Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hunter Bay

We sadly left Port Ludlow and headed for Port Townsend to see Carol Hasse and pick up our new sails. Exciting!!! We headed out in dead calm conditions (read: motoring, not our favorite way to travel). We were happily motoring along enjoying the sunshine and the flat water when we came around the northern tip of Marrowstone island and WHAM - 20 knots and 3 to 5 foot waves right on the nose! Where in the heck did that come from? The conditions are not getting any better as we close in on Port Townsend so I guess I get to get wet putting out the fenders and lines.

We tied up at the linear dock where Hasse had suggested (hoping to have the bow into the wind to bend on our new sails). Then we headed up to the sail loft and picked up our sails. Carol was out at a meeting so we just brought the sails "home" and headed to town for some shopping. When we got back it was still blowing like stink so we decided to try for first thing in the morning.

We needed some groceries (mostly produce) so went looking for a grocery store. We also needed a few bits for the boat and found a West Marine. But the really important stop was for some bits for the guitar. And boy did we hit the jackpot there. After a couple of tries at the "wrong" stores we found the guitar player's heaven. People sitting around jamming, every kind of string instrument you could imagine, and all the toys we were looking for. The only problem was the hour walk each way.. oh well, exercise is good for people our age.

Hasse showed up at the boat right on schedule at 8:00AM. And wouldn't you know it, the weather was perfect as well - a slight breeze coming from our stern. We bought 2 new sails for passage - a storm jib and a drifter (totally opposite ends of the wind spectrum). We bent the drifter on first. What a beautiful sail!! It inflated immediately in the light breeze - just exactly what it is suppose to do. We played with the running rigging options and how to marry it in with our existing rig structure and called it *perfect*.

Hasse checking the set

Mike and Hasse


We got a few shots of the Pt Wilson lighthouse as we left Port Townsend

We went over to the cafe at the Pt Hudson marina for lunch - nice little resort type burger place. Then we headed out for Lopez island. Once again we had very little wind so it was more motoring. We did get a great shot of Mt Baker through the haze.

About half way between Port Townsend and Lopez island there is a couple of small "rocks" that we call Poop (well, not really that word, but we will keep it PG here) Island. Every time we have gone past this rock it has always been covered with black birds and there "fertilizer". It is quite a sight.

The first night we spent on Lopez was in Mackaye Harbor. It is a fairly large inlet on the southern end of Lopez island. We have stayed there before and liked it. But it is still too early in the year for Mackaye - it is open to the south west so we saw rollers on our beam with 10 to 15 knots of wind all night. So we moved to Hunter Bay the next day.

Hunter Bay is on the east side of Lopez and has excellent protection form everything but north east wind. Furthermore, the entrance is a narrow pass that helps keep the fetch to a very dull roar. So we spent several days there - mostly grey and rainy. We pretty much just hunkered down, watched movies, read, and played a lot of music. Being the holiday weekend it was pretty busy - boats coming and going everyday.

One morning I was having my coffee in the cockpit and noticed what looked like a shark fine, no it was black, maybe a whale fin, no it is too shallow. What the heck is that!? Turns out it was a seal holding his flippers out of the water for some reason. He just drifted along closer and closer playing with his fins sticking up out of the water. Craziest thing I have ever seen (well, maybe not "the" craziest...).

Finally it was time to up anchor and head to Anacortes to pick up our whisker pole. We are waiting for the rigger and then we are going to beat feet out of here back to Hunter Bay to try and beat the 15 to 25 knot winds that are forecast for today. Then who knows what...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Relaxing week at Port Ludlow.. well, *mostly* relaxing

We have had a wonderful time at Port Ludlow! Jan and I both sleep really well on the hook, but especially me (Mike). We noticed this very soon after buying Rapture. I have not slept very well for many years. I am generally in bed by 9:00PM or so, but then I am generally up and at it by 3:00AM. But not when we are at anchor. We are still in bed around 9:00PM, but I get to wake up to Jan's smiling face looking at me because it is 6:00 or 7:00, not 3:00AM! What a bonus.

We have spent the vast majority of this week laying around the cockpit reading and watching movies. It has been the rest that we have been so looking forward to for so long. We did go ashore twice, and that is when the excitement started.

After 3 days laying around we felt that we should actually do something so people wouldn't think we are the lazy bums that we are. So we launched our kayak. We were going about our duties as normal getting everything ready to go. We planned to go ashore and find the hiking trails that we have heard so much about. Our swim step is quite large and has never been a problem in the past. But now with the boat configured for cruising, the swim step is a bit crowded (read: room enough for 1 person). Jan and I were both down there trying to control the kayak. She was holding the line and I was trying to get the paddles on board. The kayak started moving away just as I was trying to get the paddle secured so it didn't end up at the bottom of the bay. As I leaned out, Jan leaned out, the kayak floated out, so I leaned out more, so Jan leaned out more.... SPLASH! All I saw was blond hair and glasses going down off the end of the boat. Oh my gosh! Moments later she surfaced and I reached out for her. She started to take my hand but then noticed her shoe had come off and was floating away - can't have that! Those are move other favorite shoes! So Jan swims for the shoe, then worries about safety. Sorry I don't have any pictures.. I thought either I would shoot my last picture of my life or not worry about the camera and get Jan out of the drink. Next time, one person on the swim step!

After Jan got out of her wet clothes and took a quick shower to wash the salt off, we were "off to town". We started out walking "up the hill" as we were told, looking for the little store that marks the start of the trail to Ludlow Falls. We walked for a long time and never saw any store. Finally we spotted a nail salon so we stopped and asked for directions. Turns out we went the wrong way, rats! Oh well, nice day for a walk. We walked back, past the marina, and then found the "little store" a short distance farther. But by that time we were both exhausted, sore, and hungry. So the trail to the falls was going to have to wait for another day.

Port Ludlow is a hub for Kenmore Air. One day we were reading in the cockpit and spotted an airplane landing. So I grabbed the camera and started shooting. In all we saw 10 planes land, drop passengers, and depart.

We spent the next few days lazing around the cockpit reading (are you seeing a pattern here..?). I have been adding books to our Kindle at a dizzying pace. I think we have 140 books or so now. We just love that machine! Anyway, the clouds and rain finally went away for our last day at Port Ludlow so we thought we would go ashore and see if we could find the great and fabled Ludlow Falls. Sure enough, we were successful this time.

Jan and Mike at Ludlow Falls

Jan on the bridge leading up to the falls
Mike is worn out!

On Monday our friend Scott (Jan's supervisor from Kingston) came out to visit. He is our first visitor aboard Rapture! I paddled over in the kayak and ferried him out to the boat. We had a great time chatting in the sunshine in the cockpit. Scott says he plans to come visit while we are someplace sunny and warm.

On the hike to Ludlow falls we could see Rapture lying in the harbor.

Paddling up to our "home"
All in all, we have had a wonderful relaxing time at Port Ludlow. We leave tomorrow for Port Townsend. We are going to visit Carol Hasse to pick up our new sails (drifter and storm jib). I am excited to give them a try.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Back to our home away from home

We started saying our good byes early on Sunday because we knew it was going to be very difficult. And we were right, it was VERY difficult. We were both very sad as we pulled out of our slip at Kingston. We have been working up to that day for a few weeks now and here it finally was.

It all started when the Port finally found someone to take over for Jan in the office. They worked out the schedule and Jan knew what her final day was going to be. Then the counting of "wake ups" before the end of work and re-beginning of retirement started.

Next was the "changing of our sign". At the end of each slip is an "open/reserved" sign. When a guest boat comes in the harbor they look for an open sign unless they have made a reservation. After we tied our boat up last fall they changed our entire sign post for a "Winter Moorage" sign. A week and a half ago I heard a bunch of noise out the back of the boat. When I went to investigate I found Dutch taking down our Winter Moorage sign and replacing it with the "Reserved" signed. It was another very sad day...

Sunday morning I was finishing the packing on the boat and heard a noise again. This time it turned out to be Awesome Austin flipping our sign to "Open". OUCH, that one really hurt!

We pulled out of our slip right on time - 2:00PM. We had originally planned to depart at noon but the tides (current) had other plans. So we waited for slack to ebb which was at 2:00 and were on our way.

Jan and I were both very tearful when we pulled out of our slip. There are many reasons why we have chosen this cruising experience (sailing, the challenge of the whole thing, getting close to nature, etc...) but the main reason was to get to know new people and cultures. And that is exactly how the experience has begun. Little did we know last October when time ran out and we could not head out "as planned" that we were really starting our adventure out on the right foot after all. Jan and I are not big tourist/sightseers - we are out here to experience the Lord through his creation - people! We don't have plans to see all of the big places and sights. We have plans to find the small communities where God's plan is being played out and immerse ourselves in these lives and cultures. So I just want to give a huge shout out to our Lord and say "Thank You for changing "our" plans so that we could have the wonderful experience of Kingston!

We had a most wonderful sail to Port Ludlow - our "home away from home". The wind was 10 to 15... ON OUR NOSE, but a good steady breeze none the less. We had plenty of time to go the short distance from Kingston to Port Ludlow and our boat sails upwind really well, so we just spent the day in the sun beating to weather. We arrived and anchored up at 7:30PM - just in time for a quick dinner (we were starving!), a sundowner, and off to our favorite bedtime - on the hook!

Port Ludlow was our favorite destination when we were dirt dwellers. It is a nice day sail from Everett and has a good protected harbor with a mud bottom and great holding. We spent 3 days here over a New Year holiday in 25 to 30 knots of wind and didn't drag our anchor an inch. We had only owned this boat for a couple of months at that time so we were not too sure about what we were doing. We knew the wind was blowing every time we felt the rig shudder with a gust. I still remember looking out the window one night while watching a movie and seeing the moon streak past as the boat swung wildly from one side to the other. But in the end, everything was good and we had a great time.

We plan to spend a week here enjoying NOT being tied to a dock. Jan and I have both had 2 nights of the best sleep in a long time already. We sleep so much better on the hook and not tied to a dock. Then it is off to Port Townsend to pick up some new sails for our friend Carol Hasse.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mixed emotions leaving Kingston

We have had a wonderful time in Kingston. Sure, it has been a typical NW winter (cold, wet, snow, etc...), but we could not have found a better place to spend the winter. The area here is only out done by the people here. Kingston truly is the "small town next to the big city".

We have made some wonderful friends in Kingston. We are going to miss the staff at the Port of Kingston. I cannot begin to describe the people here. Our first contact here was last fall. Jan and I came here in our car to check the place out and decide if we wanted to spend the winter here. We couldn't see where the office was so we interrupted a man eating his lunch (Ray). He apologized for eating when we walked up, interrupting his lunch, and started asking questions. My gosh, *we* are sorry for interrupting your lunch and are grateful for your help! That turned out to be the tone for our entire experience in Kingston. Everyone on staff went out of their way to ensure that we wanted for nothing. Seriously, I feel embarrassed that I cannot better express how wonderful the staff is at the Port of Kingston.

THANK YOU David, Scott, Christine, Ray, Bob, Dutch (yeah, I know your name is Steve), Austin, Lee, Greg, Chrystyal!!! God bless you all!

Rapture's home for the past 7 months

There were 2 going away parties on the dock. Cambria and Cloud Nine teamed up for the first party - a spaghetti feed. It was great fun!! We were told that we could not contribute because Jan was "part of the staff".

Greg and his wife

David and his son

Nancy from Cloud Nine

Mike and David from Cambria

Mike and Scott from the Port office

Stephanie from Cambria

Dutch (Steve) from the Port

Jan and I put on a second port staff party one week later. We served pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, beans, and a boat made cheese cake (it was a huge hit - Ray got home and told his wife about it which prompted a quick call to ensure that we saved a piece to send home with Ray the next day so he could live to see another day).

To give back a little we took the port staff that wanted to go for an evening sail. I could not have designed a better spring evening for a sail. It was sunny, warm, and a good steady breeze. Everyone had a great time! And I learned something.. they make bread rolls known as Hawaii Bread - who knew? Jan made a light dinner for everyone - small sandwiches on hawaii bread rolls.

Austin wondering if he is going to die today

Dutch scanning the horizon for signs of life

Scott says "tack again, I am trying to get a video"