Saturday, June 29, 2013

Lighthouses: 2, Whales: 12

There was one family who chartered the boat today.  The note in our schedule book read, "They want to see lighthouses."

Well, that's pretty easy - the lighthouses don't move like the whales.  ;-)

My first mate/naturalist brushed up on lighthouse history and facts - she was ready.  I had the feeling things might change.

When we got them on the boat, it was 3 adults and 5 teenagers.  The dad paying for it wanted to see lighthouses... as I expected, everyone else wanted to see whales.

My solution: "Let's do a 2-fer.  There are some great lighthouses around here AND we'll go right by where the whales are reported to be - everyone wins!"  They liked that idea.  We wound up doing a whale watch/lighthouse viewing/wildlife tour.

The weather was beautiful: sunny and warm.  A bit humid.  I thought I might have forgotten how to sweat, but it came back to me quickly.  ;-)  The temp pushed well into the 70s... the first time since we've been here.  Once on the water, I was comfortable in two layers, instead of my usual four.  That's right, we blew right on past 3 layers.

Knowing where I'd find the whales, I had to decide what route.  Running a fast boat today, I decided to run against the current, see a nice lighthouse first, then get onto the whales, run north and see another lighthouse or two, then find some eagles and other wildlife.

It all fell into place.  The whales...

A momma and baby...

I didn't even think about getting photos until we were ready to move on.  Running north in Haro Strait to the next lighthouse, this was my view...

Once we left the whales, there weren't a lot of other boats along our route.  Just like yesterday, you have to time things so you don't get back too late or early... and keep things interesting along the way.  I enjoy that challenge.  I was working with a first mate who hadn't ridden with me in a while, so I got to show her (and the guests) a new eagles' nest.  And, look at that water in the photo above - less than 1 foot chop in Haro Strait... it was a lovely ride.

Back at our dock, the dad asked if some of the youngin's could see the helm area... "Sure."  I brought them up one at a time, because there isn't a lot of extra room.  "What's that for?"  "I didn't know you'd have a steering wheel!"  "Is that what we heard you talking on?" referring to the radios.

I was done shortly after 5:00, and Joan got off at the same time... we actually got to walk home together.  That was nice.  Tomorrow, I'm back to the other side of the island again.

It feels like summer is here.

Well, it's about time...

Mother Nature has flirted with some decent weather, but we've seen plenty of gray skies and precip in June.  I have joked with passengers about summer being July 29th through August 3rd... some of them may have believed me.

While I have learned not to put 100% faith in the forecast, here's the 10 day...

Glorious!  I know the southern part of the country is getting broiled... this is what summer looks like in the San Juans. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Like playing chess...

Sometimes I have to chuckle.  It is interesting how many people think the whales have a schedule... or, they are "always on the west side of the island - in front of Whale Park, right?"

"Umm, no."

They are wild animals.  They follow their food source.  They can travel 70 to 100 miles in a day.  They don't travel in a straight line.  They don't have "a route" that they always travel.

And sometimes, they simply go away.  It has been almost a week since there have been any Southern Resident Killer Whales anywhere in the area.  But, today, we had a report.  It wasn't a great report for the boat I was driving, because they were out of the typical range of that boat.

I looked at the tide/current charts.  I estimated the speed and direction of travel from the reports I was getting.  If everything aligned perfectly, I could get our guests to the whales.  This was a "perfect timing" for our departure from this side of the island: I would have the current giving me a push on the way south... and then the current giving me a push to the north on the way back.  Honestly, that almost never happens.  The currents are still running fast due to the Summer Solstice and the moon phase.

I visited with the guests, showed them on the chart what my plan was, then asked... "Do you have any scheduled plans, like dinner reservations or catching a plane or the ferry this evening."

No.  They wanted to see whales and were excited that this could work.  I was delighted that it all came together... it could have all gone in the dumper, but we made the right moves.  When we were about 30 minutes away, I got a report that the whales had turned south... not good for us, but at that point, I was committed.  Then, 10 minutes later, another report that they had turned northeast... the best direction for us!

When the guests first saw the whales, there were screams, shouts, and pointing.  They were giddy... I was relieved.  It was L-Pod, and the viewing was good...

When I told the naturalist it would be "last looks," we swung the boat north... and the currents were with us again.  The Strait of Juan de Fuca was blessedly near-calm.  Haro Strait was mellow.  Other than a freighter who tossed one heck of a wake, the ride was smoooooooth.

Working the currents made this trip possible.  I think I may hold the record for taking this boat the furthest at the fastest speed, now.  ;-)  And that was running at our normal cruise RPM.  Good timing.  Good guests.  Cooperative weather.  And... whales!

One family had 5 kids and this was the culmination of their trip to this area.  They really wanted their kids to be able to see the whales.  And, I think they understood that our crew wanted it as much as they did.  Hearing those kids scream with delight... yeah, I totally get it!


I love it when a plan comes together.

A morning off...

I was on-call for a late morning trip, but it didn't materialize.  I have a trip this afternoon, so I had the morning off.  Sound travels on the water... if you listen close, you can hear the siren song of the elusive chocolate topped donut calling your name on a quiet morning like this.  It has been days since I've heard this call, so I thought it best to search it out.

I walked to our Friday Harbor office to see if anyone there had heard the call... the cute Blonde I've been trying to get friendly with was busy, but she smiled and shook her head, no.  I tried to temp the boss, a very health conscious, tall, slender, triathalon-running kinda guy with something healthy... "Maybe I can find you a sawdust muffin?  Or something with twigs and leaves in it?"

No takers.

I mentioned the striking fog outside the harbor this morning...

Look to the middle of that scene: the top of the terrain on Shaw Island is just peeking above the fog bank.  I didn't have my camera with my, so the phone had to do.  Perspective: when I am on the boat, I'd just as soon not see fog.  While strolling casually along, it is pretty to view.  In the office, they were on the phone with the seaplane company, since many of our guests arrive that way.

I made my way up Spring Street and found the donut calling my name.  I resisted the cries of its siblings in the donut case and took just that one.

Coming back to the boat, I visited with a couple of our kayak guides.  With the new owner, the kayak business is a big part of what we do.  They were gearing up for a multi-day excursion with what looked to be junior high age kids...

While I wouldn't want to do it, I have to say that I am awed by the abilities of our guides - they are responsible for their guests, take them island to island, set up camp, cook for them, build their confidence, encourage... and do it all with sincere concern and a sense of humor.

I did see something that probably helps...

Yeah, that's a bag of energy bars.  ;-)

They gray skies are lifting.  After today, the weather looks to be darn near perfect for the next 10 days... if you can believe the forecast.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

If the rain comes...

... they run and hide their heads.  (Old Beatles song reference)

The start of another rainy day here in the PNW.  I have two trips today, so I'll be out there for about 8 or 9 hours... you can be darn sure I check weather regularly.

Yesterday, the weather was better than forecast for wind and precip, but colder than forecast.  We'll see how the weather weasels do today - the forecast is for this steady drizzle to taper off as the morning progresses... sure hope so.

Joan packed me a lunch (well, two lunches, since I'll be out there over two meal times) before she left this morning; I set Izzy's food timer.  Joan has access to a grocery store close by.

Hard to believe the 4th of July is next week.  It has stayed steady busy, but next week will likely be a zoo - lots of boats in both marinas, and plenty of guests on our boats.  Hope the whales decide to spend the holiday around here.  ;-)


On edit: yeah, they lied.  It rained for about half of my 11:00 trip (off and on), and right up to the 3:00 trip.  Colder than predicted.  The wind was supposed to be ENE... it was NNW.

Roche Harbor and Friday Harbor are getting really busy as we close in on the 4th of July holiday.

Driving back to Friday Harbor this evening, I almost committed a federal crime... not intentionally, mind you.  A juvenile bald eagle came swooping across the road, right in front of Big Red's windshield... pretty sure I saw his butt pucker up, and I know mine did.  It is a federal offense to even have an eagle feather in your possession (unless you are a native American)... I wonder what the penalty would be to have a whole bunch of 'em stuck to the front of the truck!! ;-)  I assume he was heading for something along the side of the road... the speed limit is 45, and I am careful to stay at or below the limit.  I'm guessing this juvenile is still flying on a learner's permit. ;-)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Whoa, that's early...

I got a call last night: "Can you do an early charter tomorrow?"

"Sure... um, what's 'early'?"

Turns out "early" was an 8:00 departure.  Which means be at the boat at 7:00.  Which means I have to leave Friday Harbor at 6:15.  Which means I'll just have enough time if I get up at 5:30.

Here's another interesting tidbit about life on a boat: if one person is up early, we're all up early.  Joan packed me a lunch (well, more like a late breakfast), made breakfast, and let me shower first ('cause whoever showers last has to wipe down the shower).  AND, she had to go into the Friday Harbor office early to open, so she was on a schedule, too.  Izzy's only schedule was: "Hey, you better feed me before you leave!"

We made it work.

The weather forecast was for temps in the mid-50s, wind 15-20, rain, and a weather warning for possible thunderstorms, with rain up to 1/4" in 30 minutes and wind gusts to 40 around the storms.  Yeah, that sounds like a fun time on the water, especially knowing we were heading into Haro Strait.

The weather weasels were wrong: it only rained about 30% of the time we were out, very little wind, no thunderstorms... and Haro Strait was nearly calm.  But, it was plenty chilly; I had 4 layers on and needed every one of them.

Coming back in, I saw a familiar sailboat.  I pulled out the binoculars... yep, AZ registration... Sean and crew from the s/v Dauntless (the guy who puts on the Havasu sailing event we attended).  I hailed him from our flybridge, and he came by to visit while we were cleaning up after the charter.  Sounds like they are having fun in the San Juans (in spite of the weather).

Back to Friday Harbor for the afternoon; I think I am going to need a nap, assuming I can work one in.  ;-)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

If it's Tuesday...

We are settling into a routine here.  So far, we have managed to get two days off together each week.  That's a good thing, 'cause last year it was one most of the time.  It is also two days in a row off... so far.  I know that can change when we are into the really busy part of the season, but we try to roll with it.

So, Tuesdays are clean-up days, 'cause we're back to work tomorrow.  We're still into the pretty extreme tides of the summer solstice and the full moon phase, so we have to be selective when we take Wild Blue out of the slip... two days ago, she was pretty close to sitting on the bottom at the lowest part of the tide.  Well, more like close to sitting on the seagrass  on the bottom.  Part of clean-up day is dumping Wild Blue's holding tank; Joan checked the tide charts and said, "Not between 11am and 5pm, today."

It was raining when we first got up, but by 9:30 or so, it stopped.  We decided to take advantage of the break in the precip and get 'er done.  On the way over to the pump out station, we had 4.5 feet under the hull at the shallowest point.  On the way back, that was down to 3.5... and, we weren't over there that long.  Or, maybe, I just found a skinnier spot?

I cleaned the motor and put water on while Joan gathered up the laundry.  Today was also "cat box day" and "rug day."  I think I had the better detail, since you only have to get down on your hands and knees to clean the rugs...

Last year, I won that C-Dory rug at the Friday Harbor C-Brat gathering.  One of our friends said, "I hope you like lint."  I wasn't sure what that meant, until we put that rug in front of the cabin door... it is a lint magnet.  But, when it is clean, it looks sharp.

I live on a boat with two blondes.  "Is Joan good with that?" you're wondering.  Yes, in fact, she insists on it.  Of course, the other blonde is Izzy.  What's that?  You think she's gray?  No, Joan is blonde... oh, and Izzy is blonde, too.  Under those gray stripes is a very blonde cat.  I call her "blonde with gray highlights."  Izzy, not Joan.  Don't try to get me in trouble, I do that fine on my own.

"So, why are you telling us about this blonde stuff?"  Thank you for asking.  If you think the C-Dory rug is a lint magnet, you should see what it does with blonde hair.  Our small vacuum cleaner doesn't do much... a damp cloth is the best way to de-fur that rug.

The carpet that runs the length of the floor in the cabin gathers hair, too.  I clean that with Izzy's wire brush.  I can't use that on the C-Dory mat because it would snag on the white stitching on the lettering.

Before heading to the laundromat, Joan wipes down and uses our Dollar Store "sucker" to get the last bit of water in the bilge.  It's a boat; it rains here; we get condensation... there's always some water somewhere that needs to get gone.

Joan made us a real breakfast this morning, and I will take her out for a late lunch/early supper when she gets back from doing laundry.

Unlike our previous jobs, we don't get to do lunch together here very often, so this is a treat.  I generally take my lunch to eat on the boat; Joan is working the front counter, and gets a bite if/when things slow down after the first boat goes out.

We like Friday Harbor - you can walk to lunch or the store.  Together.  On our day off.  That's my favorite part. :-)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Another gray day in the San Juans...

The weather weasels said it was coming.  It started yesterday, and looks like it'll be around for a few more.  Mother Nature needs to get crackin' - summer rolled in three days ago.  Yeah, I know: the 4th of July is the "official" unofficial start of summer here.

This morning, the marina looked like this...

A day off for us, so I didn't have to concern myself with rain gear and radar.  ;-)  Well, the rain coat came in kinda handy.

The clouds were low, but the wind didn't kick up like forecast...

A leisurely lunch and some stocking up at the store.  A pretty laid back way to spend a gray day.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

One in a row...

Shortly after I took the sunrise photos on the previous post, the sky grayed up.  Within an hour, there was a light drizzle.  Almost no wind, light, but solid, overcast... it makes for some interesting scenery.

I departed out of Roche Harbor today.  The flybridge on that boat is open... yep, you get wet when the precip falls.  Fortunately, it was never heavy.  The currents were ripping even more than yesterday, and you notice that more on this boat.

Today, I had time to shoot some landscapes.  I really like the silhouettes of the islands in the background...

The wildlife viewing took us by Turn Point, one of my favorite scenes in the San Juans...

And from another angle...

In Boundary Pass, we passed by this schooner...

It almost looks like a pen & ink drawing, but there is no manipulation to this image; the flat light and lack of color in the image make it look like this.  Not much wind, the boat was barely moving.

Through the Cactus Islands and out New Channel, the tide was on a full-on flood... it made for some interesting rips, currents, and eddies.

When I got back to the boat, this little face was waiting for me...

No dock walking today - we don't do that in the rain.  But, little Izzy loves to sit in the enclosed cockpit and watch people and boats come and go.

Days off coming up, and the weather is supposed to be more of the same for the next few days.

Sunrise, sunset...

... swiftly flow the days.

I have an early trip this morning, so I had the opportunity to capture a sunrise; that happens pretty early at this latitude.  Checking weather, it looks like we're in for increasing clouds and rain, so tonight's supermoon will not likely be visible here.

So, last night, before heading to bed, I got the moon... not to be confused with mooned...

Quite a difference in color in just a few minutes as the moon rose.

And then, this morning...

Striking colors this morning.  Pretty to see now, 'cause I think it's going to be mostly gray as the day progresses.

Happy Supermoon Day to you!

Saturday, June 22, 2013


A great day on the water today!  I was training a new young captain on this boat, so we spent some extra time going through the prep process.  I had a good report on the whale activity, the guests were excited, the weather was perfect... and we had a great whale viewing!  Nice when it all comes together like that.

No crazies on the boat, just some ol' crazy guy in a small boat at the dock as we were ready to shove off.  One more day to go to make it through the the full moon phase.  ;-)

As we approached the whales today, the majority of boats already on the scene were towards the shore.  I could see an active group of whales moving off-shore, explained to our trainee my reasoning, and positioned us off-shore... sometimes you get lucky, sometimes it's a hunch, sometimes it's skill... I can't say which today, but it was the right move.  We had whales and didn't have to be in the "conga-line" of other boats trying to keep pace with one whale.  When I say "whales," we had two males, three females, and a young one, all from L-Pod.  At one point, Mega (his name is a good description of his size), L-41, gave us an exceptional view!

To make things even better, the sun was shining, the temp was pleasant, the wind was light, and the water in Haro Strait was nearly flat!  With another captain onboard, I was able to leave the helm to visit with guests... that's a nice treat (since my helm is on a fly-bridge above the guests).

A fine day on the water.

I checked...

Yesterday was the first "official" full day of summer.  Even though summer has been the norm for a while now for most of the country, we still haven't topped 68º since we've been in Friday Harbor.  Today may be the day: the weather weasels are calling for 70º and glorious sunshine and winds in the low single digits.  It should be a good day on the water.

The crowds are pouring in for the weekend.  Our boats are full.  For anyone who has worked with the public, you will understand this: tomorrow is the full moon.  A "supermoon" (I explained that a day or two ago).  People get a little crazy around the full moon.  I saw some of that as I walked to the store and Farmers' Market this morning: young men just looking for a place to raise some hell; young ladies looking for those young men.  Traffic vying for position off the ferry... it's a small town with plenty of crosswalks - no one is going anywhere too fast when the ferry lets out.

I overheard something kinda funny this morning...
"Could you tell me where the Farmers' Market is?"
"Go up two blocks, turn left down the walkway by the movie theater, and go 'till you smell the hippies."


I guess he's never had the bakery's pizza there?  I looked around once I was there.  Yeah, there were definitely a few folks who may be having some difficulty leaving the 60s and 70s behind, but it is a great mix of people wandering by the booths.  And, it was packed.

Time for me to change and head to work - should be a beautiful day on the water.  We'll see if the whales get more active with the full moon, too.

Friday, June 21, 2013

All to ourselves...

We share information with the other whale watch boats.  Today, I left out of Roche Harbor, with no reports.  I had to back out between a nearly $3M dollar Ocean Alexander and a large landing craft.  By large, I mean: I had very little room to back out between the two.  Of course, no one was looking as slid between them... well, one of the guides onboard was pretty impressed.  I told him, "Sometimes you get lucky."  ;-)

By the time I got into Haro Strait, I had a solid report... reachable, but the whales were moving away from us.  I pointed the boat south... and saw dozens of sailboats, flying spinakers, heading north.  I pointed out to a couple employees that they could determine wind direction and strength by those spinakers.

Yep, heading into the current and wind.  The waves built to 2 to 3 feet, but I knew it was flatter further south.  There were two other boats on a couple whales, but it was going to be a long slog to catch up to them.  Then... a spout!  And, another!  Two big males and 3 females, transients... near enough to get to them easy, and not another boat in sight.

I positioned us for good viewing and shut down the motor.  I really enjoy being able to hear the whales as well as see them.  We had more whales and they were more active than the group further south of us, so I let the other boats know the situation.  It was almost a half hour before we were joined by two other boats, and it was a bit of a treat to have the whales to ourselves during that time.

Since we didn't have to run as far south as I first anticipated, we spent plenty of time with the whales, then had a good push with the current as we returned north.  That put me ahead of schedule... a text from the boss let me know that we had some extra time, so after checking with the guests, we took "the scenic route" home, giving the people on the boat the opportunity to see other wildlife and a great view of several eagles.

The day started off cloudy, but continued to get nicer and nicer as the day wore on.  The whale viewing was great.  We had eagles posing, and eagles flying.  Abundant sunshine by the time we got back.  Lots of happy folks.  Me, included.

No photos - it was a busy day at the helm, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer solstice...

The summer solstice will be shortly after 10:00 this evening, making today and tomorrow the longest days of the year.  In three days, we will have a supermoon.  No, the moon will not be dressed in tights and wearing a cape; it is the coincidence of a full moon when the elliptical orbit of the moon is at its closest to the earth.  It makes for a dramatic photo.

A gray rainy day here in the San Juan Islands.  The wind is starting to kick up.  I don't have a trip today, and I'm OK with that.  Izzy and I are snug in the boat, Joan is at work.  I'll be going out in the rain to meet her for lunch.

Little Izzy is sitting out in the cockpit (enclosed) watching the rain...

Yeah, that's my raincoat she's sitting on (I had just come in after filling our fresh water tank).  I explained to her how fortunate she is to have a warm dry place to be and a good cat Daddy to keep her belly full (not to mention one of the chores Joan left for me today was cleaning the catbox)...  she said, "Hmmm?  Is it lunch-time?"


Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Some days you find the whales, some days you get reports on where the whales are so you know where to go... and some days, they just aren't anywhere to be seen.  Today was one of those "nowhere to be seen" days.

Last report I had was L-Pod heading west towards the Pacific last night.  No transients reported.  I had a charter today, out of Roche Harbor, so we went in search of other wildlife.  The highlight of the day was seeing a baby eagle poking its head out of a nest.  Mommy and Daddy weren't on the nest, but they weren't too far away.  Yep, a fine day for eagle viewing.

I didn't think about photos until we were heading back to Roche - a look back towards Canada...

I like the silhouettes in the distance.  The day had been mostly sunny; not what was forecast, but it was appreciated.  By the time we got back in, you can see the clouds had moved in.

The guests flew in on a seaplane, had lunch catered on the boat, then flew out again after our trip.  Nice way to go.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Life aboard...

Some people think this is what life aboard a boat is all about...

Carefree lounging, watching the whales swim up to the boat, trading mimosa recipes with yachties and wondering what the poor people on land are doing.

Today, after showering in our phone booth size bathroom (anyone remember phone booths?) and wrestling the bed linens off the V-berth, we will carefree cruise our way to the other side of the marina to pump out our holding tank.  I will hand Joan a hose through the window in the head compartment, and she will run water in the toilet while I hold the pump out hose to the fitting on the boat to suck the urine and excrement out of the holding tank.  She will be wearing a little black dress and pearls, but I have decided to forego the blue blazer and ascott for this trip.  ;)

If that isn't enough excitement, we will schlep our laundry up a steep ramp to the marina laundromat, where we get to pay $4 to wash a load, not including the $1 for 15 minutes dryer.  Then, schlep it back down the ramp, and put it away.

Today is a day off, and we need to get these things done so we're ready for the work week.  We will walk the mile or so uphill to the other grocery store to check out their produce.  With a grocery bag in each hand, we'll hike back to the boat, where we'll eliminate any packaging we can to make stuff fit in the fridge and cabinets.

Living on a boat is... living.  You still have to do the typical household chores... well, except for putting fresh water onboard every other day.  Since we are working while we're here this summer, we have schedules to keep, work-related stuff to deal with.  Our "house" moves with the movement of the water... we like that.  It's somewhere on the short side of 200 square feet... we're OK with that.  We have a "neighborhood," other folks who also liveaboard, but I think we're the only seasonal folks on our dock.  No lawn to mow.

It's not vacation.  It's just living.

I can see why some people think we're crazy.  ;-)

Monday, June 17, 2013

A surprise visit...

Joan was down for a late afternoon nap, I was on the computer, when I heard a familiar voice: "Hey, Wild Blue, are you home?"

It was our friends from Port Isabel, Herb and Wilma, and Jake the wonderdog.  They are spending another summer on Willie's Tug, cruising the Pacific Northwest.  And tonight, they are in Friday Harbor.

Little Izzy bristled when Jake stuck his head in the cockpit... sometimes I have to remind her that she's a 7 pound cat.  We visited for a bit on our dock, when Herb noticed that it was Happy Hour - we moved the foursome to Willie's Tug out on the breakwater... the dock is wider, plenty of room for 4 comfortable chairs out on the dock.  An adult beverage and lots of good conversation - it was good to reconnect, since we haven't seen our friends since we left home.

We moved the party to the Blue Water restaurant, where we watched Herb's complexion redden up as he ate ahi with wasabi.  More good conversation and catching up.  Our waitress let us know that we were her "second table"... not for the night, but she is new here.  She did a fine job, the food was good, and it was all a nice treat.

Happy Hour...

The last bit of light as we walked back to the boat...

A different sort of scootering...

With the day off and beautiful weather, I suggested we visit Susie's Mopeds for a change of pace.  Susie has a good selection of two-wheel scooters, but we decided to go for this...

It's called a Scoot Coupe - side by side seating, but the driver still steers with handlebars.  Your hind end is down low, so there is a great illusion of speed... "Whoa!  How fast are we going?  Wha... 30 miles per hour?  Who cares?  This is fun!"

We enjoyed the heck out of the Scoot Coupe.  Joan liked the passenger accommodations much better than the small scooter we rode two up in Victoria.

We rented from Susie's Friday Harbor location (there is also one in Roche Harbor), and headed for the open road... well, as much open road as you can get on a small island...

Just like being on our scooters, you are immersed in the environment - you see, you feel the breeze, and you smell the surroundings.

At one point, a Miata passed by us... it looked kinda big from our perspective.  ;-)

We took off down a one-lane road...

The staff at Susie's lets you know that this vehicle has a rather large turning radius - you cannot make a U-turn on the road.  You definitely cannot make a U-turn on a one-lane road.  Being an experienced scooterist, I employed our on-board reverse...

One Blonde-power.  "Push, Baby!"  No, there is no mechanical reverse on these vehicles.

Joan took that shot of Roche Harbor from the road on the top of the hill.  This vehicle is based on a 50cc scooter, so I wasn't sure it would be a good idea going down that steep hill... 'cause you gotta come back up.  I was actually impressed with the the performance of the Scoot Coupe, considering its weight and two normal size adults.

It turned out to be a fun way to spend the afternoon on a beautiful day on San Juan Island.

Here's a video that Joan shot...

Perspective again...

Two days off together for us.  We slept in 'till 7:00... with a cover on the hatch in the V-berth, it stays dark in there; an important thing, since there is a LOT of daylight here in the Pacific Northwest this time of year.  Just 4 days to the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year.

If you work in an office, you hope for sunny days on your days off.  Working on a boat, I sure like to see forecasts for sunny days and light winds on work days... it really doesn't matter much to me what the weather is doing on days off, if we aren't traveling somewhere.

No travel plans for these days off.  We had a nice supper out for Father's Day last night.  The bustling crowds in Friday Harbor diminished when the 6:30 ferry departed.

And this morning, the sky is blue and it is beautiful out!

It is absolutely peaceful in the marina this morning.

Little Isabella is enjoying the sunshine and quiet, too...

And, speaking of the little furry girl, when I walked to the office at closing time to pick up Joan, I told her, "I have found the perfect next boat for us."

She said, "I don't want to hear about it."

"You'll agree with me on this one... it is a 42 foot Nordic Tug.  It has a pretty gray trim.  Oh, and the name of it is: Izzy B."

It could be fate.  ;-)

We're going to walk uptown for breakfast out this morning.  Then, a leisurely walk to "the other store"... in the sunshine.  But, right now, we are sitting in the cockpit; Joan has coffee, I have the computer on my lap.  The camperback makes this like a sunroom.  Yeah, I guess I do appreciate weather like this for a day off, too.  ;-)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Getting to the action...

Joan filled all the boats today.  I got to drive my old "friend" out of Friday Harbor... smaller, but faster.  Transient whales in the area today, and moving away from us at 8 to 10 knots.  Some rockin' and rollin' in the open water outside of Cattle Pass, but the guests were happy with the viewing of the transient Killer Whales.

Doing my best to give them a good ride, I kept "crabbing" into the waves (pilots will understand that concept) while keeping up with the fast moving Orcas.  It's a different challenge each day, but it helps to have decent reports so you can formulate a plan while on the move.

The mindset is different on the different boats I drive, but each has their best features.  Never a dull day.

Happy Father's Day...

I've earned a few titles over the years: Master of Photography, CPP, Captain... but the best title of all has been "Dad."  Daddy, when our daughter was younger.  I answer to both.  But, "Daddy" generally means it's going to cost me something these days... time, expertise, or money.

We are a long ways from our lovely daughter this Father's Day, but it made my morning to spend an hour with her on the phone.  She is a lot like me - wears her heart on her sleeve, knows when to care, and when to take charge.  I couldn't be more proud of her and the life she and Dan have made together.

I discovered this along the way: having a daughter makes you a better man.  You want to be the kind of guy that your little girl looks up to.

Stephanie told me it would be a tech kinda Father's Day... my cards came via text message (with images of the cards).  Still got me a little teary-eyed.  The medium may be different, but the sentiment is the same.  We don't have an address to get mail here on the island - this works.

Thank you, Stephanie, for being the best daughter a man could ever hope for.  Thanks, Joan, for making me a Father... Steph and I could not have done this without you.  ;-)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The reward...

An early trip yesterday, a late trip today.  I'm working out of Roche Harbor more, so I have a regular "commute."  It's a 10 1/2 mile trip from parking lot to parking lot, mostly 45 mph speed limit (some portions less)... it really makes me miss the scooter.  It's a very pretty, mostly wooded, winding 2-lane.  Yeah, it would be perfect for a scooter.  (Sigh)

The road passes the San Juan Vinyards...

... open pastures and wooded hills.  By an oyster farm, and when you see a small airport on the right, you are at Roche Harbor.

Like many commutes, you deal with parking.  Roche is a resort - weekends are especially busy.  Coming back to Friday Harbor, as liveaboards, we park in a permit area.  The permit doesn't guarantee you a parking space... as the marina manager put it, "It guarantees you the right to get in the fight for a parking space."  Rarely is it a problem, but when the local yacht club has festivities (weekends, of course), the lot can fill up.

When I work out of the Friday Harbor office, my commute is a 5 minute walk up the docks.  ;-)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Rise and shine...

An early trip this morning, out of the Roche Harbor location.  Up at 5:45 so I can get ready and be at the boat by 7:30 to prep it.  I am pretty sure the whales are still asleep at this hour! ;-)


On edit: in the comments on this post, I answered the question, "How do whales sleep?"

It was chilly out on the water this morning, and my trip turned out to be more of a water-taxi trip than a whale watch tour... we picked them up on one island, found some interesting wildlife and nice scenery, while delivering them to another island. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

One of those days...

I had to go in early today.  To make matters worse, we had two people fall overboard, an engine fire, and the boat started taking on water from some unknown source.

Didja ever have one of those days?

There is an old saying: "Any day on the water is better than a day in the office."  Kinda depends on the day.  ;-)

Yes, it was crew training.  We have one new captain and several new first mates.  Three boats in two locations.  Crew training will be a regular effort this season.  Everything went well, the victims were back on board in short order.  The fire was handled correctly.  The water intrusion handled.

Plus, it is a pretty, sunny morning.

I'll head back out on the water for a trip this afternoon... sure hope that is "less eventful" than this morning, but we're trained.


On edit: beautiful weather, nice guests, a fine trip.  We had to go quite a ways to find Minke whales, but the guests were pleased.  Saw a couple bald eagles and a big ol' Stellar Sea Lion, too.  I didn't think about getting a photo until the way home.  San Juan Channel, looking back towards Cattle Pass...


This morning is the first time we both have to be at work at the same time... so, we have to coordinate showers, breakfast, and who is where.  The challenges of living large in a small boat.  ;-)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A gray ol' morning...

It was a gray ol' morning in Friday Harbor.  A light mist.  Still, very beautiful...

On our way to the pump-out, I saw an interesting boat.  What the heck... it's early, we're up, the light is pretty... good time for a walk on the docks.

Here's my Interesting Boat of the Day...

It's a Lagoon 400; what some would disparagingly call a "condo-maran."  A LOT of liveability on that boat.  Something I'd expect to see plenty of in the Caribbean, but not so often up here.  Yep, it takes up two slips in a marina.

I think that could possibly move up the list for my I-Won-The-Lottery boats.  Looking the other direction, there is a Gemini...

A bit more modest, but still nice cruising for a couple.  It was on my consideration-list when we were shopping for the C-Dory.  14 foot beam, it would certainly not be trailerable.

Walking back to Wild Blue...

We are enjoying the quiet pace on our dock.  I walked by one other boat that caught my eye...

An Island Packet.  Stout.  Classy.

It's interesting to see how the neighborhood changes on a daily basis when living on the boat.

Today is supposed to be a day off, but I am on-call.  If I don't have a trip today, Joan is going to take me out for lunch.  Well, after she's done making bacon and eggs this morning.  ;-)

It doesn't have to be sunny to be a good day.