• 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…

DIY camping gear

Northwest Coast Clothing

One of the hardest things about trying to enjoy any recreational activity around the Northwest Coast is the inconsistency of weather that we have. While rain is extremely common, so is wind, cold, heat, sun, snow, and fog. Sometimes many of these conditions occur at the same time. It’s not uncommon to be standing in warm sunshine in the middle of a downpour, or hiking in a clear, sunny, but totally freezing January day. Along the Northwest Coast, fog is a common companion throughout the…

Marine Water Heaters–Camping and Boat Showers

We talked about the luxury and decadence of hot water showers in our previous article, “Boating and Camping Showers.” This article goes a bit further, with specific application toward our configuration. While the specifics are, — well, rather specific, — the principles apply across most marine hot water systems. The essential elements are an engine with freshwater cooling capacities, a heat exchanger, and a hot water heater that can take advantage of the he heat exchanger. Marine Hot Water Heater Replacement 3 years ago, we…

oyster mushroom stir fry

Oyster Mushroom Stir Fry

Ken, Sherrie, and I have written a little bit about our adventures with cattails. Thanks to our foraging adventures, I’ve discovered the joy of stir frys and other healthy five ingredient recipes. Not only does a stir fry need few ingredients, it also allows you to control the quality and quantity of oil you consume as well as allowing you to consume a maximum of healthy vegetables, both foraged and domesticated. I intended to cook with just a cattail and create a healthy five ingredient…

charging deep cycle batteries

Charging Deep Cycle Batteries on the Hook

This article describes some of the initial changes I made to our boats electrical system. It also explains how I’m expanding the system for charging deep cycle batteries from a wind turbine and solar panels as part of my solar off grid living plans. My electrical system is constantly evolving on the Rock ‘n Row. When we first purchased her, the 12 volt system was powered by two 8-D starter batteries in the engine compartment. This is how the original electrical system was designed, and…

red elderberry berries

Elderberry Toxicity and Edibility

Hank Shaw published an article at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook on elderberry fritters. I created this post to share my own discoveries about the Red Elderberry and foster some further discussion in the comments below about the edible and toxic parts of this plant. I’ve been investigating the edibility of many local, wild plants. The red elderberry is one that has caught my eye recently. Looking in Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, it mentions that the “stems, bark, leaves and roots” are toxic, but…

James Island Marine State Park

Looking for a great island to visit in the San Juan Islands? James Island is right up there with Sucia Island, but it’s a lot further south. James also makes an ideal staging spot for further exploration into the islands. James Island is a Marine State Park operated by the Washington State Parks. It’s located just east of Thatcher Pass, the ‘gateway’ to the San Juan Islands, so it makes an excellent staging island for boats planning multi-day trips into the islands or beginning a…

Boat and Camping Showers: Equipment and Strategies

Boat showers, like camping showers, are simple luxuries that can change a remote vacation from roughing it, to a pleasurable escape that you, your friends, and your family will look forward to year after year. One of the most luxurious and to my mind, necessary adjuncts to boat cruising, is being able to take a shower after 2 or 3 days. I can manage a weekend, a week or even a month without a shower, washing and rinsing as necessary to keep comfortable and not…

Fixing My Marine Toilet System

When I purchased the Rock ‘n Row, it came with some serious serious septic sludge issues in the holding tank. This article and video shows you how I am fixing it. Septic systems and holding tanks are subjects that I never cared to know anything about. However, shortly after purchasing the Rock ‘n Row, I realized that something was amiss with its black water system. I decided to document my ‘adventure’ with marine toilet systems for those poor boaters who are in a similar situation….

How to live off the grid

Living Off The Grid

Some thoughts on what it means to me and how to achieve it. What Is Living “Off the Grid?” It has long been Ken’s and my dream to live “off the grid”. We have spent many hours discussing, dreaming, and planning that perfect place we would build someday. A little piece of land that we could grow a garden, raise a few animals, and be basically free from dependence on stores for our day-to-day needs. Selling those things that we personally produce: Ken makes a…

boat wedding

Wedding on a Boat

My brother is getting married this summer and we were brainstorming wedding locations a few months ago. We had discussed the option of having the ceremony in the San Juan Islands as there are many beautiful locations to choose from as well as affordable accommodation all over the islands for the guests. Ultimately, they decided to have the wedding closer to home, but we did run across San Juan Excursions and their lovely boat, the Odyssey. Based out of Friday Harbor on San Juan Island,…

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