Technology is a fickle thing...maybe the wifi is being disrupted by the 30-40 knot winds outside but whatever the reason my attempts to update our Q&A page have failed. So I'm just going to post everything here! Work-arounds are beautiful things. :-)
Most of these questions came up during my recent visit to Colorado. I can't explain how awesome it was to spend weeks with friends. Thank you to everyone one of you for making time in your schedules to hang out with me and listen to my stories. I came back refreshed and ready to tackle winter in the PNW!
"What’s it like?"
It’s a lot like RV-ing but on water. Just like in an RV where you can camp “off the grid” for free or at a park with services and amenities and pay a price. For us, we can drop an anchor to be “off the grid” or pull into a marina for services. Marinas charge by the foot and since we are 44 feet long it usually isn’t cheap. Thankfully we prefer “being on the hook” or anchoring.
"What are your plans for the winter?"
We are spending the winter in Port Townsend, Washington (Oct 2017-May 2018). While here we are going to explore all the maritime classes and opportunities this community offers (which is a lot). We will also spend time on some boat projects ranging from installing solar panels to replacing the head with a composting toilet to figuring out how to get online easier while we are out cruising to installing radar and a life raft. As soon as projects are completed and the weather improves we plan to head north again and explore more of British Columbia. If we are feeling good then we may head south to Mexico at the end of the summer. If we aren't feeling good then we will find someplace to spend the winter again here in Washington.
"Why didn't you go to Mexico?" Debbie, CO
The short answer is that both the boat and we weren't ready. Sailing south from Washington is tricky. It requires you either head 150 miles west into the open ocean and then sail south until California which takes about 2 weeks if all goes well OR you slowly pick your way down the West coasts of Washington and Oregon where there are not very many safe harbors and there are many obstructions and hazards including rocks and fast river currents. Both options require more research and we need to develop a comfort level with sailing through the night (which we haven't done yet).
"Do you fish for meals?"
The short answer is no. The long answer is that neither of us are big into fishing nor do we have the equipment. However, this is an area we fully expect to explore more and more. Rob has a book on sea fishing that he’s reading and Lucy is looking around for classes on cooking seafood. Being from Colorado we don’t have a ton of experience preparing sea urchins and other sea creatures.
"How big are your fuel tanks?"
Our fuel tanks hold 180 gallons of diesel. We filled them up at the beginning of our adventures and despite motoring more than sailing this summer, we had barely used half by the time we pulled into Port Townsend, WA for the winter. So our engine “sips” diesel with is great because the summer winds up here are fickle and we motor more than we’d like!
"Where can you go?"
We can go anywhere that the water is deep enough for our boat which is a lot of places! We only need 6.5’ of water to float so the world is our oyster as they say. The tricky part about sailing in the PNW is the tides change the depth of water dramatically. So we may drop an anchor in 20’ of water at high tide but by low tide it can drop to less than 6’ so we check our charts and the tides carefully every time we anchor!
"Are you working?"
Right now neither of us is working outside of the boat. Our plan was to be frugal and try to focus on the boat for 1-2 years before looking for work. So far our budget is holding and we hope we can avoid going back to work for another year or longer if possible. We do anticipate eventually working to build up our sailing “kitty” (i.e. savings account) and Lucy did get a part-time job subbing for dance classes at the Athletic Club and may look for something in retail just to keep her spirits up during the “dark days” (the local name for winter).
"Where did you go?"
Check out the map above...We started in Vancouver, Canada and crossed the Strait of Georgia west to the Gulf Islands of British Columbia (Gabriola, Thetis, Penekakut Islands). From there we went north to Nanaimo located on Vancouver Island and crossed the Strait of Georgia again, this time to the east, to get to the Sunshine Coast (Sechelt to Powell River). We kept going north to the Desolation Sound Marine Park. From there we went west again and circumnavigated Cortes island making lots of stops along the way. We went east from there to Campbell River and then north to Octopus Islands Marine Park on Quadra Island. That was as far north as we went. From there we hopped our way south all the way across the Canadian/US border to Port Townsend, Washington.
"Do you still like each other?"
The short answer is yes. The long answer is that it’s been a crazy year with lots of ups and downs all of which has put stress on our relationship. Communication is an ongoing challenge, taking each other for granted is a reoccurring threat, and balancing our different needs is an evolving circus act. There have been dark times when we didn’t like each other very much but we do keep choosing each other and we are both pleased with that.
"Do you get bored?"
Nope! This past year the learning curve has been STEEP so we have not been bored at all! There is always something to tweak, something to learn, something to research, or just something to clean. We look forward to days when we can push projects off and just relax or do a little exploring in the dinghy or watch a DVD or take a nap.
"What are the strongest winds you’ve encountered?"
Doug, Pender Harbor
One day this summer we started out with all our sails up in 15 knots of wind having a grand time crashing through 3’ waves. As we got closer to our destination the winds kept getting stronger and stronger—we looked at the instruments and saw we were in 25+ knots of wind, yikes! The waves were 5’-6’ and the wind howled like a Halloween sound track as it whipped through the rigging. None of us were comfortable so we turned up into the wind, started the engine, dropped the sails and motored the rest of the way.
"What is your mailing address?"
No one--but maybe someone will ask ;-)
This is a tough one...we have a mail service in Florida but we pay for each piece of mail that they process for us. Since we are going to be in Port Townsend through May it is an option to send stuff to the local Post Office as "General Delivery". They will hold it for 30 days and then return it to sender so if any of you send something that way let us know so we go and check. This holiday season we plan on spending time with our families so you can always send things to our moms and they will hold on to it for us. Lastly, it is an option to send mail to our marina but they don't like being a mail box so that would only work in an emergency.
"How is Navi?"
He is not happy. This summer he figured out how to get from the boat to the dinghy and from the dinghy to shore easily enough and we got him off the boat 3-4 times a day. But once on shore when we headed back to the dinghy he would lay down facing away from the boat and look at the shore. Then, once we got back to Port Townsend and picked up the truck from storage all he wants to do is sit in the truck. We will get him off the boat to for a walk and after he does his business he goes straight to the truck and begs to get inside. Big storms like the one today rocks the boat relentlessly making him miserable--he looks so sad. All of that combined with his inability to meet new people without lunging nipping them has led us to the decision to find him a new land-based home. We are searching for the perfect solution and will keep him until we find it but it is a heartbreaking emotional rollercoaster. Navi has been part of our lives for over 5 years.