Sunday, November 30, 2008

1st Year: Finally Underway: Gremlins Abound Aboard along the ICW 2008

                                               October 19 - November 4, 2008

What goes Where?
Our plan to depart Mears Marina at Kent Narrows on the Eastern Shore, near Annapolis, shortly after the Annapolis Boat Show ended on October 19 (we were committed to having our boat on display at the Boat Show per our agreement at time of purchase) went awry. Uncompleted commissioning, still more repair work and some detail work put off till after the show delayed departure. This delay put us smack in the face of winter on the way, with freezing, blowing, and very cold weather. We quickly realized why all the birds flying overhead were so loud in their honking honking...they knew better than we how bad the weather in Maryland was going to get & they were so delighted to be heading South !

On the eve of our already nearly 10 day delay in departure, an electrical wiring problem arose, complicating everything. YING, the Triple Type A from the corporate world has a VERY hard time accepting the fact that this NEW boat has so much trouble and that things fixed ONCE, break twice. YANG, on the other hand, is more philosophical, certainly more understanding of all these electronics and other things on board that go Break in the Night and he is certainly NICER to the repair folks than is YING. 

No wonder no one can Go Figure It Out

After 4 more long days of electrical repair that seemed to consist of mostly head scratching among the 3 - yes - three DIFFERENT electricians, Finally Fun was deemed Ready to Go on Halloween Eve, October 31. We cast off our lines with great relief and much excitement at first light on Saturday, Nov. 1.

We were finally On Our Way, beginning to fulfill our cruising dream of heading south to Charleston SC thru December, then down the East Coast of FL & to the Keys and then over to the Bahamas for the winter. We plan to leave the Bahamas sometime in April, heading back up the E. Coast, up the Hudson River at NY, in and out of Canada and into the Great Lakes and back into the South at the end of 2009. That's for starters. Ying has plans thru 2010, but Yang hasn't agreed just yet......grin

However, the gremlins and other demons that inhabit our engine room failed to depart on Halloween after the Good to Go, preferring to continue to haunt us. Five hours underway, down the Chesapeake Bay, with beautiful sunny skies and grins still from ear to ear since casting off, the port engine burped twice, shaking the boat. The grins disappeared and quickly turned to dismay as the engine kept burping and quitting. No amount of trouble shooting worked. We limped our way into the nearest cove for safe anchorage.

After a beautiful night under starry skies and warmish weather at anchor in Sandy Point in the Great Wicomico River, the burping engine refused to start at all and the coffee pot refused to turn on...
So worth the views!
 We decided that all the electrical problems and surging on/off must have fried the coffeepot as it was the only thing that generally stayed plugged in. YING is not to be messed with without her coffee, not an auspicious start to an already bad day...YANG is also highly annoyed....a rare sight.

We started our one engine float toward Deltaville, 18 nautical miles south. FIVE hours later, at 4 knots per hour, we limped into Deltaville. YANG was a wee bit green, as we had rolled our way down with beam seas pretty constant. He couldn't read the charts while underway, as rocking and rolling and reading at the same time is a stomach churning exercise for him.......So much for the belief that our semi-displacement hull might not need stabilizers, but now that we've already blown the budget, stabilizers are out of the question. Sea sick pills are a far less expensive alternative and will have to do if needed.
                                Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, November 2,3,4
We located the local fuel dock at the Deltaville Marina, and with the one engine, Andy was nervous about the docking and his ability to handle the boat. A sailor popped up out of his boat to assist us, but when Andy hollered he was having engine trouble and anticipated perhaps a problem, the poor man probably wished he were standing elsewhere -- without this huge boat coming at him!! 

Arriving early Monday, the mechanic quickly diagnosed the problem - an easy fix with a new relay switch IF one had the part. On Tuesday, no PART arrived and we are now hoping for a Wednesday delivery. This is a remote town on the water, away from UPS, FEDX etc. So many delays -- the YING personality CANNOT stand this - drives me crazy, even though I know the trip is all about the journey and not just getting to the destination. We've now caught a storm system, so even IF the part HAD arrived, YING would not have been able to talk YANG into departing for high seas, high winds and rain and fog. We may not get out of here til Thursday, now seriously WAY off schedule.
On the bright side, there are several boaters at this dock, all stuck like us. (Perhaps there is a conspiracy between the marina and the boatyard so the marina gets slip fees while the mechanics take their time....? Not really) We instituted Happy Hour aboard our boat - which the other boaters - all sailors – much appreciate due to the spaciousness within our salon (translate that to 'spaciousness' as compared to a sailboat!) We’ve spent a delightful two evenings with Jan & Marlene from Canada and Jim & Christine from England, trading boat war stories, etc.  

Amazingly, the Brits retired at 52, sold it all off, bought an old sailboat which they refurbished and promptly took off across the Atlantic to the US. They are entering their nearly second year cruising in the US and plan to just go/go! here and then heading off around the world. Jim, the Brit, did say upon questioning, "Well yes, the trip over the Atlantic was a wee bit scary!" He went on to say that upon arrival in the U.S. that he expected his wife, Christine, to say "Sell the Boat!" All Christine said was "Get me a bigger boat!" Their sailboat is up for sale so they can get a wee bigger boat....I admire their willingness to just go for it and to Just Do It.

Tonight it is Pizza aboard FINALLY FUN for all of us stuck in the rain at the docks and of course BYOB. This is a great source of new friendships and certainly learning experiences. YANG likes it too because after a glass on wine, YING shuts up and goes to sleep --- and the Honey Do List least temporarily 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I am now totally convinced that there is a 'deal' between the boatyard and marina (see comments above). We are spending money at a marina day after day when we could have anchored out somewhere, thereby saving the budget...but hanging in expecting the repairman.   The part, promised for delivery on Tuesday, is still NOT here....promised now for tomorrow. I'll believe it when I see it. So much for UPS and FEDX commitments!  It does not make me feel any better that we could not depart anyway as there are 5-6 foot seas lurking outside of this little river we are hunkered down in and that the winds are kicking up to 45 knots per hour (translate that into about 49 MPH), just waiting to toss us about. After four days in Deltaville, I could use a little excitement. Better be careful what I wish for...........

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hooray the $40 part arrived and in 5 minutes the engine was fixed. It's too late to pull out and the weather is still bad. We hosted Happy Hour again and we all celebrated as most of us will be able to pull out of Deltaville at first light tomorrow, heading south. Somehow, it seems obscene to be listening to Jimmy Buffet music wearing fleece jackets, sweaters and wool socks....
Where is my sunshine?

Friday, November 7, 2008

We pulled out at first light, heading to Norfolk and Portsmith, VA cruising through misty fog with the radar highlighting larger and larger purple triangles --- (BIG ships out there). In between the wisps, we can see the battleships, tankers and tugs. Adding to our apprehension --The chart here is confusing with specific shipping lanes just like an auto highway to travel in. Norfolk is one of the largest ports around and home to Norfolk Naval Station, one of the largest naval installations in the world. I got out my books and re-read the sections on these travel lanes - still confused, not a good thing as the ships are getting closer and larger.

I'd been saying for a few weeks now that I would know we were truly heading south when I saw dolphin (never saw any in the Chesapeake all summer). Suddenly, three dolphin appeared on our bow, playing in our bow wake for a few minutes. I take this as a sign that all the breakdowns are behind us and we are now truly on our way to a cruising life.

The dolphins peeled off our bow, disappearing from view, jolting us back to the nerve racking Norfolk harbor. As we got closer, the sun came out and all the purple triangles on our radar became huge visible ships of all types. We could see a HUGE Navy aircraft carrier coming out of the harbor a couple of miles off our bow, headed our way.  


Tax payor dollars at work - Chasing Finally Fun!!
Suddenly, a large US Coast Guard cutter came up fast behind us. Imagine, USGC coming alongside us (a slow moving 8 knots per hour trawler) hailing us to slow down.  Andy started laughing, saying (not too loudly) "what - do they think my wake will bother that zillion pound aircraft carrier??" Our choices" were to slow down and stay away by 500 yards or face a $250,000 fine or risk being shot at" sayth the Coastie on the hailer to us.   Some choice.       

Note the guns

We were tailed by a smaller USCG cutter with large guns aboard and a USCG and Navy helicopter passed over our heads several times as the aircraft carrier passed by. Pretty scary stuff and I kept taking pictures, hoping that photo taking was not a NO/NO. The guys and the guns were huge to me.
Stayed overhead the entire time

We spent the night at Oceanic Marina in Portsmouth in order to take on 500 gallons of diesel and to hit the ICW early early in the AM. The Marina is at ICW Mile Marker #1, right at the start. We have to make a bridge opening and two timed locks and if we miss one, we will be delayed by hours as they are in sync. 

After taking on fuel and securing the boat, we spent a few hours sightseeing in Norfolk via Ferry and spent time walking around Old Towne Portsmouth which reminds me of Charleston, SC with beautiful old (1700's) homes everywhere. I could spend a little more time in Portsmouth..

NOW I really feel safe.  Waking up in Norfolk to this sunrise.

Imagine waking up at dawn and seeing this sight out over our aft deck --- talk about feeling safe with all this firepower around us. 

Sunday, November 8, 2008

Out by 7 AM, through and past the battleships, bridges and locks into the Dismal Swamp. 

One sees everything in Norfolk

This one of two very different routes via the ICW (Intercoastal Waterway) to Albemarle Sound. Some swear to never travel the Swamp route again and some love it every time. This route opened in 1805 due to the efforts of George Washington and was opened to shorten the shipping time for commercial boat traffic. This portion of the ICW can be open or closed, depending upon water levels and it is the low and fluctuating water levels that cause boaters grief as their boats run aground.

Dismal Swamp
Today, the ICW through the Dismal Swamp is pretty with orange, yellow and red leaves on the trees lining the shoreline, falling into black tannic water. Along this 30 mile section, we see birds and a few slithering reptiles in what appears to be a primeval forest -- magnificent countryside.
We hug the middle as the edges are shoaled in and will cause us to go aground. It is harder than it looks to stay in the middle and every time one of us takes our eyes off the centerline to look around, we stray left or right, stopping one's respiration in response to the shrill screech from the other.  Dodging logs floating in the middle is a trick -- too far a swing around will set one aground. 

From time to time we hear things go BUMP under the hull....things we did not see. We stay well behind any boat that gets in front of us (go fast boats headed south in a hurry!) as they will churn up logs from the bottom and we want time to react to an object suddenly in our face. No wonder we go to sleep so early every night - we are exhausted from tension.
Andy at the Lock

We successfully negotiated the two locks:   the one at Deep Creek and the other at South Mills with no mishaps, figuring it out watching the boat in front and behind us. It was harder for Andy as he had to handle the boat, getting it parallel to the wall and running down to the aft deck to throw a line over a post while I hooked a line at the bow and midsection, trying to keep us parallel.
Dismal Swamp Lock Master's house

As the water starts moving up you'd better be ready....Frustrating t0 me, no where could I  find instructions and details on how to maneuver in the lock BEFORE we got there...and no instructions once you were there...
Lock Master's Garden
Stayed at a free dock in Elizabeth City where the actual Mayor greeted us. There are supposed to be 'rosebud' ladies that greet boaters with roses and a wine/cheese reception. We didn't see them. but perhaps we arrived too late. Enjoyed a walk into town for a light dinner and a 'look see' at this town. 

Sunday, November 9
Pulled lines at 6:25 AM after re-checking weather for the 10th time in anticipation of our crossing of Albemarle Sound. This Sound is the first of a few challenging bodies of water we have to traverse on our way South and if one doesn't pay close attention to the weather -- one will be very, very sorry. Even a light, slight wind will create huge confused waves because the water is shallow. If the wind and seas are unfavorable, one must wait to cross -- often a several day delay. After our bad luck of past days, we crossed a very benign Albemarle Sound, following the markers carefully to Alligator River and it's Swing Bridge. This River is like the Swamp, with the need to stay carefully center channel and watching for logs all the while. 

We docked in Oriental, NC, overnight at the city marina -- much hype about Oriental as the sailing capital of NC. All hype from our perspective with only a few restaurants, etc. We walked around for a few miles, finally heading back to the boat to wash it down and ate on board. Decided this is yet another city we can skip in the future. Next time on way north or back south I want to go the Outer Banks route and's somewhat off the ICW, with more ocean travel, but by next year we will have more confidence and can do it. OR maybe we should just do some of this stuff while we are still think? YANG is hard to sway.

Monday, November 10
An absolutely glorious day with sunshine and another dolphin encounter. Looking ahead, we spied several pods of dolphin just ahead of us. Suddenly they made a bee-line for us, jumping and turning back into our bow wake. Five hitched a ride on our bow for 2-3 miles, jumping up and turning side to side to look up at either Andy or I standing at the bow (we took turns looking over the bow while the other steered from the fly bridge). 

Amazing game they play and they knew they were playing it with us. We had the same experience a few years ago in Belize when about 10 raced across the ocean about a mile to get to our boat and played in the bow. Those dolphin actually squeaked at each other and would peel off two by two until none were left. They were communicating with each other it was so obvious! Wonderful moments and memories.

Ran aground twice in the same spot trying to get off as we passed an inlet and we were dead center when we ran around! After three boats behind us did the same thing at the same spot (and they had the advantage of seeing us and others run aground!) Andy, who had the wheel, didn't feel so bad. Glad it was sand and not rock.....

The waterway guide tells us to look out for fishermen's markers which indicate nets just below the surface of the water. GREAT - BUT they don't describe what such a marker looks like. Back to the books and I can't find a description. Glad again for us, but not for the fishermen, that we have those 'razors' on our props.... 

Due to so many delays, we skipped sightseeing in Beaufort and Moorhead City which I had really been looking forward to, but we will catch it on the way back North in the spring and spend more time in the area. It appears there is a lot to see here, unlike some of the other cities we stopped in due to the hype in the waterway guide books (Oriental, Elizabeth City).
Solid line of boats heading South down the ICW for the winter
We're now in the part of the ICW that snakes through the US Marine Corp base of Cape Lejune, NC. Lucky for us, there were no artillery or small weapons firings going on today that would have closed this section, creating yet another delay for us of several hours to several days.
STOP Do Not Proceed - Live Firing says the sign
Suddenly, however, we saw four blacked out cigarette type boats coming in single file toward us with Navy seals aboard all dressed in black garb, holding very large weapons. As they passed, we realized the cigarette boats were making absolutely NO sound as they passed.... clearly a high tech spook boat. We waved and received waves in return and no weapons pointed at us. 

We dropped anchor in Hammock Basin, still on the Base, to spend the night where the marines were practicing amphibious landings in the basin before quitting time - never a dull moment. This basin is crowded with boats anchored for the evening and we picked our way carefully in, ever mindful of how much we might swing on anchor. We had a smaller trawler come in right behind us - way too close to suit me. We tightened up on the anchor chain deployed and set the GPS for a tight radius around the anchor so if the anchor pulled during the night the GPS alarm would go off, hopefully giving us time to maneuver in time to avoid crashing into another boat. 

Only woke up twice to check around! The benefit, however, of checking around in the middle of the night and/or early AM is that the scenery is spectacular....more stars that you think are out there, the water often sparkles and shines with phosphorous lights and the sounds of the night of the birds, owls, splashing fish are never heard in the daytime. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Another beautiful early departure at 6:30 AM with the sun coming up over the barrier beaches. The sight is so worth the early rising. We bumped aground twice again today - shoaling is everywhere and the states don't have the money to dredge the ICW as often as needed. My tax dollars clearly are not going toward my benefit......
We traveled the Cape Fear River with NO issues - another potential problem avoided. Luck would have it that we arrived in Southport, NC area pretty much at slack tide, thereby avoiding the nasty seas that can develop and the strong currents that are there except at slack tide. Luck is still with us as dolphin again 'hitched' a ride on our bow for about a mile. This is a thrill every time that we will never tire of. 
Shrimp boats abound along the ICW

Bigger means we MOVE OVER

We have been traveling generally 9-10 hours a day in order to get to Charleston. While this is easier than riding in a car for that same amount of time, one must realize that the Captain of the moment must STAND up for most of the steering, as least along the ICW because we can't take our eyes off the water in front of the boat and somehow sitting doesn't seem to keep us in control. The 'Captain' is constantly steering left/right/left/right. It IS a different story when we have the autopilot on and one can 'wander' about the river or Bay. In the ICW, one cannot 'wander' six inches or one risks running aground or worse.

We hit a section of the ICW today that has little in the way of coves to anchor overnight and few marinas. One needs to plan travel carefully to avoid these situations, but we have been in a go/go mode. I kept reading the guide on this day of travel (and not much before as I never knew exactly how much distance we would travel) and checking the chart realizing that we had the potential to get 'stuck' with no place to anchor except with the boat sticking into the ICW -- a target to get hit. I knew if I told worry wart YANG he would have a southern 'come-apart' at the wheel. Me, I was starting to sweat....Finally, I noticed an ad in the guide from a small marina (St. James Marina south of Southport and Cape Fear) in a residential community on the ICW. One phone call & I got a slip for the night and the marina was well situated for our travels -- meaning we did not have to stop too soon nor travel after dark to get to it. Great place - only $1.05 a foot (cheap!) AND they gave us a free $15 bottle of wine and a bag full of goodies so we figured we spent about $40 to stay there. Andy slept like a log as he always does tied up at a dock......I didn't tell him how close we came to (1) potential major problem and (2) the ensuing marital mega dispute that would have occurred had I not found a place to stop.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wet, Cold Sharon

Having set the alarm for 5:30 AM in order to pull out at first crack of light, we found ourselves in the middle of a lighting storm and thunder. Finally pulling out a little after 7:00 AM in the rain which stayed with us til noon, we couldn't make much time.  We hit lots of NO WAKE zones.  We do push a huge wake with this semi-displacement boat and there are lots of inlets with water rushing in from the ocean that create the infamous shoaling one reads so much about. 

The shoreline has now shifted to from low marshes to scrub trees.  More and more houses are now seen along what is called "The Ditch" portion of the ICW.

Pontoon Bridge
 It was a thrill to cruise through the last remaining pontoon bridge (Sunset Beach Pontoon Bridge at Mile 337.9) on the Atlantic ICW.  (There are a few remaining still on the Gulf Coast ICW in Texas.)  If the tide is really low, the bridge is unable to open and since there is zero clearance, no boat can go thru. We made it with only a short wait as the bridge opens only on the hour.
Note all moves on the barge

One has to be careful before proceeding through - making certain that the pontoon's cable has dropped all the way down before going through. Talk about a sudden stop if you misjudge!! 
Bridge Tender's 'house'

The Rock Pile section
The scenery changed along here at Little River and Pine Island Cut (Mile 347) to a higher bank and ROCK. Hard shale and coquina rock are both on the bottom and sides. One section, The Rock Pile, is notorious for trouble - we kept a sharp eye out and went very slow as many rock piles are not charted and there is little room to maneuver if another boat comes along and logs and floating flotsam and trees are everywhere. Again, probably our lack of tax dollars at work. We heard lots of radio calls with boaters identifying themselves as headed south/north near Rock Pile so one could slow down to avoid them. I have always said God looks after children and fools and I long since passed the children stage................

Waccamaw River in the Fall
Safely through this rock mess, thanks to Captain Andy, we entered the Waccamaw River. Absolutely beautiful with its wooded banks, moss draped cypress trees, wildflowers, the occasionally turtle on a stump and the black, tea colored river water. We dropped anchor in Thoroughfare Creek at Mile 389 just slightly off the center of the ICW, with no one in sight. 

We moved the boat a couple of times to make certain that our swing off the anchor would not set us on the bank. We poured a glass of wine and sat on the bow watching herons fish for their dinner and listening to owls in the distance. Thoroughly enchanting place! We awoke, however, to pea soup fog and had to wait awhile til it started clearing. A sailboat came by who had anchored further UP the Creek from us and kindly radioed us back telling us that once they got into the ICW off the Creek that there was good visibility so we pulled anchor and headed out.

Once underway I noticed that we had a film of water covering our teak floor in the master stateroom which Andy attributed to the 'humidity' and the fog. Weird. Later, I mentioned that sometimes I had NO water and then suddenly it would just come on when I opened the valve and no, we had not run out of water. He could find nothing wrong down below in that engine room I believe to be still haunted by gremlins and goblins.  I began swabbing the master stateroom floor over and over... So very weird.

On a routine check of the engine room later in the day, he opened the door to the engine room to find water spewing all over the place. A water hose had cracked and under pressure, they certainly do spew. Then the pump/hose would settle down, leaving me with NO water, spit some out and then undergo pressure and spew in the engine room again.   THAT was why we had all that water on the master stateroom floor - just above the engine room where it was spewing...creating steam basically and water on the floor above. I had been wiping down and drying our teak floors all day. He shut down the system and repaired with some tape the hose until we can replace the hose entirely with a better hose. Boat is still not a year old Bah.. 

Friday. November 14.

Charleston Harbor
A couple of discussions ensued as to whether or not we would make it to Charleston by Friday before dark or would we need to arrive on Saturday. Frantic calculations (remembering the conversion formulas as we are traveling via Knots per hour, traveling the ICW which is Statute miles) somewhat helped but by noonish we figured out we would make Charleston by dark!! We have been underway exactly 14 days and by the time we get to Charleston, we will have traveled 150 miles in the Chesapeake Bay from Mears Marina to Norfolk and then 469 miles along the ICW for a total of 619 miles. 

Coming into Charleston Harbor was harrowing to say the least - with extremely shallow water coming out of the ICW into the Harbor. The Harbor, however, is wide and vast and one could assume in just looking, that one could move anywhere.  

Charleston Harbor nearing Ashley Marina
No way. Range markers depict the route, but these particular ones are BEHIND you. No way could Andy see the range markers due to the dingy on our flybridge. I had difficulty also -- bobbing up and down to try to see and to hope that I was not off center, thereby lining us up incorrectly. We cruised into Ashley Marina, our 'home' for the next two months, without incident.

Turning into the marina and into our assigned slip was tricky as the current is amazingly swift here and the wind was blowing rather hard -- scaring us both. We made it in without incident -- although the marina crew would not allow us to back our boat into the slip. Bow first means an almost impossible 'jump' off the boat and another impossible climb to get onboard. One day of that, coupled with the necessity of getting two wiggling grandchildren on/off the boat, was enough. We requested and moved our boat to a slip that allows ease of on/off.

We are thrilled to be in Charleston, a city we love and to be close to family for the holiday season.  
Oldest daughter, Leslie, with me, my Mom & granddaughter, Riley

We plan to explore the city on foot, catch the Christmas Tree Lighting and Boat Parade, drive to Jacksonville, FL and Clearwater, FL to spend Thanksgiving with more family and to fly to Oklahoma City for Christmas with Andy's children and grandchildren, including our newest, number 6 grandson, Gage. That makes 2 boys and one girl for each of us! A very busy two months and a two month period in which I doubt we'll take the boat away from the dock! 

Grandpa Andy meeting newest grandson, Gage

Big sister Rylie w Gage 

Andy's twins Chris & Adam (Chris is the Father of the two grand babies)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Desolation Sound Charter Trip - British Columbia 2008

Overlooking the Oregon coastline

August 2008

Well before our decision to retire to begin cruising on our own boat, we had committed to chartering a 43' trawler for a 14 day cruise with friends, Dann & Char, in and about Desolation Sound, British Columbia.  These cruising grounds are well north of Vancouver, and up toward the lower portion of the Inner Passage towards Alaska, but in Canada.

So, off we went in August and because every day is a vacation day when retired, we took a week long road trip from the west coast at San Francisco, along the Oregon and Washington coast and back down into Seattle where we caught the Ferry to Victoria, BC to begin the cruising. We thoroughly enjoyed that extra week driving the spectacular coastlines, staying in tiny, out of the way places, hiking in the redwood forests and along the coastline trails....So worth the extra time to see the northern coast of CA and the Oregon coast - something I'd wanted to do for years.

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Oregon

Lady Bird Johnson's Redwood Forest Natl Park

Redwoods do grow BIG


Wildlife everywhere - Elk resting

As a way to mentally, at least,  justify this added trip expense when we had a brand new boat at the dock, we talked ourselves into viewing it as a 'learning' experience.  We figured if we could survive British Columbia's 18 foot tide swings in a day,very deep water and totally unfamiliar terrain, we would be in good shape to handle our boat.   Dann, with his Captain's license and much more experience would be our 'teacher' during this trip. 

This quickly became "A Fabulous Trip"with 'ohh and awww' as around each bend was more and more spectacular scenery, numerous sightings of bald eagles (new learning: look for 'golf balls' in the trees and you will spot the bald eagles with that white head every time) and too many seals to count peeking their noses out of the water to check us out.

Reeling in a large salmon
Highlights of our trip included fishing for salmon in the Columbia River and having a seal take my fish right off the line! The Captain got even, firing off marbles at the seal with his slingshot - missing each time - to our delight.  We did catch about 10 salmon, which we ate during the two week cruise....I'll never go back to tuna fish sandwiches again after eating salmon sandwiches prepared with mayo, red onions and capers!

Other wonderful memories include:

Cheryl and I rowing the dingy to shore at low tide at 6:30 AM in order to hack extremely fresh oysters off the rocks in Tenedos Bay with metal ax and hammers;

Low Tide 6 am in search of fresh oysters

Dink is loaded w fresh oysters

Hiking up and down glaciers in terrain that looked like a rain forest with FERNS!!  I always thought ferns were tropical! 

Having to anchor the boat and tie the back end to the mountain we butted into; 

Hiking into Unwin Lake for swimming at the top of a glacier - Yes!  SWIMMING --the water was reasonably warm as it has no tide nor movement, allowing the sun to heat the water down about 10 feet!  (called a Thermal Clime) 

Hiking to 'Mike's Place in Prideaux Haven, wary of bears throughout the hike as we saw their recent poop piles;

Exploring waterfalls and the tides that go backwards; avoiding huge whirlpools and deadly rapids in Hole in the Wall - slack tide takes on a whole new meaning... better hit those sections just right at a slack tide or you could lose yourself and your boat in a whirlpool. 

Hiking in the rainforest

No, you pick it up!

Cabin where boaters leave mementos

Loaded w boater's Boat Names on driftwood

A real 'warm the heart' moment was having a homecooked meal in a floating 12 seat humble restaurant at Oleo's in Frederick Arm in the middle of nowhere, but with a ramshackle dock to tie to. The woman who runs the place, a widow, lives there alone and supports herself with the restaurant and a son who fishes and hunts for the food. Three children from another boat eating at the same time got up and did all the dishes (a mountain of dishes and pots and pans!) for the woman. She was so overwhelmed by this generous act by the kids and frankly, so were we!

Andy & Sharon
Another memorable night (one of only three days out of the 14 where we interacted with other people as the cruising is so desolate) we saw the MOST fabulous full moon over Wilderness Refuge at Toba Bay...throw in wine around a roaring campfire built by Kyle, the owner of the island, and shared with the other boaters who had pulled in for some companionship also. 

 Kyle, along with his wife and their 3 year old daughter, live alone on the island year round  and are at least 50 miles from the hint of civilization.    Kyle built the dock with 8 boat slips; harnessed the waterfall at the top of the mountain on the island with a simple system of pipes running down to provide his fresh water and to generate his electrical power.  They rent out a few cabins to earn money and are totally self sufficient.  

Always breath taking!

Running out of adjectives to describe the beauty

Walking on the shore in Aug.  Note the snow capped mountains.

Starfish grow big - taken from the boat looking into clear cold water

Ugh  Starfish with LOTS of legs

Dragging the dink UP the mountain stream to get to lake

In the glacier lake

Higher tide, making it back down from the glacier lake

Ha!  Rainy day  Dann & Char Cummings

One of the few 'marinas'