Buddy Boating….

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

Beach House anchored near Greenway Sound in the Broughton Islands.

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.

The Scaparre

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.

Anacortes Marina…the breakwater exit (Gar left corner) is a tricky 90 degree turn. Remember, no brakes, wind and current…HINKY!!!

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.

Our cruise route around the islands…

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.

Beach House and Scaparre on the floating dock in Reid Harbor.

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.

Seafood Paella anyone???

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.

Happy Birthday Wally!!! John grilled some beautiful ribeye steaks which were served with a chimichurri sauce, baked potato and grilled asparagus. Kristen made the BD Boy a meyer lemon pie for dessert.

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.

Tied on the mooring cans stern to stern so we could step back and forth between the boats.

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.

We like Sucia Island so much we named our cat after our favorite play ground.
Sucia at Sucia Island June 2017.

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!!!

Time Flies…

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!!!

Love these blue crates for moving days!!

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!!!

Sucia is cautiously checking out the reflections on the water. Don’t worry, we always keep the door closed when we aren’t onboard!

Bentie found his favorite place by the heater vent!!!

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!!!

She’s looking good!!!
Rafted at James Island State Park with our sister boat Chardonnay.

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.

The view from our slip in the marina is actually Mt. Baker and the Cascade Mountains.

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!!

We do get some amazing sunsets right from our slip in the marina. This is a completely untouched photo.

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.

Yep, its does rain when we are out on the boat. This photo was taken from the flybridge looking out over the bow of the boat. This why our flybridge is completely enclosed!

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!!!

My latest mask… thanks Kristen. Perhaps my next mask should read – “Be considerate you AHOLE”!!!

Let the Good Times Roll…

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.

I love the treasure chest…I think my glasses were a great addition!

A new favorite just over the Canadian border…Beaumont Marine Park. Great hiking, crabbing and fishing plus a mooring buoy field and amazing sunsets!!!

A deserted beach just waiting to be explored.
Exploring in the whaler…so much fun!!!

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.

Yike…what a disaster!!!
So none of this was ours…it was all in the storage bays! 2 trips to the dumpsters, three trips to goodwill and a few things sold to make room for our stuff!

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.

Time to start personalizing our new home …adding some splashes of color!

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.

A Lone Humpback and the Beginning of Fall

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.

Photo courtesy of the Prince of Whales website.

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.

Couldn’t ask for a prettier San Juan day for cruising.

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.

Anchored in front of English Camp in Garrison Bay.

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 San Juan Ferry was taking the scenic and sheltered route to Victoria along Spieden Island.

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.

What a difference …so gray and overcast.

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.