It’s been a mixed up year for Rich and I so I’ve decided to scramble around the account of our annual trip on Tug Time, a 29-foot Ranger Tug, and focus on the highly memorable parts.
With forecasts predicting rain, cold, and general dreariness for much of our trip, neither one of us was particularly gung-ho about going. We packed at the bitter end, tossing in clothing, food, linens, boating gear, and other “stuff,” which was on our check-off list. We’d started this list years ago so it also included things like sunblock, bathing suits, and shorts. None of which we anticipated needing this trip.
With spirits dampened by the weather, we didn’t rush to get to Bellingham. We arrived less than an hour before the orientation for captains and crew. Rich being the former; me the latter. We half-heartedly listen, ate hotdogs and potatoes salad, provided by San Juan Yachting, and then dragged our stuff down to the boat.
After unpacking, we realized we’d forgotten to take our fleece jackets and pants. I was in a bit of panic because it’s nice to pull on my fleece after showering, or first thing in the morning when the boat is chilly. With Mount Vernon 30-minute away, Rich agreed to drive back and get the extra clothing.
When we returned, around 9 o’clock at night, we were prevented from getting on Tug Time… by a very agitated and vocal seal, which was sprawled across the dock. Last year, when we were pulling into the slip, at the end of our trip, a seal was also on the dock. It slithered into the water at the last minute, before I needed to step onto the dock to tie off the boat.
The seal we encountered the night before our departure, however, had no interest in moving. He’d found a nice place to sleep, a few feet from where we needed to step onto Tug Time. Hearing my reasoning with the seal – I couldn’t decide whether he was going to bite if I eased between him and Tug Time – several people arrived from other boats.
One man scolded me for thinking I could get close to a seal. They evidentially have no reservations about biting, and their saliva is full of bacteria. Their sharp teeth can easily tear human flesh, resulting in a terrible wound and infection.
The man then shooed the seal into the water, allowing us to safely board Tug Time.
The next morning, we had an uneventful voyage to Deception Pass. Originally, we planned on going from Bellingham to Deception Pass via the Swinomish Channel, which separates Fidalgo Island from the mainland. However, it was an ambition plan, and if we couldn’t make it through Deception Pass, we’d be stuck until the next slack (point of minimum current) tide. The current through Deception Pass can be 8 or 9 knots, which can rapidly sweep a boat against the rocks.
I’m glad Rich opted for the safer route because it gave us time to explore Deception Pass Park and learn about the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
Established in 1923, the park now welcomes over 2 million visitors per year. It’s the most visited park in Washington. In the 1930’s the CCC built roads, trails, and sturdy stone and timber buildings, which are still in use today, including covered barbeque areas, restrooms, group shelters, cabins, and a conference center.
Two of the buildings are now part of an interpretive center, which has displays and a short movie on the CCC. It’s extraordinary (especially in light of today’s short-sited Republicans), the vision President Roosevelt had to put citizens to work on public projects, which not only gave them a sense of purpose, but significantly contributed to strengthening the country’s infrastructure (bridges, roads, dams, etc.) and recreational facilities (trails, parks, cabins, etc.).
I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Deception Pass Park, which previously, we’d only seen while zipping over the Deception Pass Bridge which connects Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands. And several times, we’ve walked in the vicinity of the bridge, venturing less than a quarter mile on either side. The park, however, is quite large with lots to see and do.
Oh Canada… You Treat Us So Well
The next morning, it was very overcast with less than a quarter mile visibility as we headed to Victoria, Canada. Rich and I both kept our eyes on the water, listening carefully to the VHF, and trying to make out shapes in the dense, gray blur.
As we were crossing the shipping lanes, which are like giant freeways for ships and commercial traffic, we got a call on the radio. The caller wanted to know if we were pulling a barge. It took us a while to figure out that he thought Tug Time was a commercial tugboat!
When surrounded by pea-soup-consistency fog, you need to constantly watch the radar
to spot ships before they appear, and then adjust your course accordingly. If a large ship is traveling 15-20 knots in a shipping lane, by the time they spot us, tugging at 8 knots per hour, it could be too late for either boat to avoid a collision.
It took us five hours to get to Victoria, with us passing many ship, but only seeing through the fog a couple of commercial whale watching vessels. These boats travel very fast and can switch course quickly so they often zip behind or in front of Tug Time on their way to drop-off and pick-up sightseers.
Happily, the rain held off until we finished going through customs. We then docked in a light drizzle, secured the boat, and briskly walked to Chinatown for dim sum. We were the only ones in the restaurant, but they graciously heated up left-over dim sum. It was a lovely, very late lunch.
We then walked around and darted into shops until the rain necessitated returning to the boat. We read for the rest of the afternoon, and watched a silly blue heron saunter on the dock, periodically poking his beak in the water, and then springing into action, seizing a small fish, tilting back his head, and gulping it down within seconds.
After dinner, the rain ceased, and we decided to venture out for a walk. The moon was bright and the air crisp. We had a very pleasant walk along the water, in front of the government building, through the Empress Hotel, and then back along the water where we saw a river otter dashing across the docks. On our way back to Tug Time, we started a conversation with two men who were sailing a 42-foot Hunter, named Perfect Excuse, to San Francisco. They’d been sidelined for several days in Victoria because of the weather, and were anxious to take off the following morning with forecasts of clear skies.
The owner of the boat was from Edmonton, Canada, where he works in the coal tar industry. We spent at least an hour chatting about natural and renewable energy, differences between Canada and the United States, politics, and the benefits of living in Mexico.
After arriving in San Francisco, the man was going to pick up members of his family, who would compete with him in Baja Ha-Ha, a sailboat race from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
The next morning greeted us with dazzling skies and a splendid drive to Sydney, at the top of Vancouver Island. Rich and I both love Sydney. It’s the perfect-sized town with everything a person could want, plus, it’s breathtakingly beautiful.
We spent the rest of day walking around, talking to a Canadian woman about her travels and life in Canada, drinking Americanos at Starbucks, checking out books on living in Mexico and Costa Rica, and enjoying the splendid weather.
Because we were both unemployed, and feeling very unemployable during this trip, we lapsed into thinking about packing up our lives and relocating to Mexico. We envisioned living in a cute house with a VW Bug parked up front, working at minimum wage jobs, eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and hanging out at the beach.
When we returned from our trip, I was convinced a great place to move, with affordable, newer houses walking distance to the water, is Barra de Navidad north of Manzanillo on the western coastline of Mexico. However neither one of us are the type to run-away. And after reflecting on what we really wanted – a house by the water with room for our “stuff,” the cats, garden, and opportunities to occasionally sail – we realized all we had to do was continue working for a years, and then move into our Coupeville house on Whidbey Island.
Back to America
We didn’t linger for long the next morning, knowing we had to drive for many hours from Sydney to Roche Harbor, check into American customs, and then zip over to Sucia Island for the night. Roche Harbor on San Juan Island, is one of my favorite marinas. It’s a treat to walk around and admire the historic Hotel de Haro, wander through the gardens, enjoy the other historical buildings, and meander through the sculpture park.
In the sculpture park, we hurried over to an easel with a polished mirror on it. Rich then pointed the camera at the mirror to snap the reflection of both of us. Check out the pictures to see how we look zoomed in-and-out. Last year, we had fun using this technique to snap our self-portraits.
I also wrote a wish and placed it in one of the prayer urns in the park, and then gave it good spin. One of the nicest aspects of the sculpture park is the ability to interact with the artwork, touching, spinning, opening, closing, and even using gongs to punctuate the silence with a pleasant peal.
We didn’t spend as much time in the park as usual because earlier I’d received an email asking me to write-up a document for a client… since I was the only person who had the knowledge. The challenge was remembering the details with nothing to refer to on my personal netbook. Once completed, I rushed to the café onshore, and sent the email with the completed document, and we were back on the water, heading to Sucia Island.
There are several places to moor at Sucia so we had no troubles getting a mooring ball. We then took our dingy ashore to walk around. It’s an interesting island, which in Spanish means “dirty” because of the jagged shores lined with hidden reefs and rocks that could do serious damage to a bottom of a boat.
The broken shorelines is from geologic folding of the earth’s crust, exposing not only fossils, but sharp, uneven rocks. Walking along the shores is fun because you can see layers of sediment along with imprints from sea critters caught hundreds of years ago in the mud. Plus, the island is irregular with several fingers and outlying islands, some of which you can be reach on foot at low-tide.
Because the island has many nooks and crannies to explore and protected bays, it’s attractive destinations for kayakers. Anchored in the bay were two ships with Un-Cruise Adventures, which offers expeditions through the San Juan Islands for adventurous guests who have access to the ships’ kayaks, paddle boards and inflatable skiffs to explore the islands, and go ashore to hike, bird watch, and wander through the towns where the ships stop.
For our second to last day, we went to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island to stretch our legs, leave our recyclable, empty trash, shower, and wander through a couple of stores. I was amused by one boat in the marina named “Bugsy Seagall.” People come up with clever names for their boats!
We spent the night anchored off Shaw Island, watching the ferries glide over the water, lit like giant ballrooms, and wandering if we’ll ever have the chance to once again charter Tug Time. We’ve enjoyed every moment on the boat!
(Continuation from “Bus Ride to Remember, Mural, and Painting with the Sun”)
After a delightful day at Thetis Island, we headed to Prince Margaret Marine Park off Portland Island. North of Sidney on Vancouver Island, Portland Island was presented to Princess Margaret of the United Kingdom in 1958 to commemorate her visit to British Columbia.
It’s estimated that Coast Salish natives lived on the island 3,000 years ago, as evidenced by several kitchen middens, heaps of crushed clamshells and other artifacts. The beaches resemble what you’d see on a tropical island, stretches of bright white, finely crushed shells. Interlaced with rocky areas, some covered with layers of sharp barnacles, and others stripped bare by the pounding waves.
The middens are classified as archeological sites, and are therefore protected under British Columbia law. It felt a bit strange to travel to the pristine island in Tug Time ─ equipped with a snazzy galley, featuring a propane stove and oven, microwave, double sink, wine coolers, and teak cupboards and drawers ─ and then walk in a “kitchen,” consisting of little more than well-worn rocks and piles of smashed shells.
While hiking along the forested trails of Princess Margaret Island, we spied several raccoons below, foraging along the shore for tasty morsels. One young raccoon nervously looked around, while snatching a small crab, clam, other crustacean.
We spent the night on a mooring ball off Princess Margaret Island, going through our usual food routine of wine with cheese and crackers as the sun started to set, followed by dinner, reading and nibbling on cookies until it was time to retire to the forward berth to watch a movie on the built-in entertainment system.
For this trip, we brought:
- Two bottles of wine
- Two boxes of Triscuits with assortment of cheeses
- Sourdough bread for dipping in olive oil and fresh ground peppers
- Two boxes of Zatteran Jambalaya mix, augmented with spicy sausage, chopped onions, and green peppers
- Salmon for barbequing
- Zucchini and cucumbers from our garden… sliced and eaten raw
- Dave’s Bread for Rich, and cheese pumpkin seed bread from a Chemanis bakery for me
- Ham and turkey for sandwiches with sliced tomatoes
- Burritos (made one evening, and then eaten cold for lunches and dinners) made from pork, green sauce, chilies, jalapeno refried beans, onions, and peppers
- Fruit and chips (Rich can’t eat a sandwich unless he has chips)
- Candy, dried fruit and nuts, granola bars, and cookies (from last Christmas)
- Cereal for breakfast with hard boiled eggs
The only food we bought was coffee from Pot of Gold Roasting Company on Thetis Island (because Rich brought tasteless Folgers coffee), can of refried beans, six ice creams bars from various marinas, and cups steaming coffee.
Perfect Day Once Again in Deer Harbor
Early Wednesday morning, we checked into customs at Roche Harbor. While we waited for the mist to clear before heading back into the Sound, we sipped coffee and watched people coming-and-going… primarily boaters like ourselves and people staying at the many resorts in the area.
Roche Harbor is one of my favorite towns; it’s gorgeous with beautifully restored buildings, cobblestone walkways, gardens, and planter boxes, overflowing with flowers, boutique shops, and quaint restaurants, inns, and houses. It also has a sizable marina with many impressive yachts. It’s the Huntington Beach of the Puget Sound.
After leaving Roche Harbor, we visited Jones Island, which wasn’t overly remarkable. We tied up to the dock and hiked to the top of the island, observing a troupe of porpoises in the waters below.
Our next stop was Deer Island, which is a short distance from Roche Harbor, but diametrically opposite in demeanor. It’s a charming marina with a well-stocked store, nice showers and restrooms (if you boat, you’d understand the allure of nice showers), a couple of low-key inns, and lovely walking paths along the water.
After securing Tug Time in a slip, we enjoyed giant cones of scrumptious local ice cream, while wandering around the docks. There was a silly pseudo junk, painted with saying and pictures, TV at the tiller and spinning sail at the top. The boat resembled a family project. Check out the pictures in the gallery.
The evening couldn’t have been more perfect with a sliver of a moon in a jet black sky, lights from the walkways reflecting on the water, and a restored, older sailboat with a giant light on the top, which shone down on boat and neighboring boats. Earlier in the day, we spoke with the owner of the boat. They live on the boat in a marina near Seattle.
The next day, we reluctantly left Deer Harbor, and spent several hours driving to Anacortes. It was the first time we’d visited Anacortes by water, rather than bike or car.
There’s a Nordic Tug dealer in Anacortes so Rich wanted to go aboard several of their boats. From the outside, Nordic Tugs are sharp-looking boats with pointed fronts, curved windows, impressive smoke stacks, and plenty of room to walk around the deck.
The insides, however, were disappointing. You have to walk up a couple of stairs to get to where you steer the boat (pilot house), and then walk down several steps into the forward berth. Several times, Rich bumped his head. Evidentially, a 34-foot Nordic Tug isn’t as tall inside as a 29-foot Ranger Tug!
Plus, the bed is smaller and v-shaped. Rich barely fit. And if I was in the bed with him, I’d need to sleep in a little ball because there wouldn’t be room for me to stretch out. After we got back to Bellingham, we bumped into a man who’d chartered a Nordic Tug, and without being coaxed, commented the bed would be too small for someone of Rich’s height.
The last night of our charter was spent at Chuckanut Bay, south of Bellingham. We’ve stayed at Chuckanut several times because it’s like being part of a giant diorama with houses nestled in the hills between the turning trees with trains whistling along the water’s edge. Within minutes of our anchoring, a lengthy train started across the trestle, maybe a quarter mile way, clicking-and-clacking and adding to the magic of the moment.
Across the bay, a Coast Guard vessel had anchored, perhaps a training exercise. They spent the night, their lights, like those on a luxury vessel, sprayed across the rippling water, adding to the moonlight. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful trip.
Even better, we immediately put a deposit down on Tug Time, to charter her again next September.
Bedwell Harbo, Bellingham, Chuckanut Bay, Cypress Island, Eagle Nest, Ganges, Gulf Islands, Haro Straits, Julie Lary, Puget Sound, rajalary, Rich Lary, Roche Harbor, Saltspring Island, San Juan Sailing, San Juan Yatching, scribbles, Shaw Island, Stuart Island, Sydney, Sydney Spit, Tug Time!
Rich and I just returned from our most relaxing, fulfilling, and truly amazing vacation we’ve ever taken. It was a major undertaking considering we were boating in the unpredictable Puget Sound and Gulf Islands, in late September (i.e. a recipe for bad weather), and on a powerboat versus a more familiar sailboat.
Last September, after the mainsail ripped from the self-furling mast on the usually fabulous sailboat, Wave Dancer – for the second year in a row – Rich decided our next charter would be on a small tugboat. We paid a small deposit to reserve a week on a 25-foot Ranger Tug. However, six month later, we were told the boat was pulled out of the charter fleet. Would we be willing to upgrade to Tug Time!, a 2010, 29-foot, Ranger Tug?
Months before our charter, Rich and I took a motorboat class to learn how to drive and dock a “single screw” boat so we were familiar with what to expect. Plus, while biking in Anacortes in June, we saw a group of Nordic Tugs, some of which were for sale. We decided to explore and while walking down the dock, I noticed Tug Time was sandwiched between several larger boats. I commented to Rich, “Isn’t that the boat we’re chartering?
The couple on the boat was spending the night at Anacortes, and was happy to give Rich a tour so he could get an advanced look at the electronics. This meeting proved fortuitous; Rich noticed the chart plotter on the boat was the same brand as his GPS. In the weeks leading to our charter, he put the wave points for our trip into his GPS, and then inserted its “chip” into the Tug Time’s chart plotter.
Voila! Our routes were instantly available on the chart plotter.
When we made changes to our trip, Rich would use the charting software on our netbook – Sputnik – to update his GPS, and then place the chip back into the boat’s chart plotter. Technology!
Doom and Gloom Lead to Zoom
This year, we decided to attend the Friday evening captain’s meeting, sleep on the boat, and then leave early Saturday morning. In the past, we’ve arrived early Saturday morning, loaded our stuff onto the boat, attending the captain’s meeting, and if everything went well, were able to leave Bellingham by noon.
On Friday evening, however, when we arrived, we learned the weather had been horrific for the past few days, and another large front was arriving with heavy winds and rain. I was convinced we weren’t going to be affected. Rich was more cautious.
Recognizing Rich is the captain and I’m the first mate, I tend to acquiesce to his decisions. However, since we were able to leave early in the morning, and had a powerboat, I talked him into going “as far as” possible on Saturday. The decision was to skip our first planned anchorage on Patos Island, and head straight for Stuart Island, a picturesque island with around 800 full- and part-time residents, squeezed into less than three square miles. The island can only be reached by boat or private plane, and has no stores or amenities… aside from a few outhouses by the campgrounds.
The islands claim to fame is the Turn Point Light Station on the very tip, which is the farthest northwest point of the United States. The view is magnificent on a clear day… and not too bad when it’s overcast. Rich and I sat on the point for few minutes, waving to passing whale-watching vessels, until the sun started to set. We then scurried back to Tug Time, anchored in Prevost Harbor.
Along the way, we chatted with a woman who was inventorying the contents of one of the island’s “treasure chests.” The chests are stocked with t-shirts, cards, hats, and other souvenirs. Each item comes with an envelope. If you want to purchase something, you take the item and the envelope, and when convenient, enclose a check in the envelope and drop it in the mail.
The woman said most people are honest and pay for the items they take. Nevertheless, they’ve had some thefts.
Even though it was a stormy night, we had no issues or concerns about being washed onto the rocks because we were securely tied to a mooring ball. The next morning, while overcast, we had no rain as we drove to Bedwell Harbor on Pender Island to check in with Canadian customs.
When you go through customs, only the captain is allowed to leave the boat (or even stand on the dock). We had a perfect docking, after which, I got back onto the boat and Rich walked up to the customs offer. He returned minutes later. Evidentially, our personal information is already in the Canadian database, and they asked only a few questions.
The Only Rain in a Week of Rainbows
With the sun breaking through the clouds, we zipped to Ganges on Saltsprings Island. The wind had picked up so we were thrilled when three men appeared to help as we pulled into a slip at the Saltsprings Marina. After tying up the boat, they asked us about the conditions outside the marina. Hearing the weather had improved several boaters cast-off and headed to other destinations.
We trotted inside Tug Time, gobbled our lunch, grabbed our rain parkas, and headed to the town. Just as reached the street, a rain squall started; happily, we were able to wait it out in the harbormaster office. It drizzled on-and-off for the rest of the afternoon, but for the most part, we avoided getting wet, by ducking in art galleries, shopping at the local supermarket, and seeking shelter under covered porches.
Saltspring Island is home to many artists, their work displayed in the galleries in Ganges. You can find everything from bronze sculptures costing tens of thousands of dollars to Aboriginal art (wooden masks and carvings), beaded jewelry, fine oil and watercolor paintings, ceramics, handmade furniture, and outdoor art pieces. One gallery had carvings from woolly mammoth tusks, unearthed in the Yukon Territory.
We wandering off the main “drag” to a co-op gallery where we had an interesting conversation about living on Saltspring Island, and US versus Canadian politics. Evidentially, during the school year, there are three water taxis called The Scholarship, The Graduate and The Ganges Hawk, which pick up children living on Galiano, Mayne, Saturna, and Pender Islands, and take them to schools on Saltspring.
Older children, who are involved in sports, music, and other activities, which take place after school hours, can stay with families on Saltspring and return home on weekends.
Ganges is the main town on Saltspring so the grocery store is stocked with a wide variety of goods, including high-end products, wines, meats, cheeses, produce, and pastries. Last year, we indulged in almond tarts from the store, which I quickly sought out this time!
The tiny tarts are amazing with a flaky crust, and layers of raspberry jam, almond yumminess, white glaze, and drizzles of chocolate!
After we got back to the boat, Rich checked out the weather forecast, and learned a front was hours away. He immediately jogged up to the harbormaster and paid for another night at the marina. Sure enough, by early morning, the wind was blowing and the rain pelleting down. It rained, hard, for over nine hours!
Meanwhile, we were cozy warm in Tug Time, watching some crazy kite boarders in wetsuits fly around Ganges Harbor… for hours! I got cold just watching them catch air and then land in icy cold water!
By late afternoon, the rain slowed. Unexpectedly, we were offed a ride into town, which provided a much needed opportunity to stretch our legs and get some fresh air. We also chatted with a couple who were on a boat near ours. They too rushed off their boat when the weather broke.
Visits to Our Favorite Towns
The next morning, Monday, we were greeted with blue skies. We headed to the Sydney, at the tip of Vancouver Island. We’d briefly toured this town a few months ago when we spent a long weekend in Victoria. It’s a darling town, and like Ganges, full of art galleries, bookstores, and small shops. It also has many bakeries and chocolate shops, thick with people sipping coffee and snacking on ornate desserts like tarts, small frosted cakes, chocolates, and flaky pastries. Rich, who has more willpower than I, successful negotiated us away from sugary temptations.
Instead, we bought a box of crackers and carton of milk at a supermarket. Boring!
Note: We had on board York Peppermint Pattie brownies, which I made for our trip so we wouldn’t be deprived of chocolate. In addition, I brought powdered hot chocolate with ground-up candy canes for warming up on chilly nights. Yes, I’m the scavenger who buys boxes of slightly stale candy canes after Christmas.
After leaving Sydney, we zipped across the water to Sydney Spit, a favorite picnic area. During the warm months, a water taxi takes people from Sydney to Sydney Spit. Plus, boaters come from Vancouver and other surrounding islands. Being it was late September, we were one of only three boats anchored near the spit.
Even though the sky was darkening, we lowered the dinghy and went ashore. Happily, the wind pushed the darkened sky another direction, and after half an hour, we saw clear, blue skies. Hooray because Sydney Spit has some of the finest beaches in the area, making it a great place to take off your shoes and walk in the sand, beach comb, watch flocks of seagulls, tour the site of the old brick factory, and wonder if you’re going to get wet wading across rivulets because you misjudged when the tides was coming in!
No, we didn’t get wet, but we did gather rocks and shells, a rusty hand-wrought nail, and half a brick. We also took lots of pictures.
Rum, Pears and Potatoes
The next day, Wednesday, was even better weather than the day before. We left Sydney Spit and headed to the Haro Straits where it’s been reported orca whales swim. I have my doubts because we never see them. I’m convinced Disney created orca automatons, which are programmed to surface whenever a whale-watching vessel passes by. The automations never appear when other boaters are in the area.
We spent about an hour in the Haro Straits, toying around, waiting to see if an orca appeared. No luck. Next year, we’ll spend the night in Victoria, which will necessitate traversing the full length of the strait and thereby increasing the probability of an orca siting.
By law, you need to check into US customs when you cross into US waters from Canada. This requirement makes it necessary to either visit Roche Harbor or Friday Harbor. We chose the former, which is a charming, picturesque, resort-like town. Check out the pictures I took of the town and the sculpture garden.
The only thing disagreeable about Roche Harbor was the customs officer who not only asked Rich lots of strange questions, but wanted to come aboard Tug Time and question me!
While still in the customs office, she queried Rich about the amount of alcohol we had aboard. Rich said we had part of a bottle of wine we’d brought from the U.S., an unopened bottle of wine from Canada, and several beers (we took three beers and when our charter ended, Rich had managed to drink two).
The officer then implored, “Any rum?”
Rich was dumbfounded by this question. The only conclusion he could draw was she saw on our passports we’d been to the British Virgin Islands twice, and were perhaps Rum-alcoholics
When the officer came onto Tug Time, and took a look at me, she wondered why I didn’t look like my passport picture (taken ten years ago), and when she asked to see my driver’s license, Rich commented, I wouldn’t resemble that photograph either! In both pictures, my hair was longer and I weighed a “bit” more.
The officer then wanted to know what was in the canisters on the counter.
“Coffee and hot chocolate.”
She opened the former to verify I was telling the truth. She then pointed to a bag of pears and asked if they were my potatoes. I said, “No, they’re pears.”
Her next line of questioning was where we were going. Rich said “Blind Bay off Shaw Island.” She wanted to know “what was there.” Rich in a flat tone-of-voice said “Mooring balls.”
I don’t think she was impressed with his answer because she probed further. It was obvious she knew little about boating and the surrounding area because Shaw Island is a popular, protected anchorage, which is close to Friday Harbor, Roche Harbor, Rosario, and other marinas which fill up quickly during the summer months.
Even though Shaw Island is privately owned, with only 240 year-round residents, and very few commercial or tourist-oriented facilities, it’s a great place to bike and walk around. We went ashore and bought a few things at the store, pet a large black-and-white cat, spoke to some semi-tame deer, walked for an hour or so, and took pictures.
As we were leaving, a Washington State Ferry arrived, which afforded me the opportunity to take pictures of the ferry from water-level at twenty or so feet away. At night, the ferry is awash with lights and looks like a floating palace. Even though few people get on-or-off the ferry at Shaw Island, the ferry is very large because it starts at Anacortes and drops off people and cars at several different islands.
Perfect Vacation Comes to an End
Thursday, our last day on Tug Time, was equally wonderful. Early in the morning, we went to Cypress Island, grabbed a mooring ball, and then rowed a shore. We didn’t put the outboard engine on the dinghy because we needed to carry it onto the shore so it wouldn’t float away when the tide came up. Most of the places we visited during our trip had dinghy docks.
With camera and Windows Phone in hand, we hiked to the top of Eagle Nest, the top of island, which provides 360-degree view of the Puget Sound from Mount Baker across to Canada. Using my phone, I shot a 1-minute video, which I edited when I got home.
Last year, we found an 1899 Indian Head penny wedged in one of the rocks on Eagle Nest. Rich decided to leave a penny this year and see whether it’s still there when we return in the coming years. It’ll help answer the question as to whether a coin from 1899 could have remained hidden for over one hundred years.
Needing to get Tug Time back to San Juan Yachting by noon on Friday, we decided to spend the night at Chuckanut Bay, south of Bellingham Bay. It’s a lovely area that reminds me of a model train diorama with pretty houses nestled among evergreen and fall-colored maple trees on a hill overlooking a calm bay, dotted with sailboats. Every so often, a train weaves through the houses, appearing and disappearing behind the trees.
With the clickity-clack of the train in the distance, and Tug Time gently bobbing in the water, we fell asleep, our vacation nearly over. The next morning, we fueled up, eased it into its permanent slip in Squalicum Harbor, cleaned-up the boat… and then reserved it for another week-long trip next September!