Do You Ever Get Bored?

That question and the following one …”what do you do all day on your boat” are frequently asked by non-boaters when they learn we are spending the summer on our 42 ft motor yacht, Beach House. Honestly, I am rarely ever bored as there is always something to see or do when we are on the boat.

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A typical day starts with coffee on the aft deck which is screened in with canvas and isenglass creating a cozy sitting area even in cool weather. Catch up on some news, email or maybe read a bit. I love watching the wildlife, especially the birds and often can take a great photo this time of day.

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We have to feed the pets and take Bentley out on the back swim platform so he can do his morning tinkle. Eventually, Wally will take him to shore in the dinghy (if we are anchored out) for a full business walk.

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Depending on where we are, perhaps a hike, some kayaking, beach combing or a bike ride will be on the agenda. By then it is lunch time and at least once a week we hit a pub or small café for lunch. Then it may be nap time for some of us, others may read, make a few phone calls or do some boat clean up or projects. Boats are like houses in that there is always a small repair or maintenance to do such as cleaning and oiling the teak wood or cleaning the salt water off the windows.

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If we are at a marina, we occasionally rent a car or scooters and explore the area. We don’t have a washer/dryer on board so there is laundry to do and like everyone else we have to grocery shop. We do major provisioning before we leave Anacortes, filling the freezer and all the storage areas with pet food, household essentials, snacks and beverages. Grocery shopping after that may be finding a local farmers market on one of the islands or a regular sized store on some of the larger islands. Usually, I am on the hunt for fresh produce, fruit or farm fresh eggs.

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Again, depending where we are, fishing and crabbing could be the major activity of the day and if successful, the catch of the day will be featured on the dinner menu. We really love exploring in our dingy, which is a 13 ft Boston Whaler. The whaler has a 50 hp engine so we can easily go 25 MPH and get most anywhere we want to go to explore.

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By now we have meandered into cocktail hour. If we are boating with friends, which is often, this is usually an animated time where we catch up on the days events, tell boating stories perhaps play cards or just enjoy each other’s company.

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Cocktail hour is followed by dinner and again if we are with friends, the menu is usually discussed earlier in the day and plans are made about who is hosting, who is preparing what and when dinner will be served. I love to cook…so no, we don’t eat always eat burgers, hotdogs or ever eat prepared food from the store deli.

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There are after dinner chores to do, dog walking and hopefully an awesome sunset to close out the day. Again, we might play a board game or cards, read or do some future trip planning. Wally is our official weather man and boating is dictated by the weather so that is an important discussion that happens daily. The weather and especially the wind will dictate where we will go. We have to evaluate if there is adequate protection from the wind to anchor or if a real storm is a brewin, we might head to a marina and enjoy some shore time in a small town for a few days.

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There are so many variations on what we do each day because we move around with the weather. Some days involve cruising to get to the next destination and other days it is just as I described above. The variation and the freedom to pull anchor and head somewhere new is what makes everyday special on the water.

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Is it always idyllic? Nope, some days the water conditions are not what you expected, the wind and current decide not to play nicely together which makes traveling by boat less than fun. Some nights the wind howls, yes even in the summer and the boat rock and rolls with the wind waves. If this is happening, one has to be concerned about the anchor pulling or someone else’s anchor pulling. These infrequent occasions mean a restless night onboard. Most nights, we are lulled to sleep by the lapping of water or it will be so calm and peaceful that I forget I am on a boat. One thing is for sure, no two days are alike.

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So there you have it, the short sweet version of how we spend our days and why we are rarely bored.

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Busted at the Border

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After motoring around the San Juan Islands since June, we decided to meet up with friends and head to the Canadian Gulf Islands. It’s a whole new play ground of islands with small quaint towns, marina pubs, remote anchorages and some excellent fishing. The Gulf Islands are the islands in the Strait of Georgia (also known as Salish Sea or the Gulf of Georgia), between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. Gulf Islands Map

When entering Canada by boat, one has to go through Canadian Customs and since we have a Nexus Pass we are able to report in via telephone. When reporting into Canada with a Nexus Pass there is always a series of question that the Customs Agents ask in which the following is always discussed. U.S. citizens crossing the border into Canada to visit are allowed to bring the following item quantities into Canada duty free:
• 1.5 liters of wine, or 1.14 liters (40 ounces) of liquor, or 24 cans or bottles of beer.
• 1 carton (200 cigarettes), up to 50 cigars, and 200g of loose tobacco
• Up to $60 in gifts per recipient. (excluding alcohol and tobacco)

Well, can you guess which limit we exceeded? If you guess wine or liquor…bingo you are correct.

Our list of declarations was as follows:
54 bottles of wine 750 ml each
1 1.5 liter bottle of gin
1 750 ml bottle each of Rum and Bourbon
3 open bottles equaling 750 bottles of misc liquor
1 case of beer

Personally, I don’t think this is really excessive for a 2 month cruise, but yes it is way over the limit. So busted we were thanks to our by the book customs gal. No jail time required but she sure busted our wallet – to the tune of $530 CAD or $414 US. Ouch…We knew we would likely pay duty but the killer is that our friends in two other boats declared just as much and paid ZERO! Why the inconsistency? Who knows but I did stew on it awhile, then had a cocktail with my heavily taxed gin and just let it go! What really chapped me was the customs agent never told me how much the duty would be and only said I would receive a invoice in the mail. Curiosity got the best of me so I checked my credit card online and whamola!

Liquor is expensive in Canada and heavily taxed, however maybe not as much as I paid for mine in the US with all the duty and taxes figured in. We usually have just brought wine as we can’t often find the wines we like in remote areas of  Canada. In hind sight, I should have left some of the liquor in the US but oh well, cie le vie, live and learn.

We stayed at the Port of Sidney Marina for three days and enjoyed all this small, charming seaside town has to offer.

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The first night we dined at Thai Corner, which I would highly recommend. The Thai Sukiyaki and Panang Curry were both killer. This family owned restaurant not only dishes up great food but the service was friendly and warm. Thai Corner

Sidney has some great walking and biking trails, not to mention a very walkable town with great shops and grocery stores. We enjoyed strolling the waterfront path called the Lochside trail which takes you along the shore and will eventually link up with another bike trail that you could ride all the way to Victoria.  Sidney Trails

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You don’t need a boat to enjoy Sidney as you can catch a ferry from the US to many points on Vancouver Island. There is so much to do and see in the Canadian Gulf Islands and with the easy ferry access, a vacation to this area should be on your bucket list. Gulf Islands Planning

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Our plan is to cruise in this region as far north as Nanimo until late September or until our supply or over taxed beverages runs out.

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Crab, Crab and More Crab

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Now those are some big boy crabs…woo-hoo!

I have a crazy love affair with crab…dungness crab to be specific. So much so that if I were to ever get a tattoo it will be a crab. Oh crabbies, why do I love you so much? Well, you are a hoot to catch, you scare me and you taste oh, so delicious. Delicate, sweet and slightly salty …who’d known something so scary and ugly would taste so wonderful.

We wait, wait wait for crabbing season to open in the San Juan Islands. Low crabatonin levels set in and sometimes the frozen crab in the freezers runs out. This horrific malaise, low crabatonin can only be cured with a big plate of fresh steamed crabs. Many a vacations on our boat have been planned around the opening crabbing weekend. This year was no exception and we were expecting several friends from Portland over the next few weeks to join us on Beach House. Our cruises were planned around our favorite crabbing spots and there was a lot of crab on the menu. Not to get to cocky, but I was pretty sure we would have an abundant harvest so I got busy perusing some favorite recipes and checking out a few new ones.

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Crab cocktail anyone?

In anticipation of a crabby summer on the boat, 40 lbs of chicken hindquarters were purchased at Cash and Carry for a mere $25.10. Thankfully, we have friends in Anacortes with a big freezer who love crab too so we have a place to stash some of it. Yes, they will be paid in fresh crab…isn’t that an awesome deal!

Crabbing isn’t rocket science but there are a few tricks to getting a good harvest. Obviously, you need pots or rings and a location that is attractive to crabs. I won’t bore you with all the details but if you are curious follow this link to a great blog post on crabbing – https://skyaboveus.com/fishing/How-to-Catch-Dungeness-Crab

We were on a mission to get our pots in the water on opening day so we could have a big crab feed to celebrate our friends Steve and Donna’s 28th anniversary. The tides and currents for crabbing at Hunter Bay were perfectly aligned to their arrival schedule so we were loaded and underway by early afternoon. The guys had the pots in the water by 4 pm which gave us one productive pull before alternative dinner decisions would need to be made. There were cheers all around and a glass or two of champagne when 8 huge keepers were steaming away in the pot.

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Crabatonin levels are guaranteed to spike up now!

Dinner was simple but delicious, champagne, fresh steam crab, garden salad and garlic bread followed by lemon bars toppled with fresh raspberries, oh and more champagne.

The following day the crew cruised to Wescott Bay which is on the northwest side of San Juan Island. We anchored not far from the Wescott Bay Seafood as fresh oysters were on the appetizers menu that night. The dinner menu included Lemon Pasta with Crab served with a Caesar Salad.  Creamy Lemon Pasta Recipe

 

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No better way to end a wonderful meal than with a spectacular San Juan Sunset

There is plenty to see and do around San Juan Island so our two days flew by. Crabbing of course, a whaler trip to Roche Harbor for lunch and shopping, a hike around English Camp and some exploration via the whaler kept us busy. Bentley loves walking around the old English Camp, not because of the great historical value but rather to look for deer in the orchard and possibly scarf some deer poop. If you are more cultured than Bentley and actually enjoy history here are two links about the British/US occupation on the islands.
https://www.nps.gov/sajh/learn/historyculture/english-camp.htm
https://www.nps.gov/sajh/learn/historyculture/american-camp.htm

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English Camp at Garrison Bay

We took a break from crabbing to show our friends Roche Harbor and have lunch at the Madrona Bar and Grill. It is only a 15 minute ride in the whaler, so in no time flat we were seated on the deck with a killer Bloody Mary in hand. Not only was lunch great but Donna, the galley clean up slave got the afternoon off from dishes.

Back at the Beach House later, there was crab to crack as crabbing was very productive the last two days. Dinner was a Jalapeño Avocado Cream Soup topped with a huge mound of crab and garnished with chives and a radish. Ridiculously good! Avacado, Jalapeno and Crab Cream Soup Recipe

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Avacado, Jalapeño and Crab Cream Soup with a Pistachio Beet Salad

Our next destination was Prevost Harbor on Stuart Island which is one of our favorite anchorages and is definitely crabby. Our cruise from Wescott Bay to Prevost took us around the west side of Henry Island in Haro Strait up to Turn Point on Stuart Island, then on into Prevost Harbor. The water was flat and calm the entire cruise so we anchored Beach House just in time for lunch and a glass of wine.

It was so pretty we decide to cruise around to Reid Harbor where we eventually stayed for the next two nights. The crew decided to take a break from crab, crazy but true! For dinner we feasted on Smoked Pork Tacos with a spicy Ancho Cherry BBQ Sauce and a Southwest Slaw which Steve had prepared in Portland and brought with them. Crabbing was closed on Tuesday and Wednesday so we had plans to do the 6 mile hike to see the Turn Point Lighthouse and have a picnic lunchtime following day.

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Reid Harbor on Stuart Island 

After a great 5 day crab cruise, we headed back to Anacortes to drop our crew and gear up for the next guest. No, I am not tired of crab yet!

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Cheers to a great crabby cruise!

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