Thursday, March 19, 2020

These Crazy Times

Re-purposing masks from the 2018 wildfire days in Washington

So - we are staying safe and (mostly) sane here in Alameda, sticking close to the boat and maintaining a somewhat normal existence.

I usually work from home/boat anyway - so that's not a big change - just no more once-a-week trips into San Francisco to go into the office for in-person meetings, etc.  Donn has not had to alter his usual routine of working on small projects around the boat and reading/writing.  We have been asked to not go into the marina office, even though they are still keeping the office staffed with one person.  So we email or call, or talk through the open window from a distance.  On Tuesday Eileen heard us outside collecting our mail and she called down to us from her second story window, Rapunzel style.  We chatted a bit and then she went back to work.  I have no doubt she enjoyed the brief company.

As I write this, Donn is out on his bike and cart heading to the grocery store about a mile away for some ice and food basics.  On Monday when we stopped at the grocery store to check on the situation, we did see some empty shelves, very little bread, paper products, etc.  We'll see what this trip reveals...

For the most part, this is like being out on the boat away from civilization like we experienced for days at a time during our 2017 cruise through Canadian waters, except we have the luxury of a bathroom/shower on land, only a few steps away from our dock.  The boat next door has a family on it that we rarely see or cross paths with.  The marina in general is pretty quiet.

We had made the decision back in December to finally purchase a TV and DVD player.  Once installed, we made the delightful discovery that our TV could tap into the free WiFi from the yacht club building next door.  So we are reaping the benefits of that now, for sure!  What are we watching, you ask?  Well...  the other day I watched "The Farewell" with Akwafina, which was good, but kind of sad.  We have been on a steady binge diet of the series "The Mentalist" (Amazon Prime), which I'm completely addicted to (thanks Mom!).  We've also started "The Hunters", the new season of "Jack Ryan", and Donn has caught up on the "The Expanse" which he said is very good.

Our new TV and DVD player!

We also try to take walks every day - mostly just around the marina (which is large).  Last weekend was really rainy and I felt a little like I was back in the Seattle area, but for the most part the weather here is great, which helps to get us outside a little more.

"Blizzard" from the Friends of Alameda Animal Shelter
 Yesterday we walked a few blocks over to our local animal shelter, where we've been training to become volunteers.  Yesterday was to be our first shift caring for the rabbits.  Well, with the shelter-in-place order, the animal shelter has been trying to get all of their animals fostered in homes.  So when we showed up they were down to 4 rabbits (usually they've had 9 or more) and just after we arrived, 3 of them were taken home to foster families.  Yay!  So we gave the last bunny some outside time and attention and cut our shift short.  Last night I received an email saying that volunteers for the cats and rabbits are not needed any further at this time.

I hold conference calls with my boss or co-workers or vendors.  I work on projects for work.  There's just not a lot to do right now, but I'm happy to continue to be employed.  I'm so aware of how lucky I am and how many people are scared right now, not just of the virus, but of the financial fallout that's happening as a result.

My workstation on the boat
 I'll leave you with one of the perks of being cooped up with a musician...

Monday, December 30, 2019

Leaving Home and Arriving Home

We had spent a month cruising South Puget Sound, getting ready for the departure we've talked about, planned about, worried about, checking our boat and ourselves out for the 830 nm journey from Port Townsend to San Francisco. The month was time well spent discovering and fixing problems with things like solar panels (broken wire fixed at anchor), getting used to the navigation software and to the pace and rhythm of traveling again.

I was focused on the safety and seaworthiness of Brigadoon and the care and feeding of her crew. We'd agreed to take a friend along on the offshore  journey -- Patrick had called us and wanted an adventure. He'd never been offshore on a sailboat before.

Patrick, Donn, and Kerry at Siren's in Port Townsend
Our charting and weather software estimated our voyage to be approximately five days.

We left Port Townsend on Thursday morning, September 5th at 11am.  It took 11.5 days, with stops in Port Angeles, Neah Bay and Crescent City, California.

This was to prove our most challenging journey to date.

The trip to Port Angeles was calm and uneventful.  A nice quiet start.  Kerry waved goodbye to her parents as we passed the Point Wilson lighthouse.  The three of us walked into town and enjoyed a nice Italian dinner that evening and went to bed early to be ready to fuel up and leave for Neah Bay the next morning.

An hour out of Port Angeles, the wind was on our nose, we became enveloped in thick fog and the waters started to churn.  We then slowly inched our way to Neah Bay in increasingly foul conditions.  Kerry had to put on the patch and struggled with seasickness.  It took us 14 hours to get to Neah Bay that day.  We entered the unfamiliar harbor in quieter conditions, but at night.  Kerry used our powerful flashlight beam to find our slip as we slowly motored in.  We stayed for two nights so we could rest up.  I changed the oil, discovered our impeller belt needed to be replaced, and made sure everything was in order.

We departed Neah Bay in pea-soup thick fog and motored out the Strait and into the Pacific. Facing calm conditions, and a fog that slowly burned away under the sun, our course took us farther and farther west until we were 100nm offshore. This was to avoid the rougher waters common along the Washington and Oregon Coast and to give us some experience being really out there.

That was an odd part -- the world -- the land -- just going away.

Kerry and I shared the watch schedule - at night, 3 hours on, 3 hours off.  During the day, we played with 4 on and 2 off.  It seemed to work pretty well.  Patrick helped by keeping us company when he was up and doing the lion's share of the cooking and dishes.  Based on our experience on this trip, I know Kerry and I can do this alone when we do our next longer voyage.

First Sunset at sea - September 8, 2019
 And there was no wind, or not enough wind. All the forecasts we studied showed winds of 15-20kts. This would have been perfect for Brigadoon but the winds weren't 15-20kts.  They were more like 6-8kts.

Combine this with the 2-3 meter swells that made sailing well nigh impossible. There wasn't enough wind to keep the sails full and powered up as the swells caused Brigadoon to roll enough to slat the sails and make them useless.

Then there was me, rigging the Asym sail'd think I'd learn...

There's always something to learn, some new challenge to figure out while underway. This trip was going to be about engine and fuel management.

Ironically - Kerry and I both used the patch on this trip and Patrick didn't suffer from any discomfort at sea at all.

We were 100nm north of Crescent City when our calculations made it clear that we wouldn't have enough fuel to make it to San Francisco with an adaquate reserve. So, we decided to divert to Crescent City for fuel.

We stayed in Crescent City for two nights also.  Again - rest was needed at this point.  I changed the oil again, we did laundry, took showers, rested.

The final leg to SF was similar -- strong rollers and little wind. Our 4000hr Yanmar engine pushed us along at 5 kts and a quiet(er) 2100 rpm than our usual 2600 rpm. All I had to do was check and top up the engine oil every 24 hours and ensure the fuel filters were flowing and we were good to go.

We spent the last day along the California coast planning our entrance to the Golden Gate and San Francisco Bay. Various guides warned about traffic and current challenges entering the bay. They all cautioned against rounding Point Bonita and crossing under the gate during an ebb tide -- something about heavy currents and rough water (seen this before many times in the Puget Sound).

So we slowed a little and, instead of sailing under the Golden Gate on a beautiful sunset, we had to wait and enter at about 9:30 PM. The ebb was down to about 1.5 kts and I knew we could handle that. It was a rough and bouncy ride anyway, around that point, but as soon as we turned in towards the bridge the point shielded us from the two meter swells that were banging against that current. After I stood at the wheel for over an hour, riding Brigadoon like she was an angry horse trying to toss me off, we finally approached the bridge.

And there we were, crossing under the Golden Gate.

The bay was calm and beautiful as we motored past the Golden Gate, past Fisherman's Wharf and the city, past Treasure Island and under the Bay Bridge and finally into our slip at 11:30 PM.

That was hard. We were beat.

We covered 822 nautical miles in 11 days, with four days at the dock, and 179 hours of motoring that engine.

Alameda is nice. We have a home for a while.

Brigadoon in her slip in Alameda - September 17, 2019

Sunday, December 29, 2019

South Sound Cruising and Prepping to Go - August 2019

We hauled the boat out on July 24th to paint the bottom and check her over.  All looked good - we got the painting done and replaced a sea-cock as part of our maintenance.  Splashing back in on July 31st, we headed over to Point Hudson for a couple of nights before heading south toward Olympia for our August South Sound cruise.

We fueled up and anchored in Port Ludlow for our first two nights out.  While there, Donn discovered our solar wasn't working.  He spent an entire afternoon troubleshooting and fixing it. We then pointed our bow toward Port Madison at the north end of Bainbridge Island.  We anchored there for one night and timed our passage the next day to make it through Agate Pass at slack - ending up in Poulsbo, again at anchor, for two nights.

Poulsbo was great - we took advantage of the port's showers and laundry and enjoyed what the town has to offer.  We did have to deal with a potential dinghy thief after docking our dinghy at the Port dock.  I saw him as we pulled our dinghy up and thought it was odd that he was wading (chest high) through the water under the dock ramp.  He climbed up onto the dock and passed us as we walked up to the ramp to go ashore.  We turned to look at him just as he jumped into our dinghy behind us!  Donn brought out his inner cop and told him in no uncertain terms to get out now and what did he think he was doing?  We alerted dock staff and made sure the guy would not go near our boat again.  I'm pretty sure he wasn't all there mentally - but even so - not a comfortable feeling to have your dinghy at risk like that.

On August 7th - we headed to Bell Harbor for a couple of nights and were lucky enough to dock two slips away from Maiden, a 58 ft racing sailboat, famous for being the boat used by the first all women team in the Whitbread around the world race in 1989.  We saw the documentary back in July in Port Townsend and I was so excited to see this boat, which is on a world tour right now and happened to be stopping in Seattle in early August.  I approached a couple of the crew early on Thursday and asked if and when I'd be able to see her more closely and possibly get a tour.  They informed me they weren't having any public tours until later that weekend (after we'd be gone) - so I asked if there was any way I could see it before Friday morning, when we were leaving.  They said they'd try and would let me know.  Thursday, just before noon, they came over and caught my attention and said I could come visit.  So cool!  A beautiful boat and an amazing crew of women on a mission, sailing her around the world.  When I mentioned we were from Port Townsend, one of the crew shared that they were considering stopping there on their way out to San Francisco, which was their next official stop.  I encouraged them to stop in PT and told them they'd have a HUGE welcome there - which is exactly what happened! We also had a lovely visit with my Dad and Step-mom on board Brigadoon that day.
We departed Friday morning and headed south to Gig Harbor, where we anchored once more and stayed for two nights.  A highlight was meeting up with an old friend for breakfast on Saturday at Kelly's Cafe.  Afterwards he drove us out to the grocery store and we shopped and caught the Gig Harbor trolley bus back to the harbor.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge
From Gig Harbor, we headed south again and finally crossed under the Tacoma Narrows Bridge – a first for us.  We stayed one night at anchor in Filucy Bay near Longbranch and then three beautiful nights on a mooring in Jerrell Cove.  On Thursday, August 15th – we motored down to Swantown Marina in Olympia.  

Jerrell Cove
Olympia was lovely.  We stayed five nights – took lots of walks, ate some good food, enjoyed a one night showing of The Matrix at the local downtown cinema, and spent time with a fellow sailor – Jim, who we’d met during our first winter in Point Hudson.

Leaving Olympia on August 20, we worked our way up to Oro bay – where we spent two quiet nights at anchor.  The morning we were supposed to catch the slack tide under the Narrows and head to Foss Harbor Marina in Tacoma we discovered our anchor didn’t want to come back up to us.  We were doing our usual routine - headsets on, I was at the wheel and Donn was at the bow managing the anchor retrieval.  All the chain was back on board except for the 20+ feet from our bow straight down to the anchor below.  This is when the anchor usually pops out and we slowly bring it up as I keep us steady in place or start to creep out of the anchorage.  Well that wasn’t happening.  Donn asked me to put it in gear in an effort to use the boat’s forward momentum as leverage.  No luck.  In fact, the bow just got pulled lower the more we tried to budge it.  This process continued for several minutes.  Then Donn grabbed the buoy line (our anchor retrieval line we attach to a small float) and brought it back to the cockpit.  He wound it around our larger port side winch and started cranking.  Using this as a trip line now put the anchor at the bottom of a triangle – with the winch on one corner and the bow at the other.  By working at it from both angles, we were finally able to trip it and bring it up.  We still have no idea what it was stuck on, but we made it under the Narrows just in time before the tide turned on us.

Foss Harbor had been our home for a year and a half in 2015-16.  For this visit we had been given a slip close to the office – the innermost slip on D dock, and as we turned into the fairway, I was standing at the bow keeping a lookout for our slip as I always do.  We were about halfway down the fairway when I realized our slip wasn’t empty.  I called back to Donn to let him know.  And then things got interesting…   Our boat is 42 feet overall.  The fairway we were in was 55 feet wide.  Since Brigadoon doesn’t back up worth a damn, Donn now had to "back and fill" turn her around in that much space.  Fortunately, we didn’t have much wind to speak of and he managed to maneuver us back out and into a temporary slip at the fuel dock.  The offending boat finally left an hour or so later and we were able to dock with no further issues.  Our stay at Foss Harbor was wonderful – caught up with several old friends and enjoyed an outdoor movie (The Goonies) as part of Foss’ outdoor movie series.  

Sunday, August 25th we headed north again and decided to stop by the Blake Island Marina to see if there might be space.  This marina is notoriously busy in the summers and it’s a bit small. And… we got lucky!  We snagged a nice spot at the end of the dock and settled in for a quiet two night stay.  We enjoyed ice cream from the park ranger’s office store and a few nice walks.  

That luck changed when Donn lost his beautiful (and expensive) prescription sunglasses overboard while working at the edge of the cockpit while we were docked.  He had loosened the boom and was reaching up to work on something. A gust came up and the boom came toward him – his glasses got knocked off and he held on as he watched them disappear into the dark water between us and the dock.  The tide was up at that point, but he tried to dredge for them with our net on a long pole.  That failed, but the next morning he decided to put on his wetsuit and go in at low tide to try to look for them.  No dice – the glasses were gone.  Lesson learned?  ALWAYS wear glasses tethers when moving about the boat.

From Blake Island we hopped up to Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island and found a nice spot on the city dock for the night.  We had a lovely dinner with sailing friends in town.  This is definitely a nice spot to stay that gives you access to Bainbridge Island and the ferry to Seattle.

Wednesday, August 28 we departed Eagle Harbor with the promise of a nice breeze from the north for our hop across the Sound to Bell Harbor.  We had a wonderful sail!  Took our time and sailed pretty much a straight shot across.  We had planned to sit in Bell Harbor one last time so I could hop a ferry to Bremerton and teach a session at a Women’s retreat on Friday, August 30.  While there, we enjoyed dinner at my sister and brother-in-law’s home, caught up with more friends, ate really good fudge, and Donn finished one of the most appreciated projects in our salon.

We had discussed creating a “pit” on the port side where the short settee and table were.  This involved putting the table in its “away” position against the bulkhead and building a platform extension for the settee.  This would not only give us a nice large sitting/lounging area but would also create more storage underneath for heavier items like our watermaker and sewing machine.  I ordered up the foam to put on top and Donn finished building it while I was at the retreat.  It has proven to be extremely useful and comfortable.

Our final push back to Port Townsend where we would prep for the big trip down the coast included a one night stay at Port Ludlow where we enjoyed a nice dinner at the Fireside.  We arrived back at Point Hudson on Monday – Labor Day.  Our departure was scheduled for Thursday morning.  Three nights to prep the boat, get crew settled, and provision – not to mention saying goodbye to family and friends for the last time before leaving Washington State.

Docked at Point Hudson - prepped for departure

August was exactly what we had needed.  It was a wonderful trip full of adventures, tests, and fun.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Getting Ready to Go!

The time has come.  We are closing in on the end of our time here in Port Townsend.  It's been an amazing couple of years for a multitude of reasons.  I turned 50 last year and this milestone has brought with it a lot of introspection and grounding.  Centrum has been an amazing place to work, learn, and grow - I will be leaving at the end of July with a lot of great friendships and incredible non-profit bookkeeping experience in my pocket.  And my time at the Starlight as a theater manager was fun, humbling, and rewarding. Can't beat free movies as a job perk!

I have made friends here who I will treasure and continue to connect with for years to come.  Some of those friends are working with Donn and me to put up a show in July, right before we depart.  I created TMAC (Transient Moorage Artist Collective) last Fall for local artists to gather, network, and create together and this show will be a culmination of that energy.

On to boat matters - Donn is busy working on a few small projects including replacing our exhaust hose, having our heat exchanger checked, doing some deck repair to fix a leak or two, and possibly creating a larger settee area on the port side of our salon.  On July 24th we'll haul out and do a bottom paint job, check seacocks and make sure all is looking good underneath.  Assuming that all goes well, we'll splash on July 31st and head out soon after.

August will be all about getting our cruising legs back - we'll head to the south end of Puget Sound and explore the islands and waterways between Tacoma and Olympia - waters we have yet to sail.  Just before Labor Day weekend, we'll head to Seattle for a few days at Bell Harbor Marina to enjoy the city and see some friends and family.  I'll be taking a quick day trip over to Bremerton via ferry to facilitate a session at a women's retreat called FemPowered. I could not be more honored to be involved with this retreat.

Then September 1st, we'll work our way north again - stopping briefly back in Port Townsend to say goodbye to family, make any last provisions, and get our timing right for heading west towards the mouth of Juan de Fuca.

Our next goal?  San Francisco.  We hope to explore and enjoy the Bay Area for a year or so before heading southward again towards Mexico in 2020.

We are still considering our options for the journey - either harbor hopping down the coast, or doing it in one big offshore arc.  Stay tuned to see what we decide on that!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Holding Fast

Well - we're more than half way through 2018 and things have been quiet around here on the blog, so I thought I would post some updates and a few thoughts about what's been going on....

Last October, we moved to Point Hudson Marina in Port Townsend as planned.  By then I had found a wonderful job with Centrum as their Finance Associate (glorified bookkeeper) on the Fort Worden campus.  I've had a few lessons to learn this past year about patience and letting go of expectations when Life offers up her curve balls....  ok, let me back up a bit.

The "original" plan involved us leaving again in Aug/Sept 2017 for Mexico.  However, when we returned from BC, we simply realized we weren't ready to head out again just yet.  Donn's eldest daughter had her first child in September of last year - and we both agreed we wanted to be around and nearby for that momentous occasion.  We now have a beautiful granddaughter, Aria.  In addition there were a few other realities in our life which combined to help us make the decision to stay put for awhile longer.

I settled into my new job, which to be honest really excited me.  I have had an interest in accounting for years and to be able to learn the craft and work in a non-profit artistic atmosphere like this one is amazing.  It's an opportunity I'm incredibly grateful for.  Donn settled in to work on and finish his first novel, SAVIOR, which he published on Amazon in January.

Then in February, my network of new friends and co-workers helped me find and land a second (very) part-time job at one of the local cinemas here - The Starlight Room.  I take tickets, manage the theater, and run the movies.  It's a fun gig and comes with free movie perks, which is pretty cool.

We also started offering ourselves up for house/pet sitting gigs here in town during the holidays last year, which not only gets us off the boat once in awhile, but provides us with free showers and laundry, helps bring in a little extra cash, and, best of all, allows us to spend time with some pretty awesome animals.

In February I called one of our local nursing homes and asked if they would like Donn to come play and sing for the residents some time.  The answer was YES - and that resulted in them asking him to come play monthly for a small stipend.  We've both been enjoying that regular visit.

As the year progressed, I struggled at first with guilt around not sticking to our original plan.  I slowly came to realize that this "pause" was not a sign of failure, but of us re-calibrating our needs and expectations.  And being here in Port Townsend has been nothing short of wonderful in so many ways.  The friendships, the slower pace of life, the beauty that is the town itself are all such wonderful gifts I am truly thankful for.

So, you may be asking... "what's next?"  Well - we will be here for at least another season.  We are still hoping to head south to Mexico - that is our next goal.  We are staying loose on timing, but we have not lost sight of that vision.  Holding Fast.  To each other, to our goals, to enjoying each moment of our lives together - wherever that may be.

Monday, January 1, 2018

"Savior" has been published!

Written by Kerry

Donn has been writing a novel for the last 3+ years among all the other things he had on is plate.  We agreed in the late summer of 2015 that I would keep working to pay the bills, while he quit his day job to work on getting the boat ready to go, and to write this novel.

Well today, we successfully self published the e-book version on Amazon:

Savior by Donn Christianson

A modern romance with some sailing thrown in for good measure, this is an enjoyable read with great characters. 

If you like reading your books on a device, give it a try!  If you'd prefer a physical copy, stay tuned... I'll post again when that version is available - hopefully soon!

Friday, November 24, 2017