San Juan Islands Exploration – Vendovi Island

While I see patients during the week and Larry teaches people how to drive boats and navigate for Freedom Boat Club, we are focused on getting stuff done.  On the weekends, we have time to explore our region around Anacortes and the San Juan Islands, especially when we have the good fortune to use one of the Freedom Boat Club boats, an employee benefit for Larry – and for me, since it saves me from fighting off “we need to buy another boat!”. 

Over Father’s Day weekend we were able to take a boat out and cruise, or zoom, over to Vendovi Island.  On the little Jenneau NC 895, [Editor’s note: The boat pictured below is actually a Defiance San Juan 220, also from Freedom Boat Club, but from a later weekend when we went back with Miranda]. we flew there at 25 knots and zipped into the little dock as the only other boat when we arrived. On our Nordhavn this would have taken a couple of hours at 8 knots, and we would not have been able to tie up or anchor in the tiny little harbor because of our size.   

The boat we were on for the day is the smaller one at the foot of the ramp.

Vendovi Island is part of the San Juan Preservation Trust, an organization focused on preserving land as nature preserves in the San Juan Islands.  This island was originally used by the Coast Salish peoples for many many years as a summer home.  They harvested camas bulbs from the hillside, which they maintained as fields through strategic use of controlled burns. 

In 1841, Charles Wilkes’ Navy exploring ship passed by and named the island after a captive on their ship whom they apparently had decided they liked – Fijian chief Ro Veidovi Logavatu. In a classic white man error, his name is misspelled in the island name.  You can read a bit more about the original exploration and the chief here.  Over the years in the 1800s and early 1900s the island was used for a fur farm, for sheep farming, as a homestead and even a religious compound for followers of Father Divine.  In the 1960s the Fluke family, of  Fluke Electronics, bought the island for a private retreat and held it until 2010 when they put it up for auction and the Trust bought it.

The path leading up into the woods.

Now the island has several miles of trails crossing the island from the harbor through deep woods to a high bluff overlooking the water and a panoramic view of some of the islands. There is a picnic table near the dock where you can picnic and look out over the water. There is a public restroom, but it is closed now during the pandemic for sanitation reasons.

One of the two types of slugs we saw LOTS of on the walk.
A very cool fungi.

Lots of scenic nature to explore close to home! If you are boating in the San Juans and anchored nearby, this is a great dingy spot for exercise, perhaps a bit of solitude and communing with nature.

The little houses on the pilings are for purple martins, trying to repopulate the region. The dark purple bird on the left is the male and the lighter colored on is the female.
I continue to be amazed by the ferns – huge, deep green and lush.

Staying Safe… Staying at Home

It has been just over a month since we left Miss Miranda at Marina CostaBaja in La Paz and returned home to our condo in Anacortes, WA… and the “Stay at home” order. The photo above shows the view of the Skyline area from our condo, pleasant save for the empty slip in front of us!

Catching up

To rewind a bit, we returned to La Paz from San Diego at the end of March, having decided to leave the boat and return to Anacortes. That left us with less than a week to find a slip for the season and prepare the boat for our extended absence.

On the nearly empty Alaska airlines flight from San Diego to La Paz in late March. There was one other passenger on the flight. Yes, it is jarring to Gwen to see that we weren’t wearing masks!

Fortunately we were able to secure a slip at Marina CostaBaja, which we have paid for through the end of December. At first we were worried that the slip might be too tight to get into, but it turns out to be a great fit, with fingers (and cleats) on both sides.

Miss Miranda tied up at Marina CostaBaja, courtesy of our friend Chris from SV Reality Check

Next, we starting going through preparations for long term storage, helped tremendously by a checklist from friends Laurence and Penny on MV Northern Ranger II, another N50 that lives at CostaBaja year round. This included things like emptying the refrigerator and freezer, closing through hulls, filling the water tanks, shutting down non-essential systems, etc. Fortunately(?), our SubZero freezer failed in Mazatlan (no, we are NOT kidding) so we had less stuff to give away.

We arranged to have a boat watch service along with regular diving and boat wash with La Paz Cruisers Supply. They check the boat at least once a week and wash and dive on the boat monthly. We are fairly confident that the boat will be in good shape when we return, though we have been warned to expect that something (things) will fail over this long layover.

As an aside/update on the fuel delivery system, we did get a warranty replacement fuel manifold delivered to us in San Diego, thanks to outstanding effort from our guy Ian at Philbrooks and terrific product support from Racor. Unfortunately, we wound up having to pay import duty when we brought it in as checked baggage at Cabo, in spite of showing the Temporary Import Permit. We were under the impression that the TIP is supposed to exempt us from duty on replacement/repair parts. Apparently not. Anyway, the manifold is on the boat, but not yet installed. That will be job one when we return.

Life at home – Larry

I hit my “official” retirement date the week after we returned home. I have to admit that I was not at all pleased that we came back from Mexico and not happy that my entry into retirement coincided with the quarantine order. With (plenty of) time for reflection, I have realized that I have much to be grateful for. We are safe and healthy. We are fortunate not to have to expose ourselves to the virus, unlike all of the people out there that are doing the critical jobs – obviously the healthcare workers, but the folks that work in the grocery stores, restaurants and all the other folks doing things that we need but take for granted. I am grateful for the beautiful weather we have had and the ability to out for walks, bike rides, and even play the occasional game of pickleball (exercise is NOT forbidden by the stay at home order). I am grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with friends, even if it is virtually. I am very grateful for the opportunity to see Miranda.

In terms of keeping busy, I have started roasting coffee again and have even done some batches of homemade half sour pickles, reminiscent of Gus’ Pickles in New York.

Homemade half sour pickles…. Yum!

I am not sure what I am going to do over the summer. Gwen will tell you about her job prospects, but I need to find some way of keeping busy in retirement. I was hoping to find something in the boating industry, but obviously, the pandemic has shut that down. I have signed up for a combined ABYC/NMEA certification course (on Marine Electrical Systems and Electronics) that I hope will still happen – it is scheduled for November. In a bit of good news, Fishing (and therefore, I assume, recreational boating) is reopening on May 4th. My hope is that if/when the boating season opens, I can put my Captain’s license to use, perhaps helping people move their boats, doing deliveries, etc. I am also hoping that some of our boating friends will take pity on us and invite us out on their boats!

And in a bit of a midlife crisis moment, there are conversations ongoing with unnamed friends about buying an inexpensive sports car to use for “High Performance Driving Experiences”, which is fancy for hauling ass at a racetrack.

Of course, there is always the thought of filling the empty slip with a little boat for fishing/playing.

Life at home – Gwen

I am relieved to be at home, although sometimes get wistful at the thought of what we have missed the last month in Mexico. But I know I would not have enjoyed the uncertainty of being there during this time, even if in a beautiful place. Fortunately, I seem to be able to fill my time easily with cooking, reading, working on Spanish, wasting time on a game my brother introduced/addicted me to, naps, and finally taking up yoga.

The job I thought I was coming back to suddenly dried up right before we came home, so my plan to work for most of the time we are home was suddenly upended. The healthcare industry in the US has taken a big financial hit due to shutting down revenue generating procedures like surgeries, etc. My field, primary care internal medicine, is generally a money loser in healthcare, so believe it or not, many places are laying off primary care doctors. (I know this will sound extremely strange to any reader from outside the US. I am more than happy to talk about this off the blog to anyone who wants to know more!)

Luckily, I am part of the Public Health Medical Reserve Corps for King County, and this has provided me with an outlet for my desire to help. I’ve been doing one or two shifts a week providing telephone medical coverage for the isolation and quarantine centers in King County. Some of those shifts have been quite busy with numerous calls, others very quiet, but I feel a little bit useful. It’s actually fairly competitive to get shifts, since so many physicians want to find a way to help, so I it hasn’t kept me as busy as I thought it would!

Fortunately, I was recently contacted about a new need for an internist on the Olympic Peninsula, so I will be working there 4 days a week for about 6 months. This is a real positive for me since I want to stay clinically active, and if Larry is going to buy both a car and a boat, I guess I need to keep my nose to the grindstone.

Concluding thoughts

We hope that everyone stays safe and survives this pandemic. Under ideal circumstances, we hope to return to Mexico in December to spend a season exploring the Sea of Cortez before bringing Miss Miranda back up to Washington in May of 2021. Of course, all of this depends on how the virus impacts Mexico. We just learned that the Port Captain of La Paz has prohibited all boating, save for commercial fishing in the region. It is also pretty clear that Mexico has limited capability to manage the crisis, both from a healthcare and general economic perspective.

We have friends that are still on their boats down in Mexico. We hope that they stay safe and healthy.

Rainbow over our neighborhood last night after a very stormy rainy day. Hopefully an omen of better days to come.
Another shot of the rainbow by the other blog contributor.

OK, as is often the case, each of the blog contributors took a rainbow photo. We need your help deciding which is best. Feel free to leave a comment voting for the first or second. We may reveal who took the “winner”.

Calling it done!

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Looking into the living room from the deck.

We moved from Seattle to Anacortes on January 27th of this year.  The plan was to live on Miss Miranda for a few weeks while we did some minor renovations on the condo that we own along with the boat slip.  We bought the condo a few years ago, but always had it rented.  We used the slip occasionally in the summer, but mostly rented it out as well.  Our tenant’s lease ended on December 31st, so we were ready to begin work in the new year.  Our initial plan… foolish in hindsight… was to limit the work to replacing the kitchen appliances and painting.  Everything changed the moment Gwen walked into the place and really saw the tired, mid-70s decor.

The kitchen cabinets were hideous.  OK, replace them.  The new appliances wouldn’t fit the old cabinetry without surgery anyway.  Disgusting carpet and 70’s tile – gone.  In goes new laminate flooring except the bedroom, which would get new carpet.  The place sure is dark.  Well, lets put in some can lights.  By the way, the downstairs neighbors took down the kitchen cabinets facing the living area, knocked out the wall next to the bar, and made it a peninsula.  Fine idea, we’ll do that too.  Very tacky bi-fold door to the laundry room.  We could replace with a barn door… cool!  What was one of the previous owners thinking installing a line of kitchen-like cabinets from the ceiling down 3-4 feet in the bedroom?  Out they go.  And while we are at it, lets add a built in closet and replace those mirrored doors.  And finally, about half way through the project, we decided that the ancient, ugly insert shower-tub combo had to go.  And the toilet.  And the flooring.  And the counter.  And the lighting.

So here we are on April 28th, and we can finally call it… DONE!

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Dining area and “office” over in the corner.

Actually, all of the work was completed earlier this week, including glass windscreens for the deck (forgot to mention that).  And we actually moved in on March 18th, but with work travel and various other committments, it has taken us until now to get unpacked (but let’s not even look in the garage).

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Looking at the kitchen. Before, there was a line of cabinets where the pendant lights are and a wall at the end of the peninsula.

We are very pleased with how it turned out.  The condo is small, less that 800 square feet, but we find it very comfortable.  Of course, we’re only here for another month before heading off to Alaska and then Mexico.

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The deck and the view.

We really like waking up to this view each morning…

Biking Around Anacortes

A beautiful spring day in Anacortes.  Time to dust off the bike and do some exploring.  We had head about the Tommy Thompson trail (https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/tommy-thompson-trail), and have seen where it crosses Fidalgo Bay while driving into town.  Today I decided to go find it.

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I rode in from Skline on SR 20… not many options here, and the shouldder is pretty decent.  I went to see if the local bike shop was open (it wasn’t) and then across to “R” Avenue.  The trail is a paved, multi-use path that runs beside it.  It winds through the boat yards on the way out of town and then out and across the bay.

I rode a little way towards March point.  This is a photo looking back across the Bay to Anacortes.  On the right is a trailer park owned by the refinery for recreational use by employees.

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This is looking back at the trestle across the bay.

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Finally, a shot from the trestle looking north up the Bay towards Anacortes and Cap Sante Marina.

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Our Land Base

The dock that Miss Miranda lives at is accompanied by a one bedroom condo. This is our land base for the foreseeable future. Miranda will have a place while we are away, and this will be a touchdown spot for us in between voyages.

For the past 3 years we’ve rented it out and not set foot in it. When we reentered in December, it was obvious it needed a LOT of work. It’s 40 years old and not much had been done in all those years. Remember 1970s avocado green and orange? We first decided to do the kitchen, paint and refloor and replace all the appliances. Along the way we decided might as well do the whole thing – a bathroom refresh is still in the works.

The old condo – you can’t see the 1970s orange flowered floor tiles in the kitchen!

Of course, as all remodels do, it’s taken twice as long as planned. To be fair, that’s partly because all the snow delayed the delivery of the kitchen cabinets by two weeks.

Yesterday, all the protective covering was removed and the new condo revealed!

Now we can clean the dust off and the movers will pull up with our stuff from storage on Monday morning. I am having a bit of a panic that we haven’t downsized our stuff enough! I’ve also realized that after nearly 2 months on the boat, there is not much I have missed from our stuff.

I can’t wait to enjoy the view through our newly revealed windows while sitting on the couch enjoying a cocktail.

Miss Miranda is right outside the window on the left.

Winter in Anacortes

We’ve finally made the move from Seattle up to Anacortes, where we own, but have rented out for the past couple of years, a condo in Skyline.  The condo is having some remodeling done, so we’ve been living on the boat for the past couple of weeks.  We were greeted with plenty of snow and cold weather, as you can see here.

We survived the winter weather surprisingly well. The boat stays plenty warm, though we are giving the diesel heater a big workout.  The biggest issue has been water (getting a bit low) and holding tank (getting a bit high).  The local pumpout guy made it over after the worst of the snow, and as soon as it warmed up, we will fill up the water tanks.

Here’s the view out of the port side of the pilothouse.

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And one looking back up towards the condo.  Our unit is just to the left, out of this photo.

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This was the view looking south from the Skyline Marina entrance the day after the storms.

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