Thursday, July 24, 2014

Don't know how they do it...

Yeah, there's a lot of things I don't understand.  ;-)

It started raining late Tuesday.  Rained all day yesterday.  It is raining this morning.  I know people up here go weeks at a time during the winter without seeing sunshine.  Oh, there are those famous "sun breaks" of 30 seconds or so that get reported on the local news.  But, I don't know how people who live here cope with all the gray and the rain.

I am scheduled for an early charter this morning.  In the rain.  I'll let a smile be my umbrella.  Have to - I don't have an umbrella.  ;-)  (But, I do have rain gear!)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rainy days and Wednesdays...

Wednesday is the last of our three days off.  It has been nice having a regular schedule.  We awoke this morning to rain... first precip we've had since the 4th of July, and the first significant rain since May.

I am glad to not be driving today.  We were notified that a charter that was scheduled for this morning was moved to tomorrow, so I will be going in early.  And rain forecast for tomorrow, too.

Last night, a dock neighbor who also plays guitar came by our boat and asked me if I'd like to go with him to some friends' place to jam.  My fingers were already sore, but I couldn't pass it up.  My fingers really feel it this morning... I guess I should have been practicing more to keep my callouses tougher.

Most of our weekly "chores" are done; there won't be any scooter riding in the rain; guess this will be a relaxing kind of day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Guitar players have a name for it: "New Guitar Day."

It starts with "GAS."  Guitar players understand that term, too: Guitar Acquisition Syndrome.  Truth be told, I haven't been "GASsing".  Oh, I participate on a couple guitar forums... and I do occasionally check out the pretty images on LA Guitar Sales site:

I bought my RainSong from Ted at LA Guitar Sales.  I was kinda checking out Taylor's newest 12 string guitar, and had asked Ted about a price... he shot me a very fair offer... I visited with Joan... she said, "Is that what you really want?  What about that koa model you looked at during the Taylor Road Show?"

"Well, since you brought it up, there is an all mahogany model that is very striking - it is supposed to be a warmer tone than anything else I have."  I showed her photos of a couple different examples that Ted had.  I was leaning towards one with a traditional body shape.

She said, "That one is you," referring to a cutaway option.

An all mahogany Taylor 522ce 12-fret.  It is a sharp looking guitar.  Great size.  The newest Taylor Expression System pickup.

I called Ted.  He made it easy to have it shipped to our boat... well, to our office, 'cause UPS doesn't deliver to a boat.

Today is New Guitar Day!

I picked up the box at our office and brought it back to the boat...

I opened it in the cockpit of the boat, and pulled out the case...

No marks on the box, no marks on the case - that is a good sign.  For 45 years, I wouldn't buy a guitar without playing it first.  Taylor guitars are very consistent... the last 4 guitars I bought have been by phone or internet.  I knew Ted would be very honest with me; I have other Taylors, so I know what to expect with the playability and quality.

I held my breath and opened the case...

Ohhhh... that is really nice looking.  These photos with the little point & shoot don't do it justice; the mahogany is deep and rich.  I pulled the guitar out of the case and tuned it up... it sounds as good as it looks.  I played it light - it was warm and rich.  I played it harder - great sustain and plenty of punch.  It is all I hoped it would be.

A few more views...

The details in the binding and all over are very nice.  Mahogany neck, with an ebony fretboard.  The matchup on the back is very striking.

I was playing when Joan came back (chores day - she was doing laundry)... she said, "Is it as nice as you thought it would be?  Play something for me."

Little Izzy joined me in the cockpit...

The 522 is supposed to be about the same size as the RainSong Shorty I enjoy so much... I guess I do have a "type."  (Grand Concert size)

I went back and forth between the two.  Definitely a difference in the tone, but both are rich sounding, each in their own way.  The 522 is a nice compliment to the RainSong.

My fingertips are a bit sore right now... I haven't been practicing as much as in the past.  We have been enjoying our free time out and about more this season.  Pretty sure the new Taylor is going to get a lot of play-time.

Those 3 little words you long to hear...

"Out for delivery"!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Timing, good friends, and cutting it close...

It was a tranquil start to the day...

Joan's alarm went off, but we didn't have to hustle around getting ready for work.  The plan for the day: take the ferry to Anacortes.  We were going to have lunch with our friends Joe and Ruth, stop for some groceries that you can't get on the island, then maybe have time for a twisty ride.

We rolled up to the Friday Harbor ferry landing just as the ferry was pulling in - we're not going to have much of a wait.  Onto the ferry and up to the galley level...

We were laying out our plan for the day, when some movement out the window caught my eye... turned out to be a harbor porpoise.  I need to stop looking on my days off.  An older couple at the table across from us asked, "Is there something we should be looking at?"

We visited with them... turns out they have a cabin on Mitchell Bay.  They first came to the San Juan Islands in 1954; whew, 60 years ago.  Joan said, "You must have seem some real changes around here over the years?"  They told us about how there used to be a passenger ferry (no cars) from Bellingham to Olga; and how the first car ferry they took here was made out of wood and had 5 cars on it.  Yep, some real changes.

We were first on and one of the first off the ferry.  King's Market in Friday Harbor hasn't had their usual selection of bakery goods (that come from the Donut House in Anacortes), so we made a quick stop in Anacortes for a morning treat.

The plan changed: let's go right to Wally World, then meet Joe and Ruth for lunch, and try to make the 2:00 ferry back.  Things progressed smoothly.  Well, the woman in front of us in the checkout line at Wal-Mart apparently didn't have anyplace else in the world that she needed to be.  Once through the line, we loaded up the scooters (and my big ol' yellow pack) and met Joe and Ruth at their favorite dining establishment: Olive Garden...

It's been a while since we've had the opportunity to just sit and visit.. oh, and eat.  We enjoyed our time with our friends, then hit the road back to Anacortes... time kinda got away from us... we may have exceeded the speed limit just a bit on the way back (yes, those scooters will do that).  It is rare that we pass cars on the highway, but we could see the time ticking away.  We scrapped our plan to stop at Safeway (I'm going to miss those goodies)... a shiny red Corvette in front of us drove less than 20 miles per hour down Commercial Ave.  We were down to the wire.  They got in the turn lane in front of us, then pulled out of that to go straight - finally out from behind them.

On the road to the ferry landing, two mopeds held up a line of traffic.  Seriously?  We managed to get around them, zoomed out to the ferry landing and...

A line of traffic waiting to buy tickets for the ferry.  We have a multi-pass - all they have to do is scan it.  Apparently, the car in front of us asked the attendant to name all 172 islands in the San Juan Islands.  Before we could get to the pay station, we heard the announcement for "Last call for anyone boarding the Friday Harbor ferry - all passengers should be onboard at this time."

I asked the guy at the booth if there was any chance we could get on... "Check with Brenda at the next booth."

"Hi Brenda, can we still get on to Friday Harbor?"

She looked at the ferry and said, "Drive down the fire lane and go to the front of lane 4 - they may still get you on."

Of course, there were people from the cars in line wandering through the fire lane.  We made our way to the front of lane 4 - the lady directing traffic stopped the next truck in line and waved us through... these were overflow vehicles they were boarding.  The next guy directed us to a spot a car wouldn't fit in.  A couple vehicles behind us got on.  Before we could get out of our helmets and jackets, the ferry pulled away from the landing.  We could NOT have cut that any closer!  Had we not gotten on, it would have been a 2 1/2 hour wait for the next ferry.  OK, it was worth giving up those Safeway treats to not have to wait.

It was chilly this morning, but had turned sunny and lovely on the ferry ride back.  We went to the front of the ferry, and enjoyed the ride.  The ferry ride used to be drudgery with the truck... now, it is part of the getaway with the scooters.

There were a lot of boats in the channel between Blakely Island and Lopez Island - the ferry went in the opening between small Willow Island and Blakely...

A nice day to enjoy the views from the ferry...

Since we were at the back of the ferry, we weren't the first ones off, but it wasn't much of a wait.  While getting our stuff out of the scoots, Joan said, "I can't imagine getting off this island, and then back on this island, any faster than what we did today."

Cutting it a bit too close for my comfort on the way back.  ;-)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Georgia on my mind...

We had no reports this morning.  When I got to the boat, I had some maintenance to do on it, and turned on the fleet radio... an hour before our (early departure), we got a report... west of Victoria... seas on the way there were 2 1/2 to 3 feet.  Yeah, that would be a long, lumpy ride.

I waited to see my guests before making a decision to go for it.  All one big family who had chartered the boat... and 3 or 4 of them were concerned about getting seasick before we even walked down the dock.  Swell.

I did my safety orientation, then explained where we would be going... and, the anticipated conditions.  As I was going up the ladder to the helm, a report came over the radio: transient whales in the Strait of Georgia, and the water conditions were reported to be decent.  Hallelujah!

Back down and told the guests of the change of plan... AND the favorable water conditions.  Relief across some of the faces.  Even with that, I had guests who took my offer to borrow some wrist bands (acupressure bands for motion sickness - seems to work for some people, so I carry several in my bag).

I figured at least 45 minutes closer to the Strait of Georgia compared to going west... good news all around!  Smooth running all the way there; the water in the Strait of Georgia was very pleasant.  And the transients were active.  Happy guests, happy crew.

That was cutting it close... that radio call was like getting a reprieve from the Governor.  Last minute and a relief to receive.

Looking forward to some days off.


Now, there's something you don't see everyday...

North of Sucia, I saw... a jetski.  They are not allowed in San Juan County.  I'm guessing it came from somewhere in Canada.  I can't imagine anyone wanting to do that, the water is so cold.  First time I have seen one in all our time here.

Interesting Boat of the Day...

I don't think I have posted one of these yet this season.  I saw this one while out on a whale watch trip yesterday...

It is an Island Packet Cat (catamaran).  35 feet long, 15 foot beam, twin 27 hp diesel engines, solid foredeck.  LOTS of room inside.  I was on one the year we spent the winter in the Florida Keys.  Not a particularly fast multi-hull, but designed for comfortable cruising.  I see this particular example is available for charter from Anacortes Yacht Charters.

Island Packet is known for their beefy monohulls, and I think this cat was built to similar standards.  It has what IP calls a "delta pod" between the hulls... looking at it from the front, it almost looks like a trimaran.  I assume the pod is designed to keep down the slap that shorter cruising catamarans get on the bridgedeck... it is supposed to break up the waves that come between the hulls.  Probably doesn't help the boat's sailing speed.

Lots of room for two couples onboard.  Or, a decadent amount of space for a cruising couple.

Interesting boat, one you don't see too often.