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Robin & Jim


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Posted By Robin & Jim

After we left Friday Harbor the weather was not the best to really enjoy the San Juans, and Jim's broken tooth really needed some attention.  We found a dentist in Bellingham, WA and headed there with the boat.  We're not used to the typical Washington marinas that are run by the towns - they don't take reservations, the staff isn't very helpful, and they have very little/no 50Amp power - which we really like to have so we can run our washer/dryer and electric heating systems.  But the important thing was the dentist, and it turned out that Jim only needs a crown and not an implant - whew!

In addition to the dentist, our boat is now 25 years old and our insurance company requires us to have a professional survey done - out of the water.  DeFever friends Jim and Susan recommended their favorite boat yard in Port Townsend, WA, so that was our next stop.  Actually we made the arrangements for the haul-out and survey two months ago, just to make sure everything would be done in time for the insurance renewal. 

Port Townsend is a great town, with old Victorian homes and buildings, great little shops and cafes (which we barely had time to visit), a Maritime Center, and lots of activities and classes at the decommissioned Fort Worden nearby.

port t sunrise

We didn't realize that this yard offers services for "regular" boats as well as the behemoths - large commercial fishing boats, float houses, and huge yachts.  When we were in the water our slip had a perfect view of all the activity around the 300 ton travel lift.  Our boat weighs 32 tons and we were hauled by an 80 ton lift seen here (with the operator and his wireless control in the lower left)...

adventures in lift

And compare that to the massive 300 ton lift that can pick up a big steel commercial fishing boat like the kind you see on Deadliest Catch...

300 ton lift

The tires on the big lift are about 6 feet tall, just to give you some perspective.  The yard was full of old boats, new boats, work boats, pleasure boats, steel, wood, fiberglass... and lots of real craftsmen and women who can do any kind of repair you might need.  What a cool place!

Getting hauled out is never fun - it means long hours and lots of boat yard dirt, and climbing a tall ladder to get on and off the boat. And we always hope the travel lift operator blocks our boat level so things stay "normal" inside since we stay aboard.  But we got a lot accomplished, and took the opportunity to replace our main anchor chain, among many other little jobs.  We need a longer chain out here in the west since anchorages are deeper, particularly in Alaska.

anchors and chains

The morning after we were put back in the water, a boat in the yard caught fire - about 250' from where our boat was sitting!  Luckily the wind was light and the fire department arrived quickly.  The damage was limited to just three boats, and it could have been much worse.

Posted By Robin & Jim

We last left you when we were in Sidney Spit getting ready to cross from Canada back into the US - a whopping 6 miles!  Fortunately we now have NEXUS cards - a Trusted Traveler system that makes going between the US and Canada much easier.  We might still be stopped for a Customs inspection, but it's much less likely and most of the time we can clear in with a phone call.  Luckily, the phone call is all we needed and we could proceed directly to our chosen anchorage instead of heading to the Customs dock. 

We decided to check out Reid Harbor on Stuart Island in the northern San Juan Islands for a little hiking.  It's a pretty, long anchorage with some mooring balls and a dock provided by the Washington State Park system. 

stuart harbor

We took a few hikes around the island, and on our long hike out to see the lighthouse we came across this clothes line in the woods...

shopping island style

It was a "shopping" display of jackets, t-shirts, hats, and post cards - with the goods in a big wooden chest and an honor system to pay later online.  Pretty cool!  A local family puts it out, and the selection was nice.  We didn't expect to go shopping in the middle of the woods on a trail, but what the heck.

We continued on to the see the light house at Turn Point - the northernmost point on the island, and the place along the US-Canada border where big ships make a fairly hard turn to head up the Strait of Georgia or down and out the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Pacific Ocean.  It's a pretty spot and the old lighthouse and buildings are very well cared for.  We looked for orcas - they are often spotted here in the strong current, but we didn't see any this time.

 turn point

On the hike back to the dinghy dock we came upon this beautiful pileated woodpecker in the woods.  He didn't seem to mind us at all, and we were able to follow him as he flitted from tree to tree and jumped around on the ground looking for food.  The woods were pretty dark, but I was able to get a few photos.  What a treat!


We were running low on some fresh things like milk and veggies so we decided to explore the town of Friday Harbor next.  It's a pretty big town on San Juan Island, and we anchored nearby so we could watch all the comings and goings of this busy place. 

friday harbor

We would get an occasional roll from the ferries that come and go all the time, but it was no big deal.  We really liked the town, and it felt good to walk around.  The Whale Museum was terrific, we got haircuts, a few groceries, and I found a wonderful yarn shop - what's not to like!

Posted By Robin & Jim

I apologize for letting the blog get so far behind reality. Right now we're actually in US waters, in Port Townsend taking a little cruising pause. I'll try to catch things up in the next few entries.

We were sad to leave the Broughtons - it was our favorite cruising area this summer since it was the most wild and quiet and full of wildlife. There are two major paths to head south - through the several rapids along the "back way" (the path we took northbound), or through the wider Johnstone Strait and Seymour Narrows, where the big ships go. We decided to try the Johnstone route, though we still had to time our passage through Seymour Narrows very carefully. We watched a 110' commercial fishing boat transit the narrows 2 hours before slack current and we could see him fishtailing in the strong turbulence. We slowed down and made an uneventful passage 75 minutes later, and tucked into the town of Campbell River for a few days. Jim needed to see a dentist to patch his cracked tooth, and we wanted to check out the town. Despite a lot of rain, we had a great time exploring, particularly the museum and maritime center.

fisherman's wharf

We continued down Discovery Passage to the town of Comox, and we were glad to finally escape the strong winds that made the trip somewhat uncomfortable. Comox was another lovely town and we met a great couple on a 1972 wood Alaskan - a very close cousin to our type of boat. You have to love a town that makes condo balconies out of boats!

comox boat balcony

We continued southwards, spotting another male orca just north of Nanaimo, and stopping in Montague Harbor in the Gulf Islands. We were hiking through the woods and found this wonderful driftwood sculpture - someone is very talented!

montague deer

We were able to link up with our good friends Linda and Ed, and we had a very happy reunion with them. They headed off to fish and crab for a few days, but we were able to rendezvous again for one last hurrah at Sidney Spit in the Gulf Islands.

Sidney Spit is a neat little island just a few miles from the town of Sidney, with great birding and some nice hiking trails in the woods.

sidney spit

We had a lot of fog for two days, and it was spooky hearing the big ferries blowing their foghorns as they passed our anchorage. We heard them, but couldn't see them.

sidney spit jim

Summer was over and it was time to bid farewell to our dear friends. They were heading to their RV and Mexico for the winter, and we were crossing into the US for the fall.