Island boatyard outside of Vancouver.  We spent a little over two weeks cleaning, sorting, organizing and winterizing the boat before we loaded up the car (amazing how much stuff we haul back and forth) and took off.  Since we took the route through Canada last year, we decided that it would be interesting to take a different route this time.  Our planned destinations were: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN to see my Amy and my Dad & Mary; Canton, (outside of Detroit) Michigan to visit Ralph’s brother Ken and his partner, Diane; and lastly, Belleville, IL to visit my brother Curt, my sister-in-law, Stacy and their family.  

We headed south through Washington and then east through Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and arrived in Minnesota.  The Fall colors were very striking this year, especially around the Idaho, western Montana area.  We thought Couer d’Alene was very lovely and would love to visit some time.  Our visit to Minnesota was fun and an added treat was that my niece, Jacie, was there!

We decided to drive from MN through Wisconsin and around the upper peninsula of Michigan, where Ralph spent time as a boy camping and visiting his relatives.  We traveled along the western shore of Lake Michigan and the eastern shore of Lake Huron and there were some really pretty sand beaches along the lakes.  We spent the night once in a really quaint throw back motor lodge and ate Pasties – a cornish meal that traveled from England with the miners that relocated to Michigan. While in Michigan we visited the University of Michigan campus, the Henry Ford Museum and had a wonderful stay at Ken and Diane’s house, visiting relatives and having a lovely time.  The weather was perfect most of the time!

From MI it was a one day drive to Illinois, where we had a sweet but brief visit with my brother’s clan.  They are so fun – we really enjoyed ourselves.  From IL we decided to take the southern route home – over 1800 miles.  That was a long slog.  Not much to say about it except there is a lot of open space here in the USA.  

On the trip we saw so much corn, so many cows (we know where the beef is) – and of course, no road trip is complete without that sweet companion, coffee. 

After stopping at home for a respite we got back in the car and visited Jacob in San Luis Obispo – had to get some Jake time in!

Now we are back home and trying to get our land-based lives back together.  We have many projects going on and are busy, as usual, but it’s great to be home.  We hope we can see all of you soon.  Thank you for following our blog and sharing our adventures! Love to each of you. 

Cows in SLO

Happy times

Curt and his lovely bride, Stacy

Noah (17 – my nephew), Abra (18) and Jacie (21) my nieces!

Ralph, Matt (Ralph’s great nephew), David (Ralph’s nephew), and Ken

Ralph, David (Ralph’s nephew), Ken and Mike (Ralph’s great nephew)

Ralph and Ken’s childhood home in Detroit

Ralph and Ken indulging me at the Henry Ford

Fiery colors everywhere

This one is for me – at the Henry Ford

Hot wheels at the Henry Ford


Majestic University of Michigan (Ralph’s alma mater)

Not a bad view

Fall foliage

This is a pastie, which contains beef, potatoes, onions and maybe carrots.

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan

Jacie and her pal, Charlie

Minnesota apples

Road tripping


Tired, but adorable, law students (Alexis in foreground, Amy and Kate in background)