From Now What? To Nirvana

Princess Louisa Inlet 2019

Egmont is one of our usual stops and after a long day of cruising with our new exhaust hose we headed in for our moorage. Unfortunately we arrived during one of the biggest currents of the year and they hadn’t left us a proper space on the outside of the dock, so we had to wait for the currents to calm down. That would take 4 hours. We were tired after a long cruise, but that’s how it goes sometimes. So we cruised around some nearby sites, made some phone calls and let time pass until we could come back to the dock. By the time we got back, the dock crew had cleared an appropriate space and we tied up easily. But we were exhausted and pretty much got ready for bed right away.

Egmont is usually a calm and peaceful place, but the nearby Northwest Wilderness Lodge clearly had a big and jovial outdoor wedding party, complete with every hit wedding song playing loudly, as well as lots of hooping and cheering. It sounded like a great wedding and I wish we had the energy to crash it! But alas we didn’t, so we closed the hatches and fell asleep.

Another positive change in Egmont is a new cell tower which allows us to make calls and improves the WiFi.

We awoke on Fathers Day morning and got to use the improved WiFi to video with Jasmine, David, James and Robert. James is becoming such a great reader and he read us some of his chapter book. Robert was his usual cheery and energetic self. But soon we were ready to celebrate ourselves with a walk to one of our favorite places: the little bakery in the woods. And to our surprise when we got there we were welcomed by one of the owners smiling and saying, “are you Jasmine’s parents?” Jasmine had called ahead and asked to buy our breakfast for Fathers Day. It was such a thoughtful gift and it really made our morning!

After our yummy breakfast and lovely walk back to the True Love we headed out on our way to another very special place: Princess Louisa Inlet.

We had a mixed cloud day but the views were as stunning as usual. Unfortunately along the way we ran into the second boat issue of our trip. The First Mate forgot to turn on the generator when cooking some lunch using the microwave/convection oven, which draws a lot of AC power. The two main engines have big alternators that supply AC current without using the generator but if that’s not enough the “inverter” can create even more AC current by changing (inverting) some of the DC power in our batteries to AC power. If the AC power draw is too much, the inverter is supposed to shut off the power supply, but that didn’t happen. Instead, after about 15 minutes of using the microwave without running the generator, the port engine battery alarm (a VERY load and annoying beep) started blaring. We turned the engine off which turned off the alarm. And the port engine restarted no problem, and ran, no problem, but with the port engine key turned all the way on, the annoying engine battery alarm blared again, which was unacceptable, so we turned the port engine off again.

Needless to say we were frustrated. Not another repair! Not another multi-day trip to a boatyard! We ran for a while on one engine and then the Captain realized that we could start the port engine, and then turn the key back only a quarter turn, which would turn off all of the engine gauges (tachometer, temperature, oil pressure and voltage) and all of the engine alarms, but did not turn off the engine. As a result, we had the power of both engines again and they seemed to be running perfectly. And at any time, we could turn the key all the way on, quickly check the gauges, and then turn the key back a quarter turn, all before the annoying battery alarmed blared.

Once again we arrived too early to enter Malibu (tidal) Rapids that guard the entrance to Princess Louisa so we had to spend a couple of hours cruising and exploring the surrounding area. Clearly we aren’t in the habit of scheduling our cruising for tidal currents! We will improve to make our cruises more efficient. We hoped that running the engines longer would recharge the port engine battery and make the alarm go away but it didn’t.

Our usual very special anchorage spot in Princess Louisa Inlet was open so the Captain set the shore tie and we dropped anchor in our favorite spot with two waterfalls and a stunning view of the mountains and Chatterbox Falls. We were pretty tired from our long day and worried about the engine alarm, but we decided to stick with our plan and enjoy our special place in this truly amazing part of the world. It feels like home to us in so many ways.

Over the last 4 days the worry has been replaced by a joyful serenity as we kayak, practice yoga, stretch, paddle board, meditate, read, play chess and just float in this beautiful place. We’ve seen seals, eagles, otters, and butterflies. A juvenile eagle caught a fish and ate it in the tree behind the boat and we get a photo.

Super fat starfish!

Our hope was that coming earlier would mean more snow on the mountains and bigger waterfalls. There is more snow on the mountains and a few more waterfalls, but this time of year the waterfalls seem more affected by rain than the snow melt. The moss is definitely brighter on the rocks. And we’ve had mixed weather, some very warm periods and some cooler times with afternoon thunderstorms. We went for a beautiful 2 hour kayak yesterday morning in sunshine and came back just as the raindrops began to fall for a very rainy afternoon.

Today however it’s sunny and glorious; perfect for paddle boarding and exploring on the tender where we spied the big eagles nest used by the local pair. We always see eagles here but, in over 10 years, we’ve never seen the eagles’ nest. I even captured a picture of the nest with the pair around it. James and Robert, can you find both the eagles?

During our 4 days here, the First Mate had time, as usual, to organize the provisions in the fridge and the pantry. We spent yesterday’s rainy afternoon organizing our new charts for cruising north to Fjiordland and planning a more precise schedule for our summer.

The electrical system is one of the great mysteries of boating for us. In our electrical book, which we have read and highlighted, but barely understand, it says the batteries are the least understood equipment on the boat. That rings true for us. But over the last 4 days we’ve pulled out all the applicable manuals, and tested the batteries. We’ve confirmed what we already suspected: the battery alarm light is not something that requires you to turn off the engine (like the high temperature or low oil pressure alarms), at least according to the Volvo Marine engine manual. We can safely run the engines even if the battery alarm is “on” or “silenced.” Our battery bank seems to be ok. The batteries may be draining a little faster than usual, but that is to be expected with the age of our batteries (which are scheduled to be replaced next year). We are concerned that the inverter didn’t prevent us from pulling too much AC power from the DC batteries when the convection oven was running without the generator being on, but we are not sure what to do about it.

The Captain figured out today that the port engine warning lights don’t all light up (temp, oil, battery) like the starboard engine warning lights when we turn the engine on without starting it. Instead, only the temp warning light comes on. However, the port engine starts right up and runs fine, either with the battery alarm blaring or without any alarms (or gauges) as long as we turn the port engine key half way off after starting the engine.

So with our limited knowledge and skill we have a few theories.

1. The warning sensor on the port engine is broken or loose. This would be the simplest and easiest solution.

2. The alternator is dead. Again in the electronics book it says you should always have a spare. I’m not sure what good this would do us, because I can’t imagine us changing it. But it does speak to the factor that they do fail.

3. The batteries despite appearing ok when we tested them need to be replaced.

4. We are too ignorant to have a clue.

So our next mission is clear: we are going to visit another boat yard or repair shop. This time, we are determined to cruise north, not south, so we are going to look for some help in Campbell River. Tomorrow we will leave early at high water slack tide so we can ride the ebb current out of the Fjord. When we get close to Egmont (about 40 miles away) we should have phone service again so we can make some calls and make a repair reservation for Monday at a Campbell River boat yard.

The good news is we really aren’t stressed about it! The magic of Princess Louisa Inlet has worked and we are calm and relaxed. The First Mate took one of her best photos ever of this beautiful place! It begins this post. Our boat is organized and we have a great plan for reaching our goal of Fjordland on the northern BC coast. Of course we will need to fix the engine light/battery/alternator/who knows what problem, and we will, but we aren’t going to let this new little problem distract us from the beauty that surrounds us.

Overcoming the unexpected is part of life in general and certainly part of our boating adventure!

Update: We are in Egmont. After making all our calls, it appears the alternator was fried by the use of the microwave without the generator and we have found someone to replace it on Monday. Another learning experience. All is well.

Lovingly,

The Captain and the First Mate of the True Love

Yoga on the True Love

On the Sea Again!

Our visit to Sidney was a success. The guys at Philbrook’s Boatyard at Van Isle Marina were amazing. Thank you Ben for the tip!

Of course, as in all boat repairs, it was a bigger deal than they thought. Just the prep work for putting plastic up to protect the engine and all the electronics was a work of art, including taping in a zipper to get in and out of the “work area” of our little engine room.

It turns out the fiberglass pipe coming out of the heat exchanger of our port engine was severely deteriorated and had to be cut way back. Using a heart surgery analogy, it wasn’t a simple stent, but a full bypass. They had to rebuild it, before putting in the metal sleeves on each side to attach to the new super strong silicon tube that can withstand over 300 degrees of heat (way more than we need). The metal sleeves allow the tube to be clamped down without worrying about crushing and damaging the underlying fiberglass pipe. We are pretty sure this repair will outlive the engine itself. On our way back we will probably have them do the same thing to the starboard engine fiberglass exhaust pipe, just to be safe.

Our two days at port unfortunately gave us time to catch up on some work, we hadn’t completed before we left. But that’s ok. So we engaged our work brains.

The Van Isle Marina is a family owned business. We met the 3rd generation granddaughter of the founder (same as Jasmine) who is now overseeing the business. It was great to meet her and work with another successful, multi-generational family business. The marina is very well run, clean and we used the free bicycles to bike into town.

Sidney itself is a perfect little sea town with lots of good restaurants, grocery stores and a stunning view of the water and Mt. Baker. It’s a fun place to visit and easy to get to from Anacortes by the special Anacortes-Sidney ferry. Jasmine, David, James and Lucas took that ferry last year to meet us at Sidney. From there its easy to get to Victoria and beautiful Butchart Gardens.

Our first day into town by bike we parked the bikes at one of the many bike racks and walked around. The First Mate was drawn to the Victoria Distillery on the waterfront, where they make a truly lovely gin. We are not big gin drinkers, but I loved their gin. It’s a fantastic purple color from the herbs and makes a yummy gin and tonic. I think that will be my new summer cocktail when I feel like a little extra relaxation after we anchor. The bar/showroom is beautifully set-up too.

FYI, while I’m writing this, the Captain informed me that we crossed over the 49th parallel while cruising north up the Strait of Georgia. This is the big strait that separates Vancouver Island from the BC mainland and the waves and wind here can be brutal. Today, however, the strait is almost calm. That’s two consecutive calm crossings of the Strait of Georgia! The sun is on my shoulders as I compose this and I’m feeling very blessed and lucky.

More about Sidney. Thursdays in the summer the town closes down 3 long blocks of their main street (Beacon Avenue) for an evening street fair. So yesterday after monitoring the repairs and doing work and calls, we headed into town. The fair was a cornucopia of food and art! We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, bought some local goods and then headed to the top-rated sports bar to watch the 6th game of the NBA finals.

Needless to say, the Canadians were excited about the Toronto Raptors. But there were some Golden State fans in the bar too. What a game! Clay Thompson was a true beast coming back to shoot his free throws after tearing his ACL. Despite all the adversity Golden State almost won. Although our team lost, we congratulate our Canadian friends on their the first ever NBA Championship. It was a true pleasure watching those stunning athletes do what they do.

Yesterday, we still were unsure if the repair would be complete in time for us to leave before the weekend. If not, we wouldn’t be able to leave until Monday. We didn’t know for sure until the super strong tubing arrived by UPS at around 3. I took the bike into town again to buy some final perishables for the next week. With the repairs complete we left Sidney around 6:30PM and headed back to Montague to watch the sunset, say our prayers and light the Sabbath candles.

Tonight, we’ll dock at the Back Eddy Resort in Egmont, the last possible stop before heading down a 40-mile long fjord to the entrance of Princess Louisa Inlet. We plan to enjoy dinner at the pub and then walk to the “bakery in the woods” tomorrow morning before riding the big flood tide into PLI.

It’s still early in the season so we expect more and larger waterfalls to cascade down the many cliff faces of PLI in spectacular fullness. However, we are not sure how warm the water will be this early. This is one of our favorite places for its beauty and isolation, enhanced by a complete lack of cell phone or internet service. It’s a wonderful place to enjoy the tranquility, peace and quiet of nature, with the only sounds coming from the various waterfalls that are all around us.

Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing Father’s out there! We also want to ask all of you to send healing prayers to our dear friend Alan Middleton. Jim has known Alan since kindergarten and he’s been very ill and in the hospital for almost month with acute pancreatitis and other complications.

We will check back in with everyone after we exit PLI. Have a fabulous week everyone!

The Captain and the First Mate of the True Love ❤️

The big adventure north is on hold for repairs

All our team worked hard to make sure the True Love was ready to go for our big cruising adventure north to where we have never gone before: The Great Bear Rain Forest. Everything on the boat was working beautifully, even the satelite TV system. Our plan was to start in early June, a month earlier than usual, and head north past The Broughtons Islands and Port Hardy at the north tip of Vancouver Island and then cross the open ocean to the fjords of the Great Bear Rain Forest.

Armed with our new anti-roll, side-fin “stabilizers” we finally have the equipment to tackle this adventure comfortably.

Crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca between the USA and Canada was easy. After topping off our fuel at Roche Harbor on San Juan Island (and grabbing an ice cream cone) we continued a long day of cruising into Canada where we anchored in one of our favorite spots: Montague Harbour on the SW side of Gabriola Island. From there we were perfectly positioned to pick up our “Camp Oahu” friends (Debbie & Tom Magson) at the BC Ferries terminal at Sturdies Bay on the SE side of Gabriola. They grabbed the ferry at Towassen to meet us for a long weekend of fun on the True Love. The pick up was easy.

It was so great to see Tom & Debbie and we had so much fun! First, we cruised to Chaimaneus. With an extremely low tide the Captain was concerned about docking in the spot the harbor master gave us. But Jim was masterful and we had just enough clearance above the bottom of the harbor.

We love Chamainous! It’s a great little town with artsy murals, several bakeries and two ice cream shops! We feasted on the the delicious baked goods, beautiful murals and tasty ice cream. The weather was lovely. Then we headed out for our evening anchorage and after exploring a couple of new spots, we ended up back on the north side of Montague Harbour. We enjoyed a nice dinner with salmon (purchased not caught) and watched the lovely sunset.

Our second day together (after sleeping in surprisingly late) Debbie and Tom played around on the tender and Jim and I did a long kayak. We had a super special interaction with an eagle 🦅 on the shore and a yummy lunch at the restaurant int the Harbour. It’s a fairly new restaurant with a big outside deck and the food was yummy. We spent the late afternoon singing and dancing while listening to Neil Diamond’d “Hot August Night” album (Tom’s favorite) playing on our new stereo speakers. Although sunset was a bit of a bust, the company was wonderful and everyone had a great time.

Our final day together we had to set the alarm to wake up early to ride the tide up to Nanaimo where Debbie and Tom were taking afternoon ferry home to White Rock, BC, which is just north of the USA border. We stopped to start some laundries, before walking into town in time to see parts of the local Pride Parade before we headed to lunch at a new spot: Rita’s Pink House. I found the article about it before we left and it was a sweet stop for a simple lunch. Then we said our goodbyes to our very special friends, did our grocery shopping, finished our laundry, put things away and went to bed very early excited to get up early and head across the Strait of Georgia to Pender Harbour on the mainland coast.

But then, the problems arose.

While crossing the Strait of Georgia a problem occurred with our new stabilizers. They were working but we we kept getting alarms for various things. After we docked at one of our favorite places, The Painted Boat Resort and Spa, I was on the phone with Tyler and Troy, our tech guys at S3 Marine, and they asked me to go into the engine room to look at a relay they installed to let the stabilizers know when the boat was in neutral. In a freak thing the little bolt that holds the relay in place had broke in half. This looked like an easy fix (and it was) but while down in the engine room I noticed a lot of black soot coming out of the exhaust pipe for the port engine. This was potentially a very big problem, but fortunately we discovered it early. In a way we were very lucky that the stabilizer relay screw broke which led us to to see this new problem before it got a lot worse.

Our original plan was to stop at the Painted Boat, enjoy the spa, and then head out to “super natural” Princess Louisa Inlet the next day. However, we were a little uncomfortable going into the wilderness where there’s no cell phone or text or email service before understanding our new exhaust problem. We we sent out a lot of texts with pictures and called our Seattle boat mechanic and boat manager for advice. We also contacted the local boat repair service to see what they could do and whether anyone local could come out and take a look. We also reached out to Tom (who is a master mechanic) and asked for his advice. And in the middle of all these calls for help, I went and got a great massage and Jim enjoyed the hot tub at the spa.

After getting lots of advice from Tom and Ben and Irvin we decided to call it a night and start fresh in the morning.

We awoke to a beautiful sunny morning Tuesday and got back on the phone. The local “mobile mechanic” (Dave Laird) also stopped by the boat, adjusted the pipe with a special tool he had just bought recently, tightened the clamps with another special tool and tested the exhaust system with the engines at full. No leaks!

Still, we agreed it was best to get a more permanent fix before heading into the wild north BC coast so we called a big boat repair shop Philbrooks in Sydney (just north of Victoria, BC’s capitol city) and they’ve reserved a spot on the work schedule for us for tomorrow (Wednesday).

So today we are cruising south back to Montague Harbour and tomorrow we’ll leave early in the morning to arrive in Sydney by 10am. Hopefully, the permanent fix for our exhaust problem will be completed by Friday and we’ll turn around and head north again. Until then, we plan to explore the Sydney area and maybe visit beautiful Butchart Gardens.

Stay tuned! The summer voyage of the True Love is just beginning!

The Captain and The First Mate of the True Love

Our 2018 Summer Cruise finale

This year’s summer cruise is coming to an end here in Port Ludlow, about 3 hours north of Seattle. Our visit to Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC was as enchanting as usual, filling our senses with the color and smells of the magical gardens. Some of the dahlias were as big as my head! I included a picture of the bark of the 100 year-old Alders lining the walk down to the sunken gardens.

What a legacy Jennie Butchart left for all of us. Interestingly, the gardens are still run by their Great-Granddaughter, representing the 5th generation of a successful family business. Something to aspire to as we work to steward Dick’s Drive-Ins for our future generations.

Butchart not only has the wonderful gardens, but also a lovely restaurant and delightful summer concerts almost every night.

We loved our time anchored in Tod Inlet next to Butchart Gardens and enjoyed an easy crossing of The Strait of Juan de Fuca as we returned to the USA. As usual we anchored at the almost empty Fort Flagler state park across from Port Townsend, then took our dinghy into town the next day and enjoyed a yummy lunch and an hour of hot tubbing at Soak On The Sound. That night, we even saw some phosphorescence in the water again although the light from nearby Port Townsend diminished the glow.

Now we are finishing up in Port Ludlow at the hotel/marina there, about an hour south of Port Townsend. We haven’t stopped here in almost 10 years. Needless to say, it has grown quite a bit in the last 10 years, but it’s still a pretty little bay. It gave us an opportunity to relax at the dock, do some more kayaking, eat a yummy meal at the hotel restaurant and plug into shore power to recharge our batteries. Usually we can recharge our batteries with our generator, but yesterday when we left Fort Flagler our generator failed. Good timing for us since our need for a generator is over for now! We can just “plug in” the boat at the dock today and when we’re back in Seattle. Our mechanic has been notified and will meet us at our marina in Seattle on Wednesday morning.

One nice surprise: we learned from a facebook post that two of our very special friends, Carrie and Troy Shaw, were in the neighborhood on a vacation of their own, so they drove over and met us for breakfast before heading to the coast. What a treat to get to see them!

After they left we took advantage a “boat & golf” package at the marina and played nine holes. The air today is heavy with smoke from the forest fires in BC, Washington and Oregon, but we still enjoyed getting back into the golf swing of things.

Tomorrow we will leave early, refuel in Kingston and return to our slip at the Elliott Bay Marina by 2pm so the First Mate can get to her seriously needed haircut appointment. It’s time to clean up a bit! And we will get to visit the grandkids for dinner!

So our voyage ends with us relaxed and inspired. We’ve seen humpbacks, orcas, fishing sea lions, eagles, kingfishers, herons, raccoons, seals and otters. We’ve met new friends, enjoyed beautiful sunsets, shooting stars and amazing phosphorescence. We’ve discovered new gunk holes, rivers and docks. We were able to visit Princess Louisa twice in one summer and are excited to plan a longer voyage next year when we’re officially “retired.” We’ve improved our chess game, learned to paddle board and had some great philosophical discussions.

Thanks again for sharing it all with us!

Tata for now!

The Captain and The First Mate of the True Love.

Return to PLI but first Friel Falls

After our crazy windy evening in Powell River the winds calmed enough the next day for us to leave the marina there so we did. Our journey back to PLI included clouds, some wind, and some rain but generally was no problem and we turned into Jervis Inlet heading to our our favorite place. We all hoped the rain would clear out the smoke. Here is a photo our new friends from Aluel Winery in Seattle took of us leaving.

We were trying to time our arrival at Malibu Rapids (the entrance to PLI) with the slack current before high tide; that way we can ride the flood tide up the fjord, clear the rapids and then secure our shore tie when its easiest to do that (at high tide). It looked like we were going to arrive at the rapids too early so as we were cruising the First Mate remembered reading about Friel Falls in Hotham Sound. Turns out it was less than 5 miles away from us so we decided to do a detour and spend our “waiting” time there on a new exploration.

Friel Falls plunges 1,400 feet and even late in the season there was a lot of water coming down (we plan to begin our summer boating trip next year in June so we can see all the waterfalls in their full glory). It falls from Friel Lake and we even lucked out with light winds and some sunshine so the First Mate deployed the paddle board.

After playing for about an hour we headed again toward PLI, about 30 miles up the fjord. Everything went according to plan; our favorite anchorage was available and after we secured the shore tie and dropped the anchor we felt the calm and magic of PLI. Because of the rain the waterfalls were temporarily flowing like it was early summer, but it was cloudy so we were not able to watch the Perseids meteor shower. But we were rewarded with three days of remarkable phosphorescence in the water.

The first night of phosphorescence were pretty normal, if you can call this unusual phenomenon normal. As we experienced the one night the year before, I looked out behind the True Love and there was a glow where a nearby waterfall hit the surface of the inlet. So I snapped the stern line on the water and ohhhh there it was! The Captain and I then disturbed the water around us with paddles and ropes to create glowing shapes on the water. We laughed and giggled and enjoyed it as if we were children playing with sparklers on Independence Day.

The next day we woke hoping that the clouds had cleared and they had but unfortunately the clouds were replaced by a smoky haze from distant forest fires. The waterfalls were really very small compared to our visit a month earlier despite yesterday’s rain. Amazingly or maybe predictably, the water was about 70 degrees, 3 degrees cooler from the shorter days in mid-August compared to mid-July. The warm water is created by the limited tidal exchange with the Pacific and from the hot summer sun and the long, 17+ hour long early summer days in the inlet. The first mate still took a swim or two. 7AECEE71-7182-47E6-AE2E-4688F84BE958.jpegAnd the Captain tried the paddle board successfully. We were also visited by a heron that was fishing along the shore. Harry (yes Harry Heron) visited us every day. Also on our way into our anchorage we spotted the mother seal with two pups we saw in July. We were worried then that the second, smaller pup wouldn’t survive. But it turns out it did! Still smaller, but it looked healthy and much better than the month before.

During the day we met some new friends, Bridget and Bill and helped them with some shore tie advice because this was their first visit to PLI on their boat “Aimless.” Our day was filled the usual PLI way with meditation, reading, kayaking and now paddle boarding. When night descended we knew the smoke was not going to allow us to see peak Perseids, but would we get phosphorescence again? Boy did we! This time there was a large school of small fish around us and as the fish swam around the water all around us was glowing and sparkling at different depths intermittently like the lights at a concert. As we walked out on the True Love’s swim platform the door thunked shut behind us and the low drum sound vibrated the water so all the fish moved at once . . . and voila! fireworks in the water! We were enchanted, astonished and giggling with each thunk. Alas, although I tried, it was too dark to photograph or video.

Our third day was spent much the same. The smoke unfortunately thickened. When a sea plane landed we went over to get information on how widespread the smoke was now. It turns out it was everywhere, from Seattle north, as our readers in Seattle know.

Later in the day we enjoyed cocktails with Bridget and Bill, and shared our combined joyful phosphorescence discovery. They experienced the same thing. The Captain and First Mate decided if we got the phosphorescence an unprecedented third night we would take the tender out to see how the propeller on the outboard engine looked in the water. Well they were there again, glowing all around with the movement of the fish and driving the tender through the water created a comet tail behind the boat. While moving we played with glowing feet in the water and glowing paddles at different depths, all filling us with joy and laughter.

The next day the smoke was even thicker. Unfortunately, the smoke was flowing into our little inlet like a funnel into a bottle. Despite the sunrise the temperature wasn’t very warm and we departed PLI with the slack current that morning and rode the ebb tide back toward civilization. We shared info with passing yacht cruising toward PLI and he said the smoke wasn’t as bad further south near Nanaimo so we decided to do a long day cruising and end in Nanaimo, depending on the winds in the Georgia Strait.

We weren’t in any rush so we cruised close to the west shore looking for future waterfalls and gunk holes. We stopped along the way for a floating meditation and I tried to reach out to the creatures in the water for an orca sighting. We were told by a whale guide that orcas had entered Jervis a couple of weeks ago, something we had never seen.

A fellow boater told us about a good iPhone app a lot of sailboaters use called “Predict Wind.” It is very helpful and seems to be accurate. It predicted a calm crossing of the Georgia Strait and so we did continue to Nanaimo. That is where we saw the orcas!

A pod of around 5 or 6 were fishing all around us. It appeared they were catching. One orca surfaced right in front of the True Love and we had to quickly cut the engines. Our next hour was spent with the orcas. I turned on the music and we tried to capture some photos with the telephoto. Orcas are truly hard to photograph because unlike humpbacks you need to capture them coming up out of the water, not descending like the humpbacks. I thanked the water creatures for responding to my meditation and prayers and we headed on to Nanaimo, leaving the orcas fishing behind us.

In Nanaimo we felt very lucky at first because we got the last spot on the Cameron Island pier. Unfortunately, it was on the outside of the pier. We have never been on the outside and we soon learned we would never stop there again. The outside is rocked heavily by the ferry waves every hour or so. And rocked doesn’t describe the motion quite enough. It’s more like the scene in Mary Poppins where the cannon goes off on a regular schedule and the household has to prepare to catch everything as it falls screaming “places everyone”! But we tied down, cleaned up and headed into town for our annual Greek dinner at Astera Taverna. We ordered our usual combo plate dinner with yummy calamari, ate half and enjoyed the rest for lunch yesterday.

In Nanaimo we were docked behind the 200′ “Huntress”, a $75 million mega yacht that can be rented for $450,000 a week in high season, plus expenses. It was quite the draw at the docks and it didn’t get knocked around by the waves. It only sleeps 10, but it does have 20 crew to take care of its passengers.

After arriving back at the True Love satiated and experiencing more rocking, we knew we would be leaving first thing the next morning. No need to set an alarm of course, the rocking woke us and we left to cruise through Dodd Narrows with the slack current to a place I’ve read about often, but had never stopped at in the southern gulf islands: the mural town of Chamainus. The description in the Waggoner Cruising Guide sounded delightful but we had never visited it before because we are always heading north or south with great purpose, quickly. Now we had time, so we stopped for a stroll and some baked goods and it was worth it. It’s adorable with over 30 murals depicting the history of the town, cute little restaurants and three bakeries. We will stop there again.

Feeling really tired from three late nights of phosphorescence entertainment, and a super early start in Nanaimo we decided we needed a sure thing anchorage and a couple of nights somewhere fun and easy. So we are currently anchored in the little inlet behind Butchart Gardens in Victoria. We slept great last night and today we will kayak, paddle board, enjoy the gardens, share a lovely dinner at the restaurant there and end with an evening jazz concert near the restaurant.

It looks like we will be able to cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca with the calm winds predicted for Friday so we will do another long cruise tomorrow and take our time the last 4 days in northern Puget Sound before heading home. We will anchor the True Love in Fort Flaggler near Port Townsend for two nights and then spend two nights in Port Ludlow where we will take advantage of the “boat and golf package” and ease slowly back into reality. That is the plan anyway. Let’s see if the wind predictions are accurate.

The Captain and the First Mate of the True Love

Toba Inlet Part 2

After our week in Seattle we flew back to the Toba Wilderness Resort, boarded the True Love and headed into Toba Inlet. The flight was lovely, I got the front seat and we even saw a breach whale outside of Nanaimo.  Alas no picture.

Our goal – anchoring at the head of the inlet and enjoying some peaceful time, star watching and exploration. Thanks to a special tip from a local we have anchored in a very special gunk hole. The anchorage is completely out of the scary afternoon winds and also gets great shade from the hot sun in the afternoons. The bugs are a non-issue, there is a little stream and the star viewing, although somewhat narrow, is superb. We have been sworn to secrecy, so our anchorage is a secret undisclosed location.

Last night we stayed up late to watch the stars both from the True Love and the Tender.

Although smoke has plagued the area from fires farther south, Toba is pretty clear. We were treated to many satellites, the Milky Way and quite a few shooting stars including a super big one early in the evening. The Perseids meteor showers peak this weekend but the build up is still worth staying up until midnight or later.

We stayed up past 2 am looking at the sky and slept in pretty late. It was low-tide when we woke up and the view around our anchorage was quite different. The undisclosed location gunk hole continues to amaze us. After getting up we quickly grabbed some food and headed out to explore the head of the river and hopefully spy some bears. Although we didn’t see bears, we discovered the Toba River. It was a complete surprise.

Once we left the churning water behind where the sea meets the river we entered a huge and long river reminiscent of big southern rivers. We were off our GPS and had no map, so we felt a little like “Captain Vancouver” type explorers. Except of course for our 40 hp engine and the electronics showing us our depth. The river is big and powerful and would have been quite impossible to explore rowing, but the True Love tender was the perfect boat for the exploration. The Toba River is lined with deciduous trees and surrounded by massive mountains and some truly amazing waterfalls and glaciers. One of the powerful abundant waterfalls up the river is being harnessed for hydro because Canada rationally understands that water power is a clean, renewable resource.

We both loved our exploration of Toba river (which runs from the Toba Glacier to the head of Toba Inlet) and the other smaller Tahummer River. But the Captain especially loves navigating the river like he did in his youth on his little skiff. On our way back we did see from a distance a couple of bears.

This afternoon we scoped out some possible spots for an astrophoto shot near our undisclosed anchorage and are looking forward to the star show as the sky darkens. In the end we were too tired to head off the boat so I took a moving star shot from True Love.

Tomorrow we head south and then east for another visit to our favorite location, Princess Louisa Inlet, before we head home. We will need to make a stop in Powell River for some reprovisioning before heading on to PLI. The forecast is calling for some rain his weekend, which isn’t good for the Perseids, but it’s good for containing the wildfires and great for expanding the many waterfalls in PLI.

Powell River Docking Adventure in the wind. Our cruise from Toba to the Beach Garden Marina in Powell River was easy. I even went for a swim in the 75 degree waters of Desolation Sound after doing my yoga. But as we approached Powell River a fierce wind began to blow. The Beach Garden Marina is a sweet spot but it is very narrow with the rock jetty only about 40 feet from the dock (the True Love is 15′ wide). The Captain positioned us perfectly but the wind gusted and began to blow us away from the dock toward the rocks. The young man working the dock was flummoxed and didn’t tie the stern line right away even though we repeatedly asked him to do that. The side thrusters work best in short spurts but the Captain had to use them continuously to make any progress against the wind that was blowing us away from the dock. We were both worried that the thrusters would fail at any moment from overuse! (It has happened before).

Other boaters who had already docked came to our rescue and we had 4 different people helping, including a professional captain in the big yacht at the front of the marina. Once tied down we needed to move the True Love back 10 feet to make room for a boat that was supposed to arrive later (and never did). So we all worked together to move the True Love one line at a time fighting the wind the entire time. But we were successful. Exhausted, we decided to have dinner at the restaurant right here before walking up the hill to provision at the little Pacific Point Grocery Store about a half mile away. . The sunset was lovely and we sure slept well last night.

Thanks for reading!

The Captain and the First Mate of the True Love

Lund, the Copelands, Van Donop, Octopus Islands, Blind Channel, Erasmus Island & Toba

After leaving Powell River we took a short cruise to nearby Lund. Lund is a sweet little harbor town with a decent little grocery, a lovely little art gallery, a super yummy bakery, homemade ice cream and a booth that sells batik wraps. We enjoyed all of them and the ice cream was particularly yummy on the hot afternoon.

After Lund we crossed over to the very close Copeland Islands and anchored in a new spot. It wasn’t our best gunk hole anchoring. Although we shore tied, the winds came from an unexpected direction in the middle of the night and blew us further than we expected in our little bay. When we woke up we were much closer (about 15 feet) to the shallow side and the big rocks there than we thought possible. But, no harm, no foul.

After dark we also had a strange experience when a little aluminum boat came in really late to our bay and seemed to run into the shallow rock. When we called out to them and shined our spot light on them they initially didn’t respond. But then said, “we are fine, we are locals.” I guess the locals here don’t worry about hitting local rocks. We went to sleep only to find them in a different spot behind us in the morning after we woke to find our boat blown to the other side of the bay. We did discuss our mistaken assumptions and will learn. Our shore tie was just too far from the boat and our anchor chain was also too long for the depth where we anchored. But anchoring, especially in gunk holes, is an art.

We left early with plans to head directly to Octopus Islands, but decided to investigate a new inlet: Van Donop. It’s an area where we often see whales and we did again this time. After hanging out with a pair (maybe even the same pair we saw with Erica) we decided to give Donop Inlet an exploration. We liked what we saw, so we dropped anchor to spend the night. The inlet is long and narrow, opening to a huge bay where you could easily anchor 100 boats. We were one of only 20 boats and our anchorage was at the head of a smaller side inlet. That afternoon we enjoyed a fun kayak and I did a lovely long yoga session on the bow of the boat. Van Donop was a great discovery and we will be back.

We left Van Donop early the next morning so we could travel through the Hole-In-The-Wall tidal rapids near slack tide, arriving at our usual Octopus anchorage by late morning. We returned to our favorite great little gunk hole just outside the main bay where we can enjoy the marine park in relative seclusion. Octopus Islands Marine park is made up of one big bay, but also a lot of little islands with nooks and crannies surrounded by super calm water for fun kayaking, especially at low tide. Usually, the air is clear but this year there is a hazy marine fog, mixed with smoke from the Okanogan forest fires in south eastern British Columbia. Last night the “strawberry moon” was hard to see because of their smokey skies. But I still got a picture. The Octopus Islands are not surrounded by dramatic, glaciated mountains, but the kayaking there is hard to beat. When the tide is low the otters, raccoons, herons and tidal sea creatures are abundant. We were able to get a couple of long fun kayaks trips in, but we ran into an unusual problem: wasps. We have never had a bug problem at Octopus Islands before, but the air was still, the temperature was hot and the wasps were abundant. We talked to some other passing kayakers and they had no problems. So there must have been a big wasp nest nearby our favorite anchorage, just bad luck. After our kayak this morning, we decided to head out a day early towards Erasmus Island (near Blind Channel) during the slack tidal currents late this afternoon instead of leaving early tomorrow morning. It was the right choice.

This “Crawford Anchorage” on the inside of Erasmus Island is another little magic spot we have discovered. As we cruised in, a seal and two eagles welcomed us. The air was cooler and cleaner than at Octopus Islands and after anchoring we lit the Sabbath candles, gave thanks for all our blessings and settled into a yummy dinner of ramen curry soup. And no wasps! The extra bonus is that we can get tonight’s Mariners game on our satelite TV. Tomorrow we will do our usual kayaking, then take the tender to the Blind Channel Resort where we will do a little hike and maybe even try some fishing.

This area of the cruise allows for intermittent connectivity. Of course that is both good and bad. The good, we get to check in with everyone. The bad, we get to check in with everyone. But it’s good practice for re-entry next week when we leave the True Love at Toba Inlet for a week and head home for family visits and a few work meetings.

We also have been continuing to do more of our video chess class. Last night’s class featured games and strategies from 4 great chess masters and world champions. Watching their mastery, creativity and wild play was stunning. In one game the teacher suggested we just watch the moves like a fun chess movie because the moves were too difficult to explain. The eventual winner first sacrificed his queen, a rook and a bishop BEFORE taking the opponents queen, cornering his king and then checkmating him with a knight. Don’t try to understand it or copy it, just enjoy it!

Whenever we visit Blind Channel we must do the walk to the giant cedar and this year was no exception except the Captain could do it without using hiking poles. Hurray! The massive cedar continues to look big and strong. After our lunch at their little outdoor cafe (salmon tacos and a burger with beer and wine) we provisioned and headed back to the True Love. Our magical little anchorage at Erasmus, like the one at the Octopus Islands, does not have big majestic views like PLI, but it is perfectly peaceful. Yesterday we did a kayak around island at low tide and spied some really pretty tidal pool stuff. Including these very strange hanging mullusk things. I won’t say what they look like, but I know what you are thinking. We think they eventually turn into the big white snails on the rocks. We don’t have internet so we don’t know. Jim even spotted a nearby porpoise but I wasn’t able to get a picture.

After our kayak we decided to fish from the True Love and not the tender. Nobody seems to be catching up here, but we fished, enjoyed the afternoon and listened to audio books. As fishing and not catching goes it was very very nice. After just hanging the fishing pole 🎣 over the side I decided to try some casting. At first I was awful, but I found it really fun and got much better as the afternoon went on thanks to the helpful tips from the Captain who has some stored knowledge from fishing as a kid. I didn’t catch anything that way either, but at least I was active and learning something new. Thankfully I had defrosted a steak for dinner and we enjoyed the fresh lettuce we purchased at the Blind Channel marina.

Today we woke up and had to do some work on the boat. The generator has been smoking a bit, so we wanted to check the oil and fluids. The oil was fine. The cooling fluid seemed a bit low so we put more in. Now there is a possibility it wasn’t low and that is what it should look like when it is cool. We will find out after we run the generator. Other than the fluid it all looks good. I think it has been smoking because we are using it a lot. It’s needed to charge the batteries and run the water maker as well as other stuff on the boat.

We also needed to change the filters in the water maker. It is supposed to warn us when the filters are getting to their end, but we were getting a little smell from the water in our shower last night, so we decided to change them this morning before turning on the generator when the engine room is cool. The True Love has a relatively small engine room and moving around it to work is a challenge. You have to do everything while sitting, squatting or crawling. That is easier for the First Mate than the Captain. But we changed the series of filters. They definitely needed to be changed.

All our work was done before breakfast, so we are now celebrating with a cinnamon roll, lattes and our usual healthy elixir. After breakfast it’s time to head to Toba Inlet, our next destination.

On our way to Toba we passed through Dent area and Big Bay. The rapids were fun and we passed a huge sea lion fishing. He of course was catching!

On our way past Raza Island, we spied two humpback whales (affectionately known as “humpies.”) One was breaching in the distance but the other wasn’t moving much at all. We could see it breathing, but we grew concerned that it was not doing well. It didn’t seem in distress, and it was breathing regularly. A stick rested on its head and at one point it moved its huge flipper gently. So we used the VHF radio to contact one of the tourist-carrying commercial whale boats to ask if this was normal. Turns out, it is. Humpbacks often just sleep on the surface, which doesn’t seem like a very safe behavior when humans are boating nearby. The marina manager at Toba Inlet told us later that humpies often play with sticks like dogs do and will play and sleep with it for quite a while.

The Toba Inlet marina has power, plenty of water, a lovely sitting area, hiking trails and a beautiful view of Toba Inlet.

After we docked at the Toba Inlet Wilderness Resort, we tied up, plugged in and washed the boat with the abundant fresh water. It was time for a refreshing swim. The water temperature is not as warn as nearby Pendrell Sound (80 degrees) but it was a perfectly refreshing 71 degrees for a jump off the dock on a hot afternoon.

Yesterday we took the hike to the waterfall that brings the abundant water to Toba. Then we went out to explore Toba Inlet in the tender. The Captain loves his tender and thinks it can do anything. Unfortunately, we didn’t talk to the locals to learn about the late afternoon winds that blow up the inlet. The Captain and the first mate had also not agreed to a trip plan before leaving. The First Mate was thinking short trip to a beautiful waterfall slowly meandering the shore looking for wildlife. The Captain was thinking long trip to the end of the inlet full throttle through the middle of the inlet. A conflict ensued as we bounced at high speed through the middle of the channel. But we stopped, did some meditating and learned an important lesson: trip plans are important even for tender adventures. Another couple on a tender told us they saw a mom and bear cub, but they had left the beach before we got there. After seeing the waterfall and exploring some nooks and gunk holes for possible future anchorages we tried to go further up the inlet. Unfortunately, it just got too windy and bumpy. Too much for the us to comfortably explore further in the tender. But, as usual we persevered and made it back just fine although it was an uncomfortable ride most of the way back, and we were definitely shaken but not stirred.

Toba seems to be a perfect place to leave the True Love for a week. It’s well protected and will have good people watching over it. The Kenmore seaplane picks us up at 1PM and touchdown back in Seattle should be about 3:30. Less than 3 hours versus 4 long days if we instead tried to bring the boat with us back to Seattle. We are looking forward to the stunning views from the seaplane as it flies us back home.

Before flying home, Fawn tried an inflatable paddle board and really liked it!

Our goal is to do reentry as smoothly and peacefully as possible, trying not to create too many ripples in the pond so that Jasmine and everyone else who has been keeping things running smoothly at the family business can continue to do so.

Our first night back we went straight to the Dick’s Drive-In in Edmonds to watch the first of a series of “Infinity” Concerts featuring the special infinity trailer that Saul and his team built earlier this year. It was a bit like traveling by seaplane through a black hole to an alternative universe, boating to burgers so to speak, but the event was a huge success and it wonderful to see everyone, including Jim’s Aunt Bertie who is in Seattle visiting everyone for the first time in many years.

Now we will be signing off for a week until we fly back to the True Love for the remainder of our 2018 adventure.

The Captain and the First Mate of the True Love

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