Monday, July 6, 2015

Good smells...


The first of our days off this week.  Joan is baking and cooking... I am drooling.

She started the morning off baking a cinnamon swirl cake.  We will have this as part of breakfast over the next week.  It makes the coach smell great inside...


Next on the baking agenda: lemon bars.  Light and tasty.  A fresh treat on a warm day.  And to top off the good smells: bacon and eggs for breakfast.  I am lovin' the smells!

The wind has changed directions, but it was still a smokey start to the day.  We didn't open the door or windows, and Izzy had to stay inside.

As the smokey smell improved, we opened up the coach and let Izzy have some outdoor time...


Looking back towards the motorhome, you can see the smoke in the sky...


With the southerly wind, it is quickly improving.  There are distinct shadows on this sunny day, where the light was very diffused earlier.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Smokey...


Nothing to do with the bear.

It is a smokey day in the San Juan Islands.  There is a fire in the mountains by Vancouver (north of us); the wind is out of the north.  Yep, a smokey haze that you can see, smell, and taste.

Izzy had another visitor this morning...



Looking out the door again...


"Seriously, what's up with all these things in my yard??"

Joan ordered my birthday present; it came in a couple weeks earlier than expected; this is the first chance I had to check it out...


Izzy is settling in while I work on this learning curve...



Saturday, July 4, 2015

Protecting the homestead...


The neighbors have an old beagle, named Snickers.  Snickers is old, arthritic, and we think she is probably very hard of hearing.

Izzy has seen Snickers through the screen door, but not been face-to-face.  We know Snickers is harmless, Izzy doesn't know that.

Joan was sitting outside this evening with Izzy.  "Oh, Jim..."  When I looked out there, I saw this...


Looks like Snickers is coming for a visit.  Izzy closed the distance between them...


Check out the arched back - Izzy is making herself look bigger and isn't about to back down.  Snickers is oblivious...


Izzy is now in stalking mode...


I think Snickers was just looking for some attention.  Izzy wasn't going to let any dog get close to her Momma...


Yep.  Izzy protected her territory and her Momma...



So that happened...


I had a good whale report today - placed them about an hour south.

Driving out of Roche Harbor on the 4th of July is a zoo.  Party Central.  It seems out of place for this area - the "go fast" boats with guys with no shirts and girls in skimpy bikinis populate the place, instead of trawlers and sailboats.  Inebriated people in dinghies, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards... all with no place to go and wandering aimlessly.  Boats anchored out so thick that you can nearly walk across the harbor on 'em.

Not a fun weekend for a working boat.  When I came to work this morning, there were 3 dinghies tied to our boat.  Yes, really.  One of them was full of empty beer cans and booze bottles.



If you look beyond the white tent (Party Central), our boat is tied to that floating dock.  As the boss says, "It's one day out of the year."

We loaded our guests, and snaked our way out of the marina, around the wandering dinghies, then weaved our way through all the anchored boats.  Getting to Mosquito Pass was a relief.  Coming out of Mosquito Pass was a delight - whales!  WAY closer than the report I had.  And we had them to ourselves.  I called it in.


After a few minutes with the whales, the delight was replaced by... Oh, shit!  I could smell hot coolant.  My engine temp was spiking upwards; I looked back and had yellow smoke coming out of the dorade vents!  Yeah, that's not a good thing.  I shut down the engine as my first mate was heading to the helm to tell me about the smoke.

"Move the guests to the bow 'till I can see what's going on."  I let the guests know that we were not in immediate danger (no fire), but I was going to have Mike hand out PFDs, as standard procedure.  I opened the engine compartment and the yellow smoke rolled out... yep, that is some really hot coolant.  No fire, but I was going to need to get towed in... no way am I starting this engine again without knowing why I am loosing coolant.  When things cooled enough (and after calling for Vessel Assist) I looked around the engine compartment... coolant in the bilge, some spray.  No obvious source of a leak.  Nope, I'm not starting this back up.

Good fortune: SoundWatch, on their small boat, was nearby.  I waved them over and asked if they could hip tie to us, to hold us in place until Vessel Assist showed up - we were drifting at about 3 knots.  They immediately agreed, but hadn't hip tied before; when they came close, we lashed up to them.  We explained to the guests what SoundWatch normally does, and assisting boats that are having mechanical problems isn't normally what they do.  We were glad to have them there.

We kept the guests informed.  I called Joan and arranged for some of them (who had the time) to get on one of our other boats for an evening trip.  They all handled the situation with good spirits.


When Vessel Assist arrived, we thanked SoundWatch, untied from them, and started our tow north in Haro Strait...



They were only able to make about 2 knots against the current, pulled our weight.  Yeah, this was going to be a "three hour tour," but not what I had planned.  Along the way, we pointed out a bald eagle that flew over, harbor porpoise, and some of the eddies in the water from the upwelling.  In between, I was coordinating with Joan to have the other crew ready for an evening trip, and with our boss to have some hands on the dock at Roche for our arrival.

It was even more of a zoo as we came in... now, hip-tied to the small Vessel Assist boat.  Andrew, the captain of the Vessel Assist boat, couldn't see to port because of our size - I was at our helm, on the radio, letting him know what was happening on that side.  He did a great job of navigating through the anchored boats, and all the wandering dinghies and kayaks.  The last tough maneuver was fitting between the big yacht at the slip next to ours and another big yacht at the fuel dock... it required trust on both of our parts, as I guided from our side and he maneuvered.  Close to the dock, we handed off lines to our boss and a couple others... and we tied off.  We're back.

We thanked our guests for their understanding and cooperation, got them off the boat, then put on some coveralls and started checking the engine more thoroughly.  The boss had called a mechanic friend of his, who came to the boat.  He pressurized the cooling system, no sign of a leak.  We put water in, re-pressurized and got a spray from one of the hose connections... a broken clamp.

With the clamp replaced, we took the boat out to shake it down - all seems good.  It is frustrating to have an issue (we stay up on the maintenance and thoroughly check all the systems each day), but this is the best outcome for the situation.  Back to the dock at Roche, and the party on the dock is in full swing.  More dinghy-dodging.

We tied off and shut down.  Time to put the boat to bed and call it a day for this one.  Some of the crowd, right next to our boat...



This doesn't include the throngs on the docks; I couldn't get that with my telephoto lens.  The roar from the log roll competition and "blind-folded dinghy race" made my head throb.

The scooter ride home was relaxing.  We will be spending a quite evening at home, away from the noise and the fireworks.


Happy Birthday, America!


She looks good for 239 years old.

The time has been zipping by - the 4th of July already.  It seems we have been very busy since we arrived here.

Not that I'm keeping track, but we are beyond the 1/3 point for our time here.

Lots going on here for the holiday.  Friday Harbor has a parade and a community BBQ.  This evening there will be a band playing for "Rock the Dock", followed by fireworks.

I'm scheduled on our Roche Harbor boat today.  There are all kinds of activities right there at the marina.  Right next to where our slip is.  In fact, they bring in a floating dock for hosting the activities, and we are tied to that dock, because it takes up part of our normal slip.  Combine that with limited dinghy parking (again, that floating dock), throngs of people (a couple of whom might be imbibing)... well, it makes for interesting arrivals and departures.

Yes, Stephanie, someone has to work hard for people to have fun.

The past three years, we have listened to the music and watched the fireworks from the cockpit of Wild Blue.  Not much option, 'cause it was going on around us.  We are planning a quieter evening here in the motorhome... no intention of fighting the crowds to get into and out of town.  Just getting into work in both locations (and parking) will be more of a challenge.  It's a holiday!

Hope your holiday weekend is fun and safe.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Yep, whales...


OK, I got the DSLR out and swapped lenses; that wide angle that works for the scooter photos isn't the answer for whales.

While prepping the boat, I got a report from one of the Canadian boats: Haro Strait, off-shore.  Driving from Friday Harbor, I knew I could get there in an hour or so.  He would be leaving before we got there, so we'd have to find them with a "general area" to go by.  Better than no report.

We were miles away from that area when I saw this...


And, no other boats around.  I made a location report, and our naturalist, Brendan, made an ID: the "cookie clan"... J-Pod family, Oreo and DoubleStuff.  We traveled along with them for a while before going further south.  It was a good day on the water - Orcas, eagles, seals, even saw a couple Minke whales on our way home.

A few more images...







The difference...


No, this isn't about powerboats vs sailboats.  Nor about motorhome vs 5th wheel.  Not even about scooter vs motorcycle.  This is much more fundamental.

We have friends with dogs.  I like dogs.  A while back, we were in an RV park getting checked in.  The guy behind the counter asked if we had any pets... "Yes, we have an incredibly cute cat."

"Oh, so it won't leave your RV?"

"Well, she may want to - she walks on a leash."

"Be sure you clean up after it."

I said, "The odds are better that you will crap outside than my cat - she has her own private bathroom."

Today, I was walking Izzy in between going to Roche and heading to Friday Harbor.  She loves being outside.  She turned and headed for the motorhome... I was thinking: must be close to her lunch time.

She went inside, used her potty, then wanted to go back outside again.  And that is a significant difference between having a cat in the family vs a dog... no little "poop bags" necessary.

:-)

Back to work now.