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Category Archives: Cruising

Yankee is happy to be back out in the boat!

With one sunny day in the forecast for Easter weekend, we jumped at the chance to head out to Island Home for some peace and quiet. The Doodle was happy to be out on the boat again and we arrived Saturday morning to find both docks empty and enjoyed the morning all to ourselves.

It seems in our rush to leave the cabin and head down to the boat, we forgot to bring one rather important item with us…. food! We grabbed two over-priced meals from the Deli at Bayview Market, only to discover that the sausage in the biscuits and gravy had green mold growing on it. Yucko! Sadly, we were half way to the Island by the time we discovered the moldy food, which reminded us of several similar incidents in the past with inedible foods from the Deli and items well past their due date. Note to self: no more deli food from Bayview Market in Olympia!

Parking a little close for comfort at an empty marina.

We scrounged together enough food to get by until dinner (we did remember to bring dinner and wine), enjoyed the sunshine and peaceful outstation. Around mid-afteroon, a sixty foot boat showed up, and with two WIDE OPEN docks available, chose to tie up so close to Yes Please, that their anchor was darn near right over our dingy. I was pretty surprised, but they were nice people with a pair of dogs. It’s a good thing we have curtains.

We cruised back home on Easter Sunday with 25 knot winds and choppy 2-3 foot seas, but it was a most welcome and easy weekend. We cooked Easter dinner for Sherri’s mom, then I took a break and digitized a line drawing of the boat and embroidered it an extra-large Boat Tote. I’m very happy with how well my hand digitized design stitched out.

Hand digitized Grand Banks Eastbay 39, embroidered on a tote.

Custom Embroidered Grand Banks Boat Totes are available from Belmore Custom Embroidery.

Grand Banks Eastybay 39, “Yes Please” at Tugboat Annie’s for lunch.

It was a chilly 25° out this morning, but the sun was shining with lots of blue skies, so we headed down to the boathouse to get some quality time out on the water. With a freshly painted, clean hull and propellers, Yes Please idles at just shy of 6 knots. It makes me laugh sometimes that a fast idle will hit 7 knots, which used to be full cruising speed in our old trawler. My how times have changed.

The tide was high and winds were mild, so we decided to brave West Bay Marina in order to have lunch at Tugboat Annie’s on the water. The narrow main fairway is built for the small boats that the marina caters to, with random pilings and boats extending well past the finger piers that line the sides. Idling into the marina feels like you are entering a narrowing tunnel, with no way to escape, followed by a hard right turn with a pump-out dock projecting dead center into the turn.

Fortunately, Yes Please is highly maneuverable, making the turn possible without tagging the pump-out dock and after spinning the boat around, we were safely secured on the guest dock. The big signs warning that the docks are “dry” at low tides reminds me why we don’t venture here often.

Lunch was good and leaving the marina was a little easier than entering, but still required a bit of finesse to keep from tagging the pump out dock as you made the turn. All in all, a great way to spend a rare, sunny, February day on the water.

Foggy windows in the dawn light and the calm before the storm.

With a big Thanksgiving Dinner tucked away in our bellies, we packed up the left-overs and headed out in Yes Please to enjoy the rest of a four-day weekend holiday. The weather reports were dire, with several inches of rain and Gale Warnings in the forecast, but we were determined to unplug, rest and reset.

Arriving at Island Home, we discovered we had the place to ourselves and the dog was dancing happily down the docks, full of life and enjoying every minute of his freedom. Black Friday was spent doing a bit of Christmas Shopping online, listening to music, eating turkey and all of the trimmings, warm and safe aboard the boat. We even had a few glorious sun breaks and spent an hour playing ping pong up in the clubhouse. Having the island to ourselves for such a long weekend felt like winning the lottery.

Saturday was much the same, with meals made from the left-over Prime Rib, reading Chip Gain’s excellent book and catching up with family and friends. Sunday’s weather forecast continued to feature Gale Warnings, so I went to bed anticipating a choppy ride home.

Sunrise at Island Home on Thanksgiving Weekend

I awoke too early on Sunday to the sound of the pennant snapping in the brisk wind and large waves slapping against the hull. At first light, I was up and the blinding rain was blowing sideways when I took the dog up to to do his business. The windows of the boat were all fogged over with condensation, so I fired up the diesel heater and began to squeegee them off between sips of morning coffee. I was checking the weather (not good), when the front passed right over us and suddenly, everything calmed down.

It was eerily quiet, except for the purr of the big diesels when I fired them up and cast off to head back to Olympia. We took of advantage of the suddenly calm conditions, lack of any boat traffic and clean hull/props to spool the engines up to 1600 RPM and ran back to Olympia in record time (18 knots – 75 minutes), arriving just before the big storm. Yes Please was tucked safely away in her boat house and we were safe at home in our Log Cabin when the trees started snapping and power outages started blanketing the region.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Yes Please with our beautiful Fall Colors.

The color of the leaves turning in Autumn are beautiful in the Pacific Northwest. Our crisp night air temperatures drop down to freezing, but when the sun comes out, the reflection of the fall colors on the water is mesmerizing.

For Halloween weekend, we took advantage of calm conditions to putz out in Yes Please for some quiet time on the water. The fog as we left the dock was thick and wet, which always makes safe navigation a little challenging. Several times during the trip, we would pass close to other vessels out fishing and would see their wakes, but couldn’t see them in the fog, which makes for a great, spooky start!

Running at only 7-8 knots rather than our usual sixteen, meant it took us twice as long to get to our destination, but our timing turned out to perfect, as the sunshine broke through, just as we arrived at the dock. By the end of the afternoon, we were wearing shorts and soaking up the sunshine. What a glorious way to spend a Halloween Weekend!

We have had an exceptionally sunny summer in the Pacific Northwest and on a quick trip up to the San Juan Islands we found the Straits of Juan de Fuca so calm that we took a detour over to the Dungeness Spit to do a little exploring. We were rewarded with the the rare sighting of a large humpback whale, that hung around with us for about twenty minutes while playing with some kelp that was floating on the surface.

Orca Whales in Admiralty Inlet

Heading north from there to Cattle Pass, we spotted several Minke Whales feeding with a pod of dolphins and a colony of very loud and stinky Steller Sealions on Whale Rocks.

We enjoyed several days in Friday Harbor and discovered a hidden gem of a restaurant that is well known to the locals, but far off the beaten path followed by tourists. Possibly the best pizza I have ever tasted and well worth the walk up the hill to Van Go’s Pizza. They open at 4 PM, six days a week and stay open until the freshly made dough runs out. Don’t be late or you’ll miss out!

Humpback Whale Tail near Dungeness Spit

On our way South through Admiralty Inlet, we were rewarded with quite a display put on by two Transient Pods of Orcas that were hunting. I have never seen that many whales in one place in my entire life and my best guess (based on conversations with a couple of whale watching boat captains) is that there were 40-50 killer whales in the combined super-pod. They paralleled our course for about 15 minutes, porpoising at times and presenting us with an “Oh Wow” moment that we will never forget.

Yes Please, Grand Banks Eastbay 39 sx

Yes Please, Grand Banks Eastbay 39 sx

We’re heading into a bit of Heatwave in the Pacific Northwest. Predicted High Temperatures of 106° F were forecast and air conditioning is rare here, so we headed out onto the water to keep things cool!

I also dragged along my sidemount dive gear (Scuba), because, doesn’t everyone want to squeeze themselves into 2″ thick polar fleece and then a 1/4″ neoprene drysuit when it’s 100° outside? What was I thinking???

Once in the water with the 150 lbs. of dive gear on, I wasn’t quite so warm, but I saw a lot of marine growth accumulating on the propellers and rudders. That’s what happens when a boat sits unused too long, and poor Yes Please sat for two months while we were away. Sad to see, but it’s time to pull the boat and get the bottom cleaned up and painted.

The existing bottom paint is still in pretty good shape, but I saw a few patches on the keel that are starting to accumulate growth.

Scott Boyd, enjoying the good life on Yes Please

Once back on the boat, I kept my drysuit on and took the dog swimming. Our boat neighbors were having a good time watching. Yankee would swim just fine when I took him out and let him swim back to shore, but he’s still not crazy about going into water that is deeper than his head. Oh well, maybe his Dad is the crazy one.

Once rinsed off and settled back on the boat is was time for happy hour and to celebrate life. I’d been out of the water (diving) for way too long and I enjoyed the quiet beauty of our underwater world. Life is good.

Have a great summer and get those boats out on the water where they belong.

Kayaking in Woodard Bay

The girls wanted to get the kayaks out, so we piled three of them on Yes Please and headed out for the Woodard Bay Conservation Area near Olympia. The water side of this beautiful area consists of an abandoned (and very long) railroad pier that is a nursery to hundreds of bats and several old log booms that have become a safe haven for Harbor Seals.

Sherri and Lauryn enjoying a stunning day on the water.

We anchored the boat well outside the boundaries of the Conversation Area, dropped the kayaks in the water and were immediately a popular curiosity for dozens of harbor seals. The girls lost track of the large number of young seals that would swim by them as we paddled along and were thrilled at all of the attention. They fondly refer to Harbor Seals as “puppies”.

We spent the day exploring the area and enjoyed sightings of hundreds of Great Blue Herons, Harbor Porpoises and almost no people. My kind of perfect weekend!

Yes Please, Grand Banks Eastbay 39

Yes Please, Grand Banks Eastbay 39

Hope and Squaxin Island

Blue skies, sunshine and no wind were in the marine forecast after months of nothing but rain, so we grabbed a bag of groceries and headed out for the peaceful waters of Puget Sound. We were not disappointed, even arriving at the outstation late Friday evening, just before the sun set.

The dog quickly got back into the swing of life aboard the boat. He hadn’t been aboard much this year, but as soon as the dingy was in the water (actually it wasn’t quite in the water), he jumped aboard and was all wiggles, wanting to head out exploring.

Lots of room, despite the three day weekend.

Lights out was late Friday night (about midnight), but I had my best night’s sleep in years. Why is it that we can relax, let go of life’s stress and sleep like babies when we are out on the boat?

As usual, we ate like kings, discovering that pre-cooked sausage makes for a great breakfast (without the mess) and that searing a couple of Prime Ribeyes for dinner is guaranteed to make everyone on the boat happy. Especially the dog.

Olympia Yacht Club outstation.

Sunday, we cruised slowly back to Olympia and to the mountain of chores that we had left behind. Although after two nights of peace and quiet on the boat, that mountain seems like a much smaller hill.

Tired guests lulled to sleep by purring engines on Yes Please.

Spring finally decided to show up in the Pacific Northwest, which meant we decided to drop whatever chores we were supposed to be doing and head out in Yes Please. The Kirk’s parents were visiting from California, so we loaded up the boat with lots of picnic goodies and the entire family to head north in search of some sunshine.

We cruised up around Harstine Island, which rewarded us with stunning views of Mount Rainier to the east and the snow covered Olympic Mountains to the West. Bumpa and G-Mo were very impressed with the untouched shores of Squaxin Island and the reflection of the snow covered peaks on the calm waters of Peale and Squaxin Passages.

Stopping for lunch at Island Home proved to be a wise choice. We had the island all to ourselves, which allowed CeCe and Isaac to run free and play while the adults enjoyed a picnic table in the sun. We all walked out to the point to admire the natural beauty of Pickering Passage and laughed as we swung on the Rope Swing.

CeCe on the rope swing

When it was time to cruise back, we putzed around Hope Island and headed home just as the sun was setting on another perfect day. Our California guests were tuckered out, but very happy and could not believe the natural beauty we are so fortunate to live in every day.

Yes Please, alone at the Island Home docks.

One of my favorite seasons for cruising in the Pacific Northwest is Winter. Anchorages are deserted, marinas are empty and the short days encourage enjoying the infrequent sunshine while it lasts, then snuggling up during the dark, cold nights. The barbecue still works extremely well for sizzling steaks and the snow flakes drifting down from the gray skies are mesmerizing.

Island Home, Olympia Yacht Club, Winter Cruising.

Our “go to” spot for a winter weekend getaway is the Olympia Yacht Club’s Island Home, located on Pickering Passage, just south of the Harstine Island Bridge (47° 14.13′ North, 122° 56.10′ West). Whenever we see a break in the weather that coincides with a weekend, we slip out of town on Friday night, just as the sun is setting and cruise north to Island Home. We almost always find that we have the place all to ourselves for the entire weekend and it really recharges your mental batteries to spend two nights of blissful peace and quiet aboard the boat before heading back to the rush and bustle of modern civilization.

Three Generations enjoying the serenity of Island Home.

We’ve had a fair amount of snow this winter, but Yes Please is equipped with both Diesel and Electric Heat that keeps us cozy and warm, even when the temperatures dip well below freezing at night. Our very wet snow does have a tendency to freeze our lines solidly to the docks, so we have learned to bring the tail end of the lines back to the boat, which will allow us to depart on frozen mornings without struggling to chip the lines away from the dock!