Quarantine Adventures: Time to Leave Shangri-La

The time has come for Jim and I to leave our special safe, peaceful cocoon in Waianae, on the west shore of Oahu.

It’s hard to believe I haven’t written for over a month. But I wasn’t feeling it. Like most of you reading this, for most of the last several months, we hunkered down, stayed really close to home and got groceries only when needed. We were very lucky though in that our home for the last several months was our little piece of paradise here on our condo overlooking Papaoneone beach in Waianae .

We had the opportunity to get organic vegetables delivered weekly from the one of the local farms and that has really opened our eyes to a whole new group of vegetables. At the same time, our friend Rose also shared a lot of her amazing home-grown vegetables and fresh eggs. We decided to focus on getting as healthy as we could. As a result, Jim and I each lost 10 pounds! We are exercising everyday, drinking a lot less alcohol and cutting all carbs to a minimum. We changed from drinking our elixir first thing in the morning, to after our morning exercise, and we are eating dinner earlier. We decided that our best shield against COVID was to get as healthy as we could. We’ve worked on our strength, our stamina and our mobility and we both feel great. We like our new lighter bodies and we hope to enjoy this change for the rest of our lives. Of course living in Hawaii makes it much easier to exercise because the weather is consistently nice, and the beach and the golf course are so close. It will be a challenge to maintain this new level of exercise when we get back to the boat and the mountains, but we think and hope we are up to the challenge!

At the end of May, Oahu finally opened the beaches and that was a great relief (the ocean was always open for swimming or surfing but we weren’t allowed to sit in the sun or read while on the beach). I was truly getting condo fever so we took a drive all the way around the island. The lack of traffic made it quite delightful. We’ve never snorkeled at the very popular Sharks Cove on the north shore (it has nothing to do with sharks), but the lack of crowds made it doable this time. The area has crystal clear water and lots of fish and coral. It’s a bit challenging to get in the water but really worth it. All things considered we still like our little beach and snorkeling area the best, but Sharks Cove is a “must visit” if you ever have the chance.

I liked this black and orange fish.
It was hard to capture but this school of fish were moving like a waterfall from one side of the coral to the other

The local golf courses finally re-opened and it was great playing again. With his new hip and increased strength and mobility Jim has really upped his golf game. We’ll probably play one more time before coming back to the PNW.

Here’s James’s avatar in Minecraft and one of our large structures complete with a glass roof.

We also enjoyed more video time with family and friends. Jim and I have become passable at Minecraft (creative mode only). We’ve built homes, built tunnels, farmed, gathered and fed cattle, sheep, pigs and llamas. Jim and James have been particularly good at building towers and digging underground tunnels. We tried to do some more advanced engineering stuff with pistons and “redstone” without success, even calling in and expert after failing. Turns out the problem is a glitch in the “pocket edition” (PE) version of the game that we use on our iPads that interferes with “redstone” engineering, so it wasn’t our fault that we couldn’t figure it out!

Of course, last week, we watched the SpaceX crewed mission to the International Space Station blast off simultaneously on video with the grandkids and and separately live streaming on Facebook with Saul and Shakira. It was so exciting! We loved Robert exclaiming, “they said they are on a mission!”

Given the terrible news from the the same day I find this photo of the NASA broadcast particularly hopeful for the future.

We’ve continued to play bridge with friends online and even created a little bracket tournament that went extremely well. Continuing to play bridge online has been another fun part of this crazy time, although we look forward to playing in person again.

Ceremonial eating!

This week the restaurants and the hair salons in Oahu finally re-opened! My hair was completely out of control and I was shedding like a very hairy dog. I kept thinking there were bugs on me, but it was only my hair shedding. Given the extreme pent up demand in the Seattle area I thought I should give someone a go here and I found a small salon in Haleiwa that could cut curly hair. Adonia Salon is a small family business and it was fantastic. After getting my haircut in Haleiwa we splurged on a meal at the Beach House. We even got a piece of carrot cake in the morning to go with our ice coffee! It was a delightful day. Although Jim has reached his weight goal, I still have two more pounds to lose, so we will continue to eat super healthy. Maybe we will do one more meal out before coming home on Thursday, but until then, veggies and a small amount of protein will be our usual fare.

Of course, these last two weeks have been so sad and scary. Like all of you we were shocked, saddened, appalled, and angered by the behavior of the four Minneapolis police officers. The fact that three officers watched while the other officer slowly suffocated George Floyd was shocking for us. Hopefully, this will finally lead to reforms both within police departments and within the inner city communities that have endured such high levels of violence (the vast majority of which are not caused by police officers). I’ve shared a lot on FB posts on this, from experts and opinion leaders. I don’t really want to play it all out again here. Hopefully, we will look back on 2020 as a year of Quantum Change in our society by peacefully working together to make things better through our hard work, our words, our kindness and our votes.

We really haven’t had protests here in Hawaii until this week. Thankfully, they have been appropriate and peaceful, and there has been no rioting or looting. Dealing with the scary nature of the protests in Seattle has been another exhausting challenge for Jasmine and Saul and the rest of the team at Dick’s. Once again we are amazed by their strength and leadership. Here is a link to Jasmine’s letter that she shared with our employees and customers.

I’m writing this blog on our deck watching the sun set. Three more sunsets to go until we fly home on Thursday!

We don’t know exactly what we will be doing when we get back. Our hope is that the Canadian border re-opens and that, after we spend some quality time with friends and family in the Seattle area, we will still cruise north for our annual True Love Adventure in the beautiful coastal waters of British Columbia. We also hope that the peaceful protests and violent riots and looting don’t lead to an explosion of the virus. We should all know that within a couple of weeks.

Mostly, we look forward to seeing our grandkids. After reading the medical literature about the lack of transmission of the virus from children under 10 to adults, we are willing to take a small risk to gain the healing power of hugs from James and Robert. Elbow bumps will have to do for Saul, Shakira, Jasmine, David and other friends and family. I’m such a “huggy” person that this will be particularly hard for me, but I’ll get through it.

I’ll leave you all with one of our best sunsets from our time here since February. It’s been interesting experiencing the seasons of Hawaii as we moved through winter and spring. It’s definitely getting more humid. The sands of the beach have shifted to the north exposing the rocks on the south near LahiLahi. I find myself longing for the mountain air and the sounds of the seasonal waterfalls at Snoqualmie Pass.

Stay well, stay healthy, stay connected and please be kind!

Light from the darkness

Quarantine Adventures: Another Week

I hope everyone is holding up OK. Every day brings so many updates. I’m reading so much and there are hopeful signs that we are learning more and moving toward a more sustainable policy.

The last few weeks have been good for us: repetitive, strange, healthy, busy, and limiting. Here on Oahu, in one of the 3 safest states in the USA with the fewest cases of the virus, the governor banned walking on the beach. This is insane, especially since he is allowing walking in all state parks beginning tomorrow.

There is no explanation for these unequal rules. Meanwhile the Attorney General of HI decided to inject himself and say according to the Governor’s emergency decree, doing anything on the beach other than entering or exiting the water is illegal. We even had police officers on our out-of-the-way small beach issuing warnings.

At the same time, the new emergency health rules do not apply to the homeless encampment on the north end of our beach who have no sanitation at all. Time for my favorite emoji 🤦🏽‍♀️.

The good news today is that we are now allowed to walk on the beach although suntanning and other forms of lallygagging remain illegal, as are beach chairs and umbrellas. Accordingly, I’ve designed a beach couch made by digging a contoured hole in the sand to sit in and if the police show up I can start doing sit-ups as a cover because exercising on the beach has been made legal again.

Since I wrote you last, we celebrated Passover and Easter. Our Zeder (Zoom Seder) was truly wonderful. We used a new Haggadah this year that was available through Kindle and better for children: The Kveller’s Haggadah. Our Grandson James is 7 going on 10. He’s an exceptional reader and was able to participate fully. Watching him experience his first Passover “fully conscious” and engaged was so special. We wished we were all together in person, but our Zeder was the next best thing.

The worst part of being in isolation in Hawaii is not getting to see friends and family. I’ve decided to reread Harry Potter. James is on the 4th book and I’m quickly catching up. It gives me an opportunity to discuss it fresh with him. After finishing the Chamber of Secrets, I called him to discuss it and he asked me, “so what was your favorite part?” And although Robert isn’t a huge video conference fan we had a fun FaceTime with him this morning and he was showing us his reading program and how to use emoji masks.

The best part of being here in Hawaii is of course the sun and the warmth and we have our quarantine buddies Tom and Debbie to talk with and play pickleball. Luckily, we can still play almost every morning and we are in great shape. We also get fresh greens delivered from the local organic farm every Friday and therefore we are also eating very healthy. I discovered that the greens from the fresh carrot tops are great in our morning elixir and dinner salad. We also are blessed with fresh veggies from our friend Rose who lives nearby and is a master gardener.

As instructed we don’t go to the grocery store very often. However, we did recently run out of our favorite gin and so had to make a gin run to the local liquor store. Earlier in our trip we discovered a liquor store nearby in Ewa Beach that carries my favorite “Empress” gin. So masks and gloves at the ready, Jim drove me there and I bought the last 3 bottles. This liquor store looks like something out of Harry Potter Diagon Alley. Part small convenience store with tight rows of every imaginable “potion”. We are ready for anything now. FYI we are not putting bleach in our gin & tonics! We also drove through the local Wendy’s for a rare meal out. In our little town of Wainaiae restaurant choices are limited to fast food, poki and one Thai restaurant that is still open for take out. There are a few other restaurants, but none really worth bringing home.

Another great thing about the last few weeks has been some spectacular sunsets. The whales have all gone now. The last Humpbacks we saw were on Easter. A Mom and baby put on a great show and then they were gone. We will have to catch up with them in Canada when we head out on the True Love this summer, God willing.

Ok, time for a little ranting. So when will we begin to return to a more normal life? The Stanford, USC and NYC antibody studies all show that a much higher number of people have got the virus (although without any serious symptoms) which means that the virus has a much lower death rate than originally estimated. This was always likely, but until we knew it for sure, all of the “lock down” precautions were reasonable temporary measures to prevent a nightmare scenario. But now that we have more data, and a much clearer understanding of the real risk of serious illness and death for different segments of the population, we believe it is now time for those at high risk to remain isolated while young people without underlying health issues go back to work, school, and real life. We need to open up outdoor activities, stay smart, wash our hands, wear masks and keep physically distancing. But we can’t let fear keep us from moving forward. The news that hospitals are so empty they are laying off doctors and nurses is ridiculous. It’s time to let real data, not estimates, guide our actions. I don’t expect Hawaii or Washington State to lead in this area. But other states will and we will learn from them. Here are some good interviews:

Bill Mar talks with Dr. Katz:

Dr. Erickson Covid-19 Briefing about the data in his CA County of almost 1 million people.

In the sports world, were you one of the 55 million sports-starved people who watched the NFL draft? I know our son-in-law David did. We watched in the background while playing Bridge Base Online (BBO). Who knows if the Seahawks’ first round draft pick is any good, but we’ll see. I know David was disappointed with SF’s first round choice, but the pundits seem impressed.

One player that caught my eye, Tristan Wirfs, was picked by Bucs. He is a stud. It’s worth watching this video of him literally jumping OUT of the pool onto the deck. I told David he should work on this trick when he gets back to swimming.

As an aside, BBO has been swamped with all the closeted bridge players resorting to online games with friends and strangers from all over the world. The lack of table talk and the ability to compare how other people play has sometimes improved our play. Of course that depends if we are drinking gin and beer while playing. I have to say I truly miss eating the Rainier Club’s Chocolate Chip Cookies while playing bridge and of course visiting with our bridge friends. But it has been fun staying connected online and encouraging to see so many people playing bridge online.

Back to more physical sports. I think it is time for some sports without fans. I’m not sure it will work with football, but I’m all in for baseball to creatively start the season. After all there are many teams that play without fans. My two teams, the Mariners and the Mets are prime examples. They should create regional centers for each division. Let them stay in hotels. Do a lot of reality TV around the players. If some of them get sick, they can quarantine in one place and we can use it as an experiment for the rest of us. I’m sure they will have to negotiate with unions, but come on, lets get creative! We have also been watching the Pickleball channel on YouTube to become better players. Who knew there was a US Open of Pickleball? Debbie, Tom, Jim and I are in training for the 2021 US Open Seniors Division.

Last night we had a virtual dinner date with our friends Greg and Carolyn. We cooked together and enjoyed a lovely late afternoon for us, evening for them. I highly recommend getting together with friends this way.

Oh and we have had to do a couple of repairs. For those of you who follow our Adventures on the True Love, you know that we have become pretty handy out of necessity. This has rolled over to our lives here in Wainaiae. Last week we had a sink drain back up and had to take the pipes apart. It was a couple of hours of work including using a borrowed “snake” in the pipes all the way into the wall drain. With a little help from our friend Tom, and a brilliant last minute use of the plunger by Jim, we were able to fix our problem without the need of a plumber.

Tom did a masterful job!

A few day later we replaced the outside closet door rollers so we can actually open and close them without the doors falling off the tracks. At first Jim thought they were falling off because I did not have enough skill to open and close them correctly. But after closer inspection, we discovered that the rollers were completely disintegrated. For those of you who have stayed here, you will be pleased with the repair.

Stay well, stay healthy, stay connected. I’ll finish with some star photography I took last night.

Orion, the moon and Venus
Crescent moon and Venus

Quarantine Adventures: Watching the Season Change

Aloha dear friends and family,

Can you see the rainbow passing over the mountain?

As this week has gone by, the change of the season in Wainaiae becomes clear. At the same time that the hummingbirds arrive in Snoqualmie Pass the whales begin their journey north and the beach shifts with currents from south to north. We are intermittently spotting whales, but there are way fewer. As an aloha to the whales, I want to share with you some of the photos I got this trip. I don’t have a super zoom lens, but it still fun to see the pictures.

The shifting of the sands is a strange seasonal dynamic of Papaoneone beach here at the Hawaiian Princess. The sand is heavy and runs on the sticky/heavy side. As the ocean currents shift from winter to summer and back again the beach shifts dramatically. In winter the sand covers the rocks and coral on the north side. When a storm rolls in the sands can shift in just days exposing the ocean floor almost up to the building and the sand is deposited on the north side of the beach covering the rocks and ocean floor north. The first time we saw the shifting sands of our beach, we had just closed on our condo purchase. In the previous March when the previous owners accepted our offer on the condo the entire beach in front of our building was pure white sand. In July when we came back for the closing half of the beach in front of our building was exposed rock. Needless to say we freaked out a bit, but we quickly learned this is a regular seasonal shift of the beach sands here. We witnessed it the next fall when the sand came back to the south side in a big three day storm. This same dynamic is what causes the epic “pipeline” surf on the Northshore.

With the change of the seasons comes later sunsets. And I’ve been able to capture quite a few

I like the face in this one and the sun dripping into the ocean like a tongue.

Strangely, it’s been a busy week here. We try to play pickleball every day to stay fit with our small select group of “Camp Oahu” friends who are still here at the condo. We still follow the news pretty closely, but only for an hour or so each day. Thankfully, we get to FaceTime video with the grandkids often thanks to their wonderful parents. And we’ve been able to share Saul’s success with the “PNW: a concert for your quarantine” online musical performances which is how Saul made lemonade from lemons when the big SXSW (South By Southwest) music/tech/art conference in Austin, TX was cancelled. We’ve also spent a lot of time, with great success, setting up an online bridge group for our Rainier Club bridge friends.

Coronavirus question: should we all wear masks when we go out now? We’ve read a lot about it. And I guess we’ve come to the conclusion that it can’t hurt. So we ordered some pretty fabric masks from JAMS, a local clothing store here in HI. We look at them as our quarantine souvenirs. When we ordered them they were available with filters. Dr. Birx said in the White House briefing today, when asked, that we need to remember that masks don’t protect what you touch, and your eyes are exposed, so she thinks they create a sense of safety that just doesn’t exist. So even if you wear a mask, you still have to distance yourself from others, wash your hands frequently, and generally stay away from people you don’t live with as much as you can.🤷🏽‍♀️

Here’s some funny things that have been shared on FB. How about this covid-cover of Adele’s “hello” I also think this is an interesting post on Covid-Math. I hope he’s right.

And I have to share this great video of a mounted police officer getting a burger at our restaurant on Seattle’ Capitol Hill. Jasmine was there for a Q13-TV interview and captured this wonderful experience.

When we first got here we were able to do some scuba diving. I shared the whale song dive with you earlier but here is a fun interaction with an octopus. Watch as it “jets away” when the diver releases it. This is one fast octopus!

This morning we listened to a Kellogg MBA School video class on “Leadership During a Crisis.” I thought there was a particular helpful question and answer. One of the participants asked, “How do you know you have all the information you need to make decisions.” The Professor’s answer: Of course we never have all the information we need to make decisions, and this is especially true in a fast moving crisis. All we can do is get as much information as possible given the time available, be transparent, make the best decisions we can, and then be nimble and agile enough to adjust or even reverse course as new information becomes available.

Stay home, stay well, stay connected!

Jim may have to take up the trumpet when we get back!

Quarantine Adventures: Paradoxes

The Hawaiian Princess continues to empty out. As of tomorrow there will be even fewer people here. Given the projected numbers of cases and the President’s 30 day continuance for sheltering at home, we are guessing we will be here through at least April and probably into May. Although the Hawaii number of cases are increasing (now over 150) only 12 have been hospitalized. We continue to hope that the heat and humidity keep the cases and the severity of the symptoms down. Unfortunately, many still are not taking it seriously here. There was a big party in a house 2 nights ago across the street from our condo with lots of drinking and aggression. We worry for the women and children who are in abusive situations and have to stay at home. We did call the police but unfortunately they were not inclined to take it seriously.

Turtles are awesome.

Shopping Tip: Because we are cooking so much I decided to up the equipment in the condo and have added a hand mixer and a small food processor. Although we still order a lot from Amazon, it is taking way longer than usual so I decide to try to order it for pick-up at the Target. That worked very well. We drove into Kapolei after sunset yesterday and the store was pretty empty, very clean and our package was ready to go. It turns out Target will also bring your order out to the car for curbside delivery.

Paradoxes: I find myself with conflicting paradoxical feelings. I’m both content and happy to be in this beautiful place and sad, missing my grandchildren and children. I go to bed tired after what feels like a full day of exercise, cleaning, cooking, phone calls and to-do lists and yet I look back on that day and feel unaccomplished. I wake up drawn to read the news and check the most recent updates and yet I’m concerned with the sensationalism and untrusting of what I’m reading. I’m drawn to the statistics and projections and yet I’m not sure they really mean anything at this point. I’m know we will all get through this but I worry about what is coming next.

Facebook the great connector. I’m loving the jokes and all the music on Facebook. Of course we love the streaming NXNX concerts. It is amazing the depth and breadth of talent in our area. I also love the Seattle Symphony musicians creating music together while separated using technology. Here is a lovely piece with Nathan Chan. And this couple is just so creative and cute.

Early in the trip we purchased a conch shell so Jim could blow it at sunset. Turns out he has a hidden talent.

Thanks for reading the blog and a special thank you to Josh and Betty (avid True Love Adventure readers) for pointing out that my first blog wasn’t allowing comments. I don’t quite know how I did it, but I posted it the wrong way. I’ve reposted it correctly and I believe this one will allow for comments.

Stay safe and stay healthy. Tata for now.

Quarantine Adventures

As many of you know who communicate with us on FB, Jim and I have decided to stay in our condo in Waianae (it’s on the west coast of Oahu so it has a great sunset view). We feel the isolated location (about an hour’s drive from Honolulu), along with the warmth and humidity, is a much safer place to be than the Seattle area, which as you know is one of the USA’s biggest coronavirus hot spots. Our Wainaiae visit began February 3rd and we are pretty sure we will be still be here throughout April and possibly May. And compared with our Snoqualmie Pass home where the ski area is closed, the snow is melting and it’s raining all the time, this is a much better place to be “sheltering at home.” I’ll share some thoughts and pretty photos as I’m moved to blog and I hope you will engage with comments and thoughts as well. Before the quarantine we got to catch up on our scuba diving and heard some amazing whale sounds. We’ve heard them while we were underwater, and it was an exceptional experience. The whales were very close and we heard the sounds for the entire dive although we never saw them while we were underwater. However, when we got back on the boat they were only 100 yards away.

Whale Song

Our nickname for our condo building (The Hawaiain Princess) is “Camp Oahu” because its like a summer camp for older campers. It brings us great joy when we get to see our “snowbird” friends (mostly from Canada). This year we met two new friends: Stephen and Kaysi Kushner. The two of them are excellent pickleball players so they taught us how to up our pickleball game and we were able to teach them how to play bridge. As the virus spread and most of the public pickleball courts on Oahu were closed, we were still able to play on the private pickleball court here at our condo and often shared dinners at each other’s condos. But all good things come to an end eventually, and when Air Canada said it was going to stop flying to Hawaii for the next six weeks, they felt they had to go home. Now they are watching the snow melt in Edmonton, Alberta as they sit through their 14-day mandatory quarantine for Canadians returning to Canada from overseas. Now we have transitioned to singles pickleball by ourselves, quiet meals and of course the beach and the water. Jim and I braved Costco for some senior shopping last Tuesday. It was quite an experience, but ultimately successful. Although they were out of toilet paper we procured a giant container of hand sanitizer, lots of good food, and adult-beverage popsicles. Combined with the food Kaysi and Stephen gave us when they left and we have abundant food for quite a while.

In hindsight, Jim’s retirement couldn’t have been better timed. Jasmine and her team are doing a stupendous job running the family business in this time of uncertainty. Here is a link to the beautiful letter she wrote and sent out to our customers that was shared on social media. Saul has continued to work on the SXSW (South By Southwest) program which of course was cancelled. He pivoted amazingly quickly to NXNW and brought bands and panels together in a virus-safe way, video recording them while they played at Seattle’s legendary London Bridge Studio. The music and informational panels start streaming tonight on line. You can watch through live streaming on FB on the Dick’s Drive in page. https://facebook.com/events/s/the-pnw-live-stage-a-concert-f/551793268783477/?ti=icl. Saul says you can get the best experience when you use an HDMI cable from your computer or “mirror” the broadcast onto your TV using an Apple TV box if you have one. I’m sure many of you are incorporating more Zoom and video chats into your lives as are we. Today we learned how to use the app called “Bridge Base Online” and we were able to play bridge remotely with some of our Rainier Club buddies from Seattle. We hope to play more in the future. Let us know if you play bridge and want to join us and we’ll help you get set up.

That’s all for now. Stay safe, stay sane, stay healthy! Love Fawn & Jim Quarantining in Wainaiae

Near the End

It’s been hard to begin this blog entry. Usually, I stew a bit while looking at the beautiful scenery around me while pondering the recent chapter of our adventure. But the last few weeks, although full, have been disjointed. And of course there is the melancholy of reaching the end of our great summer adventure. So it hasn’t come to me as easily.

After our last blog we moored in Pender Harbour and boarded our seaplane to fly back too Seattle for our 2nd Annual Family Business Assembly.

Travel by seaplane is always awesome and it was truly wonderful to be back in Seattle to see the Grandkids especially. Our Family Assembly Meeting was a lot of work, but a big success. We learned, played and grew together with the goal of nurturing and educating future generations.

Two weeks after flying home we were on the seaplane once again to meet up with our friends Carrie and Troy Shaw for our final excursion this year back into Princess Louisa Inlet. Carrie and Troy drove to Egmont and we left the Back Eddy Resort to cruise up Jervis Inlet to PLI.

Despite an iffy weather forecast the weather turned quite lovely. We shared 3 nights and 3 days in our favorite place by far in the Salish Sea. PLI feels like our true summer home. We walked trails, kayaked, paddle boarded, played scrabble, floated and even watched a movie. The last night the skies cleared and we enjoyed some fun star gazing complete with shooting stars.

Carrie paddle boarding!

Carrie and Troy headed home by water taxi from nearby Malibu Young Life Camp after taking a fun tour and enjoying lunch with Jim Troyer, Carrie’s old boss at the WA Legislature.

The barometer had been falling steadily for the 3 days before Carrie & Troy left and the clouds finally rolled in followed by a heavy evening rain. This is the first time we have been in PLI in late August. With most of the winter snow melted, the waterfalls were as small as we’ve ever seen them, the rainforest paths were bone dry and the trees seemed to be holding their breaths waiting for rain. So we welcomed the rain. The sounds of the rain and the waterfalls rebuilding echoed throughout the inlet and we woke to abundant waterfalls followed by mid-day clearing. Perfect!

Our final days in our favorite spot were spent doing what we love, kayaking, floating, reading and generally enjoying each other and the beauty around us.

But all good things come to an end especially as the summer begins to fade and I needed to get back to Pender Harbour for another seaplane ride home. Unfortunately, my sister Rachel had to have her second back surgery in 3 months and I wanted to be there to help her threw it. So we docked once again in Pender Harbour and I flew home while the Captain stayed with the True Love.

Rachel’s surgery went well, but it seems like it will be a slow recovery. Getting older can be a challenge sometimes, but as we all know it beats the alternative. Thanks to some family help from Brittany, Chad’s girlfriend and soon-to-be nurse, I was able to fly back to the True Love after only 3 days. Jasmine helped Rachel get home Monday from the hospital and Rachel is now in the good hands of Hannah, Rachel’s oldest daughter, who flew in from Colorado.

Anderson Bay south side of Texada Island

After arriving back on the True Love on Sunday, the Captain and I were both ready to leave the dock and we ventured to Anderson Bay, a little bay about an hour’s cruise from Pender Harbour, on the south tip of Texada Island. Anderson Bay is a little gem of an anchorage in a northwest wind (although it is completely exposed to a SE wind). I scavanaged up dinner from what was left in the fridge and we watched an old Star Trek movie before going up to the top deck to watch the stars come out.

Until our recent time in Princess Louisa the star watching this summer has been mostly blocked by clouds. But by the end of our trip we’ve had good weather for watching the last days of the Perseid meteor showers as well as watching the Summer Triangle (Vega, Deneb and Altair) appear in the Milky Way. We’ve seen several big shooting stars and lots of satellites.

On Monday and Tuesday, we cruised south, anchoring first at Montague Harbour and then Bedwell Harbour. The stars both nights were truly spectacular. And the views allowed us to see Saturn and Jupiter very clearly (including two of Jupiter’s moons with our binoculars). Because it was close to the horizon in the southern sky, Antares (in Scorpio) twinkled red, blue and green.

Last night in Bedwell Harbour was our last night in Canada. As I write this blog we are back in the USA, anchored at Sucia Island (in the northern San Juan Islands).

James and Robert can you see the face?

The sand stone formations around Sucia Island are very interesting. And Jim remembered that his Dad, long ago, found a dinosaur bone exposed here, lodged in one of the sandstone cliffs.

Tomorrow, we will anchor near Friday Harbor so we can prepare and repovision the The True Love for our final guests: Jasmine, David, James and Robert. The Captain and I love having the grandchildren (and their parents) on board and we truly look forward to sharing our final days with them. They are taking the Victoria Clipper fast catamaran to Friday Harbor where we will scoop them up before heading to Port Townsend for a couple of nights before cruising back to Seattle on Sunday, September 1st.

I’m planning to do a final “best of” blog after we get home. Thanks for sharing the journey with us!

We were treated to our best sunset of the summer last night!

The Captain and the First Mate of the True Love.

“They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

Orca Abundance, Friends & Ready to Fly Home

Our friends Laird and Carol arrived on their orca-themed seaplane (a good omen!)

The seaplane arrived about an hour late, but schedules are never precise when traveling by seaplane and it worked to our advantage as you will see later. After a yummy lunch at the April Point Resort we left the dock and headed north for Octopus Islands Marine Park enjoying beautiful weather. First we saw a humpback, then after about an hour out we encountered an Orca “super pod”.

How many can you count?

The baby

Can you see the two orcas?

Baby in the back

At least 10 orcas we think, maybe more. I only captured 6 in one photo. And there was a baby too! They traveled north with us for quite a while. We left them after turn into Okisollo Channel. We even tried some fishing, but the orcas kept coming up the channel towards us. We didn’t catch any fish but still had a lot of fun trying.

Octopus Islands Marine Park is one of our favorite anchorages and it turns out it’s a favorite of Laird and Carol too from their sailboating days. Our unusual semi-private anchorage was available so we dropped the hook and enjoyed two wonderful days of crabbing, kayaking and conversation. Although we’ve know Laird and Carol for years, we haven’t really had time to become close friends. Laird is our personal and corporate CPA. But we all so much in common including our love of both boating and Hawaii. They live east of Carnation so they are also rural people like us. The Captain and the First Mate truly enjoyed our time getting to know them better. As Humphrey Bogart said in Casablanca: “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

While anchored, we spotted raccoons and a deer foraging nearby at low tide, and a heron doing some strange sunning high up in the tree.

Jim, Carol and I are bridge players and we had the time to teach Laird how to play bridge. Given his CPA background he took to it very quickly. I think he’s hooked. He downloaded the app Bridge Baron and is already practicing for our next bridge gathering.

Laird and Carol even loved my morning elixirs. Of course, it didn’t hurt that we were splurging on cinnamon rolls as well.

Together we all learned something about crabs. Rock Crabs are well named. Cracking their shells is much harder than for Dungeness Crabs. Our crab appetizer was exciting with shells exploding everywhere as we devoured our two crabs. We definitely needed showers after dinner!

Funny story. The Captain and I picked a place to drop the crab trap, because it looked right, and didn’t have any other crab pots. We had no idea if it would be successful. By the time we picked up our crabs there was another pot and by morning there were 4 more. Everyone else had no idea that we really knew nothing about crabbing!

Unfortunately, during our adventures out around the Islands by kayak, board and tender, I lost the bottom fin to my paddle board. Note to self: avoid kelp. I came to a quick stop as it grabbed the fin. I didn’t fall off, but the fin did. Luckily the guys came by in the tender and gave me a ride back to the boat because a paddle board without a fin does not “track” at all so when you paddle, the board goes sideways instead of forward.

After Octopus Islands we headed through the tidal rapids at Hole in the Wall on our way to our final destination: Okeover Inlet for dinner again at Laughing Oyster. The Captain didn’t quite time the rapids correctly so we had a more thrilling ride through the 7 knot current than we were expecting. No problem though. On our way we encountered another Humpie doing some gentle cleaning. What fun!

That evening we tried out a new beautiful little anchorage in Isabelle Bay. It had been a hot day and we were all ready for a shower, some cocktails and some bridge before heading out to dinner at Laughing Oyster. Dinner was yummy, we even had live music! We got back to the True Love just as it was getting dark, but before the predicted rain started thanks to our speedy tender.

Laird and Carol met their seaplane for their flight home from Bliss Landing. We found a space at the dock, paid the requested $10 library donation for the privilege and enjoyed a light lunch before their plane arrived.

After waving goodbye, we left to head to our next anchorage at Garden Bay Marina. We stop at the Powell River area almost every year. But last year the docking at Garden Bay was heart stopping with the very strong S.E. wind blowing us away from the dock and toward the nearby rock breakwater. This year there was another SE wind, but lighter so it was not difficult to get tied up to the dock. The Captain did a marvelous job. Because we are leaving the boat in a couple of days for 2 weeks we are cleaning out the fridge and I had plenty of eggs so we enjoyed an omelette while watching the Democratic Presidential Debates on the satellite TV.

Yesterday we planned to head into Pender Harbour to do some laundry before flying home today. That didn’t happen though for 2 reasons. First, when we called to check on our reservation for dock space it turned out we were off by a day, so we decided to anchor in the nearby Harmony Islands before continuing to Pender Harbour. The afternoon was lovely as we floated in front of the falls before finding another unusual anchorage nearby.

We’ve gotten pretty good at anchoring in water over 100 feet deep by putting out 330 feet of anchor chain. This anchorage wouldn’t work at all for a windy, stormy evening but it was perfect for last night. Our plan was to wake up early and head to the dock in Pender Harbour before flying home on the 2:00 seaplane flight. Unfortunately, a big storm was predicted for the next 24 hours from the west and we received a text from Kenmore Air that all seaplane flights had been cancelled.

We called Kenmore Air immediately knowing that the storm would mess up a lot of people’s travel plans and were able to procure a late flight for tomorrow at 6. So we then quickly called the Painted Boat Resort & Spa and procured two massages. We know how to make lemonade out of lemons on the True Love!

The storm has arrived, but we’re massaged and showered and well fed, finishing our laundry and getting ready for a fun day tomorrow before (hopefully) flying back home. I change my first mate hat for Grandma and Family Council Chair. I can’t wait to see James and Robert. Then all the family gathers for our 2nd Annual Dick’s Family Assembly meeting at Suncadia in Cle Elum.

This isn’t the end of our True Love journey, but it is getting closer. We will return to the True Love in two weeks and then take our dear friends Troy and Carrie Shaw into Princess Louisa Inlet before making our way back home to Seattle.

The Captain and First Mate of the True Love

“They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

A 24 hour refuge at Dent Lodge But First Dolphins!

We are back to North Desolation and I’ve got to say, it is so pretty here! The mountains up north are very different as we have said, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We prefer the gentle slopping hill covered with green, leading to the snow covered mountains and glaciers in the distance. Of course, the fact that it is sunnier helps too!

On our way south we had another wonderful Orca encounter in Johnstone Strait. We may not see bears, but we’ve been Orca lucky! Listening to the whale watching chatter, they have been hard to spot this summer, but not for us!

Our first stop back in North Desolation was Erasmus Island, near Blind Channel Resort. Someone was in our usual spot so we anchored across the bay. It isn’t as protected, but the views of the snow-covered mountains are beautiful.

After anchoring we set the crab trap and did some fishing (but we didn’t catch anything) before dinner.

While we briefly had cell service we were also able to procure a reservation at the very busy and usually full Dent Island Lodge for the next night.

Before we lifted our anchor to cruise to Dent Island, we needed to check out some issues. We have been collecting some water in our bilge and the bilge pumps weren’t clearing the water although the indicator light on the helm shows them on and working.

First, we needed to figure out where the water was coming from. So while we were underway the First Mate checked the engine room and found that the sea water strainer used to cool the port engine was leaking water. Now this makes sense. I was relieved that the leak wasn’t coming from someplace else. I knew that we had cleaned out the water strainer before we left Campbell River a couple of weeks ago and when we put it back together in didn’t seal perfectly. Clearly, accepting an imperfect seal was a mistake. This was a relatively easy fix. We opened the device and had to spin the strainer slowly until it dropped down another 1/4 inch. We resealed it, ran the engine and voila! No leaking.

While we investigated the port engine sea water strainer I also noticed the watermaker seemed to be leaking a little bit, but we didn’t know where. So once again the First Mate watched the unit run and found the leak in a bolt. All it needed was a little tightening and voila! No leaking.

We had left the crab trap down overnight and went to gather it up after our repairs. This was clearly a mistake. The crabs ate all our food, but escaped! Score one for the crabbies! Clearly we need to pick up the trap before we go to bed. Oh well, no fresh crab for us for at least a few days.

Finally, before we left our anchorage at Erasmus Island, we took down, cleaned and stored the heavy, clear plastics windows that protect us from wind and weather on the top deck fly bridge. I particularly enjoy taking the plastics down and pulling the convertible top back to take advantage of the sun and the beautiful 360 degree views. But because the weather has been colder and wetter up north we have not been able to remove the plastic windows and take down the convertible top, until now. With all our chores complete we finally headed to Dent to enjoy the beautiful views, sunny weather, long showers, hot tub and a wonderful dinner “out” at the Dent Island Lodge restaurant.

Shortly before we went through the Dent Rapids we encountered the same friendly dolphin pod we spent time with in the same area a couple of weeks ago, this time at Dentham Bay. The Captain and I love dolphins, especially when they’re playing. And I got one of my best photos ever! It was so much fun watching them hunt as a group to catch salmon and then celebrate the meal with leaping!

James and Robert, do you see which of the 4 dolphins has a fish in its mouth?

Today we head back to Campbel River area to meet our friends Laird and Carol Vanetta.

But first we need to refuel and have Altech Diesel take a look at our stern bilge pump which appears to be running, but not expelling any water. This is only a crucial problem if we had a rare “leaking hull” emergency. In such an event we would cruise as fast as we can to reach help or “beach” the boat on shore; but cruising fast angles the bow up and drains all of the water inside the boat to the stern; so the stern bilge pump is crucial to keeping the boat afloat in that scenario. So just to be safe, we are going to take the afternoon to see if we can get the aft bilge pump fixed. It should be a simple fix, and we tried fixing it ourselves, but we didn’t have any replacement parts and it is in a very little space. Ridiculously, the stern thruster was installed just above the bilge pump leaving almost no space to get to the device. As I learn more about the True Love and it’s equipment I’m constantly amazed by some of the decisions that were made with no thought to future maintenance.

Altech came to our rescue once again (this time Keegan was our mechanic) and both the aft and forward bilge pumps are now working properly and the bilge is dry. During the repairs, the First Mate walked to the grocery store to re-provision. We now have plenty of food, the fuel tanks are full and we are tied up at the April Point Marina for a couple of days of downtime before our friends fly in by seaplane.

We’ve been out for 50 days now and I’ve had my eyes pealed the whole time for an eagle feather for James and Robert. I’ve had no luck, until today! Walking back to the True Love at the Dent Island dock I found a feather in the water by the dock. James and Robert, this is the first eagle feather I’ve ever found and I can’t wait to bring it back to you next week for you to keep with your other treasures. An eagle feather symbolizes trust, honor, strength, wisdom, power, and freedom, and soon it will be yours!

The Captain and The First Mate of the True Love

They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered. F. Scott Fitzgerald

Another Crossing of Cape Caution to Summers Bay in Belize Inlet

What makes Cape Caution so difficult, other than the fact that it is open to the ocean? It’s the relatively shallow depth close to the point.

We did all the right planning and the weather buoy data was within the safe parameters, and most of the open-water cruise south was manageable, but we did encounter some really big waves (10 feet high or so) near Cape Caution. They didn’t bother us as much as they might have for two reasons: (1) the big waves were coming from behind us, not from the side, and (2) we were better mentally and physically prepared.

But shortly after we passed by Cape Caution, another boat, traveling in the opposite direction used the VHF radio to hail us: “True Love, True Love this is the Goodship”. We responded and settled on a working channel where in slow seaman’s talk he asked: “I was just wondering how the seas were . . . um, so close to Cape Caution? I had plotted a line further out in deeper seas and was just wondering . . . about the waves you encountered at Cape Caution?”

The Captain responded that the Goodship should continue on its path because the waves closer to shore were almost twice as big as the waves farther out.

In our brief conversation, we learned that the straightest line to your destination isn’t always the best. Because Cape Caution is so shallow near shore (sometimes only 40 feet deep) the waves get really big. It’s a matter of math and physics, of course. A 4 foot wave in water 300 feet deep has to grow much taller to convey the same energy in water that is only 40 feet deep. There is simply no place for the wave energy to go but up. James and Robert your Mom can explain that to you.

Oh well, another lesson learned experientially on the True Love. Later the Captain thought of a better response that he should have made: “We were just testing our new stabilizers.”

Other than our experience near Cape Caution, the cruise to Belize Inlet was pretty easy. On the way we spotted a two Humpback whales and a couple of porpoises. We did encounter some fog near the entrance to Belize Inlet, and in fact a different boater hailed us to tell us it was sunny and clear only a mile away from shore, which we really appreciated, but this time we were in the correct place to enter Belize Inlet. It’s nice to know many of the boaters around are looking out for each other. Our timing was perfect for the tides and the currents through Nakwakto Rapids, and we entered Belize Inlet about 12:30PM.

Belize Inlet is a 20+ mile long beautiful inlet with cascading large and small waterfalls everywhere and we only encountered one tug and two other boats exiting on our way in, and no other boats at all during the two days we were anchored. Trees grow everywhere even on very steep inclines. Here’s one that is quite amazing!

One of our goals was to find the Native Nakwakto pictographs dating back to the 1860’s and we did! They depict assaults with trading vessels. James and Robert, what do you see in these drawings?

We anchored at Summers Bay and the sun came out and it actually felt like we had cruised back to summer warmth. Our anchorage is surrounded by waterfalls filling our boat with lovely sounds.

After another long day we were pretty tired, but once again we felt a great sense of accomplishment. We enjoyed some steak and our previously caught crab with a nice salad and some gnocchis. A feast to celebrate our accomplishment of discovering a new area! Belize Inlet and Allison Sound will be the last new areas we investigate for the first time on this trip before heading back to the familiar waters of the Broughton Islands.

We’ve spent two nights here exploring the rest of Allison Sound by tender. Allison Sound is a northern turn off from Belize Inlet. We are not sure what makes a body of water a “Sound” versus an “Inlet”, maybe it’s depth. The dark-colored water of Allison Sound is almost more like a brackish lake. It’s very beautiful and peaceful, but there isn’t as much life. No eagles, just a few loons and ducks, very few fish and it just doesn’t have that salt water smell. All in all, we prefer our waters teaming with life and more blue. But, we did encounter some deer. One was swimming across the sound in front of us.

Can you see the deer in this picture?

This is only the third time we’ve seen this. The first time was outside of Pender Harbour and another time at Octopus Islands.

This area does have some deer fly issues, although strangely enough they aren’t a problem in the morning or at dusk. But it gave us a chance to deploy our handmade screen for the upper helm entrance and it worked perfectly as we cooled the interior of the boat with a good airflow and still escaped the flies during the sunny and warm afternoon.

Our satellite TV was able to get some signal, so we were able to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo moon landing by watching a documentary on the History channel. The moon landing was such a important part of our childhood. The fascinating part of the documentary was the fact that the people in mission control were so young. The average age was only 29 and most were the first in their families to go to college. The young man who was head of Electrical Engeneering, Steve Bales, was just 25. Before joining NASA he was going to be a Texas rancher. At Only 25 years old\ Bales made some crucial decisions on ‘go, no go’ issues. Truly incredible.

That entire NASA operation took new thinking, open minds and incredible stamina and energy. The other thing we didn’t know and learned from listening to Saul’s show on Friday was that Walter Cronkite was on air for 30 of the 33 hours to report the lunar orbit and landing. Saul’s Friday Show was excellent by the way and you can listen to it through the link to his podcast. It’s been our running joke on the connectivity side. We can’t make a call, or get mail, but we can download or stream Saul’s show!

So Sunday we continued our cruise south. We were a bit low on fuel, but we were able to reach Sullivan Bay on North Broughton Island and refueled. After fishing consultations on Monday morning we’ve learned that down rigger lines break often but there is a new kind of down rigger line that is more durable than steel cable. So we are off to Port McNeil to re-equip so that we can fish again. Although we passed Port McNeil on our way north we didn’t stop there, and we’ve since heard that most boaters prefer stopping at Port McNeil instead of Port Hardy. So we are also looking forward to investigating a new port!

The Captain and The First Mate of the True Love

“They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

We caught a fish!

Sunset from Colville Lagoon across from Lama Passage

We enjoyed our days at Shearwater and tried to learn from all the experienced fishermen and women. A fellow boater and fisherman approached me as I was looking at the lures. He whispered some tips on where to fish and that a particular lure seemed to be working well for everyone. It was silver and green with a small black stripe. The first mate was interested in another lure that had similar colors but also looked like live bait and had a little space to put in a slice of hearing so that it also had the smell of a live bait fish. John, the quiet gentleman who ran the Shearwater Marine store said the first mate’s lure was a good lure to try, so we bought that one. He has lived in Shearwater with his wife full time for over 20 years.

Using our new lure, we actually hooked a pretty big fish the next day, but while bringing it into the boat, the tip of the fishing pole broke off and the line tangled. The Captain did his best to pull the big fish in by hand, but it got away. Now we have another project for our stay at the Shearwater Marina near Bella Bella: fix our fishing pole.

The Shearwater area has limited cell and internet service, and it also has difficulty picking up the VHF radio weather reports. Luckily, we have a weather module on the Garmin GPS and our barometer. Interestingly, Jim and I have just finished reading the Harbinger fantasy series in which the main character “invents” a kind of barometer in their world.

It became clear watching the barometer and the data from the offshore weather buoys that a big storm was approaching, so we decided to stay at the Shearwater Marina to ride it out. Luckily, we made a reservation in advance, because it got very busy at Shearwater as many other boaters got the same idea and salmon season has officially started. As the barometer continued to drop it became clear that our decision to enjoy the safety of the dock was a good idea. We were snug, safe and able to sleep well. It also gave us the time to learn more from everyone else at the dock.

We asked John at the marine store to recommend a new pole and better line. John also fixed the tip of our old pole. We are using a better line now on both. It’s thinner and more pliable than the traditional clear plastic fishing line. Combined with our new lure, we are more confident.

Last night was our final night in Shearwater, we had dinner with a couple who had just brought their boat up from Sausalito (near San Francisco). They were pausing here before continuing north to Alaska. They had been at sea for 3 weeks to get to Shearwater. That’s a lot of long days!

Leaving the dock this morning we were ready to try out our new knowledge and equipment. And it worked! We immediately snagged a small salmon that we released followed by a respectable 21″ chinook. Woohoo!

I think we are beginning to figure it out. I was better playing the fish on the line to bring it in and the Captain did a great job scooping it up with the net. We can check off another big accomplishment! We tried again, but unbelievably the “strong” wire snapped on our fishing down rigger (the machine that drops the fishing line & lure to the desired depth, usually 50-100 feet below the surface). We lost our down rigger’s big 10# weight and connector. So no more fishing with a down rigger until we get it fixed. The equipment issues continue on a smaller scale.

The next step for the First Mate in our fishing experience is to clean our salmon following the directions in our salmon book. I really wasn’t worried about cleaning the fish and with the 4 easy steps, it was a breeze. It’s a white salmon too, which I look for in my fish store back home.

Today, we cruised and anchored at Pruth Harbour because a number of people told us it was so beautiful. There is a research center here and huge sandy beach. After we anchored and cleaned our fish, we put the head in our crab pot and set it in a nearby cove before heading into shore to explore.

The Hakai Research Center is lovely, with simple but beautiful grounds. A 1/2 mile walk to the ocean brings you to the first of a series of white sandy beaches.

Jim on the Haiki research center trail to the beach

Beautiful rocks on the beach

Two of me in a panorama photo (something I learned from Dani and Julie)

The sun came out, we took off our shoes and had a wonderful walk. A few hardy souls were actually surfing too.

We were hungry when we came back to the True Love and cooked up some of our salmon. It was delicious!

After dinner we took out all the reference texts and our charts for the next part of our journey. We needed to plot out the tides, currents, and timing heading south past Rivers Inlet and Cape Caution and to the entrance of Belize Inlet through the very strong Nakwakto Rapids. These rapids are almost as big and strong as the Skookumchuk Rapids near Egmont and we must only go through them at or near slack tide. Finally we needed to use the West Sea Otter Buoy just Northwest of us in Queen Charlotte Sound to report waves of under 2 meters with a dominant wave interval of more than 8 seconds for a comfortable transit. We didn’t use the right buoy coming north, but we found it finally on our satellite weather program. It doesn’t always load right away. This morning it reports a wave height of 5.2 ft and dominant wave period of 10 seconds with calm winds, so we are good to go.

We knew we were leaving early this morning so before we went to bed we went out and checked our trap. Our bounty from the sea continued and we had many crabs. We kept one big one for today.

This area has really grown on us. The Captain just said, “That’s what is great about the BC Coast, if you get tired of one area there is so much more.” And even we can catch fish up here. When we first got up here, I wasn’t sure it was worth the time and the fuel. But now I’ve changed my mind. It’s so vast and diverse, it just takes time and slowing down. Maybe not every year, but we will be back!.