Thursday, July 28, 2011

April Point

After six years traveling on Indigo, we have discovered that sailors develop irrational fondness for the various marinas and anchorages we encounter. We are currently tied up at April Point on Quadra Island. We are about two miles across the water from Campbell River, which is the largest town on this middle region of Vancouver Island.  The water between Quadra Island and Campbell River is alive with fierce currents - flowing four knots north at the ebb tide, then turning and flowing just as strong at the flood. But here at the marina inside of April Point it is nearly always calm.

This marina is owned by the Oak Bay Group, a very large corporation which runs fishing lodges all up and down the BC coast. The April Point Lodge, which sits right at the edge of the swift water passage a half mile from here,  is a busy destination for fishermen and tourists. But the marina is quieter, mostly because it is mainly occupied by huge yachts, which sit here with crew on board, waiting for owners and guests to arrive for the occasional visit.  Some cruisers on small boats find this intimidating or offputting. We have adopted the opposite attitude, since this marina is in an incredibly beautiful location and is remarkably peaceful.

Thinking back, I wonder if our fondness for this place comes from our first visit. Fifteen years ago, we ducked into this marina when a storm was developing. The Captain was disabled by a back injury, and our son Sam and I were worried about getting him back home as quickly as possible. It was clear that we couldn't travel while the storm raged, and we were so grateful to be tied up in a place where we could all rest and feel safe. For whatever reason, I have always felt at home here since then.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Turn Point Again

There have been blog posts here before about Turn Point (click here then scroll down to see all entries about Turn Point) . We hiked out to Turn Point on a sunny Friday morning, thinking it fitting that this beautiful spot overlooking the boundary waters that constitute the border between the US and Canada be our last stop before leaving the country. The BLM, the Coast Guard, and a non-profit support group are doing a great job of keeping the buildings here in good shape. This view looks through the forest at the roof of the Lightkeeper's Quarters and the waters of Boundary Pass beyond.

Since crossing into Canada, we have been moving quickly north and west, so that we are now on Quadra Island, about half way up Vancouver Island. We have had long stretches under sail, and some on the motor. When not on watch, I have been working on iPad paintings like this one.  The little machine is wonderfully convenient for short spells of work. No water or solvent to spill if we hit rough seas!

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Seattle Saga

We arrived in Seattle last Wednesday. having covered 400 miles via water to reach a spot that is roughly 180 miles from Portland. Yes, it's the long way around.  But, as always, we have a good time in Seattle, visiting old and new friends, and enjoying city delights.

We came to Seattle in order to have some boat work done. As is often the case, this took longer than anticipated.  One by one,  problems were solved - refrigeration, toilet, computer issues.  One problem resisted all troubleshooting - our watermaker kept telling us it wasn't getting a satisfactory intake level. Every bit of the system was taken apart, examined, and put back together over the course of several days.

Coincidentally, these were days when the mate, who is superfluous to most of these repair efforts, had lots of time to paint. But every time I set out paints and paper, I was told I needed to move. Eventually I resorted to painting on the iPad, which takes up no room at all.  The painting is shown above.  The iPad really might be the ultimate portable studio!

In the end, it turned out that a thin disc of plastic, the size of a nickel, was caught in the intake for the watermaker.  Of course, it was the last thing that was checked. So we got all the problems fixed, just took the long way around.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Disappointment to Flattery

It sounds just like the chapter title in a romance novel. But, no, its the description of the passage from Astoria and Cape Disappointment, up along the Washington coast to it's northernmost point at Cape Flattery. This is the passage from the Columbia River up to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and hence to the Inside Passage waters which extend from Puget Sound all the way to Alaska.

We started our trip on Sunday morning at Astoria, passing by Cape Disappointment as part of the fourteen mile trip out past the bar of the Columbia River. Then we motored north in the open ocean, with only the most distant views of vague land forms until Monday morning, as we approached Cape Flattery.  This Cape marks the southern entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and this morning it was all shrouded in cloud and fog, as is often the case. In fact, although we have come close to Cape Flattery a dozen times, we have never seen it clearly.

But with some patience and a little deviation from course, we were able to creep close to the Cape and to Tatoosh Island, the rough bit of rock and island that makes up its most most extreme point.  A nineteenth century lighthouse sits on the prow of the westernmost rock. It - like all the U.S. lighthouses - is long abandoned to remote control. But it does still sit proud among these amazing, storm sculpted rock cliffs.

Sunday, July 03, 2011


We are docked at St. Helens in the Columbia River,  about twenty miles downriver from Portland, and poised to slip the lines and head downriver in the morning.  We have a distant view of Mt. Hood at dusk, which we are using to say adios to Portland and our past eighteen months "at home".  This is an embarrassment of riches: we have reveled in living in Portland, close to family, friends, and the riches of a city life. Especially wonderful has been the spaces and opportunities to work - studio space for the mate, and a part-time return to the medical community for the Captain.
And now we can return to an itinerant life on the boat. It's irresistible, although not entirely easy. We have spent most of the last month arranging, packing, and placing in storage most of our possessions. Tonight it is all accomplished, and we are entirely settled on the boat.  Early Fourth of July fireworks are popping around us, and a very clear, midsummer sky is beginning to show stars. Tomorrow we will celebrate Independence Day as sailors who have slipped the lines.