Sailing the San Juan Islands – Day 5

-By Kimberly

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 – Port Ludlow to Langley

Enjoying breakfast on deck.
Deer on the shore in Port Ludlow.






After a peaceful breakfast watching deer roaming the shores, we left Port Ludlow with Eric at the helm.  We caught some wind and had a nice sail through Admiral Inlet.  At one point, we had to duck into Useless Bay to avoid a fishing boat and a Navy ship in the traffic lanes.  After tacking back toward the inlet, I took over the helm and sailed us all the way around Possession Point.  We lost our wind in Possession Sound and motored the rest of the way to Langley.

Traffic that had us ducking into Useless Bay.
GPS showing our tacking skills.
Another beautiful sail.






Kathleen enjoying Yoga on the bow.
Smooth Sailing.









We anchored just outside Langley’s tiny marina, where we enjoyed a very special treat – Sticky Toffee Pudding made by Kathleen! We rowed the dinghy to shore and paid the $5 landing fee before walking up a steep hill to the Town.  We stopped to take a picture next to the statues of the Bronze Boy & His Dog, who are said to be the guardians of the Saratoga Pass.

Langley harbor.
Bronze Boy & Dog.








We walked to a laundromat and stopped at a Public House for a beer to pass the time while the laundry was finishing.

John and Kathleen walking toward the Harbor.
Langley bakery with a beautiful sculpture.








Spyhop Public House.
Enjoying beer while we wait.





Stopping to smell the roses!
This reminded us of a dandelion, only it was the size of a cantaloupe.








There were bunnies all over the town!
Grey Heron.


We made Hawaiian Chickpea Teriyaki for dinner.  It was a rocky, squeaky nights sleep in a fairly unprotected anchorage.

Alethea at anchor in Langley.


Orange Track = Approximate Route – Day 5.

Sailing the San Juan Islands – Day 6

-By Kimberly

Thursday, June 1, 217 – Langley to Bowman Bay

Pancakes and eggs for breakfast!  I was at the anchor using hand signals to communicate with Eric while we hoisted it.  We headed north, motoring through Saratoga Pass.  I ordered the sails raised as soon as I spotted wind, and we had another good sail that lasted about 30 minutes before it was back to motoring.

Norma H pulling a barge with a tractor on it.
Jet flying over on the way to the Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island.
Norma H passing a small tug that is pulling a raft of logs.
Watching the traffic go by.

As we entered Skagit Bay we noticed a tug pulling a barge behind us, and a small tug towing a float of logs in front of us.  At this time we were in a narrow part of the intersection of Saratoga Pass & Swinomish Channel.


We tried to hail the large tug (Norma H) on the VHF but got no response and they just kept getting closer! Suddenly a couple of Navy jet fighters zoomed over our heads, so close that we couldn’t help but say, “WOW!”.


Norma H eventually contacted us over the VHF, asking us to chat on channel 13.  They wanted to know what we were doing -specifically if we were just “hanging out”, which made us giggle.  We let them know that we would stay to the Port while he took our Starboard side and stayed to the port side of the smaller tug.  Who knew that traffic could be so exciting!




Our first glimpse of Deception Pass.
A view of Cornet Bay.
Navigating our way through Deception Pass.

We passed Hope Island and were planning to stop in Cornet Bay, but the tide was so low that we weren’t sure Alethea would make it to the anchorage.  Instead, we decided to make our way through Deception Pass.

I was at the helm as we went in circles while lowering the main, and then as we navigated the pass.  It was challenging, as it is narrow, shallow, and has strong currents ready to smash boats against the rocks.  I was taking deep breaths and rolling my shoulders to relax my nerves!  Before we knew it, we had passed under the bridge and were out into more open water again.  I got us through Deception pass without any issues, and it was great!  We circled around the point and set anchor in Bowman Bay.





Deception Pass Bridge.
Our first time going under a bridge on a sailboat!
We made it safely to the other side.
Rocky dinghy landing.













Bowman Bay had a dinghy dock we didn’t know about.
Alethea at anchor in Bowman Bay.

We took the raft ashore, wishing we had better shoes for the rocky landing.  Once we secured the dinghy, we hiked to the top of Deception Pass Bridge so that we could take pictures of the channel we had just navigated.  The highlight of our hike was seeing two bald eagles soaring through the sky and landing in the trees.  So beautiful! On our way back, we hiked to lighthouse point where I took pictures of survey monuments for my dad.  Back on the boat we had surf and turf for dinner – steak and salmon with sweet potato fries!!  We had a couple good games of black jack and poker before letting the boat rock us to sleep again.















Top of the bridge.
Top of the bridge.

Bald Eagles.
Bald Eagle in flight.
Survey Monument 1.
Eric found the survey marker!

Survey monument 2.



Getting ready to play cards!

Purple Track = Approximate Route – Day 6.

Sailing the San Juan Islands – Day 4

-By Kimberly

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 – Port Townsend to Port Ludlow

We spent most of the day exploring Port Townsend, a town known for its wooden boats.   We took time to walk through the Northwest Maritime Center & Wooden Boat Foundation building.  It was neat to see people restoring and building wooden boats.  We read the story of Juana – a wooden race boat designed by a 7-year old boy. We stopped at Sirens again for lunch, before heading back to the marina.

Just as we started to push away from the dock, I called for us to stop, as there was a large trimaran coming into the harbor.  It was an odd sight, as the trimaran was being towed by a small rowboat!

Trimaran with tow line.
Row boat with tow line to trimaran.






We had no wind, and I was at the helm the entire time we motored South to Port Ludlow.  The most challenging part of that trip was crossing a shallow area on the way into the harbor…and I did a great job!  We anchored with ease then made Shrimp Pad Thai for dinner.  We spent the evening on the boat, planning our route for the next day.

Port Ludlow Marina.
Port Ludlow.






Yellow Track = Approximate Route – Day 4.

Sailing the San Juan Islands – Day 3

-By Kimberly

Monday, May 29, 2017 – Mackaye Harbor to Port Townsend

Kayaking around Mackaye Harbor.

The morning started with eggs and waffles for breakfast before we launched the kayaks and explored the harbor a bit.  We tied the kayaks up to the public dock and took a walk on the island.  When we returned to the kayaks, the tide had gone out enough that they weren’t in the water anymore! We tried to carry them into the water, but wound up having to carry them down to a beach that would give us a better launch.  Upon return to the boat, we pulled up the anchor and headed out.

Kimberly at the helm as we crossed the Strait of San Juan de Fuca.

Our plan was to cross the Strait of San Juan De Fuca.  The weather was calling for gale force winds, and fortunately the weather was wrong.  We were

Eric at the helm as we crossed the Strait of San Juan de Fuca.

blessed with beautiful, moderate winds that allowed us to have another amazing day of sailing. At one point, I looked at John and said, “I think we’re heeling too much.”. His response was, “You know what I just heard? That we need to reef the main.” So we did!  It was a good experience to reef under stronger winds than we normally have when racing.



As we approached the Point Wilson light house, Eric was at the helm.  The water got very rough because of the two currents meeting each other at that point.  Eric handled it all great – with a huge smile on his face!

Eric enjoying the challenging sail time.
Eric having fun at the helm.








We reached Port Townsend under heavy winds, and decided it would be worth paying for a slip in the marina that night.  After eating dinner and moving Alethea to a slip, we walked into town.  We stopped at a pub called Sirens to enjoy a beer.  We were tickled by our waitress, Bailey who started singing to us.  We later joked that she was just like a Siren – luring sailors away from their boats with her voice. We stopped at a restored movie theater and got some ice cream before heading back to the Marina for showers and bed time.  Another wonderful day was complete!

Seals on a buoy outside Port Townsend.
Is that the Aflac duck on our boat? Nope – just a winch handle stored in a dorade vent!
Light Blue Track = Approximate Route – Day 3.

Sailing the San Juan Islands – Day 2

-By Kimberly

Sunday, May 28, 2017 – Echo Bay to Mackaye Harbor

We woke and had amazing oatmeal for breakfast.  It had cinnamon, ginger, flax seed, turmeric, walnuts and raisins – Kathleen’s own recipe.

Near Barnes & Clark Islands

We raised anchor and headed South East, past the south side of Matia Island.  I was at the helm while we “threaded the needle” through the small channel that separates Barnes & Clark Islands.

Threading the needle.


One of the many Dolphins we saw during our journey.

We continued South around Lawrence point on Orcas Island and then South toward Blakely Island.  During this leg of our
Journey, we had incredible sailing and I felt lucky to be the one at the helm.



The sailboat coming out of the fog gives you an idea of how large the bank is.
We changed our course to avoid this fog bank.

A large, thick fog bank stood in the way of our intended course, so we detoured through Obstruction Pass and hoisted the sails to practice man-overboard drills and heaving to. After successfully completing both skills, we headed to Rosario Resort on Orcas Island.  This was our first experience picking up a mooring buoy, with me at the helm and Eric using a pole to grab the buoy and secure us.




Eric, Kimberly & John at Cascade Lake. The girl in the background is jumping off the bridge into the lake – a popular activity there.

We took the kayaks ashore and went for a steep hike up to Cascade Lake.  It was beautiful! We went for a short hike and the ladies went for a swim in the lake.  The cool water was incredibly refreshing and a nice break before heading back to town.  We stopped for a chocolate raspberry milkshake before returning to the boat.

Eric, Kathleen & John at Cascade Lake.
Kimberly & Kathleen enjoying a swim.





Water lilies.
Cascade Lake






Our journey continued South through Thatcher Pass to the east side of Lopez Island.  We were heading to Mackaye Harbor when we hit some rough water.  Kathleen took the helm and showed us how she likes to move with the motion of the boat when crossing rough water.  It exercises her legs and turns the experience into a fun time.

Sunset – Day 2.

It was completely dark when we reached Mackaye Harbor to drop our anchor.  It was a great experience to drop anchor in the dark as we learned the importance of having a light identifying your boat at night.   That night, the waves rocked me to sleep.


Green Track = Approximate Route – Day 2

Sailing the San Juan Islands – Day 1

-By Kimberly

Eric and I wanted to spend some time living aboard a boat.  We knew it would help us get a better idea of what characteristics we wanted in our boat, and would help us learn to deal with some of the difference between life on land and life at sea.  We were also looking forward to learning about techniques you don’t practice when racing sailboats – like anchoring.  Eric was taking classes from NauticEd, and through them learned about the San Juan Cruise & Learn offered by Island Sailing.  Eric and I agreed that this sounded like the perfect opportunity, so we signed up for a full 7 day excursion.

Friday, May 26, 2017

We both flew into Seattle after work, rented a car and drove to Anacortes.  We had a comfortable night’s stay at the Anaco Bay Inn.

Seattle Skyline






Saturday, May 27, 2017 – Day 1, Friday Harbor to Echo Bay

In the morning went to see a Jeanneau 39i that was for sale.  Patrick Harrigan with Marine Servicecenter was incredible. He was a wealth of information and even invited us to a BBQ the following weekend.  We liked the layout of the Jeanneau, and decided not to move forward on this one because of its condition.

We headed to the Ferry Terminal in Anacortes and walked aboard for the 1.5 hour ride to Friday Harbor.

One of the many ferries we saw.
Boat with a double keel so that it stays upright when the tide ebbs.
Our first view of Friday Harbor.






When we arrived, John Salinas was waiting to drive us to Shipwreck Cove where we stepped aboard Alethea – a Pearson 43 that would be our home for the next 7 days.

We met John’s wife, Kathleen and then sat around the table to discuss our provisioning.  We wrote down 4 categories on a piece of paper – one in each corner of the sheet. As we decided on our menu, we made our shopping list, then ripped the sheet of paper into four lists – one for each of us.  At the grocery store, we split up and got all our shopping done in less than an hour.  We stopped at Saturday Market for lunch and then headed back to Alethea.

After stowing our provisions and eating lunch, we shoved off and headed North West, past Jones Island and Orcas Island then toward the East side of Sucia Island and into Echo Bay for our first anchoring experience!

Eric at the helm as we sail away.



Mt. Baker
Our first anchoring experience – Echo Bay, Sucia Island.







After successfully setting the anchor, we made Pad Thai for dinner and then climbed into the inflatable dinghy and paddled over to the island.  We hiked to the west side of the Island, trying to catch a glimpse of the sunset and a 13-hour moon.  It doesn’t get dark until 10:30pm, so we were impressed with how much we got accomplished that day.  We learned so much and had a great time!

Kimberly making Pad Thai for dinner.





Echo Bay at night.
Echo Bay the next morning.


Red Track = Approximate Route – Day 1.

Boat Shows – More Than Just Shopping

-By Kimberly

We recently spent 4 days at the Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show in Richmond, California.  Boat shows are a lot of fun, as they provide an opportunity to see all the latest gadgets and gizmos for sale, tour new boats and meet wonderful people.

The Harbor
The Exhibit Hall








This particular show also offered a variety of free educational seminars that lasted one hour each.  Here are some of the seminars we attended:

  • Diesel Engine Essentials – by Amanda Neal
  • Boat & Yacht Financing – by Max Salvater
  • What Women Want – by Pam Wall
  • Cruising for Couples – by Liza Copeland
  • Creative Organization Below and Provisioning – by Liza Copeland
  • Worldwide Anchoring Techniques – by John & Amanda Neal
  • Selecting the Proper Solar System for Your Boat – by Thomas Trimmer
  • Self-Steering Windvanes: Your Best Crew Member – by Sarah & Will Curry
  • How to Successfully Cruise with Your Partner in the Small Space of a Boat 24/7 – by Robert & Virginia Gleser
  • Storm Survival Tactics – by John & Amanda Neal
  • Understanding Your Water Maker Choices – by Rich Boren
  • Offshore Cruising Forum, Moderated by Sarah Curry and Featuring:      Will Curry (SV Kaiquest)                                                                                    John & Amanda Neal (Mahina Tiare III)                                                            Wietze van der Lann & Janneke Kuysters (SY Anna Caroline)
  • What’s it Really Like Sailing the Coasts of California and Mexico? – by Phil McCaleb & Pat McIntosh

For a reasonable fee, the show also offered 8-hour Advanced Seminars. On Saturday, Kimberly attended the Offshore Cruising Seminar by John & Amanda Neal of Mahina Expeditions with special guest Nigel Calder.  On Sunday, Eric attended the Marine Diesel Engines: Maintenance and Troubleshooting Seminar by Nigel Calder.

Advanced Seminars
Advanced Seminars








When we needed a break from the seminars, there were RC Model Sailboats being displayed:

RC Model Boats

And life raft demonstrations hosted by Sal’s Inflatables:

Life Raft Demonstration





Saturday night they had a party for everyone who attended the boat show, which included free beer, wine, pizza, and live music.  This is a van loaded with pizzas being delivered. It was crazy to see about 100 pizzas pulled out of there…the picture doesn’t do it justice:

Pizza by the Van Load

The man unloading the pizza is Bob Bitchin, editor of Cruising Outpost Magazine and sponsor of this dinner event. Thanks for a great evening, Bob!!

We both had a wonderful time and learned so much more than expected.  If you’re thinking of joining the world of sailing, and a boat show is coming to your neck of the woods, be sure to go!  You’re guaranteed to learn a lot and meet some incredible people.

Getting My Feet Wet

-By Kimberly

Being in a landlocked State that freezes during the winter means there’s no sailing from late October through mid-April.  Our blog has been quiet for a while, so I thought I’d share the story of my first dinghy lesson at Chatfield Reservoir.

Last summer I took my first sailing lesson with Colorado Watersports (  I chose a class for women, taught by Nikki who has skippered three Atlantic Ocean crossings.  There were three participants that day, including myself.  We started by watching a video that discussed how lift works with sails.  Then we each rigged our own dinghy.  Since I was a first-timer, Nikki worked one-on-one with me.  She showed me a square knot and figure 8 knot, then taught me the terms boom vang and outhaul as we rigged the jib and the main-sail.  Next we set out in our dinghies while Nikki followed us in a powerboat.

There was next to no wind, so it was slow going.  Nikki decided this would be a great time for me to learn how to recover from a capsize.  I had to tip the boat over, then swim to the back to fix my tiller, then swim to the daggerboard, put all my weight on it until the boat was righted, and pull myself into the boat from the stern.  When it was done, I was soaking wet and proud of myself.  The wind was still very light, so our progress was slow as we headed east along the lake.  As the wind started to pick up, we were able to practice tacking and I was feeling really good.  There was a storm coming in and the wind suddenly picked up so that we were really moving.  I was thrilled, but didn’t know how to control my boat when the wind took me over.  Next thing I knew – I was in the water again.  Good think I had learned what do to when the boat capsized!

Nikki pulled up next to me and suggested I take my jib down, and just work with the main-sail, which was a great suggestion.  I capsized two more times, and each time my instructor was there to encourage me, “This is how we learn!”.  After my third capsize, Nikki told me it was time to head back.  She told me to point my boat toward another dinghy on the shore and head straight there, keeping the boat under control and ensuring that there was no flapping of the sail.  I did exactly that, then had a moment of panic as I was heading fast to shore and realized she hadn’t told me how to stop! I looked back to see that both of the other sailors were capsized and Nikki was helping them.  I knew I needed to stop the boat before I ran the daggerboard into the ground, so about 10 feet from shore I jumped out of the boat and pulled it to a stop.  The wind was so strong that it immediately capsized the boat.  I worked on pulling the boat back up and rolling the main-sail around the mast to keep it from falling over again.

It was an amazing experience and I’m looking forward to more time on a dinghy when the weather improves!

Learning to Sail, What’s the Right Way?

-By Eric

Types of Certifications

I think it would be obvious from the title, but this post is geared towards sailing and reflects my research and experience when deciding on the approach to take as we begin our sailing journey. I’ve long valued education so when I started thinking about how to learn to sail I immediately started checking into certifications and training programs. Wow!! There are lots of options and program available. There’s four training and certification organizations that I came across: United States Sailing Association (more commonly known as US Sailing or USS), American Sailing Association (ASA), US Coast Guard (USGC), and the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), or private lessons without any certification. Continue reading “Learning to Sail, What’s the Right Way?”