Best Summer Ever


So many fabulous sunsets this summer!

We are back in Anacortes after a great summer cruising on the Beach House. It truly was the best summer ever in that we had unlimited time on the boat, we had lots of friends come visit, we made some new boating friends and ran into some boating friends that we haven’t seen in years, we caught LOTS of crabs, the weather was spectacular, the Beach House ran well with no mechanical issue (that’s a blessing on a boat!), there were amazing sunsets, we didn’t run out of wine (another blessing), Sucia and Bentley did great on the boat…really it was the best summer ever.


Exploring on Saturna Island, BC

Now that we are back on land, the work has begun to get Beach House ready for her winter layover and get Road House ready to roll to warmer climates. The Captain has a list of maintenance chores for both, and I will be doing the cleaning and packing. Our plan is to be cranking up Willie’s On the Road Again when the Road House rolls on October 15th.


Sucia loves being on the boat…not sure she is really excited about moving back on to the Road House

All work and no play makes the for a cranky crew so we have been enjoying seeing friends in Anacortes, taking hikes and walks in the community forest lands, Washington Park or the Tommy Thompson Waterfront Trail. While Anacortes is a small town, there is never a shortage of fun events going on especially in the summer and fall. The Oyster Run was crazy town with 20,000 bikes roaring into Anacortes for a free day long event. Tattoos, leather and oysters are the general  theme. The Seattle Cossacks put on an amazing stunt show and the Whidbey Island Roller Girls were quite a hit. We are also looking forward to the upcoming Beir on the Pier Cider and Beer Festival. It is a short walk from the marina so we can stumble home after tasting at 35 different breweries.



It was such a great summer that we are already looking forward to the next season on the Beach House. This summer we visited some favorite anchorages as well as some new destinations in the Canadian Gulf Island but I am ready to head further north next summer. I would love to go as far as SE Alaska but the Captain hasn’t committed to going beyond the Broughton Islands Archipelago.


This would be the furthest we have cruised in our own boat and while it is not Alaska, my sense of wanderlust will be totally satisfied. The Broughton Archipelago was named by Captain Vancouver for the commander of one of his ship’s during the famous exploration of 1792 when many of the now familiar English names were bestowed on the complicated waterways and over 240,000 islands along the vast coastline of British Columbia.


SO much wildlife!


The Broughton’s are a remote group of 200-plus islands that are squeezed between the northern British Columbia Coast and the north end of Vancouver Island. To give some perspective of what I mean by remote, it’s important to understand the distances involved. British Columbia is larger than any state in the U.S except Alaska. As the crow flies, the length of its coastline is 600 miles. The distance from Anacortes, Washington, a popular jumping-off spot for cruisers in the San Juans, to the Broughtons is 236 miles. Not far in a car if you could just drive there, but there are no roads to get you there.  In a boat it would take the the better part of a week to cover this much water, some of which is difficult navigation due to currents and tide anomalies. Because of this, the only recreational boaters that venture as far north as the Broughtons are those on the way to Alaska and those who are passionate boaters who make summertime adventures on these coastal waters a top priority.

For those of you with a sense of adventure, get your calendars out and make plans to  join us on the Beach House next summer! You will likely have to drive, ferry and/or fly into find us. But the remote, beautiful scenery, the amazing fishing and our extraordinary company (ok that’s a stretch) will be well worth the effort.


Did I mention great fishing???

Orcas Island, another gem in the San Juan Islands



We have spent the last 15 plus years boating in the San Juan Islands and until this summer we have rarely had time to spend time in to really explore many of the islands. Thanks to our new-found freedom called retirement, we have been able to spend all summer on the boat. While Beach House did venture into the Canadian Gulf Islands, we spent the vast majority of the time in the San Juan Islands enjoying some of our favorite anchorages as well as exploring some new ones.

Exploring Orcas Island had been on the agenda for September when the summer tourism crush starts winding down. We had been on the island years ago but not for more than a day so we were looking forward to renting a car for a few days and really seeing more of the island.

Orcas Island is slightly larger, but less populous, than neighboring San Juan Island. The island is shaped like a pair of saddlebags, separated by fjord-like Eastsound, with Massacre Bay on the south side, and tiny Skull Island just off the coast. At the northern end of the island is the village of Eastsound, the largest population center on Orcas and the second largest in San Juan County. Recreational opportunities abound, the Washington Ferry stops at the island, there is plenty of restaurants from quaint to 5 star, shopping, art galleries and ridiculous views for watching the sunsets. For us boaters, there are limited places to anchor and only two public marinas, both of which are not conveniently located for exploring unless you have a car. No matter, a car rental is easy enough, expensive but worth it for the freedom to see more of the island.




The Washington State Ferry does make a stop on Orcas, so you certainly don’t need a boat to visit the island. Drive on the ferry in Anacortes and voila …you are delivered to Orcas with your car. There are plenty of small inns, Bed and Breakfasts and rustic resorts to choose from. We visited West Beach Resort on the northwest side of the Island which is the place to be for spectacular sunsets! The resort has small cabins, many right on the water, is pet friendly and the small cafe makes a killer chocolate espresso milkshake!

East Sound is the main village on Orcas and is teeming with restaurants, art galleries, a local brew pub and well stocked grocery store. We enjoyed a fabulous lunch at Roses Bakery Café and visited a great pet shop to buy new Kong balls for the Frito Bandito The Frito Bandito and the First Aid Kit. This time we bought balls that float as to many toys have drowned on this trip so all new toys must know how to swim or at least float!



Great farm to table cuisine at Roses Bakery Cafe.  The bakery  is a great place to stop and provision for a picnic.


We love talking to locals and nothing is a better conversation starter than a dog. We have met so many people, learned so much about the areas we are traveling in by simply being open to meeting new people and brave enough to start a conversation with a stranger. Even with his grumpy demeanor, Bentley attracts people who always want to meet him.

Not only did we get great restaurant suggestions but also favorite hiking trails, where not to bike, best sunset beach and best bar. One of our other favorite meals, which was well endorse by several people we chatted with was at Buck Bay Shellfish Farm. We took a baguette and cheese picnic, feasted on a dozen freshly harvested, local oysters. Funky and quaint along with great view plus the BYOB policy made Buck Bay Seafood Farm a great picnic stop. They also have a super cute B&B room you can rent.



Fresh Seafood and a great picnic spot at Buck Bay Shellfish Farms


Hey, what happened to the dozen oysters we bought??


Orcas has two stellar hiking areas,  Moran State Park and Turtleback Mountain Preserve. Moran State Park is the bigger and more often visited of the two as it boast Mt. Constitution which rises nearly a half mile high above Orcas Island, and is the highest point in the San Juan Islands. Sitting on the crest is a stone tower replica of Russian watchtowers constructed in the Caucasus during the 12th century. In the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed this tower and the road and bridges which lead to the summit of Mount Constitution. From the tower you have a 360 degree view of the surrounding area including shots of Mount Baker, the North Cascades, and the other islands of the San Juan Archipelago. On a clear day the views are jaw-dropping beautiful.




No trip to Orcas Island is complete without a visit to the top of Mount Constitution; a perfect culmination for hikers and bikers in Moran State Park. If you are able to bike to the top, kudos and mass appreciation as all I saw was a serious ass whooping. Personally,  I preferred driving to the top and then going for a hike!




Turtleback Mountain Preserve is all about the hiking as there are no lakes or campgrounds like Moran State Park but the views are every bit as spectacular. We did a strenuous 3.5 mike hike that took us through beautiful filtered forests, savannah like areas with old oak trees and the views all around were unbelievable.




So of course, after a hike it is important to replenish fluids, right? We headed over to the only brewery on the island – Island Hoppin’ Brewery to sample a couple of their craft beers. It seemed many others felt the same way, as it was hoppin’ when we arrived. The beer was great, my favorite was the K-Pod Kolsch with 5.2% abv and 18 ibu’s. The bartender, well, he was a dud. Nice to look at but so not interested in chatting about the beer.




We also took a drive to Rosario Resort and Museum to check out the new marina and have a beverage in the bar. The resort is on the National Register of Historic Places and has quite a history. Built by Seattle Shipbuilder and Mayor Robert Moran in 1906, the now resort was originally built as a private residence, with the centerpiece of the mansion being the Music Room, featuring a two story 1913 Aeolian pipe organ, 1900 Steinway grand piano, a Belgian stain-glass window picturing the harbor at Antwerp, and two mezzanine libraries overlooking a Tiffany chandelier, which depicts various performing arts. If you do spend time on Orcas, Rosario is well work the drive as the mansion/museum is open to the public for self-guided tours daily and there are organ concerts and a Rosario history narrative on Saturdays. The restaurant gets good reviews and the views out over Eastsound are beautiful. Of course you can stay there too! The property was recently purchased and is going through a much needed face lift. The new marina looks really nice and is a big improvement over the old one. In addition to replacing all of the docks, the improved breakwater means more protection inside the marina.




We really enjoyed our time at Deer Harbor Marina … so much that somehow our two nights turned into four. This is a full service marina, with a fuel dock, pump out, small store and café, laundry and garbage drop off…everything a boater really needs. There is a nearby pizza place and the Deer Harbor Inn Restaurant, which will pick you up at the marina in a limo for dinner. Sweet! Our meal there was good and we were able to sit outside on the deck with a view of Deer Harbor and Crane Island off in the distance. We also took advantage of the free use of the marina van on two different days.



Nice wheels!




Renting a car on Orcas was easy. A quick phone call to Orcas Island Car Rentals and voila, a sassy PT Cruiser showed up in the parking lot the next morning with the keys in the ignition. So small island! Only bummer was they have a no pets in the cars policy so Mr. Bentley did not get to go cruising with us!

I did take advantage of the great local seafood and made a delicious Lemon Thyme Clam Linguine for dinner one night. Lemon Thyme Clam Linguine



The local clams from Lopez Island were amazing.


Hiking, great restaurants, a local brewery, fresh oysters, views of the water and islands at every turn, quirky art gallery’s, quaint farm stands, fresh blackberries on all our walks, Wow, who knew that Orcas has so much to offer. So glad we finally had the time to explore Orcas Island and I hope you get a chance to spend some time there too.





The Frito Bandito and the First Aid Kit

For those of you who have a dog or multiple dogs you know exactly what I mean when I say our dog Bentley smells like Frito Corn Chips when he sleeps. So much so we have nicknamed him the Frito Bandito!


The sleepy Frito Bandito and his side kick Sucia who thankfully doesn’t smell like corn chips.


As a kid, I loved Fritos and was always thrilled when the little bag from the variety pack ended up in my school lunch bag. Those were the days, no worries about calories or transfats. Haven’t had Fritos in years but the distinctive odor is all Bentley and usually a sign he could use a good bath!






MMM, yummy in my tummy!!

We were talking about bathing the Frito Bandito but one thing led to another and he escape the privilege. Fabreeze just seemed easier! In the meantime, just as we were reconsidering our laziness, the Frito Bandito managed to slice the big pad behind the wrist joint while taking a night excursion to shore, then proceeded to almost tear the chunk of pad off playing ball the next day. I know, why did we let him play ball? Well, someone thought it was a good idea at the time but when the poor dude came limping back with the ball, someone had to carry him down the dock.


Boy can the Frito Bandito get air. He loves playing ball! I took this picture last spring in Santa Fe.


Never fear, we have really good first aid kits for both the humans and the pets onboard. Many of the products cross over but we put extra supplies in the Frito Bandito’s first aid kit such as tramadol for pain, antibiotics for wounds and bacterial infections such as giardia, Benadryl and children’s aspirins which are safe for dogs. The Frito Bandito is also allergic to bee strings so we carry a injectable dose of Benadryl and a Epi-pen.


So out came the first aid kits, the saline solution and peroxide. The wound was really dirty so the can of pressurized saline was just the ticket for rinsing the wound. Once it was clean, I then rinsed the wound with peroxide which made the boy poor cry which in turn almost made us cry.



Once all the crying was done, a gentle application of anti-bacterial ointment went on, then a gauze pad and then the grand finale – vet wrap. I love this stuff, as it is an elastic bandage that is self sticking. It is a must have in a pet first aid kit as well as a human first aid kit.

The Frito Bandito was a very good patient and seemed grateful for the wound care treatment. He was such a good boy that special treats were in order…cat food with hidden tramadol and antibiotic pills. Yummy!!!


Is that a sad face or what? He may be extra sad as his favorite blue kong ball recently went for a permanent swim in Garrison Bay.


Given my years in animal welfare and friends in the human medical field, I am a pretty competent doggie nurse and can generally gauge what we can self treat and when a trip to the vet is in order. That said, good first aid skills and supplies are a necessity when you are boating, especially in more remote areas.

For now, the Frito Bandito is on boat arrest, with limited shore excursions for the next 7-10 days while his pad heals. He is not overly happy about no ball playing but I expect he will make a full recovery at which a time a bath will be the first order of business!


Do you remember the Frito Bandito jingle???



Ay, ay, ay, ay! oh, I am dee Frito Bandito. I like Fritos corn chips, I love them, I do. I want Fritos corn chips. I’ll get them, from you.
Ay, ay, ay, ay, oh, I am the Frito Bandito. Give me Fritos corn chips and I’ll be your friend. The Frito Bandito you must not offend.