Our Days with Erica: PLI, Egmont, Whales and Powell River

Our dear friend Erica Raynor-Horn flew in to see the beauty of PLI for the first time and enjoy the cruise back out through the fjords of Jervis Inlet.

Her pilot took an unusually high and scenic route into the falls, so I was able to catch a photo of her seaplane over the waterfall where we are anchored. When Erica arrived on board she gave us gifts of kale and arugula. While checking in for the seaplane in Kenmore they asked her if she was bringing any gifts, she told them kale. He looked at her like she was crazy. Not wine? Not chocolate? But as most boaters know you can’t provision long-term for fresh vegetables and fruit. That big beautiful bunch of summer kale was the best gift ever!

Erica is our Mindfullness friend and guru. She leads a very special retreat at Whidbey Institute that we were lucky enough to participate in 4 years ago when Jim’s physicians thought he had spinal cancer (long story, but his condition has gotten better, not worse, so that diagnosis was clearly wrong). When you get that kind of diagnosis it’s easy to stop and take the time to do what you need to do to get your life and business in order and focus on what’s most important. The week in Erica’s healing circle was a life changing gift, and we’ve been good friends ever since. Erica also loves boating but had never been far enough north before to visit Princess Louisa. So we loved sharing with her our most calming, mindful, beautiful place. FYI, Erica has a beautiful Mindfulness CD, Finding Tranquility This is the Amazon link, it is also on I-tunes. Download it if you are interested.

We love this photo of Erica taken just after we finished one of our morning meditations.

As is usual with our guests, Erica immediately understood why we like this place so much and continue to spend more time here every year. As she said, “two days is great, but more is better.” The weather changed a bit and we did have an intermittently rainy afternoon and evening. But the changing light brings a whole new dimension to PLI.

Of course, we kayaked and walked to the falls and explored the rainforest. We also enjoyed morning meditations and yoga and ate yummy meals surrounded by the waterfalls and mountains while absorbing the magic energy. We even got a fun game of scrabble in.

The morning of our cruise back into the “real” world, the sun came out and we all got to see the spectacular glaciers above PLI as we headed out on our cruise back to Egmont. Leaving PLI and cruising back up beautiful Jervis Inlet (better described as a fjord as the article in the Seattle Times said yesterday) the scenery is truly majestic.

In Egmont we enjoyed a yummy dinner at the fancier West coast Wilderness Lodge next to the more rustic Backeddy Resort where we dock. This place has a stunning view, very good food and enormous lillies. In the morning after meditating we did the usual and always fun walk to the “bakery in the woods.” When we left the dock a little later our timing was perfect to see the Skookumchuck in a large wave stage. It is hard to describe until you see it, but I think I got some good photos with the zoom lens. This kayaking is the antithesis to PLI kayaking, but super fun to watch.

Erica was flying out of Powell River Airport, so that was our next stop. Many times this part of the cruise heading north between Texada Island and the mainland can be very very windy and choppy, but today it was remarkably calm. The Captain had to do some business calls and Erica and I enjoyed great conversation, brainstorming and watched for whales and other creatures. Erica was struck by the pleasant slow pace of our cruising. We don’t travel very fast unless we have to. The journey is as important as the destination unless we have to escape icky weather.

Coming around Grief Point we spotted a big colony of Sea Lions on a rock. Then we were rewarded with a spout in the distance. Jim was done with his call. So began our next enchanting hour cruising with a pair of whales, timing their graceful swim through the water, while we munched on snacks. The sound of the whales breathing as they surface is so relaxing and enchanting. We even got close enough to get some good photos.

Although we have moored at the Beach Garden Marina before we have never actually gone into the town of Powell River. But this time we decided to have dinner in town. Powell River, who new? It’s actually a charming, foodie place with a hippie vibe. It used to be a big mill town but after they lost almost all of the 2,000 jobs at the mill, it transitioned to a retirement community as people left Vancouver for a more peaceful and much less expensive place to live. Now it is attracting younger people who are also looking for a more peaceful and less expensive place to raise a family. One restauranteur runs three different places. The first night we ate at Country Crockery, last night we planned to go to the Greek restaurant (but they were too busy) then we tried the Japaneese place, Genki, but they were closed on Mondays. Instead, we enjoyed Costa del Sol Latin, sitting out on the deck surrounded by flowers and looking west at the view as the sun set over Vancouver Island on the other side of the Strait of Georgia. Yummy food, creative drinks and great people watching as the locals and visitors walk by.

We were lucky enough to visit here right after the Powell River wood carving competition and see the results of these amazing artists. They carve these in 2 days. The glowing sunset perfectly lit the sculptures for ideal viewing. As we strolled among the art we chatted with locals who had such a sweet, proud nature for this town and a wonderful sense of humor.

After Erica left for her flight home, we did a bit more housekeeping and check-in phone calls with friends and family. Then we headed into town in search of a large deck umbrella. I saw it on another boat shading their stern in PLI during a hot afternoon and thought it was a great idea. There is actually a small Walmart in town so we took a cab there after dinner and found and umbrella, did another stop at the local Save-On-Foods (a really nice grocery store) to get some more provisions and then cabbed back to the True Love.

We enjoy the Beach Gardens Marina, vs the larger Westview Marina “downtown” because it’s much quieter (it’s not next to the ferry terminal), and we see lots of wildlife right here. A young Eagle with his bright white plumage still speckled with brown entertained us yesterday and even procured a fish. It’s amazing how similar he was to teenagers growing into their bodies. We could almost feel the proud, yet confused energy. Yesterday afternoon a small creature was swimming in front of boat yipping. At first I thought it was a little dog in distress, but it was an otter swimming towards a group of other otters in the rocks. I have never heard otters yip like that before.

Today we head farther north to Desolation Sound and beyond, eventually landing at Toba Inlet where we leave the True Love for a week. We’re taking the seaplane back to do some business and visit with Jim’s sister and aunt who are visiting Seattle.

Here is a heart in the cloud I took while looking up at the sky in PLI. The True Love Adventure continues!

The Captain and First Mate of the True Love

Sublime Inlet

Jervis inlet should be renamed Sublime Inlet. We left Egmont yesterday afternoon with the flooding tide after a lovely overnight stop. When we reach Egmont on our way to Princess Louisa Inlet it usually feels like our most peaceful time is starting.

Connectivity is fading. Cell services goes away. Sure you can buy a “high speed” internet pass, but all things are relative and this high speed makes our internet in the mountains seem really good.

But there is plenty of water to wash the boat. The Pub has yummy food and we love our walk to the bakery in the woods on the Skookumchuck (“big rapid”) trail. We feel connected to the little family who runs the bakery because we arrived the first morning their bakery opened over 5 years ago. Saul was with us and he tried the chef’s first breakfast sandwich. The bakery has a new deck this year and their baby looks about 3.

The cruise up the fjord was easy with following winds and a strong flooding tide, but when we reached Malibu Rapids (the tidal rapids that guard the entrance to Princess Louisa Inlet), we paused. Usually we just enter Malibu rapids whenever we arrive because our twin 375-hp engines can easily overcome most tidal rapids. But as we approached, the 5+ knot current looked extremely “frothy” and neither of us were in for a risky ride. So we reversed course, moved the boat to the middle of the channel, turned of the engines and just floated, taking in the scenery and the warmth of the sun for about an hour when the rapids were a lot calmer with only a 3 knot current. As we passed the rapids and entered Princess Louisa Inlet the water (as usual) was glassy calm with the few clouds reflected in the water, and with many beautiful waterfalls falling from the glacier-topped mountains along the nearly vertical path down to the inlet.

I’m always a bit stressed as we round the corner to see if our magical anchorage is available, but seeing it was open I breathed a sigh of relief. As planned, it was high tide so anchoring and securing the shore tie was relatively easy. The Captain had a new idea to set the shore tie first before dropping the anchor. That really didn’t work completely. It did reduce the amount of line of the back of the boat, but without the anchor set the boat pivoted to close to shore. All it took to fix was releasing the shore tie and moving the boat forward a bit to drop the anchor in a more appropriate place with the proper tension between bow and stern.

Our evening brought discussions of deep contentment, blessed blissful serenity and amazing grace. We aren’t just fine, we are “fine and dandy” in the words of comedian George Carl.

I had bought some local trout in Pender Harbour (which we both love) paired it with some Trader Joe gnocchi’s and champagne for a scrumptious dinner surrounded by amazing natural beauty and the stereo sound of waterfalls in multiple directions.

As is our custom, we woke up to look at the stars around 2AM and I think they rivaled some of the brightest stars we’ve ever seen in the Pacific Northwest. After seeing a few shooting stars and satelites we went back to bed for some more deep sleep.

Today will include some housekeeping on the boat (I’ve already cleaned out one little closet), kayaking, swimming, meditating and just enjoying the beauty that surrounds us.

I write this as I finish my yummy latte beautifully made by my barista Captain and my True Love.

Our Days in Princess Louisa Inlet

Nesting: Our days in PLI are mostly filled with pure relaxation. But it is also a time for nesting on the True Love. Our home and traveling adventure vehicle tends to be a quick stop for sleeping, showering and passing through most of the year. I don’t really have time to nest and reorganize. But this time in PLI gives me quiet and space to clean things out and make the tight spaces more workable. Over the week I’ve cleaned out the little laundry closet of a great deal of unnecessary rags and miscellaneous garbage leftover from the previous owners that we will never use. It’s now clean and spacious and so much more useable. I also tackled our master bedroom’s drawers and cabinets so now our little desk/vanity is clear and more useable. This included sorting and organizing the many manuals that come with the boat and all the equipment. And of course there is the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, now clear of all those outdated things and reorganized so we can find what we need. When I provisioned for the trip we were so busy I really didn’t have time organize the food, stuffing it in where it fit. But, now it’s just right. I find I oversupplied a bit with chocolate treats from Trader Joe’s. Ah well; better too much chocolate than not enough.

Kayaking: This truly is the most calm soothing place to kayak I have ever been. Paddling on the water here is a meditative gliding over the reflections of the mountains and the sky while exploring the waterfalls, greeting the many seals, and watching small schools of fish leaping around. Here’s a picture of a down feather reflected in the still waters.

Waterfalls, Water Temperature and Floating: We arrived the day after the rains stopped so the waterfalls flowed with gusto filling the inlet with stereophonic sound. As the week has blissfully passed the flow of glacier-fed water into the inlet is decreasing. The long days of sunshine and mid-80’s air temperatures warm the rocks and the water around us, increasing the surface water temperature from the low 70’s to the high 70’s in the late afternoon. So, our afternoons are usually spent floating on the water in a kind of NW siesta waiting for the sun to set behind the mountains and the evening cooling to begin. We’ve inflated and tested a number of floating devices. The pizza is definitely the best. Great job Saul finding the perfect floating device for PLI!

Seal Shangri-La: Princess Louisa is a nursery for the baby seals and their Moms. We’ve seen quite a few pairs around us. One in particular has often been floating very close by. The pup is young and Mom is tired. I wonder if the seals know how remarkable this spot is when it’s calm. Do they see the beauty around them? If nothing else the lack of predators must create a sense of safety.

Star Gazing: The sun sets around 9:20PM in mid-July at 49º North Latitude, and twilight lingers past 10:30PM. So we need to stay up very late to experience the beautiful view of thousands of stars. The Milky Way doesn’t appear clearly overhead until midnight. Our first days here we fell asleep early and woke up in the middle of the night to view the stars. But now we are staying up until midnight. Each night before bed we head up to the fly bridge and watch the night sky, learning more about the stars. First to appear is Arcturus very early in the evening. Until last night Venus wasn’t visible, because it was too low in the sky. But last night we were treated to a stunning view of Venus and the crescent moon setting into the western ridge line above PLI. Next we see Vega, one of the corners of the Summer Triangle. As our eyes adjust to the darkness, we see satellites crossing this way and that, shooting stars and “iridium flashes” (which we learned about stargazing in Hawaii). We used to love picking out the stars using the “Night Sky” iPhone app. But it has just gotten too confusing and complex. I don’t want to know what the sky is going look like in 10 years, I want to identify that dot in the sky. So we have brought out our trusty book, helping us identify Sagittarius which is visible and takes up a large portion of our view in area. The Corona Borealis, near Arcturus, is also quite distinct and easy to see straight up. And later in the week we got some beautiful shots of the moon rising and setting.

Adventure Evening and Star Photography: We can’t be on a True Love Adventure without a little adventure. Looking at all the stars has made me want to take some night photography. Will Rogers hooked me on this when we shared seeing the eclipse with the Rogers family last summer. But photographing the Milky Way can not be done on the boat. The long exposure needed requires rock-solid stability and of course the boat is always moving on the water. While we are in the inlet this week the tides have all been pretty high at night so finding a place to land on the dingy and set up the camera is a bit difficult. There is also the fact that we need to wait until after 1AM to make sure the background sky is really dark. I was excited about the adventure, but the Captain was worried about possible boating problems that can happen in the middle of the night. We scoped out the rocky site directly across the inlet from the True Love and felt it might just work. But after seeing how high the tide was near us we thought better of it and went to bed.

On the next day, we investigated another landing site further south in the inlet while kayaking and decided this was the spot. To stay up late enough (2AM) for the tide to be low enough for a beach landing we watched a very interesting movie, “Lion”, a true story about a poor, young child from India who gets lost, put in an orphanage, adopted by an Australian couple, but still finds his birth family after 25 years. It’s worth watching.

Back to our adventure: The Captain still felt uneasy, but the First Mate had her heart set on this photo shoot, so we ventured out. Of course we wore our life vests and with flashlight in hand we motored about a mile down and across the inlet. Our first complication, the chart plotter GPS device on the tender was way too bright and we could not figure out how to make it dim. Unbelievably, it isn’t obvious. So we covered it with a towel (and looked it up in the manual the next day). Finally, off we went traversing the inlet diagonally, taking the towel off the GPS every few minutes to check our position. The flashlight caused an eerie visual experience lighting up the mist about 10 feet above the water. It created a reflective ceiling that was a bit disorienting, but the Captain persevered and made our mark perfectly. It took us a couple of times to land on the rocky shore, tie up and get set up for astrophotography. And it was fun and worth it. The bright light low in this shot is the True Love’s anchor light. We both got back in the tender without either of us falling in the water and with all the equipment still dry.

Once again the Captain delivered us safely to the True Love where we fell asleep and slept in until 11AM.

Chess: We usually play chess on our summer adventures but this year we are watching the Great Courses video lectures on playing chess, hoping to up our game a bit. We watch a lesson and then try to incorporate some of our newly learned perspectives. James, our precocious five year old grandson is very interested in chess so we need to up our game to stay ahead of him as long as we can. Playing chess in the evening is a perfect way to pass the time waiting for complete darkness and our evening star show.

Reading: Of course there is the reading. We both love to read (and to listen to audible books) and are devouring our books on everything from business to science fiction fantasy. We just finished listening to “Nomad” about a quasi-apocalyptic stellar event involving two primordial black holes passing through our solar system. We highly recommend it. I started reading it myself but then downloaded it on audible for the cruise. The author’s note at the end is fascinating.

Grand discussions about love, life, family, business and the future: This quiet unplugged time together is so precious and enables us to enjoy each other physically, emotionally and intellectually unlike any other place. We share our perspectives, our hopes and our goals. Meditating daily opens our minds and souls. We look back at our lives and take stock of our successes and our challenges. Of course, we continue to have our challenges, but this gives us the time to gain perspective on our lives and our accomplishments, since we were in PLI last summer. Being at this age and at this time in our lives certainly has it’s advantages.

We have solved some big health problems for the Captain (after the First Mate’s research and consulting a new cardiologist, he’s no longer taking his beta blocker). It turns out the pills weren’t helping him anymore, instead they were poisoning him with every side effect on the list. Over the last 6 months he’s gotten physically stronger, mentally clearer and able to enjoy life much more. The future, health-wise now looks much brighter. In April, we even went back to Zion National Park and hiked the 8 mile (round trip) steep climb up to Observation Point. So while we are still preparing to transition to retirement next year we are no longer rushing to complete all our bucket list trips right away. When we return to PLI next summer the Captain will have retired from his day job with Jasmine assuming the responsibilities of President of Dick’s Drive Ins. Jim currently plans to continue as Board Chair for the next 5-10 years before retiring completely.

The Hummingbird and the Eagle: I thought we might be able to attract hummingbirds to the True Love so this year we stowed a small hummingbird feeder. The first days we were here we didn’t see any. Then a very cautious hummingbird scoped it out but didn’t feed. We moved it to a different position on the VHF radio antenna that is farther from the main area of the upper deck. That worked! We’ve now shared our anchorage with a hummingbird! The next quest was get a picture of the skittish little thing. And after waiting a long time with my camera ready, I did! Eagles are usually easier to photograph and there was a pair in a tree nearby that shared a sunset with us, but by the time I got my camera out I was only able to capture one.

Eating: As usual we continue to eat well on the True Love. Of course summer cherries are a big part of the trip. I made pizza on the grill thanks to a recent lesson from our friends Greg and Carolyn Call at their place at Sea Ranch north of San Francisco. I used pre-made dough (Trader Joe’s herb pizza dough) and it was yummy. Last year our fridge began to die as our trip began so we replaced with one about 40 percent bigger and wow what a difference it makes. At first, I was worried that I hadn’t provisioned enough food because I didn’t need to fit everything in tight like a crazy puzzle. It runs so much quieter and uses less energy. Modern technology is amazing when it works!

Change in the weather: Generally our visit has been blessed with clear skies, perfect for star gazing, no wind and the temperatures quite warm in the afternoons. But two days ago we got some high clouds in the afternoon which made for a beautiful sunset. Yesterday, the wind really kicked up while we were kayaking and combined with the tide made some small waves. The barometer moved a little lower, but is still showing fair. The Captain even saw the wind gauge hit 4.8 knots, a real blow! After a yummy dinner (steak, spinach sautéed with shallots and mushrooms, and butter squash gnocchi) we watched the sunset and announced the crazy shapes and creatures appearing in the clouds (dumbo with a hat, fire breathing dragon, boat, turtle, little girl skipping, orangutans). This kept us entertained until dark.

New Friends: We have met a couple of new friends while in PLI this trip, other boaters who kayak or dinghy by and strike up a conversation. First, we met a gentleman who Captains the boat for John Thornton and he invited us over to see their boat, which is also a Navigator. John served in the Navy in the Korean War and then ran a number of high-tech companies before starting the Thornton Winery in Southern California. So we shared Navigator stories and upgrades and visited their 58′ Navigator 2008 “Special Edition” and took a tour. John is 82 and enjoying life to it’s fullest. We spent more time with John and Esther from Whistler. They are retired and usually sail, but this summer they are sharing a Bayliner powerboat with friends, 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off. But they didn’t have a floatie to relax on during the hot afternoons. But we had an extra so we gave it to them. First, they enjoyed some of our yummy chocolate beer (another convert) and then kayaked our extra floatie back to their boat. The next evening when we headed their way, John was on the floatie. As Esther said, “it’s just another way to relax and do nothing in PLI”. We hung out on their boat and shared life stories, proscecco and beer. I’m sure we will connect with them again in the future.

Guests: Today our friend Erica will join us for our last days in PLI this trip. We love to share this amazing place with our friends and family and look forward to seeing her experience PLI for the first time. But our last few days alone have been wonderfully relaxed and peaceful.

Back at it: 2018

Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure I would blog this trip unless something extraordinary happened. But as usual our trip on the True Love has filled me with such a sense of wonder about our surroundings that I want to record the experience and share it with all of you.

Like last year our plan for 2018 is to spend a lot of time in what has become our favorite place: Princess Louisa Inlet. It is where we can disconnect totally from the bigger world and simply enjoy the beauty and peace of being on the water surrounded by the majesty of the mountains and nature. After our wonderful week long stay last year we are planning on an even longer visit this time.

The Strait of Juan de Fuca featured glassy calm seas and stunningly beautiful clouds. No whale sightings though.

We originally planned to take our normal route through Nanaimo with a stop at our favorite Greek restaurant, but the weather forecast called for heavy winds in the early week that would cause a delay for us crossing the Strait of Georgia.

After enjoying a calm crossing of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, we decided a calm Queen Charlotte crossing would be equally lovely. So our path took us from Fort Flagler to Montague Harbour to Pender Harbour via Porlier Pass. It was fun to take a little different route, although we do miss our Greek food and leftovers. But that pleasure will be there for us on our journey back.

The crossing was amazingly calm and easy, and we could even see Mt. Baker from all the way up here, although it didn’t photograph well.

A new addition to the True Love is my induction cook top that I can use on the top deck. It worked just as I imagined and I cooked with a beautiful view.

So far we have seen plenty of eagles, herons and of course seals. We also love the sculpted sandstone at Montague, especially when lit by the sunset.

In Pender Harbour we anchored away from it all in the farthest little bay. It’s only accessible through a shallow passage at high tide, so we were the only boat anchored among the local homes.

After setting the anchor we enjoyed a lovely kayak and dinner at a local pub. While exploring the menu we asked about the food and were told “nothing is fresh”. You don’t hear that often. But we persevered and enjoyed the wings and a very funky chicken quesadilla with mustard and very little cheese. Ah well, at least I didn’t have to cook.

Yesterday, after getting some work done in the morning while we still have internet, we tendered over to the Painted Boat Resort to use their spa which has the most magical hot pool with a massaging waterfall. It was lovely and relaxing.

Saw a cool dragon fly on a walk. Dinner was yummy at the restaurant there as usual and we enjoyed the deliciously prepared, fresh ingredients, ending with a yummy blueberry cheese cake.

During dinner a cleansing light rain began to fall and gave the True Love a needed bath to wipe away the salt from our journey so far.

We had to move the boat last night at high tide to the more populated area of Pender Harbour, so that we would be ready to exit this afternoon for Egmont without worrying about whether the tide was high enough to get out of our secluded anchorage. I followed the Captain on the True Love in the tender and he dropped the anchor from the helm while I watched it take hold with the proper scope. It worked perfectly.

Again this morning Jim is finishing up some work and I have a chance to blog. We are so blessed to have this time together on the water.

Today we will do our last provisioning and final work projects and then head to Egmont for the night.

Tomorrow we will procure some pastries from our favorite little bakery in the woods, do a final work and family check-in and then head into PLI for an extended time unplugged.

Yours happily,

The Captain and First Mate of the True Love

Re-entry

Our 2017 True Love Adventure is coming to an end.  The last few days we have had some very peaceful times in a few of our favorite anchorages, at Lasqueti Island, Cabbage Island and finally Port Townsend.

Given the smoke and colder temps up north, we spent a long day getting to Lasqueti and decided to stay an extra day because the conditions were perfect for peace and kayaking.  

We visited the funky hippie community by tender for a yummy lunch and a few provisions:  milk, kale and a scrumptious somewhat healthy muffin.  This was a perfect place to stop.

 Unfortunately, our second night at anchore wasn’t as calm as expected and we were awoken to really strong northwestern winds battering us.  The anchor held beautifully, but it wasn’t a restful night and in the morning we had to move to some protection to get the tender up.

So we decided to do another long day down to Cabbage Island where we began our Canadian adventure this year.  Once we were safely anchored, we embraced a calm afternoon and took a nap using our new 3.5″ self-inflating REI camp cushions.  They are extremely comfortable. 

The evening winds were calm and the prediction was for continued calm south winds at night.  Perfect for our anchorage.  After a yummy dinner and a smoky sunset we went to sleep early expecting to kayak in the morning. 

Unfortunately, the wind got us again.  It came from the north, not the south as forecast and we were treated to another bumpy night.   

Once again we rose early and this time after a quick refil for gas at Roche Harbor we decided to do some orca hunting before heading across a predicted calm Strait of Juan de Fuca.   The crossing was thankfully calm, but no orcas.  Turns out they are eating lots of big salmon on the choppy west coast of Vancouver Island.

Our goal for the night –  Port Townsend, a needed night at the dock and a a meal at Sirens. Both goals accomplished, although the slip was too close to the breakwater and its Hitchcock-like gathering of seagulls and other assorted waterfowl.  Luckily, we were never bombed. But the overwhelming smell at low-tide just wasn’t good.  

So, we moved the boat to Fort Flagger the next day and went back to anchoring.  We took the tender to the south side of town for the first time instead of the community dinghy dock near the center because that’s where Kathy’s Nails was located. We had made a coveted and hard to get pedicure appointment.   After wonderful pedicures (3 weeks on th boat makes for some pretty ratty feet) and a day walking Port Townsend, we ended our excursion seeing the movie Big Sick.  We highly recommend it.  The adorable Rose Theater is a great place to watch a movie. 

Last night we actually watched the sun set almost all the way into the horizon for the first time in two weeks.  Our plan was to head to Seattle today, but given that it’s still smokey and hot in Seattle and pretty clear here, we are going to wait another day before full re-entry.  We have full connectivity so emails and calls are in full swing.  

After a working morning we tendered into Port Townsend to get a game we saw for the grandkids, pick up a piece of art for us and enjoyed a late lunch.  

I’m sure I’ve said it before, but we really love Port Townsend.  It’s idyllic on a sunny day like today.  The views, the quaint atmosphere and the sweet minstrels on the corners. Thursdays are their Music At The Pier evenings.  But, that seems to bring out all sorts of musicians on every street corner.   For lunch we headed to a new place suggested by a local the day before.  She overheard us talking about choices and suggested Alchemy.

And the local advice was spot on.  Alchemy is a yummy French bistro near the fountain.  The fountain anchors Washington State’s smallest park.  We weren’t disappointed.  The French onion soup was delicate, the salmon salad fresh and perfect and the Croque-madame really couldn’t have been better. Now we have another restaurant we love in Port Townsend.  

Staying mindful as we re-enter is certainly a challenge.  But of course that’s the goal, taking what we’ve learned this trip and using it in everyday life.   We will do our best.
Until our next Adventure!  

The Captain & the First Mate of the True Love

Humpies, Sea Lions, Eagles & Smoke

Tuesday we arrived at Dent Island.  Saul and his videographer Mike Rivera flew in.  Our goal is to capture some film for a potential movie project.  We planned to capture the majesty of the mountains and fjords of the area.  I’ve always been worried about the potential winds and rains, but previously I was never worried about being smoked out.  As many of you know who are in Seattle the strong winds from the north have been blowing the big BC wild fire smoke south and west.  Truly unusual.

The smoke filled every inlet like pipelines from the interior, ereasing the fantastic mountain views.  However the area was still teaming with wildlife, so we changed our filming plans.  The entire Pacific Noorthwest has had a infusion of humpback whales in the last few years.  Monitoring the VHF radio is extremely handy and we heard the fast tour boat guides chatter about all the “humpies” nearby.  So we went on a whale hunt.  As anybody knows who has gone on whale watching tours just because they are “nearby” doesn’t mean you will see them.  And just because you see them, it doesn’t mean you will see anything more than a spout in the distance. 

We encountered a humpback and hung around with him as he leasurely meanandered in the water, surfacing for about 1 minute every 8 minutes.  

And then the magic happened.  Our whale put on a fantastic cleaning display, slapping every part of his body, launching himself out of the water 11 times in a row, and repeadly slapping his big side fins.  And Mike captured lots of it on video and photos.  I wasn’t shooting photos at first, but then just took in the whale show and let Mike do what he does so well.

Mike also got some great sea lion film of an interesting heard activity, but I don’t have great photos, but Jim got one.
Add in the eagles and the day was complete.

Yeterdat, we anchord at Octopus Island, another one of our favorite stops.  Chilled and did some kayaking.   During our morning meditation we heard splashing .  I assumed it was a seal but Jim peeked and it was a mother deer and two Fawns swimming in front of the True Love between islands. EditI’ve only seen deer swimming like that once before a few years ago.  Interestingly, Saul was onboard then too.

We spent the day yesterday doing some more filming of the area and the rapids and searching for whales with no luck before dropping Saul and Mike off at Dent for their seaplane ride home.

Our first blog didn’t include some of the really fun photos of Gail and Peter’s visit in Princess Louisa inlet where the water was so warm, 76 degrees, you can float peacefully.   We were so lucky to get that magical week there with no smoke.   

Although the water temperature in crowded Desolation Sound is similarly warm, north of Desolation Sound is much closer to the Pacific Ocean and so much cooler at just 52 degrees. The big advantage is no crowds and a cooler air temperature.

That’s where we are now.  As we headed to our anchorage for the night the smoke briefly rose and cleared for a view of some of the nearby snow capped mountains.  


The smoke is back this morning, but at least the smoke is high in the sky. Crawford anchorage is a favorite of ours, near Blind Channel. Quiet and peaceful, only us, with a quick dingy ride to the Blind Channel resort (a special little family run oasis in the wilderness) with a restaurant and hikes.  We plan to spend a couple of days here enjoying the area before heading south and back to Seattle.  

EditThis afternoon we took the short hike from the resort to the 800 year old cedar tree. We’ve seen it once before but it’s always a “must visit” when we are here.  On the path we saw the most amazing bright orange fungus that looks like large flowers.  The sunlight through the smokey sky bathed the forest in a lovely golden hue.  As The Captain said, this was “the silver lining” to the smoke.

While we used the limited wifi and drank a ginger beer on the lovely grassy area at Blind Channel resort I had one the most amazing interactions with the precocious 5-year-old daughter of the Richter family who own the resort & live there year round.  This adorable nature child with  blond hair was walking by me with a grasshopper perched on her outstretched arm.  I asked her if I could take a picture of her and her cricket.  She corrected me sweetly that it was a grasshopper.  I told her it was very cool and she replied,  “Yes, but the we are having some trouble becoming friends.” She was so adorable!  Ahhhhhh pure joy.  And her 9-year-old brother was in constant motion, running.  Often with his sister following behind trying to keep up on her bike.  Next year this will be a great stop for the kids.

Between our fun guest visits and our more adventurous and tiring crossings we’ve really have been “in the moment” most of the time, meditating every day and generally doing very little.  It’s a first for me.  I can see now the appeal of a monastic life.  It certainly is a path to deep peace and spirituality, although it is not in my nature to do that all the time.  There is too much to give up: love making, children, creating, inventing etc.  Jim and I must be more active doers.  But this is a nice space to visit.  And we plan to do it more!

The smoke came back in, which made for some pretty sun and moon shots.  It’s gotten cold, so we decided to head south.  It’s still smokey, but we are at one of our favorite anchorages on the south end of Lesqueti Island.  It’s perfect in calm conditions.  The area is teaming with wildlife and it’s a great for kayaking.

The Joy of Grandchildren, the Agony of Appliance Failure

Can you fine the seal?

Our trip this year began  with a little different pace. We didn’t leisurely begin our True Love Adventure, but we motored quickly north, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, through the San Juans past Friday Harbor and to our anchorage just across the Canadian border at Cabbage Island marine park.  We’ve been there before and it’s one of our favorites.  We needed the long day on Friday to be sure that we could easily get to Sidney, BC on Saturday afternoon to meet Jasmine, David, James and Robert when they arrived by ferry from Anacortes.  Luckily, even though we got to Cabbage Island at 6:30 PM. there was still a good spot to anchor in the little harbor and we were treated to lovely views and a peaceful evening. 

The next morning we had some house keeping to do to get ready for the troops before we headed west towards Sidney. It was a perfect cruising day with calm winds and we were treated to lovely views of Mt Baker, eagles and seals.  It striking how prominent Mt. Baker is in southern BC.  You can see it well from so many places.

Our plan was to arrive in Sidney a couple of hours before the kids, get settled, reconnoiter and find the ferry terminal.  We had never moored before at Sidney Harbour Marina and it is a truly lovely stop.  The marina is very nice, the town is great to walk around and includes an exceptional bakery (the “monster foot” shaped donuts were a hit), and what has to be the fanciest self-serve laundromat I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world — complete with leather chairs, a big screen TV and a snack bar.

The ferry from Anachortage was on time and an ideal way for traveling with young ones.  We all walked back to the marina where Jasmine and David dropped off their bags and quickly rallied to grab a taxi and head out for a date night at Butchart Gardens for a concert, dinner, fireworks (in the sky) and brief evening together.  

We had a blast with James and Robert, ate dinner, played, showered and helped them into their bunk beds.  Jasmine and David had a nice evening although a cruise ship was in town so the gardens were packed.   

I wish I could say the kids slept well, but that is not the phase they are in now.  It was a theme for their visit.  This too shall pass, but poor Jasmine and David are so sleep deprived, we don’t know how they do everything they do!  Children are certainly for the young.

Sunday we woke up and stopped by the baker in town before cruising around the top of the peninsula that is the north boundary of Victoria and its suburbs and then south into the bay that includes the boat entrance to Butchart Gardens.

James loved this fountain.

Little Captain James looking for safe passage.

Foot donut was a big hit.

We thought it would be a perfect spot for James and Robert and it was!  David got to spend Sunday with us before heading back on the evening ferry for an important meeting at Amazon on Monday.  We played with the kids at the little beach area, enjoyed the gardens and generally a great time was had by all.

Jim and I even got to enjoy a romantic dinner at the gardens on Sunday night while Jasmine was back on the True Love with the grandkids.   We’ve never had dinner at the nice restaurant  at Butchart Gardens before; it was yummy and peaceful.  A string quartet was playing at the outdoor amphitheater nearby and after dinner we strolled through the gardens serenaded by lovely music.  If it sounds perfect, it was.

The next day after some fun swimming and beach play we lifted anchor to journey to Montegue Harbour.  Before leaving, however, the first of several “appliance” failures began when the kitchen faucet stopped working.  Jasmine and I took the top off and tried to repair a small piece of plastic that makes the thing work, but to no avail.  But after removing the handle we could get water using a pair of pliers.  Not a big deal we thought, it should be easy to replace the faucet in Nanaimo, a mid-size city and our next stop.

 Then shortly after we began our cruise  north the fridge went “nock, nock, nock, put, put, put, big sigh.”  Oh no!  We thought our 12 year old fridge had just died!  This would be a much bigger problem So we rerouted back towards Sidney, made some calls, put a thermometer in the fridge and found to our surprise that it was still working.  

The Captain and I decided we could take the risk and head towards Naniamo with our planned one night stop at Montague Harbour.  Anchoring there we had another 24 hours of beach play, sand castles, swimming, pretend baseball in the salon, reading, lots of laughter but again not much sleep.  

Poor James suffers from occasional night terrors and he had a doozy on this trip.  They are so weird. He’s very upset, but not awake, and inconsolable.  Jasmine is a saint, calmly holding him and soothing him. We were really no help.  Jasmine stroked James, I stroked Jasmine and Jim stroked me until James finally woke up surprised that we had him out of bed.  The next morning, as usual, he remembered nothing about it and was our normal happy James.

As many of you know the Captain is a compulsive sand castle builder and this trip had lots of castle building.  I’m sure it is just the beginning of many years of fun sand castle building with Baba.

Our final stop on our True Love Adventure with the grandkids was Naniamo.  We enjoyed the beautiful waterfront, the big playground, and some yummy fish and chips and ice cream before they boarded their seaplane back to Lake Washington. 

After they flew home, the Captain and First Mate breathed a sigh of relief that all went well.  We were now ready to enter the more tranquil part of our journey.  Little did we know that our faucet repair was going to be much more of a challenge then we first thought.

Part 2:

While in Nanaimo we did our usual reprovisioning at the local Thiftway, and had a scrumptious dinner at our favorite Greek restaurant (Astera Taverna).  We also took a taxi to the Loews to buy a new faucet and some other supplies.  

I also decided to remove the shower door from the front bathroom.  It’s a great shower, but the door is a killer, opening a foot into the small shower with a sharp corner. The new shower curtain works so much better.  But the sharp corner got me one last time while I was removing  it.  Good riddens! 

While in Nanaimo we called ahead and made massage appointments for the next day in Egmont at the West Coast Wilderness Lodge, a beautiful little hotel with great views.  Crossing the Strait of Georgia was typically bumpy and rocky.  No problem really, but just uncomfortable for about two hours. Once we were safely across near the mainland shore it was an easy cruise to Egmont. 

And we were treated to a spectacular rainbow.

The next morning we decided to wake early and replace the faucet before our massages at 10. And so the faucet drama begins.  First, it was not easy to remove.  We didn’t have the nifty tool to remove the bolt from the long bolt underneath the sink.  Actually, we learned later that we did have the nifty tool in the new faucet kit, but not before we brutally took apartheid old faucet, complete with bending and breaking each copper pipe.  It was quite an accomplishment.  No problem, we were now ready to install the new faucet, easy sneezy.  But no!  The size of the new pipes did not match our water system!  This wouldn’t normally be a problem, we would just drive to any hardware store and get two 3/8th to 1/2 adapters.  Unfortunately, the closest hardware store was a two hour boat trip away; or a thirty minute taxi ride but the nearest taxi is two hours away.  And, to further complicate the situation, on the boat if one of the faucets cant be turned off the entire water system shuts down because there is just one master shut off.  No Water!  #!&@!!!!! And since we just destroyed the pipes from the old faucet to remove it we couldn’t put it back.  

We asked for some help both at the Back Eddy Resort where we were moored and the Wilderness Lodge next door where we scheduled our massages.  Everyone was so helpful.  Jacqueline, the manager of the Back Eddy Resort found us some old parts from her emergency plumbing repair box but unfortunately nothing worked.  But Paul, the owner of Wilderness Lodge and a really nice guy was driving into town that afternoon and got us the two adapters we needed while he was there.

Massaged and fed we were ready to easily complete our plumbing project.  Which we did, only to find the now the water pump would not turn back on!  Are you kidding me?  We did everything we could think of: check every fuse and breaker, bled the system of air but clearly there was no power at the water pump.  Could the pump have died too?  Are you kidding me.  We couldn’t call our boat guru Ben Rhoades because there is no cell phone service in Egmont, so we tried to communicate by cryptic, intermittent, weak wifi-assisted texts.  Two hours later, feeling stupid, exhausted and very frustrated (after walking to the office and calling Ben on a land line) we learned where the solenoid was, what it is, and how to rewire it to send the electricity directly to the pump, avoiding the solenoid and the circuit breaker.  And voila, easy as that, the water system worked again.  

We celebrated with showers and although we both wanted to collapse in bed we rallied to walk up the dock for a beer and some food before collapsing in bed.

Now every time we turn on the kitchen faucet we smile with pride.

I’m now committed to read the entire Boat Owners Illustrated Electrical Handbook this trip.

Now the Bliss

We left Egmont two days ago for a whole week alone in Princess Louisa Inlet.  This is truly one of our favorite places in the entire world.  The snow capped mountains, warm water, and minimal people are completely energizing and restorative.  Our days our made up enjoying quiet time together, the beauty all around us, floating on the water, eating,  kayaking and some hiking.

The last two nights we have gone to bed early and woken up in the middle of the night for star watching.  The dark sky entertains us with lots of stars, the Milky Way, shooting stars, satellites tracking across the sky and even the International Space Station.  We read a couple of nights ago that you can see about stars with the naked eye.  I think we can see all of them! 

Other than the Electrical Handbook, The Captain is reading Thick Nhat Hahn’s How to Love, Relax, Walk, Sit and Eat books.  It’s leading to some wonderful discussions. I’m reading book 12 of the Inspector Ganache murder mystery series.

A week reading and enjoying the beauty of nature, no phones,  no internet.  True Love, true healing.  Thank you God and the universe for this wonder gift.  And thank you for running water!

Part 3:

We’ve never given each other a gift like the last 6 days. Complete calm and bliss.  Mary Chapain Carpenter’s song “What If We Went To Italy” captures the feeling perfectly.  We have both been mentally lazy and physically active.  We’ve had lots of quiet and great conversations.  Our love and healing is very deep.



We took a short hike near McDonald Island and the moss was fantastic.


But the time has come to share our beautiful space with friends. We had to prepare for our guests.  For the first time we left the tender with the shore tie and took the True Love out to the deep waters outside the main Inlet to run the engines and clean the tanks.  Out here the “solution to pollution is dilution”.  And we went to where the big inlet is wide, the currents are strong and it’s 1,200 feet deep.

After retrieving the tender and re-anchoring it was time to do some tidying.  Our chores were completed by lunch leaving us plenty of time to enjoy our last day in PLI alone to its fullest: meditating, floating, loving, reading.  Last night when we woke to see the stars the Captain noticed a glow from the small waterfall.  Phosphorescence!  So cool!  Has it always been here? Making the water glow with the shore ties and the paddles was true giddy fun.  Stars in the sky and in the water!  Turns out it was just for one night.

Johnstone Strait is calm?  Crazy but true!

We said goodbye to Greg and Carolyn at April Point and then we had a few days to explore on our own before Robert and Sharon flew in to meet us at Dent Island.

After reprovisioning at the little local grocery store the night before, we woke slowly and were having a hard time motivating to leave, but the Captain checked the latest weather forecast:  the next two days were supposed to be calm in Johnstone Strait, the morning fog was clearing and we still had two hours left before the strong tide in Johnstone Strait would turn against us.

So we left the dock as quickly as we could and headed out to explore the strait in the unusually calm weather.  We have traversed Johnstone Strait only twice, because Gale Force winds blow through there almost constantly, and when we do attempt the passage, we have always cruised through as fast as we can without stopping or lingering because the strong winds can return quickly, generate large waves and make your time there very unpleasant.  This was a fun change.

The first night we anchored in Otter Bay, near Chatham Point.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was calm and a good place from which to venture out into Johnstone Strait and try our luck at some fishing in the salmon-rich waters.  Sadly, our pitiful fishing continues.  It took us an extremely long time to gather all of our gear for the first time this year.  Once out, we tangled our lines and the fish took our bait, twice.  Oh well.

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t clear and it was rainy and foggy the next morning.  This year’s unusually cool and wet summer weather was beginning to get to me.  Around 1 pm, after the fog finally cleared enough to resume our exploration of the still calm Johnstone Strait, we heard on the VHF radio about an orca nearby at Ripple Point (which we had been told was also a good place to fish directly from our boat rather than from the dinghy).

At Ripple Point we didn’t see any orcas so we decided to fish.  Within a minute of baiting our lure and dropping it in the water Jim heard the deep exhale of an orca less than 30 feet away. So much for fishing!  We grabbed the camera and enjoyed some quality orca time.  This orca was a loner and looked like it had an injured fin.  I emailed the photos to the local authorities so that they can help if that’s possible.  They replied right away, identifying the orca as “T-002C”.  He became separated from his family about a month ago and is now traveling with a new pod.  The problem with his fin is because he has scoliosis of the spine.


After our orca time we set of it for our next anchorage at Thurston Bay.  We had been here many years before with our first  boat.  It’s an awesome kayaking area with a very lovely sunset view, as you can see from the photo at the top of this blog.  It also has the beautiful little island below. The next morning we woke to sunshine.  What a nice change!  But I still got a fun photo of some light fog lifting near shore.


It finally felt like summer had arrived and our cruise to Dent Island for our rendezvous with Robert and Sharon DeWolf was fantastic.


After a quick tour and lunch at Dent we all decided that we should go up Bute Inlet again.  It was a perfectly sunny, calm cruise going in and we decided to try anchoring at the very end of the inlet this time because of the calm winds.  Although Robert is a kayaking Jedi Master, he has never kayaked Bute Inlet and we knew both he and Sharon would be blown away by the beautiful mountains and glaciers of this Canadian fjord.  They were.


The next morning was a bit windier, but Robert and I went out for a kayak while Jim and Sharon explored using the tender.  Our calm time ended shortly after that and the wind really kicked up.  Time to leave.  The cruise back was less relaxing, but manageable.   Robert took the helm for a while doing a great job searching for logs hidden in the waves.

The timing was right for another eagle show at Arran Rapids and we weren’t disappointed. Once again we anchored at Octopus Islands after going through the tidal rapids at “Hole In The Wall.”  Robert had been through here on kayaks before and really enjoyed the return on the True Love.  Seeing all this was a first for Sharon and she loved the beauty we were all sharing together.

Sharon has been so important in helping the Captain stay strong and healthy.  She is a chiropractor and a natural healer and we were so glad to thank her by sharing this beautiful place and nurturing her a bit with good food and conversation.

We anchored at Octopus Islands around 7 after a long but amazing day, enjoyed a great meal and then Robert suggested we all watch a DVD.  He picked out Rear Window from our selection on board. It’s such a great movie and it was a kick watching it together.

The next morning during breakfast I noticed two local tour boats going by so we turned on VHF channel 7 and heard the tour boats say to each other that 2 orcas were nearby. We quickly finished our breakfast, deployed the tender, and motored south about 20 minutes to the other side of Surge Narrows where we found the 2 orcas (including one that was very large) and 4 tour boats.  It was sunny and warm, the orcas were playing and I even put my feet in the water which was a first this trip.


When we got back Robert and I got a final kayak in before we headed back to Dent to get them to the seaplane for their flight back to Seattle. 

The tidal rapids near Dent Island were very strong as we approached and for a short time we were barely able to make headway through the swirling, churning waters and whirlpools between Big Bay and Jimmy Judd Island (aka Eagle Island).  At one point the water had 20 foot elevation changes in the current.  Alas, no photos we were all too enthralled.

 Last night Jim and I did some ceremonial eating at Dent’s very nice restaurant.

Today we begin our journey home.  Who knows what adventures we will experience over the next week. Maybe we will even catch a fish?

The Captain and First Mate of the True Love.