Attitude is Everything

Here we are in Garrison Bay, Wa.

A Full Moon Rise – Garrison Bay

We had several days in Friday Harbor:

We had the great and unique opportunity to meet the prior owners of Voyager, our boat.  It has been based here and serendipity brought us to the engineering office that I had seen on some of the boat’s paperwork.  We went in and introduced ourselves.  John and Janet are great folks and helped us out with many answered questions.

Chain Biter (our affectionate name for the windlass –  the thing that lets chain out and brings it back when we put out the anchor – continues to demand attention with a new switch and a newly fabricated, stainless steel chain ‘shucker’ installed, so we are in control as opposed to the random starts that Beth described in her previous note.  Think Grrr  Grrr – very loud, middle of the night…  We are all set, right?  Probably not.  The computer that runs the navigation program crashed, the generator battery charger didn’t work so the generator wouldn’t start.  (I have a spare, so not to worry…) We were there for five days, but at some point, it is time to go…  Yes, we got these things working – sort of…

A portable battery charger is a good backup.  Don’t forget the black tape…

How could I be smiling when faced with this seemingly continual list of repairs and breakdowns?

I have a new idea that could at the very least, change my attitude and perhaps yours, regarding ‘success’.  Let me explain:  Why would two reasonable, relatively sane people leave a comfortable home, in a great neighborhood for an uncertain future on a 32-year-old boat?  We would be subject to the elements of weather, uncertain reliability of the boat, no routine, and ‘hardship’ in general.

Because we could…

We are having a great time even though there is always more stuff to fix.  It is never done or perfect.  We GET To be here, now.  We are laughing more.  I guess I am learning about contentment despite circumstance.

Here is the path we walked today…


I hope this note finds you healthy, content, laughing, thankful and surrounded by meaningful relationship. Here is an article that lists some things you can do if you feel in a rut:  It is a checklist of sorts…

Life is a gift and so are you!

Thankful for you,


The Learning Curve

We were aware that as newcomers to boating, we would have many things to learn.  However, being reasonably intelligent people, we concluded that even novices can learn, and we committed ourselves to acquiring knowledge from books, advice from others, and…  from our mistakes.

The first time we anchored out, we pulled into beautiful Echo Bay at Sucia Island.  There were a fair number of boats already anchored there, but we found a spot which wasn’t too near the others, and not to near the coastline (boats at anchor pivot around the anchor as the wind changes directions, so you need to allow room for your boat and other boats to pivot).  We were getting all set up to drop the anchor, when we noticed that the man in the boat closest to ours was outside and yelling at us.  Finally, the word “reef” became clear to us.  We checked our chart and depth finder:  no rocks or reefs were noted.  But we decided to heed this man’s warning just in case.  Sure enough, at low tide a rock was exposed – just where we had planned to anchor.  It does pay to listen.

We dropped our anchor in another spot without incident.  Sucia Island has an abundance of trails through forest and along waterfront.  The views are beautiful, and the walks are not difficult.  We took our kayaks to the island, hiked for several hours and were headed back to the boat when we heard a loud grinding sound coming from our boat.  This was a sound we had become familiar with over the past week.  Allow me to introduce our windlass.

A windlass is the heavy-duty motor that winds up the heavy chain attached to the anchor.  It is not uncommon to let out 200+ feet of chain when anchoring, so this motor has to be up to the task.  We have affectionately named this vital piece of machinery Chain Biter, due to the growly-chewing noise it makes while operating.  Our windlass had been enthusiastically jumping to attention, even when we had no need for it.   Midday or middle of the night made no difference to our trusty Chain Biter.  We could even imagine the mad motor chuckling as we ran to turn off the breaker switch to stop the horrible noise, and secondarily, any undue wear and tear to the motor.  Imagine the speed of our kayak sprint, then, as we heard the ghastly rhar! rhar! rhar! echoing across the bay after our hike.  We may have set an Olympic record getting back to the boat!


New switches have been ordered for Chain Biter.  We’ll do our best to prevent her from overworking herself.

Ahhh…  What a lovely day kayaking, hiking and ending with a sunset dinghy ride to explore the rest of the bay.  We arrived back at Voyager pleasantly tired, leaving the kayaks and dinghy tethered to the swim step at the back of boat.  Ahem, that’s the stern.  We watched a movie and then tucked into bed for pleasant dreams – NOT!

Seasoned sailors know to check the winds before going to bed.  We’re working on that seasoning business.  Shortly after retiring, the wind picked up, and picked up some more.  We were bobbing forward and aft, port to starboard, up and down.  It was an E ticket ride!  In addition, the kayaks and dinghy were BANG! BANGING into the stern and making a terrible racket.  We lashed them as securely as we could (the seas were too rough for us to get up top and winch them up).  The winds and waves kept growing, and there was no way we could sleep.  We wondered if our anchor would hold.  Would the other boats’ anchors hold?  It was time to institute the night watch.  I could have sworn that the lights of the other boats were coming closer, or we were drifting toward them.  But our GPS showed that we had not moved, nor had the other boats.  It’s hard to judge distances at night.  And did I mention that everything in the cupboards was sliding and slamming?  BANG!  BANG!  Turns out that’s what throw pillows are for.  Stuff them in the cupboards to keep the peace.

These have been some of our bigger lessons.  Smaller lessons, of equal importance, have come our way daily.  Such as:

– When casting a rope while docking, be sure to stand on the end of the rope (line), so that you can draw it back in after lassoing the cleat.

– That Roman Numeral I on the chart (map) is really the letter I, as in Island.  As in James Island, not James the 1st.

-When docking, be sure your fenders (big air-filled buffer tubes) hang down low enough to reach the dock.  They belong between the boat and the dock for protection.  Not gaily swinging in the breeze above dock level, pretty though they are.



Adventures and misadventures.  Learning from mistakes.  Living to try again.  Hopefully a little bit wiser.

We’ve arrived; no, just beginning…

Mike here.  I have been noticeably absent from the updates.  I can’t remember a time that has been busier.  Retirement is normally framed with the easy chair and some boredom.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  We spent two weeks as Beth noted, getting ready to go.  From sun up to a very late sun down, there were details to get in place.  There are some that just won’t be finished, but it is time to get going.   I am learning that the journey toward the goal is in fact the goal.  Isn’t life like that?

A good example of this is the ‘neighbor’ that was parked next to us in the boat yard.  He is a genuine, kind person named Rick.  He plays a mean guitar, offers all variety of assistance to those around him –  especially those who, like us don’t have a clue which end of the screwdriver to use.  We might be there to get a boat ready, but the rich, meaningful part has been the people we’ve encountered.  Here is a picture of Rick and Beth drinking just a bit of great champagne.  She is launched! (The boat -not Beth!  See the water in the background?)  And by the way, there is a tradition of pouring a bit of libation overboard for the sea gods.  We didn’t change Voyagers name, so just a few drops went over the side…


We had a great learning day getting out of la Conner.  The channel is narrow with current and tide dictating when a prudent departure should occur.  We calculated and voila – success.  (For those of you that are counting; we did put a little scratch in the side of boat with our first docking attempt.  I’ll learn about fixing fiberglass at some point.  Perhaps we will accumulate a couple of dings so I can do them all at once – ha, ha. I will scrub the bright yellow paint off that gives us away at first glance.)  Our first night at anchor will be at a Washington State marine park called Spencer Spit.  It is very quiet, peaceful and we have just started.  Here is the view through the window as I write…

On the water – Spencer Spit
Thanks for following along.  Pray for us.  The good Lord is looking out for us, and for you too.  Leave us a note so we know you are reading.


Hurry up and Wait (preparations)

We have a sneaking suspicion that all our friends back home are envisioning us out on the water, adventuring and having the time of our lives.  Sorry to say, it just ain’t so, except for the having the time of our lives part.  The reality of owning a boat is somewhat different than the romantic notion of arriving dockside, hopping aboard and sailing off into the sunset.  The reality is that preparations are needed.  The definition of preparation is:  Hard work!

truck load
Will it all fit?

After driving 18 hours in one day to get to our destination, we fell into bed with relief.   We awoke with exhaustion but excitement the next morning.  We just had to see our boat!  We drove the 25 minutes or so to the boat yard, to find Voyager propped on blocks and looking a bit forlorn.  Our truck was filled with the supplies, tools and parts we had gathered, so getting those things onto the boat became our first challenge.

Carrying each box, we carefully threaded our way through the poles propping up our boat (they probably have a name, but we haven’t learned it yet).  A kind fellow boat-owner named Rick offered us a sturdy ladder, and we began the task of hauling each box up the ladder and stacking it on the cockpit, or back deck, of the vessel.  How in the world did we pack so much stuff, and where were we going to put it all?  Somehow, we found places for everything.  With each box we unpacked, we rejoiced at taking the empty box to the recycling area.  It took a couple of days, but finally we were done.  High fives and smiles abounded!

Hotel living becomes expensive in a hurry, so we were anxious to start living on board.  Rick gave us tips about living aboard in the boat yard.  In short, the yard master will turn a blind eye, if we are low impact tenants who don’t make it look as though we are living aboard.  Just here to work, sir!  We having been living aboard for a week now, and with each new system Mike gets in working order, our living becomes more comfortable.

Some of the systems are:  electrical (shore power, battery power, generator, inverter); water (fresh water, heated water, waste water storage); computer navigational system; the anchor system and more…  Even though the boat is in great shape generally, it has been sitting unused for a year.  As each system was checked out, Mike found something that needed repair.

The first urgent need was the battery bank.  There are 11 batteries that power the lights, washer and dryer, and other appliances on board.  The batteries recharge when the engine is in use, but alas, the engine hadn’t been used for a very long time.  No water had been added to the batteries and they would not dependably hold a charge.  First task:  Remove the old batteries.  Easy, right?  Well, maybe not quite as easy as changing your car battery.  Marine batteries are very heavy.  After disconnecting each one, Mike would have to lift it overhead out of the engine room.  Then he would lug it down the ladder, and to the truck.  Times 11.  It took all day, and it wore him right out.  The next day, we were off to Costco to buy new ones.  Then each one got carried up the ladder and lowered into the engine compartment.  He configured new connecting wires and cleaned up all the old battery residue as he went. That took another two days.  It’s looking pretty nifty in the engine room these days.  Mike is becoming increasingly nimble at maneuvering in tight spaces.

engine work 1


That’s the kind of thing we run into as we prepare the boat.  A seemingly simple task can turn into a big project, and it usually does.  Are we complaining?  No!  We are working together and checking things off the to-do list.  We now have lights, water both hot and cold, and can even use the head (or toilet) sparingly.  There are public restrooms, showers and a laundromat not too far away, so we have everything we need.   Voyager has been scrubbed and polished, inside and out, including the rugs and upholstery.  She’s starting to feel like home.   We even baked chocolate chip cookies last night, to test the oven.  It worked, and our first boat cookies were the best ever!  Well all right, the only ever, but you get the picture.

At our current rate of progress, we are projecting a launch date of June 13 or 14.  The 14th is our anniversary, so we’re hoping to be out of the boat yard and anchored someplace very special by then.  We’ll let you know!