Our Social Distancing Summer

Who would have thunk that there would be a pandemic when we planned for our nomadic lifestyle. The buzz words “social distancing” had never been uttered, the concept of staying 6 feet away from other people and wearing a mask – utterly silly. Fast forward to the hell year known as 2020…never imagined our nomadic lifestyle would actually become the envy of people who found themselves locked in there homes, afraid to travel or venture out of their safe bubble. Ironically, RV’s and boats have sold at record pace this year as many people sought a way to stay safe while getting out and seeing the US. It’s not like the rest of the world is welcoming US travelers …okay, and with good reason. But I won’t digress into a political rant at this point!!!

We easily transition onto the boat from the coach, continuing our newly learned social distancing skills and honestly had a great summer in the San Juan Islands. This year we used our marina in Anacortes as base camp so no big provisioning like prior years. Anacortes felt super safe…all summer events (no stupid Sturgis like events were allowed to happen) were cancelled so tourism was much lower than normal. People in Anacortes were diligent about wearing masks and we frequented several restaurants that had outdoor dining. 

Our first outing of the season was buddy boating with our friends Kristen and John. We had great weather and had fun showing them some of our favorite anchorages and marinas in the San Juans.

Our big boat project this year was the flybridge remodel, which I must say turned out great. All new seating, a second helm chair, new carpet and vinyl covers for all the storage areas. The biggest chore was getting the old, heavy wood based furniture off the flybridge. This was made way easier by hiring two young, energetic dudes to assist Wally who mainly just had to oversee them. Anymore, we write checks for anything that will require us to go to the chiropractor more than once!

Of course there were the unexpected repairs …it’s a boat! Luckily, none of them cost a boat unit this time, just a bit of frustration and sweat equity. Yep, that is one of our macerator toilets in the picture below …on the dock … getting a huge clog removed. This may be way too much information but never flush a macerator toilet when your water pump is turned off – oops poops!!! We also had a window break mysteriously in the galley but luckily we were not underway.

Staying in the San Juans (not by choice) meant we could host more guests and spend more time with local boating friends. Not sure if it is our age or ??? but our friends have been uber careful as well and we all felt comfortable spending time together.  

Oysters and clams at the Wescott Bay Shell Fish Farm.
Big crab feed with friends Darryl and Randy from Manzanita Oregon.

Out on the water we had several floating happy hours with friends. Sometimes rafted to the back of our boat and some days rafted to other friends boats – how’s that for proper distancing! The San Juans are full of great places to hike and with the kayaks we could get plenty of exercise. Despite the exercise,  I am pretty sure I still may have consumed more calories at happy hour than I expended on shore. 

Wally tried paddle boarding for the first time…we may need to add a new toy to the
Beach House!

June was a bit gloomy but in July the weather turned 100% San Juan Summer. We had a great time boating with a group of friends from Anacortes and crabbing with long-time boating friends from Portland. I added some serious amounts of sea glass to my collection from Sucia and Patos Islands. I also added a new favorite cocktail to the rotation – (thanks Ted and Marsha).

Kraken rum and ginger beer… ridiculously delicious.

We had a staycation with our friends Steve and Donna who came up from Portland in August. The gale force winds kept us in port for most of their stay but we had a great time anyway. Before the windstorm descended, we got in a day cruise around Lummi Island and lunched on the hook at Eagle Harbor. A big drama unfolded as we all took a walk, in the wind, from our marina over to the point by the port marina, Cap Sante. What we saw, were huge waves tossing boats like corks in Fildalgo Bay and two boats washed up on the breakwater rocks.

We were all mesmerized so we stopped back later in the day to see how the rescues were going. That was when we met the owner of the partially submerged powerboat…His boat was a total loss and was signed over to a salvage company who eventually got it off the rocks outside the break water entrance of Cap Sante Marina. He was devastated as he loved that boat and had worked so hard to buy it. Luckily, the sailboat (which ironically, was his father-in-laws boat) was rescued. I think the keel saved it from sinking as it got lodged into the breakwater rock wall, keeping it mostly upright.

The calm after the storm…

Stuart island has been a long time favorite and this year we spent several days with friends Howard and Susan who own a home on the island. The Beach House was tied up to their mooring buoy in the bay which is just below their house. The views are stunning from both their deck and from the water. We enjoyed dinner al fresco on their deck one evening and had a huge crab feed on the boat one night – no surprise right!! But the real treat was the “mule” tour of their end of the island. We piled into the mule – aka an ATV and Howard motored us all around on the rustic roads. Stuart Island is only assessable by private boat or small airplane so it was great fun to actually see the island from land. There are no stores, no electricity (homes have solar and/or generator power) and all water is via a private well.

Our last big hurrah was a week long buddy boat cruise in the smoke/fog/smog with friends Caety and Frank from Wyoming. Our mutual friend Jane was onboard the Beach House and it happened to be her birthday trip – can you say Jell-O shots!!!. Caety and Frank brought loads of food from their ranch and garden so boy, did we eat well. It was a bit of a surreal week as smoke from the Washington and Oregon wildfires blew into the islands. The combination of marine fog and smoke had us running the boats on radar when were were cruising from island to island. It did not stop us from crabbing and the guys dropped some lines for salmon too. The girls did a day trip in our boston whaler to Roche Harbor where we toured the sculpture garden.

The pets had a pretty darn good summer too. Crab is Sucia’s favorite food and she was always the first one at the table for a crab feed. She’s gotten to be such a PIA that we have had to lock her in our stateroom during dinner when we have friends onboard and are serving crab. Bad kitty….

Yep, she’s waiting…

Our 4 months in Anacortes flew by, in late September we had the Beach House hauled out for maintenance and we moved onto the Road House. Our last two weeks in Anacortes were spend closing up the boat for the winter, getting the coach ready to roll, doing routine doctors visits and yes, some happy hours and dinners with friends. We also got in a bit of local crabbing too before we pulled the boston whaler out for the winter. 

Despite COVID, summer 2020 was pretty darn enjoyable!!! Sedona, here we come…

Okay, a few more of my favorite pictures…

Pop Goes the Window…

On a boat there are always planned projects like our recent flybridge remodel. Unfortunately, there seems to always be some sort of unplanned project too. Sometimes, they are major… like our recent galley window replacement.

The weird thing about this unplanned project was how the window actually broke. I mean all we were doing was drinking wine and playing cards with friends in the salon…its not like it was some wild party with dancing on the counter tops. Yep, that ship has sailed!!!

Then pop…a really loud pop… it sounded a bit like a shot was fired. I got off the counter, oops I mean I got up from the salon table and took a look around. Just in time to see the galley window cracking and see some glass on the countertop. Did a bird hit the window…nope. Well, what the hell???

It was sickly fascinating to watch the glass crack into this mosaic.

Not long before the big pop, I was in the galley prepping salmon for dinner and making a lemon, garlic yogurt sauce. So glad the glass didn’t end up all over my beautiful moroccan spiced salmon fillets.

All we can figure is that holes around the the slider latch got stressed and just gave way. Not wanting to slow down the raging party, Wally knocked all the fractured safety glass out, found some plastic, duct tape and patched the gaping whole that was the window up for the night.

The area where there is no glass is where the slider latch holes used to be.

The good news is that we were at our dock in Anacortes and not out on the water somewhere or underway. The other good news is that we actually had a spare window and frame(s) in our storage unit. I know, who the heck has a spare window and frame for the one window that mysterious blows out??? Well, thanks to the prior owner of the boat, we have all kinds of one off spare for the Beach House.

We had a local glass guy with boat experience come by with hopes it would be a simple glass replacement. Nope, of course not, it’s a boat. After taking look at the project, Mark from Quality Glass counseled Wally to replace the entire window and frame with the spare which was in great shape. He unfortunately couldn’t get to it for over a week so Mr. Handy Pants got out his tools and got to work.

Getting the screws out of the frame and taking the trim pieces off was a snap. But then the frustrating fun began, lots of tapping and pounding with a rubber mallet and putty knife ensued. Seems boat window frames are really well bonded in. The sound of the frame coming out of the fiberglass was a bit terrifying. According to Mr. Handy Pants, he was terrified periodically thru out the whole removal.

No spices were harmed during this unplanned project.

Several trips to the hardware store to get a new tool and then to West Marine to get some anti-bonding spray. Seriously, who know anti-bond spray was actually a thing. Guess Wally did and this miracle spray loosened up all the remaining bond That was left on the fiberglass so he could scrape the area clean.

At this point, I was really glad I married a handy guy and really glad I wasn’t expected to help. I chose to stay out of the way and just chime in occasionally with words of encouragement. I also learned about another magic product called Sikaflex. When Wally told me he need more Sikaflex, I got the giggles thinking maybe it was a wonder drug like the ones you hear about on TV. I had images of a couple sitting in bathtubs, holding hands as the sun goes down.

Turns out, I was way off base…Sikaflex is a fast cure adhesive/sealant – LOL!!!

Open air window …not a great concept for a boat!

Not sure if if would have been a 2 1/2 day project for Mark, but is sure was for Wally. Of course Marks bill would have been at least a boat unit (Boat stands for break out another thousand) and Mr. Handy Pants works for good food and wine, all of which I was happy to supply.

I disappeared for most of the afternoon today and came back to a swanky new window frame complete with glass in both sides. Being the good assistant that I am, wine was poured and the unplanned project completion was celebrated!

YAY… solid glass and a functional latch.

Green Bean, Potato and Egg Salad with Goat Cheese Dressing was served with a huge mound of fresh, Steamed Crab, Garlicky Focaccia Bread and a bottle of 2018 Domaine Gerbeaux Macon Villages Chardonnay.