One Big Hurdle Crossed…

Crossing the Straits of Georgia is kinda a big damn deal…Every variable from flat as a pond to down right dangerous is possible. Stories of how Georgia handed them their ass on a platter is common in the boating world, perhaps more so than how flat and calm the crossing was. I think most boaters like the “platter” stories way more than the calm and smooth story, it’s a crazy rite of passage.. That said, I am way happier with the calm and smooth version and we had a most excellent crossing, our ass is still in the same place it was when we started – rite of passage escaped!

We look at multiple weather reports, we angst on the weather and we discuss it at nauseam but at the end of the day our threshold for ass whooping in the boat is low. Today was like a golden halo, from the time we motored out of Montague Harbor on Galiano Island BC to pulling into Westview Harbour Marina.



Motoring out from Montague Harbour in the morning.


There are several challenges along this passage in addition to the big mother, the Straits of Georgia. Heading north from Montague, Dodds Narrows is the first challenge. It is a very narrow little passage–perhaps 60 meters wide at its slimmest point—and contains a slight dogleg which make it a bit tricky!

Depending on the lunar cycle, currents can ebb or flow in the Dodd Narrows at up to 9 knots, or nearly 150% of an average sailboats speed. Timing is, obviously, everything. Even a current of three knots will throw a slow boat around and can make it considerably harder to steer. A current of 5 knots against will virtually stall a sailboat; more than that and they will likely move backwards. Add the complications of transiting these narrows with tugs pulling logbooms or inconsiderate powerboaters that zip through at high speed hitting slower boats with abnoxious wakes, and you get a sense of the drama that this passage can involve.

I was too busy piloting the boat to take a video or photo at Dodds but the one below that I found on the web shows the beginning of the rapids …when the tide isn’t at slack current.




Even though we are a power boat with considerably more speed and better handling capabilities than a sailboat we still time our transit through Dodds. Today we went through Dodds with an ebb tide pushing us northbound through the narrows at around 2 knots. For us this is a very gentle push and saves us some fuel.

Because Dodds is so narrow, it is best to transit the passage one boat at time. Protocol is that the captain uses channel 16 on the VHF radio to let other boaters know their intent. When a marine radio transmission begins with the phrase “Sécurité, sécurité, sécurité” it means that what follows is important safety information.

“Securite, Securite, Securite, this is the motor vessel Beach House entering Dodds Narrows northbound. Any concerned boaters please respond on channel 16”. Since we had been monitoring channel 16 upon our approach to Dodds, we knew there was pleasure boat traffic southbound waiting to enter. Most considerate boaters wait and cue, like a roundabout, letting boats transit each direction. Lucky for us there was not any huge tugs with logbooms coming through, only pleasure boaters.

Uneventful, was what is was…yes, it’s a tight passage but not a big deal if the timing and weather are in sync. After Dodds, the bay opens up to a view of a big lumber mill on one side and logbooms on the other. What’s this means for us, is that we have to dodge large logs, often the size of telephone poles for the next few miles.



All that junk is the water is actually really big logs!


The next big hurdle is Whiskey Golf Military area which is just a few nautical miles away outside the passage of Nanaimo. CFMETR is an important test facility for both Canadian and US Navies. Operations focus on torpedo, sonobuoy and underwater testing. Most testing operations are carried out in the adjacent area in the Strait of Georgia known as “Whiskey Golf” aka WG.

Don’t know about you but the last thing I want to encounter with motoring around Canada on my boat is a torpedo. Okay, it’s not armed but does that really matter if it hits you broadside and sinks your boat???

If WG is not active, then the prime area to cross the Straits of Georgia is open. If WG is active then the passage is severely restricted and passage must be made outside the boundaries which are heavily patrolled. Venture out into the restricted area and you will immediately be hailed on the radio and give a stern dressing down.

In our case, WG was active and there was no other options but to motor north and shirt the area. We learned this by calling the military control center and listening to channel 16. Luckily, the weather gods had granted us a smooth passage no matter where we crossed so the extra miles to skirt the possible torpedoing were not a problem.




That said, had the wind and tides been different this route would have taken us almost straight across the big strait which could have left us open to being broadsided by wind waves. And this my friends is when the ass Whooping happens. 1 or 2 for chop is no big deal. 3 foot chop starts getting uncomfortable and 4-7 chop, which can happen on a windy day is a recipe for a serious ass whoopin!

Our transit across the Strait of Georgia took less than 2 hours…that was 2 hours of silky, smooth water and we loved every minute of it. The only hazards that we encountered were logs, dead heads and lots of junk floating in the water. Hitting a deadhead or a big log could have been another disaster but we had great visibility and used teh binoculars to scan the horizon. Imagine how hard it would be to see these kinds of hazards had the waves been 4-7 feet and you are unlucky enough to get caught in that or are just plain dumb and go out knowing how bad it is. With a low wind wave situation, you will likely see these hazards and have some time to react to avoid them but in heavy seas, good luck to you!



Once we crossed big, bad Georgia there was still the Malaspina Strait to deal with. Again, favorable weather continued and our passages was a piece of cake. At this point we had several plans of where we might go should Miss Malaspina decide to start whoopin on us. We took the fair weather luck card and continued on through Malaspina to Westview near Powell River on the mainland BC side.




We knew there was a decent marina there with an easy walk into town for dinner plus the pets could make the 6 hour total cruise there without any duress. Bentley was offered a potty break on the back swim platform of the boat out in the calm straits but he decided he could wait. Don’t worry, he had his life jacket on as did Wally when I brought the boat to an idle in the calm waters.



The marina at Westview.


All in all it was a long day but an easy day on the water and we were thrilled to have had such a smooth crossing. The only real glitch today was that the starboard engine wouldn’t turn off when we arrived into the marina but that is a whole other story!



Yay for Craft Wednesday!!!





Yikes, We’re Listing…


Since we have been back in Anacortes it feels like I have made a hundred trips to the store. And there has been an Amazon delivery of the day. I have never provisioned the boat for a two month cruise and my motto is more is better!!!



That’s one full little cart!



Hmm, ordering two-stroke oil via Amazon may not happen again even though it was such a great price. Good news is they were awesome and refunded us for the damage gallon.




Wally gave me strict orders not to put all the heavy stuff on the starboard side of the boat but I can only do so much with the space I have. It’s not my fault the best place to store 3 ½ cases of wine is in the starboard side lazerette. It’s also not my fault that the galley is on the starboard side and that’s where the huge under counter storage area is.



This space is actually quite big 24 in x 24 in and 16 inches deep. I use small plastic tubs and wire baskets to create a layering system. These are staples that I need access to frequently and yes, the Mac Nut Chocolate Carmel’s are on the top for a reason!


I did manage to store all our beer in the guest stateroom locker, which is on the port side along with 10 lbs of coffee beans so that made him happy! Yep, I aim to please!!!



Good thing there are no guests leaving with us… That big green container is one of three holding cat litter.



Repackaging the 5 lb bulk bags into 1 lb bags. Love Walla Walla Coffee Roasters!!!


RVing is so much easier as you are never that far from a grocery store or a restaurant. I typically, shop for about 5 days when we are on land but since we are going so far north on the boat this year I had to come up with a provisioning plan. Trust me, we will be taking advantage of every marina pub or restaurant we can find too!

Using an excel spreadsheet really helped me get my head around what I needed to purchase. I geeked out and create formulas to calculate how many meals to plan for, how much pet food to buy, how much cat litter and most importantly how much wine to load on board. Can’t you buy wine in Canada one might wonder and yes, that is true. North of Nanaimo the choices get quite limited and unfortunately I don’t like Yellow Tail or Black Box Wine. Call me a wine snob, but hey I like what I like, so what ever!





I am usually not a canned vegetable fan but for this cruise I wanted a backup option if I can’t find fresh veggies,.


Buying all the stuff is one thing but remembering where the heck I put it all is not being left to my good memory! In addition to using my Paprika app which has a groovy pantry feature, I geeked out some more on the excel spread sheet and created columns for where the items were stored and coded it with the location. Now all I have to remember is what the code means!!! Was GF galley frig? What is FF?? Oh yeah, that’s the flybridge frig Leslie!


The biggest food challenge on the is cruise is going to be getting and keeping fresh produce. On our recent 10 day shakedown cruise, I cooked through all of our fresh veggies. There are a few small stores in the Broughton Islands but keep in mind everything is brought in via boat or float plane. Timing is everything…get there right after the boat shipment arrives and the choices can be pretty good. Get there the day before the boat shipment arrives and you might score a few bruised apples and an old head of cabbage.

We have a decent sized refrigerator in the galley, an ac/dc freezer-refrigerator on the flybridge and a huge cooler. All of which will be packed when we headed out. I have one final Costco run to do and that will conclude the provisioning.

I made some of our favorite condiments and froze them in flat bags so they stacked evenly in the freezer. Pesto, Cilanto Sauce, Chimmichuri, Smoked Red Peppers and even some fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. The key to getting the most mileage out of the freezers is to have things as flat and uniformly shaped as possible.



He’s in his own storage dilemma hell!!!


Not only do we have to have food but the list of non-perishables is huge too. Seriously, I can’t believe that I found room for the Costco size package of TP and paper towels in addition to extra dish soap, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, toothpaste, shampoo….yikes, that’s why we are listing.

Oh, and don’t forget all the spare boat parts, belts, oil filters, fuel filters and tools. Plus the toys…2 kayaks, fishing gear, prawn traps, crab traps, the electric pot puller (which better not be on the starboard side or some guy is going to catch hell).



The underbed storage area is now full…so it must be time to go!!

It’s Not Always Smooth Seas…

A big part of plotting our cruise course is understanding what the wind, tides and currents are going to do before we head out. Wally  is our designated weather man and gets to make the final call on go-no-go. He usually checks the weather the night before we want to head out and then again in the morning, looking at both where we are and where we are headed. It’s amazing how different the weather can be just a few miles away.

He uses a NOAA app, a Windy app and the local area reports to help him make a decision.  Wind and current can cause standing wind waves which creates a very uncomfortable cruise. Couple that with a bottom that has pinnacles and it can really get ugly quick.

We knew it would be a bit “snotty” out there today and we would have a wet ride. But based on the winds speeds and wind direction, the “Weather Man” said it was a go. FYI, snotty is definitely a nautical term!!!




The Beach House has custom under hulls and a hull extension that make her run a bit smoother through rough water. These customization take some of the roll out which makes for a less uncomfortable ride.




Point Lawrence at the NE corner of Orcas Island is well known for being a place that gets ugly if the conditions all come together. Today was no exception and I would rate it a three out of ten on the ugly scale today! Yep, we have been through much worse.  I knew Bentley and Sucia might be a bit worried so I sat with them in the main cabin. They did just fine in case you were wondering.



Make sure your sound is turned up for the full effect on the video. You might notice that the waves are mainly hitting the starboard (that’s the right side for all ya landlubbers). That is because the wind is coming from the south, which we are open to as we cross the north end of Rosario Strait. Because of the distance and size of this area, on windy days the waves really fetch up. Once we crossed the strait and got past Sinclair Island the water got smooth again.

The rest of the cruise was uneventful and we motored around Guemes Island to avoid that rough water all the way down to Anacortes. Had we turned right at Point Lawrence and came down Rosario Strait or came down Bellingham Channel the water would have been hitting us on the bow and we would have been pounding through those waves for the last 45 minutes of our cruise. NOT FUN…




Now that’s better….smooth as a pond again as we motor down Guemes Channel towards our marina. Boy, do we have a salty boat after that crossing!!!



Some kinda karma going on. We snagged another princess spot on the dock at Sucia Island today. I am three for three on the docking and dock spots!!




This leads to the question…do you believe in karma?

  1. (in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.
    • informal
      destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.

Well, I am not a Buddhist but the principles sure speak to me so I can honestly say I do believe in karma. More along the lines of be a good person and good things will come your way. Be kind and kindness will come your way. Be gratefully and practice active gratitude.




That said, I was sure happy to motor into Fossil Bay at Sucia and get the Beach House snugged up to the dock. Working on my docking skills with an audience, of mostly men BTW,  is a bit nerve-racking. Thankfully the young couple that roared into the bay ahead of us, kicking up a big wake in their smaller boat were kind and grabbed our dock lines from Wally as I inched us over to the dock. Yes, they redeemed themself’s with that act of kindness!




Taking a Walk on the Wild Side…

Jones Island Marine Park is truly one of the gems of the San Juan Islands. We were thrilled to motor up and find the dock wide open on Thursday morning so we gleefully put in our moorage registration for the maximum stay of three night.



On the dock at Jones Island looking Northeast with Orcas Island to the left.


This popular 188 acre island is accessible only by boat and is dedicated to campers, kayakers and boaters. It even has ADA access and camping sites – how’s that for cool!!! Like many of the state parks in the San Juans the island has composting toilets and drinking water but you do have to pack out all your garbage.



What a primo campsite!


We love the four miles of hiking trails that ring the edges of the island and take you wandering through the interior forest. Jones has a wild, natural feel and our hike on Friday was definitely a walk on the wild side as low pressure front had moved into the islands.




Following the coastline, the wind was howling on the south and west sides of the island and the water white capping. A perfect day to be tied up to the dock and this was great way to spend the morning, wandering the island.




Luckily, the wind today wasn’t nearly as ferocious as the big storm in 1990 that tore through the San Juans and left Jones Island littered with thousands of downed trees. The park service had to close the island during the 1991 season to do major cleanup and restoration of the outbuildings, campsites, dock and trails. 90 to 100 mph winds did heavy damage on the north end of the island and the trees were strewn like toothpicks.




There was much controversy about how much of the timber to remove and for the most part, the trees have been left where they fell, to become part of natures natural renewal process. On past visited we have seen numerous pileated woodpeckers doing their thing on the old, rotted timber.




Today, the ghostly remains of the storm are still evident as you hike through the forest which is littered with the downed, moss covered trees. The canopy of the forest has returned and the deer, raccoons and many species of birds that call Jones Island home seem to be thriving.




Back at the Beach House, we hunkered in for a rainy afternoon. Choose one of many boat projects to tinker at or make some banana bread? Hmm, banana bread won hands down!!!




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Three Lost Lures and One Rockfish….

It certainly wasn’t our most productive fishing. Seriously, I thought I had forgotten how to jig the bottom for fish but realized after three lost lures that it was just one bitch of a drift. Plus, I got up early for this bad treatment by Mother Nature.



I know Bentley…three lures and no keepers!!!


The water was deceptively calm on top but the bottom was raging. I did managed to catch one really nice rockfish – sorry no picture – but I really did catch it. We let it go quickly to ensure it was still viable.

Unfortunately, most of the San Juan Islands are in a Rockfish conservation mode as the WDFW has allowed the area to become overfished. Too little to late, in my estimation but the battle between us piddling recreational fishers and the Commercial Fisheries and the Indian Fisheries rages on. Personally, I am happy to give up the Rockfish if it means a come back for the species.

After multiple attempts to find the perfect drift, my coffee was cold and the fuel line connector on the Whaler just couldn’t stay connected so we both agreed it just wasn’t happening for us today.



This is an exact replica of the rockfish I couldn’t keep..well, except mine was bigger of course!! (photo courtesy of WDFW)



Turn Point off Stuart Island can be a great fishing area and often a great place to see Orcas Whales.


Never fear, I had a plan for dinner. We still had over a dozen spot prawns in the frig that were begging to be eaten. Don’t lose hope Bentley!!!



Indian Curry Shrimp over Basmati  Brown Rice.



Dinner was kitty approved! 


A Lazy Day on the Beach House

Everyone needs a lazy day occasionally…even retired people! We have been going petal to the metal getting the “Houses” ready and put away so a lazy day was just perfect.



Wally is a great breakfast chef…love his garnish. So pretty and delicious too!!!


After a late breakfast of leftover paella with a poached egg, we took an easy  2.5 mile hike. Added the 130 stairs on the way back for a cardio boost.



That is only the first half of the climb.



I giggled when I saw the sign posted on the outhouse door. I mean, sometimes fireworks just happen in the outhouse…hee-hee!




The hike we did loops around both sides of the island so you will see Prevost Harbor, where the Beach House is on the dock and Reid Harbor.




The rest of the day was spent on the dock puttering, cleaning some windows, reading and testing a cellular booster. Oh, and there may have been a nap too!



Not many people here in Prevost Harbor today. Quiet and serene.


Wildlife spotting was also good right from the dock…two adult Bald Eagles, a juvenile Bald Eagle (likely their offspring from last year),  five brown turkey vultures who dropped by to check out the campsite fire pits on the bluff and some pretty swallows.



Spotted this kelp crab on the dock pier post. Funky looking dudes!


Continuing on the lazy trend, dinner was grilled turkey burgers with arugula and grilled asparagus. Who said simple can’t be delicious.




Prawning at Stuart Island

We awoke to a cool, overcast but windless morning. Breakfast was a fresh morel mushroom frittata with potatoes along with some really awesome freshly ground Guatemala coffee from Walla Walla Roasters.

After a nice walk, it was time to get serious about getting the shrimping gear ready to go. The afternoon tide was favorable for about 45 minutes and Wally had scoped out a potential spot to drop the shrimp pot in New Channel near Stuart Island at a depth of about about 350 feet.

The afternoon was damp and drizzly so I felt obliqiged to give up my seat on the Whaler to a new friend Brian from our our marina that we ran into at Prevost Harbor. He was excited to get out and try some shrimping so who was I to rain on his parade.

You might have figured out that I love to cook and was plotting paella for dinner before the prawns were ever in the trap. The fingers crossed trick worked and before I knew it they were back with enough Spot Prawns for a paella and at least another meal. WOO-HOO!!!



These beauties are the actual spot prawns minus their heads.


It’s important to remove the heads as soon as possible.  Almost immediately after death, an enzyme in the prawn’s head is released through the body causing the flesh to soften.  Removing the head is quite easy, but it may make some people squirm.





And this my friends is the heads…


You may wonder why I get so excited about the heads??? Well, this is what makes the incredible broth that is the backbone of the paella. The recipe is so simple…

Take the prawn heads, a couple of bay leaves and a sprinkle of Old Bay if you got it, cover it all in water and simmer until you get tired of the whole mess. I strain the broth through a seive and some coffee filters, return the heads to the sea and VOILA… you are left with the perfect broth for paella, soup, risotto or perhaps shrimp and grits. Sky is the limit or your imagination.

Paella takes a bit of time so we feasted on some great cheese and wine, BS”ed with our friend Brian and eventually chowed down on Spot Prawn Paella with Olympia Provision Chorizo and Smoked Mussels along with a Arugula Salad.

The afternoon drizzle broke into a beautiful San Juan evening …. Not sure it gets much better!


FINALLY, the BeachHouse is off the dock and underway. It is so good to be back on the water and bonus points for such a absolutely beautiful afternoon! The water is like a pond… nice way to start off!


Stuart Island here we come!

It’s a Wrap….

Wow, the winter season on the Road House is officially a wrap. We are back in Anacortes getting the Beach House ready for a three-month cruise to the Broughton Islands in British Columbia, Canada. I truly got so far behind on blogging that I finally decided just to skip ahead and write this winter season summary.




The winter/fall season started off with a mechanical issue that had us idling in Twin Falls for five days but once we got on the road again the Road House ran like a champ.

This season we were more stationary and spent longer periods of time in places but the big difference was how many friends and family we connected with or joined us along the way. It’s was certainly a social season and we made so many new friends especially during our 3 1/2 month stay at the Outdoor Resort Palm Spring (ORPS).

Our path was a zigzag across many states and some states we went thru twice. The “Birthdays Rendezvous” kicked off the season. Our friends the Millers glamped with us in Moab where we hiked at Arches National Park and Capitol Reef National Park. Tom and I have birthdays within days of each other and we have come to meet and celebrate all of our birthdays in late October. I love this tradition!!!




From Utah, we headed over Santa Fe New Mexico to rendezvous with our Boxer loving, RV buddies the Carmichaels. Good food, long walks and evening fires in the resort chimaera with these wonderful friends were highlights of our 12 days at the Santa Fe Skies RV Resort.




From there, we headed back to Mesa, AZ for a short stop to see friends and then on to Palm Springs, CA for the next three months. Our time in Palm Springs was really busy, yes mostly socializing…seems that is our new hobby!

My cousins June and Matt from Kentucky visited for a week over Thanksgiving and we had a blast touring the area with them, trying some new restaurants and playing silly games like “Redneck Life”. If I recall there was a fair amount of wine consumed as well!!



Pretty dang nice weather for Thanksgiving …we were able to have our turkey feast alfresco.


There were five more rounds of visitors during our time in Palm Springs. In between all of the fun visitors our time was filled playing pickleball and meeting new friends at the Outdoor Resort Palm Springs (ORPS). We really fell in love with this beautiful RV Resort, so much so that we bought a lot and will be returning again in November for at least three months. We also have some long time Portland friends who are now desert dwellers in the area so it was great to spend time with them.



Our backyard at ORPS









We also did a road trip to Texas with friends in the car with no pets. Bentley and Sucia stayed home in the coach at ORPS with a their new BFF Serena. Yikes, no pets for a almost 2 weeks. Plus we stayed in a condo with a king sized bed – sweet!!! It was like a real vacation!!!! We explored Texas Hill Country, ate a whole lot of BBQ, spent a day exploring San Antonio. The grand finale was New Years Eve with friends in Austin where is snowed…seriously! It was so cold all the musically events in the waterfront park were cancelled but we saw all the fireworks from our warm hotel room in downtown Austin.




The zigzagging continued as we headed to Gold Canyon, AZ in March. We stayed at Gold Canyon Golf and RV Resort for a month where we had plans to meet up with some Washington boating friends. As it turned out, some new friends that we met at ORPS were also going to be in Gold Canyon at the same time – small world for sure!!




Another fun surprise was when our Portland wino/cooking pals, the Smith’s flew down for a long weekend and stayed in nearby Gold Canyon. Hiking, birding, good wine and some cooking filled our time together.




In April, all the smart folks started heading out of the state to cooler climates. We didn’t fall into the smart category and stayed another month in Mesa, AZ at the Tower Point RV Resort. I had planned to visit my Mom in Kentucky and attend a family reunion in late April so my flight plans were booked out of the Mesa Gateway Airport. I was feeling so smug about scoring an inexpensive, nonstop flight from Mesa to Louisville until the sustained 95 degree weather was forecasted. Seriously, round trip and nonstop for under $200…it really was a score!!!

To beat the heat, we took a few day trips to cooler regions of Arizona. We spent one day exploring the Flagstaff  area and another at the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park.






We also had fun exploring the nearby community of Gilbert where we really enjoyed the great farmers market, lively restaurant scene and the totally awesome nature preserve.

We now agree that we won’t be staying in Arizona or any place else that routinely gets in the mid to high nineties as early as April. Not that there was any lack of things to do but when it starts getting that hot, most everything that we enjoying doing, oh, like being outside isn’t that enjoyable.



On a positive note, I had a great week in Kentucky with family. It was a marvel to see that much green after months in the desert. Louisville is a beautiful city, with great restaurants and a lively arts scene. I did manage to eat some good BBQ while I was there too!!! Did I say that it was lush and beautiful with perfect 75 degree days??

Once I landed back in the land of HOT, we had a great 26th anniversary dinner in Gilbert with our friends the Millers, then we hit the road in search of cooler temps the next day. Out drive took us through Needles NV, Bakersfield Ca with a two day stop in Lodi CA for some wine tasting. Gotta have some fun along the way! After Lodi, we drove to Medford spent the night, then on to Portland where we stayed for 5 nights.





Our stop in Portland was a whirl wind of eating, drinking and more socializing. Are you are seeing the trend here??? It was great to reconnect with friends but our time went by all too fast and we didn’t get to see everyone we had hoped to see. Next trip through we will definitely stay longer. Portland feels so comfortable but doesn’t feel like home anymore despite having so many friends there.



The Raod House all tucked in at the Desert View RV Park in Needles, CA.


So, here we are back in Ancortes with a long list of things to do to get the Beach House ready for the marine highway. Wally is all things mechanical right now while I am all about the provisioning, cleaning the exterior of the boat and getting all of registrations, tags and coast guard paperwork updated. We are jazzed to be cruising as far as the Broughton Islands in British Columbia this summer and will try to post whenever we have a decent cell connection.



Definitely not desert landscaping!


Hoot Hoot…Our plan is to get off the dock the first week of June for a shake down cruise – so far all systems are GO!!!