Sunday, August 26, 2007

Back in BC

Hello, Friends,
We checked Rikki-tikki-tavi back into Canada at Prince Rupert on Wednesday, August 22nd, after three months cruising in Southeast Alaska. We saw glaciers, grizzlies, whales, wolves, sea otters, eagles, and puffins. We enjoyed spectacular sunsets, endured zero-visibility fog, met wonderful people, caught salmon and halibut. Our blog is a bit behind, we know. Please enjoy this photo of Johns Hopkins Glacier while we catch up!

We promise more to come...
Clark & Nina

Friday, August 03, 2007

April 2007 - Princess Louisa Inlet

Princess Louisa Inlet is truly a special place. We've seen some astonishingly spectacular fiords here in Alaska, but Princess Louisa offers peace, serenity and an intimacy unsurpassed. This is enhanced when one arrives very early in the season when the snow still encrusts the mountains and visitors are few. This is the way we like to experience Princess Louisa...

We have the dock to ourselves.

One of the first things the guys did was to go hunting/gathering (in the rain, of course). The oysters at PLI are the best we've ever had and we were looking forward to eating them again. After a scrumptious dinner of fried oysters with Diane's spicy salad alongside, we played a game or two of Farkle. It was like coming home after a long absence- pure enjoyment.

It rained frequently while we were in Princess Louisa this year.

When the sun finally came out, we noticed that Talisman was looking very good. During the previous two weeks, Dean had buffed on a gloss coating and the dark blue hull was brilliant. He'd was just finishing up the replacement of all the wood plugs on the rails, a project begun back in Friday Harbor. The beautiful stained glass panels that Diane had designed and made were now installed in the cockpit doors. Together with her new Tartaruga hard dodger and canvas, the Pearson 424 ketch looked great.

Diane scooted around the inlet in her Hobie Mirage kayak on one of the few sunny days. I took her peddle kayak on a little excursion too and was treated to a close view of a black bear! The Mirage is virtually silent because there is no splashing of a paddle. This allows close approach to wildlife and leaves hands free to use a camera or binoculars. Plus, the leg exercise is very welcome. We sit way too much living aboard a boat.

I encountered this very healthy-looking black bear along the shore.

The shellfish - oysters, mussels, littleneck clams - were abundant and so very tasty.

It was easy to pick up a limit of oysters in a very short time.

This is wild cucumber, an edible wild plant and also very abundant. We would go a few yards up the trail and, in ten minutes, pick enough for the evening's salad. We were careful to selectively collect partial stalks away from the trail so as to leave the area looking undisturbed. Also known as Twisted Stalk, the Streptopus leaves are delicious with a light dressing of lemon juice, almond oil, salt and pepper.

A sleepy-eyed toad along the trail caught my attention.

We had a few visitors on occasion. Dave, Vickie and John aboard their Lord Nelson Victory Tug, Nellie D, dropped in on their way north.

Steve, Caroline and Abi, a family from the UK, visited in a chartered sailboat. We enjoyed meeting them very much.

The skunk cabbage in the creek bog was fresh and beautiful.

One day, a couple aboard this float plane dropped in for a short hike, then took off again. Another day, we heard a roar, but it wasn't one of the many avalanches we'd seen. A small black helicopter came zooming around the bend at low altitude, streaked past us, then banked sharply up above the waterfall. It circled the glacial bowl behind Chatterbox and buzzed along the snowy ridges. We wondered what it cost to take a tour like that- thrilling but expensive!

I made unique crocheted hats for each of us- Hats by 9ah

One afternoon, we took our dinghies down to Malibu Club. The four of us walked over to the edge of the pool which is perched in the rock above the rapids. The current was running out of the Inlet at 10.5 knots. We watched the whirlpools and swirls in awe, the tongue of the flow was clearly defined. Suddenly, a fast boat with two people aboard came flying through at planing speed. They were airborne several times as the hull glanced off the surging water. Then, we leisurely toured the grounds. Only a handful of folks were there getting things ready to open for the summer season. The setting is lovely, the buildings are intriguing- some are the original structures from the early part of last century. It's a terrific location for a summer camp.

Rikki-tikki-tavi in front of Chatterbox Falls.

Talisman approaching Malibu Rapids on our way out.

Malibu Club, Princess Louisa Inlet, British Columbia

Leaving Malibu Rapids behind for another year.

We spent eight lovely days at Princess Louisa this year. Dean and Diane were there for over three weeks! Sadly, our friends Loren and Sandy aboard Seaweed didn't arrive. Diane made a "Reserved for Seaweed" sign, we signed our names and attached it in their favorite spot on the dock. We've decided that we should start our cruising each year with a long stay at this exceptional place. That is, if we don't spend the winter in Alaska (which is yet to be determined)!

With best wishes,

Clark & Nina

May 2007 - Part 1

Hello from Alaska!

Rikki-tikki-tavi crossed the International Boundary between British Columbia, Canada, into the waters of the USA, state of Alaska, on Sunday, May 27th, at latitude 54˚46.16'N, longitude 130˚38.97'W. At this point, a line is drawn in a zigzag fashion up the middle of Tongass Passage, between Sitklan Island (USA) and Wales Island (Canada). There the line turns northwest up the middle of Pearse Canal, then up the middle of Portland Inlet to its head.

Canada charts are quite good, in our opinion more readable than NOAA charts. We reviewed the route into the USA to Ketchikan, the required check-in point for US Customs, while we were peacefully at anchor in shallow, roomy, sticky bottomed, empty Winter Inlet on the north side of Pearse Island. Canada Chart 396001 at 1:40,000 scale clearly showed that at the end of Sitklan Passage there was a shortcut into East Dixon Entrance between Tongass Island and Kanagunut Island. This shortcut would save us at least three nautical miles, a half hour. It was shallow and there were rocks, but there seemed to us a safe S-shaped course through, so I'd plotted waypoints to follow.

The morning seemed benign with light winds, so when we arrived at the point where we could've turned right (starboard) and taken the deep, therefore safer, passage along the mainland coast, despite that we saw a large ocean swell coming in, we continued into the maze. Two small, high-powered fishing boats were heading out the same way. We could see the swells rising higher on the outside as the bottom came up to meet them. Big waves crashed over the rocks, which showed us exactly where they were, of course. Rikki-tikki was in his element, his bows lifting to the swells easily. We were less enthusiastic about the heights to which we were rising, as the course we needed to hold gave little margin for error. Clark piloted the chicane (as in a narrowing turn on an auto-racing course) with confidence into the swell where it wasn't breaking and we (I) didn't panic. Let's just say that this short but exciting ride is etched into our memories. We made it through safely.

The day before, we motorsailed 35 NM down Portland Inlet with the jib out, bashing into bumpy swells and wind chop whipped up by a 20 knot breeze. To avoid motion sickness, I used my Sea-Bands with good results. We had just spent two nights at the BC Parks Khutzeymateen Grizzly Reserve, where we were treated to thirteen sightings. Luckily, we had turned up just at the right time! Late May is when these brown bear head down to the shorelines to graze on grasses, look for crustaceans and shellfish. Later in the season when the berries ripen, they head into the mountains. We managed to get fairly close by dinghy to capture this photo of one male lazily browsing on sedges.

Drooling from the bitter sedge grasses he's been eating, this grizzly calmly observes us observing him.
Now that we have reached Alaska, let's go back to the beginning of Rikki-tikki's 2007 Adventure before the story gets too confusing...

After a windy, cold, wet and exceptionally snowy winter in the Southern Gulf Islands, British Columbia, and Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, USA, when you would think we would be yearning for some warm sun south of the border like reasonable sailors, why are we anxious to go even farther north– all the way into Southeast Alaska in 2007? This is a question we are asked quite often, though never by other boaters who have cruised the Pacific Northwest and who understand the multitude of delights this the vast area holds for intrepid adventurers. The sea and land is simply gorgeous, filled with wildlife and fascinating geological features like glaciers, fiords, volcanoes, and a zillion islands of every size and shape. The Northwest offers endless cruising opportunities that would take a lifetime to explore thoroughly. Sailors who've been around the planet often complete their lifetime of sailing by spending the rest of their days Up North. We figure it will take us several more years just to touch some of the high points. After all, we'd done snow (this was our Happy Holidays eCard!) so we were confident that we could do Alaska, at least "Southeast".

Our 2006 Holiday eCard. Photo taken November 30, 2006, in Montague Harbour, British Columbia.

In February, I took a SWA flight from Seattle home to Sacramento for a short visit and some precious time with my grandson, Merritt, then already seven months old. I delivered the crocheted "Kiss Hat" that Clark and I made for him while we were rainbound in the boat during January's wet weather. Thanks, Mom, for making the week so enjoyable and productive for me by cooking, sharing time, lending me your car, and making the trip possible. I spent two full days with little Merritt while his parents, Michael and Samantha, were at work, giving his other grandma, Jeanne, some time off. She has been Merritt's full-time caregiver since mom returned to work. Jeanne is absolutely wonderful– she has my admiration and grateful appreciation. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Merritt– he was so much fun! He is a cheerful, athletic, inquisitive, interactive and wonderfully adorable baby! Being so far away is terribly difficult. When I returned to Friday Harbor, we ordered a little webcam so we could see each other over the computer during our Skype VOIP calls. This is very cool!!

Merritt wearing his "Kiss Hat". Photo by dad Michael.

Rikki-tikki-tavi got a new bottom paint and a straightened prop shaft beginning March 16th at the Port of Port Townsend, Washington, where his 26.5' width meant their monstrous 300-ton lift was required. Rikki's weight didn't even register on the gauge. Clark and I were challenged by high winds and rain, but we got the job done despite the weather. Rikki-tikki was spiffy-looking and ready for the water on the 24th, but winds were forecast to be 30 knots with only two lift operators on duty, so we took time to walk around the charming town while Rikki waited patiently for the right launch conditions. Clark was able to retrieve his commemorative "30th Annual Wooden Boat Festival" poster from the Wooden Boat Foundation down at Port Hudson. (More later about the Wooden Boat Festival, in which Rikki-tikki-tavi was honored to be accepted as an exhibitor.) We mailed it back to Mom in Sacramento for safekeeping. The calm morning of March 27th, we traveled the 31 miles back to Friday Harbor, across the east end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, in 4.5 hours! Rikki's speed seemed enhanced by his three clean, smooth bottoms. The shaft noise also seemed quieter and smoother.

Like a moth held by a gigantic spider's web, Rikki-tikki waits to be released into the water once again.

Back in Friday Harbor, our lists of things to do before heading north were getting shorter. On a very warm day, I took a kayak outside the breakwater to photograph the schooner W.N. Ragland. It belongs to the singer/songwriter Neil Young. While paddling past the breakwater where the current ran swiftly, I noticed that the dock float was covered with what I thought was hard to find– winged kelp, alaria marginata! It had been growing right here in Friday Harbor all along. The kelp was very clean this time of year, too, before the hordes of summer boaters had dirtied the harbor. I plucked a choice selection of fronds and piled them on the kayak. Back at the boat, I cut out the center vein, chopped it up for stir-fry, then hung the "wings" of the fronds from the bow nets. When they were dry, I fried 2-inch sections in hot coconut oil. One batch I left plain, the second I sprinkled with Dixie Belle Rub, a dynamite recipe from Dana Carpender's The Low-Carb Barbeque Book. We shared these delicious treats with several folks who had expressed interest in eating sea vegetables and with one who ate our kelp only as a favor. He shall remain nameless, but such a good sport!

Neil Young's schooner, WN Ragland, in Friday Harbor, Washington.

Meanwhile, Clark worked on solving our mysterious stray electrical current issue. This condition was very evident when Rikki-tikki was hauled– there was blistering of the copper bottom paint and a thick crust of barnacles all around the shaft log and up both sides of the main hull. However, there was no pitting of the prop or the shaft, or excessive deterioration of our zinc anodes. In talking with several experts, Clark first installed a new grounding brush to the prop shaft. On further consideration of the characteristics of the problem, we decided that it was better to keep electricity from getting into the water in the first place. The question was: How had it gotten there? After days of taking things apart, testing & retesting, putting things back together, taking some systems out of the circuits, testing & putting them back in... it all came down to the Honda 2000 generator. Nowhere in the manual does it tell a person who uses the generator on a boat at anchor (no earth to ground the unit to) that the floating ground in the generator should be changed so that the neutral and ground are connected inside the case. Thanks to Dan on Sequel for this information. Clark hooked them together and, voila!, no more hot neutral circuit. He also isolated all the underwater metal from the electrical system. Only our FrigoBoat keelcooler has a neutral wire running back to a battery neutral. The boat is not bonded. We have eliminated a path for stray current to get out of the boat and into the water. Our bottom paint should now stay on the bottom (except for the fact that we put on an ablative!). It won't be blistering off due to stray current.

This is where we tie up while in Friday Harbor.

Thanks to all who helped us on our way– Dean and Diane for grocery shopping, Rod for use of the shop tools, Dick and Sharon for storing our car and putting us up, Patrick for helping us get the right antenna for our wi-fi connection, Dan for the SSB/HAM radio assistance– and the many others who shared experiences and friendship. On April 10th, Rikki-tikki made a final stop at the Friday Harbor fuel dock before pointing his nose across Haro Strait into Canada.

Rikki-tikki-tavi at the fuel dock, Friday Harbor.

Checking into Canada brought the Customs officers down to speak with us again. They reminded us that we are allowed a visit of only six months out of every twelve. We didn't think we'd been overstaying our welcome, always returning to the USA before our allotted time was up. Does this mean we'll have to seriously consider spending the winter in Alaska, once we get there? They gave us our requested sixty-day clearance saying, "Enjoy your time in Canada!"

Canada's HMS Oriole leaving Tsehum Harbour in early morning light.

We anchored for a few nights in Tsehum Harbour, visiting friends and shopping. Clark helped Gerta bring Millennium Dragon from Canoe Cove to Cowichan Bay, while I drove her BMW to Victoria for provisions and an adapter for our new high-gain wi-fi antenna. Fully loaded with goods from Costco in Langford, I continued along the beautiful highway north to meet Millie D. Gerta suggested we stop for dinner on the way back to Tsehum Harbour at the resort pub in Brentwood. The Happy Hour special was chicken wings- we devoured two orders along with a pitcher of beer. Next day, we squeezed in a short visit with new friends, Alan and Bet, whom we'd met at Conover Cove, Wallace Island, BC, back in January. A wet, bouncy ride in Darzee took us to Rikki, as a storm was blowing in. Immediately, we left in the late afternoon light for Royal Cove, an island where we'd spent an entire week hiding from weather back in November.

Conover Cove in January. Photo by Bet and Alan on Cloudbreak.

There were two sailboats already in the protected cove, both with long sternlines to shore. Sheltered from the southerly wind in the cove, we had no trouble dropping our hook, pulling in between them, and securing our own sternline to one of the park rings on the rocks. The rain began and it rained all night and all through the following day. We stayed on the boat and finished stowing our provisions. The larger sailboat left, and little Wildflower, a sloop we'd seen in various anchorages in the Gulf Islands, was Rikki-tikki's only neighbor.

About 2 AM, a choppy sea started slapping off the hulls- the noise got Clark up to take a look around. We were holding in place just fine and Wildflower's anchor looked to be holding too, but the lightweight cruiser was bouncing around a good deal more than we were. Clark thought about hanging fenders on our port side but came back to the warm bed instead. We drifted back to sleep. BANG! The loud crack shocked us awake, the adrenaline rush had us fumbling to get dressed in a flash. BANG! We knew that Wildflower had dragged her anchor and was on us. We should've hung the fenders! Out on deck, we offered to let the skipper tie alongside, but he started the engine and drove slowly away to reset his anchor. He said he would stay up the rest of the night to keep watch. It was 3:30 AM. It took awhile for us to settle down enough to fall asleep again.

Next morning, the sun appeared and we said our good-byes to Wildflower's skipper, wishing him well. Rikki-tikki now had a six-inch mark where the paint had been scraped- nothing to worry about. We motored over a flat sea toward Gabriola Passage to catch the current at slack. As we glided passed Porlier Pass, where the current was running at full 5 knots of flood from Trincomali Channel into the Strait of Georgia, we watched as a sailboat went through. We looked at each other, then turned around to follow. The fast current had already carried the other boat far into the Strait- we watched our speed increase quickly. Porlier held no surprises and we flew out into the Strait. If it looked too bumpy, we could always duck into Silva Bay, but the following seas were tolerable. We rode Rikki-tikki all the way to Pender Harbour, into Gerrans Bay, arriving just as a light rain began. After fueling up at Hospital Cove, we headed for Princess Louisa Inlet next morning, crossing our fingers that Dean and Diane on Talisman would still be there.

Hospital Cove fuel dock, Pender Harbour, British Columbia.

The day trip up Jervis Inlet began with warm sun on the decks.

Clouds moved in and by the end of the day, we had sprinkles and some wind.

Dean & Diane, hello!
Much to our excitement, Dean and Diane were waiting at Princess Louisa to take Rikki's docklines once again. It was such a thrill to see Talisman all alone at the end of the dock as we came around the last bend to reach Chatterbox Falls basin. The beginning of our season of cruising was getting off to a great start!

Fair winds and beautiful views,

Clark & Nina

Saturday, March 31, 2007

2006 Spring Cruise, Part 2

The conditions in Filucy Bay remained chilly and gray, but we decided to head out anyway. "Juniata" and "Sail La Vie" were going back to the park dock at Penrose Point. We elected to continue on into Horsehead Bay, where we hoped to hide out from the even stronger SE winds that were forecast. The guide book said that large, expensive homes lined the shore. We immediately thought, "Wi-fi!" It was time we checked TurboTax to see if our e-filed forms had been accepted. I couldn't relax until we were assured they went through okay. Clark steered "Rikki-tikki" as far toward the head of the bay as we felt comfortable and went forward to drop the anchor. As soon as it set, I turned on the iBook's Airport and, wonder of all wonders, we immediately picked up an open network! Yes! We'd come to the right spot. We could relax and enjoy the evening. The winds did pick up but the small bay was well sheltered, as were we.

As we exited Horsehead Bay the next day, we saw "Juniata" had already made a good distance down Carr Inlet ahead of us. It was bumpy and the wind was nearly on our nose, but the gusts soon calmed as we turned to go into Tacoma Narrows. Back in Gig Harbor at the City Dock, thunderstorms and heavy rain squalls made our walking tours "interesting". We ducked into little shops to wait out each sudden downpour. Way down the street, toward the head of the harbor, we found a little marine store where we bought a curious folding, lightweight grapnel anchor for Darzee. When Dave saw it, he immediately asked Larry to buy him one- "Sail La Vie" was staying another day or two.

On April 17, we motored 27 nautical miles back to Port Madison where, as we had expected, the wi-fi network there now required a password. Email would have to wait until we got back to Port Ludlow. After another four hours of travel next day, we anchored in our very favorite hideaway, the Inner Harbor. Dave and Marcia would go on into Canada, while we decided to see if we could offload our bicycles before heading to BC. We emailed Dick and Sharon to inquire if they had room. They replied in the affirmative, so we decided to go into La Conner, where our friends could meet us with their pickup truck. 

Leaving Port Ludlow on the 20th, we enjoyed calm conditions all the way across the eastern end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The current runs very swiftly in Deception Pass, between Fidalgo Island and Whidby Island. Everyone respects its narrow fairway and turbulent waters. We arrived shortly before slack and found a pair of tugs along the north shore with their log boom waiting to go through. They pulled out in front of us as the time neared. We hailed them several times on the VHF but they failed to respond, so we throttled up and pulled around them before there was no time left to do so. Passing under the bridge at low tide, one is impressed with the narrowness of the water, the size and frighteningly jagged rocks that line the shore cliffs. We wished someone had been on the bridge to photograph "Rikki-tikki" going under for his first time. "Serendipity" must've passed under dozens of times in her ten years of cruising these northern waters.

Two tugs with their log boom headed for Deception Pass.

The Swinomish Channel is fraught with strong currents, which even locals don't seem to quite understand which direction they will run on which state of the tide. We decided to deal with whatever current there was. The channel is clearly marked. We entered the south end, which is very narrow between mud flats with no water. The current was running against us and a big power yacht came astern wanting to get by. We pulled as far over to the right as possible. As they passed, a man came out onto the swim step and mouthed, "Sorry about the wake," and stepped back inside leaving us to rock back and forth. At far end is a steep-sided channel with an S-curve shape that blocks any view of traffic approaching. With our wide beam, we hoped not to meet any other boat, while we nervously took quick glances overhead to marvel at the homes perched on the edges of the cliffs.

There is another bridge at the south end of La Conner and the chart assured us we would enjoy ample clearance but, as we approached, we spied a cable hanging much lower than the bridge span. We were almost afraid to continue into town! Slowing to a creep, we edged our way toward the higher side of the cable and crossed our fingers that our mast top would not snag. If it touched, we were prepared to back away immediately. This time we didn't even breathe. "Rikki" went under without catching the cable, but we were sure that this clearance was not what was stated on the chart! With relief, we tied "Rikki-tikki" to a City Float, and put our $20 check into the fee box.

A metal sculpture of a salmon graces this ramp at one of the La Conner City Floats.

It turned out to be Tulip Days in La Conner. Discovering this, we were amazed that there was room along the city waterfront for us. The attractive little town was crowded with people, hundreds of cars, and motorcycles. A bank parking lot sparkled with an amazing array of shiny, expensive sportscars.

A steam-powered launch gives tours up and down the waterfront at La Conner.

Designed for speed, these sporty vehicles dazzled the eyes.

The main street of La Conner was congested with weekend visitors.

Dick and Sharon came down to the dock, loaded up the bikes, then took us to their home in Mount Vernon for dinner. On the way out of town, Dick slowed the car so I could grab a shot of the last of the tulips left in the field. The remaining acres of flowers had all been snipped off, leaving only stems and leaves! The tulips are grown for their bulbs not their blooms. We just missed what must've been a truly awesome landscape just days before.

No stopping. No Cars. Just grab a quick photo!

Our dismay at missing the La Conner fields was soon forgotten. As soon as we checked into Canada Customs on April 26th at Tsehum Harbour, we made a beeline for Tod Inlet, where we would tour The Butchart Gardens. They are renowned worldwide for their floral displays and we would not be disappointed. We spent two days taking photos and wandering through the amazing combinations of colorful foliage and bright spring blossoms.

Clark overlooks The Butchart's Sunken Garden.

Here are just a couple of the hundreds of photos I captured.

The beds are layered with swaths of blooms.

Nature creates some eye-popping shapes and hues.

The tulips are artfully integrated with contrasting or harmonizing companions.

When we emerged from our last day at The Butchart Gardens, Juniata was waiting for us in the anchorage. The following day was drizzly but we didn't care. Ira (You remember Small Fry?) met Clark and I at the end of the trail where the lane ends, loaded us into his pickup, and drove us into Victoria/Langford for grocery shopping. We enjoyed his wonderful stories along the way. After a personal tour of this beautiful area, he took us to his home, where we finally met his wife, Betty. Thanks, Ira. Our visit was much too short!

All stocked up with groceries, we followed "Juniata" out of Tod Inlet and northeast toward Pirates Cove, a popular Marine Provincial Park on De Courcy Island. The weather was threatening to worsen but conditions were benign for the six and a half-hour trip. Arriving at Pirates Cove in late afternoon, we anchored as close to the east shore as we could and rowed out a line to shore. "Juniata" anchored out in the middle, just ahead of a raft of six powerboats with music blaring and we both hunkered down to await the coming storm.

Clark & Nina

Monday, February 12, 2007

Spring Cruise, Part 1

The Adventures of Rikki-tikki-tavi

March 27 to April 12, 2006
South Puget Sound Cruise - Part 1
We bid farewell to our new friends in Port Ludlow Marina on a pleasantly sunny day. The breeze outside the harbor was brisk but going in the wrong direction. We motored south to meet Juniata in Port Madison, a quiet harbor on Bainbridge Island. Our Spring Cruise of South Puget South had begun. We anchored off an idyllic-looking private island compound sprouting a lovely home, a treehouse, a couple of rope swings out over the harbor, kayaks on the private pier, and cushy deck chairs on the porch. We figured the owners for Seattle residents, their island get-away visited only on long weekends or over summer vacations. Dave and Marcia joined us in the cockpit. The sun warmed Rikki-tikki's decks and our faces as we talked about the month ahead. The weather, so far, looked promising. We discovered that our computer could pick up an open wi-fi network, so we checked email from the boat.

Gray skies next morning greeted us as we got underway early to catch the slack current in Agate Pass. Even though the bridge clearance is 75 feet, we sucked in our breaths as Rikki-tikki's nearly 60-foot height passed beneath. There were long-tailed ducks and a few loons along the shore. We followed in the wake of both Juniata, Dave and Marcia's 37-foot Pacific Seacraft yawl, and Serendipity, my maternal grandparents' 37-foot custom motorsailer. Julian and Olive were on the same course through Agate pass back in April of 1965 and their adventurous spirits are held dearly in my heart. We pulled into Poulsbo at the head of Liberty Bay and dropped anchor in the shallow water. Two friends of Dave and Marcia's motored out to Juniata in their dinghy, and we joined them all for lunch in the cockpit. After eating, Dave lowered his new 6 HP outboard onto their Porta-Bote. He let Clark start it for the very first time (!) before they went out for a spin on the glassy bay.

The next day, we got Dave to tow Darzee into town with his new motor, while we sat back and enjoyed the ride. The little town of Poulsbo (pronounced "Pauls-bow") is popular in the summer, but this time of year things are fairly quiet. Dave, Marcia and Clark posed for a photo in front of the famous bakery, resisting the temptation of sugary morsels laid out in the window. We sat with a cup of coffee in the Poulsbohemian Café, where a couple of gals added sections to the world's longest knit scarf.

Slowly we sauntered in and out of the shops and back to the marina, where there was something even more interesting to see- the world's largest (perhaps) trimaran. Dave towed us over to gawk at a trimaran so big that we guessed Rikki-tikki would fit on one side deck! Wow, it was huge.

After a full run around this leviathan (it's for sale!), we headed back to Rikki-tikki for a yummy sardine mash lunch. Marcia wasn't so sure she would like it, but with capers and sundried tomatoes added, sardines, besides being very healthful fare, taste great. It's our staple lunch- quick and easy.

Rain soon settled in and we watched from the shelter of our cockpit dodger as a several fleets of kids raced small sailing dinghies for an hour despite the wetness. After three nights in Liberty Bay, we decided to go back to Port Madison for the wi-fi and to explore the length of the inner harbor in our new kayaks. The wi-fi remained open and we accomplished some essential tasks online. It was only a matter of time before the open network would be accessed only with a password, so we took advantage while we could.

Next on the agenda, kayaking. We enter the kayaks off the stern where I tie both ends of the 'yak off to the handrails. That way, when I get in or climb out, the plastic boat doesn't zip out from under me. Clark is much more agile and he ties only one end. Our water-level tour around Port Madison gave us a new view of the multimillion-dollar homes that line the shore. We donned our drysuits next morning and got into the water to scrub all three of Rikki's hulls, scraping and brushing off the many forms of algae that seem to grow back overnight. Clark spent the entire next day, which just happened to be April Fool's Day, working on our contribution to the Northwest Multihull Association newsletter. They had invited us to write about our 2005 trip up the West Coast. About 5 PM, he called Juniata on the walkie-talkie to announce that "writing is painful", and mentioned vodka may be the cure for his pain. After two chilled coconut concoctions and some mango ginger Stilton cheese, Clark and the rest of us were feeling quite relaxed.

Juniata sailed away for Blake Island, leaving us behind to wait for their friends, Larry and Marcia, aboard Sail La Vie, a Gemini 32 catamaran. When they arrived, we enjoyed cocktails and dinner aboard Rikki-tikki-tavi. Next day we both headed south, but our destination was Blakely Harbor. On our way past Eagle Harbor, where the Washington State Ferry traverses between Bainbridge Island and Seattle, we turned in for a look. It was raining and we were slowly cruising the harbor looking at boats. I spotted an interesting white trimaran on the end of a dock. As we approached, a powerboat drove out from the fairway behind the tri, stopping us dead in our tracks. Clark looked to starboard as we waited for him to pass and there, just a few feet away, was Bacchanal, John Marples' Searunner 37, vintage 1970s. The companionway was open, so we hailed the owner. Patrick popped his head out and motioned for us to pull in behind his trimaran.

What a great treat to meet Patrick here! He had introduced himself by email many months before as we were making our way up the coast toward Cape Flattery, saying that he'd been watching our building progress on the internet for years. He had invited us to come by to say "hi" when we got to Seattle. Eagle Harbor is across The Sound from Seattle, so we were surprised and glad for the serendipitous meeting. Patrick arranged for us to stay the night on the Pub Dock behind Bacchanal. After hours of talking, dinner and wine aboard Rikki-tikki, breakfast the next morning too, we got to know Patrick and he us.

Here in Eagle Harbor, Rikki-tikki-tavi meets his brother, Bacchanal. (They are both male boats!)

The next day, April 4th, we left Eagle Harbor enroute for Gig Harbor, some 28 nautical miles away. Puget Sound was all new territory for us and we enjoyed the afternoon with a bit of sailing and motorsailing. When we arrived at the entrance to Gig Harbor with its serpentine shallow sandy bar, it was right at a minus 0.07-foot low tide. We were glad for our mere 38" of draft! Juniata and Sail La Vie were at the City Dock, their crews wondering what had been keeping us. We excitedly related our chance encounter with Patrick on Bacchanal.

Three chums, each of a different "feather" (different number of hulls), at the Gig Harbor City Dock.

We visited Gig Harbor again on the way back from the South Sound. The city allows two free days at their dock, which is centrally located to the little town with a grocery, post office, shops, marine stores, and restaurants. Between thundershowers, we walked the long frontage road to see the historical points of interest in the harbor and town. A historic walking tour brochure and placards along the way explain key aspects of the growth of the area and the fishing industry. There is still an active fleet of seine boats.

Our first trip under the Tacoma Narrows bridges, both the old and the new one now under construction, was under a full jib and with a favorable current. The clear blue sky put smiles on our faces. Checking grandpa's log, he and grandma motored under the Narrows Bridge at 1537 hours (that's 3:37 PM) on April 9, 1965. His notes say, "Rainy & cold all day." We headed for Penrose State Park, where we were promised fresh oysters and clams. Larry and Marcia had shellfish licenses!

We all stood around watching Larry and Marcia while they dug the clams and shucked the oysters on the muddy flats. After returning the oyster shells to their beds, we all went back to the dock for fried oyster appetizers. The clams were hung over the side in a net bag to purge themselves. The fishery notice on the park bulletin board stated that crabbing was open, so Larry also deployed his trap and next morning came back with three large rock crab- our first! Returning from the second day of clam digging, the notice stated that crabbing was closed! Were the crabs now illegal? Oh well, they'd already been cooked. So yummy, too, I sat on the dock long after everyone else had finished working to get out every last shred of meat.

While Marcia shows off the harvest, "The Other" Marcia digs clams at Penrose Beach.

Our three boats all carry or tow Porta-Botes as dinghies. Darzee has two buddies!

Appetizers enjoyed at the dock- it can't get better!

Cruisers are very self-sufficient. Dave gets a haircut, then it's Marcia's turn.

Next morning, we followed Juniata through Pitt Passage where there were two fishing boats with divers in the water. The large-diameter hoses led overboard told us they were probably harvesting geoduck clams, a tough business. There was not enough breeze for sailing into Olympia, so we motored over to tie up at the Swantown Marina transient dock. Dinner for eight aboard Sail La Vie featured garlicky clams, salads, and Clark's zucchini cake with coconut cream cheese frosting.

Clark's cousin, Betty, who lives just south of Olympia, came to pick us up. She took us shopping and to her home, where we met a long-time friend of hers. Unfortunately, I spent a good deal of the time on the computer in a frustrated attempt to complete our taxes online using TurboTax. Even though Betty's internet access was fast, I didn't have time to finish and I missed out on a lot of the conversation too! The following morning, I tried in vain to get the Swantown wi-fi to work. I even took my computer outside and held it up directly in sight of the antenna on top of the laundry/showers building. Drat it! We needed to get our taxes e-filed before leaving. Back at the dock, the iBook Airport hooked into an open network of unknown origin, but I thank whoever provided this access because I was able to complete and send our federal and California forms successfully! What a great relief. Now we would need to find another open wi-fi in a few days to confirm that the tax agencies had accepted our forms. Who knows where we might be? Rune, Betty's friend, Rune, came down to boat to get a tour before we left.

Leaving Olympia on a mirror of silvered, watery clouds.

On April 9, our first stop out of Budd Inlet was for fuel in tiny Boston Harbor. It is amazing, given the size of Budd Inlet and all the boats in Olympia, that there is no fuel dock. It is perhaps because Budd Inlet has very little exchange of water, it being at the extreme south end of Puget Sound. Four hours of motoring later, we arrived at Jarrell Cove, where Juniata and Sail La Vie were already tied up at the park dock. We elected to anchor out because we had also elected not to buy a Washington State Park Pass. Anchoring is always free. We took the dinghy into the dock for BBQ with the two Marcias, Larry and Dave.

The weather was kind to us here, as it had been for my grandparents when they stopped here, apparently for lunch, on April 11, 1965, on their way to Shelton from Filucy Bay. "Sunny- warm, calm. Beautiful weather." Most likely little has changed since their visit. We got out our hair scissors, our barstool, and gave each other haircuts. A local paddled out in a kayak to comment on the unusual sight we presented perched atop a barstool on the wide side-deck of our trimaran. Dave and Marcia, out in their inflatable kayak for the very first time, arrived at our stern. They got out of and back into the 'yak without falling in, though I was ready with a camera just in case they didn't.

April 11 was David's 59th birthday. We enjoyed delicious smoked salmon dip, salad, and BBQ'd New York steaks from Olympia's famous Farmers Market. David's "cake" was a walnut chocolate brownie with caramel sauce. Larry set the mood for the evening with 50's music on the MP3 player. We all had a great time.

We weighed anchor just before noon next day, our courses set for Filucy Bay, where Serendipity had experienced chilly, overcast, breezy conditions exactly 41 years ago to the day. The wind out in the inlets was brisk, up to 25 knots, generally holding between 12 and 18 from the south. We rolled out the jib and arrived about 3.5 hours later, also a bit chilled. As we carefully searched for a secure spot to set the anchor, my thoughts were of those intrepid, amazing sailors aboard Serendipity.

Clark & Nina

s/v Rikki-tikki-tavi

(Rikki-tikki's motto, and that of all mongooses, is "Run and find out.")


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