Sailing the Gulf Islands, Part 9

Two Goons

Day 15, Saturday 9/13/14 The weather up here has been ridiculously great. It’s only rained once, blew hard twice, and no sign of fog. I awoke to another blue-bird day. After morning coffee, we loaded up Izak’s belongings into the dingy and dropped him off at the Aquila as Andy and I made our way to the farmers market in Ganges of Salt Sprint Island. What an awesome market! They had the most beautiful fruits and vegetables I’d ever seen and art of all kinds….

Sailing the Gulf Islands, Part 4

Rockfish

Day 5, Wednesday, 9/3/14 Has it really been five days? My typical alarm clock schedule has faded and I feel like we’re all getting into a travelling routine. However, I’m trying my darndest to be present in each moment. Yesterday it rained cats and dogs, and at night the wind blew fiercely at 17 mph from the northwest. We decided to hunker down and make it a movie day. We also made good use of the pub at Thetis Marina. Because there was a lot…

Crabbing with Family

Bayliner 288

After years of cheerleading and encouragement directed at my parents to get a four-season boat so that they could join me on adventures, they finally got one. No-one in my family but me has any sailing experience, despite three generations of avid boating, so it was no surprise when they purchased a Bayliner 288. The four-day trip we took last weekend was months in the planning, yet only considered a ‘trial run’ for the three-week trip we’ll be taking in September. If it wasn’t for…

Summer Sailstice

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I’m pointed north with two sheets to the wind. The breeze this morning is coming from the southeast and I’m on a downwind run heading northeast from Watmough Bay on Lopez Island, to Eagle Harbor on Cypress Island. It’s Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. As I write this I’ve got my Genoa jib up trying to grab as much of this 10 mph wind as possible. I’m averaging 4-5 mph and haven’t had to tack once in the last 10 miles. I’m…

Mary Leach Natural Area, Sinclair Island

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“Wait a minute… you guys! There is a piece of public land on Sinclair Island that I read about. Apparently there was a lady who donated her land to the public before she died. Let’s go find it!” …That’s how our little expedition got underway. My friends Andy and Izak will be joining me on my 250 mile sail to Texada Island in September. They will each have their own boats and our small regatta plans to storm Canada together. This weekend we rendezvoused at…

Blind Bay, Shaw Island

Blue Camas and Yellow Death-Camas

It took three hours to reach Blind Bay, motoring the whole way from Skyline in Anacortes. I had calm weather and a significant flood tide helping me. Entering Thatcher Pass on a flood tide or leaving the islands through it on a ebb tide works great. Try that with the opposite tide, and it can turn into a nasty piece of water. All the passes are like that though, but Thatcher is probably the worst because of all the traffic. The sheer rock walls rebroadcast…

Making Blackberry Wine

blackberry_mashing

Blackberry wine is not only incredibly inexpensive to make, it’s fun, makes a great gift, and is an excellent product to barter with. The recipe below makes a tasty wine and is very hard to mess up. Every September I pick as many blackberries as I can, put them in ziplock baggies, and throw them in the freezer for a rainy day. This winter, rainy days were not as prevalent than in the past, so it wasn’t until last month that I got around to…

Circumnavigating Lopez Island

Circumnavigating Lopez Island

Last weekend found me with perfect weather and nothing better to do than circumnavigate Lopez Island. Along the way I met Alan of ArtOfHookie.org, ran aground, hit a log, lost my hat overboard, rescued a lost dog, and had a great time. Friday Winds were forecast on Friday at 12 mph from the southwest and a slack tide. I have a healthy scepticism this time of year that the weather will behave anything like the forecasts. This turned out to be an excellent example of…

Foraging: Lady Ferns

Lady Fern Fronds

My new favorite wild food this year is Lady Fern, and right now it’s just starting to spring out of the ground. This easy to identify, easy to cook, tasty wild treat will be in prime harvesting season for the next two to four weeks. Any of the voluminous field guides on plants in the Northwest will be able to help you competently tell lady fern apart from its sister species. The easiest fern to mistake it for is Bracken Fern, which is also sprouting…

Mating on Cypress Island

Moored in Eagle Harbor

As I headed across the opening of the harbor, I was rewarded with the sight of a bald eagle gliding low over the water with a fish clasped in its talons. A couple seagulls were screaming bloody murder, which meant they thought the eagle stole it from them somehow. Shortly after pulling the dingy up to the beach, I crouched down to reset my GPS. At the familiar chirp of a bald eagle, I looked up to see three eagles flying in my directions –…

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