Thursday, January 31, 2013

My New Passion

This little guy is a Mountain Ocarinas Polycarbonate inline ocarina tuned in the key of C.  It is  about 5.5 inches long, and has a range from B4 (low B) to E6 (high E), and with some coaxing, it can play A4 to F6.  It is fully chromatic, although I generally choose the easy keys!  Although it seems like a limited range, there are thousands and thousands of tunes that fit. Virtually all folk music and traditional tunes can be played on an ocarina with this range, as well as the vast majority of popular tunes.

Ocarinas are "pocket flutes"  and are actually ancient instruments found in one shape or another in most cultures.  Most people are more familiar with the sweet potato style ocarina, but the inline ocarinas are also a traditional shape.  They can be made of clay, wood, ceramic, or any number of other materials.  This polycabonate material is injection molded and is very inexpensive by comparison to the others, is virtually indestructible, and has a great tone.

I first got interested in the ocarina while looking for something to play for double tracking with my Taylor guitar, since my singing leaves - ahem - a bit to be desired, and I just stumbled across ocarinas.  Then I found Mountain Ocarinas, ordered one, and was hooked!

I got my first ocarina back in September 2012, a polycarbonate MO-G (considerably smaller, and tuned in G, a fifth higher), and was off and running in a matter of minutes!  I am still not a great player but am just having a blast, and have a couple of YouTube videos posted.  The first one, Amazing Grace, was recorded on an iPhone on our deck at Birch Bay, but the later ones, like Frosty and Snowman and Finnegan's Wake, were recorded with Audacity with a condenser mike and videoed on a Canon SX-20, so the quality is a tad better, even if my playing isn't!  My channel is Pat Anderson.  There is also a recorder duet there that Patty and I did a little while ago, as my renewed interest in playing tunes rekindled my interest in the recorders that we used to play together 40 years ago!

The polycarbonate C ocarina cost $25, and I don't go anywhere without it in my pocket. I am accumulating a massive collection of sheet music for it, and and getting more and more tunes that I know by heart.  Mountain Ocarinas also makes ocarinas out of different materials, including hardwood, but I am waiting for a very special one that is in development, the ProRange, which will have a two octave range.   It will be made of hardwood, by hand, and will be pretty pricey little instrument, but there is no turning back!  I must have it!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Blaine to Comox Summer Vacation 2012 - Days 11 - 15

Day 11 – 7-29-12 – Sunday – Comox to Newcastle Island
We left Comox at 6 a.m., and had absolutely glassy seas all the way to Nanaimo! Our first stop was the fuel dock at Nanaimo Marina for gas and ice, and then over to Newcastle Island. We took 51.8 gallons, which added to the 30.5 used since Blaine, means we have used 82.3 gallons so far.

About 60 Ranger Tugs of all sizes (25, 27, 29 and 31) were coming into Nanaimo and I heard Jeff Messmer and Andrew Custis of Ranger Tugs, so I gave a call, and let them know we would like to come over to say hello. Jan and Stacy (Stacy flew into Comox Friday to join Jan) and Patty and I each loaded into our dinghies and motored across and tied up to Willie's Tug, owned by our friends Herb and Willie Stark of Port Isabel, Texas, who have been based in Anacortes for the past four months. It was an incredible sight to see all those tugs, representing 10s of millions of dollars!

After we returned to Newcastle Island, we had drinks and appetizers on the dock followed by flank steak and grilled peppers. Our new friend Marv Glover, was still there, and he came over to our boats and we chatted a bit, then finished a very pleasant evening with a nightcap and converation on the dock with Jan and Stacy.

NM 175.3 / 82.3 gallons = 2.1 NM / gallon (2.4 statute miles per gallon)

Day 12 – 7 -30-12 – Monday – Newcastle Island to Maple Bay

After showers and breakfast, we headed out at about 7:45 a.m. to catch slack tide through Dodd Narrows, which is just south of Nanaimo, and really the only way back south, unless you want to run outside in the Strait of Georgia. We caught Dodd Narrows just before slack, and the current was actually pushing us through. Had we waited until much after slack, we would have been fighting the current, which at its height would be an 8.3 knot current against us. A 9 knot boat would just be making headway at less than 1 knot, and slower boats would actually be going backwards! Even with our 20 knot C-Dorys, it would not be comfortable for us, even though we could power through it. Knowing something about the currents is very useful in a place like Dodd Narrows!

Patty and Baxter at "Dog Head"
at Maple Bay Marina
We were originally going to meet Garry and Vicki on Amy Marie at Cowichan Bay, but they were uncertain of fitting three boats in together, so they called for reservations at Maple Bay Marina. It took us just over two hours to reach Maple Bay Marina, and get settled into our assigned slips. This is the most expensive place we have stayed so far, and the docks are in a bit of disrepair. But the dock boy was there to catch our lines, guide us in and get us tied up, and provide the extension cords and adapters we needed to connect to shore power, so it is all good I guess.

Shortly after we arrived, the Seattle Yacht Club flotilla began to arrive in mega-yachts! They have pretty much filled up the Marina, and we felt a bit like the poor relations! But, as we say, the gin tastes just as good on a C-Dory 25 as it does on a 75 foot mega-yacht! And our fuel stops are in the hundreds of dollars while theirs are in the thousands or even 10s of thousands!

We had a nice dinner in the Maple Bay Marina Pub, and retired to our boats – the Seattle Yacht Club folks were having a grand evening, talking, laughing and singing until the wee hours. We got a good night's sleep nonetheless.

One distinctive feature of Maple Bay Marina is all kinds of old boat engines painted red and white all over the grounds - very nice touch really!

NM 201.7

Day 13 – 7-31-12 – Tuesday – Maple Bay to Tod Inlet (Butchart Gardens)

C-Change at Tod Inlet
Amy Marie at Tod Inlet 
We had a leisurely breakfast on-board and then departed Maple Bay Marina at 10 a.m. - the water was glassy, and we cruised comfortably to Tod Inlet, where we anchored up. Tod Inlet was an unexpected jewel as well – a protected anchorage with room for quite a few boats, and an undeveloped shoreline where we could land Baxter. 

Main Building at Butchart Gardens
Butchart Gardens 
After lunch, we all headed to the Butchart Gardens Cove dinghy dock and spent the afternoon enjoying what must be the premier formal gardens in the Northwest. This is best shown in pictures rather than trying to describe it!

Cosmos and Petunias

Water Lily 
After supper we decided to go back to Butchart Gardens for a ballet performance in their performance venue – big mistake! It started at 8 p.m. and was still going on when we decided to leave at 10 p.m. Jan fell asleep and the rest of us were wondering when the pain would was a mishmash of classical and jazz and it mostly seemed pointless. But maybe that is just me. We walked a bit more around the gardens which are lit up at night and give a different view.

NM 217.4

Day 14 – 8-1-12 – Wednesday – Butchart Gardens Cove to Matia Cove

A bit of a change in plans, as we had intended to spend the night at Sidney Spit. Garry and Vicki decided to clear customs at Roche Harbor early and then head for Sucia so they could get an early start to Blaine to retrieve, as they need to be in Oregon on Friday for their granddaughter Gracie's 4th birthday. That is a whole other story, as Gracie is one of the bravest little girls alive, having fought off flesh eating bacteria and coming through some major surgery with just an “Angel Kiss” (her barely perceptible scar).

So we had lunch at Sidney Spit and said our goodbyes to Jan and Stacy, and then headed to Roche Harbor after lunch. Jan and Stacy are headed to Victoria before they go back to Seattle. We suggested to Garry and Vicki that they might want to go to Matia Cove rather than Sucia, and so they did, and we joined them in time for drinks and dinner. They had anchored up, and we anchored a short distance in front of them and then let out enough rode to raft up. Then after dinner, we separated and pulled in our rode. This is a technique we learned from our friends Bill and El on Halcyon.

Matia Cove is truly an undiscovered jewel. It is not named on any chart, or written up in any cruising guide – I wrote the Active Captain review, and we are actually glad that it remains substantially overlooked as an anchorage.

The moon rising over Lummi Island viewed from Matia Cove tonight was simply spectacular!

NM 258.9

Day 15 – 8-2-12 – Thursday – Matia Cove to Blaine

We left Matia Cove early, and immediately hit some heavy water right outside the cove, limiting us to about six knots, and for the first time in a long time, I got seasick. I think the last time was in Mexico in 1984 on a tour boat. The water shortly improved and we ran back most of the way at 12 – 14 knots.

But about 6 miles out of Blaine, the engine alarm came on, so we shut the engine down. Checking the Honda manual, we quickly determined that it was the alternator alarm. We confirmed this when we turned the key back on and the red charging system malfunction light came on and did not go off. So we put the tie rod on between the main and the kicker so Patty could steer from the helm, and I ran the throttle and shifter at the kicker. The alternator does two things – it charges the batteries, but first and foremost, it provides the power for the spark plugs to fire. We might have gone some unknown distance using the batteries in emergency parallel mode (we have one engine and two house batteries) but did not want to take a chance on running on the batteries. So we covered the last 6 miles at 4.5 to 6 knots.

When we got back to the ramp, there were two Lummi fishing boats tied up, one on each side of the float, and the guy was working on the engine on one of them! Bad manners to say the least. Eventually they moved the second boat around to the other side so we could get in and load the boat on the trailer, but we had to stand off for what seemed like an eternity.

So now our cruise is over but we have a couple more days of vacation! We got back to Birch Bay, had lunch, unloaded the boat, flushed the engines, and pretty much just chilled. Friday we will wash the boat and take it in to West Coast Marine in Bellingham. Saturday hopefully we will relax, and then head back to Fall City on Saturday evening. We need Sunday in Fall City to decompress!

NM 273.4

Blaine to Comox Summer Vacation 2012 - Days 6 - 10

Day 6 - 7/24/12 – Tuesday – Ladysmith to Pirates Cove

We left Ladysmith Harbour after breakfast headed for Pirates Cove on DeCourcy Island. The water was as close to dead calm as it could be and we ran just under 7 knots, with no wind or current against us – ideal for fuel economy!

We love Pirates Cove, checking my log book, we were here in 2005 and 2007. In 2007, Austin was in the dinghy and did everybody's stern ties – very helpful!

Daydream Stern Tied at Pirates Cove
Pirates Cove is fairly small and tight, so to maximize the use of the available space, boats set their anchors and then run stern lines to rings in the rocks on the shore. That way each boat does not have to have swinging space. A couple of sailboats that had been stern tied left shortly after we arrived at Pirates Cove and we were able to get four rings for stern ties next to each other. We did miss Austin though – four years ago, he handled taking each C-Dory's stern line to the ring on shore, this time is was every man for himself! We finally all got our anchors down and stern lines tied.
Anna Leigh, Amy Marie, C-Change and Daydream Stern Tied at Pirates Cove

Garry, David, Patty, Vicki and Jan on MBYC Float
at Pirates Cove
We dinghied out to the Maple Bay Yacht Club float for afternoon drinks and appetizers, and then we took our hike around the island. Baxter loves it because he gets to be off leash! There is another little bay on DeCourcy Island directly across from the end of Pirates Cove with a nice sandy beach. Today there were quite a few sea kayaks there.

Sea Kayaks at Small Bay Opposite Pirates Cove
We all retired to our separate boats for dinner. We spent a pleasant evening reading and turned in early, since we want to get out fairly early tomorrow to catch the slack at Dodd Narrows.

64.59 NM / 24.1 gal = 2.68 NM / gal

Day 7 - 7/25/12 – Wednesday – Pirates Cove to Newcastle Island (Nanaimo)

Eagle Seen on DeCourcy Island
We left Pirates Cove around 9 a.m., hoping to get to Dodd Narrows while current was still favorable, almost made it! The current was running only a little bit against us in Dodd Narrows, but when we came out the other side, we were open to the Strait of Georgia, and were bucking big waves, 3-4 footers, never felt unsafe but definitely uncomfortable!

We fueled up at the gas dock at Nanaimo Marina. The Navman fuel flow meter had us at 33 gallons used but fill was only 30.5 gallons. The Navman LCD display has also become next to impossible to read, so not sure how we will track this on a daily basis now. Baxter took a flying leap from the boat to the fuel dock and missed, and took an unintentional swim! Fortunately, the gas attendant was able to reach down between the boat and the dock and pull him right back up. He was dog-paddling like crazy, and we were afraid he might swim under the fuel dock.

There was ample dock space for us all to get tied up at the Newcastle Island dock. The whole island is a marine park, and it is simply a great spot! There are restrooms with showers, and a pavilion, which unfortunately was closed today. We plan to stop here again on our way back down from Comox.

The boat across from us was a 25 Albin, which is fairly rare, and we talked to the owner, Marv Glover, who is 93 and still cruising. Talking to Marv, he is friends with our amateur radio friend Norm Lim, who has an Albin 30. They are both in the Albineers club in Sidney, B.C. I hope to be vertical and lucid at 93, and being able to cruise our boat would really be frosting on the cake!

We took the little ferry over to Nanaimo from Newcastle Island. We were on a mission, Patty had mistakenly taken the wrong bottle of meds, so she had her local doc call in a two week supply to a pharmacy in Nanaimo – only problem, this pharmacy did not have the main med Patty needed. They called every other pharmacy in town and finally located it and faxed the prescription there, a drug store on the outskirts of Nanaimo. It was a $30 taxi ride each way, but Patty did get her meds. Bonus for me, I got a pair of suspenders in the same mall, so now my shorts won't be riding around my knees!

Nanaimo from Newcastle Island
We finally got back to Newcastle Island just in time for drinks and appetizers. Patty did not feel much like either cooking or eating, so I had a couple of hot dogs and a beer and called it dinner. After showers (a looney for two minutes) at the park shower facilities, we had a nightcap with our friends at the end of the dock, and marveled at the view before us of the water, the boats, the Nanaimo skyline and the mountains – this is truly a beautiful spot!

Our plan is to take off for Hornby Island as early as possible tomorrow morning, and if the water is smooth, to continue on all the way to Comox and arrive a day early. The alarm on the iPhone is set for 5 a.m.! Garry and Vicki will be heading back south to Ganges tomorrow on Amy Marie for the Ranger Tug rendezvous, and the C-Dorys will head back down south from Comox on Sunday, and hook up with Garry and Vicki on Monday somewhere around Cowichan Bay, if all goes as planned!

74.75 NM / 30.5 gal = 2.45 NM / gallon

Day 8 - 7-26-12 – Thursday – Newcastle Island to Comox

I got up at 4:50 a.m., turned the alarm off and got the coffee going. It was still pretty dark, and I walked out to the Georgia Strait side for some sunrise pictures. Then a BC ferry sailed right into my viewfinder! Some times you just luck out!

BC Ferry in Strait of Georgia at Sunrise
After coffee and cereal we were underway at 6 a.m., leaving Amy Marie on the dock! We had a little chop in the Strait of Georgia, but pretty soon we settled in at a comfortable 14 knots, and the water actually smoothed out the farther north we got, about as good as the Strait of Georgia gets.

When we reached the south tip of Denman Island, it was only 9:30 a.m., and so we decided to push on for Comox. We arrived at the Government Docks in Comox about 10 a.m. This is also a great facility, and I have WiFi, so I can catch up on everything, add pictures to Days 1 – 5.

Anna Leigh, Daydream and C-Change
Tied Up at Government Dock at Comox
We were the first to arrive, so Anna Leigh, Daydream and C-Change got tied up and registered, then as the day went on more boats arrived – not too much room left on D Dock, and most of the boats coming have not arrived yet! Although it seems there is plenty of room here, we may be spread out a bit. We spent the day on the boat and on the dock, helping others with their lines as they arrived. Per usual, drinks and appetizers on the dock at 5 p.m. 

Shrimp Boat at Comox
Cooking the Big Shrimp!
The highlight was the shrimp boat's arrival at the dock at 6 p.m. - a pound of big shrimp tails (head already removed) for $10! Most everybody bought a pound and immediately sauteed them in butter and garlic – we all shared, but we still have a big bowl of shrimp for today! These shrimp are really fresh and just melt in your mouth!

As we were cruising here, our Navman 3100 fuel flow meter LCD display became completely unreadable, it had been marginal before but now it is completely useless, so I can record distances traveled but not our fuel economy. I will miss the display of fuel remaining the most, and will probably try to fuel more frequently now!

124.6 NM

Day 9 – 7-27-12 – Friday - At Comox

Lazy day! More C-Dorys arrived this morning. A lot of talking with everybody on the dock, and a walk up to the town. Replenished liquor stocks, we are enjoying lunch time gin and tonics, and sundowners have been Manhattans for me and a martini (big glass of cheap gin) for Patty. I still have some Bowen Island Pale Ale from Nanaimo, and I bought some Strongbow dry cider here as well, which is very tasty!

A grand surprise! Our C-Brat Head Nerd, Bill Giese, walked down to the Comox dock in his motorcycle gear. He has recently moved up from California to the Port Angeles area, and took his Triumph Tiger from PA to Victoria on the Black Ball Line MV Coho, and then up the island highway to Comox. C-Brats exists because of our web site,, founded by Mike Barber (Tyboo) and Bill (DaNag). Bill is the bona fide techie who built the site, has kept it running and continually improved it over the years.

We have been using our Edgestar ice maker here at Comox, since we have shore power – it has been working great, better than we seem to remember in the past, and we have basically filled our round cooler with ice we have made on board. We bought this with Lake Powell in mind, where ice may be hard to come by. Ice is readily available here, and we have been buying block ice for the big cooler.

We had our first official function, a meet and greet in Comox Marina Park, which is (as you might guess) just above the marina, and is a wonderful park with two pavilions, lots of well kept lawn and flower beds, a little trailer that sells fish and chips, and nice restroom facilities. Our host, Martin Bridges, had a grill set up, and we enjoyed hamburgers, chicken burgers and hot dogs. Baxter enjoyed being off leash in the park for a little while and running crazy with dogs from many of the other boats. He is a great boat dog!

We bought another pound of big shrimp tails for $10 and 5 pounds of smaller shrimp at a dollar a pound! We boiled up the little shrimp and will saute the big shrimp with butter and garlic tomorrow morning.

This CBGT (C-Brat Get-Together) is off to a grand start!

Day 10 – 7-28-12 – Saturday – At Comox

I got up early after a great night's sleep, and took Baxter up to Comox Marina Park for morning duty. Then I shaved and showered and did laundry – all activities that pretty much require a marina (or a much larger boat than a C-Dory!). Bill Geise headed back to PA around 11 a.m., and so will miss the major event today, our traditional Saturday afternoon potluck.

We walked up to town again, and bought a few more things, and fortunately we did not need to contribute any more to the BC Liquor Store system!

Jack, the 11 Year Old
Guitar Virtuoso
Martin Bridges, Our Host
at the Comox CBGT
The potluck, as always, started at 5 p.m. Our hosts, Martin and Andrea Bridges, really outdid themselves for the potluck program! They raised the bar for all subsequent C-Brat potlucks, with a speaker on the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue program in Comox, an 11 year old virtuoso guitarist, and a lot of great prizes, which were awarded by drawing boat names and letting the owner pick. There was at least one prize for each boat. Martin had not even purchased his C-Dory when he volunteered to coordinate the Comox CBGT. Patty was at first a little reluctant because she thought Comox was just too far to go for a CBGT – I think her mind has been changed, and we will be the first to sign up again the next time this one comes around!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Blaine to Comox Summer Vacation 2012 - Days 1 - 5

Day 1 - 7/19/12 – Thursday – Fall City to Blaine

We have been really looking forward to this two week cruise from Blaine to Comox, B.C. and back on our CD25 Cruiser Daydream, and are anxious to get started! There is a C-Brat Get-Together in Comox, B.C., next weekend, so we have decided to take a week cruising up and a week cruising back down. We had a fun planning session at the Taproom and we have a tentative itinerary that includes a lot of our old favorite spots and a few new ones. We are going with Garry and Vicki Anderson on their Ranger Tug R27 Amy Marie, Jan Risheim on his new-to-him CD25 C-Change, and David McKibben on his CD25 Anna Leigh. While we are in Comox, Garry and Vicki will go to a Ranger Tug rendezvous in Ganges, and we will hook up again south of Ganges after the weekend.

Today's plan was to go to up to Birch Bay for the night with Garry and Vicki, and launch early Friday morning at Blaine. We got off to an inauspicious start, I hope this is not an omen! I came home from work at 3 p.m., and we were ready to leave Fall City for Birch Bay at 6 p.m. with Garry and Vicki Anderson. Pulling out of his driveway, Garry hit the brick pavers at the end of the driveway and took out the sidewalls of both port side trailer tires. Thank heavens for AAA and Les Schwab emergency road service! Garry got two new tires, and we were ready to leave now shortly after 9 p.m., a little later than planned!

We had an uneventful trip up to Birch Bay, arriving shortly before midnight. We decided to put Daydream on the grass and Amy Marie in the driveway. It was a little more difficult than anticipated backing Daydream onto the grass in the dark but we finally got her tucked in. Then the darn trailer ball would not release from the coupler. We struggled with it for an hour, and it finally came loose. We didn't get to bed until after 1 a.m., definitely not what we had planned for an early start!

Day 2 - 7/20/12 – Friday – Blaine to Cabbage Island

Baxter got me up at 5:30 a.m., so I got a total of four and a half hours sleep. I picked raspberries from our 20 foot row at Birch Bay while I was waiting for everyone else to get up, the canes were just loaded! We put a couple of trays in the freezer that we will bag up when we come back after the cruise, and we all got a nice bowl with our breakfast.

Patty and Vickie at
dock in Blaine

We were all kind of dragging after the late night, and it was about noon before we were able to get going. We launched at Blaine and cleared Canadian Customs at White Rock. We ran most of the way to Cabbage Island at about 7 knots. There were some pretty good sized waves in the Strait of Georgia but we just slogged our way through them – the boat handled them fine but we were a tad uncomfortable ourselves! Anna Leigh and C-Change were already at Cabbage Island on mooring buoys. Daydream and Amy Marie snagged the last two available buoys, and so we are set for the night. I got the Alaskan Series dinghy down and put the little 2 horse Mercury outboard on it – and amazingly, it started right up. I took Baxter to shore, emptied the water out of the dinghy and pumped it up, and I think we will probably get a lot of use out of it on this cruise.

Anna Leigh
We have great memories of Cabbage Island from a prior trip, where Anna Leigh and Daydream met up with our amateur radio friend Norm Lim from Victoria on his Albin 30. We picked oysters, and Norm blanched some oysters he had picked and tossed them in a hoisin and cilanto dressing that was just fabulous. I was not sure whether oyster season was open in July or not, but there were “toxic shellfish” warning signs all over, so we did not take any oysters.


Amy Marie
We had drinks and appetizers on Amy Marie, now dubbed the "party boat”! Jan is aces with those Maker's Mark Manhattans! It is dead calm right now, and drop dead gorgeous here but cold – we had the Webasto heater on this evening turned up to high. Looking forward to a good night's sleep tonight for sure!

Amy Marie in Strait of Georgia

19.5 NM / 8.3 gallons used = 2.3 NM / gallon

Day 3 - 7/12/12 – Saturday – Cabbage Island to Montague Harbour

Baxter got me up at 5:45 a.m., after a good night's sleep! I rowed him ashore and back and then got the coffee going. Not much better than the first cup of coffee in the cockpit on Daydream! We are still close enough to Mount Constitution on Orcas that I was able to do our morning ham net with the little 5 watt Wouxun handheld.

Jan, David, Patty, Vicki and Garry
Old building on Tumbo Island
After breakfast, we hiked around Cabbage Island – not too strenuous, it is a very small island! Leaving Cabbage Island in the dinghy, the lens shade fell into the water, and I thought it was gone, gone gone. Then we went over to Tumbo Island to take a look around but had to leave as the tide was going out rapidly, and we didn't want the dinghies stranded. We went back over to Cabbage Island, and found the lens shade in a couple of feet of water and were able to retrieve it!

We decided to head for Montague Harbour before lunch. Active Pass was running strong against us, but we saw two pods of Orcas coming right down the center! It was a wonderful show, but unfortunately I did not get any pictures.

The other boats all grabbed mooring buoys while we anchored. We are all pretty close together near the dinghy dock. Daydream was the “party boat” for drinks and appetizers today, it is pretty tight with six on Daydream's cockpit but we managed it!

Then, the highlight of Montague Harbour, the Hippy Bus to the Hummingbird Pub! We caught the 6 p.m. bus up on the road above the camping area, and true to form, Tommy Transit, “Bus Driver on a Mission,” was at the wheel of the old bus. This is hard to describe, it has to be experienced! Tommy has the stereo up loud, and is drumming on the steering wheel and cymbal mounted over the driver's seat, keeping up running patter that has everybody laughing. In the old days, the bus used to have a pole, and on the trip back, Tommy would be up on the pole steering the bus with one finger on the wheel, but the “new” Hippy Bus does not have the pole. We surmised that perhaps a few people felt a bit unsafe with the bus driver swinging around the pole although we never felt unsafe. The food is OK at the Pub (actually pretty good) but the trip back with Tommy is the best part because it ALWAYS features “Blueberry Hill,” and everybody singing along, clapping, and tapping toes. This is an essential part of the Gulf Islands experience not to be missed! Sorry, did not get any pix of Tommy Transit or the bus!

34.34 NM / 13.4 gal = 12.5 NM / gallon 

Day 4 - 7-22-12 – Sunday – Montague Harbour to Conover Cove

We slept in until 8:30 a.m. and headed out for Conover Cove about 10:30, cruising 6.5 – 7.0 knots.

At Conover Cove, all four boats were able to tie up to the dock – a sign of the times! In past years, Conover Cove, which is quite small, would not only have the dock full but boats would be anchored and stern tied on both sides, and you would be lucky to find a place at all if you came in a bit too late.

Conover Cove is magical not only for what it is now, which is pretty special, but for what it once might have been. It was going to be a resort for Hollywood movie stars, and some of them once came, including Marilyn Monroe. A few of the cabins still stand and in the open dance pavilion you can still perhaps hear the strains of the swing bands if you have a vivid imagination. Now everyone puts their boat name and date of their visit on a piece of driftwood and hangs it in the pavilion – we memorialized Daydream's visit on driftwood in 2008, and it still hangs there among thousands of others.

Patty, Jan and I walked to Sunset Point, and were treated to just another spectacular vista over the water. We were a bit too early for the actual sunset but we did not want to be walking back in the dark. This is a great place, and I am sure we will visit again some time in the future.

40.52 NM / 15.4 gal = 2.6 NM / gal 

Day 5 - 7/23/12 – Monday – Conover Cove to Ladysmith

Jan called the Ladysmith Maritime Society Marina in Ladysmith from Conover Cove and made reservations for our four boats.  Our assigned spot was barely longer than our boat, but Patty did a great job bringing Daydream in, and with our friends to catch lines, we got in fine.  This is a first class marina!   We have power, water and free showers! We have never been to Ladysmith before, so this is a first for us.  We usually anchor out but after a few days, you realize a hot shower is exactly what the doctor ordered!

We walked up to town and got some Canadian money from an ATM - up to now, we really had not needed any, but better to be prepared!  Then we went to the Liquor Depot - wow!  BC prices for anything alcoholic are outrageous! 

We are headed for Nanaimo and trying to decide where to stay between Nanaimo and Comox to break the trip up, but if push comes to shove we are thinking of making the trip, about 50 miles, in one run at, say 14 knots - not a long day, but we will just have to see. Our main issue anchoring out anywhere along the way is getting Baxter to shore.

As we were sitting on the dock for our sundowners, Bob and Marilyn Hale (Waggoner Guide) wandered by, and we chatted a bit.  Bob took a shot of our little group, maybe it will show up somewhere, maybe not. Bob was no help in finding a spot to spend the night between Nanaimo and Comox! 

We had a great communal dinner on the dock, but it is still doggone chilly for this time of year - or as we say, it is really mild for December!  Except it is in fact the middle of July.

52.09 NM / 21.5 gal = 2.4 NM / gal 

Blaine to Comox Summer Cruise 2012

Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.

After last year's “Vacation from Hell,” we are ready for a great vacation this year!  We love cruising on Daydream, and we love the Gulf Islands, so a C-Brat Get-Together in Comox gave us the idea to build our 2012 summer vacation around another Gulf Island cruise.  We have such great memories of past Gulf Island cruises with good friends!  We are launching in Blaine, WA, and taking the first week to cruise up to Comox, and then the second week to cruise back down.  I am making daily notes, and will post as we have an internet connection along the way or back home.  The adventure begins!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Our New Toy!

You're alive. Do something ~ Barbara Hall

We have gone through a few stages of our lives, graduating from high school, graduating from college, our Peace Corps years, our New Jersey sojourn, starting our working careers, having three kids, getting kids through college. Now the kids are (mostly) out of the house, and we are looking forward to the retirement stage, and thinking about what we want to do. Of course we will live in Birch Bay in the decent part of the year. Boating will be a big part of what we do. And we think RV'ing will be too.

Many years ago we enjoyed RV'ing in an old but comfortable Automate travel trailer. A couple of years ago we bought a "disposable" fifth wheel, a 1991 Alpenlite that came with a 1993 Ford F250 tow vehicle, both in excellent condition, to keep in Omak so we would have a place to stay when we visit our daughter Lydia and precious granddaughter Harper.

We discovered we really liked staying in the fifth wheel at the Omak Stampede Ground RV Park, and that traveling in a fifth wheel to sunny climes when the weather is rotten here is likely to be a big part of our retirement. So we were planning to buy a new fifth wheel just before retirement.

Well, we went to the Tacoma RV Show a few weeks ago "just to look." We did that for a couple of Seattle Boat Shows too! I had sort of zeroed in on the make and model that seemed just right for us, a Fox Mountain 265RLS by Northwood Manufacturing from LaGrande, OR. Sumner RV is a local Northwood dealer, but they did not have the 265RLS at the show, so we asked the salesman. He said they had one, a brand new left over 2011 model, at their lot in Sumner, and he would call over and tell them we were coming. And most importantly, he wrote the RV Show "Special" price on a piece of paper! It was a great price.

The long and short is that we drove out to Sumner and signed the purchase order about a year and half before we had planned to. A trip the following Monday to the Sno Falls Credit Union, and we owned a new RV! We brought 'er home last Saturday, and we are headed out to Dash Point State Park for our shakedown trip this weekend. We think a lot of long weekend trips are in our future in the next year and a half.

But what we are really excited about is when we retire, and take off in the fifth wheel, no Monday we have to be back for! There is a country out there to explore, and that is exactly what we plan to do!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sayulita Mini-vacation

How beautiful it is to do nothing and then rest afterward ~ Spanish proverb

We first came to Sayulita, Mexico, for a wedding in 2008. The marriage didn't last, but our fond memories of this place did. So we decided to come back for a mini-vacation over Thanksgiving. This chronicles our all-too-brief stay in Sayulita between November 24 and 29, 2011.

The Anderson family has had a tradition of "Thanksgiving anywhere but here" for some years. It started when my parents were both around the bend and the big family gathering no longer made any sense. We always run to the sun, because the endless November drizzle on the Upper Left Coast is just starting to get us down about Thanksgiving. Tucson, New Orleans, and San Diego all fit the bill. This year Patty decided we ought to go back to Sayulita, a small fishing village about 20 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. We used to take all the kids and their spouses or boyfriends / girlfriends, but this year, we only brought Austin and girlfriend Kristi, since Barrett and Laurie now live in Barcelona and Lydia, Conor and granddaughter Harper live in Omak and it was the Hamiltons' year for Thanksgiving.

We had a 9 a.m. non-stop from SeaTac to Puerto Vallarta Thanksgiving morning - the airport was like a ghost town. Four and a half hours later we landed at Puerto Vallarta Aeropuerto, changed some dollars to pesos, walked across the street and caught the bus for Sayulita. It is about a one hour ride to Sayulita. By 6 p.m. Central Time (we lost two hours traveling east, which we will gain back going home), we were settled into our apartment at Xocotla, Mariposa Calle No. 2, a short distance up Gringo Hill.

Xocotla is a private house on a steep hillside in which the owners have the top floor and there are three guest apartments on the two floors below. All the guest apartments have a fully furnished kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, and the kitchens all are open and daylight on the downhill side, above a pool, patio and jungle-like grounds.

Xocotla 11-27-11.jpg

Xocotla Bedroom 11-27-11.jpg

Casual Seating Area at Xocotla 11-27-11.jpg

Pool at Xocotla 11-27-11.jpg

BBQ Area at Xocotla 111-27-11.jpg

Thanksgiving dinner was wonderful - street tacos and beer! The street taco stand was not a complicated thing - a big pan on concrete blocks with some kind of flame under it, beef, pork or tripe in the pan, and a cutting board for chopping onions and cilantro.

Patty's Thanksgiving Dinner 2011 - Street Tacos in Sayulita.jpg

Pat, Austin and Kristi - Thanksgiving 2011.jpg

Our Thanksgiving Chefs 2011.jpg

Time really runs together when you have nothing to do and then get to rest afterward! I could not tell you what we did on one day or another! We divided our time between reading and relaxing at Xocotla and being out and about, with the edge to relaxing! Patty read a couple of novels. I am obsessed, as Patty will tell you, with boating the Great Loop, a 5,000 mile circumnavigation of the Eastern US and Canada, so I spent a lot of time buried in some Skipper Bob Guides and entering routes into the Navionics iPad navigation app - which is absolutely awesome, by the way.

Sayulita is a very colorful little t
own, so we did the usual sightseeing and shopping.

Patty in the Street Bazaar in Sayulita 11-27-11.jpg

Patty at the Farmers Market 11-25-11.jpg

Austin and Patty Shopping in Sayulita 11-27-11.jpg

Sayulita is a bona fide fishing village. The fishing boats come in early in the morning and you can buy fresh fish right off the boats. I soon discovered the chances of being up early enough for that were slim to none! We also thought we might rent some ocean kayaks, but being down on the beach, with the surf pounding, it suddenly did not seem like such a great idea.

Fishing Boats on Beach in Sayulita 11-25-11.jpg

Beach Umbrellas at Sayulita 11-27-11.jpg

Beach at Sayulita 11-17-11.jpg

Back at Xocotla, we had a bit of pool time too! The first two days were really hot and we needed the pool to cool our core temperature down (not really, but that is how it felt). The next couple of days it was a little cooler, and since the pool was not heated, it was actually a bit of a challenge to get in it! Once in the water, however, we quickly got used to it and enjoyed it a lot. We probably would have used the pool more, though, if the last three days had been as hot as the first two!

Pat and Patty in Pool at Xocotla 11-27-11.jpg

Pat in Pool at Xocotla 11-27-11.jpg

We bought eggs, bacon, chorizo, hot sauces, bread, butter, jam and tortillas at the grocery store, fruit and vegetables at the fruit stand, meat at the butcher shop, and wonderful cheese and fresh salsa the the Farmer's Market, and cooked breakfast and supper in our kitchen most days. We bought a case of Pacifico Clara at the deposito, tequila and gin at the liquor store, and margarita mix at the grocery store.

Pat Cooking Breakfast Burritos 11-27-11.jpg

Pat at Kitchen Table at Xocotla 11-27-11.jpg

We had most lunches out, mostly tacos and burritos. Burrito Revolucion seemed quite expensive, but was really quite good, and so big that we all brought the second half home and had it for lunch the following day.

Pat and Patty at Burrito Revolucion 11-25-11.jpg

Austin and Kristi at Burrito Revolucion 11-25-11.jpg

The owners have thoughtfully left a brief guide they have written, including information about the local doctor, emergency services, things to do in Sauyulita, and some restaurant recommendations. Two of their recommendations particularly deserve mention. Sunday night we dined out at Antonia's, a very authentic and inexpensive restaurant. The food was just excellent! I had chicken mole and Patty had chile rellenos. The other recommendation we tried this morning was Rollie's for breakfast. What a kick! Rollie's is run by - what a surprise - an ex-pat American named Rollie. Rollie and Jeanne are wonderful hosts, and Rollie is always "on." Right from when we walked in and said "We heard this place is good" and Rollie hollers back to the kitchen "Oh, oh, these people heard we were good - we better step it up back there!" The food is American with a distinctly Mexican touch, the portions are huge, and Rollie will NOT let you go away hungry. Both these places are highly recommended if you ever visit Sayulita! m

Thus ends this chronicle, we need to be out of our apartment by 1 p.m., and there is not a whole lot more to tell anyway. Sayulita is a great place, Xocotla is a wonderful place to stay, and we are pretty sure we will return again some time! You can find out more about Xocolta here.