Tuesday, October 20, 2015

To Jones! To Jones!

For a get away from our domestic decay we headed out to the wild waters up north, and when I asked my family which of our many favorite spots they wanted to return to they all spoke up with "To Jones!".

They had not been out on Aeolus since our summer trip in Desolation Sound, and as I am about to launch into a number of projects it would be our last trip for a few months. Over the years Jones Island has taken on a special significance, rather like a favorite blanket or pillow. We know it so well, and love it so much, it is a comforting place to have adventure!
Owen and our salty dog "Salty"!

It is about 3.5 hours at 6 knots from Anacortes to Jones Island, and we had to motor the whole way there and back as there was never more than a wisp of wind. People again stayed away by the millions as it is not July or August, but the days were warm and lovely, and we had Jones essentially to ourselves.

We stayed on the south side this time to gather more light, and enjoyed the weekend hiking around the west and east side trails and playing frisbee in the grassy fields. We even had luck catching a keeper Dungeness crab from right near Aeolus.
A perfect moment in time

The best thing about the whole trip was the time we had together as a family, as I have said countless times on this blog, it is truly remarkable how wonderful our family time is on the boat, and how common and mediocre it is here at home. We hike together, play games together, eat all meals together, and yet aren't tired of one another. The boys are always on better behavior for some reason. My guess is that it is simply a right way to live. Physically active, socially close, intellectually stimulating with all the nature and books aboard, and the knowledge you are doing something really cool.

A formula for happiness if I've ever seen one.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A week in Desolation Sound does wonders...

From one Saturday to another we journeyed through the islands of Desolation Sound, British Columbia. We started from Cortes Island, and returned to Cortes island. Though we have explored the area for many, many years now, we continue to find new places, and new revelations. Our joke is that it is only rocks, water and trees. Yet those three simple elements combine in the most transfixing ways.

It is always less a journey through landscape than a journey through consciousness. The stories in our minds go from being about work and society and international affairs, to the flight of eagles across a blue sky, the feel of water between our toes as we swim, and the warmth of lengthy intimate contact with people you love. We go away, as we always have, to go in.

The geography is superlative in every way, and worthy of all adulation. Yet it is merely a trigger, or catalyst. Nothing is seen as it is. Things appear as we are, not as they are!

After time in wild, spectacular places, it is we who change. And it is less the spectacular that compels us over time, but the simple. The small beauties. The magnificent contained in the miniscule.

So I can relate the stories of where we anchored, and where we swam. I could go on for pages about the islands, trails, weather and nature. And that is all important, and fascinating. But it is not what I want to write at the moment. I would rather just say that doing all this results in me being a healthier, wiser and more peaceful person. Centered. In myself, and for my my family.

Is there anything more important?

Here are a few photos that show some places, and our bodies among the beautiful landscapes. Until we perhaps develop a technology that renders happiness, peace, transcendence, calm or wisdom on some media that photos do not, then we will fail to understand what really happens when we explore deep into nature for extended periods. The smiles may look the same as when in the city, but the reality behind the faces could not be more different!

A picture of bliss and contentment!
The boys at Walsh Cove being feral and fulfilled 

Mom and son jumped into the 75 degree saltwater, and were cleansed of their concerns!

Everywhere looks like this. Rocks, water, trees. Boring...

Just because. For people like me, the sky and sea...

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Delivery trip to Cortes Island: 152 miles in 2.5 days

I've just returned home from delivering Aeolus up to Cortes Island, British Columbia. A trip I've done several times now, and it never fails to thrill me.

The itinerary I followed was to depart Anacortes on Thursday night, making it to Blind Bay, Shaw Island. Friday morning saw me moving by 6am and I made it to Dodd Narrows with some time before slack so got in a quick swim at lovely DeCourcy Island. Spent that night in Nanaimo at Newcastle Island. Saturday I departed at 6am and powered all the way to Hernando Island right up the gut of the Strait of Georgia,   taking until 8pm to finally drop anchor. This morning, I did the short jaunt from Hernando to Cortes and Gorge Harbour.

Since it was a delivery trip I motored the entire way, especially since the winds were NW and tacking would have doubled my time. I had fairly benign conditions on this trip, with only some rough stretches leaving Nanaimo into a 20 knot NW wind that soon dissipated. That 3 knot SOG would have been brutal if it continued, not to mention the pounding into 3-4 foot seas. Later that day the whole sea was a mill pond off Texada and Sisters Islets.

No drama on this trip. Lots of time to reflect on what matters in my life, and how precious this time on Aeolus truly is. It is a sailing and exploring paradise up there and I only wish I could spend 6 months there at a time!

Here are a few photos:
Moonrise Thursday night was stunning

A happy sailor who got a quick swim before Dodd Narrows! 

A typical flat sea, deathly hot and not another soul. An amazing lack of other boats or humans on the Strait of Georgia. People staying in the city, staying away by the millions!

Approaching Gorge Harbour on Cortes Island. A lovely entry into a wonderful spot. 

Haul out in Port Townsend was successful

I really enjoyed my haul out in Port Townsend as it is the finest nautical town in Washington without the urbanity of Seattle and they are one of the last yards around that still lets a boat owner work on their own boat. This is so important to me that I cannot imagine paying someone to do the basic maintenance boats require.

All I did at this haul out was bottom paint and zincs. Nothing compared to last time! I found her free of barnacles on the hull, which was good, but did have some on the rudder where the prop wash had totally worn away the ablative paint. Given all the miles on that paint I was impressed. It had gone 900 miles around Vancouver Island and also a trip to Princess Louisa, in addition to all of our weekend and three day get aways.

Here are some shots.
A Gulf 32 hauled out

Prop had been scraped. Shows lack of paint on rudder. 
Zinc added and prop coated with Lanocote Prop stuff. I've used regular Lanocote with good results before. Wonder if this will last longer to justify the added cost.

Two coats of paint and ready for the Salish Sea! Ain't she a beaut!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Aeolus North!

The hours tick as Aeolus awaits yet another journey north. Does she know? Can she tell that she is about to slice through the most beautiful waters in North America? Does she tremble with anticipation like I do?

This journey north will be a relief in coming. No matter the timing of any delivery trip, they always come at a needed time. Muir said to shed the routines of our lives and escape to wilderness to cleanse our souls. Amen.

Who will I see? What creatures will I travel near? What wandering thoughts will occupy my mind? Which version of my many selves will inhabit the dominance of my consciousness?

Together we will journey. A trusty vessel and a salty captain. In these days of turmoil, like all past days, the journey will release me to the star capped limitless everywhere.

What more do I need from a three day trip than a voyage through the Salish Sea?

Fellow sailors, wish me well. Not for my physical safety, which is assured, but for the journey between my ears, which is far more hazardous territory. And I am not troubled, beyond my angst of existence and nature abused. The hazardous journey is the challenge of being present enough in the moment to realize the perfection of all things.

The perfection of all things. When traveling the Salish Sea.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Haul out time! PCA Gold has lasted well.

On recent trips I've been appalled to see heavy slime on the hull of Aeolus. She is no racer, but I abhor the thought of extra drag on her efficiency. I looked closer and even saw barnacles on the part of the rudder that the prop wash hits. No Way!

I dove on the prop to scrape off the barnacles on the rudder and a few off the prop as well. Doing this in the Salish Sea means getting into 50 degree water and let me tell you, it's cold! I wear a farmer john wetsuit and a swimmers cap, and that is just enough. I'm too cheap to get a full suit and booties and all that for my occasional dives on the boat. I find the hardest part is the first minute. Once the arms and neck freeze, it's fine!

So it is time to haul out. I have been using West Marine PCA Gold for the past several paintings and have been happy with it. It has been two years since our last haul out and during that time we have done a 900 mile circumnavigation of Vancouver Island and a trip to Princess Louisa. Several thousand miles of water over the hull and it is just now wearing out.

I will also reapply the lanocote I have found effective on the prop. I get a long period of clean prop from lanocote in this way.

I'm also looking forward to hauling out in Port Townsend for the first time. I used to always haul at Jensens in Friday Harbor. A great local shop that I loved supporting, and had advantages. For one, and most importantly, you could work on your own boat!

Port Townsend also allows you to work on your own boat, and for us DIY sailors this is essential. All the yards in Anacortes make you pay them to do your paint or anything, and that is both expensive and absurd. So long as tarps are used there is no reason a professional is any safer for the environment than a DIY. And I know I do a better job as it pained me last time to watch someone else apply my paint.

So hauling will give me an excuse to traverse the eastern Straits again, which is always guaranteed to provide surprises and beauty. I'm not planning to do any major work or surgery, but you never know do you?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Tumbo Island never disappoints!

For Memorial Day my family took off for Tumbo as we have the past several years. This was our first voyage from Anacortes. It turned out to be a bit longer, but also more scenic, compared to the trip from Friday Harbor. It was right about 30 miles to Tumbo on a straight line.

Like a space ship approaching a distant world
It was ebbing on Saturday as we began our journey north. I am still learning the peculiarities of the currents there on the eastern side of the San Juans. You more or less avoid the main channels and try to catch eddies wherever possible. We made our way north and enjoyed the immense beauty of Lummi Island and Cypress. What grand places.

There is something magical about Boundary Pass that goes beyond the international boundary. In fact, the only reason it is the international boundary is because it is so special! As a large gap between otherwise thickly packed islands, it is both a major water drainage and transportation corridor. Whenever we cross it we know we will be accompanied by harbor porpoises and seals. We have seen Dalls porpoises as well, but not in years.