• 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…

Island within an island.

Sailing the Gulf Islands, Part 5

Day 7, Friday 9/5/14 The day we reached Nanaimo, the winds were blowing 15 to 25 miles per hour out of the Northwest. Crossing to Lesqueti would be a hard beat to weather, heading due north. There was a flood tide for most the day, but with the wind and tide fighting one another, the crossing would be 25 miles of bouncing from wave to wave in boxy seas. Just getting the 6 miles from Dodd Narrows to Nanaimo in those conditions yesterday made me…

Rockfish

Sailing the Gulf Islands, Part 4

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…

Aristotle

Cliff’s Notes to The Good Life

I’ll continue with my Gulf Island adventure next week. I decided to publish this article in order to break it up a little and continue my series of philosophical posts. As a species, we have made incredible strides the last two hundred years in our quality of life with our tools of culture and technology. But our wisdom: our philosophy and resulting social behavior, have not kept pace. Take war for example. Regardless of your ethos or religious belief, every human knows, deep down, at…

Sailing the Gulf Islands, Part 3

Day 3, Monday, 9/1/14 God it feels good to write this date: 9. 1. 14… Nine. One. Fourteen…. How many months have I prepared for this trip? How many hours of labor did I spend with the thought of this date as my carrot before the proverbial horse? I was working for more than this trip, of course. I was building my home and carving out a lifestyle, but this trip was a focal point, a mandala to help me visualize the reality I was…

Tumbo to Whaler Bay

Sailing the Gulf Islands, Part 2

Sunday, 8/31/14, Day 2 Saturday night we all dropped separate anchors, avoiding the kinetic pinball mistake we’d made the night before. We all slept soundly and woke up refreshed. As usual our initial plans changed completely to take advantage of the changing tide and wind conditions. The original plan was to sail from Tumbo Island to Whaler Bay, off Galiano Island. We all agreed to leave late in the day to take advantage of the evening winds for sailing. That would give us the morning…

Sailing Rosario Strait

Sailing the Gulf Islands, Part 1

I had limited time to post this at a Cafe on Ganges Island. I’ll post more pictures. For now, enjoy this time lapse I took sailing from Sucia Island to Tumbo Island: Day 0 The anticipation this morning was palpable. It was literally almost too much to take. At one point I looked at the clock and it said 11 AM. FOUR HOURS TO GO?! WHAT?! Time crawled on like an ant with a broken leg, hobbling it’s way to 3 o’clock. But finally, I…

Hard and Soft

I was listening to the podcast of an Australian radio station that had Emily Richmond on as guest. Emily is one of the most bad-ass women I’ve ever heard of, presently solo-sailing around the world in her engine-less sailboat. One phrase she said on the podcast caught my attention: “Looking up at the stars, thinking about space and what’s ahead.” Imagine that: trying to plan around all the obstacles of an engine-less voyage to your next destination while admiring the beauty of the night sky…

Sailing Selfie

The Cusp of Consumption

Consumption is the key to everything. For anyone who wants to craft a message for the general public, be it a piece of political propaganda, a viral facebook post, or a call to arms by an environmental activist, you can’t tell people they have to consume less. No one wants to hear that. It’s popular suicide. Everyone wants to heal the earth, everyone wants the American Dream of social mobility, everyone wants the consumption lifestyle we had in the 90’s, but the harder we try…

Fog in Rosario Strait

We’re Taking On Water!

The day dawned glorious and bright, with the densely wooded hillside of Cypress Island for a backdrop, and good friends rafted to either side of Solace. But as so often happens this time of year, Rosario Strait, a mere quarter mile away, was completely socked in with fog. My friends and I had met up the night before for an impromptu rendezvous at Cypress Island. I planned to head back to the mainland this morning to get some work done on Solace in preparation for…

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…

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