We are close to saying farewell to the year 2020, a year in which many people will not look back on fondly. It’s been called a shit show by many and rightfully so. Many people suffer great losses, many people lost their jobs, many people’s relationships suffered, many people lost their homes, many people suffered great physical illness, many people lost a loved one… heartache abounded. I feel fortunate that all I really lost was my mind at times! I feel incredible grateful to be in this place in my journey when the pandemic hit. My heart goes out to everyone out there who have suffered big losses in 2020.
Our mobile lifestyle has actually been very conducive to saying healthy, staying sane and sheltering in place. My biggest frustration has been the unknown… well, that and so many people who haven’t taken this pandemic seriously. People who don’t have the decency to wear a mask, people who refuse to be unconvinced by simply being careful for the sake of others. For us and our lifestyle, the unknown, trip planning, knowing where and when to travel have been a constant consideration. Because we travel in our home on wheels or our home on the water we have been able to be very careful and hopefully not cause any duress to others. That said, we have had to have plan A and Plan B most of 2020. My magic 8 ball wasn’t very helpful either. Questions about COVID and travel planning were usually met with either a non-commital or negative answer – GO FIGURE!!!
● It is certain. ● It is decidedly so. ● Without a doubt. ● Yes – definitely. ● You may rely on it.
● As I see it, yes. ● Most likely. ● Outlook good. ● Yes. ● Signs point to yes.
● Reply hazy, try again. ● Ask again later. ● Better not tell you now. ● Cannot predict now. ● Concentrate and ask again.
● Don’t count on it. ● My reply is no. ● My sources say no. ● Outlook not so good. ● Very doubtful.
A standard Magic 8 Ball is capable of 10 affirmative answers (●), 5 non-committal answers (●), and 5 negative answers
We definitely didn’t travel as much in 2020 despite being in our rolling home. We spent the first four months of 2020 hunkered down in Palm Springs, three weeks in Bend Oregon, four months on the boat in the San Juan Islands, five weeks in Arizona and here we are back Palm Springs under another stay at home order. That said, I still feeling really grateful to be healthy and mostly sane.
We returned to our lot at the Outdoor Resort Palm Springs in late November after a difficult time in Arizona getting my mother moved into a memory care community. Somehow the timing actually worked out, we found a great community for her and I can breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing she is safe and actually thriving there.
Not long after our return to California, the Governor issued another stay at home order. Again, our lifestyle in Palm Springs is conducive to doing this and staying sane. We have sunshine almost everyday, warm temps and literally an adult playground that sits on 137 beautifully landscaped acres with 27 holes of executive golf, 13 Pickleball courts, 10 Tennis courts, 10 hot tubs and 8 swimming pools. It’s easy to socially distance here, sitting out in the evening by our firepit with a glass of wine with another couple feels safe.
I know it sounds dreamy but like most of you I am ready for the 2020 shit show to come to a conclusion. I asked the magic 8 ball if 2021 was going to be a better year for the world and I was told that “signs point to yes”…hmm, do you think a scientist had any input on this answer???
Fingers crossed and in the meantime, I am going to try and reflect on the struggles that are real out there in the world, be grateful for each healthy day and for all of the wonderful people in my life.
Happy New Year…Wishing you all the best and two doses of vaccine in 2021!!!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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….
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…
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???
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 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.
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!!!
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!
Wally and I have cruised solo to some very isolated areas. We have enjoyed every minute of exploring these new areas and the peaceful, quiet anchorages. #our38ftliferocks, #our38ftlife
We also really enjoy cruising with friends and “buddy boating”. Our first cruise of the summer was with friends, Kristen and John who chartered a 36 foot motor yacht out of Anacortes. They had never operated a boat that large so we were totally up for the challenge of helping John learn how to handle a big boat and showing them the San Juan Islands.
To charter a boat with out a licensed captain means that you need to have experience in a similar boat, understand the rules of the road, navigation and how to operate a big, heavy floating object with no brakes! Yep, there is a test and basically you have to be able to get the boat out of the slip, out of the marina and back in again, then dock the boat back in the slip. Ideally you don’t hit anything…yep, that will get you a big F. Sounds pretty straight forward right??? Well, toss in winds and currents and things can get hinky really fast.
John did great on his two training cruises with us on the Beach House. Wally ran him thru the paces, did some docking at a nearby marina with big open slips and took him to the marina that the charter boat was moored at. Once there he practiced maneuvering in and out of their breakwater.
Ready, set, go…Saturday was D Day! I was a nervous wreck, hoping the wind didn’t pick up, hoping our training sessions were enough, hoping everything went well during the check out cruise. Like proud parents, we knew he would do just fine (but I was still a nervous wreck) and of course he aced his check out test. Now it was a mad rush for them to load the boat and get out on the water. We had plans to meet them outside our marina which is on the other side of Anacortes.
It was so exciting to get their text that they were underway and to see them out on the Guemes Channel headed our way. The sky was dark and a bit foreboding but that certainly didn’t dampen our enthusiasm to hit the marine highway.
Part of the fun of buddy boating is sharing meals and trip planning. Kristen and I planned menus and divided dinners, then shopped together to provision both boats. Since we live aboard all summer, our floating pantry is usually pretty well stocked which makes buddy boating easier too. Forgot something? Good chances are one of your buddy boats will have it.
I had put together a loose itinerary which included some of our favorite anchorages and a marina stop.
Weather and wind sometime dictate where we go and on this trip we mostly had ideal weather. We did make a few adjustments…especially when I found out our favorite seafood farm wasn’t open until Tuesday. I know, tough life right!!! But hey, fresh oysters, mussels and clams were part of the menu plan.
Our first night was spent anchored in Hunter Bay which is on the south end of Lopez Island. The Beach House was the anchored boat with Scaparre rafted to us. Rafting is essentially when one boat ties off the other. Typically, the heaviest boat anchors and in our case that was true plus we have years of experience anchoring. Anchoring can be tricky and is definitely a learned skill.
We had a relaxing evening In Hunter Bay after a stressful but exciting day. There was definitely some wine consumed and an easy dinner of pulled pork tacos, black beans and slaw on the Beach House was enjoyed by by all.
After a slow, relaxed morning we pulled anchor Sunday and cruised about 2.5 hours to Stuart Island where we found a great anchorage in Reid Harbor. Stuart Island Marine State Park is one of our favorites, with two great harbors for boaters, docks, mooring buoys and hiking. The rest of this 2.8 sq mi island which is only assessable by private boat or private plane is home to two communities of full and part-time residents, a state park, a one-room schoolhouse, and two airstrips. At the northern end is a beautifully restored light house which is 6.2 mile hike from the marine park.
The highlight of our two night stay there was watching a pair of Osprey’s fledge their chick. Those parents weren’t messing around either….despite juniors squawking and numerous attempts to get back in the nest, they had him flying like a champ by the end of the day.
Not only did we see ospreys, there were numerous eagle sightings, otters, kingfishers and we even saw a seal thermoregulating right near us for hours.
Our second day in Reid Harbor, we left the Beach House tied to a floating dock and took the Scaparre for a day cruise around Stuart Island. We anchored the boat in Prevost Harbor and had lunch, then continued the cruise around the island. It seemed fitting to have John cruise through John’s passage!
On Tuesday it was time to move on to Garrison Bay which is just a short 35 minute cruise from Reid Harbor
Garrison Bay has loads of history, some great hiking trails and the Wescott Bay Shellfish Company is just around the corner. Not only did we enjoy a great oyster happy hour there, freshly harvested mussels, clams and more oysters came back to the Beach House.
Our big excitement while we were anchored in Garrison Bay was seeing two Orca whales swim into the mouth of the bay. Hell yes, we stopped our happy hour on the flybridge of the Scarparre, jumped in our dingy and flew out there to check it out. We got close enough to see them surface a few times and head out through narrow Mosquito Pass. Orca sightings are very common on the southern side of San Juan Island but we have never seen Orcas come into Garrison Bay…what a thrill!!!
After two beautiful days in Garrison Bay it was time for a “city” fix! Roche Harbor Marina is the premier marina in the San Juan Islands and no cruise is complete without a stop-over there. Normally, Roche would be bustling with summer travelers but with Covid-19, the resort and marina were unusually quiet.
During our two day visit the resort and marina were operating at 50% occupancy as part of Washington’s phase 2 reopening plan. Even at that, we found plenty to keep us busy plus we had a birthday to celebrate.
We toured the sculpture garden, took a hike out to the creepy but historical mausoleum, had lunch at the outdoor cafe, checked out the historical Haro Hotel and its beautiful gardens, had a fun BD Happy Hour on the outdoor deck at the restaurant.
After two days in the big city we were ready to get back to the quiet outer islands. Sucia Island was our final destination and we found a unique way to raft/tie up there. The forecast was calling for a bit of wind that would blow into the bay so instead of anchoring we decided to use the mooring cans.
So far Captain John had conquered rafting on an anchored boat (with and without wind), tying to a floating dock, docking the boat in a busy marina, navigating Mosquito Pass, anchoring the boat for a picnic lunch and now tying to the mooring cans.
We spent our last two days at the Sucia Island State Marine Park. This 814-acre marine park with 77,700 feet of shoreline, abundant camping and moorage is a boaters dream. The main island and several smaller islands comprise the “Sucia group.” There are no services on this island and no ferry service but loads of camping areas, hiking trails and hidden coves to explore. Despite only being assessable via private boat Sucia is always busy during the summer.
From Sucia Island we cruised back to Anacortes. John and Kristen got to experience a “lumpy” crossing on the top side of Rosario Strait, the wind and tides were causing the lumpiness (2-3 ft standing waves) from the eastern tip of Orcas Island to Sinclair Island. That toughens up all new boaters for sure!!!
We had a fabulous 10 days with our Buddy Boat Scaparre and the crew, John, Kristen and Duchess. Looking forward to our next adventure!!!
Oopsie doodle…how time flies and how lazy have my fingers been, no post, no updates, nothing… Sorry …time just got away from me but all is well here in Anacortes Washington where we spend our summers.
We spent our first week in the coach at Pioneer Trails RV Resort moving onto the Beach House. The boat is mostly equipped with kitchen equipment, bedding and household items but there always seems to be plenty to move. Cleaning out the RV fridge, freezer and pantry is always a chore. We don’t leave much clothing onboard the boat – despite the heaters and dehumidifier we have running in our absence, boat funk smell seems to permeate fabrics – EWWW David!!! I always pack all of our freshly laundered bedding in big plastic, air tight storage bags when we are gone. So, while it is a bit of a chore getting the Beach House “opened” up for the season, I am not complaining!!!
Then, with a day onboard we took a short 2 day shake down cruise, trying to remember how to operate the boat and all its complex systems after almost 8 months on land. The poor pets didn’t even have a chance to get settled in before the engines were fired up and off we went – tough love baby!!!
Good news is, we kinda sorta remembered how to run the boat, nothing serious was broken or not working. And that my friends is very good news!! We had a short cruise to James Island where we met friends who were already tied up to the state park dock there. The current at that dock is wicked and getting on the dock when it is pushing you off isn’t always smooth or pretty. Luckily we had plenty of help and despite our lack of grace, our friends still let us raft on them!!!
We enjoyed our brief reintroduction to the water and then headed back to our marina to get ready for our next adventure – Buddy Boating!!! Stay tuned for that update.
Back at the marina, Wally had a project list to get cracking on cause it’s a boat. Boat stands for “Break Out Another Thousand” which honestly is true and not always that funny!!! In this case, it was more time than money. Our diesel heater needed to be serviced and Wally wanted to reroute a vent to our cockpit. YAY – heat on the back porch!!
Our other big project for the season is a flybridge remodel. Stay tuned for more on that too!!! What is a flybridge you may be wondering??? It is an open deck on a cabin cruiser located above the bridge on the cabin roof and usually having a duplicate set of navigating equipment. In our case, the flybridge is covered with a bimini and isenglass/canvas. While we do have controls inside the cabin of the boat, we always drive Beach House from the flybridge. Why?? Because she has a long bow and visibility is much better from the flybridge. 360 degree view to be exact…you would be surprised how often we have to dodge floating logs and debris in the water when we are cruising.
It’s great to be back in our sleepy little Anacortes. More sleepy than usually this year thanks to COVID. Anacortes is the hub for people who want to see the San Juans Islands. Ferry are operating and things are starting to reopen but people for the most part, are being cautious. The city has also been very cautious and cancelled all the big summer events that usually drawn thousand of people to this sleepy island. Of course, there are always the Aholes, that refuse to wear a mask or openly declare it‘s all bullshit. Don’t even get me started on that topic!!!
Our three week cruise in the Canadian Gulf Islands couldn’t have been better from a weather perspective. Lots of sunshine and very little rain make for a happy crew. We buddy boated with friends during most of the cruise and that was a blast too.
Our plans to head to Desolation Sound in BC were derailed when we finally got word that our new (to us) 2013 Entegra Aspire 42 DEQ coach was finally going to close. This deal had been 2 months in the waiting due to some issues on the sellers end and had been a source of frustration to us since June. That said, waiting wasn’t the big issue, it was the lack of communication from the dealer who had the coach on consignment. We held off leaving on the boat but finally decided that Fed-ex could get us documents somehow and maybe if we just took off it would finally happen.
Well damned if it didn’t!!! We finally got word the deal was ready to move forward just a day or two before we were going to make the crossing into the hinterlands of Desolation Sound. After some debate about how and where we could get the documents delivered (NO DOCUSIGN = LAME) we decided that returning to the US, signing the closing docs and taking possession of the coach was going to make us feel more settled. Plus, we were REALLY excited to get behind the wheel of our new rolling home, get her to Anacortes and start moving in.
We enjoyed visiting some anchorages that we hadn’t been to in years, some old favorites and some new places on the way back to the US. Pirates Cove is now on the list of favorites after a long hiatus.
A new favorite just over the Canadian border…Beaumont Marine Park. Great hiking, crabbing and fishing plus a mooring buoy field and amazing sunsets!!!
Another favorite we enjoyed was Sidney …great walking, shopping and restaurants. We had a great dinner at Sabhai Thai and a delicious lunch at Fish on Fifth. A day trip to Sidney Spit was very much enjoyed by Bentley who loves to frolick and play on the beach!!!
We ended the three week cruise with another night on a mooring buoy in Fossil Bay at Sucia Island. Crabbing was very good there so we came back to Anacortes with a full bucket of delicious crustaceans. I think they enjoyed the cruise back too!
Back on land, we quickly got possession of the coach which was in Poulsbo WA, got it settled into the storage lot in Anacortes and started moving all our stuff back in. We had boxed up and stored everything in the old coach so we could take it to consignment (not at the same dealer for sure). Holy Crapola, it sure is harder to move back in than it was to move out. I kept wondering out loud how we got all that stuff on the Cheetah. The new coach is five feet longer which in theory means there should be more storage …right? Not sure about that yet as it is all different storage inside and its like a puzzle figuring out where everything should go.
So you might be wondering why we “suddenly” decided to get a new coach…what was wrong with the other one and why this coach in particular. So honestly, there isn’t one thing that is wrong with the Cheetah…she has been a great starter coach for us. Our 2 month 101 road trip, in which we had a ball exploring the California, Oregon and Washington coast, re-enforced to us that we really love this lifestyle and hope to keep on exploring the US via coach and boat for many more years to come. So that said, we just decided an upgrade to our home was in order.
So…TADA…behold the new Road House!!! Isn’t she pretty…
After spending three winters in the Cheetah Safari, we knew exactly the upgrades we wanted so that helped us narrow our choice to three models of coaches. The layouts were all similar but after driving the Entegra we were hooked. Entegra builds all of its coaches on a Spartan Chassis which is a totally different design than the Cheetah. Founded in 1975, Spartan has been a leading innovator in the industry. They engineer and build their chassis to feel like a luxury vehicle. Their innovations include the independent front suspension and the rear tag axle. These two features alone contribute so much to the ride and handling of the coach. Without them, you would experience harsher bumps, louder vibrations and significant drifting on the road. The rear tag axle was a huge selling point on a coach this size. What is a tag axle you might be wondering? A tag axle is a third axle located behind the rear drive axle of a motor home. It is a non-drive axle with one or two tires on each side. The main purpose of a tag axle is to increase the support of the chassis at the rear of the vehicle, allowing for greater carrying capacity and shock resistance. Since there is less overhang behind the rear axle, it makes for a more stable ride and an easier drive. Additionally, the tag helps stabilize the coach in strong cross winds plus when a huge tractor trailer rig passes us we do not even feel the effects of it.
We love the interior design of the Entegra which is significantly more spacious than the Cheetah as it has four slide outs and taller ceilings. The main living space has a L shaped couch we can both lay on, a gas fireplace and a stressless reclining chair which I have a feeling we will both be battling for.
In the kitchen, upgrades include a full size residential refrigerator and more counter space thanks to the pull out cabinet that makes the counter L shaped. There are so many accent lights inside the coach and I am still finding new ones.
In the back of the coach is the bathroom with two sinks and a bedroom with a king bed – YAY. No step up to the bed, which I grew to dislike very much. Since the bed sits lower, there is less storage underneath it – which is a bummer for sure. This coach also has a compact stacked washer and dryer as opposed to our all in one Splendide unit that we installed on the Cheetah. I liked the all in one just fine and the extra storage in the Cheetah where the dryer is now on the Aspire will be sorely missed.
Other upgrades – hydronic heated floors, a heat pump with three rooftop units for cooling and heating, side radiator, on demand hot water heater, loads of electronic upgrades, outdoor TV, heated storage bays underneath the coach with heavy duty pull out trays… the list goes on and on.
Like the Cheetah, we opted to purchase another gently used coach with very low miles. The prior owners bought it new, had all the bells and whistles added and sadly, due to health issues didn’t really get to enjoy it much. The interior still had original tags on some of the furniture, stickers on the fireplace and shades. In the kitchen, it was obvious that the convection microwave oven had never been used nor had the propane cooktop. Buying a good used coach means someone else takes the big hit on the depreciation and hopefully has worked out all the new coach glitches.
That said, we fully expect to have a few things to repair and know that we will need to replace the tires within a year. Low miles on RV tires doesn’t mean anything. With RV’s, it’s the age of the tires as large RV tires age out due to UV. The average life of a RV tire is five to seven years. If you drive a car every day, you’ll probably wear out the tread in less than five. RVs spend most of their time sitting still. So your tires will probably need to be replaced before the tread wears out. Maybe it’s cracks from the sun or maybe it’s sitting too long with too little air in them. When your RV tires hit five year in age, it’s time to think about replacing them. It’s even more important with the kind of weight and load that an RV puts on them. The Entegra is a big girl, weighing in at a whopping 46,600 lbs so she needs the best tires you can get to keep her safely rolling down the road. We anticipated spending a bloody fortune on new tires so that was factored in when we negotiated the price of the coach.
Despite the hassles with the dealership, we are thrilled with our new home and can’t wait to get on the road again. The sun is calling to us and like birds we will be starting our annual southern migration in early October. Most likely we will make a stopover in Portland Oregon to see friends and if the weather holds, we may hop over to Eastern Oregon and then drive down the Sierra Nevada/California route to Palm Springs. As a tribute to recently passed Ric Ocasek, we will be rocking out to the Cars …“Let the Good Times Roll” as we glide down the highways and byways in the new Road House.
Our summer boating weather seems to be taking a turn towards fall. We headed out of Anacortes last Tuesday with bright blue skies, calm winds and water as flat as a lake.
Our destination was Garrison Bay on the NW side of San Juan Island. Wally wanted to do a bit of salmon fishing and crabbing is always reliable there.
In route we were treated to a lone humpback whale sighting in San Juan Channel. We might not have ever seen it if it weren’t for all the whale watch boats loitering around. There are legal guidelines for vessels that are in proximity to whales so we checked in with the captain of the Prince Of Whales tour boat. He clued us into the location of the humpback whale, which was right off his bow. Of course, we slowed down and loitered a bit to see the giant dude as well. I think it was feeding as it came us to the surface for brief periods and stayed in the same area for quite a while.
Sorry, no pictures… it was too far away but we did get to see a tail dive once. We have never seen a humpback in this area of the San Juan’s so that was quite a treat.
Cruising in the fall can be really nice as the boat traffic is minimal, anchorages are not crowded and marinas always have space. Weather is often still warm but fronts can definitely move through bringing rain and sometime wind.
No fish were caught but there certainly were some crabbies that came to visit. It was a relaxing 5 days, nice walks with Bentley on the Bell Point trail, a trip to Riche Harbor in the whaler for lunch and lots of cards with our friends who joined us on day two.
Just like a curtain dropped, it felt like fall did as well. A weather front was moving in which brought rain…lots of rain and eventually some wind was in the forecast. A small craft advisory was going into affect so we decided to head back a day early to get in front of that. What is a SCA and why do we care so much??? Well, A Small Craft Advisory is issued by the National Weather Service as a warning when winds have reached dangerous speeds. Sustained wind speeds that govern the issuance of a Small Craft Advisory vary depending on geographical areas, but are generally between 20 and 33 knots.
The inland waters of the San Juan Islands are generally somewhat sheltered from the worst of the high winds but to get back to Anacortes or any mainland area, one must cross over open straits which funnel winds from the ocean into the adjacent channels. Combine that with tides and currents and a potential ass whoopin can be yours if you don’t pay attention to the weather. Ass whoopin’s are something we actively try to avoid. So now that we are retired and have more time and good sense, if Wally the “weatherman” says we gotta go, we go.
Although we have over a month before head south in the new Road House (next post I promise), we were anxious to get back to Anacortes to finish moving in and perhaps do a short shake down cruise somewhere nearby.
Part of the fun of boating is exploring new places and visiting marinas that allow us to get off the boat and see some sights. Bonus points if there is a nice restaurant or pub nearby. Ladysmith met all the criteria so we were excited to check out the area.
The cruise over from Princess Cove was short and uneventful…nothing wrong with that. I had called ahead and made reservations at the Ladysmith Maritime Community Dock a few days prior so we were expected.
The Ladysmith Maritime Society which runs the marina is a 280-member non-profit charitable organization that has been in continuous operation since 1985. It’s really unusual to find a non-profit community marina and so well run to boot. The facilities are clean, up to date and beautiful with the hanging flower baskets on all the pier posts. The Oyster Café is housed in the community building that has a great room, laundry and shower facilities. Very charming and a easy walk to town where the 49th Parallel Grocery Store serves boaters and non-boaters.
Ladysmith has gained a widespread reputation as a picturesque, seaside community with small town charm located at the 49th Parallel. It definitely lived up to its reputation and we thoroughly enjoyed the bakery, butcher shop and the great grocery store in addition to all the cute shops on the main drag.
Ladysmith’s past is rooted in logging and fishing are is so many of the coastal town on Vancouver Island. The Ladysmith Maritime Society supports two neat little museums dedicated to the working boat heritage.
The other draw to Ladysmith is the close prolixity to the little art community of Chemainus. Luckily for us, the BC Transit System has a bus from Ladysmith to Chemainus for a mere $5 CAD round trip.
Chemainus’ claim to fame are the numerous and beautiful outdoor murals that you’ll find all over town! Look for the ‘footprints’ on the sidewalks that guide you to them … although they’re easy to spot without following them. Even the local Subway shop has a mural! This small community also has a thriving theatre culture. The Chemainus Theatre has a great line up of plays every year that people travel from all over the west coast to attend.
We put on over 5 miles trekking around town checking out the murals and shops. Thankfully, there was a great taphouse on our route so starvation and thirst was not an issue!
For all you non-boaters, Chemainus and Ladysmith are on Vancouver Island in the Cowichan Valley which is just north of Victoria. You can easily ferry to Victoria in your car or RV and explore all the natural beauty on Vancouver Island. The ferry system will also take you to some of the Gulf Islands which are well worth exploring.
Mining, fishing and forestry were the original industries that gave work to a diverse collection of people from all over the world including Chinese, Japanese, East Indians, Scots, and Germans. Some came to find their fortunes in the mines and when that didn’t work out they stayed to work in the forestry and fishing industry.
Billy Thomas is a great example of the local heritage. He was the first male child of European ancestry born in the Chemainus Valley, and lived here for all of his 102 years.
Of course, the Cowichan Valley has been the home of the original first nations peoples and their ancestors for countless generations and their history and lives became intertwined with all the various settlers and laborers.
So glad we finally made it to this part of Vancouver Island. Shore leave was throughly enjoyed by all including Bentley. He had fun swimming and playing stick on the beach which are his absolute favorite things to do.
We spent the last three nights anchored and stern tied to shore in pretty little Princess Cove on Wallace Island. The cruise over from Montague Harbor was a short but scenic 8 nautical miles. We were fortunate to find a nice anchorage in this picturesque little cove. Because it is a tight cove, rings and chain are drilled into the rock cliffs for boaters to tie to with a stern tie rope. This can be a tricky maneuver if the wind is blowing or the anchorage is getting full. Stern tying stops the boat from swinging 360 degrees after you anchor and provides more space within the cove for more people to enjoy the park.
Once we get the boat anchored, Wally takes our tender, the Boston Whaler, to shore with the line while I attempt to control the boat and try to keep the stern (which is the back of the boat) lined up with the shore. Once he gets our stern line through the ring or around a tree if there are no rings, he has to bring the other end of the line back to the stern of the boat. Then we pull the line tight which brings the stern of the boat back, close to shore. Then the line is cleated off to the boat and we relax!!
In this scenario, it was extra tricky as we ended up moving further down into the cove as high winds were being predicted and we were rafting with friends. We both ended up setting our anchors, drifting over, tying the boats together with both boats stern tied. Our boat was taking the majority of the wind but with two anchors down and two stern tie lines back to shore, we were snugly set for the next few nights. Damn wind never got too bad but there were some big gusts.
Wallace Island Marine Provincial Park, located in beautiful Trincomali Channel between the northern ends of Saltspring Island and Galiano Island, is a popular destination for boaters and kayakers exploring the southern Gulf Islands. We like the intimate protected cove that gives us access to numerous beaches and offshore islets that provide plenty of sheltered paddling opportunities in this picturesque park. Bald eagles, black-tailed deer and mink are common in the park, as well as harbour seals, sea lions and river otters, which can often be spotted offshore.
This park has limited development which is just what we like, but offers opportunities for swimming, fishing, kayaking, wildlife viewing and hiking. Walking trails will take you throughout most of the park, providing views of the folded rock formations that compose the island. Facilities are limited to an information shelter, pit toilets, picnic tables and 18 walk-in campsites at the designated camping areas of Conover Point, Chivers Point and Cabin Bay if you can get there by boat. A small dock is available at Conover Cove, as well as an octagonal dingy dock at Princess Cove. Sheltered anchorage and stern tie rings are available in Conover Cove and Princess Cove.
This island, originally charted as “Narrow Island”, was named after Capt. Wallace Houstoun, who first surveyed the area in the 1850s. Twisted fruit trees mark the remnants of the garden and orchard planted by Jeremiah Chivers, a Scotsman who retired here after unsuccessful adventures in the interior gold rushes. Chivers lived alone on the island, never marrying, and died here in 1927 at the age of 92. I find the history of these islands and people who lived on them fascinating.
After the Second World War, David Conover purchased the island and moved here with his wife Jeanne. The couple developed a very successful holiday resort on Wallace Island, and Conover became a successful author, writing four books – “Once Upon An Island”, “One Man’s Island”, “Sitting On A Saltspring” and “Finding Marilyn, A Resource”. In the first two books he described the couple’s struggles and joys after their purchase of the land in 1946. Their resort, the Royal Cedar Cottages, was advertised as having “a modern well-stocked store, cabins, recreation hall and boat rentals.” In the mid to late 1960s, Conover sold the majority of the island to a group of teachers from Seattle. Disagreements among the owners led to court proceedings and the property was again put up for sale. Wallace Island was purchased through the court ordered sale and became a provincial marine park in 1990 through the cooperative efforts of the provincial government and BC Marine Parks Forever. So glad the island fell into the Marine Parks system.
Our three days in pretty little Princess Cove were very relaxing despite the big wind predictions. We hiked, kayaked, played cards, read books, drank some wine (of course) and shared some delicious meals with our friends. Wally and I also went on a whaler exploration to nearby Thetis Island to check out Telegraph Harbor and have lunch at the pub.
From Sucia Island in the US it is just under 30 nautical miles to Montague Harbor in the Canadian Gulf Islands. On a calm day, crossing Boundry Pass is easy, just some gentle swells. On a windy day, this crossing can get really whipped up. The biggest obstacle is tankers or massive freighters bound for Bellingham Washington. They churn up huge wakes that can easily swamp a small boat and they don’t slow down for anyone. Get in their way and you will get blasted with 3 short horn pulls. LOUD – yes it is and we have seen this happen when a small craft gets too close. We give them wide berth and luckily didn’t encounter any on our calm, easy crossing.
Montague Harbor in the Canadian Gulf Island is a popular destination year around. There is a mooring buoy field, a provincial park, a small marina with a restaurant and store. On this stay, we met friends from the US and rafted together in the back of the bay.
Montague Harbor is off Galiano Island which is easily accessed by non-boaters by taking the ferry from the mainland Vancouver BC area. This is a great island to explore by car or scooter, which we have done in the past. There are some great hikes and a few decent restaurants inland. We heard there is a newer restaurant with a three star Michelin Chef on staff. Without a rental scooter or car, one can get to the Hummingbird Pub via the Tommy Transit bus that stops at the park near the marina.
A ride with Tommy from the Montague Marina to the Pub starts with Tommy’s big greeting when you board. His long gray hair flows out from under a big hat. Hawaiian shirt, yep thats his uniforms. Soon the music begins. For an old school bus, it has a pretty awesome sound system. As you board the bus, Tommy hands out tambourines, maracas, shakers and even spoons to anyone with a desire to shake their booty. Me, I play a. mean tambourine, especially after a few beers! Above Tommy’s seat is a percussion section mounted to the bus with cymbals, cow bells and drum boxes. Tommy drives with a drum stick in one hand, steering down the windy island road with the other. Pretty soon the whole bus is playing along with Tommy as he comes over the sound system with his insight on island living and the art of gratitude. On our trip to the pub, he started the ride with the song “Drunken Sailor” which of course had us all singly along gleefully.
Tommy announced his intentions for a second retirement. He has written a book about his bus adventures and how gratitude can change the world. Check it on on Amazon…”Tommy Transit’s Bus Tales”. What a cool dude…
The Provincial Park has some nice beaches, hiking trails, and a great campground. Of course, you need a boat or have to take the ferry to get to Galiano Island from the mainland. If you have never been to the Canadian Gulf Islands, you should put it on your list of places to see.
Rafting with friends is part of the fun of boating. Sharing meals, card games, chocolate or just hanging and reading a book is easier when you can walk across the swimstep of each other’s boats. Forgot something, herbs, olive oil, underwear ?? Usually between all of us someone will have it.