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)

Family Reunion #3

Family Reunion #3

We had a couple of rainy days at the dock at Refuge Cove after Erik left.  We had about a week to spend before we were scheduled to meet up with my Mom and Bob, my step-dad.  We decided to head to Rebecca Spit Marine Park, which is another favorite place of ours.  We anchored in the park and spent several nice days there – some rain and some sun. 

Rebecca Spit Park beach

Hiking on the trails at Rebecca Spit

Fall is here

View of Desolation Sound area

Foggy morning

Foggy morning

At anchor

Beautiful color this time of year

We headed around Cape Mudge, being careful to watch for the correct tides as we had read that the conditions can be severe there.  We encountered no problems, and it was”smooth sailing” – except we were motoring.  No wind to speak of.  We pulled into April Point Marina a day early and had the dock to ourselves.  The next day our family arrived and we were able to have several days of fun on Quadra Island. 

Cape Mudge

Mom and I at Rebecca Spit

More hiking at Rebecca Spit

Trail to Chinese Mountains

Mom and Bob

Good times with Mama


We hiked to Morte Lake – really beautiful trail

Pretty fungi

Again, our time with our family went by so quickly.  Mom and Bob went off to continue their tour of Vancouver Island and it was time for Ralph and I to head south for the year.  We decided to head to our familiar stop at Texada Island in the rain and stayed for two nights.  We had a fair day in the forecast so we spent a long day at sea and stayed for 2 nights at Gibsons Landing on the mainland, which we really liked.  Even though it was only a few miles away, we couldn’t pass up spending some time at Plumper Cove park, and we just about had the place to ourselves.  Then we took the 10 miles trip to Snug Cove on Bowen Island, which was lovely (even in the rain), and then on to False Creek in downtown Vancouver for a few days.  Ralph and our friend Henri took the boat to the Fraser River on Sept 26 and the boat was hauled out.  Meanwhile, Charlie and I picked up our car from storage and met the guys at the yard.  Since then we have been busy doing the usual clean up and prep for the winter.  Almost time to go home.  

This storm was chasing us from Texada Island to Gibsons – right after we tied up we hard a real thunderstorm

Dock at Gibsons – a beautiful double rainbow, hard to capture

Talk about waterfront living – Public Wharf at Gibsons

Public Wharf at Gibsons


Funny – Gibsons shopping

Sunset at Plumper Cove, Keats Island

Keats Island trails

More interesting fungi on Keats Island

Meeting new friends – a swan was unexpected. The bird was absolutely silent – looking for handouts I think.

Boaters Lounge at Snug Cove – so nice!

Snug Cove at Bowen Island

Anchored in the heart of Vancouver

Granville Island ducks and geese

Out of focus but you get the idea – Fall is upon us

Rental bikes in Vancouver – complete with helmets!

Looking better after a bottom cleaning

Toga is settling in for winter

Family Reunion #2

Family Reunion #2

After leaving Amy and Jacob in Sidney we headed north again, mostly against the wind.  We stopped over at Newcastle Island (Nanaimo) where we were lucky to run into our friends aboard ArielX.  That evening we went to the dinghy dock pub, which you can only get to by boat.  It was fun to go out for an evening. 

Dinghy Dock Pub (Protection Island, Nanaimo)

From Nanaimo we travelled to Pender Harbour and then on to Texada Island, a familiar route when traversing from the Gulf Islands to Desolation Sound. From Texada Island we went to Grace Harbour in Desolation Sound Park and then to Refuge Cove, where we picked up Erik, Ralph’s son, who arrived from Seattle via Seaplane.  

Erik arriving at Refuge Sound – he loved his flight!

From Refuge Cove we headed over to Roscoe Bay Marine Park and had a lovely time hanging out and hiking to Black Lake.  We were also invited to happy hour aboard Whale Song where we had a really nice time with Garth, Merrien and Nolan.  From Roscoe Bay we made a short trip in the rain to Melanie Cove in Desolation Sound Park.  We had a little rain but more sun, and the crowds had really thinned out.  Unfortunately the water has turned colder and it is not as tempting to swim.  

Lake above Melanie Cove

Melanie Cove is pretty empty this time of year

Jellyfish and reflected clouds


From Melanie Cove we visited Squirrel Cove and then Manson’s Landing – both on Cortes Island.  

Homemade pizza – forgot to take a photo of the finished product – it was pretty good


Beautiful, peaceful sailing

Fun with family!

Beautiful sunset at Squirrel Cove

Ralph, Erik and Charlie take a trip to the lagoon at Manson’s Landing

Making bread with our on board “bread maker”

Finished product – delicious!

Talking about sailing right of way rules

All too soon it was time for Erik to return to Refuge Cove for his flight back to Seattle and then back to LAX.  It was so fun to have him on board for a week and be able to show him a bit of the wonders of Desolation Sound, not to mention nightly trivial pursuit challenges!

Time to go back home for Erik – we had so much fun!

Toga at Refuge Cove dock

We’ve spent a rainy day at Refuge Cove relaxing.  Soon we will head west to April Point on Quadra Island for Family Reunion #3!

Family Reunion #1

Family Reunion #1

Our trip south from Desolation Sound included several really great days of sailing.  Most of the time it seems like we are fighting the wind, if there is any, so it was a treat. We left Squirrel Cove and stayed on the dock at Texada Island for a couple of nights, then headed to Pender Harbour, then to Nanaimo, and then to the Victoria area.  We got reservations at Victoria’s Inner Harbour, right in the heart of downtown, and docked easily at the front of the marina, right by the public way.  It was really fun to be there, so much energy with tourists everywhere and lots of street vendors and performers.  One strange thing that it seemed like, being at the dock, we were a part of the tourist attractions – lots of people walking the dock, looking in our windows, some taking photos of themselves with our boat – it was strange but OK.

Amy arrived first, and she and Ralph hit the Royal British Columbia museum right away and really enjoyed that.  Jacob arrived the next day and we all took a walk through old town and china town and enjoyed some time at a pub together (including Charlie, who has been in heaven with us all together).  Amy and I treated ourselves to High Tea at an old mansion, which was delicious.  

After three days in Victoria, we headed out to the southern Gulf Islands, first staying at tiny Russell Island where we kayaked and swam, even though the water was a brisk 59 degrees.  The next day we went to Montague Harbour and the kids and I took the pub bus to the Hummingbird – a treat not to be missed! Our last day in the islands was spent at Beaumont anchorage, with lovely hiking and kayaking.  

We are now at Port Sidney Marina after a fantastic sail here, topping 9 knots. We sadly bid Amy goodbye this morning.  Jacob and I plan to do a tour of a local distillery this afternoon before he leaves tomorrow.  It has been so wonderful to spend this time as a family, it has been very special for me and everyone has done well with the close quarters, etc.

Next up for us is that we are heading back up north again for family reunion #2! More on that next time.  

Puppy love

Sailing lessons

Beauty at Beaumont anchorage

Kayaking fun

Toga in the background


Swimming in the brisk water

Swiming fun with the lifeguard present

One family photo

High tea

Cute kiddos posing for Mom

This is Poutine, which we tried for the first time – delicious!

Sweet family

Pub life

I think she looks very royal

Where the action happens at the BC parliament

Rotunda at the BC parliament building

Victoria Inner Harbour with the Empress in the background

Victoria Inner Harbour


Fun and Sun in Desolation Sound

Fun and Sun in Desolation Sound

I realize that my last post was about 1 month ago.  There is very little internet up here.  We are still in Desolation Sound, having arrived a little over 3 weeks ago.  Since arriving we have been having mostly sunny, warm or hot weather.  We’ve met up with friends, hiked, swam, kayaked, caught crabs and prawns, hosted and attended happy hour gatherings and have had an all around good time! Since I wrote last we have been so many places – notably False Bay at Lasqueti Island, Hornby Island, Rebecca Spit, Von Donop Inlet, Walsh Cove, Toba Inlet, Melanie Cove, Grace Harbour and Squirrel Cove.  

We had planned to stay here a while longer, but we are heading south tomorrow to (hopefully) meet up with Amy and Jacob in about 10 days in Victoria.  I am hoping the photos here tell the story of what we have been up to – good old summer fun!

  • False Bay at Lasqueti Island – an honor kiosk for home made goodies

    Adorable cottage on Lasqueti Island

    Tiny post office at Lasqueti Island

    Cloudy but lovely sunset at Hornby Island

    Fantastic beach at Hornby Island

    Sunset at Rebecca Spit Park

    Grocery shopping crusing style – Ralph is a pack mule

    Best $8 I’ve spent all summer – a mosquito zapper

    Wild beach at Rebecca Spit

    Cute seals sunbathing

    Went through the passage safely

    Swirly water as currents are strong in Beasley Passage

    Readying for the big hike to Newton Lake

    Sceptres side tied at Waiatt Bay

    Trail to Newton Lake (near the Octopus Islands)

    View from Shallow Bay

    Strange things growing on trees in the forest

    Newton Lake

    Rewarded with a great swim in Newton Lake after a vigorous hike from Waiatt Bay

    When we left the dinghy it was out a ways in the water – tidal ranges are serious here

    Mother and baby seal at Waiatt Bay

Ariel X ahead of us at Toba Inlet

Anne and I being silly

Toba Wilderness Waterfall – we filled up our water tank with this delicious water

Hiking the trail to the waterfall at Toba Wilderness Resort

Fun racing against the crew of ArielX

Delicious fresh seafood

That squiggly line shows a great sail we had in the channel

Dinner aboard Toga with Anne and Henri serving freshly caught prawns – we hauled in 130 of them!

Lovely Black Lake in Desolation Sound Park

On the trail to Black Lake from Grace Harbour

Lessons Learned Lately

Lessons Learned Lately

I decided before starting to write this post that I am not going to complain about the weather (rain, wind, rain some more, thunder storms).  After all, I am living a wonderful life with my best friends (human and canine) aboard and doing something that many dream about, so complaining is not in order.  So I’m not complaining but I am wishing for some sunshine soon!

We haven’t been letting the weather slow us down.  We left Friday Harbor and spent some wonderful days – a couple of days at Spencer Spit park, which I wrote about previously and another at a small marine park called Clark Island, where we were alone in the bay! Quite wonderful.  Then we spent a few days at Sucia Island, which is another fantastic marine park – we had a great time at those San Juan Islands locations.

We crossed back over into Canada and spent a couple of days on Pender Harbour (Canadian spelling) at Port Browning.  Port Browning is a quaint marina with a nice store not far away.  We did the usual things we do while in port – laundry, provisioning, etc.  We met up with our friends aboard Ariel X and some new friends, Sandi and Andrew, at Beaumont Marine Park – also on Pender Island near Poet’s cove.  We spent a fun few days crabbing, barbecuing, kayaking – and, well – drinking.  Poet’s cove has a spa where we were able to utilize the facilities – what a treat! We celebrated Canada Day on July 1st with appropriate fanfare.

We said goodbye to our friends and resumed our slow progress north (heading for Desolation Sound where we plan to spend several weeks).  We decided to stop at Russell Island but the weather turned and we felt that we didn’t have enough protection there, so we went to Fulford Harbour (Salt Spring Island) for a night.  Since then we have been moving along each day.  We have stopped for a night at Genoa Bay, Chemainus (both Vancouver Island), Preedy Harbour (Thetis Island) and Silva Bay (Gabriola Island).  Now we are anchored in Nanaimo, at Newcastle Island Marine Park.  We are spending two nights here, most likely.

Now, for lessons learned lately.  We were leaving Preedy Harbour and decided to go to Pirates Cove on D’Courcy Island.  Our guide books talked about the beauty and popularity, so I’ve been wanting to go there for a while.  We were getting close to the destination (in unpleasant weather – not complaining) and Ralph zoomed in on the chart because we were aware that the entry to the cove could be challenging.  Well, turns out that the entry was not only going to be challenging, but impossible for us at that time – the entry is very shallow and we would have run aground.  Also the depths in the bay were very shallow (our draw is over 6 feet) – we decided that this destination was not for us, although there were a lot of boats in there.  Luckily, Gabriola pass was favorable at that time (the currents run in the passes and you have to be cautious) so we headed for another destination.  

Lesson 1 – Check chart for appropriateness destination before leaving.

We went through Gabriola pass and headed to Silva Bay – a confusing and fraught route as it turns out. We made it fine, but:

Lesson 2 – take the time to check ahead on chart plotter and make way points when a confusing route is coming up.

As I may have mentioned, the weather was rainy and very windy – we docked easily at Silva Bay at Page’s Marina and tied up the boat.  We ran a line through the toe rail to try to keep the boat more steady in the tumult.  

Lesson 3 – Don’t tie lines through the toe rail.  In the morning, our dock line was worn through. 

We departed from Silva Bay and followed our trail on the chart plotter from the trip in.  The wind was behind us and we put up the head sail.  About 10 minutes later, the sail went flying.  I couldn’t figure out what happened for a moment – but the bowline knot had come loose from the sheet that was in use (a sheet is a rope that is used to attach to a sail).

Lesson 4 – This lesson could be to check your knots, but really I think the bowline coming loose was a fluke – this has never happened to us in 15 years.  I think the lesson comes in what happened next, which was that Ralph told me immediately to put the boat in neutral (we were still motoring, getting ready to put the main sail up) – the sheet could have easily gone over board and wrapped around the propeller, but it was retrieved and we were able to get the sail under control.  I think lesson 4 is to stay calm whatever happens.  

So we are still learning – a lot, really. People I meet sometimes say things like, “Oh, you must be a good sailor”, or “You must love sailing”.  The truth is, I am learning.  I’m probably not a good sailor yet, even after all these years, but I think I am a good boater – and I do love boating and the gifts that it gives me – peace, lovely nature to entertain myself with and wonder at, and time – to read, think, sleep – so many wonderful gifts. 

Shore leave in the rain

Preedy Harbour anchorage (Thetis Island)

Funny sign in Chemainus

On a mooring in Chemainus

Some sun and a nice passage through Sansum Narrows

Anne of ArielX – Happy Canada Day!

Fun with our pals

Henri celebrating!

Showing support for Canada

Showing support for Canada

Caught two crabs! Yum

Sign at a Port Browning farm – not sure what is coming soon

So many lovely sunsets

Spencer Spit Beach

Double Rainbow!

Double Rainbow!

Anchored at Spencer Spit

Spencer Spit Beach

Spencer Spit Beach

Island Hopping

Island Hopping

After a lovely stay at Russell Island, which has to be one of my favorite spots, we hauled anchor (Ralph hauls, I drive and give moral support) on Thursday, June 9 and headed to Mill Bay Marina on Vancouver Island.  We arrived in a heavy wind and sea condition for the area, but we docked ok at the marina.  We arrived a day early for the Sceptre rendezvous so we could clean up, do laundry and some shopping before everyone else arrived on Friday.  Mill Bay is a nice little town with a great shopping center nearby and we took advantage of that.

We really had a fun time with the Sceptre folks and 4 boat/owners attended for the first time, so we got to meet some great new friends.  I think the rendezvous was a success and a great time was had by all.

After the rendezvous we were invited to a fellow Sceptre owner’s home about 5 miles away along with ArielX.  We were both able to tie to a mooring in front of Ron and Leoni’s home in Brentwood Bay and we enjoyed a really great dinner of locally grown foods including lamb and beef and a fun card game afterwards.  

After a peaceful night we departed for Gowlland Tod Inlet Marine Park, only about 1.5 miles away.  This park is on the other side of Butchart Gardens near Victoria.  We had a really nice stay there – it is such a quite place.  For the most part, people don’t use their outboard motors but row instead to preserve the quite.  Near the dock are many nesting boxes for the migrating purple Martin and we enjoyed watching them swooping around.  There is always great birdwatching here. 

Again we hauled the anchor and moved on, this time to Sidney Spit Marine Park.  We have been having quite a few rainy days but enjoyed a 5 mile hike around part of the Sidney Island.  Apparently there are hundreds of deer on the small island, but we didn’t catch sight of any.  

This morning we are in port at Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington after crossing the border on Monday.  We are required to take the boat out of Canada once per year and it was probably less than a 20 mile trip here to Friday Harbor.  This is a great port and we are making the most of our shore leave.  We plan to head out of here tomorrow and visit some more of the San Juans before returning to Canada.  

Carting groceries and getting exercise

Statue honoring Popeye, Port of Friday Harbor Seal

The Port of Friday Harbor seal, Popeye

Sidney Island

Sceptres racing

Toga and crew racing in our first race!

Beach at Sidney Island

Banana slugs out in force on Sidney Island

A neighboring boat took some shots of Toga in the sunset at Sidney Spit, just before a rain storm

Eagle watching

Leftover bricks from a brick and tile plant on Sidney Island

Leftover bricks from a brick and tile plant on Sidney Island

Ralph and Charlie rowing back from shore leave at Tod Inlet

Rainy day at anchor

So many jellyfish of all sizes at Tod Inlet – I think they are fascinating

At anchor in Tod Inlet

At anchor in Tod Inlet

Nesting boxes for Purple Martins at Tod Inlet

View from Ron and Leoni’s house, Sceptres at dock and on mooring

Such large jellyfish here

Such large jellyfish here

My major award for my performance in dinghy basketball

Lovely Mount Baker

Sceptres arriving at the dock, all hands and paws helping

Sceptres arriving in the strong weather

Lovely shopping center at Mill Bay, Vancouver Island