Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Journey of the Lost Mooring Buoy -- Monday, June 26, 2017

Slap, slap, bump, bump are the sounds we hear from time to time in the night. Yes, we are getting some wind, but hope it will calm down so we can get to shore for our walk along Blind Bay Road today.  Maybe we can get up that hill we missed yesterday.

A nice hum is Willie’s Tug’s generator giving power to run the electric coffee maker while on a mooring buoy, enough power to operate the water maker to replenish our supply of fresh water, and enough power to top off the boat’s house batteries.

Although the sun is peering over the tall evergreens on the hillside of Shaw Island, the ambient temperature is 50-ish.  I watch the thermometer expectantly to see if it will climb to yesterday's 80s for our walk today.

With a somewhat shallow draft, Willie's Tug swings often, and when we hear a much louder bump we look out to see if we have swung into a floating log.  That is when Herb sees a mooring buoy afloat nearby and a horrible thought is that the strong winds may have broken the boat loose from it.  But he is quickly reassured when he remembers that the Marine Park buoys have a blue strip around them.  Yay, this lost buoy is totally white, and probably broke from the private land at the south end of the bay.

As the tide recedes, we watch the buoy being revealed lodged among some drying rocks.  In the photo below, it is the tiny white dot near the left edge.

The winds do not let up and the billows are higher than we are comfortable for cruising the dinghy, so we stay on the boat.  All day long we watch the buoy, to see when the tide will float it again.  Finally at 4P the winds die down, but it is too late for a ride to shore.  It is a good thing we got lotsa fresh produce yesterday.

The lost buoy begins to rock at 5:51P as the rising tide washes up to it.  It tilts first one way, then the other.  

Now it is nowhere to be seen.

A few minutes later we see it floating far from us, almost to the other shore behind Willie’s Tug, evidence that the wind is pretty strong again.

The tide swing brings it back and Herb is able to grab it with the boat hook.  We are curious to see what its problem is.

The chain in the center has rusted loose from its anchor.  

Herb pulls the chain totally out of the buoy.   After we take a look, he replaces it and allows the poor buoy to continue its journey.

Wise campers on the island walk down to move their yellow kayak to a higher level.  We were concerned that if it were not tied off, it may float away as well, leaving the guys stranded.

The biggest surprise of the evening is seeing the private yacht Alliance from Cap Sante come in to anchor. She is 133 ft. long, with a beam of 25.98 ft.   A couple of people come out to get in their tender and cruise about, waving as they pass.  

The nicest sound of the evening is hearing the song of an eagle for the first time in the three days we have been in Blind Bay.  I think he is announcing some good news for someone.

Find the eagle's nest...I never did, but I hear his sweet music.

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Monday, June 26, 2017

Monday, June 26, 2017

Discoveries onThe Walk Down Blind Bay Road -- Sunday, June 25, 2017

The little grocery store on Shaw Island allows dinghies to tie up to their marina dock, only if they are patrons of the store.  Makes sense! 

So in order for us to take a walk along Blind Bay Road, we must dinghy over to Shaw, but we cannot tie up on the beach today because the it is low tide and the painter will not be safe around a rock – even a distant rock – if the tide comes back in before we return from the walk.

A long walk is out of the question.

Herb talks to the marina owner, who knows we purchased groceries yesterday, and he gives permission for us to tie up for a couple of hours at his marina, on Harney Channel.  Nice guy that Herb is, he chooses a place at the shallow end of the dock, where no boats could go, thereby not taking up room where a paying boat could be.

We have our backpacks and water bottles, but we see some tasty looking vitamin water and buy a couple for the walk. I choose orange and Herb gets pink grapefruit.  My, they are refreshing as we sip along while we walk.

I don’t know if these are native wild flowers or if they have been planted by residents owning land along the road, but I love the deep rose colors of the blossoms scattered among the tall grass.  Near the edges of the photo are iron markers, one holding a rope strung across a private driveway.

Locals have placed some interesting looking driftwood in an area we see farther down the road.  I think this one is a goose.  I look closely at the base to see they have been planted in the ground.

Could this represent a bear’s head?

Oh, how funny!  This must be Shaw Island’s answer to Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park!

Almost one hour into our walk, we see a very high hill ahead and do not think we will have time to walk up, before we must turn around to begin our return to the dinghy, so we stop again to rest and enjoy the scenery.

If we had more time, it would be fun to explore the side street, where we see the Community Center and Fire Department.  However, we are content just to read the signs.

For the dinghy ride from Willie’s Tug to shore, I had put my phone in my waterproof boat purse.  It has a clear plastic face to cover the phone and I am able to use the phone while it is inside, the same as if it were simply held in my hand.  Suddenly I have an idea to see if I can turn its camera to selfie mode and take a photo.  I aim at something and shoot!

Yes!  It works!  I have a photo of trees and sky.  Hmmm….but how would one frame a subject?  I’ll need to work on that one.  I might need to call Mr. Yugo, who is the maker of the purse.  Or get my friend Vicki called to action.

Passing by the middle of the U-shape of the bay, we must take a photo toward Harney Channel.  

Find Willie's Tug....

Willie's Tug is a tiny dot to the right of my hat.

Herb spies a tree we did not see on our way up this hill.  Perhaps we were sipping our vitamin water.  How could we have missed it?  It almost jumps out at us, inviting us to admire.   This madrone, or arbutus, tree has been given a full measure of coloring -- deep maroons, reds, beiges, browns and we spend a few minutes with it.  And getting some Vitamin N.

We are almost back to the grocery store and marina when I see how steep the road was that we came up.

Becoming store patrons again, we get a few fresh items of produce and tell the clerk how much we enjoyed the vitamin water. Manning the cash register today is Terri, co-owner, who tells us they expect soon to get the permit for a remodel of the marina.  I hope so, as the wooden ramp at low tide is hard to negotiate. Asphalt roofing shingles are screwed to its floor, and if I step on the metal, my foot tries to slip.  I hold to the wooden rail carefully, so as not to come away with a splinter.

We see the posted sign announcing the upgrading, which will include a sewage pump-out station.  We hope that happens over the winter season.

Find Jake’s Ferry, seen through a window screen of the store….(look for white rectangle at end of dock appearing to be near the flowers in the window box.) What Herb likes about tying there is being able to cruise under the ferry dock, instead of going around it.

The cool breeze blowing across our faces on the ride back to the boat is very refreshing after our exercise in yet another hot Washington summer day! 

Life is good.

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Egg and I (Betty MacDonald) -- Saturday, June 24, 2017

The fourth day of summer --  today -- will be the warmest day of the week, with a high of around 81 degrees, according to a previous forecast from the Marine WX channel.  I like that!

It is sunny and a pleasant temperature as we leave Jones Island at 12:12P, going into Presidents Channel, then turning to port and south by the west side of Jones.

Passing through San Juan Channel, we go into Pole Pass, which is relatively narrow at the point where Orcas Island is on one side and Crane Island on the other.  There are many beautiful houses in view along the shore of Crane, and I take a photo of a dock that has a nice breakwater strategically placed.

I do not see any raccoons.  LOL

A short cruise between destinations today has us at Blind Bay at the north end of Shaw Island in less than two hours.  Herb steers Willie’s Tug around Blind Island on the deeper side and we peer expectantly to see if there is a vacant Parks mooring buoy.  Yes, there is!

There are strong winds about, but Thanks Be to God we hook the buoy on the first try.

We are ‘home’ for three days!

Registration for the Marine Park is on the island nearby, so we get the dinghy down, don life jackets, grab a shopping bag and sail away.  As he registers, I notice there is a camping area and a necessary room for their use.  Next stop is the beach at Shaw Island, where we tie the dinghy painter to a very large log, and climb the short, steep path to the road in front of the grocery.  

Find Jake's Ferry....

We need eggs,  and always can use more fruit and fresh vegetables.  The small store has many, many items boaters may need, and a wide variety of food items.  

Water is choppy as we cruise back from the store, and I hold on tight. We get a few swells from the ferries coming and going between Orcas and Shaw, but we are not in any danger.

Ferry Boat Samish

As I put away the groceries, I notice the egg carton is not as rectangular as it was when we bought it.  I shudder to think what I may see as I open it, but happily find only two shells cracked, one broken yoke.  Yep, scrambled eggs will be dinner tonight!

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Saturday, June 24, 2017

Charlie and Lizzy -- Saturday, June 24, 2017

Today we must leave Jones Island, and I am so hoping I will get a chance to see the darling black dogs play on the beach again, and can get a photo this time. When I see their dinghy approach the dock, I grab the leash of the little one, Lizzy, until owner David can get tied off and get the older one, Charlie, onto the dock.  I tell David how much I enjoy them and ask if they will go to the beach today.

He says he will make a point to after their walk up the hill.  As a matter of fact, it would be a good idea to let them play until they are tired, so they will rest when Lalique sails to another destination later this morning.

Timing is perfect.  I find a great spot on the dock ramp to shoot the photos. 

Campers have pitched their tents at the edge of the beach and a couple of their dogs run off leash.  Charlie and Lizzie give them space and wait their turn.

On the beach Now, Charlie and Lizzy get a bit of exercise, but are soon joined by the camping dogs.  Not being interested, they turn to play only with each other.

The yellow dogs’ seeing their chance, do sneak back onto the beach, hoping to play. Charlie sees them and turns to join in the play, but the yellow dogs get afraid and run back to the camp site.

The young people camping enjoy the show, and laugh at their dogs' retreat.

Charlie:  Yellow dogs, it is our turn on the beach now, but we are very friendly animals and will play with you if you want.  

Jeannie:  Look, David, they are kissing.  How sweet!

Lizzy:  Charlie, what did you find?  You stopped so suddenly that my front arms dug in, and I am doing a backwards wheelie!

Lizzy:  I’m running as fast as I can and I almost caught you!

Charlie:  Come on, little one, I will lead and go fast.  You follow me!

Lizzy:  I can’t keep up, Charlie; maybe I should lie down and they will take us to the sailboat.

After the play (performance for my enjoyment – and camera), David and Jeannie bring the boys to say So Long for now, and we get one more chance to pet them.

(On edit:  The lovely canines are Barbet, French Waterdogs, and a mix.  They have the same mother, and the father is Barbet.)

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sunday, June 25, 2017

People Helping People - And a 1894 Steamboat -- Friday, June 23, 2017

Parks Ranger for Jones Island today is Caroline.  She tells me the way she has people remember her name is that her maternal ancestors are from North Carolina, also Appalachia. She further volunteers that her paternal are mostly from New Orleans and Louisiana.   Hmmm…Herb has a mention of this also in his DNA report.

Caroline’s first season driving, she is working on her Captain’s license.  Today she makes a mistake (that is how we learn) in stepping off her boat without taking a line for tying up.   She thinks she can reach it from the dock; however the winds have other ideas, and quickly catch the vessel, moving it away from the dock.  

Neither Herb nor I had rushed out to catch her lines, as our experience has been that the Rangers single hand well and do not need assistance.

But sitting back watching her now, we are not quick enough getting our boat hook to grab her, and we watch helpless as she slowly drifts off.  At this point I grab our other boat hook, in case it is needed.  We hope the young lady will not jump into the water to catch the boat.  

Herb says to her, “Let it go!  Don’t get in the water, just give it a few minutes and it will drift onto the beach.  You will still be in deep enough water that your motor will be safe.”

She wisely heeds the advice and stays on the dock, quickly moving onto the beach when she sees the boat going that way.  Yay!  She is able to step aboard now, and gives a little push off the beach, as she tries again to dock at the Ranger’s designated spot behind us.

This is how we learn.

Herb uses boathook to assist.

Safe!  All Good!

While she was still afoot on the beach, I had noticed a man in a dinghy coming our way, but when he sees all is well, he does a U-turn and goes back to his sailboat, Lalique.  That is when I saw the two black dogs running here and there on his boat.  They seemed to be having a good time.

Herb now goes to assist another incoming boat, while I continue to visit with Caroline, and when he returns, I tell him about her ancestry.  They share known information, which is so much alike, and we laugh to think they may be distant cousins.

I tell her the man on Lalique was on the way to help while she was waiting for the boat to drift onto the beach.  She calls to him across the water, “Thank You!”

Many of the fellow boaters we meet and visit with are never known to us by name, and a man single handing a small sailboat is docked near Willie’s Tug.  Herb has a chance to get to know more about his boat, where he is from and where he is going.  Those are the usual icebreakers, and questions are also asked about what island or port he came here from.  This sailor has about a five-hour trip to his destination today, and Herb helps him cast off mid-morning.

An incoming vessel quickly fills the spot he vacated.  A few minutes later Herb peers out the windshield and says, “Gosh, it that him coming back?”  It is, so Herb goes to the rail to receive his lines at another site. The sailor tells us he walked upon his bow to tend something, got off balance and fell overboard.  Wisely wearing his inflatable PFD, he swam around to shut off his engine, pull the swim ladder down, and climb back aboard.  

He tells Herb he expected the 50-degree water to feel extremely cold, but surprisingly it did not.  Did his adrenaline warm him?  I suppose he came back to change into warm, dry clothes and think about the situation.  Where did I go wrong, what should I have done?  What should I do next time?  

Check my surroundings
Think about my options
Make a decision

This is how we learn.

We are at low tide and Herb calls to my attention the sea stars, sometimes called starfish, still attached to the metal pilings of the dock.  

As I sit in the cockpit, I notice the black dogs from Lalique frolicking on the beach.  One is about the size Dr. Jake was, and the other is a smaller puppy.  It is just about the cutest thing I have ever seen with the large one leading and the puppy following.  They run first one way, then turn and go the opposite direction.  Exercise and play!


What a busy morning it is, when I hear a sound off our port bow and look to see a boater trying to unhook from his mooring buoy, but is having a problem with his line.  Lalique to the rescue!  Ever his watchful eye and helpful nature sends him again in his dinghy to the vessel on the buoy.  People helping people.

Map of Jones Island shows the trails available to hike. The white elliptical shape at the lower center of the photo represents the dock, and the largest trail, shown on the left, is the 2-mile East Loop, according to the legend in the bottom left hand corner of the map.  Ouch!  That is the challenging one we took yesterday.  I am particularly interested in the zigzag along the coast toward the south, where we actually did some tiny switchbacks.  I call them ‘cute and fun,’ because they were inland enough not to be scary, they were not steep, and they were short.  It reminds us of riding the motorcycle in the Alps in Austria, where we encountered many switchbacks.

This afternoon's walk is quite short and we quickly get our Vitamin N.

Special entertainment of the day is Uno, a steamboat built in 1894 on Lopez Island, owned and piloted by Stephanie Hylton, current treasurer of the Northwest Steam Society.  She lives on Lopez in the San Juans and keeps the boat there.

Returning from our walk, we see the smoke from the stovepipe and come down for a closer look.  

Built in 1894 on Lopez Island

Stephanie draws a crowd, who come to the unique boat, and hear the clickety-clack of the engine.  We see the pistons working, and I am as awed by this as the children are.  She entices one of the young boys to step aboard and pull the cord for the whistle. His father takes a photo to send to relatives.   Stephanie explains how the engine works, with a firebox for burning wood or pinecones.  

When asked if she will stay here overnight and if she will camp or sleep aboard, she answers that she will stay and will sleep aboard.  Then she shows us the cushions she will place to make the pillow for her bed, and explains that her feet will extend into the narrow stern.  No roof over her head.

Stephanie tells us her goal today is to walk around Jones Island and have her lunch.  She grabs the lunch tote and inserts two water bottles.  We thank her for the ‘seminar’ and try not to delay her late lunch further.

To read more about the particulars of Uno, click here.

She tells us she and other steamboats will be in South Sound at Foss Waterway, where we plan to be August 11 – 13.

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Friday, June 23, 2017