Now for something different

Now for something different

Hi friends! It has been a long while since I posted, and this seemed like a good time. We have recently returned from a trip to the British Virgin Islands where we arranged a bareboat charter with some friends (this means no crew, just us). Ralph and I were using the excuse of our 30th anniversary to justify this nice trip to the tropics.

In order to get to Tortola, the main island in the BVI’s, it took us 3 flights over 2 days. We stayed overnight at the San Juan airport in Puerto Rico on the way there, no time to see any sights. We arrived in Road Town, Tortola the day before our charter started and got the boat ready to go, including a delivery of groceries that we had ordered online ahead of time.

The boat we rented was a 44′ Jeanneau Sun Odyssey named Reventador. It was an interesting departure from our boats (ours and friends).

We set out on our cruise and visited 9 anchorages in the British Virgin Islands. It was really different sailing in the trade winds – it is pretty much always windy! The weather was a mixed bag of sunshine and rain but it was always warm and the water was warm too. We got some great snorkeling in as well – beautiful tropical fish and an interesting shipwreck that I would have loved to photograph if I had the right camera. I will share some more photos and if any of you have questions about this kind of cruising, just let me know!

The “Bubbly Pools” at Jost Van Dyke
Soper’s Hole Anchorage – had a nice dinner out. Example of colorful Caribbean buildings
Enjoying the calm seas before sailing
All important boat drinks
Beautiful beaches of Anegada Island
Reventador was a fun boat to drive
Caribbean Spiny Lobsters – delicious, as we discovered at dinner
We rented a car and did some sightseeing on Anegada Island – sand road!
Fun 30th anniversary celebration all around 🙂
On the way home from our boating trip we spent a day in old San Juan, Puerto Rico – it was a blast! Such a unique and lively place. I would love to come back.
I was fascinated by the street pavers – so blue! I read that these were brought as ballast on European ships in the 18th century and later used to pave the streets. The blue also has to do with remains of iron smelting – not sure about the process but it makes for beautiful streets.
Back side of El Morro – the fortress that protected (or tried to) San Juan Harbor
Nice view – El Morro means headland – fitting
Old meets new – gigantic cruise ship approaches

What a fun trip – we feel really lucky to have experienced a different part of the world and a different part of the USA in Puerto Rico. In the Spring we will return to Toga and continue to enjoy the Pacific Northwest.

Princess Louisa Inlet

Princess Louisa Inlet

Hi friends!

Things have been going well this summer, and I don’t write much because more or less we are visiting the same spots and there’s nothing really new to tell you. We have visited a couple of new places, like little Cabbage Island marine park, which is right next to the US/Canada border. Such a lovely place!

What I find worthy of news to share is that we made the trek up Jervis Inlet to Princess Louisa Inlet, which is crowned by Chatterbox Falls. This is something that we (especially I) have wanted to do since we got up here with the boat. Some things of concern with the trip: it is pretty long day with not many options for stopping for the night, you must traverse rapids to enter the inlet and there are limited spots to choose from when you get there (park dock, some moorings, and deep anchorage).

I mentioned to our friends on ArielX that I wanted to make the trip and they were up for going with us. They have been several times before, so that helped us with our anxiety. We followed them up, motoring for about 7 hours plus about 2 hours of sailing. It seemed like the whole ride up the fjord it just got more and more beautiful.

Typical views going up Jervis Inlet

Sister ship ArielX with good friends Anne and Henri

When we got to the rapids, we were a little early for the slack tide (best time for transiting). ArielX decided to go on through and radioed to us that it was OK, so we proceeded. It was a little fast but over all, OK. We both breathed a sigh of relief and headed the 4 miles into Princess Louisa and to the falls at the end.

After the rapids we enjoyed the breathtaking views!

Some minor waterfalls – at times there are 30 or more

When we reached the bay some of our fears were realized when the dock was completely full with boats doubled up and all moorings taken. We cruised around looking for somewhere to anchor when Ariel grabbed the best seat in the house – right in from of the falls! We were invited to side tie, which made this really easy for us.

Chatterbox Falls!

The day we left was rainy but the falls were still magnificent! Ralph and I were reminded of Yosemite by some of the rock formations

It was so amazing to be anchoring right in front of the falls and to hear the water roaring all the time. It was a hot day, so as soon as we could we jumped in for a swim. Interesting water, not too salty and somewhat cool from the falls – but so refreshing! We had a great couple of days there. It was really an experience of a lifetime.

Spring is here!

Spring is here!

Hi friends! We arrived in BC about 3 weeks ago and have been doing our usual springtime activities here; getting the boat ready to go in the water for the summer as well as catching up with friends, relaxing and having fun. Everything in moderation!

Our drive up was really nice and after a few days of rain, we have had sunshine. It has recently gotten warm and really feels like spring here; before now I would say spring was feeling a little tentative.

Hop Valley brew pub in Eugene was a great stop! We are big fans of their beer and the food was great too.

Went through this interesting little town in Washington, visited a state park there

Ralph has been working (with my help as needed) on several small projects, including replacing light fixtures with LED’s, installing a new engine water filter and oil pump, replacing some on-deck teak with starboard (also called marine lumber, it is some kind of plastic – holds up well), building a shelf in one of our lockers for more efficient storage, repairing our bimini side curtains, fixing our instant hot water heater and installing a new house (domestic) water pump. Nothing is easy or straightforward on a boat, especially when we are away from our home base. Once we installed the water pump and turned it on, it only worked for about 30 seconds. We had to drive down to Washington to send it back and are awaiting a replacement (shipping it to and from Canada would result in dealing with customs and tariffs/duties that are a headache). I have been keeping us well fed, etc in addition to being Ralph’s assistant. On Thursday I am going on a trip to visit Amy in Minneapolis, MN and Jacob in Brooklyn, NY – very excited to see those kids!

New mounting board for the outboard motor

New guides for the stern door

As I mentioned, nothing is easy on a boat. Ralph had to crawl in and out of these tight spaces to remove and reinstall the guides – lots of scrapes and bruises

Nice new shelf for this locker!

Tidily installed new water pump that we are replacing (again) – hopefully the next one works

We expect to be in the yard until the end of May, and then off we go!

Margaritas to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Welcome back dinner with dear friends in Vancouver

Fraser river looking lovely

Lots of geese and ducks about right now, expecting to see ducklings and goslings soon!

Being without running water (we do have a good pump in the galley though), these sprayers come in really handy! They are good for all kinds of things

Salmon berry bushes growing along the river

A few pictures of our meals aboard

Summer is dead – long live summer!

Summer is dead – long live summer!

We have been home for a little over 3 weeks now.  I realized that I hadn’t posted a sort of final update for the year and we can’t have that!

After our last post we traveled around the San Juan islands for a a bit and then we returned to Canadian waters.  We spent a few days at Montague Harbour and enjoyed that, as always.  It is such a favorite of ours.  We crossed Georgia Strait on a day that started out very foggy.  Only a few miles outside of the entrance to Montague there is a pass between the islands that requires care and planning to traverse because of high currents.  I have so relieved when the fog cleared right as we were entering the pass and saw 2 giant BC ferries! Of course, we had our radar on, but it feels a lot better to be able to see.

Our crossing was really nice – we got to have a speedy and comfortable sail for most of it and we saw a pod of Orcas fishing for king (spring) salmon.  There were probably 100+ sport fishermen at the mouth of the Fraser river as well.  We traveled up the river and stopped at a new place, a public dock in the city of Richmond.  We had a nice stay there for two nights and then headed up the river to be hauled out.


Public Dock in Richmond



View from our spot in the boatyard – that is the City of Burnaby in the distance. The field in the foreground is cranberries


Our neighbor in the boat yard, a former canal boat shipped over from France. It is almost 100 years old!

We spent about 2 1/2 weeks in the boat yard, doing our usual things.  Probably half the days were rainy, but we always found things to work on.  We got a visit from my Mom, Lee and my Gram, Lou on their way to depart on a cruise from Vancouver.  We were able to play tour guide for a couple of days and it was so fun!


The leaves started to turn even before we got into the boat yard, but I always enjoy the lushness of nature in BC:


We departed from BC on October 1st in the pouring rain, got soaked to the skin! We decided to take a bit of a different route and go through Bend, Oregon.  Not only to go to Deschutes Brew pub, but that was one reason! We had a great meal there and very nice beers.  We also decided to tour Crater Lake national park, only to be skunked again (I am referring to our trip in the springtime to Yellowstone that was foiled by snow).  Driving into the park it seemed like a perfectly nice day but when we started to climb we hit a very wet wall of fog.  We almost could not see the lake, so we will have to go back again another time.



Selfie with Crater Lake in the background somewhere



One of the two islands in the lake


Nice foliage and river down the hill

We are acclimating and enjoying life back at home.  It has been so hot since we got back, it makes us feel like we are chasing summer.

Things were well taken care of at our house, our plants are thriving!


We hope to see many of you this winter – thanks for traveling along with us.

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