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Laura Domela
Portland, OR
On the road in a 2010 27'FB Airstream International
Recent Activity
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This Eva-Dry dehumidifier came with our Nordic Tug, and we're impressed! One of these would be great in the Airstream during the soggy months in the Pacific Northwest, too! It sits on the counter and runs quietly in the background, collecting water right out of the air. I usually empty it when it's half full or so, but it's got a little light that turns on when it needs to be emptied (and a shut off switch that turns it off when it gets full). The reservoir holds up to 16 oz of water, and there's a larger version if you want it for a bigger space. Related articles 12 Nights on the Water Some Interior Photos of Airship We Bought a Boat! Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Riveted
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We spent the weekend up at the boat in Anacortes. We left Portland late on Friday and got to the marina around 9pm, and then stayed up late (3am!) doing boat stuff. Fun! The wind was really whipping when we arrived and there were gale warnings and tons of rain over the weekend, so it wasn't a great boating weekend anyway. (Plus, the solar panels being installed on top of the pilot house are mid-install and just strapped to the roof with rope line at the moment.) Stormy pretty view from the stern of Airship: We brought a car load of stuff to the boat: bedding, pillows, kitchen cutting board, a new rug for the salon, a bunch of electronic things, cables, etc. We spent a lot of the weekend moving in and out of very tight places, tracing existing cabling so we could run a few new ones alongside (making sure to re-zip tie and label everything, just like the very neatly done existing wiring). More yoga will come in handy for these kinds of pretzely projects. I cleaned out and organized the lazarette (the below deck storage area at the back of the boat, also very pretzely), which... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Riveted
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Some of you have asked us about our boat-buying decision, and specifically about how we ended up choosing a tug. (Note that these tugs are tugs in style only...they don't actually tug stuff.) We might have written about bits of this before, but here it is, all together! You may remember when we first spotted the cute little Ranger Tugs up in Port Townsend, WA and then again up in Comox, BC when we were on our Airstream trip up to Vancouver Island back in July. We were working at the dinette at Point Hudson Marina in Port Townsend, and we'd been eyeing these little boats for a couple days. There were four or five of them in the marina...same brand, different models and colors...and they were cute! This shot has three of them, on the left of the image: One day we noticed they were all gearing up to leave and we decided we should run down there and find out what kind of boats they were before they were gone. We went back to the Airstream and started doing a little internet research. Ranger Tugs came in a variety of sizes (21, 25, 27, 29, and 31 foot)... Continue reading
Posted Oct 15, 2014 at Riveted
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As you may have noticed, we lean toward a bit of adventure in our lives. One thing our experience has taught us is that there is no substitute for knowledge. Whenever we begin a new activity, we want to learn everything we can. For us, that education process is a big part of the excitement. It is also the best thing we can do to keep ourselves (and others) safe, protect our investment in gear, and blend smoothly into the subculture of whatever activity we are taking on. We fly airplanes, tow travel trailers, ride bicycles, and now we boat. All of these activities are fun, but also carry some degree of (manageable) risk. In the airplane world, a great deal of safety is mandated by law. You must complete a very rigorous training, testing, and licensing regimen before you are allowed to fly an airplane. Piloting the other vehicles, however, is much more self directed. Even so, we still try to apply much of the same mindset to them that we learned in pilot training. So now, we have a boat. But, before we headed out willy-nilly into the stormy seas with nine tons of diesel-powered, technology-enhanced, GPS-guided, radar-tracking... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2014 at Riveted
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We picked up one of these sweet little lamps (Fatboy's Edison the Petit) this week to use on top of the aft closet in the boat (and anywhere else we want...it's portable!) It's LED, has three light settings, is rechargeable, and has a whole bunch of cute lampshades (called Cooper Cappies) to give it a bit of personal style if you so desire. The light will last unplugged for 6-24 hours (depending on the light setting) before needing a recharge. Here's Edison with the Mr. Orange Cooper Cappie: Can't wait to try it out on the boat! This would be great for Airstreaming as well. Keep it on the dinette table charging, then take it outside to the picnic table for a romantic lamplit dinner! Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2014 at Riveted
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I wanted to wait a little until I got some of our own stuff in Airship to take and show you interior photos, but that's going a little slow since the boat is in Anacortes and it's a little harder to try things out to see what works. The Nespresso maker works though. Here's a photo of it: The stovetop (and convection microwave below it, just out of frame) is being replaced this week with a Force 10 propane stove/oven. So, as you enter from the aft cockpit through this door, you've got the L-shaped salon/dinette on your starboard side (it makes into a double bed), and the L-shaped galley on the port side. The interior wood is all sapele. I'd never heard of sapele (pronounced suh-PEE-lee) until we looked at Nordic Tugs. Sapele is a member of the mahogany family (often used in making musical instruments) and it's just gorgeous. (None of this woodwork is veneer, either. The cabinetry and finish work is fantastic in this boat!) The upholstery is Ultraleather in the color "whiskey". All the stairs have little red lights for use at night (so you don't wreck your night vision if you're underway after dark, but... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2014 at Riveted
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We left Roche Harbor yesterday around 11am. We thought we'd head south along the back side of San Juan Island where we'd seen the orcas the other day. We knew their spot...almost all the way down the island to the southern tip. We were motoring along as Kevin was trying out a new feature of the radar. It's a radar alert area, and if anything comes within the area ahead of you, it beep beep beeps with a warning signal. You can see the radar panel on the left, below. The alert area is inside that red outline (and the boat is in the center of the innermost circle). The middle panel is the chart panel, and the pink line is our course as it follows along the shore of San Juan Island, just FYI. We've got a course plotted from Roche Harbor to Anacortes, and the autopilot will take us there while we watch and avoid kelp (and other boats). Anyway, we're going along, all by ourselves, and a little beep beep beep happens, along with a tiny dot on the radar (about the size of that tiny dot nearest the red zone on the photo above), and then... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2014 at Riveted
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This morning we got up early and decided to head up to the Lime Kiln Cafe for some breakfast (and one of their famous donuts). Breakfast was good. The salted caramel donut we shared before breakfast was really good. :) After breakfast we headed over to the harbormaster's office to pay for our night of moorage (they were closed at 5pm when we got in last night. Roche Harbor slip moorage with electricity and free Wi-Fi was $31. I think that's the cheapest one yet! After we paid up, we walked around the grounds of the resort a bit: Wow. Fancy kayak docks: The little chapel (the only privately owned Catholic Church in the United States, apparently): Old schoolhouse: We decided we really should walk up the hill and see the highly rated mausoleum (highly rated in the "you've never seen anything like it" kind of way). There's a LOT of signage to get you to this place: The entrance (kind of): Past this entrance sign there's a little trail that leads you past a bunch of old graves: And more signage: It's like the Wall Drug of mausoleums (and every bit as quirky when you finally arrive): You really... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2014 at Riveted
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Today after we finished up with some of the more important work stuff, we left West Bay Resort on Orcas and headed to Stuart Island to check out Prevost Harbor. We figured we wouldn't have good service there so our plan was to just stop for lunch and a hike and then head to Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. The weather has been amazing. It's October! We decided to moor at the dock in Prevost Harbor on Stuart Island and I made us some lunch that we ate out on the dockside picnic table. After lunch, we headed up the hill for a hike. The trail was a "difficult" grade but not bad at all. Here's what we did: The trails all looked pretty much like this: Stuart Island State Park has 18 primitive campsites, and they all look kinda like this, most with gorgeous views: Looking back at Airship from the trail: After our hike, we left Prevost Harbor and headed for Roche Harbor. Entering Roche Harbor: Coming into the marina for overnight "camping" is a little different (at least up here) from arriving at a campground. You call in (either by cell phone, or on the specified... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2014 at Riveted
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That's Fossil Bay this morning just before we left. We left this incredibly beautiful place so we could get more reliable internet to do some work this morning. Once we have our new Moovbox internet set up, this will NOT happen again. :) Here's where we are now: West Beach Resort on Orcas Island. We grabbed a mooring buoy for a few hours and we'll probably take the dinghy in to see what they have at the little store (and get rid of our trash) before heading over to Stuart Island. They don't charge you if you're just hanging out for a few hours (and there's no one else here). Here are a few more photos from Sucia Island/Fossil Bay that I didn't get to post last night: Spritzes on the deck, again: I also found a couple photos I forgot to post from Anacortes, so I'll just put 'em here. In the SeBo Do-it-Yourself hardware store (the one that can't make a decent copy of a key that works)...they have an enormous collection of boutique sodas. Enormous. This is a photo of maybe 1/8th of the shelves: And this one. I forget if this was in the Safeway or... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2014 at Riveted
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We took the dinghy ashore and did some hiking and exploring around Sucia Island today. First we headed over to Shallow Bay. Great rock formations: This tree looked like it was standing upright (about 8' high) on the shore over at Shallow Bay, but it was covered in barnacles...which made no sense. I think it must have been some driftwood that turned a way to make it look like a shore-growing tree: Here's a map of our route. We started at the green circle (as soon as we got to shore), headed to Shallow Bay, then around Mud Bay, to Snoring Bay, and out to Johnson Point: Hiking trails: Passing Airship (the furthest boat) on the way back out to Snoring Bay: Nice bark: Approaching Snoring Bay (this might still be Mud Bay, but look how Fall it is!) Snoring bay, two mooring buoys, one boat: After Snoring Bay we hiked on toward Johnson Point (the rocky formation on the left in the above photo). Here's Kevin, working on the trail (hey, gotta take the cell reception where you can get it!): Cute little (dead, empty shell) crab we found on the shore. I call this shot: Zombie Fighting Crab.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2014 at Riveted
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Yesterday afternoon we left Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes and headed out to Sucia Island, just north of Orcas. The weather was gray, but gray in that way that makes the water and the sky all blue and silvery. The cruise was about 2.5 hours and we saw TONS of porpoises and a few seals (and when we got to Sucia, a dozen or so otters). Good day for sea life! Porpoises off of Orcas Island: Sucia Island State Park is a Washington State Marine Park and it's absolutely gorgeous here. We grabbed a mooring buoy in Fossil Bay at about 5:30pm, took the dinghy to shore to pay our $12 bucks for overnight moorage, walked around a little bit on the island before headed back to Airship to make dinner and do some work. (We're getting good at the mooring buoy thing. Next up: anchoring!) Here's where we are: Arriving at Fossil Bay, Sucia Island: If you moor at the dock there are picnic tables all along it for the boat campers. On the island there are quite a few gorgeous campsites with picnic tables, fire pits, and incredible views. Looking across to Fox Bay: Walking the dock back... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2014 at Riveted
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Yesterday was a day of running errands and doing a little provisioning in Anacortes. The service department won't be starting on Airship's solar panels or its new stove until next week when the parts arrive, so we have the uninterrupted use of the boat this week if we want it (and we do!!) The weather is still great and the crowds of summer are gone. It's a perfect time to be cruising the San Juan Islands. We made the customary New Boat Owner trip to West Marine (not too much damage, actually...two small bags), a stop at Bed Bath and Beyond (a few larger bags), and then we set out to have a couple sets of boat keys made (which turned out to be the most gigantic hassle). Six tries later (with three back and forth trips from the boat to the hardware store and no working keys) we ended up going back into Burlington (about 30 minutes away) to A-1 Locksmith. We arrived 15 minutes before closing and they rocked it! They reworked the two non-working keys, plus made us a couple new ones, and they ALL work. (Interesting bit of info: Our Nordic Tug is made here in... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2014 at Riveted
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Our evening moored at Spencer Spit was great. A cocktail on the top deck, sunset, water, wildlife, trees...it can't get much better. A sailboat was anchored a ways from us, but there were still no other boats at the mooring buoys on this side of the spit. We tried out our generator this evening (runs great, super quiet, even quieter outside). I'm glad we're adding solar and an inverter though...kinda nice not to have to turn on the generator when you're underway just to make a quick espresso. :) The evening was pretty (the STARS!!). A little later the wind picked up, and the boat hook that hangs on the ladder to the top deck was rhythmically slapping the side each time the boat rocked, so Kevin went outside to move it to the floor of the cockpit. Pretty soon he says in the "loud whisper" voice, "Come out here!!!" It's dark except for the stars and the light on top of Frost Island reflecting in the water, but I can hear it: loud breathing to my left. I look over as my eyes adjust to the darkness and I start to make out a shape in the water where... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2014 at Riveted
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This morning it was quite foggy in Fisherman Bay, so we decided to walk up the road 10 minutes or so to grab some breakfast at the Galley Restaurant while we waited for the fog to burn off. We finished breakfast and walked the ten minutes back to Airship and the fog was even thicker! We cleaned up some stuff on the boat and Kevin did some fine tuning on the dinghy's outboard motor while we waited and listened to the radio and weather. Pretty soon quite a few boats began readying to head out and we figured we'd join 'em! See you later, Fisherman Bay! We cruised around the north end of Lopez Island and decided we'd check out the mooring buoys at Spencer Spit. Spencer Spit is a Washington State Park just south of Swift Bay on the east side of Lopez. There are 10 mooring buoys, 7 on the north side of the spit, and 3 on the south side. Apparently the south side is preferable (probably a tiny bit more protected) but all three of those buoys were occupied, so we headed back around and grabbed ourselves the far one on the north side. We nailed... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2014 at Riveted
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Friday Harbor was fogged in pretty good this morning, but it had mostly burned off by about 10:00am. Our plan for today was to circle San Juan Island, look for some Orcas, and then find ourselves a new place to stay tonight. Before we left Friday Harbor we headed up the dock to the seafood market to see if they had anything we might want for dinner tonight. We picked up a dozen Shigoku oysters and a pound of fresh Sockeye (and an oyster knife for the boat, because...yay oysters!) As we left the seafood market I heard a splash right next to me and looked down and here was this cute little harbor seal trying to get our attention. She'd slap her right fin on top of the water, in the hope (I assume) that perhaps you picked up a spare something-or-other from the market to share with her. Inside the market -- a cool collection of barnacled bottles: Back at the boat we untied our lines and headed out. It looked like the currents favored a counter-clockwise route. We waited for this sea plane to depart and then off we went around the island. We mostly hugged around... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2014 at Riveted
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What a gorgeous end to a fantastic day. The sky cleared in the west as the sun set and the contrast of the warm sunlight against the dark gray sky was spectacular. We got out the chairs and moved our operation to the top deck of Airship and watched the sunset. Boat people are a lot like Airstream people. We got some new neighbors earlier this evening (a 34ish foot sailboat) and we quickly struck up a friendly conversation shortly after they pulled into their slip. They're from Portland, and they had also just come from Anacortes. They were curious about the Nordic Tugs and asked if they could come check it out (of course!) Later, when Kevin and I were up on the top deck, sipping our spritzes and watching the sunset, we saw an Aspen (a power catamaran, built in the same factory as our Nordic Tug) coming into the marina and down our row...quite fast. Okay, maybe it's his home marina. He knows it well. It's late and he's trying to get home in time for the Friday night high school football game. (But he's late, because we can hear the touchdowns from our top deck.) Then,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2014 at Riveted
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This morning we decided to put our new skills to the test (Capt. Jack has great confidence in us) and so at about 10am we left Anacortes and headed toward Friday Harbor on our first ever unsupervised outing. It was a little drizzly when we left but by the time we got to Friday Harbor it was just a bit gray. Click on the map image to enlarge: The trip took us about three hours (we cruised at about 7-10 knots), depending on the current. Lots of ferries in the islands: We'd had practice (with Capt. Jack) grabbing a mooring buoy and anchoring, but we hadn't yet come into an unfamiliar (by boat, anyway) marina and getting ourselves an overnight guest slip, so we figured we'd get one of those under our belt. Here we are in our spot for the night: The view from our stern: Marina overview: Staying overnight at a marina is a lot like getting a campsite in a campground. Once you're within sight of the marina, you call the marina office on either Channel 66 on your VHF radio (or by cell phone) and ask if they have a slip for the night (or however... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2014 at Riveted
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On Tuesday morning we got up early and headed to Anacortes to stay our first night on our new boat "Airship" before meeting up with Capt. Jack DeFriel first thing Wednesday morning for a couple days of on-the-water training. Tuesday evening sunset from the back of Airship: It rained pretty good that first night on the boat and sometime in the middle of the night the wind picked up a bit. From bed (in the bow of the boat) I could hear a little bit of the bow line as it pulled occasionally as the boat moved, but then there was this clangy sound right above our heads. Cling, clang, cling, clang. Hang on! There's nothing that should be making that sound on this boat. I pictured the topside of the boat and remembered there was a little Nordic Tug flag/burgee attached to the front of the rail on the bow and said to Kevin (one of the times we were tossing around, awake) that I knew what that noise was and that in the morning, that flag was coming off. Kevin replied, "In the morning, my butt" as he put on jeans and went out in the dark and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2014 at Riveted
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A couple months back while we were looking at boats and trying to zero in on which might be right for us, one of the things we did was get a tour of the Nordic Tug factory in Burlington, Washington. These are very well-made boats (as are the American Tugs, made in nearby LaConner, Washington -- our runner up) and you couldn't go wrong with either boat. It was great to see the process, and we're very happy with our choice. I didn't show you these earlier, because, well, it was a surprise (and we hadn't decided yet)! Early on Tuesday morning we'll be heading north to close on the sale of our boat, and then starting right in with a few days of on-the-water training. We want to learn as much as we can (while there's someone right there to answer questions) before we strike out on our own (where we have to look things up on the internet). :) After the 29th, we'll be having a few upgrades done to the boat, and once those are finished we'll probably explore the San Juans a little bit (if the weather's still decent) before bringing Airship back to Portland for... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2014 at Riveted
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Turns out that researching boat decor is just about as fun as Airstream decor. Related articles We Bought a Boat! Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2014 at Riveted
No, you aren't the only one who remembers. I remember having to give Ebon a bath in tomato sauce (we didn't have any tomato juice and you said tomato sauce would work just as well). The only thing worse than the smell of skunk...is the smell of skunk mixed in with tomato sauce. Almost ruined spaghetti for me forever.
Toggle Commented Sep 13, 2014 on Skunk Dreams at White Shepherd Stories
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Back in July when we were staying at the Point Hudson Marina in Port Townsend. That's when we caught the bug. It's remarkable that we hadn't caught it before, honestly. We both grew up sailing and boating with our families, and as you've no doubt noticed, we LOVE the marina campgrounds when traveling by Airstream. And still, it never occurred to us until recently that we might want to own a boat. It started with the small fleet of Ranger Tugs we first saw in Port Townsend. Modern, compact, trailerable, and built in nearby Kent, Washington, the Ranger Tug seemed like it might be the one for us: a boat we could live comfortably in while exploring the waterways of the Pacific Northwest. It was like an Airstream on the water! We researched every Ranger model online and studied all of the floor plans. We took the factory tour. We talked about options and colors and interior fabrics and everything. But after much more research and experience being on several different boats, we decided that the Ranger might be too much like our first Airstream: wonderful, but a little tight on space for the amount of time we know we'll... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2014 at Riveted
Posted Sep 11, 2014 at Riveted
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Yesterday we drove from Seattle to Anacortes. We knew the way, but I'd mapped us to our location using my iPhone and Google Maps just to see how long it would take us to get there. We were whizzing along just fine on I-5 at 70mph when my iPhone told me we should be taking an exit several miles ahead. Huh? We still had about 45 miles to go on I-5. "She" wanted us to get off the freeway, take some side streets, and then get back on the SAME freeway. Whatever, little computer brain. Hush. We'd decided to ignore "her" and keep on our merry way when up ahead we saw breaklights and significant traffic backup. Okay, let's do what "she" says, we decided. We got off I-5 and took "her" recommended route, part of it parallelling the freeway where we could see mostly stopped traffic on the northbound side. Whoa! How'd "she" know? I mean, I know Google Maps can show traffic and whether it's slow or medium or fast, but rerouting us based on it? Really? As we re-approached I-5 following "her" instructions, after taking about 4 miles of side streets, the purpose of this reroute became... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2014 at Riveted