Reflecting on a year of full-time cruising in the Pacific Northwest

Our home base for two years, Shilshole Bay Marina in Ballard

Our home base for two years, Shilshole Bay Marina in Ballard

On August 30, 2014 we casted off our dock lines at Shilshole Bay Marina in Seattle for the last time as permanent residents and pointed the bow north. Our plan was simple: live and cruise aboard in the Pacific Northwest full-time.

The decision to embark on a full-time cruising lifestyle in the PNW grew from the realization that we didn’t have to sail thousands of miles down coasts or across oceans to “go cruising.” Many may think you do, but you don’t.

When we first bought Yahtzee, we thought we did. Getting swept up in the excitement of owning an offshore quality boat that was well outfitted for long distance sailing got the better of us. We thought we’d leave in two years, turn left and head south. How wrong we were … thankfully.

During our two years living at Shilshole, we took every opportunity we could to get out cruising and racing. Our rule was that Yahtzee had to be kept ready to sail in 15-minutes or less at all times. Whether it was a simple overnight, a long weekend, or a 10-day trip, we’d go, rain or shine. But it wasn’t enough. The more we were out exploring the Pacific Northwest, the more we wanted to be out and the farther we wanted to go. So that’s what we did.

What we learned during that time was though we dream of sailing far and wide someday, we want to sail the Inside Passage just as much. Ultimately, we figured that with one of the world’s most amazing cruising destinations right in our own backyard — one that we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of — why leave? Why not get out and discover everything it has to offer before going farther?

At the time of our departure from Seattle our philosophy was, lets get out and try year-round cruising in the PNW and see how it goes. If we love it we’ll keep doing it, if we don’t, we’ll reassess and move forward. Fortunately, we’ve absolutely loved our year of full-time cruising in the Salish Sea and are excited to keep going. Here’s a look at how we make it work and a glance forward towards the horizon. Continue reading

On the move, reconnecting with friends and picking up a new ride

Jill and the boys watching whales as we cross Haro Strait from Canada into the U.S.

Jill and the boys watching whales as we cross Haro Strait from Canada into the U.S.

The crew of Yahtzee has been doing a lot of moving lately. More than we’ve become accustomed to anyway.

Our spring and summer in Canada was largely spent lazily hopping from anchorage to anchorage, with very little in the way of an actual schedule. I had work to contend with as we explored, but that is always part of how we make life aboard Yahtzee function.

After getting back to the States, though, we had an assortment of appointments arranged and schedules to plan to that weren’t our own. Our pace picked up and the feeling of being rushed slowly crept up. Ahhh! Why does everything have to move so fast, to be so over-scheduled and why do things years in advance have to be planned now? The simple answer is that, for us, they don’t. But we roll with it anyway.

Fortunately, throughout our relatively frenetic pace of life recently, we’ve been able to reconnect with great friends, make new ones, and are looking forward to seeing more friends and family in the coming weeks. Continue reading

Give it away, give it away, give it away now


As I heaved the black plastic bag off my shoulder and into the back of our friend Adam’s truck on Lopez Island, the relief was more than physical. The mental side of giving away things that no longer fit in our lives is always powerful. It’s a liberation of sorts.

The bag was the last of our second kayak load of stuff that we’d paddled ashore and it was good to give it a new home on a small island community that we love. Because often, the only reasonably affordable places for island families to shop are consignment or thrift stores, which almost every island has.

Living on a full-time cruising boat means that we really only have enough space for things that we use regularly, will use eventually, or that have something to do with sailing and safety. Our storage spaces are well conceived and for the most part convenient, which allows us to use them efficiently. But in order for our storage to work, everything must have a home and a purpose. Some things no longer had either.

So what didn’t make the cut? Continue reading