Swan Song

Mike and I spent 2 1/2 days aboard Moonrise this weekend, sailing up to Blaine to do a delivery for some new boat owners. The boat we delivered? Moonrise. That’s right, she finally found the perfect new owners and as part of the deal, we agreed to sail her up to Blaine, WA from her home slip in Tacoma.

Long term readers will know we’ve had Moonrise on the market for about 2 years and until recently, no serious buyers came forward.  No one, not our brokers, not potential buyers, could tell us why she was still sitting on the market. But we knew there must be a reason that had nothing to do with the boat or the price. She is a well kept boat, cleaner than most boats on the market, and she was reasonably priced.

Just north of Seattle, Mike checks the wind vane. Or maybe he is praying to the weather gods.

The reason became clear on the day we bought Andromeda. Apparently the Universe was waiting until we had found the perfect boat for out next adventure before it would allow us to release Moonrise into someone else’s care. The Universe knows we would hate being boatless. On the very day we closed on the loan for Andromeda and she became legally ours, we showed Moonrise to Stephan and Anita, a sailing couple from Vancouver, B.C. They had owned sailboats before and had been trying to get down to Tacoma to see Moonrise for a couple of months but the timing had never been right. They fell in love with her. I knew after they left that these were the new owners. I just felt it, and I was right. They soon made the offer and arranged to have her surveyed.  And lucky thing for them, too, because since that day we’ve had all kinds of interest in her. We actually had a waiting list of people interested in case the sale fell through for any reason. Wierd times!

Who’s that tapping with his little hammer? Yes, it’s our favorite marine surveyor and all round good guy, Tony Allport. He gave Moonrise the ‘thumbs up’ after she passed her tests.

The buying of Andromeda before the selling of Moonrise created a bit of a stir among those who read the blog, those who know us, and those voices of “common sense” in our own minds. But consider this: There is a kind of ‘knowing’ that is purely beyond the realm of logic. This kind of knowing doesn’t look good on paper. Numbers do not necessarily add up, things do not appear to make good sense in the realm of the physical world. People think you are crazy, when what you are really doing is following the heart that is speaking to you. Somewhere inside is a small, quiet voice, a lantern in the dark, that whispers, ‘This is the way to go. Go this way.’  And so you do. And it comes to pass, just as though someone planned it that way. You step into a stream of life energy and when it’s the right thing, it simply carries you along like a leaf on the current. This was the feeling we had in this entire process. No real questions, just some solid faith that we were making the right choice for us and it was our job to allow the story line to unfold.

I’d like to say we made the offer to sail Moonrise to Blaine because we are generous and kind and wanted to sweeten the pot for the deal. But that would be only partly true. We made the offer because it gave us one more chance to have a long weekend aboard a much-loved boat, to feel the water under her keel one last time, to allow her to shine on the sea and surf down a wave once more with us at the helm. Sure, we were glad to help Anita and Stephan out, but what we really wanted was one more chance to say goodbye.

The Port Townsend cut. Will Andromeda be able to go underneath this bridge? We are not sure yet. This was the calm before the storm.

And what a terrific trip it was! Mother nature threw all of what she had at us this weekend, from wind, to a little rain, to sunny skies and tall seas. We anchored for the first night at Port Hadlock and settled down for a calm and secure evening, only to hear the wind begin to scream through the rigging, and feel the boat bouncing and tugging at anchor. The weather report had changed and we were in for a rough night of 30 knot winds, but the anchor held fast. No one got much sleep, and I remember thinking if this didn’t make us seasick, surely nothing would. Mike slept in the salon so that he could get up regularly and check the anchor, but I believe he got the better end of that deal as I was in the forward berth being slammed to heck and back. We were so glad we had decided on Port Hadlock rather than our usual Port Townsend anchorage, which would have been so much worse.

This is my ‘Ralphie’ look. Wool long johns, polypropylene over that, then a one piece fleece sailing suit, then my foulies and jacket. Two hats. Oh, and hand and boot warmers. It takes me 20 minutes to use the head. Stadium pal, anyone?

Saturday dawned bright and beautiful with blue skies and warm temperatures and we started across the Strait of Juan de Fuca off the coast of Whidbey Island.  The seas were confused and rough after the previous night’s storm. With no wind at all, we motored through 8 foot swells, coming close together and growling with foam. Mike was trying to get a little sleep in the cabin. Ha! That was not going to happen. In the middle of the strait another storm system was blowing in from the coast and the winds increased, temperatures dropping about 10 degrees. With winds clocking around 30 knots according to the radio, we had a small headsail flying and skittered down waves at 9.5 knots, grinning like demons. In spite of the big waves and spray, it was some of the best sailing we’ve had in a long time. Moonrise was in her element and the weather gods were smiling on us, leaving us with the wind and swells, but dumping the rain somewhere else.

Those are the San Juan Islands ahead. What a glorious day! Why do photos never accurately show the sea state?

With wind and tide pushing us from behind, we soared up Rosario Strait, feeling particularly fortunate the wind and currents were in our favor.  But it was getting late in the day and more high wind from the West Southwest was expected that night so we needed a place to anchor for the evening. Doe Bay offers the only protection from that wind direction on that side of Orcas Island. We set a course and found a reasonable anchorage just north of the park, surrounded by private mooring balls with nobody on them. After dinner and a game of Scrabble, we were both pooped and went to bed early. We had a quiet night and slept deeply, one last night in our comfortable big v-berth.

Sunrise. Yes, it’s really that monochromatic, for those who don’t live here.

And now a little more light.

Wanting to catch the tide going up the strait, we were underway in the dark by 5:30 am with 20 knots of wind behind us and big following seas. There’s nothing like hanging ten down the front of a wave, foam flying, only to be lifted by the next one. We flew out into the Strait of Georgia just as the sun was coming up, thanking the gods that we were going in the right direction and not trying to beat to weather. We made record time into Blaine and Moonrise performed perfectly under sail.

Beautiful day on the Strait of Georgia. Orcas Island behind us.

The only bad part of the trip was trying to get docked in the Blaine marina in about 40 knots of wind. No kidding, the wind was just screaming. I had to gun the engine going through the entrance to the marina for fear the wind would blow Moonrise into the concrete barriers if she went too slowly. We bulleted through the entrance at a brisk 4 knots. To get docked I had to keep the throttle at full reverse to keep the boat from being blown into the boat in front of us. And that was INSIDE the protected marina. We were both pretty stressed out by that time and just glad to have her safely tied off. We love being on the water in those conditions, but being in a marina with high winds kind of sucks. I couldn’t help being a little stressed out about learning to handle a much larger vessel in tight quarters.

Love this photo, except for that little green water spot on the lens. Still, maybe it’s a luminescent sea creature?

Claire drove up from Tacoma to collect us and our personal items from the boat, and Anita and Stephan drove down from Vancouver to finished the deal. They will be berthing Moonrise in Vancouver where they can learn to sail her at their leisure. They are very excited to have her and we are very happy to have found new owners who will take her to the Gulf Islands and explore the coast of British Columbia. Moonrise will show them all of her old haunts!

Happy boat buyers!

It was important to us to sell our boat to someone who would use her the way she was intended to be used and not let her languish at the dock.  We are excited for Anita and Stephan and know they are just the people we were looking for. We look forward to seeing photos of Moonrise at a beautiful anchorage next summer and hope they will stay in touch. Maybe we will meet them in a beautiful anchorage sometime in the future and we can give the old girl a pat and a little kiss from us.  Bon voyage, Moonrise. We shed tears as we say goodbye to you. You will be in our hearts forever, with thanks for all the adventures and learning.

Anita, looking excited as she puts their foul weather gear in the hanging locker. That’s a good expression on a new boat owner’s face!

Mike ‘splains the finer points of the GPS to Stephan and Anita.

Have wonderful times on this good boat, Anita and Stephan! Fair winds and following seas to you all!




27 thoughts on “Swan Song

  1. What a ride. Love the photos and descriptions. I would have waited for a better forecast but it was perfect for “Moonrise”.

    The sea state photo was great. Once you have been out and taken photos yourself, it is easier to translate other people’s photos. It looked gnarly to me. I stay home over 20 knots.

    • Gnarly is an excellent word. It’s hard to find a forecast for several days of low wind and seas this time of year, as you know. And the longer we waited, the less chance we’d have a decent weather window long enough for us to get her up there. Moonrise does great in 20-30 knots with only a small amount of jib showing. We never even raised the main. As long as we’re not beating to weather in this kind of sea, we’re good. Beating to weather is an entirely different story, however, which is what put our trip to Barkley Sound last summer out of commission. After we’d sailed through what we though was 30 knots, we kept listening to the radio and found that the winds had gusted to 40. Oy. It was an awesome sail.

      • You are more adventuresome than others. Others take the “Little Inside Passage” this time of year. Even the Victoria Clipper came through here last Friday (11/15) nite.

        Little Inside Passage = Saratoga Passage + Swinomish Channel

  2. What a beautiful tribute to a boat you loved! Our vessel’s owner passed suddenly but we always hope that he is watching and sees the love we are pouring into her.

    So true….the Universe knows! We weren’t ready for a boat and yet we knew immediately that we wanted Mongojo and the Universe made it happen!

    • Isn’t it strange how that happens, and how you just know it when it does? Sometimes faith is what sees you through. I’m sure your vessel’s owner is keeping watch and hey, we always need that extra bit of spiritual help when out on the water!

  3. Congrats on the sale and to the new owners. Looks like it was a great trip to send Moonrise off on her next adventure.

    And I’m with you on photographing the seas. They never look the same in person, no matter how hard I try to capture them.

    • I think Al Felker said it best: gnarly. Wouldn’t have wanted to be in those seas with a motor boat. But a sailboat? She was awesome.

  4. What an awesome post. Great photos, a splendid passage, and a new chapter for Moonrise. Congratulations to you both on becoming one- boat owners again.

    • Thanks, Belinda! I am waiting for the relief to hit. I’m sure it will come soon since now we can pay for that new engine for Andromeda!

  5. what a story! When I saw the title, I was hoping this is what it would mean… I can understand the mixed emotions involved. What a leap of faith you took… but like you say, you KNOW it is right!

    Now on to bigger and better things! And again, if you ever need a hand, just give me a call!

    • I so hope that’s true, Cidnie! I have to say that the entire trip I was thinking ‘I wonder how Andromeda would be handling this’ or ‘How will we manage this on Andromeda?. Everything is a learning curve lately. I have some great videos to upload to Youtube, if I could only get Youtube to accept them. Must. Keep. Trying.

  6. Aww, I am SO happy Moonrise finally found a new home. What a wonderful thing to be able to have such a great trip for one last time. I’m loving your blog posts and your photos. My fav is you in the red coat :).

    It really is funny how things just end up working out sometimes. All of a sudden everything aligned. I also couldn’t understand why such a good boat, in the shape Moonrise is in, took so long to sell.

    Onto the next phase!!

    • Yes, definitely on to the next phase! I think we’ve already started. BTW, that red jacket is actually a ski jacket I got a good deal on. It makes a great sailing jacket. Totally wind and waterproof. I’ll want another one for offshore, but for the coastal cruising around here, it works great.

    • Thanks for the words of encouragement Thommy. Fixing and upgrading is the best possible way to learn about a new to you boat and I know that applies to any kind of boat. And I am sure the irony is not lost on you that we alleged sailors seem to spend an inordinate amount of time and blog space on engine related topics. It is our secret shame that we are so dependent on our engines and we are really looking forward to the Beta Marine diesel for Andromeda.

    • Jennifer,

      We are very excited for your father and Anita and know that they will enjoy her as much as we have. Leaving Moonrise last Sunday was made easier knowing that they will take good care of her. The weather has been beautiful but very cold here but I am hopeful they have gotten her out for a few short sails already.

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