Posted by John
This post has been difficult to write. Every time I think I have something to say, it changes. Every time I think I’m ready to post it, I have no internet connection. When I do have a connection, I want to change what I’ve written. This is the last planned post before we find our way to San Francisco.
In our story so far, preparing for cruising has gradually relieved us of the daily obligations of our normal life on land. The last thing to go was our cars. One day we had three. Forty-eight hours later we had none. Our transition from land to water was complete.
So many people, including family, friends, neighbors and even people we just met and hardly knew, helped us get through this transition. Often, offering just what we needed at just the right time. Our primary car expired a few weeks too soon. Our backup car was already a big oil loser with several additional problems. When our third, backup to the backup car, gave up and wouldn’t move any more, I really felt that, suddenly, they all were good for absolutely nothing. But then, our favorite mechanic not only said he could fix that car in one day, he offered to buy our nearly 280,000 mile, 24-year old oil loser, “Whenever we were ready.” The primary car made it to the scrap yard under its own power without catching fire, but there was smoke. The mechanic bought the backup car. And the third car, with one promising buyer changing her mind and backing out, went to auction. Finally, our attention could be placed entirely on us and the boat.
With no car, our neighbor loaned us her truck, and we were able to move the last of the boat stuff out of the transitional “safe house” and onto the boat. It is all still a mess, with every conceivable gap of a space getting something squeezed into it, but at least we’re gradually reducing the number of things stacked on the deck. We know we have everything we’ll need somewhere onboard, but finding it will be the problem. I’m sure we’ll have time to organize later.
In spite of the complications caused by the cars, we managed to get away from the Port Ludlow area for a while last month and run up to the San Juan Islands for a few days. (I guess it was a vacation.) We did it as an overnight trip, leaving Port Ludlow on a Saturday night and motoring non-stop to Sucia Island, arriving Sunday morning. We wanted to see how prepared we were for running all night. I’d forgotten how different everything looks when you can’t see it.
While in the San Juans, we spent a night at Blind Island State Park. What appeared to be a baby seal, looking and sounding like you’d think a distressed animal would, tried to climb over the transom of our inflatable dinghy (see last month’s post). Maybe our dinghy smells like seal, and the little one thought it was his mother? Perhaps inflatables are easily confused for seals by other seals? Whatever the reason, the thought is slightly disturbing.
After the San Juan trip we had a final tune of our rig done, which was never completed last year when the boat was re-rigged and we had to have a new bowsprit built. Our SSB/Ham radio antenna is finally installed, but the wind generator we bought a few months ago is not. We did a quick haulout at Port Townsend to touch up the bottom paint, which was thin in places. We took advantage of being on dry land in the boat yard to load more heavy items, including six golf cart batteries we bought from Costco to beef up our energy supply. We hoisted them aboard with one of the new mizzen halyards. In last year’s re-rig project, we put in multiple new halyards, long enough to at least reach the water, if not ground level in the boat yard. The old halyards barely reached the deck. The new batteries are in the boat, but not wired up yet. This is one more thing to do, hopefully before we go. We’re getting used to living on the boat, but living on water is one thing, living on a boat propped up by sticks on land is something else again, unless, of course, you have a tree house fantasy.
We spent a night and a day at Shilshole Marina in Seattle to pick up mail for the last time and say good-bye to family. Our stay there included running power tools and bright lights late into the night. If you were on one of the boats near us, we’re sorry, but we have to take advantage of shore power when we have it.
Thinking we should check our fuel before leaving Shilshole, we were shocked to see the gauge on “E.” Was it broken? No, we’ve just used a lot in recent months and we weren’t keeping track. (The tank gauges are on the tanks themselves, under the floor, and are not easy to keep an eye on.) It was late in the day, but being summer, the fuel dock was fortunately still open on a Sunday evening.
We’ve activated a SPOT satellite tracker to update our current position on a viewable web map once per day. There should be (or will be soon) a link on a new page called something like, “Where are we now?” or “Finding Mysticeti.” But since it may not be posted at the same time as this post, it may not be up yet.
From Shilshole we motored to Port Townsend, arriving after 11 PM. We anchored on the downtown waterfront, within a cluster of barely visible sailboats. We slept in the cockpit in case we had anchored too close and had to move quickly. One of those boats was s/v Slainte. We should be sticking fairly close to them from here to Mexico.
Our preparations for cruising are done. Our journey southward begins now.