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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 did a bit of shopping this morning in Anacortes (Safeway, hardware store, West Marine, the usual) and then headed out toward...somewhere. This is Cone Island, just east of Cypress Island: We decided to head for Sucia Island, because (1) it's pretty, (2) it's got great hiking, and (3) if the weather cooperates, it'd be a nice place to try out our new kayak. My view under way: Up ahead and to the north we could see a pretty good amount of precip, and then a few blasts of lightning and a little thunder. Ominous, eh? We were headed south of the storm though (and the storm was moving north). Sucia Islands up ahead: Cool purple sky to the north: Layers of islands: We grabbed a mooring buoy in Fossil Bay, and this is our view from the bow (for now): There are several boats on the dock, and a couple more on buoys. Apparently there's a yacht club gathering here this weekend, with many more boats to arrive in the morning. Welcome to the beginning of boating season! We took the dinghy over to the dock to register, and found a pair of geese hanging out with their new... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Riveted
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Behold, the new faucet: It's an American Standard Fairbury in shiny chrome. It's got a pull out sprayer with spray, stream, and pause, and a single lever on/off, and it's not too big for our fairly small sink. The faucet that came on the boat (below) was a fixed faucet with separate hot and cold controls...and the spout didn't pivot or move at all. It blasted out the stream of water which is cool when you have unlimited water, but made it more difficult to do dishes efficiently when conserving. We did a test before we removed the old faucet to see how long it took to fill our large pot with water. It took about 30 seconds. The new faucet takes just over a minute to fill the same pot (with spray OR stream). The pressure feels normal now, and I'm sure we'll use way less water while washing/rinsing dishes. Love it! Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Riveted
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We love our Nordic Tug. And we love boating way more than we thought we would. Since the end of September 2014 when we bought Airship, we've spent 118 nights onboard, traveled almost 1800 nautical miles, and run almost 300 engine hours, and we're about to roughly double that with this trip up the Inside Passage to Alaska here in a few weeks. It's pretty clear to us that this "phase" is not a phase. In all the time spent on our Nordic 34, we've learned that there are two things we'd really like to have in the next boat: a bit more storage space, and an extra stateroom for guests. A few weeks ago we went for another visit to the Nordic Tug factory over in Burlington, WA. They've got a new model coming out this year (the Nordic Tug 40...basically the Nordic 39 with some additional secret features). We weren't able to actually see one of these (they're still building the first one), but we've toured several Nordic 39s and while at the factory, we got to hear about a few of the NT40's future features (which are very cool, but we can't tell you about any of... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Riveted
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Yesterday morning we left Port Townsend on the early side (before 9am) and headed north to take advantage of the perfect weather and great conditions for crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca. And by perfect weather and great conditions, I mean this: So, yesterday crossing the strait we saw Minke whales, and then up on the west side of San Juan Island, we saw a whole bunch of Orcas. I posted about all the whales in a separate post because...well...tons of photos! We were cruising with the current giving us a bit more speed than usual....a pretty strong current: Cool bird with nice face paint: Nice rock formation along the tip of Stuart Island: Lighthouse on Stuart Island: Here's yesterday's track (55.4 nautical miles over 8 hours, including whale watching): (You can see where the whales were in both spots...look for the little circle southwest of Minor Island out in the Strait...that's where the Minke whales were, and the Orcas are where the large doubling back happens off of San Juan.) We grabbed a mooring buoy at Stuart Island State Park in Prevost Harbor and had ourselves a nice deck top happy hour: Look at our cute little neighbor,... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Riveted
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This post will be all about whales. I'll do another post where I tell you all the other cool things about our cruise from Port Townsend north to Stuart Island, but not in this post. This post is the post with all the whale photos. Yesterday in the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, we got to see our first Minke whales! There were two of them, and they're pretty cool. Kinda boring as far as whale viewing goes (no breaching or tail slaps normally, but I love the perfect wave shape of their dorsal fins. Then, as we got up along the west side of San Juan Island and around Henry Island, ahead of us a ways we saw a couple of big splashes (we think breaches) and eventually came upon a large pod of orcas (technically cetaceans -- part of the dolphin family -- and not whales), including several youngsters!! It was so cool! We turned around and ran parallel with them for about an hour, taking way too many photos. Here is a very VERY small percentage of them. (See the baby peeking out from behind mama?) Orca on its belly with fins in the... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Riveted
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We arrived in Port Townsend yesterday afternoon and headed for what's becoming our usual slip at the Point Hudson Marina, then met up with several friends who were camping here for the weekend: Dave and Ann Zimmerman of Advodna (and their two daughters, Wynne-3, and Mae-9 months), and Kathy Harderson, who is here with a group of gals called The Tin Can Gypsies...all with their super cute vintage trailers. Dave and Ann had us over for an early dinner at their Airstream. We hadn't seen them since last March when we stopped for a visit at their farmlet in Petaluma, CA, and it was really good to catch up! (Plus, they have a new family member since then!) They're on their way to Vancouver Island and then north to Alaska in their Airstream. We'll miss them in Juneau by 10 days or so, dangit! This is Mae and Dave on the beach before dinner last night. Would you get a load of those dimples!?!? Anyway, after a delicious dinner, we stopped in at the vintage trailer camp and met up with Kathy's group and ended up walking down to the boat to give a quick tour. (I think we had... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Riveted
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That little purple bit is the area we've explored so far by boat: Olympia, Seattle, Hood Canal, Puget Sound, San Juan Islands, and some bits of the Gulf Islands in British Columbia. Over 1500 nautical miles total have been spent cruising the Pacific Northwest waters. That huge orange area is roughly the area we'll be exploring by boat from Anacortes to Juneau (and maybe as far north as Glacier Bay) this summer. Whoa, huh? Related articles Ganges Harbor on Salt Spring Island Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2015 at Riveted
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New addition to Airship's crab cooking capabilities (to go with our new large stock pot): The PowerStove. The PowerStove folds up pretty small and has a nice sturdy bag to hold everything (and it all fits inside the large stock pot): The PowerStove comes highly recommended by other boaters and crab cookers (it's made in Woodinville, WA!), and I think it'll be great for the Airstream as well! We'll let you know what we think after we get it in use! (We got ours here at Fisheries Supply in Seattle, WA.) We are in full-on provisioning mode right now for our multi-month trip to Alaska. Kevin's got two briskets on the Traeger, and we've got 8 one-pound servings of pulled pork already frozen and ready for the deck-top freezer. We did a Costco run and stocked up on organic frozen vegetables, and I froze a bunch of fresh pesto in small serving sizes. We'll head up to Airship in the next day or so to do a bunch of packing and stock-taking. So! Excited! Related articles A Few Things for Airship Ganges Harbor on Salt Spring Island We're in Sidney, BC Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2015 at Riveted
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I've never made fried chicken, and although I own a waffle iron, I've only used it once in the last 5 years. But then last week in North Carolina we had some delicious Chicken & Waffles at Beasley's Chicken & Honey, so when I came across a "Grain-Free Waffles" recipe the other day, I thought I might see if I could find a good "Fried-Free Chicken" recipe to go with the "Grain-Free Waffles", and then try my hand at a healthier version of chicken and waffles. Not only did it work, it was delicious! I used regular organic milk for the waffles instead of almond milk, and I used maple syrup where it calls for maple syrup or honey. Here is the recipe I used for the chicken. The changes I made to it were: (1) I omitted the onion, (2) I substituted Panko bread crumbs for regular bread crumbs, and (3) I used boneless skinless chicken breasts instead of bone-in skin-on breasts, thighs, and drumsticks. Next time I'll kick it up even more with a bit more cayenne and maybe some chipotle in the coating. I served the chicken & waffles with a side of pure maple syrup and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2015 at Riveted
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I've been wanting a butter bell for the boat, and found this cool one made by Red Wing Stoneware in Minnesota: Red Wing Stoneware Co. butter bell ($35) from Duluth Pack. Butter goes in the part on the right, water goes in the part on the left, and when put together the water creates an airtight seal on the butter so it stays fresh and soft (and I don't have to keep it in the fridge on the boat, which is nice, since the fridge is small). I picked up some of these cloth napkins for the boat (from Clear Sky Home on Etsy) ... planning to use less paper products while cruising (especially cruising in more remote areas, since it's tougher to get rid of trash as often). They don't match our plates at all, but who cares? How cute are these? (I got these yellow ones too, which really don't match our plates. I'm thinking they might clash enough to totally work together.) Kevin and I each got ourselves a pair of Xtratufs (also called Alaskan sneakers, Alaskan slippers, Sitka slippers, etc.). These will come in super handy in the wet Southeast AK weather and when getting in... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2015 at Riveted
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Those are called "American Redbud" and they're all over Raleigh and Cary, in multiple shades of pink. I took these on our walk yesterday to the Fortnight Brewing Company along the Cary Greenway: We've had such a great time visiting Tiffani and Deke. It's been a pretty chill visit, with much eating and drinking, some video games, a couple movies, an Alt-J concert, and a nice walk yesterday to a brewery (and then more eating). Alt-J at the Red Hat Amphitheater on Friday night (great show!): On Saturday afternoon Deke cooked up some wings on the Traeger. We had four different kinds, with several dipping sauces, and they were ALL fantastic. Yesterday we went to Beasley's Chicken & Honey for chicken and waffles (sides: creamed collards, beets, and mac & cheese): Deeee-licious! And when we get home, we're starting back on the salad-fish-veggies-chicken diet. OMG seriously. Also, while we were here, we PLANNED FOR ALASKA! Tiffani and Deke are going to meet us in Juneau in June and cruise Southeast Alaska with us for two weeks. We're ALL so excited! Together we'll see Juneau, Petersburg, and Sitka, and tons of stuff in between! Related articles Ganges Harbor on Salt Spring... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2015 at Riveted
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We're visiting our friends Tiffani and Deke in North Carolina this week, and besides visiting and catching up and helping them watching them move into their new place, we've been checking out some of the local spots for food and drink. We went to a great spot for Mexican food the other night called Jose & Sons, and last night we went to a place called Trophy Brewing & Pizza for (duh) beer and pizza: The beer taps are all trophy tops...cute! The pizza there was fabulous. We ordered a "Daredevil" (ghost chili pepper salami, fire roasted tomato sauce, mozzarella blend, fresh jalapeno, caramelized onions, sriracha) -- so hot and SO good, another called "Local Celebrity" (sweet potato puree, smoked gouda, country ham, swiss chard, spiced apple reduction), also SO good, and the "Most Outgoing" (local mushrooms, caramelized onion, fresh arugula, brie, mozzarella blend, tomato sauce). All three were delicious and different. The first night in the new place was without power, so we hung out by candlelight last night, and this morning Deke went to get coffee and breakfast for everyone (North Carolina style): The power's back now and we're just working here while they settle in. Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2015 at Riveted
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Okay , so remember last week when we were out at Sidney Spit in the Gulf Islands, and we went to the brick beach and brought back a few oysters? We fried 'em up that night and ate a few with the fresh crab we caught for dinner and everything was delicious. The next morning while we were eating breakfast, Kevin suddenly turned to me with an alarmed and solemn expression on his face. "Oh no!" (gulp) "Honey, I have something to tell you. Remember yesterday, when I was shucking the oysters on the rear swim step, and you were inside working on dinner?" "Yeah...?" "Well, inside one of the really big oysters - I found a pearl. It was a big pearl, too. I was super excited and I thought 'Cool! I'll give this to Laura as a nice little surprise.'" "Oh, how neat!!" I said. "Well, there's more. When I found the pearl, I set it aside - just on the floor of the rear cockpit [the outside back deck area of the boat]. And then, I kept shucking. And then, I got to that crazy huge oyster...the one I couldn't get open...the one where you came out... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2015 at Riveted
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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 Mar 29, 2015 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 Mar 29, 2015 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 Mar 27, 2015 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 Mar 27, 2015 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 Mar 26, 2015 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 Mar 26, 2015 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 Mar 26, 2015 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 Mar 25, 2015 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