Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Waiting with Grace

Waiting with Grace, originally uploaded by macatay.

Have we mentioned that we have been waiting for our radar to be repaired? We had planned to be far north by this time, but instead have stayed in the southern waters for one, then two, and finally three weeks, hoping the problem would be identified and the radar equipment reinstalled. Almost daily we adjusted plans. Actually we feel quite proud of how well we adapted - we have gotten better and better at doing very little, and enjoying it immensely. Long kayak trips, hikes on shore, hours of watching the water and wildlife, painting and sketching, cooking. Maybe it is amazing grace - an enforced period without destination or schedule.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Ocean Spray

Ocean Spray, originally uploaded by macatay.

Ocean Spray is common in the Pacific Northwest, but perfect fresh blooms, like these, are rare. One day they bloom, thousands of tiny, feathery white flowers in each "spray". In one, or maybe two days, they have faded to a creamy brown and they hang on that way for a week or more. But the first, pure white bloom is fleeting.
We arrived at Sucia on June 21, and celebrated the beginning of summer with a long walk through the woods where we found Ocean Spray at its best. We lingered at Sucia for five days of brilliant sun and warm temperatures - and watched all the Ocean Spray fade to brown. A perfect marker for the transition into full summer.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Harlequin Ducks

Harlequin Ducks, originally uploaded by macatay.

We came upon three of these birds while kayaking last evening among the big rocks that line the shore. They flew off, and we continued paddling. We found them again when we rounded a corner, but now there were a dozen or more - all with this brilliant coloring. They looked embarrassed, and flew off. They are strong, fast flyers.
Why so many male birds all together? Our bird book explains that Harlequin Ducks mate along fast-moving streams in the mountains. Then the females stay in the mountains to raise the young, and the males come down to the coast, where they hang out together in gangs and molt. The Captain says there must be a metaphor here somewhere.
(Photo from

Ewing Cove

After a loop up into the Canadian Gulf Islands and over to Vancouver, we have come to rest back at Sucia Island. This time we are anchored in Ewing Cove, the smallest bay on this island of bays. The shores are lined with cliffs of soft, gold-colored sandstone, eroded out by the waves into odd shapes. Arbutus trees mix with fir on the high ground, and there are otters, seabirds, and weird kelps along the shore.
Plus, the sky is cloudless and the air is warm. We’ve been here three days and can’t see any reason to leave.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Arthur Dove

Arthur Dove, originally uploaded by macatay.

Arthur Dove, who made the painting called Thunder Storm shown here, lived for a time on a sailboat with the woman who became his second wife. I understand that it was quite a small boat, that it was difficult to stand up inside the cabin, and that they both tried to paint aboard.
I think of Arthur Dove and his passion for painting sometimes when I have trouble organizing the time and space to paint, or finding the image or imagination. We have days filled with glorious sea scapes, shorelines, and sunsets, yet nothing gets resolved into a painting. It's a tonic to look at work like Dove's, where the raw material of the natural world gets spun into something magical.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Splicing, originally uploaded by macatay.

The Captain, always questing for new challenges, is teaching himself how to splice rope. He has moved on from joining - or splicing - one section of three strand rope to another. Now he is working on eight stand multiplait, which means keeping track of four pairs of stands, and weaving them into existing rope. He groans a lot.
We came north today to Sucia Island, just short of the Canadian border. On the horizon to the east are the North Cascades and Mount Baker. After Seattle and Port Townsend, it seems incredibly quiet.

Water, water...

Back on the water, currently in Port Townsend, after two days of great downwind sailing. Big tides these days - a difference of ten feet or more from low to high tide. This tends to make sketching tricky, as there are constant subtle shifts in point of view.
We can now make fresh water from salt water, using the watermaker recently installed. Longer showers are an incredible luxury.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Out of Order and Off the Water

Out of Order and Off the Water, originally uploaded by macatay.

Above is an image born from traveling down the lower Columbia River several weeks ago. Near Astoria, the Columbia makes a broad sweep, and widens out to a bay full of islands and shallow sands. I found the river there beautiful, and the map of the way it curved and braided to be fascinating. This is my watercolor adaptation of the map.
This post is made from land, as we have been off the boat in Seattle for a week in order to have a watermaker installed. Now we have traveled (overland) to Portland for a party to celebrate the captain's retirement from the practice of surgery.
In another two or three days, we will be back on the boat, and back to the practice of (chronologically) recording our journey.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Door at Turn Point

The Door at Turn Point, originally uploaded by macatay.

Yesterday we hiked to Turn Point, a ritual pilgrimage to a magical place. This westernmost headland on Stuart Island overlooks the border between the US and Canada, as well as swirling tides, many whales, lots of ship traffic and spectacular views. It is a natural location for a lighthouse, and on the bluff there are well preserved Victorian buildings that must have housed a lighthouse keeper and his crew. But there is no lighthouse anymore.
We knew from the charts that there was a navigation light marking the point, and yesterday I went looking for it. I found it atop the odd building in the sketch above. I felt as if I had entered a painting by Magritte or Max Ernst. This building is only four feet square - where does the door go? Out the other side is a steep drop into the sea, and Canada and the Pacific Ocean and the rest of the world.