• 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…

  • Sailing for a Purpose

    Sunday, February 21, 2016

    The wind would be coming from the southeast all weekend. Good sailing wind: more than 10mph, but less than 20mph. The tides were mostly ebbing during the day, trying to suck a boat south, conflicting with a downwind run heading north. Julie and I had four days to have a sailing adventure. We set out at 8AM on Friday morning, attempting to ride as much slack water as possible before the ebb tide would rob our progress. I intended to sail northwest from Anacortes to…

cruising, sailing the san juan islands, hiking, boating, fishing, boat camping,

The Gnomes of Stuart Island

I know it must be hard to believe but there are gnomes living on Stuart Island. Stuart Island in Washington state, named in honor of Frederick D. Stuart, the captain’s clerk of the Wilkes expedition in 1841, is the Northwestern most island in the San Juan archipelago. Home to two communities of full and part-time residents, two airfields, and Stuart Island State Park. Most of the island is private property and although there are no stores or accommodations on Stuart Island itself, it is still…

How to Prepare Black Beans for Vacuum Food Storage

This article describes how to store dried black beans for long term storage My wife and I eat a lot of black beans and rice. These two ingredients make up an universally tasty base to which almost any edible animal or vegetable can be added. A great snack is black bean and rice on a tortilla shell with some cheddar cheese. On the boat, we will often throw in some sea lettuce and chunks of sauteed greenling in with them. At home, we’ll dice up…

TIME WARPS–Mid-week sailing

Time warps do exist!  Or maybe the water is a parallel universe.  Whatever the explanation, a few hours on the water sailing and I feel like I have been out for days Dawn breaks clear and sunny with a light breeze. The birds are up and singing, the coffee smells so very good, and the first thought is “Man! I wish I could be on the boat right now”. I have to willfully resist this urge, must get dressed for work, it’s okay; only ten hours…

hiking trail guide for cypress head

A Hiking Trail Map of Cypress Head

I’ve been digging around the internet on how to download track data to and from my GPS. I finally figured it out and decided that I’d share my GPS data on this website, as well as on Google Maps and Google Earth. The first hike I’ll share is Cypress Head. This is not my favorite hike in the world. It’s extremely vertical, making about 1000 foot of elevation gain for 4000 feet of horizontal distance. However, this trail is infrequently traveled for the same reasons,…

Wild Nettles on my menu!

What are nettles? We are fairly new to serious foraging for food. While I have been something of an outdoorsman for most of my life, I never really had a need nor a burning desire to fully utilize the natural bounty that wild food foraging can benefit us. For 40 or 50 years, I have known that wild nettles were edible. All of the books said so. Still, upon moving here 5 years ago and finding a nettle herb patch in our driveway, I had…

point wilson dart

Why Live Aboard?

Whenever I tell people about my plans to live aboard, the most common response I get is a half-cocked eyebrow and the question ‘why would you want to do that?’. This article discusses the reasons for our decision to move aboard and the life problems that we hope to solve by doing so. I have dreamed for several years now of living aboard a boat. There are really three big reasons why. In order of most importance to least important, I define them as: love…

Square Cove opening

Square Cove – Guemes Island

We did a short day trip today. We thought we might spend the night out and had prepared for such, but with 3 grand-children and neither of us feeling all that healthy, left the options open. We weren’t sure where we were going when we left the dock. It was Vendovi, Saddlebag Island, or someplace in-between. We departed our slip at Cape Sante Marina with supplies for lunch, dinner, s-mores, and more. As we were transiting Guemes Island en-route to Vendovi Island, we looked at…

geoduck, clam digging, digging clams, hood canal geoduck, boat camping, fishing puget sound, clam fishing

Geoduck and Oysters — Sailing to Dabob Bay at Hood Canal

When Ken and I purchased the Gwa’Wis, the entire San Juan Islands opened up to us.  I remember how exciting it was every time we slipped the lines and headed out of the Marina.  So many things to see, both close and far. One of our first long trips was an outing for geoduck, pronounced “gooey duck”,  and oysters.  Geoduck is the Anglicized version of the native “gweduc” which, not surprisingly, means “dig deep”.   I spent many days researching the best geoduck tides and places to…

san juan islands kayaking

San Juan Islands Kayaking: Saddlebag Island

This article describes an easy, beginner San Juan Islands kayaking trip to Saddlebag Island Although I’m not much of a kayaker, I know many people who are. The San Juan Islands are a sea kayaker’s paradise, particularly in mid to late summer when the winds calm down and the water becomes smooth as glass, like in these photos from Randy Reese. One easy, beginner sea kayak trip that is really popular are short trips to Saddlebag Island, which is a Washington State Park. The easiest…

Crabbing, crab fishing, fishing, crab harvest, puget sound crabs, dungeness crabs, hard shell crab, rock crabs,

Food and Foraging

We like to eat. We like to fish, we like to clam, we like to oyster, we like to gather, we like to eat! My mother once told me that cruising mainly involved the acquisition and preparation of food. Pretty much everything else was in furtherance of that primary goal. They have been doing this for a lifetime. From Seattle to Alaska, my father’s chart books are annotated with notes of where salmon, cod, halibut, oysters, prawns, mussels, crab, or other edibles may be found….

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