ONE DOOR CLOSES AND ANOTHER OPENS…

It’s a wrap on another summer on the boat and with the borders closed we couldn’t venture out of the San Juan Islands again this summer. That said we had a most excellent summer with loads of friends visiting. The parade of visitors started in June and didn’t end until September.

We did a lot of day cruises this summer and it was fun to show off the beautiful San Juans. Vendovi Island with its peaceful nature preserve was a hit with everyone we took there. The Beach House also hosted several friends for longer multi-day cruises. It was a blast having friends onboard and spending time together in some of our favorite gunk holes in the San Juans.

It was also fun to show off our charming small town Anacortes. Even as a land based destination, there is a ton to do in the area. Whale watching, hiking, biking, pickleball… we also took several trips up Chuckanut Drive, toured and lunched in Bellingham. I hope I sent everyone exhausted or at least tired of us!!

One highlight was taking a flight around the San Juan Islands with our friends John and Kristen. They flew their Piper Warrior – Valentina to Anacortes from Newport, Oregon to meet up with a gang of us from our winter playground in Palm Springs. John is a great pilot and we have flown with him and Kristen several times. Wally especially loves it as he has a tiny bit of experience flying so it is alot of fun when John lets him take over the controls.

We also had our first boat tow ever… our early season shake down cruise to Stuart Island turned into a break down cruise – Ugh, definitely not a highlight!!! We have two engines on the Beach House and could have motored back on one engine but the broken shaft was a huge liability and had it become disengaged from the boat, bad things could have happened. I gotta say being towed is uber boring as you can’t go very fast and a bit embarrassing but the Tow US folks from Friday Harbor did a great job getting us safely back to Anacortes. There were a few tense moments with our insurance company as they were not excited about a 35 mile water tow. Of course we broke down at the furthest most outer island. Luckily, it all worked out and they realized after some explaining that there was no where closer to tow us that could accommodate our size boat for repairs. We ended up moving back onto the Road House for two weeks while the boat was out of the water for repairs. Alls well that ends well and a few boat units were spent to get us back in the water!

The other big excitement that happened this summer was the fire in an abandon building next to our marina. This mysterious fire broke out at 1 am and engulfed the old, decrepit, rat infested building quickly. Bentley was our smoke alarm, he woke Wally up when he smelled the smoke and was insistent that Wally get up, even after being told to go back to bed. Some how I slept through the whole damn thing, but woke up to the over powering smell of smoke and charred wood. After jumping out of bed and looking around, Wally sleepily told me the building burned down. HUH…by the time I got up, the building was a smoldering pile. The fire department was there for over 10 hours making sure there were no hot spots remaining. Despite our close proximity, our marina wasn’t damaged. Had there been wind, our old wood structures would have been at great risk. Guess we can thank the arsonist for at least choosing a calm, windless night.

We also did a whole LOT of crabbing not far from our marina … our 13 ft Boston Whaler is a perfect crabbing machine. I think we tagged more than 160 crabs… NO, we didn’t eat all of them…YES, we shared them with friends and YES, I have frozen crab in the freezer. Many a crab feed ensued this summer… and there will be crab cakes this winter!!!

20 plus years of boating in the San Juans and beyond… we have enjoyed every minute of it too. Retirement has been interesting and nothing like we initially envisioned. Our ideas of what we want to do during these healthy years before we need walkers is becoming a keen reality. Nothing like turning 60 to make one introspective… But seriously, its a big world and with that in mind we have come to the reality that now is the time to close a few doors and open a few others…

Our travels in Road House the next 18 months mean a long hiatus from the Beach House. The Great Loop has long been a dream of ours as well. This year long, 6000 mile adventure called the The Great Loop is a system of waterways that encompasses the eastern portion of the United States and part of Canada. It is made up of both natural and man-made waterways, including the Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, the Rideau Canal, and the Mississippi and Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. I have been a member of the America’s Great Loop Cruiser Association for years and we have been gleaning information from the website and forums. The big winter rendezvous is being held in Fort Meyer where we will be wintering so we re enrolled in the 3 day event and educational seminars. SO EXCITED…

We considered shipping the Beach House to the east coast to do the loop but she really is a PNW boat.

Then, there’s the possibility that a house might be built eventually in Anacortes on the lot we bought last summer. Right now, it’s just a bare 1/3 acre lot with an amazing view of the San Juans.

So, the Beach House is under contract . Yep, we took all our personal items off the boat before we left Anacortes, put it all in storage and signed a purchase/sales agreement with a great couple we know from our marina.

It was an emotionally difficult decision as we love the Beach House and have had 6 great years cruising on her. We have kept a boat at Anchor Cove Marina for almost 20 years. It’s been our “Cheers”, it’s been our go to place to relax, it’s been the gateway to fabulous adventures and most of all its been the place we have made wonderful friendships. Closing up the Beach House and taking that last walk up the dock was sad. Sad as it was, change has been really, really good for us and as hard as this was we are both excited to open the door in the next chapter – no walkers for us yet!!!

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”!!!

Goodbye 2019…Hello 2020…

WOW, the third anniversary of Our38ftlife was December 12th and this is our fourth winter on the road. Change seems to be constant and this last year brought a new coach, a golf cart and now a lot remodel in Palm Springs. Life is good and we are still really loving this new chapter of our lives. 

We names it the Out House…LOL!!!

So technically, we aren’t really on the road right now and have settled into our winter digs in Palm Springs. While some may not consider us “full timers”, we don’t live in a house, we travel/live in a 43 foot motor coach and a boat. Our first two winters, we moved around a lot, mostly in the SW and California but found that to be exhausting. We are part of the group of folks who like to sit longer in one place and not move every few days. That is a lifestyle choice for sure and when you undertake this lifestyle you don’t know what you don’t know!

Footings for the outdoor kitchen area


We also didn’t realize that we would miss that sense of community that you have when you are in a S&B house. However, the great thing our current chapter is that we are the authors so we can change the direction of the plot anytime!

My friend Kristin and I hanging out with Barbara Eden.
She was so charming and looks amazing at 88 years young!


We had a better idea after our second year how we liked to “full time”. Summer on the boat with part of that time hanging around Anacortes Washington. Fall traveling in the coach with short hops of less than 250 miles and a few days to a week in each place. Winter in one place in the coach – for now thats the Outdoor Resort Resort Palm Springs. Spring we travel again for a couple of months, again short hops with stays up to a week. This next summer we are going to mix it up and travel to Alaska in the coach.

Hoping to see some wild mountain goats in Alaska!!


Yep, 2020 will be an interesting summer as we caravan to Alaska with a RV group. The trip officially starts in Great Fall Montana and will end in Prince George BC. We will cover over 5,700 miles in 63 days seeing the Calgary Stampede to Denali National Park and so much in between. We have never done a RV tour with a group but we have three other couples we know who are going as well so I have a feeling we will have a ball! 

That will mean less time on the Beach House as we want to spend time in Wyoming and Colorado in the fall. The New Road House is going to get some miles put on her for sure!

Water time is always a good time.



For now, we are 6 weeks into our winter stay in Palm Springs and have been enjoying catching up with friends here at the Outdoor Resort and in Palm Springs. Comedy shows, concerts, checking out new restaurants, a trip to AZ in the coach, pickleball, copious happy hours and a lot remodel. Yep, we haven’t been bored, that’s for sure!

Hosting a lot crawl Happy Hour!!!
A mini balloon festival right on our golf course!!!



The 38ftlife Crew wishes you much happiness, joy and good health in the New Year.