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Laura Domela
Portland, OR
On the road in a 2010 27'FB Airstream International
Recent Activity
Kevin took his quadcopter up from a couple spots on Sucia Island yesterday morning. What a gorgeous place this is! Related articles Hiking Around Sucia Island We're at Sucia Island Today on Sucia Island Orcas Island: Rosario Resort & Spa San Juans: Rosario, (Humpbacks!!), Matia, Sucia Patos Island to Friday Harbor Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Riveted
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This morning after breakfast, Kevin got out the quadcopter and we headed over to Fox Cove to do a few flights so we wouldn't disturb our dock neighbors. Kevin flew and I took photos of rocks on the beach (that first one is a rock too, you just can't see it through all the barnacles attached to it): On our way back to the dock we stopped and chatted for a bit with the other boaters (a super fun bunch...hi John and Debi and Dave and Yukiko!) and it turns out flying the copter was of interest, so Kevin did another flight from the end of the dock next to our boat, and we think we got some cool footage of everyone's boats in Fossil Bay to share. On our way out of the bay as we were leaving there were two bald eagles flying around one of the fingers of land to our left. Here they both are (one is harder to see the one on the right of the image because it hasn't quite completed its turn...look for the white tail): Our ride back to Anacortes was smooth and uneventful (seals, porpoises, mostly really calm water) and super... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Riveted
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We woke up early at Rosario this morning and I snapped the above shot from the back of the boat (outside, about 31 degrees Farenheit, brrrr). We had coffee and showered and headed up to the Mansion Restaurant for breakfast. We'd checked out the menu during our cocktail and snacks last night and it looked great. (The dinner menu also looked great, but our snacks last night ended up being dinner.) One of the things on the sample menu was a Croque Madame, which I was really excited about (open-faced ham and gruyere sandwich, topped with sunny side up egg and creamy béchamel sauce, served with local mixed greens). However, today's menu did not have the Croque Madame on it (awwwww) so we both ordered the traditional Eggs Benedict and they were PERFECT. The eggs were perfect, the ham wasn't too thick, the Hollandaise was great and lemony...served with asparagus. Delicious. The restaurant is on what used to be the porch (now enclosed) of the Moran Mansion and it's got a great view of Cascade Bay. That's "shadow Kevin" on the left. After breakfast we headed back to Airship and took off toward Matia Island (the very long way, around... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Riveted
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We left Portland on Friday morning and headed back up to Anacortes for a little more boat time. Our original plan was to head up on Thursday night after Kevin returned from a business trip, but Portland was all icy and stuff, so we decided to wait for the daylight. We stopped at Black Rock Seafood in Anacortes before we got to the marina (provisions, yo) and picked up a Dungeness crab, some halibut, some frozen shrimp to test out our new decktop freezer, and two small containers (one each) of salmon pâté and albacore pâté. The owner was super friendly and even offered to deliver seafood down to the marina sometime if we arrive without a car. Score! We love this place even more now. This morning was cold and a little frosty in Anacortes. I fixed us some breakfast (spinach/crab/egg/hollandaise) and we decided to head to the marina at Rosario Resort & Spa on Orcas Island. We took the long way (around the bottom of Lopez Island and then up to Orcas). The weather today was spectacular. Clear, sunny, calm, perfect. Cattle Point Lighthouse, south end of San Juan Island: Water: We had the Garmin in the 3D... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Riveted
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The weather up here this weekend is supposed to be gorgeous (cold, but clear and sunny), so we plan to do a little island hopping in the San Juans. Yay! Boat! (Photo taken from the back of Airship) Related articles Circling San Juan Island Whales on Radar Prevost Harbor and Roche Harbor Patos Island (and Humpback Whales!) Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Riveted
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The boat should not have to use the hand-me-down Target cocktail shaker from our 2005 Airstream, should it? Here's what we got for it instead: Mid-Century Cocktail Shaker with a wood top ($23), and the Wood-handled Bar Tools 3-piece set ($31), both from West Elm. 2014/11/20 update: I received this cocktail shaker and tools (the tools are fine) the other day, and could not get the lid off the cocktail shaker. The cap lid with wood was inside (presumably) but the metal to metal top of the shaker would not come off no matter what I tried. I submerged just the top half in hot water (to expand the metal). No go. I twisted and pushed and twisted and pushed with a grippy thing. No go. I tapped it sideways on the cutting board. Won't budge. I probably worked at it for about 20 minutes with not even a slight tick of movement. Since I'd gotten a tip (post-purchase) from my friend Kathy that this cocktail shaker was sub par in person and that she returned hers pretty quickly after she got it, I was already expecting it might not be as good as advertised. I called West Elm customer... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2014 at Riveted
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Breakfast on the boat this morning was a bed of wilted spinach, topped with a good handful of freshly cooked/cracked Dungeness crab, an over-easy egg, Hollandaise sauce, and a sprinkle of chives (with a side of sliced tomatoes). Super yum! Our cheffy friend Jake turned us to these great Christian Potier sauces a while back, but until recently they were unavailable in the U.S. They are now though, and they're super convenient for RVing and boating. Each box contains three sauce packages, and each package of sauce serves two. You just stick the sauce pack in the microwave for 30 seconds and it's ready to serve. (Actually, the lemon dill sauce we tried on our halibut last night needs 30 seconds, but the hollandaise we tried on our crab benedict this morning only needs 10 seconds...learned that the hard way.) They're shelf stable for up to a couple months which makes them ideal for an on-the-road or on-the-water quick kicked-up meal when you don't have the ingredients (or the desire) to make fancy sauces from scratch. You can get them here. You're welcome. :) Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2014 at Riveted
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Finally! Today we were in Anacortes with the boat, with the boat name graphics (boat name graphics we've had for over a month), AND the weather cooperated and we had a dry day, so we got out there an applied our boat name! Most people hire professionals to do their boat graphics, but I designed and ordered our graphics online and figured four years of art school ought to make me reasonably qualified to at least take a stab at applying them myself. (I confess though, I was secretely glad when each time we'd planned to attempt it...awwww, it's raining. Maybe next time.) We had boat name and home port for the back of the boat and the bottom of the dinghy (in silver and black), and boat name only (in silver) for the port and starboard stripes, toward the bow. As usual, I started with the most important one: the back of the boat. (I do crossword puzzles in pen, too, so it all makes sense.) It worked! No mistakes, no air bubbles, no drama. The silver boat name on each side of the bow looks like this: We applied the graphics on the starboard side of the bow,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2014 at Riveted
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We finally decided on some new chairs for the boat: the Wineglass Bay Chair from Seattle Boat Chair Company, in navy. We had a short list of requirements that included: easy to store, comfortable, marine environment-friendly, and nice-looking. The "easy to store" requirement turned out to the trickiest part. The only place that makes sense to store chairs on the boat is in the cockpit lazarette (the floor hatch/storage area at the back of the boat). The chairs that came with the boat fold flat, but they are a little worn, and it's a bit of a pain to wrangle them in and out through the "slightly narrower than the chairs" lazarette hatch door. It becomes a little puzzle each time you put them away: "Okay, legs in first, move chair toward the stern, then turn chair 90 degrees and move off to the side, secure nicely so chair doesn't slide and catch on anything important (like the rudder stops). In the (unlikely) event of a hydraulic steering failure, those two stops on either side of the steering arm prevent the rudder from swinging around and slamming into the propeller...so you don't want the chairs sitting on top of that,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2014 at Riveted
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We depend completely on being connected when we are on the road and on the water. Because we run a virtual company which is an internet business, we can (and do) enjoy traveling extensively - even while working full time. While our blog posts focus on the adventure side of our travels, what you don’t see are the long days sitting at our laptops, running a complex company remotely from the road. Without reliable, high-performance internet, there would be no adventures. Our blog posts would be “Woke up at home this morning, made coffee, went for a hike, worked all day in the office, had dinner, watched TV, went to bed.” That’s not what we want to do (or write) and we’re pretty sure it’s not what you want to read, either. For years, we’ve struggled with the technology to keep us connected and working while we travel in the Airstream. We’ve tried just about every option available, and we’ve had friends and traveling companions who have tried just as many. We have learned a lot from their experience, as well as from our own. Since I’m an electronic engineer, a journalist and an analyst covering electronics technology, I figure... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2014 at Riveted
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We woke up early this morning in Friday Harbor (with the help of that extra hour, thanks Daylight Savings Time). We decided to have a quick breakfast and head out early while it was still nice and calm. Well, that didn't last long at all: Originally we thought we'd take the long way home, around the bottom of Lopez Island, but quickly realized it was not going to be a very pleasant ride as we were approaching Cattle Point. Super rough (see above)! We bailed on that plan and headed back the way we came, around the north end of Lopez, then north of Blakely Island through Peavine Pass. Here's our route (click image to enlarge): After a very windy fueling up at the fuel dock (docking with the wind, so, plastered up against the dock), and then another stop at the pump out dock (docking against the wind, so tons of power to get TO the dock in the first place) we got back nicely in our slip, washed the boat with fresh water, squeegeed the windows, and then went up to Anthony's for some fish and chips and a beer. We're back cozy in the boat now, doing... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2014 at Riveted
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Yesterday morning before leaving Patos Island we took the dinghy out and decided to do a lap around the outside. It took us one hour, exactly, and the sun was out for a bit of it. That's the edge of Sucia Island on the right (and Mount Baker in the far distance): As we rounded the far end of the island, there was a cove FILLED with harbor seals...hundreds of them! They came off the beach quickly and headed out to greet us, looking curious as if they'd never seen our kind before (easy to imagine here in the off season when we were the only people around for miles). Many of them followed us for a while (could this have been an escort "out of town" perhaps?) Here they are, behind us as we head for the lighthouse (Mt. Baker in the distance, looking pretty huge): We made it back to the boat with about 20 or so seals still on our tail watching as we went from the dinghy to Airship, snarfing and mouth breathing as they poked their heads out of the water, swimming alongside. Pretty cute! We left Patos Island and decided to go check out... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2014 at Riveted
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We added a trio of Weems & Plath instruments overhead in the helm: a tide and time clock, a barometer, and a comfortmeter (which shows temperature and humidity, but mostly just looks cool and rounds out the trio nicely). Love 'em! Related articles We're at Sucia Island More Boat Stuff Whales on Radar Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2014 at Riveted
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This morning (while it was still raining) we decided to head out for Patos Island, northwest of Sucia. The forecast said it was to be improving for the weekend. It looked like a cruise of about 3.5 hours from Anacortes to Patos Island, and our plan was to grab one of the two mooring buoys in Active Bay at Patos (figuring off season we'd have a pretty good shot). As we approached the picturesque lighthouse on Alden Point, we saw something large in the water up ahead, with a bunch of birds flocking around and over it. Kevin said, "Orcas!" I said "I don't think so...I didn't see any tall straight dorsal fins, and this thing was HUGE!" Turns it it was humpbacks! Two of them! And they were close. We hung out with them for a little bit, snapping photos. (I can't believe I left my long lens at home, again...but I really thought we were just coming for the weekend, and not going out on the boat at all this time. It will not happen again.) It was SO amazing to be this close to these HUGE animals. We floated around for about a half an hour and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2014 at Riveted
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In honor of the upcoming spooky holiday (and due to the fact that the weather cleared up substantially) we decided we'd head to Skull Island for the night. Skull Island is a small island in Massacre Bay (I know!!) in the west sound of Orcas Island. It's a state park...no mooring buoys or docks here so we anchored for the first time on our own. Seems to have worked! (Also, there are tons of little white jellyfish here!) Skull Island got its name (as did Massacre Bay, and nearby Victim Island) from the 1858 massacre wherein a band of Native American Lummi were attacked (while fishing from Skull Island and Victim Island--probably not known by those names yet) and killed by some Haida natives from Southeast Alaska. The victims' skulls and bones were found on Skull Island, hence the name. Ferry passing us on the way over: Coming into West Sound: And this is the view from where I'm prepping dinner right now: Pretty nice! We've got Drag Queen set up to monitor our position relative to the anchor, as well as our visual landmarks we'll keep watching until it gets dark, but I think we're good. I think I'll... Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2014 at Riveted
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Today we've just been hanging out on the boat working while the solar panel install is happening. It's super windy (last night was 30mph gusting to 50mph, woohoo!) and there's been some rain, but this afternoon the sun happened to come out right when it was a good time for a work break, so we went out to wander the docks. Also, solar panels!! Now we've got two 140 watt solar panels on the roof and a charge controller to help keep the battieries topped off during the day so we won't need to run the generator as often. Sweet! The weather is supposed to improve tomorrow so we may take Airship out for another cruise around some islands. (And as soon as it's dry enough for long enough, I've got the boat name decal ready to apply!) Related articles Some Interior Photos of Airship 12 Nights on the Water We Bought a Boat! Standing Desk, New Knives, and a Subwoofer More Boat Stuff We're on a Boat! Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2014 at Riveted
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All weekend it's been super stormy up here in Anacortes. It's been fine, since we had projects to work on and no plans to go out on the boat. (Plus, one of the solar panels is not yet attached to the roof of the pilot house.) Stormy view out the front pilot house window: Somewhere around 3pm this afternoon it stopped raining and I thought I'd go out and work on cleaning the dinghy. It's got a bit of diesel exhaust staining on the port side of its bow and I found some biodegradable stuff that works pretty well to remove it. Kevin came out and helped me for a bit, but pretty soon the sky was really clearing up nicely. The radar showed that most of the precipitation had gone past us, so we decided to go out for a little cruise. Kevin strapped the solar panel securely to the roof and off we went. This is what the little pump out island (dump station for boats) looks like, in case you wondered: Big ship at anchor outside the marina: It was calm and gorgeous out! We thought we'd just go around Guemes Island, but we headed for a... Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2014 at Riveted
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Some improvements we've made to the boat this weekend: 1. An adjustable laptop stand from Twelve South called the HiRise turns the aft galley counter into a perfect standing desk for me. (This might also work in the Airstream on top of the cutting board in the kitchen.) Kevin can put his laptop on top of the chart table in the pilot house and it's already the perfect height for him to work standing when he wants to. 2. I've been wanting these Schmidt Bros. knives forever, but when I found them, I already had good knives at home and good knives in the Airstream. While working out the organization of the kitchen drawers and cutlery on Airship, I realized there wasn't a good solution to deal with the knives that came with the boat (nothing special, but surprisingly sharp for "knives that came with the boat"). I didn't want them just hanging out together in one of the slots in the drawer organizer (and the protective sheaths I have on the knives in the Airstream are kind of annoying). Some of the other boats we looked at had a cool drop in/slot system right behind the stove, but we... Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2014 at Riveted
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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 Oct 22, 2014 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 Oct 21, 2014 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