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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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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 Reflected landscape at Walker Cove: Also, those are bears eating grass, just below the AK flag on the bow: We left Walker Cove yesterday morning just after 9am (and after getting 5 more Dungeness in the traps). It rained ALL night the night before. By morning the rain had mostly stopped but it was back to being extremely misty here in Misty Fjords. Foggy, even. The group of 6 boats traveling together (from the Roche Harbor Yacht Club) was also heading out this morning, and two of them were ahead of us as the rest of them untied their stern lines and peeled off from the very organized cluster. We were about half way out of the canal when we heard them on the radio….long story short, it sounded like as one of the boats was lifting their dinghy up onto their upper deck with their crane, the main crane cable snapped and the dinghy crashed down (the side of their boat?) and ended up floating upside down next to their boat. They said everyone was okay and it sounded like they were working to get the dinghy turned over. Eeeeek! How scary would that... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 This morning we woke up early, made some coffee, and sat out on the bow watching bears. We decided we’d take a dinghy ride further around to the end of Walker Cove before pulling the crab traps this morning. It was early and quiet and the water was glassy still. (So nice to have the electric Torqeedo for these kinds of quiet expeditions, instead of the loud gasoline outboard!) There are a couple of decent spots to anchor further into the cove, and I think we may try one of them next time. Bears on the beach, waterfalls and snow-capped mountains around you…it’s like a different world in here. Little (not really) bear ears: Kevin dropped me at the boat (after a two-hour cruise) and I started breakfast while he checked the traps. Two more Dungeness. We’re going to stay in here another night, so he reset the traps (with a little more raw bacon…it’s our secret crab-getting bait). Here we are, from the dinghy: After breakfast Kevin took the drone up and I shot some photos of our anchorage: There are four bears in this picture: The sun came out for a bit and... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 On Thursday morning we left Ketchikan and headed for Misty Fjords. We didn’t get to Misty Fjords last year and since we were about a week early to Ketchikan…what better to do with that week? We thought we’d check out New Eddystone Rock first, and then decide where to anchor for the night. New Eddystone is pretty spectacular. It rises 230 feet high and looks like something out of a video game. We did a loop around the rock and then went over to see what Checats Cove (along the east side of Behm Canal) looked like. It looked like it was totally exposed and not much of an anchorage at all. Kayley said the real highlight of this anchorage was the view of New Eddystone from there, but that’s not really true. The rock is about two miles away and looks pretty tiny from Checats Cove. I mean, you can see it, but it’s not what I’d consider a great view of it. We headed back over to the anchorage at Winstanley Island, just a bit south. It was lovely and protected. We anchored in about 50 feet not too far from the Forest... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 Last night's sunset from Airship: We originally thought we'd leave town today and head around to Misty Fjords and Behm Canal, but we got focused working for quite a few hours this morning here on the boat and decided we'd wait and leave tomorrow morning instead. Around noon we took a break for lunch and a little exploring, and headed across the street to a very well-liked local spot called Burger Queen. It's tiny, and doesn't look like much from the outside, but whoa! What a great burger! (The fries were perfect as well.) All the tables inside were filled by noon, so we sat outside. This'll give you a feel for the unglamourousness that is the Burger Queen outdoor seating (two picnic tables on the side of the road): No one cares. The burgers are amazing. We both got Sriracha bacon burgers and shared some fries and...well, just go there if you're in Ketchikan and you want a burger. You'll be glad you did. Next we thought we'd hop on the bus and go down to the Saxman Totem Park to look at some totems. I went to Saxman last year while I was... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 This is a story about a bus ride. (If you look closely, you can see Airship, just right of center.) Here's us today: coffee, work, work, work, breakfast, more work, go to the grocery store, back to the boat, more work, watch cruise ships leave, more work. Later we're going to have dinner over at the Bar Harbor Restaurant. We rode the city bus down to the Safeway near the Bar Harbor marina, but we decided to grab the bus going the other direction. The city bus has a free shuttle that does a loop from the end of downtown to the plaza where the Safeway is, so we got the whole loop in by catching it going the opposite direction. Our bus driver was a native...totally cool Tsimshian guy with great jewelry and a super dry sense of humor. We chatted with him about his family, where he lived, the woodwork/artwork he does, the silversmithing tools he gave to his grandson and how he's going to pay for art school for him as a graduation present, and some other random stuff. We told him we'd stopped in Hartley Bay (the Tsimshian village in BC... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 Last night's Prince Rupert view from Airship: We set our alarm for 4am this morning to check the 4am weather and forecasted conditions for Dixon Entrance to make the final call about whether to go or wait. At Dixon Entrance East, waves were 1-2 meters. Hard to know what that means without the period of seconds between waves. At Buoy 46145, which is smack in the middle of Dixon Entrance, north of Haida Gwai (so quite a bit further out to sea than we'd be), they were 6-7 feet high at 9-10 seconds apart. So as they got closer to land they'd likely be quite a bit smaller than that. The Green Island lightstation report said "Partly cloudy, visibility 4 miles, fog, wind calm, seas rippled." (Foggy usually means calm.) Here's what the 24-hour surface forecast looked like: The high pressure system and the really wide/far apart isobars...? That's good for us! Side note: It's occasionally difficult to make the decision to "Go" at 4am from a soft cozy bed while it's mostly still dark. The decision, however, is made easier when you know the weather window might not be open for all THAT long.... Continue reading
Posted May 23, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 Whoa! We made it to Prince Rupert! Two weeks after leaving the San Juan Islands. :) We left Hartley Bay this morning at 6am. The cruise to Prince Rupert was almost 80 miles, so we had a long day ahead of us... ...a long day in Grenville Channel, that is. (Also known as "the Ditch.") This time in Grenville Channel was not nearly as exciting as our trip south was. (See here what I mean, in our post from last summer called "Bubblenet Bonanza".) We did see a couple of humpbacks on our way though, also heading north like us. Today's cruise was long and gray and pretty chill. I made breakfast under way (used the last of our crab for a little crab/benedict/florentine concoction), and we took turns showering, working out, and napping. Fairview Terminal cranes as we entered Prince Rupert: We arrived at Prince Rupert around 4:30pm and are staying at the new Cow Bay Marina. It's super nice! They've got power and water on the docks, trash and recycling, and their showers and washrooms go in...maybe tomorrow. So they're almost there! We walked up and had an early dinner at the Cow... Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 Kevin went out to pull crab traps while I made breakfast. When he got back to Airship, I asked "Did we get anything?" and he replied "Yes?" with kind of a question mark at the end. I went out to the cockpit to see what was up. Turns out we had 5 small Red King Crabs. (We figured that out after a while of digitally leafing through the shellfish guidelines for CA and AK.) They were obviously too small, but it was super interesting not to have ANY Dungeness. Look at the roe this one's got with her! We put them all back nice and gently. Who knew that Khutze Inlet was full of king crab? I guess we need a crab trap with bigger doors, so the large ones can get in! We had some breakfast and then headed for Hartley Bay. Oh yeah, one more moon shot from last night in Khutze Bay: Hartley Bay is a First Nations community, and home to the Gitga'at, which means "People of the Cane." The Gitga'at are members of the Tsimshian nation. About 200 band members live here in Hartley Bay, a community with all wooden... Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 We slept in this morning, had some breakfast, and then Kevin went to check the crab traps. (Two large keepers, woohoo!) The wind had definitely picked up, so we opted to go through Jackson Narrows and head over to Finlayson Channel, and then poke our head out to see what the conditions were like. Gale warnings were still in effect, and the wind had definitely increased, but didn’t seem too bad. Finlayson Channel was white capping a little, the current was with us, and the wind was straight on our nose. The waves were still only about 2ft and not bad at all, so we headed north up Finlayson, with several spots identified as duck out spots in case the waves picked up. It was probably blowing about 15kts gusting to 30kts (we saw 33kts once), but the conditions stayed the same and just got better as we got further along. We headed for Khutze Inlet, where we stayed last year on our way south. If you never poked your head out to see what the conditions were like where you are (or where you’re going), and operated strictly by the forecasts, you’d never leave... Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 Today was the best day of our trip so far. Our alarm went off this morning at 6:30am (I know, but stay with me here.) Time to pull the crab traps! We left the dock and motored over toward the dam, past the sleepy seals. We pulled the first trap and there were quite a few Dungeness in that one. We wanted to be underway by 7am this morning to meet the slack tide at Perceval Narrows, about 5.5 hours away. Our goal today was Rescue Bay. The weather forecasts have been iffy for the past couple days. There’s a low pressure system hanging out nearby, with a great big high pressure system right behind it. So there have been gale warnings for the whole area for the past couple days. So far though, we haven’t seen any sign of anything more than about 8-10 kts of wind, but we know this could change any time. Yesterday was rainy and a little windy, so we opted to head for Ocean Falls instead of going out into Seaforth Channel to get to Rescue Bay, since that’s an area that opens up to the Pacific and can... Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 The weather finally cleared up a bit earlier this evening so we went out for a walk around "town." (Some history about Ocean Falls here.) The "bar" is apparently to the left: Our buddies, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I spotted one of the policemen returning to the boat with a bike...I suppose he went for a bike ride around this crazy set of a zombie apocalypse movie. (Not to belittle the history or the ruins...but man after all those seasons of The Walking Dead, it does feel a bit creepy walking the "neighborhood" here. We saw not one other person...a few houses had lights on...but no visible life.) These photos will give you a pretty good feel of the place. Last year when we were here it was all sunny and bright, and the wildflowers were all blooming, so the mostly abandoned town felt kinda of happy...but this year it was gray and dreary. Makes a way better set for a zombie film. We got back to Airship and decided to take the drone up for an overall shot of the docks and the town. Yep, that's right. RIGHT in front of the Royal... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 This morning we slept in (woohoo, 8am!), did a bunch of work, had some breakfast, and then walked up to the market in Shearwater to get a few things for the crab bisque I plan to make tonight or tomorrow night. It was still gray and rainy, but who cares? We're on our way to Alaska. In our boat! I kind of appreciate this guy's mending job on his shirt: (I had to use Gorilla Tape to fix my bra last year when we were somewhere out in the boonies in SE Alaska...the underwire poked through the fabric on the side under my arm and was stabbing me. It sort of worked.) Also, whoa! I think this boat was in need of some zincs. (Too late.) I should have taken a photo of the whole boat. It was pretty great, texturally. We left Shearwater around 10am after getting a bunch of work done, and wove our way through Gunboat Pass (great name, huh?) and then on to Ocean Falls. This is Picture Island in Gunboat Passage, so I thought I should take a picture of it: Gray and calm: Approaching Ocean Falls: Before going to... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 Our Cape Caution crossing yesterday was nice and calm and uneventful, just like we like it! We weren't planning to cut through the Walker Group, but as we passed by that inviting opening, I decided to cut through after all. It's so pretty in there!! Kevin was napping but the change in rpms woke him up so he came up for a few minutes while we meandered through the rocky islets. Just past the Walker Group a bit, I saw what looked like a bunch of debris in the water. Turns out, it was not debris. It was HUNDREDS OF OTTERS! To the north: And to the south: We got to Fury Cove and there were four other boats in there. One we knew, three we didn't. We put our crab traps out and then stopped to say hi to Kim and Ken (on their cool big catamaran called an AfriCat). The plan for later (with Gill and Ray on the sailboat next door) was to meet on the beach at 4:30 for happy hour. By the time 4:30 came around the sun had come out and the wind had died down and we had... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 5:00am at Port McNeill Current Weather: Queen Charlotte Strait: Wind light Queen Charlotte Sound: Wind light Central Coast from McInnes Island to Pine Island: Wind light. Seas 1 metre or less West Sea Otter Buoy: Waves 0.7 metres at 15 seconds. Wind WSW 6 gusting to 8 All the way up at South Hecate Strait: Waves 0.8 metres at 15 seconds. Wind WSW 10 gusting to 12 Couldn't ask for better. Follow us around by clicking "Where is Airship?" in the right column! Next stop: Fury Cove. Related articles Day 9 - Port McNeill to Fury Cove Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 We got up fairly early this morning at Echo Bay, chatted with Pierre a bit more while he showed us some of the work he'd done recently on the rental cabins. We pulled away around 7:30am, saying goodbye until September, when we stop on the way south again. Calm water, gray sky, and a pretty chill cruise over to Port McNeill. I didn't take any photos, but we did see one humpback tail as it dove...so that's two humpbacks now with no proof. :) We're staying at the North Island Marina, where we stayed on the way up last May. (Hey look at that! On Day 8 last year we were in the same spot!) We walked up to the IGA and re-uppped on some groceries, and then up to the private liquor store (the BC liquor stores aren't open on Sundays) to get a couple more bottles of wine. Our plan is to cross Cape Caution in the morning. The weather is looking good...but we'll keep watching the forecasts tonight and then make the call in the morning after the 4am update. This is what the 24 hour surface observation forecast looks like (pretty... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 We slept in at Port Harvey this morning...had some coffee, pulled the crab traps (two too small Red Rock crabs) and chatted with George a bit more before leaving the dock and heading toward Echo Bay to see Pierre. It's still early in the season, so it's fairly quiet here at Echo Bay...four boats or so. We chatted with Pierre for a bit before he had to go rearrange the neighborhood. He'd previously moved a new house into the floating community across from the resort, so he had to untie the whole thing from the rock. When we came in, the neighborhood was encroaching on the resort...so he headed over there with his boat (and a powerful outboard) to push it back (with his boat!) where it belonged, and then re-attach it to the chain/line to the shore. Pierre is so badass. I think Kevin's dad (had he lived in a remote spot like the Broughtons or in SE Alaska) would have been like Pierre. How cool would it be to just rearrange your neighborhood on a moment's notice huh? Guy next door painted his house an ugly color? Move him down to the end... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 We left Shoal Bay this morning around 8am (after Kevin retrieved our crab traps...which contained two more big male Dungeness) to time getting to Greene Point Rapids and Whirlpool Rapids at favorable times. We were early for Greene Point (oooh, look how scary!)... ...in order to get to Whirlpool Rapids around slack. The drama was non existent. Just how we like it. Conditions were calm in Johnstone Strait, and bonus! The current was helping us out about a knot and a half's worth. Sideways totems on the shore: We're now at Port Harvey hanging out with George. The main building is of course gone (here's the story of what happened), but they're rebuilding, and George will still be making cinnamon buns this summer (starting in about a week). There's a nice 48' x 48' floating dock that will soon have a big tent on it, making it a nice place to hang out with some shade. He's also got a pizza oven coming from Italy that will be installed in the new digs. Can't wait to see how great this place shapes up to be (after a TON of work after the barge sank last... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 We got up early (5:30am!) to make the 3 hour cruise up to Dent Rapids. Looks like it’s going to be another gorgeous day. After we’d woken up a bit, I cooked some breakfast for us (bacon and eggs underway, woohoo!) and we made it to Yuculta Rapids about an hour and 15 minutes before slack. Transiting this direction, the three rapids in order are Yuculta, Gillard, and then Dent. Dent is the one that matters most, so you want to get to Dent at slack. We were aiming for about 45 minutes before slack at Yuculta, but it looked (and was) just fine when we got there. Approaching Gillard we binoc’d the shores and it all seemed fine as well. By the time we got to Dent it was…well, kind of calm! Anyway, no big deal. A tiny bit of churn here at Gillard: We decided to stay at Shoal Bay for the night. We arrived just after 10am due to our early start, so we get a whole day to work and hang out here. Except the Wi-Fi doesn’t seem to be on or working, so we’re pretty much just hanging out. Kevin’s... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 We got up early this morning in Lund and headed up to Nancy's for breakfast (and a couple of blackberry cinnamon rolls to go). Prawn season opened today, so the docks were crowded with prawn traps and buoys being loaded onto fishing boats. We left after breakfast and decided to head up toward Toba Inlet. I snapped a photo of our neighbor's boat as they headed out this morning. We'll likely meet up with them again (they're on their way to Wrangell) so I can give them this photo, but hey guys! If you see this post, just right click and save it if you want it! :) I love turning the corner into Desolation Sound and being greeted by this: It was gray and drizzly this morning but cleared up nicely for the rest of our day. We went up to Toba Inlet and cruised in about half way to check out some waterfalls. Pretty stunning scenery, isn't it? And it's only going to get better (well, more dramatic) from here. We did a fairly long cruise today just to cruise...we ended up anchoring in Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island, which as you can... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 I know, I already posted about Lund. Whatever. I think you'll like these extra photos. We walked over to the Boardwalk Restaurant to check it out and ended up having dinner there. We shared some fish tacos and some fish and chips. Both things were fantastic, but the fish and chips stood out. SUPER yum. Boardwalk detail: The "Welcome Pole": After dinner we headed back to Airship to watch the sunset and chat with neighbors. It's a fun bunch here! Some are on their way to Desolation Sound or the Broughtons, and some are on their way to SE Alaska, like us. Paul & Janet's S/V Talos IV, in gorgeous sunset light. They're on their way to Glacier Bay...so I'm sure we'll cross paths again! Tomorrow our thought is to head up to Toba Inlet and maybe stay at the Toba Wildernest Resort. But our plans change all the time, so I guess we won't really know until tomorrow! Related articles Alaska Has No Clue How to Edit Pender Harbour to Teakerne Arm Exploring Sitka, AK Nanaimo to Courtenay and Comax This Morning in Blakely Harbor Gig Harbor to Bell Harbor Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 Airship at dusk, last night at our Newcastle Island moorage (with Nanaimo in the background): We left Newcastle Island this morning around 8am. We originally thought we'd head up the east side of Vancouver Island to Comox, but the weather was so beautiful and the conditions so calm, we opted to cross the Strait of Georgia today and headed for Lund, BC. Wanna know how calm it was? This calm: It was this calm the entire 8 hours 50 minutes and 62.6 nautical miles of our cruise. Oh look! A cloud!! While we were cruising along on this long calm stretch on the Strait of Georgia, our VHF on scan as usual, it stopped on Channel 16 for an announcement that said something very close to this:"This is Comox Coast Guard Radio...Comox Coast Guard Radio...Comox Coast Guard Radio. The integration of Comox Coast Guard Radio with Victoria Coast Guard Radio is now complete. This is the final broadcast from Comox Coast Guard Radio. It has been a pleasure serving the maritime community for the past 108 years. Comox Coast Guard Radio...Out." Then...silence. Kevin and I looked at each other and said "Whoa!" We both teared... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 We left Roche Harbor this morning after a lovely evening with near perfect weather. Check out the light on the chapel last night! At sunset, the Roche Harbor Color Guard does a flag ceremony where they take down the flags (the Washington State flag, the Canadian flag, the British flag, and then the United States flag), complete with soundtrack: Oh Canada, God Save the Queen, Taps, etc. Oh, and a canon salute. They don't mess around here in Roche Harbor...they take their pageantry seriously. We watched from the top deck of Airship: We popped up this morning and headed for Canada! Totem pole on the shore (from the back) as we left Roche Harbor: We called in to Canpass to get cleared through Canada Customs. (Canpass is cool! You get pre-approved as a low risk traveler, and most of the time you can just call in, answer a few questions, and get your clearance number and you're good to go.) We didn't have to stop at Customs or anything. Super convenient! We headed for Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring Island for a little more provisioning (okay, for wine). You can't bring more than two bottles... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2016 at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska 2016 - Here we go again! We were finished with all of our boat projects and provisioning a little sooner than we expected, so we decided to head out a couple days early. We left Cap Sante in Anacortes and cruised over to Roche Harbor on San Juan Island today. We figured we'd rather do the one load of laundry we had left over here instead of at Cap Sante. It's beautiful here, and now we're just that much closer to Canada. :) The weather started out a little dreary, but morphed into a gorgeous day. Airship, all expedition-ready! I guess we've never been to Roche Harbor in the "On Season" (which started Friday, apparently). The moorage was $65 for tonight...not $30-something as it normally is when we're here (in the Off Season). But we did have the very charming Hailey come out to our boat to take our payment right there, rather than having to go over to office to pay. Also, there are now trash cans right ON the dock...no walking up to the top to take your trash. So there's all THAT going for the On Season. :) We did Mother's Day festivities... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2016 at Riveted
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I haven't posted in a few days (okay, over a week) because we've just been doing a bunch of relatively boring stuff as we get ready to head north to SE Alaska next week. We were at home for a couple weeks, where I squeezed in about eight photo shoots (!!!) Kevin had a business trip, and we did the pre-Alaska Costco run. We're at the boat now, finishing up a few projects we wanted to have done before it's time to leave. Our days have been filled with regular work-work, mixed in with lots of boat stuff, and then maybe a beer and some fish tacos up at Anthony's Cabana. Not a bad way to end a work day. Yesterday was my birthday so we did not work on any boat projects. We went out to breakfast, hung out a little, and then headed to Cypress Island for the night. I colored with the new watercolor pencils in the cool coloring book my mom got me while Kevin wrote an article: This is a pretty chill way to spend an hour or two! Thanks Mom!! We're back at the marina now and just doing some work. Our AIS quit... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2016 at Riveted
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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