Toilets That Flush

That’s right, we’re back to our regular lives. Toilets that flush, hot water on demand, king sized bed, unlimited furniture that’s comfortable, internet access all the day all the time. A big washer, dryer, two refrigerators (and an ice maker!), the list of amenities we enjoy at home grows tiresomely long.

We miss the boat. Coming back to our house is always a difficult transition for us after a couple of weeks on the boat because in spite of all the amenities our land based home offers,  there is also a lawn to be mowed, a floor that needs vacuuming, and groceries to be bought. And even though it’s so much easier to take the car to Costco and stock up on groceries, it’s much more fun and adventurous to anchor in front of downtown Sidney, dinghy in to shore, and hike up the beach and down the street and lug everything back to Galapagos.  I guess we’re just crazy like that.

Galapagos waits in front of the public beach on the Sidney, B.C waterfront.

We had a wonderful, successful trip and I have over 500 photos to sort through. We got our anchoring routine down pat. I learned that the hot water heater works only when we’re tied to the dock. Whoops! We anchored out 100% of the time and remembered what it’s like to negotiate food storage sans refrigeration. Let’s just say that ice is expensive in the islands. I docked the boat in Poet’s Cove, choosing a dead calm day and plenty of room so I would have a good chance of complete success. It worked out great. And we’re getting the whole ‘docking this beast’ routine down in terms of who does what when Mike’s at the wheel and I’m doing the tying off. We’re learning. So far, so good.

On the Strait of Georgia.

Our route took us from Tacoma to Camano Island and then through Deception Pass for the first time ever. A ten hour day by motor got us to the island and anchored out for the evening. We continue to be amazed at how much faster this boat moves than our Cal 34. We had planned to meet up with a friend of Mike’s from work, who has a house on Camano Island. But alas, his cow was calving that day so they were not home. For some reason, that just cracked me up.

But regardless of cows, we had to pay attention to the timing going through Deception Pass.  For the uninitiated, Deception Pass is one of those places where you don’t want to be caught at the wrong time of the current cycle because you could find yourself with an opposing current of over 6 knots if you don’t pay attention. We had been through that area on the Victoria Clipper, but had never sailed (or motored) through it. The mother cow made it possible for us to make it up to the pass in time to go through without trouble. We had 1 knot of current with us and even with that, it was like Mr. Toad’s wild ride as Galapagos struggled to keep a strait course. A sailboat coming the opposite direction, against that same 1 knot of current, was stopped dead in the middle of the pass for awhile and I thought he was going to drift into the rocks, but he made it. I’m pretty sure current doesn’t tell the whole story in this place. It’s pretty ‘exciting’ to be sure.

Approaching Deception Pass. Fishermen fishing the currents appear to block the passage, but they don’t actually get in the way.

Once you get through the pass you are in the islands and that’s pretty sweet. We hit Rosario Strait at the wrong time, however, and would have been bucking current with no wind all the way north so we decided we were done for the day and anchored at little Strawberry Island State Park. There isn’t much going on at that little park but it was a reasonable enough anchorage in calm weather.  We were already tucked in for the evening and it wasn’t even dinner time yet. I thought about dropping the kayak in the water, but it was too much trouble. I decided to sleep instead.

It’s an interesting thing, going on this kind of vacation. It takes awhile for the ‘vacation’ part to sink in, at least for Mike. It hits me immediately in the form of sleeping. The first two days if I wasn’t on watch, I was probably sleeping. Mike, on the other hand, was doing projects. Here’s a little note from my diary after the first two days of this trip:

What I do best on this boat is sleep. I could sleep all day long and into the night and through to the next day. Honestly, sometimes I can barely keep my eyes open and it feels like my brain just needs someone to hit the ‘reset’ button. Mike does projects. Since we left he has installed and hardwired a small inverter, being used as I type this to keep this laptop running and to allow him to use his little soldering iron. Because he has also wired in the battery charger for his drill and now he is working on some other god-knows-what project in the man cave. I like the IDEA of doing projects, but I cannot bring myself to think of one to do. Well, there was that Creeping Crack Cure I put around the outside of the midship hatch as extra insurance against leaks, but that hardly counts since it took all of 5 minutes. But by GOD that hatch doesn’t leak a drop. Then I did cook dinner and clean up. And then put some gluten free cookies in the oven, hoping the shot of glucose from them would somehow jumpstart my brain. I wonder if this is what I will always feel like when we live on the boat. Will I be this completely lacking in motivation, unable to find the energy to even drop the dinghy in the water? Thank God this laptop works without internet.

Mike, working on a boat project during his ‘vacation’.

Let’s just say that it takes awhile for Mike to unwind. And it takes me awhile to find my groove. I feel a little bit ‘between worlds’ the first few days, a bit discombobulated. I can’t go on my morning walks with the dog. I have no interweb. It’s a wierd, liminal space.

The following day was one for sailing! We rode the tide up Rosario Strait and out into the Strait of Georgia to find wind! Lovely, constant wind. Getting to the head of Rosario Strait took almost no time at all. By 10:00 we were in the Strait of Georgia, looking through our binoculars at a crowd of boats in Echo Bay on Sucia Island.   We had the whole day ahead of us so we just went sailing, waiting for the Labor Day crowd to leave Sucia so we could find a decent anchorage and spend a little time there. We spent several hours on a warm sunny day just doing long tacks back and forth in the strait, finally having a chance to really get the hang of tacking Galapagos. It was fabulous. Let the vacation begin.

Long, easy tacks on the Strait of Georgia.

We found a great anchorage at Sucia between Little Sucia and the big island, just outside of Fox Cove. It’s not a marked anchorage and it’s nowhere near the mooring buoys. It was perfect. We are learning that we can trust our big Bruce anchor and heavy chain to hold us. We settled in for a couple of days to explore Sucia.

Scenes from Sucia

Sea lions on rocks off Sucia Island.

And just around the corner, seals on rocks. Classic.

That’s Little Sucia and the beach right by the boat.

Forest path on Sucia.

Galapagos and the sandstone of Sucia Island.

Little Blue Heron.

And the next day, it poured rain all day long. The hatch didn’t leak a bit. We stayed in bed and read books and ate bad things all day. Aside from expanding waistlines, this was our reward:

Sunset from Fox Cove

And this looking the other way.

And this.

And now you know why we miss the boat.

The following day was glorious sun and warm temperatures. Time to get off the boat and do some hiking around the island. More photos. Remember, I have almost 500 hundred to sort through.


It’s a vulture. It was busy dining on a small dogfish.

Sucia Island is known for its fossils. Here’s a little vein of fossilized shells in the sandstone.

Mike likes to go Geocaching whenever there is one around, and there was one at Sucia. He found this one easily. No cool prizes, though, although there was a pin from the American Club in Hong Kong. It’s probably still there if you want it. 

We stayed at this anchorage for close to three days, then beat time over to Poet’s Cove in Bedwell Harbor to check in with the Canadians. Galapagos’ first two owners live in British Columbia. She would be back in her home waters. More fun to come, so stay tuned.

Our dinghy, Tortoise.

Our dinghy, Tortoise.