• 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…

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

Ken’s Story

I have been boating for something like 55 years. I remember going with my dad to buy our first boat, found dusty and bird coated in a barn. Wood, about 15′ or 16′ with a 40 hp ob. I recall my father fiber-glassing the hull and putting on a windshield during the first year of our ownership. Before that, my dad and his buddies would take me out with them on opening day of fishing in Eastern Washington. Somehow, I always got the pole with…

Maritime Safety Balance

Maritime Safety – Best Practices

While my wife and I were at Watmough Bay on Lopez Island, some spring weather caught us off guard. The forecast when we left the dock on Friday was for calm, sunny weather all weekend. However, on Saturday afternoon the winds started picking up and the forecast had changed to 25 mph over night. We were OK. In fact, we were hardly inconvenienced, but the fact that I let the weather surprise me was bad boat safety. I foolishly didn’t check the weather forecast on…

Preserving our harvest — Canning Clams

Here we are canning those clams we harvested over the Easter weekend. This article shows how to can clam meat, but the same steps can be followed for canning clam chowder. A beautiful spring day in April found us on the beach at Sammish Island using one of the many clamming tools available for clam digging; water mining for clams. I discussed this method of clam digging in a previous article so I won’t go into detail here, this article is to show one method…

Frittered Maple Flowers

This article discusses my experience with making some very tasty frittered maple flowers while on my boat, the Rock ‘n Row, in Watmough Bay on Lopez Island I was on a walk-break at work this last week and I saw that the buds had burst on a particularly large bigleaf maple tree. Out of the buds were popping these little adolescent flower clusters. I knew that the sap of these maple leaf trees was edible and I had heard one could even shuck the whirly-gig…

clam chowder recipe, clam chowder, canning clams, canned clams, clam digging, clamming

San Juan Islands Clam Chowder Recipe

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do on those blustery days when the only place to be is inside by the fire. Be sure to check out our favorite clamming tools if you’d like to harvest your own clams for this recipe. SAN JUAN ISLANDS CLAM CHOWDER Total Time: 55 Minutes Prep Time: Approximately 15 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes Serving size: 2 cups (1 big soup mug) Total servings: 4 Ingredients 1 Cup Bacon chopped (use the meatiest part of…

Clam Chowder Days

The sky is cloudy, the wind is blowing, rain threatens. Looks like today we are inside curled up with a book by the fire. This describes many of the days we have here in the San Juan Islands, some of my favorite days. Clam Chowder days. What better meal than a hearty bowl of clam chowder on a windy, wet day? I can think of none. That we harvested the clams with our own clamming tools, and canned them ourselves makes the chowder, to me,…

Underway in the Cruise a Home

Chris’ Story – Part 2 – The Rock ‘n Row

This article continues the story of my passion for living in the San Juan Islands. You can read part one here. Despite the fact that my first attempt was an epic fail, my passion for living in the San Juan Islands never wavered. From Orcas Island, my wife and I retreated to Anacortes, where we were able to find work and begin rebuilding our savings. We still had the Sea Muse and we were still able to enjoy life under sail on the weekends. For…

Water Mining for Clams

A helpful article on less labor intensive clam digging. Combined with the right clamming tools, this technique will ensure you leave the beach with plenty of clam meat. Easter Saturday and we are heading out to one of my favorite activities here in the San Juan Islands; digging clams! There is truly no more beautiful spot to be living than here. We are sailing out from Cap Sante Marina where we have the boat moored and heading to the North side of Guemes Island, where…

Annie sailing the Sea Muse

Chris’ Story – Part 1 – How It Started, The Sea Muse

This post describes my early childhood and how it led to my passion to live in the San Juan Islands The Early Years My first trip to the San Juan Islands was when I was seven years old. My Aunt and Uncle lived in Bellingham and they had convinced my father to haul my family up for a trip to Sucia Island. Over the course of several days the beauty of that island was seared into my little brain. I walked the beach each morning…

san juan islands, sailing, boating, cruising,

Sherrie’s Story

I am Sherrie Schmidt and my husband is Ken. I am a 53 year old woman married to a wonderful man who began cruising the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea over 50 years ago. In my background, I owned a bit of acreage and grew and preserved most of the food that my family of 5 could eat in a year. Vegetables, fruits, beef, chickens, goats, etc… We made our own cheese and sold cheese and eggs to buy the things we could…

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