Monthly Archives: March 2016

Off we go down the coast to the mighty Columbia

I’ve recently come to realize that I’m not great about sharing Yahtzee’s future plans on the blog. It’s not purposeful. I guess I just enjoy living it first and writing about it later, rather than sharing what I think might happen months or even years down the way — that seems like a lot of pressure.

But I’ll break ever so slightly from that largely unintended tradition and offer a glimpse into what we’re doing at the moment and what we’ve got “planned” for the next month or so.

We’ve long been intrigued by the cruising offered in the Columbia River and have wanted to participate in the Oregon Offshore International Yacht Race, which takes place every May from Astoria, Oregon to Victoria, British Columbia. So back in the latter days of fall, we decided that we’d start looking for a weather window in late March to get us out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and down the coast to the Columbia River. We had a family trip to Florida scheduled for February and the weather is not notoriously great for a hop down the coast then anyway, so we figured the end of March would allow for a better chance at getting south. Also, our insurance company decided that being out on the coast on or after April 1 was a good date, too:)

Sailing under beautiful sunshine in the Strait of Juan de Fuca
Sailing under beautiful sunshine in the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Continue reading Off we go down the coast to the mighty Columbia

Grinding winches, building fires and changing oil during a dude’s cruising weekend

When we finally got off the fuel dock and out of the marina to start our “Dude’s Weekend” I couldn’t wait to get the sails up. A sunny sky and strong northerly was the order of the day and I knew that a great romp across Rosario Strait was in our near future.

With Jill on the Oregon coast for the weekend to enjoy time with her girlfriends, it was a boy’s ship and neither of them were keen on an afternoon nap. Maybe they were as excited as me to get the sails up and the engine off.

A shot of Mt. Baker after hoisting the mainsail
A shot of Mt. Baker after hoisting the mainsail

As I got the main hoisted with a reef tuck in, Porter and Magnus watched and pretended to grind on winches like I was, and after rolling out the genoa we shot out of Guemes Channel with the ebb. The sun lit up snowcapped mountains in all directions and an azure sky coupled with the blue-green water of the Strait created as gorgeous a scene as can be found anywhere. Yahtzee was absolutely in her element, sailing fast and as the autopilot steered, the boys and I ventured on deck to enjoy the moment and watch the waves go by.

Porter enjoying the ride
Porter enjoying the ride

Continue reading Grinding winches, building fires and changing oil during a dude’s cruising weekend

What works for us: Jobs aboard

“By this summer, I want to learn how to fully rig and fly the spinnaker by myself,” Jill said from the helm as we sailed north in the Gulf Islands. “That would be great!” I agreed with a smile.

Flying the spinnaker isn’t hard, but it’s one of those tasks that takes some learning and practice to get down. And if we want to fly it as much as we like to, then it helps if we both know how it works inside and out.

Jill at the helm as we sail north under spinnaker in the Gulf Islands
Jill at the helm as we sail north under spinnaker in the Gulf Islands

Jill’s statement got us both thinking about how we split up jobs aboard Yahtzee and what works for us in order to make our family cruising life safe, fun and efficient.

I bring up this topic, too, (and Jill could just as easily be writing this as me) because in the world of cruisers it seems that a fair bit of attention gets paid to how duties are split up aboard between couples. What we’ve found while cruising and meeting other couples and families over the years is that, for the most part, everyone does what works best for them in their unique situation. There’s no magic formula to making it work perfectly.

The reality for us is that we’re cruising as a couple, and with a nearly three year old and a 15 month old, we’re also cruising as a family. This family dynamic means that on our boat, it doesn’t matter who does what job, it only matters that it gets done. Continue reading What works for us: Jobs aboard

Sunshine, solitude and a taste of spring in Pirates Cove

Sailing north under Big Blue
Sailing north under Big Blue

When we woke up on Saturday morning, we didn’t expect to see the sun shining so brightly through our cabin windows. A brilliant blue sky followed and we quickly readied Yahtzee to get going north from the Dunsmuir Islands in Ladysmith Harbour towards one of our favorite spots in the Gulf Islands — Pirates Cove Provincial Marine Park.

About an hour later, Porter and I pushed our spinnaker Big Blue up on deck and prepared it to fly. With Jill at the helm we got it rigged and set quickly and Yahtzee bounded forward like she knew where she was going. As we ticked off the miles, I trimmed the sail to the shifting breeze while Jill held a steady course and the boys reveled in the sunshine. It was a perfect morning to be out for a sail.

Magnus and Porter hanging out as we sail
Magnus and Porter hanging out

Continue reading Sunshine, solitude and a taste of spring in Pirates Cove

Why we’re out here: 7 inspiring days of sailing

Broad reaching towards Ladysmith after the squall
Broad reaching towards Ladysmith after the squall

When we rounded the northern corner of Salt Spring Island the squall overtook us. Big drops of rain coupled with strong headwinds brought visibility to almost nothing, and I hoped we wouldn’t hit a log or snag a crab trap. I knew it was just a passing shower, but I wanted it to end.

With one reef already in the main, we beat slowly towards the southern end of Tent Island and, as expected, it soon passed. Blue sky followed and the sun filled in brilliantly, causing my black Musto jacket to steam and gleam in the warm light. I took it off, tossed it aside and rolled the jib out on a broad reach to sail the remaining miles to Ladysmith. Such has been life aboard for the past seven days — sailing all the way, and loving it. Continue reading Why we’re out here: 7 inspiring days of sailing