Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Private Seats

Private Seats, originally uploaded by macatay.

We saw these chairs on a shoreside bank while kayaking. It was a spectacular, sunny day, and we felt like kings of all we saw - sea, sky, forest. But then we paddled too close to a rock that was a seal hangout, and were chased away, even herded away by critters who look bigger when you are down at water level. Then we saw the lovely old chairs flanked by their unfriendly signs, and figured that, while maybe we didn't own it all, there was more than enough for everyone.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Garrison Bay

Garrison Bay, originally uploaded by macatay.

Monday, 29 May. This is Garrison Bay on San Juan Island, as seen from the top of Young Hill, with the Canadian Gulf Islands in the distance. There was an English Military Camp here beginning in 1859, while the boundary between the US and Canada was in dispute. There are still a few farms and orchards and fields around here. It's a lovely place - well worth squabbling over.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Strait Crossing

Strait Crossing, originally uploaded by macatay.We made an exhilarating 35 mile sail today across the Juan de Fuca Strait from Port Angeles to Mosquito Pass on San Juan Island. The wind was brisk, but the point of sail was difficult - the wind just aft of the port quarter. We poled out a partially reefed jib and full main to make it work, and our good speed was boosted to ten knots by an awesome flood current.
We were accompanied part of the way by Evening Star, a wooden ketch out of Astoria, which is beautiful (see photo above) and responsive under sail and outperformed us in the light wind.
We are now anchored in sheltered Garrison Bay on San Juan Island, and have returned to what we call the "chi chi sailboat world". Lots of clean, new boats here. The last time we anchored here Sam was small enough that going to shore with the soccer ball was the most important thing. Now it's all Blues until midnight on the Jazz station from Tacoma, the sunset is spectacular, and we have meatloaf and new potatoes for dinner.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Humpback Breaching

Saturday, May 27 - Just out of Neah Bay this morning, a quiet gray swell at the end of the ebb tide. We are both in the cockpit, lazily getting our bearings in the Strait, when a humpback breaches about fifty yards from us. Really breaches - fully out of the water, revealing all his (or her) barnacles. A first for us, and also the first time we have seen a humpback this far south.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Night on the Open Ocean

May 26, Neah Bay, Washington: We made the open ocean passage from Astoria to Neah Bay in 25 hours, with Thursday fading into Friday on a lumpy ocean with light rain. We did have a long spell of great sailing just after crossing the Columbia River Bar, the night is short this time of year, and the dawn was lovely.
For entertainment, we read excerpts from the first Pacific Coast Pilot, the government sponsored directions to sailors. The volume was dated 1889, and a photographic copy of the entire book is available online. I particularly like the coastal views - like the one of Cape Disappointment and Saddle Mountain above - which were so much more important for navigation before the days of GPS and radar and electronic charts.
At night on the open ocean there are always mysterious things. Last night, the boat was circled for hours by one or two white birds. In the very dark, rainy night they looked like handkerchiefs as they swooped around. White bats? Our best guess from our bird book is that they were Leach's Storm-Petrels, but I hope someone who reads this will be able to tell us more.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I have always had some deep-seated enthusiasm for cities and towns built on hills and overlooking water. Astoria hits this spot, with a wealth of old buildings scattered around above the still lively and commercial waterfront. From the marina where we sit waiting out some nasty weather, we can see this phalanx of brightly colored houses above the on- ramps to the bridge over the Columbia.
Capturing the scene is more difficult. Sketching and painting skills are rusty. In fact, most of the muscles and sectors of the brain used for boat travel are rusty. We are sore all over, have many bruises and minor injuries from moving, and generally feel quite creaky. This respite in Astoria is a balm. This is a serious deep water harbour, and we are among a number of boats that are heading out in the next few days to sail north. Another day of rest and preparation and we will be ready to go.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Another Moving Story

Now we are fully moved onto the boat, and finishing up with sorting and stowing the last few odds and ends. Cars, furniture, books – all sold or stored or given away.
We find we are both wondering what details we have overlooked, which precious objects have been misplaced or discarded in this frenzy of reorganization. I am reminded of this passage from the Between Lives, the autobiography of the artist Dorothea Tanning:
“Letters, photographs, books, objects, even documents, big and little things treasured like breath – impossible to live without them – move with me and the beds and the casseroles from house to house, yet some of them and always the wrong ones inevitably vanish, a diminishment at each upheaval hinting at loss. A little lost each time, not much, absorbed into the mysterious space to which you willingly confide pieces of your reckless life, your memory deeply troubled and faulty without them. Because even memory can loose its key like that of the last house, and upon what recall then can you depend to enter the next one? After awhile, I could not remember what I didn’t have anymore.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Moving Story

This photo tells the story of the past few weeks. We've been absorbed in the sorting and packing necessary to dismantle a land-based life. Tomorrow all of these boxes and bundles go into storage, along with our furniture. A few favorite bits and pieces have been placed with friends and family for safe keeping. Lots more has been sold or given away.
By the end of the week, we will be living entirely on Indigo, down to the essentials of life on-board. Sometime this weekend, we will untie the lines, and ride the current, swollen by spring runoff, down toward the sea.