Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Skunked Again!


Of course I was leery this time. Before buying this container of thinner, I carefully looked the label over for "safe", "safety".   It even proclaims, "Thins all colors of paint, stain and varnish".  But I missed "non-flammable", and I should have been tipped off by the opaque white container. 

I am so stupid.  


Yup, you guessed it. I bought another $10 gallon of milk. 

Lesson learned. I will never buy another container of paint thinner unless the container is translucent so that I can see the contents, or the store allows me to open it and sample it before purchase. 

And no, KleenStrip, I will not add your milk to my $60/quart varnish. Not ever. 




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Monday, July 28, 2014

The Arduous Hike to Enlightenment


Yesterday afternoon we moved the boat from Indian Cove, around the corner to Blind Bay.

We've anchored in both Blind Bay and Indian Cove numerous times, and on many a sun-downer evening in Blind Bay, speculated just exactly where on the shoreline we should look to be looking towards Indian Cove. 

This morning we finally addressed that burning question. We put on our hiking shoes and dinghied over to the ferry landing. As we walked up the hill, we promised ourselves that when we returned we would have earned a nice ice cream cone. 

It was a quiet two mile saunter on paved roads where we waved at every car and every car waved back. At one point there was a car parked in the middle of the road, stationary, talking on a phone. Not a problem as there was no other traffic. And then there was the pleasant conversation we had with the nun, also out walking, also held in the middle of the road. 

It was not at all arduous, and yet we were enlightened. It turns out that Indian Cove is just over the tree line at the back of Blind Bay, much closer than you would think.  And now we know just where to look. 

The ice cream comes were delicious. 

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hats? Or Visors?

We just spent a couple of days anchored in Roche Harbor, and I think I learned some things from the experience.

First, all the really big boats go to Roche Harbor.  I mean the BIG BOATS - 100+ feet long.  Maybe there isn't enough long dock space in Friday Harbor.  Or maybe the ambience is wrong there - but then I would have no idea what that could mean.  If your boat is, say 120 feet long, what is it that you are looking for at a dock?  In shoreside amenities?  Whatever it is, apparently Roche Harbor has more of it than Friday Harbor... there was a parade of these huge boats going in there every day.

And the other thing...  If I could judge which of the folks aboard those monster yachts were the owners, I noticed that there was a preponderance in headgear.  No, not a preponderance...  it was virtually unanimous.  While those of us in smaller boats wear baseball caps, Tilley hats, Aussie bush hats...  the owners of the Really Big Boats all wore visors.  You know - like a baseball hat, but with the crown missing; almost universally they were white in color.



So I got out my visor - the one with the included hairstyling (not having much of my own, this is helpful).  And even tho it is a black visor, I would swear that we got more waves from the big boats after I put it on...



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Monday, July 21, 2014

Crabbing our way thru the San Juans

Pulling the crab trap
Retirement is great!  We have little or no schedule, and can stay or go as we please. 

I don't think we have ever spent as many days anchored in the same spot as we have this year.  After all, why not?  In the past, we have always felt the urge to get on to the next place after waking up at anchor.  Not this year.

We got to Parks Bay and just...  stayed.  Other boats came and went.  But we stayed, pulling the crab trap twice a day, morning and nite.  Each time the trap was heavy with crabs; we near-limited each day.  These are Dungeness crabs, and are big ones - the kind where one crab serves two for dinner.  Our freezer is filling up.

I freely admit that the slow lifestyle at anchor combined with the lack of connectivity have made me remiss in my blogging.  I apologize.  Sort of.

This morning we awoke at anchor in Roche Harbor.  And civilization.  And the constant coming and going of boats and seaplanes.   And the ability to go ashore and buy sugar, which we ran out of this morning because I neglected to check our supply before we left the dock.  My bad.

Now, I gotta go check the crab pot.




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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Come a leeetle cloooser...



Crabbing in the wilds of the San Juan Islands, where Internet connectivity is "spotty" to say the least. No phone connectivity at all.


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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Box Wine, Again

I've written about box wine before, as (at least partly) a boon to boaters.

But if your boat is small, you might not have room to accommodate the 3-liter box.

Backpackers have it even worse.  When you are carrying everything on your back, every ounce counts.  And when you are packing that weight to the top of a 200-story building, each extra ounce is crucial.

Then what?  Never fear, the wine makers have a solution!


This is a 500 ml container of wine.  (If you're not conversant with the metric system, 500 ml is 2/3 of a regular bottle.)  It is contained in a cardboard/foil/plastic film container which weighs almost nothing, and which can be crushed into a small ball when it has been emptied.  It is the ideal personal serving!

You could fit these almost anywhere - in fact they are compact enough where you probably have room for several.  No corkscrew needed; no heavy bottle to carry; no empty bottle to take up space until it can be properly disposed of. 

We tested these out yesterday, when Jane and I did an overnite backpacking trip up the Boulder River (4.5 miles one way - we're just not badass enough for those 20-mile days).
Yup, works just fine!


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Monday, July 14, 2014

Destination: Indian Cove, Shaw Island, San Juan Islands

If you arrived here by searching for a chart, please see this page.


Shaw Island
Excerpt from Chart 18421
On Shaw Island's southeastern shore, just off Upright Passage, lies Indian Cove. 

Indian Cove
Depths in fathoms
It was one of those summer days when the wind was blowing straight down the Strait of Georgia, right thru the San Juans.  Our anchorage had become uncomfortable, and we sought a place that provided some protection from the strong northwesterlies.  Indian Cove was just the spot.  It was almost calm there, despite the howling wind seemingly everywhere else.

Entering Indian Cove should be done from the southern end, not thru the little channel north of Canoe Island, which is strewn with rocks.  From the south, the only thing to worry about is that rock off the southwestern tip of Canoe Island - it's well-marked with kelp.

Anchorage is good in Indian Cove on a mud bottom which slopes up gently towards the shore without surprises.

Anchoring at the eastern end of the cove provides easier access to the county park, with its wonderful sandy public beach - one of the prime attractions of this anchorage.

However, even at the eastern end of the cove, you are looking straight down Upright Channel right out Cattle Pass and into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  This would not be a recommended anchorage if the wind were forecast to turn southerly.
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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Favorite San Juan Island Anchorages

Recently a friend asked what our favorite anchorages in the San Juan Islands were.

Before I answer, you will need some context.  First, these are anchorages... not docks, not mooring balls.  We don't like being tied to a dock, and Eolian is at the upper limit of what the State Park mooring balls allow, which makes me nervous about the condition of the mooring chain and anchor - we trust our own chain and anchor.  We are not usually fond of hustle and bustle, so Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor are not on the list (however we will stop at one of these for provisions if necessary, or to visit friends).

So here they are in no particular order at all.  I have written "Destination" posts about some of these before (links included)...  but this list tells me that I have more writing to do:


  1. Echo Bay, Sucia Island
  2. Parks Bay, Shaw Island
  3. Indian Cove, Shaw Island
  4. Blind Bay, Shaw Island
  5. Center Island, Lopez Sound
  6. Hunter Bay, Lopez Sound
  7. Brigantine Bay, Lopez Sound
  8. Reid Harbor, Stuart Island
Now that we are Anacortes-based, we will have the time to explore the Islands more thoroughly.  In the past we have visited these additional places with smaller boats:
  • James Island
  • Spencer Spit
  • Jones Island
  • Turn Island
  • Armitage Island
  • Prevost Harbor, Stuart Island
  • Fossil Bay, Sucia Island
  • Shallow Bay, Sucia Island
but Eolian is uncomfortably large to fit in some of them,  and some are not suitable except in settled weather.

We have never been to Fisherman's Bay on Lopez Island.  Several of our friends have, and some of those friends have bumped bottom on the entry.  We will visit Fisherman's Bay, but we will do so on a rising tide when the tides are high.

OK readers, now it is your turn.  Where are your favorite spots?  Where should we visit next?
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Monday, July 7, 2014

Got Milk?

I got skunked the other day.

I was at one of the big box home remodeling stores and picked up a gallon of paint thinner, since I was almost out on the boat.  Instead of a metal can or a translucent polypropylene container, it was in a white container.  I didn't give that any thought at all.

Big mistake.

On the boat ready to clean a brush just used for varnishing,  I pulled the DOT seal  and saw...  not at all what I expected.  This was a gallon of milk.  No, seriously - it was an emulsion of paint thinner in water, looking exactly like milk.

Looking more closely at the label (which I should have done in the store), I saw that this was being marketed as "safe" paint thinner.   We Americans will go to any length, to any ridiculous length, to remove any trace of risk, won't we?  But this?  I think this is an EPA-designed thinner, being marketed as "safe".  Of course it is cheaper to manufacture too, since water is less expensive than actual paint thinner.

But tho it is "safe", and has very low VOC, what is it good for?  There is no way I or anyone else would dump this milk into a $60 quart of varnish.  And I wouldn't trust it even to clean my least expensive varnish brush.  I cannot even imagine it being useful as a thinner for water-based varnish, since that stuff is already as runny as milk. 

Kicking myself for my stupidity, I set the container by the marina dumpster.

Maybe someone can use it to make a latte.




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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Destination: Chuckanut Bay

If you arrived here by searching for a chart, please see this page.

Chuckanut Bay
Excerpt from chart 18424
In answer to your first question, no I don't know where the name comes from, but Wikipedia says, "from 'Chuckanut', a native word for 'Long beach far from a narrow entrance'".   Um, OK.

Chuckanut Bay is located just south of Bellingham Bay, a nice sail up from Anacortes.  There are no tricks in approaching the Bay, and the only hazards are those well-charted and quite visible rocks...  and little Chuckanut Island, both of which serve to partially guard the entrance from swells.

But the bay's best protection is from the surrounding land.  It is very high and steep, heavily wooded terrain, and serves as an effective wind block from the north or the south. 

There are Burlington Northern/Santa Fe railroad tracks near the water and which pretty much completely surround the bay, including passing over an artificial causeway at the north end.  Expect to see trains. 

Anchoring is easy - the bay is a near-uniform 40 feet deep with a sticky mud bottom.  You can anchor just about anywhere. 
Looking down the length of Chuckanut Bay from the north

The northern bight is nearly free of development, especially on the western shore, tho there are a series of McMansions perched high up on the steep hillside (they must have spectacular views, but they are built cheek by jowl).

The southern bight offers two especially nice spots: Pleasant Bay and the unnamed bight just to the northeast.  There are a few boats on buoys and the development is much more tasteful.

And since the bay opens to the west, the sunsets are spectacular!



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