• Avoiding the Fog

    Thursday, April 20, 2017

    There is so much unnecessary fear and frustration in the world today. I don’t think it’s always been this way. My experience is that its been building, my whole life, like a smog. At first it was barely noticeable, but with time its gotten thicker until now, when the whole world seems to be choking on it. Over the course of my 34 years of life, the world popultion has grown, local infrastructure has degraded, national GDP has gone up, and climate has gone awry….

  • Optimism in Palm Springs

    Monday, March 20, 2017

    In a very odd sort of way, the last six months have felt like a honeymoon. I’ve been easing into the new commitments my property represents. Almost like a jealous lover, I haven’t wanted to write about it. It’s been new and confusing and beautiful. Now though, I have many things that I want to write about. I’m getting ready to install 1000 watts of solar panels in order to power a chest freezer. I’m building a micro-root cellar to protect homemade wine and canned…

  • What’s Next?

    Wednesday, September 7, 2016

    As I came out of Lopez Pass this afternoon I saw a large Steller Sea Lion pop out of the water about 200 yards off my bow. He had the tail of a large salmon in his mouth. Steller Sea Lions are large creatures, equivalent in size to a large black bear or a small grizzly. As his head reached about 6 feet above the water, he quickly turned and smashed the flat side of the girthy salmon against the surface of the water. I…

  • Decatur By The Numbers

    Sunday, August 21, 2016

    I reached a fork in the road this winter where I realized I needed a bigger boat or I needed to focus on getting a piece of property to complement the boat I have. I chose the latter, and in the synchronistic way of the universe, I am now the owner of a half-acre lot on Decatur Island. Now that the dust has settled, I feel I can share the financial reality that made it possible. I am trying to live a life of true…

  • Summer Adventures

    Sunday, July 24, 2016

    It’s taken the weather a little while to sort itself out, but summer is finally in full swing. The San Juan Islands are abuzz with boaters, and adventure lurks behind every corner. For the fourth of July, I babysat a friend’s boat in Fisherman’s Bay off Lopez Island. I spent three nights rafted to the side of Tuwamish, staying handy to fend off any emergencies while she swung at anchor, awaiting her family. As usual, Lopez did not disappoint with their stunning firework display. Eager…

  • Swallowing The Anchor

    Friday, July 8, 2016

    After a tempestuous night, Friday dawned clear and sunny with a light, but stiff, breeze. Not two hundred yards outside the marina, I threw up the sails and shut off the engine. I tacked back and forth on a lazy down-wind run, chasing zephyrs the entire way to Vendovi Island.   Vendovi was purchased by the San Juan Preservation Trust a few years ago. It’s a day-use only island open to the public with a small, but protected dock in the harbor on the north…

  • Vendovi Island

    Bad Mood

    Monday, June 27, 2016

    The world is a stage and we are all actors upon it according to Shakespeare, and he’s right. Seeing the world through this lens of ‘playing a role’ is revealing. When at work certain elements of our psyche get emphasized over others. Different elements are triggered when playing with children. Yet others when alone with a close friend. We can’t help but play a different role. And what determines these roles are not so much ourselves as the environment we find ourselves in. Like clockwork,…

  • ferry in thatcher pass

    Scouting Mission

    Wednesday, June 15, 2016

    I spent this last week anchored within walking distance of the property that I’m thinking of buying. We’re like two people courting one another. Right now we’re getting to know the other. If we like each other enough, we might get married.   I walked around the property, erecting and demolishing buildings in my mind’s eye. I followed the lay of the land, imagining where runoff water would flow and how it might be better directed. Over the week, I visited the site at different times…

  • A Double Edged Sword

    Tuesday, June 7, 2016

    I’m trapped at the dock while I wait for a part to arrive for the outboard. I have several bids out for new freelance projects and I’m waiting on one to pan out. I’ve made an offer on a piece of property in the San Juan Islands and I’m waiting on the paperwork to move the deal to the next step. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. But I don’t mind.   The consistent summer weather has given way to a pleasant routine: I wake up to no…

  • Ice Box Upgrade

    Sunday, May 8, 2016

    Whew! I’m glad that’s over. For the last three weeks my work hours got bumped up to forty hours per week, up from twenty, in order to launch this open source project. I love the work I do, but I can never go back to forty hours per week again. It’s one thing to work that hard for a ‘good reason’, or because one has accepted it as the way things are, which I think describes the mentality of most people. It’s another thing to…

  • Another Day In Paradise

    Wednesday, April 20, 2016

    Like a pendulum swinging back, I got my need for solitude satisfied by a few days alone on Cypress Island. The next weekend was time to celebrate Julie’s last day of work. She was a successful digital nomad until she moved to San Juan Island. There she accepted a government job. The promise of a steady paycheck meant financial safety while she acclimated to her new environment. It wasn’t long before the shackles of an office worker began to rub her raw. Once again she…

  • solo sailor

    Finding Tranquility

    Tuesday, April 12, 2016

    I’ll tell ya, I never quite find my zen like I do when I am at Cypress Island. When I left, my skin was crawling with disgust at modern life. My bank account was severely dented by van registration, boat registration, tow insurance, and fishing license fees all due at the same time. And of course I’m already feeling paranoid about ‘the man’ getting his grubby little hands on my pocket book so soon after filing my taxes. My last stop before cutting the dock…

  • A Perfect Blur

    Wednesday, April 6, 2016

    I hate sail bloggers that don’t post regularly. But sometimes, life is so good, it’s hard to worry about the digital world that may or may not be anticipating your next post. So, Dear Reader, I will attempt to bring you up to speed on what I’ve been up to. But it’s life. It has no simple narrative, no character progression, no arc. It’s a random jumble of experiences that does not easily flow onto a page. I spent a week in Portland, my old…

  • Code Pirate

    Wednesday, March 23, 2016

    I haven’t been writing much English lately because I’ve been writing so much code. Besides the 21 hours per week I do for my job, I’ve also been spending a lot of time playing with the idea of starting my own Open Value Network (OVN) for Raspberry Pi developers. The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer with a funny name. Right now I’m programming one to track my boat’s position and update the Find Solace Page. Eventually I will program it to steer my…

  • Anchored in a storm

    Riding the Pineapple Express

    Friday, March 11, 2016

    March 8th After five hours of heavy weather sailing, I stare at awe when things stay where I put them. I fluff a pillow and put it back from the center of the boat where everything piles up. A half hour later, it’s still where I put it! I got used to things flying across the boat every time I tacked. I’m anchored off Sucia Island and things are finally calm. This blustery March weather has been dubbed a Pineapple Express; a series of storm…

US Yacht at anchor

My Off-Grid Power System

This article describes the off-grid power system that I have implemented on the boat. I believe it’s a good template for those wanting to build their own simple off-grid power system for a cabin, tiny-house, van, RV, or boat. I used to work as an electrical engineer planning out twelve volt electrical systems for semi-trucks, so I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about how to build a robust, but simple, electrical system. I participate regularly on the Van-Dweller and Low-Cost-Voyaging mailing lists, and…

Bayliner 288

Crabbing with Family

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…

Pender Island Bridge

Pender, Saturna, and Tumbo Islands

It’s Saturday, the day-after the 4th of July. One of the heaviest tourist days in the San Juan Islands. Andy’s boat, Gladness, and my boat, Solace, are the only ones at the government dock on Saturna Island. I woke up this morning to the squawk of a heron and water as placid as a pond. As I sipped my morning coffee, a pontoon plane landed and dropped off three people at the end of the dock. This seems to be the most popular form of…

Summer Sailstice

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…

Self-Watering Garden Bed

I ran across this article on treehugger a couple weeks ago and I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s rare to come across an idea that so completely blows my mind that it leaves me reeling from the implications days later. This is one such idea. And so, I felt compelled to share it. Not only does this raised flower bed only have to be watered once every two to four weeks, it can be assembled almost completely out of salvaged material. Even using all-new,…

Philosophy

A Self-Sufficient Philosophy

Everyone has had the experience of not having the right tools for the job. Imagine trying to hammer a nail with a crescent wrench. It can be done, but it takes much more effort and the frustration level is much higher. Plus, the potential for physical injury is higher. Switching to a hammer is an instant ten-fold increase in pleasure and productivity. Even if the study of philosophy has never interested you, I have news for you: you have a philosophy. Everyone does. The simple…

Orca-gasm!

In a word, this past weekend was an Orca-gasm. I saw more whales than I’ve ever seen in my life, combined. Staying mostly to the east side of the San Juan Islands, it’s rare for me to see even one whale. This weekend, it seemed like I couldn’t get away from them. The weather over Memorial Day weekend was rainy and there was work to do at the office. I postponed a three-day vacation and worked on Memorial Day. As compensation, I took Monday off…

DIY Boat Curtains

Boat Curtains

The best time to buy a stock is when the price is low, the best time to buy fruit is when it’s in season, and the best time to prepare for winter is in the summer. That last tip is the focus of this post. I plan to continue to live aboard Solace this winter. In addition to insulating the hull, I have also had the plan to create curtains for all the windows and hatches. When it was cold out, I would routinely hold…

Mary Leach Natural Area, Sinclair Island

“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…

Blue Camas and Yellow Death-Camas

Blind Bay, Shaw Island

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…

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