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Laura Domela
Portland, OR
Adventures in travel, technology, and style -- via sea, land, and air
Interests: Airstream, Nordic Tug, travel, camping, boating, cruising, San Juan Islands
Recent Activity
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We were all set to go back to Portland yesterday (Saturday), but during dinner out with our friend Steve on Friday night in Anacortes, he convinced us to stay another night and join him and Sam out at Orcas on Saturday. We caved. We left Anacortes around 11:30am yesterday and headed over to West Sound on Orcas Island. We were not too far behind Steve and Sam in Sam's Nordic Tug 37, and we both anchored on the west side of West Sound, near Victim Island. We quickly loaded up into the dinghies and headed out to find the trailhead for a hike that Steve found online: 3 miles up Turtleback Mountain (elevation gain about 900ft). Steve and Sam getting Steve's dog Bella into the dinghy: We docked the dinghies at a dock that didn't have any "private" signs, but we think it may have been private. There was no house attached to it and it was the closest place we could find to the trailhead, so we thought it might be okay, just this once: Starting up: The views just got better and better: Bella and I played a tiring (for her) game of "stick' at the top: And... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Riveted
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I forgot to post these photos the other day of our return trip from the Gulf Islands to Anacortes. It was a beautiful, smooth cruise the whole way. More eagles: More seals and sea lions: We arrived at our slip, called Customs, and the whole clearing process was pretty easy and convenient. Here's our return route from Cabbage Island to Fidalgo Island/Anacortes: Related articles Cabbage and Tumbo Islands, B.C. Ganges Harbor on Salt Spring Island We're in Sidney, BC Work Day/Back to Anacortes Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Riveted
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On our way to meet our friend Steve for dinner and drinks tonight over at A Town Bistro (great, I'll get to that later), we happened past the Dakota Creek shipyard in Anacortes and this amazing boat: Turns out this is the F/V Blue North, an Alaskan Cod Fishery Vessel. From the Dakota Creek website: This longliner is specifically developed for the Alaskan cod fishery and is designed by Skipsteknisk AS in Norway. This new ST 155L design has a moon pool in the center line for one fish to be caught at a time through the internal haul station, which is a first in the United States. The vessel will efficiently utilize proteins onboard- the fish wastage that is commonly ground up and discharged overboard. The internal haul station allows for the release of non-target species, as well as the crew to accomplish their work inside the boat without being exposed to rough seas or freezing temperatures and with no more risk of falling overboard during hauling. I can't get enough of these textures! Hard to believe it's going to look like this when it's finished: Okay, so, A Town Bistro. So good! Fabulous cocktails, and killer clam chowder... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Riveted
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This place! I love seeing the telltale gold light from the porthole in the stateroom. It's my sign to get up and grab my camera. Sunrise at Cabbage and Tumbo was as good if not better than sunset last night. The other direction: Kevin went to retrieve the crab trap while I took five thousand photos of the changing skyscape (no crab this morning): We're gonna make a quick breakfast and then head outta here. I know, why?? See ya later seals! Related articles Sucia Island to San Juan Island Ganges Harbor on Salt Spring Island Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Riveted
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Warning: Today was a picture-filled day. I tried to pare it down, but I didn't do too well. This morning before we left Ganges, we took advantage of the very nice free Wi-Fi for a couple hours of work this morning, and then headed up into town for breakfast (and to grab those smoked bacon chips already, sheesh!) We were heading out of the harbor just as this Salt Spring Air flight was taking off ahead of us: The sun came out today for our cruise down to Cabbage and Tumbo Islands and it made for such a nice cruise: Passing the Java Islets, there were a handful of adolescent eagles (along with one adult that we could see) hanging out: Nice rock formations on Saturna Island: Cool contemporary home on Saturna: This was as we were coming around the south point of Saturna Island...and Boiling Reef. During flood tides and rougher waters this point can be pretty treacherous, but today it was totally calm and we noticed only the slightest of eddies as we were taking photos of the sea lions and eagles on the reef. Sea lions on the rocks: More eagles: Eagles and sea lions, hanging together... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Riveted
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I think before we head out of here we'll go up to town for breakfast (and get those smoked bacon potato chips already). :) Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Riveted
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Yesterday morning we left Sidney Spit and headed for Ganges Harbor on Salt Spring Island. The weather was gray and a bit foggy, but seas were smooth for the most part and we had a nice cruise. (I didn't take any photos on the way, because it was all just gray.) These are the Chain Islands, as we entered Ganges Harbor: Here's what Ganges Harbor looks like from above, when it's sunny. Cool boat on our way to the marina: Looking out of the harbor, float plane coming in: We arrived at the Ganges Marina (which happened to be closed yesterday) and were directed (by a super friendly guy) to a guest spot with electricity, close by water, and good access to free Wi-Fi (woohoo!!!!) We did a bit of work and then walked up to town to grab lunch at the highly recommended (by same super friendly marina guy) Tree House Cafe. The Tree House Cafe did not disappoint at all. Great food, great service, cute place. We explored town a bit (including the three story hardware store that has MUCH more than hardware) and picked up a large stock pot (because: crab!) and a few grocery items at... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Riveted
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After working yesterday morning at Starbucks (and running into our friend Mark Bunzel there!) we left the Port of Sidney and over to nearby Sidney Spit on Sidney Island. We wanted to give this whole crabbing thing a shot, and we heard there was good crabbing out there. I got a three-day license online and printed it out on the boat. (Boy is THAT different than getting a fishing license in the U.S....Canada is so chill.) We grabbed a mooring buoy, and then set up our crab trap (we got one of these cool Flex Fold collapsibles to keep in the lazarette, and I think we may get another). We put it all together with the bait container and the 100ft line and the red and white buoy with my name and phone number on it, and out it went in about 30 feet of water. In 45 minutes or so, we had our first Dungeness crab! It was a male and it was a keeper, so in the bucket it went. We set the trap back out and took the dinghy into shore to hike around a bit. Sidney Spit is a very popular park in the summer due... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Riveted
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This morning we got up early to get some work done, since we were planning to head over into B.C. today (~5 hour cruise). We stopped in at the Department of Homeland Security/Customs office at Cap Sante Marina and asked about (and got the form for) getting a new 2015 Customs decal (the one on our boat is a 2014 sticker). The customs agent was super helpful and nice. He even told us that when we come back to the U.S., if we come straight back to Cap Sante (without stopping anywhere else) just to give them a call when we get to the marina and they'll come clear us through customs from our slip. We can clear customs from our own slip at the marina. Could that BE any more convenient? No. People are always talking about how rude the customs agents are when you come back into the U.S. via Roche Harbor or Friday Harbor (which we'll still try sometime, because it's hard to believe that if we are super nice and aren't trying to smuggle booze, they'd still be mean), but I think we'll usually aim to clear from our slip instead, because why not? This Department... Continue reading
Posted Mar 23, 2015 at Riveted
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This is what we've been doing for the past three days (and why it's been so quiet on the blog) -- a seminar in preparation for cruising the Inside Passage to Southeast Alaska (and beyond): We'll be joining the first flotilla of about 7 boats or so -- led by Mark Bunzel of the Waggoner Cruising Guide. Our friend Sam Landsman will be leading the second flotilla, and hopefully we'll run into him up there sometime as well. The flotilla takes three weeks to travel 760 miles from Anacortes, WA to Ketchikan, AK (more info here if you're interested). After we arrive in Ketchikan, the flotilla will be officially over and Kevin and I (along with others, I'm sure) will continue on up further into Southeast Alaska (after Kevin takes a quick business trip from Ketchikan), making stops at Petersburg, Juneau, Sitka, and many (many!) other cool spots we learned about over the weekend. This seminar was fantastic -- an intense amount of information covering SO much: mechanical issues, weather, tides and currents, navigation, culture, attractions, safety, provisioning, technology and communication, medical emergencies, cooking, photography, fishing, crabbing, and other "what ifs", delivered by some very knowledgeable people. We are super... Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2015 at Riveted
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I was SO looking forward to seeing whales today on our long cruise back to Anacortes. I had a blog post all worked out...I was going to talk about how finding whales in the Salish Sea was easier than finding a herd of tame deer on a tiny little island. (There were photos all over the internet of humpback whales in Haro Strait yesterday!) But alas...no whales for us. We had a lovely cruise though from Jones Island around the back side of San Juan Island and then on to Anacortes. (I drove the boat while Kevin worked, mostly.) We got back to our slip, hosed off the boat, and then went to grab dinner at Adrift (so good!) and now we're back at the boat. Tomorrow morning we start Day 1 of a 3-day preparation seminar for our trip up the Inside Passage to Alaska...the trip that starts on May 16! So soon!!! Here's our whale-less route from today (41 nautical miles): Related articles Wandering around Port Townsend Work Day/Back to Anacortes English Camp: The Pig War Travel Camera Upgrade Newborn whale is spotted in Haro Strait with J-pod Second orca baby gives hope for endangered species Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2015 at Riveted
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We have now hiked every trail on Jones Island -- no deer. I thought I saw one when we were coming around the northeast tip of the island, but it was only a leprechaun. However devoid of deer, this half of the island still has lots of moss, mushrooms, and beautiful scenery. Here's the map from today's hike (you can see the two other loops that we did yesterday, too): And two bald eagles just flew over the boat making loud eagle sounds, so that was cool. Last night before we went to bed we went outside on the back deck to look at the stars, and noticed this gorgeous glow in sky from the Vancouver city lights. A rocking boat is not the best stable platform to capture such a thing in a photograph, but I got two pretty cool shots. The colors are different due to a slight change in shutter speed...the actual color was somewhere in between these two photos: Related articles More Sucia Island Hiking English Camp: The Pig War We Harvested Our Own Oysters! Touch-ups for Airship Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2015 at Riveted
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We left Cypress Island around noon today and headed for Jones Island State Park. Here's an eagle we saw on our way over: (The new Nikon D7100 with the 18-300mm lens is KILLER, by the way.) We grabbed one of the three free mooring buoys (one was taken), did some more work, and then headed into shore for some more exploring and another hike (and to see the famous deer). Airship from the shore: Where the dock usually lives during the "on" season: Looking north from shore: Okay, and now back to hiking The Island of the Tiny Tame Deer: From the Washington State Parks website: Jones Island State park is a 188-acre marine camping park with 25,000-feet of saltwater shoreline on the San Juan channel. The park features a beautiful loop trail down the center of the island then around the western shore. A herd of black-tail deer live on the island. The deer have become habituated to the presence of humans and are quite tame. From Wikipedia: The park features a dock, four miles of hiking trails, and 24 primitive campsites, two of which are reserved for non-motorized voyagers traveling along the Cascadia Marine Trail. The park's population... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2015 at Riveted
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This morning's office view at Eagle Harbor on Cypress Island: We left Anacortes late yesterday and headed over to Eagle Harbor on Cypress Island for the night. It was just over an hour to Eagle Harbor. We grabbed a mooring ball and took the dinghy to shore to walk around a bit (and check out potential hikes for tomorrow) before starting dinner. Our office view this morning was not too shabby: We got up and did a bunch of work this morning before going to shore for a pre-breakfast hike. We took the trail up to Duck Lake. This short hike is a loop -- about 2 miles -- and if you go counterclockwise it's a nice gradual uphill to the lake with the steeper part downhill at the end. I forgot to turn the tracker off for the dinghy trip back the boat: Here's a link to a good map of the trails on Cypress Island. Eagle Harbor through the trees: Duck Lake, complete with ducks! We have great service here (AT&T and Verizon) and even watched the last two episodes of The Jinx last night without a single glitch. We're working a bit more here and then pretty... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2015 at Riveted
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I recently picked up two of these U.S. Navy fouled anchor demitasse cups on Etsy to use for espresso on the boat. They're durable, mess hall quality, and fit nicely in the cupboard with the regular coffee cups. Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2015 at Riveted
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"Wow, you guys are SO! LUCKY!" This is one of the more frequent things we hear in response to the lifestyle we live and share on this blog. Although we understand where this sentiment comes from, the fact of the matter is that it's not luck at all. We didn't win the lottery. Neither of us has a trust fund. No rich relatives died and left us gazillions of dollars or anything. Here's what we did: we committed to a goal, and then we worked really hard toward that goal, and we didn't allow ourselves to be distracted by things that were not supportive of this goal. That's it, and you can do it too! We feel very fortunate to be able to live and travel the way we do but "luck" has very little to do with it. "Luck" paints a picture of ease...velvet sofas and mint juleps on the veranda after sleeping until noon, while golden opportunities fall gently into your robed lap. But when it comes to luck, I'm sure we have just as much bad luck as we have good luck. The lifestyle we've crafted for ourselves is very deliberate. We have worked hard and sacrificed... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2015 at Riveted
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Here she is, headed back to the water (where she belongs!) :) A pressure wash, a new coat of bottom paint, shiny new zincs, antifouling paint on the running gear, and now we're ready for more adventure. Since the end of September when we got this boat, we've logged over 1500 nautical miles and over 200 hours. Can't wait to double triple quadruple that! (Thanks again, Herve, for the photos!) Related articles Touch-ups for Airship Work Day/Back to Anacortes Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2015 at Riveted
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Since 2007 I've been using a Nikon D300 with an 18-200mm VR lens as my travel camera. I've got a D700 in my studio with a variety of fixed lenses, and I love that camera, but something like the D300 with one good, versatile lens seems perfect for travel...no changing lenses, and quick on the draw. Lately though, I've been noticing that the images from my Fuji x100s are way better images than the ones coming from my D300. (The Fuji is wonderful for general travel, but it has a fixed lens so it isn't ideal for capturing whales in the distance or sea lions tearing apart a salmon 200 yards away). We decided that a new camera was pretty high on the list of upgrades/things to get before going up the Inside Passage to Alaska in May. So, meet the new travel camera: I went with a Nikon D7100 and an 18-300mm VR lens (100 more mms than my previous lens!!). I'll be selling my D300 and 18-200 VR lens now (that's the rule, camera in, camera out). So far, I'm very impressed with my new setup. Can't wait to try it out on some sea life! Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2015 at Riveted
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Friluftsliv — pronounced free-loofts-liv translates directly from Norwegian as "free air life." It's a concept we don't really have a word for in English, and doesn't translate easily, but it's a word used in Norway to describe a life spent exploring and appreciating nature. YES! (I know, I used that water photo in a previous post. So what. It's pretty.) Read more about friluftsliv here My second-favorite new word is the Danish word "hygge" but it has more to do with winter, so it moved to number two, because it's March and things are blooming, but it's fabulous, and you can read about its meaning here. Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2015 at Riveted
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New zincs on the transom, the rudder, and the bow and stern thrusters, a good pressure washing, another coat of bottom paint on the hull, and a coat of antifouling paint on the running gear: I hate not being to watch all the fun in person, but Herve at Nordic NW took some photos for me so I could see the progress. Here's the running gear before antifouling paint: And here's one of the thruster zincs (clearly in need of replacement): So...zincs! For you non-boat people, here's the deal: Zincs are also called galvanic anodes, or sacrificial anodes, and these anodes are used to protect submerged metal structures from corrosion. They're made from a metal with a more active voltage than the metal of the submerged structure. This difference in potential between the two metals means that the zinc corrodes first so that the thing you care about does not, hence, the name "sacrificial anode." Too bad these won't work on an Airstream to combat that blasted filiform corrosion, isn't it?? Related articles Hood Canal - Alderbrook Kingston to Pleasant Harbor Working on the Water (Day Job) Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2015 at Riveted
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Okay so what does everyone love for cookware? In the Airstream I've still got this set of nesting cookware by Magma that I got a while back, and it's fine, but it's not particularly sexy. In the boat I have the same set, because it nests, it's space saving, and it came with the boat. :) Magma 10 Piece Gourmet Nesting Stainless Steel Cookware Set I added a 10' Calphalon nonstick frying pan to both the boat and the Airstream, and that's probably my most used pan of all. It was $30 bucks at Target and when it wears out, I'll just replace it. It's got a nice heavy, flat base so it heats evenly and it's great for omelettes. I use the large Magma dutch oven for soups and blanching veggies, and occasionally one of the smaller pots for reheating something. I've also got two sizes of cast iron frying pans in the Airstream, silicone muffin pans, and a couple of good baking sheets, along with the Falcon enamelware (red/orange for the Airstream, blue for the boat). So I'm curious what you foodie travelers use and love. This Le Creuset Mariner's Star cast iron dutch oven (also shown above)... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2015 at Riveted
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Fossil Bay, Sucia Islands, March 2015 Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2015 at Riveted
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Now that we've spent about a hundred days/nights in our Nordic Tug (since the end of September 2014! Can you believe that??), there are a few details in Nordic Tugs that we think Airstreams should have. 1. Locking cabinet/drawer pulls Obviously, the real wood (sapele) cabinetry in the Nordic Tug is great but not an option for the standard Airstream, due to cost (and weight), but these locking drawer and cabinet pulls are SO much better than the 5lb/10lb RV latches on the cupboards in the Airstream. They're essentially a push button style pull. When pushed in, the hardware is flush with the cabinet and the cabinet or drawer is locked. To unlock, just push in and the pull pops out for easy use as a handle. When you're ready to get on the road (or sea) again, a quick push in and the cupboard is locked. The problem with the latches in the Airstream is that they're supposed to be strong enough to keep the doors and drawers closed while under way, but they aren't and they don't. In both Airstreams we've owned we've had drawers come completely out during travel (denting the floor, spilling the contents, breaking the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2015 at Riveted
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We worked this morning over at Friday Harbor for a while, and then headed back to Anacortes. We're going to have some work done on the boat this week/next week (haul out, bottom paint, zincs replaced, stuff like that). Sad to say goodbye, but it's just for a short bit. Great day for a cruise though! Mt. Baker looking pretty: Here's our track from today (23 nautical miles): Related articles Kingston to Pleasant Harbor Why do you guys move around so much? - Riveted Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2015 at Riveted
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Kevin shot some aerial/quadcopter video of us in Fossil Bay over on Sucia Island the other day and made a short video. The weather wasn't quite as beautiful as as it was for his previous Sucia Island quadcopter video, but this is a different view of the bay on a gray day and gives a good overall feel for where we were moored in the bay (and Ev Henry Point there on the right of this frame, where we hiked the other day): Related articles Boatin' and Hikin' - Sucia Island More Sucia Island Hiking Flying Around Watmough Bay - Riveted Good Morning from Watmough Bay - Riveted Sucia Island to San Juan Island Kingston to Pleasant Harbor Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2015 at Riveted