M/V Cloud Nine

M/V Cloud Nine
A 1973 North Sea 38' pilothouse Trawler, made in Osaka, Japan by Kita Trading Co. Ltd.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Friday Harbor and Homeward Bound

Leaving Deer Harbor

Having the storm pass by and the waters calm, we left Deer Harbor headed for Friday Harbor, a short cruise south.  

Small island off SE corner of Orcas Island

The morning was beautiful, the skies clearing, and we really enjoyed maneuvering through and around the tiny islands that are south of Orcas Island.


We entered Friday Harbor and saw a flurry of activity.  A large marina, with permanent moorings and enough dock space to handle more than 150 transient boaters, we found our slip and got checked in.  Friday Harbor sees a lot of ferries coming from Anacortes, Sydney B.C., and smaller ones from other islands in the San Juans.  The town is close and easy to walk to and get around.

We ran into Sequim boaters, Bob & Linda on Pound Foolish, who were at Friday Harbor celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary.  They moor at the end of our dock at the John Wayne Marina, so it was nice to see friends.  We brought our leftovers and, along with their leftovers, enjoyed the evening eating and sharing stories.  

We were surprised the next day when the friends we met at Deer Harbor came into the marina and moored across the dock from us.  We spent another evening visiting with them.

We know that Friday Harbor will see us again.  With plenty to do and see while visiting there, we'll return when Nancy's knee has improved so that we can do more walking around the area.  The marina has two prices for mooring, one if you call in to reserve a space, and one lower price if you just show up and get lucky to find an opening.  Being that we were there before the July 4th weekend, we were happy to see plenty of empty slips and were very pleased to pay less than $1/foot for moorage.

Lighthouse at Cattle Pass with Olympics in background
Listening to weather forecasts, we decided to take an opening in the weather to head back to Sequim and continue the work needed on Cloud Nine.   We had hoped for a day or two at Fisherman's Bay, but knew we wanted a smoother crossing than our northward crossing. The morning was clear and the water calm as glass as we headed south.  Current was pushing our 6 knot speed up over 10 knots that morning through Cattle Pass.  Fun! 

Didn't want to play chicken with this big guy!
There was plenty of ship traffic in the lanes this day so getting across the shipping lanes this morning turned into a bit of a challenge.  Not wanting to be stuck in the middle of the traffic lane with a 300+ ship bearing down on us, we hung out in the separation zone waiting for an eastbound ship to go past us.  We had a westbound ship coming up fast behind us, but the separation zone gives you plenty of room for safety.  We snuck in behind the eastbound ship and continued our crossing, pulling into Sequim safe and sound and glad our first long outing was mostly successful.

We know that we have to resolve an issue with our batteries, and will schedule a visit with the marine electrician before we plan our next night off grid.  Lots of work still to do on Cloud Nine, but she's so much fun to be on each and every day.  We're looking forward to the projects still to come!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Laying Low in Deer Harbor Marina

Summer has not yet arrived in Puget Sound, and by the looks of it, we may be having the same kind of summer as the previous two -- cold and windy.  With a storm coming in, we decided to take shelter in Deer Harbor Marina on the southwest corner of Orcas Island.

Deer Harbor Marina is a well-liked marina in all of the cruising guides.  Quite honestly, we're questioning why.  The marina has no breakwater and is open to the south getting rolling wakes from the ferry traffic on Lopez Island and during the storm, rolling seas from the south wind.  The cruising guides talk of an Orcas Shuttle that runs all over the island, but this shuttle officially starts the first day of summer, this year June 22nd.  The marina charged $1.55/foot to moor, which included electricity, water, and the pump out station, if we needed.   This is the most we've paid so far on this trip.  There is no town nearby, just a restaurant 1/2 mile up the road.  So, unless you want to rent a car for $60/day or take a taxi over to Eastsound, there is not much to do here.

In defense of the marina, there is a very well-stocked store at the head of the main dock.  The marina staff is accommodating and very polite.  The marina office has a large selection of t-shirts, sweatshirts, and wind breakers at a very reasonable price.  There is a resort up the hill from the marina and the swimming pool is accessible to marina guests.  Shower tokens are $2 and give you 7 minutes, which was the longest shower we've had so far on this trip, and we each used every single minute.

We got to share a few hours with a couple from Missouri, David and Nancy, who were chartering a Grand Banks 36.  We were impressed that they both took boating classes in order to be well-prepared for their charter trip.  We continue to be amazed at the friendliness of the boating community.  At almost every stop we meet wonderful people, learn about their lives, and share boating stories with them.  

The storm rolled in with wind gusts in excess of 40 mph and we were glad to be safe in harbor.  We watched a Kenmore Air plane come into the harbor for a landing, being blown about quite a bit, and he skirted the tops of the sailboats in the marina and landed just past.  Quite a thrill for us down here and I'm sure a little scary for those on the small plane.

We're heading to Friday Harbor on Monday.  Jerry is wanting to get to a store to buy glue to fix a stubborn hole in our dinghy.  I'm wanting to find a drugstore to buy an ace bandage to wrap my knee, which has been giving me fits on this trip.  My knee brace just isn't cutting it and getting around is getting harder each day.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

To Bellingham and the San Juans

Up the Swinomish Channel, north towards Anacortes, is a long, slow trip.  This is a "no wake" zone, and the officials in this area mean no wake.  So at about 4 knots, we made the slow trip north up the channel, following a fishing vessel.  It's approximately an hour-and-a-half trip, again in a very narrow channel, and great attention must be paid to stay in the center of the channel, unless meeting a vessel coming the other direction.  Here's a photo nearing the north end of the channel, going under Highway 20 bridge and approaching the floating railroad bridge. 
 This bridge activates each day at 4:00 p.m. to allow a train across, but closes the channel to boat traffic, so boats must be past before this time or a long wait is in store.

Clearing the last buoy out of the channel, we headed north up to Bellingham.  After tying up at the guest dock in Bellingham, we showered and met up with friends, Ed & Lois, for dinner at Anthony's.  We did laundry and worked on the boat the next day, having dinner again with our friends.  Ed & Lois were the highlights of our Bellingham visit.  We enjoy their company so much and it was great to see them.  

We don't have much to say about the marina at Bellingham.  They don't seem that accommodating for guests.  They place their guest boats at the outer part of the marina that gets the most wave action from wind and boats going in and out of the marina.  There are pay stations at different gates, but no information about what is available in the immediate area.  But, on the other hand, our moorage was only $30/night and so you can't really complain.  We just thought we'd eventually see someone from the Marina Office, but not to be.  We hear from other boaters that each marina handles guests differently, and so when you do come across one that is gracious and welcoming with a bag of information as to what's in the area, and maybe even discount coupons, they tell us that is a marina you'll be happy you chose.  We had a wonderful experience at Edmonds last fall, greeted with a bag of goodies and discount coupons.  We'll have to see as we get more experience which we prefer.  

After two nights in Bellingham being blown around at the dock, we awakened to calmness and sunshine and headed for the San Juan Islands.  Before leaving Bellingham Bay, we were met with one of the Alaska State Ferries that runs between Bellingham and Alaska and can be taken by anyone, either as a walk-on, or with a car.  

We headed north between the mainland and Lummi Island.  A small ferry was running between the island and the mainland taking folks into work.  A lot of lovely homes lined the shore of Lummi Island.  As we turned westward toward the San Juan Islands of Matia and Sucia, we turned to see Mount Baker and the Cascades behind us.

Across the shipping lanes, watching a tug pulling a barge far behind him northward, we came across the small island east of Matia Island.  Our plan was to go to the west side of Sucia Island (west of Matia) where there were a couple of different bays to anchor in, but we explored the east side of the island first and entered Echo Bay.

Echo Bay had numerous empty anchoring buoys and was quite beautiful, but the kicker was when we turned eastward and looked at the view of Mount Baker and the Cascades from this Bay.  It was breathtaking.  So, we attempted our first mooring to a buoy.  We missed the first pass, but got it at the second pass.  We had thought that you had to catch the ring on top of the buoy at the water level, so tried to catch the ring from the swim step, but later in the evening had a good laugh when we watched a sailboat lift the ring upwards while the people slipped their line through the ring from midships!  What you can learn from folks by watching!!!  We put the dinghy in the water, took photos of Cloud Nine, and went to register for the night.  

Private Island off Sucia Island with house in trees!
This was our first use of the Washington State Marine Park system.  It was amazing to realize this entire island was a State Park, specifically for boaters.  Pit toilets, camp sites, picnic tables, and hiking trails throughout the island, along with the mooring buoys, linear mooring lines, and at another part of the island, a floating dock.  You can certainly see the benefit of tax dollars here in this beautiful area.  Our fee to use the buoy was $12/night, although we can get a yearly pass for about $160 for our boat.  (You can see a linear mooring line at the right side of photo.)   By nightfall, we counted 18 boats in Echo Bay, most of them sailboats.  We rocked quite a bit at this anchorage due to the wakes from large ships in the north/south shipping lanes.  We would choose to anchor elsewhere next time.

We awoke to rain and left Sucia Island heading south for Deer Harbor on the southwest part of Orcas Island.  With a storm coming, we wanted to head for shelter for a couple of days.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Charming Town of LaConner

Saying goodbye to good friends at Deception Pass Marina, we left for the short ride over to LaConner.  We've been to LaConner many times via car, always saying that "one day" we'd bring our boat here and moor for the night.  Of course, when we said that, the dream of having a boat was still that--just a dream.  But, here we were, motoring our boat to LaConner to spend the night, fulfilling a wish of ours.

The channel approach to the southern end of the Swinomish Channel is just off the eastern side of Whidbey Island.  The approach is very narrow and it is imperative to stay between the markers in this area.  We passed this eagle pretty close, but he didn't seem to be bothered until we were well passed.  


As you move down the channel, you realize that you are heading right for a rock wall, but then the channel turns and you maneuver around an "S" curve.  

The channel continues past a housing development and soon enough, the Rainbow Bridge comes into view with LaConner just beyond.  (Of course, the Rainbow Bridge is now painted orange, but you can guess what it used to look like.)

We chose to use one of the town's public docks (at $.50/ft for the night) and have our first night with no power.  The public docks are right along the water in the main part of town.  We were able to leave the boat and walk the main drag of town and visit the shops and restaurants.  We had to stop at our favorite, LaConner Brewery, so that Jerry could enjoy their brick-oven pizza (one of the best ever tasted), while I stayed gluten free and had the Brick Oven Nachos.  Both were very good.  We brought the leftover nachos back and finished those up later that night.  

 Just above the public dock where we moored was one of the town's many public plaza's where local art work was displayed and benches available for tourists to rest.  The "art" at this plaza rose high above the heads of the tourists and I'm still scratching my head by its meaning.  I guess this artist felt the local fish were being polluted by all the trash that was in the water.

We seem to attract Blue Heron, and here was another one coming close to the boat for a visit.

I went wandering with my camera, and Jerry was happy to see me returning. 

Our mooring place was directly across from the land belonging to the Swinomish Indian Tribe.  They had a celebration and put two canoes in the water, the younger folks going out first and the elders chasing in the next canoe.

Later in the evening when the canoes returned, there was dancing, singing, and drums beating up under one of the three pavilions (one seen above).  We checked the website of the tribe, but did not see what they were celebrating.  The tribe does participate in a canoe trip, along with other coastal Indian tribes, paddling to one location for all tribes to celebrate.  We can only assume this might have been a celebration of the canoes being readied for the trip.

Next morning, we said good-bye to LaConner and headed up the Swinomish Channel heading towards Bellingham and a couple of days visiting friends, Ed & Lois. 


Monday, June 11, 2012

Our First Long Cruise

Getting off on our first long cruise got delayed due to small craft warnings and gale force winds, but it allowed us to continue working on the boat, fine tuning some things before heading out.  This included getting our Honda 8hp dinghy engine purring like a kitten, and we have to thank our moorage neighbor, Cliff, for his help.  A car mechanic during the week, we really appreciated him taking time out on his Saturday to help us.

So, with the gale force winds settling down and wave heights expected between 1-3 ft., we got up early Sunday morning to cross the Strait of Juan DeFuca.  Now, this is my first time across and so I have no experience to fall back on, but in my “rookie” opinion, it was pretty rough going across.  It may have been the effects of the gale force winds still evident from the night before, and maybe we should have waited a few extra hours, but off we went.  We had to zigzag our course in order to take the swells at our quarter instead of our beam, and then we’d head east for awhile in following seas.  At 7 knots, 4 hours later, we were in calmer waters in Rosario Strait, southeast of Lopez Island, with Deception Pass Bridge in the distance.  
We wanted to go through Deception Pass at slack tide, so we pulled into Bowman Bay to rest for a few hours. 

Bowman Bay is just north of Deception Pass, and was quite a treat.  A Washington State Park floating dock was available, along with four mooring buoys.  Also in the Bay was a dinghy-only dock, beach, boat ramp, and lots of hiking trails.  We tied up to the floating dock, made some lunch, grabbed a nap, and watched the eagles in the nearby trees.   One swooped down and caught a fish and we watched it tear it apart and then take it back to the nest.   

Hearing a splash under the dock near our boat, we knew we had a critter joining us.  A few minutes later, an otter jumped onto the dock and joined us.  Of course, no camera nearby, so just the memory and no photo to show you.  Lots of kayakers around the area.  The Bay was a beautiful place to rest for a few hours, but is exposed to northwest winds and we heard from others that at night the floating dock can be bouncy due to the wakes of large ships passing through Rosario Strait.  We hope to return for another visit in the future.

Slack tide time brought us through the Deception Pass and a flotilla of fishing boats with no noticeable passage through the mass.  However, being a 38-foot boat, they made openings for us to pass through, all of them shaking their heads “No,” when we asked if they had caught anything.

A ketch coming out as we went under the bridge.

Cloud Nine at the Dock of Deception Pass Marina
Through the Pass and around Ben Ure Island brought us into Cornet Bay and the Deception Pass Marina, a small marina with fuel dock and grocery store.  Very kind folks met us at the fuel dock, took our lines, and helped get us tied up.  Fishermen were at the top of the ramp cleaning their catch of Ling Cod.  There is a State Park in the area, with showers and docks just down the road one direction, and campground about a mile down the road the other direction. 

North Whidbey Island RV Park was just a mile down the road, where friends Nick & Mary and Tom & Carolyn were awaiting our arrival.  Dinner in Anacortes at the Rock Fish Grill with all, and we finished the night drinking wine on the Porter’s deck with a fire in their portable fire pit.  Good to have friends.

Tuesday morning we were treated to the extended family of Canadian Geese floating by as well as blue skies and warm sun. 

Plans are to head to LaConner and then Bellingham for a few days, visiting with more friends.  After that?  Wherever we want to go!!!

Saturday, June 2, 2012


 As mentioned in earlier post, the explosion the end of January caused damage to our windows and doors.  We received delivery of our Motion Windows bought from Peninsula Glass Company in Vancouver, WA.  (Very professional group and really nice windows!)  The first window has been installed after a few days of cutting, filling, epoxying, trying to fit it, more cutting and filling, etc., etc.  We're hoping the remaining three go quicker.  ;-)

Here's Jerry ripping out the old carpet in the salon.  You can see the boxes of wood flooring behind him.  He's putting in bamboo, which should look great!

You can also see in both of these photos the missing headliner.  I decided to let him finish his work putting down the new flooring and installing the remaining windows before we finish up with the headliner.  Let's just say it helps to avoid "accidents"?

Will post pictures of finished floor as soon as it's all down!