Thankful for cruising in the Pacific Northwest

There is truly nothing like cruising in the Pacific Northwest, and we recognize that every day.

Here is some of what we’re thankful for this Thanksgiving:

We’re thankful for each other, and to be cruising as a family.

Jill and the boys

Jill and the boys

Magnus playing in the kayak

Magnus playing in the kayak

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A circumnavigation of Fidalgo Island

Fidalgo Island

“Why not go down to Deception Pass?” my buddy Mike asked as I took a drink from a pint of cold IPA. We were bellied up to the bar at the Brown Lantern in Anacortes on Sunday night after Round the County talking about what else, but sailing, and he was right. “Why not?”

For a multitude of reasons — none of which were good — we’d never been to Deception Pass before and as the beer-induced cruising plan grew legs I added a trip up the Swinomish Channel to LaConner into the mix before bringing it full circle back to Anacortes. “What a plan. It’ll be a circumnavigation of Fidalgo Island!” I half-jokingly enthused. And that was all it took.

I picked my mother-in-law Donna up from the airport on Wednesday evening during a calm before the storm and the drive back up I-5 to Anacortes was painless. But the agony of knowing that we probably wouldn’t shove off the dock until after a good kicking by a classic fall storm swirled in the back of my mind.

Sure enough, we got walloped on Thursday, but by Friday morning the wind had abated. As soon as it did, Yahtzee’s engine was fired up and the docklines were set free for our trip around H-shaped Fidalgo Island. Continue reading

Riders on the storm

The wind abates on Friday morning and the rain continues

The wind abates on Friday morning and the rain continues

All of Yahtzee’s fenders were deployed on the port side to protect her white hull from the dock as wind, waves and rain violently streamed in from the southeast. Every hour or so Jill or I would climb into foul weather gear and head up on deck to check the fender placement and inspect lines to make sure they weren’t chaffing through.

Though I knew the storm was approaching, I’d wanted to leave the harbor; wanted to get out before it came to find a better place to hide. I generally don’t mind being at anchor in heavy weather if we’re protected, but the kind of protection required for this intense fall storm, which saw gusts in the 50s and sustained winds in the 30s, wasn’t close enough for comfort. So there was no point to rush and get us into a bad spot.

When the wind came in earnest, Yahtzee rode the dock like a cowboy riding a bull at the rodeo. During the height of the blow, being down below was anything but comfortable. It wasn’t unbearable, though, and we’d been here before, so we took it in stride. Continue reading

What works for us: Boys on the boat

Porter, Magnus and Andy on the beach with Yahtzee behind

Porter, Magnus and Andy on the beach with Yahtzee in the background

Other parents often ask us how it is raising the boys on the boat. Whether they are aspiring to the cruising lifestyle themselves or are merely curious, their many questions are usually valid and our answers typically boil down to, “this is what works for us.” We say, “what works for us” because, like many things in cruising, and life in general, the way we make things work might not be how someone else does it — and that’s fine. And making things work often depends on having the right things aboard for every situation.

On any sailboat there is only so much room for these “things”, though. Food, clothing, sailing gear, books, electronics, games and toys can quickly fill up the boat. Extraneous or unnecessary things that find their way aboard are usually found pretty quickly, and we are good at giving belongings away that we’ve outgrown or simply no longer use. We’ve also become better at recognizing what will and will not work aboard before it even comes close to making the cut.

Sails, safety gear, kids stuff, clothes, and more — all this has to go somewhere or it's gone.

Sails, tools, safety gear, kids stuff, clothes and more — all this has to go somewhere or it’s gone.

What’s happened over the course of our three and half years living aboard Yahtzee — two and half of that with a child — is that we’ve whittled our “stuff” down to what is functional, important and in some cases, indispensable. Not residing at a marina means that we don’t have the convenience of a dock box or a pier to stash things. And we don’t have a storage unit, so we can’t hide our possessions out of sight and mind. The bottom line is that everything aboard Yahtzee must have a purpose — nothing more so than all the kid gear, which can pile up at an immensely fast and surprising rate.

Here’s a list of things for the boys that work for us (and some things that haven’t). Continue reading