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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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The other day we got to go check out the new Nordic Tug 40. I don't think I blogged about it when we saw it in the factory a few months ago, and that's because I didn't like it. I had such high hopes. I was sure it was going to be our next boat. But when I saw the lines of the slanted windows and the non-rectangular shapes the new design now had (especially as it sat in the factory right next to a new NT34, all cute and rectangular with all its adorable boaty personality), I thought "Noooooo, they ruined it! What are those triangles doing there? Don't get suckered in by all the other boats!" They said they needed to change the lines because they were converting the ladder to the upper deck into "stairs" that people could go up and down more easily. Hm. So anyway, fast forward to now. The NT40 went out for some sea trials last week (one with us on it) and I don't hate it nearly as much as I thought I would. In fact, I don't really hate it at all. I'd actually consider it. It's a beautiful boat and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2016 at Riveted
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A couple years ago, we wrote that we had found the best-ever mobile internet solution for our boating and RV adventures - The "Moovbox" from SinglePoint Communications. We have used our Moovbox on both our boat and our RV over the past couple of years, and it has performed brilliantly! But, time and technology march ever forward and it was only a matter of time before something better came along. Now, SinglePoint Communications has a new family of "WiFi In Motion" solutions specifically for RVs and boats. Their "WiFi In Motion - Max RV" and "WiFi In Motion - Max Marine" solutions are comprehensive - including routers, antennas, mounting and wiring hardware, and even competitively priced service plans - all from one source. SinglePoint has partnered with PepWave for the router part of the solution to develop capabilities that are tailored to the RV and marine crowd. We've been testing Max Marine the past few weeks on Airship as we cruise the San Juan Islands, and our initial experience has been superb. We were skeptical that we could be persuaded to replace our Moovbox this soon, but at this point it looks like the new WiFi In Motion - Max... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2016 at Riveted
Posted Apr 17, 2016 at Riveted
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Yesterday afternoon we went out on a sea trial of the new Nordic Tug 40, and this morning we went to the factory to check out another new Nordic Tug 44. We'll blog about this separately I think, but both new boats look fantastic. This afternoon we decided to pop over to Cypress Island for the night. We stopped at our favorite local seafood spot, Black Rock Seafood, and picked up some fresh local halibut, a few local spot prawns, some Shigoku and extra small Pacific oysters, and one container each of salmon pâté and smoked albacore pâté from Seabolts Smokehouse. (They are almost always sold out of these pâtés...they're so good!) We got over to Cypress and did a few boat projects before heading to shore for a short hike. We took the dinghy around Cypress Head and beached it on the other side of the sandy bar that connects it to the rest of the island: There are two other boats here, and one empty mooring ball. Tons of tiny, dead, brightly colored crabs on shore. :( Curvy tree: The hike around Cypress head is really only about a mile, but the other option from here goes straight... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2016 at Riveted
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This morning when I picked up my iPhone, I saw that I had a text from a friend and concerned blog reader, after yesterday's post. If you aren't caught up, read that post here first, and then come back. She agreed to let me share our text conversation here, keeping her anonymous...I offered, she didn't ask. Her: Hey. You could have some company this morning. Me: What, who? Where are you? Her: Well....I called the San Juan Sheriff's office and let them know they may want to check out that little hideaway. Me: I think they already are checking out this little hideaway. That's what I think these guys are doing...monitoring this cove. Her: So you think they are good guys? Me: No judgment on good or bad, but I do think they are probably law enforcement, stationed in the lighthouse, watching the cove for suspicious activity. Her: Well...the sheriff didn't seem to know about it if they are...but they did ask for your blog. Me: Oh good. Now the sheriff is going to read my post. Her: He did read the post. While I was on the phone with him. Me: Awesome. What did he say? Her: Thanked me... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2016 at Riveted
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Alright. Here we go. If you follow along you'll remember the last time we were here at Patos Island. By ourselves. The only boat on the one mooring buoy here. We hiked around the island and never saw another boat. But then, on our way from the lighthouse back to the beach where our dinghy was, we passed two guys heading toward the lighthouse wearing Carhartts and knit caps, the guy in front carrying a handheld radio. They said "hey." We said "hey." We expected to see their boat when we got back to the cove, but no boat. No kayaks. No nothing. It was curious to say the least. (It's at this point the "making up stories' engine roars into overdrive.) We never saw them leave. No boat came to pick them up. We were the only boat here. It was super odd. So, fast forward one month. Today was a weird day, for sure. Federal, state, and county law enforcement were out in full force here between Sucia Island and Patos Island and the Canadian border. (This is an area that's usually pretty uninhabited. Most of the time we're at Patos Island, we're the only humans for miles... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2016 at Riveted
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Wow, today on the water was weird! Cool, but also weird. Sam left Shallow Cove on Sucia Island about an hour before we did. As we were leaving, he texted us and said he'd been boarded by the San Juan Sheriff. They inspected all his safety gear and documentation and stuff (he passed) and then they were on their way. We joked back and forth that maybe they'd be on the lookout for us next! We headed off toward the west side of San Juan Island to look for orcas, but pretty soon we noticed five or so boats over near the Canadian border. Where there's this, there are probably whales. I looked on my Marine Traffic app and one of them was definitely a whale watching boat, and after binoc'ing them, we confirmed: whale watching boats. So off we went. A few minutes later a Department of Fish & Wildlife patrol boat came zooming toward us. Hey! It must be the day to be boarded in the San Juan Islands! We slowed down and then idled as they came up on our port side and asked for our identification. We handed over our IDs as they asked us where... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2016 at Riveted
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Yesterday morning, Cypress Island: We spent Tuesday night at Cypress Head with Sam. Sam now has a drone too and got a nice shot of our two Nordic Tugs tucked away in the cove: Here's Sam on his bow, in his robe, bringing in the drone: We left Cypress and were headed to Griffin Bay on San Juan Island, but Sam heard on the radio that there were some K dubs (killer whales, orcas) out near Sucia Island, so we changed our plans and headed out to Sucia. We never saw any orcas though. We moored in Shallow Bay on the west side of Sucia Island. Before we headed to shore for some hiking, Sam took the drone up again and got some great shots of us in the bay, with the rest of Sucia Island and Mount Baker in the background. So cool! Dinghy on shore, Nordic Tugs (and a sailboat) in the background: Kevin and Sam on a makeshift teeter-totter in Echo Bay: Dinner on Airship last night was grilled chicken, zucchini and risotto. This morning is calm and gray. Kevin's working, and I'm making breakfast tacos for us before we head out. We don't know where our... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2016 at Riveted
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I forgot to post these photos from my Nikon the other day. Bald eagle on (and off) a buoy: And a nice view of Mt. Baker on the way over to Cypress Island: Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2016 at Riveted
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We spent a few days in Anacortes working on some projects, and then took Airship out for some island time. We spent Saturday night at Spencer Spit State Park on Lopez Island. We left Cap Sante late and arrived at Spencer Spit by about 6:30pm. Saturday all day it was clear and gorgeous out, but Sunday morning the clouds had rolled in: On Sunday we popped back over to Cap Sante to pick up a few things and then went over to Cypress Island for the night. We normally stay at Eagle Harbor on Cypress, but this time we tried the NE cove at Cypress Head and it is lovely! Looking toward Fidalgo Island, across the little bit of beach that joins Cypress Head to Cypress Island: We went ashore and hiked around Cypress Head for a while. There are some primo campsites here: After our hike we went for a little dinghy exploration. Lots of seals and bald eagles around here. We saw a bunch of porpoises yesterday on our way from Lopez Island to Cypress Island, too. Sunset last night was beautiful and it was so calm in here overnight that it was hard to tell we were... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2016 at Riveted
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The view from our deck last night, post boat show. There are a bunch of neat boats up here at the annual Anacortes Boat Show. If you're nearby, come check it out! As you can see, the weather is perfect boat show weather! :) Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2016 at Riveted
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We had some friends in town a few days ago (hi Sam, Anna, and David!) which as most Portlanders know is a great reason to head out into the Columbia Gorge to get another look at Multnomah Falls: We took I-84 out of Portland and then exited to take the Old Highway 30 scenic route the rest of the way so we could drive slowly past a number of waterfalls, slot canyons, and viewpoints. Here's the view from the Vista House, looking east: Inside the Vista House: I don't remember which waterfall this was: My favorite spot out here is Oneonta Gorge: a moss-walled slot canyon where fairies and unicorns live. Later in the summer when it's warmer, you can hike (through water and over a big log jam that wasn't there the first time I came here, but has been the last several times...it's a fun climb-over) all the way to the Oneonta Falls (and if it's really warm, go swimming!). There's no real trail...the river is the trail, so warm weather (or really tall rubber boots) are recommended. We did see a few brave souls wading through in tennies and shorts and no shirts, however, so suit yourself.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2016 at Riveted
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We had a beautiful calm, silvery cruise from Turn Island out around the bottom of Lopez Island and over to Watmough Bay. View from our new moorage: Once we were settled (takes about 2 minutes) Kevin decided to take the dinghy and the Torqeedo out for some exploring, while I kicked back and read a book. Ahhh, Saturday! Today it's gray and raining a little bit, but still calm and our cruise back to Anacortes this afternoon should be calm and uneventful. Related articles Watmough Bay, Lopez Island Patos to Sucia to San Juan Turn Island with S/V Yahtzee Morning in Griffin Bay Port Townsend to Stuart Island K-Dubs and HBs Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2016 at Riveted
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Yesterday we met up with Andy Cross and his two sons, Porter and Magus, aboard Yahtzee. You may know Andy from his Three Sheets NW website.) We've corresponded a bit via email and it was great to finally meet in person. We're moored just around the corner from here...you can just see Yahtzee there on the right... We all went to shore and the boys played on the beach (and in the trees, and in the water) while the three of us exchanged stories and backgrounds and such as we got to know each other. I wish this photo had been focused on Magnus instead of the dinghies, but I still thought I'd post it. Porter was running around and playing like crazy while Magnus just hung here on the picnic table with us, chillin' and eating his grapes and goldfish. We did dinner on Airship and then wine on Yahtzee (so the boys could go to bed at a decent hour). It was a great night, and always fun to meet new friends. (Andy's wife, Jill, was out of town...so we'll look forward to meeting her next time we connect!) This morning we slept in a bit, and then... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2016 at Riveted
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Yesterday we spent most of the day working and going through the cabinets and bins in the boat and getting rid of stuff we don't use or want on the boat (thinking about the additional stuff we'll be bringing for the next Alaska trip). Feels good to streamline things even more! Then at around 3pm we went to shore and hiked over to Ewing Cove. From Fossil Bay it's just under 6 miles round trip. There was only one boat in Echo Bay with its own personal view of Mount Baker. So lovely! Heron on the shore: Hollow Madrone: Sunset: This morning after breakfast we're going to head over to meet some friends at Turn Island on the east side of San Juan. There are a few light clouds today and the wind picked up a little this morning, and we're now the only boat in Fossil Bay. :) Related articles Work Day/Back to Anacortes Morning in Griffin Bay Scale: Where We've Been and Where We're Going Boatin' and Hikin' - Sucia Island Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2016 at Riveted
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We cruised the short cruise from Patos Island to Fossil Bay on Sucia Island this morning. (We never saw those Carhartt guys again, by the way.) It's just us and two sailboats on the mooring balls, and one power boat over at the dock. I can't even imagine this place in the summer, with every mooring ball filled (sometimes with more than one boat each) and every campsite occupied...that place is probably a zoo! Once moored, we did some work for a bit, had a little lunch, and then went ashore for our favorite Sucia Island activity: hiking. Fox Cove: We decided on the hike out/up to Ev Henry Point. This is a gorgeous (short and steep...maybe 2.5 miles?) hike. The last time we hiked up here we surprised a couple of eagles that were in the trees just 20 feet above our heads or so. No eagles this time, but what a beautiful day. You can see on this map, Ev Henry Point is at the bottom of the map: Looking back towards Fox Cove: Ooooh, artsy: Moss-lined trails: Nice of this tree to grow a little arch over our path, huh? The view from Ev Henry Point: The... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2016 at Riveted
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Last night's cocktail was a Rosemary Maple Bourbon Sour: The recipe I followed (makes two cocktails) 3 shots bourbon 1 & 1/2 shots fresh lemon juice 3/4 shot dark amber maple syrup 1 large sprig of rosemary (plus 2 small sprigs for garnish) Crush the large sprig of rosemary in your hand and add it to the shaker. Add the bourbon, lemon juice, maple syrup and ice to above the level of the liquid and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain the mixture into rocks glasses containing large cubes of ice and garnish with remaining rosemary sprigs. Next time I think I'd go to 1 shot of lemon juice and 1 shot of maple syrup. Cheers! Last night's sunset from Airship's moorage at Patos Island: P.S. If you're reading this, then we survived. :) Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2016 at Riveted
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It's pretty cool when you go back to a place you've been a whole bunch of times before and you learn new stuff about it! We left Blind Bay yesterday around noon and made a quick stop in Deer Harbor to grab some TP (we forgot to put it on the shopping list while we were in Anacortes, dur). We also picked up what looked like a delicious bottle of Smoked Jalapeno Barbeque sauce from Local-Goods on Orcas Island, made right there in Deer Harbor. (Update: it's fantastic! I think I'm going to put it on my eggs in the morning.) Airship at the guest dock in Deer Harbor: The weather forecast for the whole week is pretty calm, so we originally thought we'd go out to Sucia to do some hiking, but as we were en route, I thought we should first see if the mooring ball (there's only one now) on Patos was available. If so, we could do the trail we haven't taken yet (we always get suckered to go out to the lighthouse, but there's a trail that goes the other way too). We got to Patos and the mooring ball was empty, and therefore ours.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2016 at Riveted
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Remember our friend Laura at Vacilando Quilting Co.? She made our beautiful "Boat Quilt" as well as two navy blue "Subway Totes" for the boat. Well, she recently started making waxed canvas, roll-top versions of her Subway Totes and so I chose this navy blue ticking material and asked her make us two more totes. (You can never have enough things to carry other things in on a boat.) They're super great, and more water resistant than the original totes (the canvas is waxed with beeswax). We used them the other day to pack a quick overnight back for our anniversary getaway, and they were just PERFECT. Laura makes all of these awesome things from her Airstream. So if you need the most perfect tote ever (or a gorgeous custom quilt or pillows...) I can't say enough about how much we love Laura's work. :) Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2016 at Riveted
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We celebrated our 19th anniversary (19 married, 21 together, woohoo!) yesterday by heading into LaConner for an overnight at The Heron Inn & Day Spa. The Heron Inn is super cute. It's a bed and breakfast with tons of charm. Photo of the exterior (from their website...it was pouring and blowing a gale when we arrived so we just hustled from the car to the front door): We had the master suite for the night (and since it was a Sunday in the winter, we actually had the whole place to ourselves). Here is a shot of the master suite/fireplace (also from the Heron Inn's website): The huge jacuzzi tub was so nice (scale is tough in this photo, but there was more than enough room for two in there)! The nook at the end of our suite (taken while watching that tree outside the window whip around like crazy in the gale winds yesterday): When I booked the room, I scheduled us each for massages (which were lovely). After some massage and intense relaxation, we headed over to The Oyster & Thistle for dinner. We'd been to Oyster & Thistle for lunch before once when we were in La... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2016 at Riveted
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Earlier this week we headed over to LaConner to have our electronics upgraded. Here's what we got: Garmin 7616xsv chart plotter, GHP Reactor autopilot with GHC20 control, GXM52 Sirius XM weather receiver, GMI20 marine instrument, Garmin gWind wind and weather sensor, and downview/sideview CHIRP sonar transducers, GST43 speed/temperature transducer. Out with the old: Hauling out for a couple hours to install the transducers (much different than our haulout in Juneau): It's always fun to see the boat out of the water. The hull looked great...we did a quick pressure wash ("we" meaning the guy who hauled us out) and replaced one zinc...the one on the bow thruster. Downview/sideview transducer on the starboard side: Water speed, temperature, and depth sensor: It was great...they hauled and hung us at the end of the day (a very windy day when most haulouts had cancelled) and we were able to get back in the water last thing so we didn't have to stay the night in a hotel. Yesterday afternoon we took the boat out for some sea trials to set up the new equipment and test that everything was working as it should. It had been so stormy previously that there was a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2016 at Riveted
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When we bought our (second) Airstream trailer back in 2010 we had a solar system installed by AM Solar in Springfield, Oregon. We knew (1) we’d be using the trailer off the grid often, (2) we needed electricity to live and work (and blog), and (3) we didn’t want a noisy generator. That solar system has been wonderful - supplying plenty of energy for us to stay in remote areas for many days with no power except what we could gather from the sun. When we bought Airship in 2014, we knew we wanted solar on it as well. The power situation on the boat is considerably different than on the Airstream. First, the boat has a 5KW Onan diesel generator built in that runs off the boat’s fuel supply. As generators go, it is quiet, efficient, and easy to use. But, when we’re at anchor, we don’t really want to be running the generator all the time. So, we doubled the size of the house batteries (to 440Ah) added a 2,800W Inverter (to allow us to run AC loads without running the generator) and added two 140W solar panels and a charge controller to help keep the batteries charged... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2016 at Riveted
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We've been quiet and boring, I know. We just left you there with that bread maker thing for a week and a half! Sorry. Here's a photo of the (muddy) hiking trail near our house: It had been raining for days and days, but we had a nice stretch of a week or so with some dry times so we made sure to do our 3-4 mile hike every day that we could while we were home. We've been working quite a bit, but guess what? We're heading back to the boat tomorrow! We're taking Airship over to La Conner on Sunday to get some electronics upgrades. Those upgrades will take about a week, and then we've got a guy who is going to replace a couple of the spots where there's carpet with Amtico (the flooring we have in the rest of the boat), and we're going to also talk to him about upgrading the countertops from laminate to Corian or something similar. There will be a night or two where we can't stay on the boat and we contemplated driving up with the Airstream and using the La Conner Marina RV Resort (the Airstream and Airship, together in... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2016 at Riveted
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I am not a baker. At all. I very rarely make cookies, and I seldom even buy bread. But a friend of ours recently told us about this Lékué silicone bread maker (it's really just a floppy bowl with a slot and a tab) and I thought it might be cool for the boat and/or the Airstream when we did want some bread. (I got mine here for $35) I first tried the easiest recipe in the book that comes with the Lékué: Quick No-Knead Bread. It's basically flour, yeast, salt, water...mix together right in the bowl, let proof for an hour at room temperature (or 10 hours in the fridge overnight) and then microwave for 3 minutes (totally not baking). It was good, but definitely could have used some oven heat for making the crust nicer. Last night I went for the second easiest recipe: Easy-to-Make No-Knead Bread. Flour, water, salt, yeast, olive oil. Mix all ingredients together in the bowl, cover the bowl with a towel and let proof overnight. I stuck it in the warming drawer (off) to rise overnight and it was nice and bubbly this morning. I sprinkled some chia seeds on top and then... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2016 at Riveted
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On Thursday we left Port Townsend and headed north toward Deception Pass, where we planned to meet our friends Sam & Anna in Sam's Nordic Tug 37 for the night. Morning view from Point Hudson Marina at Port Townsend: The day was pretty gray, but the water was nice and calm. Our ETA at Deception Pass was right near slack tide. (The current that day peaked at about 7kts). The bridge over the pass: You can see the water was still pretty swirly about a half an hour after slack (the current was going with us): Looking back toward the bridge: We anchored in Cornet Bay and about 30 minutes later Sam and Anna arrived and anchored nearby. We took Sam's dinghy (with the 15HP motor, not our dinghy with the electric Torqueedo) and we beached over on North Beach and then did a little walk ... after slamming through the current in Canoe Pass (the narrower pass on the other side of Pass Island in Deception Pass). It was super fun skirting the whirlpools...and don't try this in a Torqueedo! Walking along North Beach at Deception Pass State Park: We all had dinner together on Sam's boat and spent... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2016 at Riveted