Saturday, July 22, 2017

Come Sail Away: Our Sailing Soundtrack (plus bonus sailing pics)

As the sun finally dips below the horizon, we retreat to the cozy confines of the cabin below to check the wind forecast and current predictions for the next day. A disembodied voice breaks out "Bluetooth mode..." (avion? has been turned on? is now on? has begun? something in French?) before finally pairing and broadcasting the mellow sounds of Crosby, Stills & Nash.

We have often lamented the fact that Rock Lobster does not have a sound system. Installing speakers to the logical space in the stern could interfere with navigation. In the past, we've relied solely on whatever earworm prompts me to sing aloud to be our soundtrack, but this year, I brought along the Bluetooth speaker my grandmother gave me for Christmas (thanks Grandma!). This simple addition added so much joy to our journey.

Library nerd enthusiast that I am, we populated our playlist in advance with nautically-themed music from hoopla, one of the streaming music/video resources offered by both Sno-Isle Libraries and the Seattle Public Library.

Our playlist included:
  • "Rock Lobster" (B-52s) - this inspired a dance party in our living room at 11 p.m. a few days before our voyage began
  • "Sloop John B" (Beach Boys)
  • "Southern Cross" (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
  • "Come Sail Away" (Styx)
  • "Sail Away" (Enya)
Sadly, I was unable to add Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone", which I sing with altered lyrics whenever we see a yellow separation zone buoy. Ah well, I suppose that is one way I can still make myself useful as the designated singer on the boat...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Oh Canada!

About a week before our vacation began, while groggily making tea and a breakfast sandwich, I was surprised to see my normally night owl husband in the kitchen with me. "Our trip isn't going to work," he began before explaining that due to the approaching Canada Day holiday all of the space in the Victoria Harbor was reserved, while Roche Harbor (where we'd be meeting our friends later in the week) was likely also full, as they have a lottery for Independence Day week reservations.

I felt a bit like an ugly American, not even realizing that Canada Day was coming up (and then even more like an ugly American using that phrase to compare myself as a United Statesian to Canadians). And to top it off, it was Canada Day 150, an enormous celebration for our friends to the north.

Canadian flags in Sidney, B.C. condos

Butchart Gardens
After a brief moment of panic, I went into action mode, spending my work breaks calling and emailing various marinas with good results all around. The Oak Bay Marina, which is a short bike or bus ride away from downtown Victoria. They assured me that they didn't even take reservations until 5 days in advance and that I would need to call back in a few days. Sunday morning at 7 a.m., I called again, securing moorage for June 30 & July 1.

While we've sailed to Canada many times, we've never sailed to Victoria - the prevailing westerly winds in the Strait of Juan de Fuca work against us. Fortunately, the wind was light enough that we were able to make it. We motored west from Port Townsend in the fog in 10-12 knots of wind for the first portion with our mainsail up and later put up a headsail as well, finally beginning to sail without motor assistance in 15-l7 knots of wind. Lots of waves to battle, but nothing too daunting.

While the first day we stayed in Oak Bay, we ventured downtown on Saturday to celebrate Canada Day with the Victorians. It was day 10 of their celebration, featuring bands on two different stages by the waterfront. Government Street and numerous side streets were closed to accommodate the crowds of people.

School children singing "O, Canada" on the Parliament lawn stage

We wandered the docks, thankful not to be among the boats rafted three deep, before stopping at the Indecent Risotto food truck for a quick snack of smoked salmon and dill aranciata balls with slaw. The day was so sunny and warm that after a few hours, we took refuge in the Royal B.C. Museum. We spent 2.5 hours wandering just the top floor on exhibits of human history, including some nautical-themed exhibits.

Selfie stop at the museum

After a dinner of pierogis at Sult, we fought our way through the masses back to our bikes with a few minutes to spare before the fireworks began. We agreed that if we are still mobile in 50 years, will we definitely return for Canada 200.

Fireworks over Victoria Harbour

Saturday, July 1, 2017

First Mate's Log: the Eighth Voyage

This past week has been crazy. Last week Thursday, I was offered a temporary job. Start date is July 17, the day I return from vacation, which started two days ago. And I made the not-so-bright decision to work Saturday and Sunday to conserve vacation time and have a staff meeting on Tuesday. So my days have been full packing my office and the boat.

All that means is that I'm incredibly thankful that our trip has begun. More details to come, including pictures when I'm writing from a computer, rather than my phone...

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Come Sail Away

I'm often a fair-weather sailor, so the record breaking rain this October - May, combined with over-committed weekends means that I haven't done as much sailing this year as normal - just one sail to Bainbridge Island at the end of January. Last weekend's sun drew me out again.

While the wind started out a reasonable 7 knots when we left the house, by the time we made it to Shilshole, it had switched directions and dropped to 3 knots, so we motored to Kingston. On the journey, we saw porpoises, leaping fish and the ever-present kelp.

Our trusty autopilot, navigating us through the glassy seas

Edmonds-Kingston ferries

When we arrived, milkshakes seemed just the thing, so we stopped in at Mora Creamery where I sampled the gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut). We finished up our shakes in the park near the ferry dock, ducking frisbees from the adjacent game.

Sitting in one of the Kingston big chairs

By the time we were ready to leave, the wind had picked up, allowing us to fly the spinnaker. One of my dreams/bucket list items is to be able to "dock without freaking out" and I'm happy to say that our docking experience went well enough that Trent complimented my line handling.

Trent estimated that he had 1-3 hours of boat work to do, so I opted to take the bus home. Sadly, I realized once I rang the bell to get off the bus, that my carefully packed bag did not include house keys, so after a leisurely trip to the grocery store, I finished the warm summer evening on my porch, reading a library book on my phone and streaming Tacocat and Beach Boys songs for a mini-dance party.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Summer Fun - Whale Watching

Cool breeze as the sun shines warm on bare arms. The hush of the crowd as transient Orcas feed amidst screeching gulls. Water puffing from blow holes. Our whale watching experience was magical.

When my in-laws come to visit from Eastern Washington, they always ask to choose a special activity. This time, my sister-in-law suggested a whale watching tour. I was somewhat apprehensive, as my experience from afar with such tours is watching groups of boats circling whales just a little too close, trying to push the limits.

We started out in Edmonds, a little cranky from circling the Port's lot multiple times before finding the perfect spot on a busy weekend. Sat for a picnic lunch from PCC at a bench near the water as the sun beat down against us. Stood in line for half an hour with other eager whale watchers from Australia, England, Florida, New York and a few other Washingtonians. But oh, it was worth it.

After so many two-day sailing journeys to the San Juan Islands, it is a marvel to be able to be able to get there and back with plenty of time to watch whales, lazy sea lions and bald eagles in just 4.5 hours.

The evening concluded at Anthony's, where I sipped Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc as I slurped mussels and nibbled on salty frites. The perfect end to a lovely day.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Summer Fun - Rhubarb Pie

Until I met our friend Philip, who baked two for my bridal shower, I'd never heard of a rhubarb pie. Strawberry-rhubarb, certainly but never plain rhubarb. In fact, I think it is safe to say that I had never had any rhubarb dish until adulthood. Now I'm a fan of the pucker-inducing vegetable that looks like red celery. Occasionally, a friend or coworker will share some of their bounty with me, but more often I pick up some from the Farmer's Market. Usually I make a crisp, but with my summer list confronting me, pie was the only option.

This time, I based the recipe off of this one for Straight-Up Rhubarb Pie found in the New York Times, in part because it called for a shortening crust. Usually I'm a butter girl all the way, but I was feeling lazy and it is so much easier to incorporate shortening than butter without using a food processor.

While the virtuous part of me intended to share it at a friend's birthday party, Trent and I have horded it. One last slice for each of us remains until the pie is only a memory.

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2/3 cup shortening, plus 2 tablespoons
6 tablespoons ice water

5 cups sliced rhubarb
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Slice rhubarb. In a medium size bowl, mix sugar, flour and cinnamon. Set aside.

Combine flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Cut the shortening into the flour. Sprinkle a tablespoon of water at a time over the dough, mixing with a fork. When it has come together, gather into two slightly unequal balls - the larger one for the bottom crust and the smaller for the top. Roll out dough on wax paper dusted with flour. Start from the center and move toward the edges, rolling until the diameter is an inch or two larger than the pan. Press into pie pan.

Place 1/4 cup of sugar, cinnamon, flour mixture on the bottom crust. Place rhubarb atop mixture. Cover with remaining cinnamon, sugar and flour. Dot with butter.

Roll out the top crust. Place over the rhubarb mixture. Trim, seal and cut several vents. Bake for 15 minutes, reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake 25 to 30 minutes more, or until bubbling.

  1. Serve with your favorite ice cream. I'm partial to caramel swirl, cinnamon or vanilla.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

YOU are my long, lost daughter...

Fifty questions in fifty different categories. Fifteen seconds per question. No opportunity to check your answers at the end of the quiz.

Tonight I took the online quiz to become a Jeopardy contestant. Trent and I have long annoyed friends and family members with our Jeopardy prowess, shouting out answers before they finish reading the question. Like my grandma, we don't answer the phone 7:30-8 on weeknights. I joke that if there were a Couples Tournament, we would trounce the competition as we each fill in the other's weak areas.

One of my library regulars shared with me that I reminded him of Alex Trebek. "There's something there", he replied when I told him that I wanted to be on the show. He presented me with a picture later that week with a smiling Alex Trebek and the words "You are my long lost daughter!!!"

A couple of years ago my brother turned to me and said seriously, "I want you to promise me something".

"Depends on what it is".

"You know I'd never ask you to do something against your interests, just promise me".

"Okay, if that's true, then yes, I promise. What is it?"

"Promise me you'll try out for Jeopardy".

So back in January 2016, I registered to take the test. Unfortunately, the night before the day in question, I went to see a movie with friends and didn't return home until far past my bedtime. My recall after 4-5 hours of sleep was abysmal and I left questions blank that I knew I would normally answer in a heartbeat ("Who is Robert Oppenheimer?").

This time would not be a repeat of that day. I went to bed early last night with earplugs and a night mask to keep from being awakened prematurely. I ate plenty of fruits and vegetables. And as I waited for the Jeopardy timer to count down, I hummed, then whistled the Jeopardy theme song.

I was pleased by the number of literature questions ("Robert Frost", "Anne Bronte", "hobbit") and was reminded that to be truly successful on the show, I'll need to study up on geography, sports and presidents. Will anything actually come of this? I don't know, but I do know that my odds are much better if I throw my hat in the ring.