Thursday, April 18, 2013

Alaska here we come

We are off to Alaska!

Just before we leave....

Downright lax I say! It’s been many weeks since I made a post. Not only are we back from Australia we have left the US and are now in Canada. How did that happen so quickly?

We arrived back in the US on the 5th March having had a wonderful time in Australia. The flight back was good up until the point we arrived in Vancouver. We were advised, after our 2 hour wait through Immigration and customs, that two of our bags did not leave Sydney and would be sent on the next flight. We then boarded the small twin prop plane bound for Seattle, took off and just as we were in US airspace we turned around and went back to Vancouver. The problem: a faulty engine temperature gauge.  Now back in Vancouver we had to clear Canadian customs and US Immigration and Customs again. 3 Hours later (insert appropriate expletives) we were on another plane to Seattle then a bus to Anacortes. Tiered and exhausted we arrived at the boat at around 10pm to find that our WONDERFUL Friends TC and Kelly had left us a food parcel with all the essentials including some lovely cheese and salami. How grateful we were not to have to go to the supermarket for breakfast.
We were surprised that the boat was in great condition. The bilge pump had not activated in the 4 months we were away, the decks looked like they had been cleaned (Was that you TC?) and all the sheets smelt like they just came out of the laundry. Now for those of you that don’t live, or have a boat this is, in my experience, unusual. I expected to have some damp smelling cabin, mildew covered bedding and moldy carpets. The heating was on and it was great to be back home! Yes it’s our home. I have to keep reminding myself of that fact.

Koji and Katherine

The weather was a shock to us at the start. Coming back from an Aussie summer to what was still winter, not that it was that cold, only 6-8c during the day and down to 4-5 overnight, it was the rain and clouds that made it a bit miserable. We can however look forward to summer starting very soon.
5 days after getting back our luggage had still not arrived. Let me correct myself, Jude and Katya’s luggage had not arrived. All mine and the Didgeridoo had arrived. We had to purchase some essentials including thermal underwear. After speaking to Air Canada 4 times a day for 10 days the luggage finally arrived. Thank goodness as it turns out that under a global convention, airlines are only liable to pay a miserable compensation of $400 per bag. That would not even pay for the suitcase.      

We planned to leave for Alaska on or about the 4th April so we have about a month to complete the preparations. Cleaning Sarita, inside and out, fixing the freezer, some mechanical repairs and provisioning at the last minute. Probably the worst job on the list was to replace the forward head hoses. 5 in total. All of which seems to have been secreted in the most difficult to get to places. After two days, bruised and scraped knuckles, frayed tempers and 18 feet of very smelly old rubber hoses we now have a forward head that I hope is a little less pungent.

We continue to be surprised by all the wonderful people we meet. TC and Kelly, who I mentioned before have been wonderful. They kindly looked after our car whilst we were away, brought us wonderful homemade preserves, invited us to their house, which is a wonderful farm / vineyard in the foothills and made us all laugh. Tom and Jan, who invited Katya to their house to paint (Jan is a great local artist). Bernie and Mary, who again invited us to their home with a magnificent view.  Koji and Katherine who live on their most unusual boat – The Orca -  who have values that they follow and I can only aspire to. All of them have made our time in the marina that more pleasant.  

Tulip Festival in Washington....

Talking of friends, we took a trip down to see our friends we met last year whilst cruising, Dave and Stephanie, who live on their boat in Polsboro. We drove down in the car stopping off in Port Townsend, a pretty old style Washington town and had lunch with them. It was great to see them again. Like us they have a long list of preparation tasks to complete before they depart for their summer cruise up the coast. David was in the middle of replacing his windlass, which gave up the ghost at the end of last season. As usual he was doing a wonderful job, everything meticulously thought out and reconstructed. We had a lunch, a couple of beers and then had to get going. On the way back we stopped off in Tacoma to collect our liferaft which we had dropped off at Westpac Marine to be serviced in October– (Tick another item off the list – do not pass GO and pay another $200, or more).

Probably the most important task we have on our list to complete is to get the freezer repaired. We have had a technician out a few times to have a look at it but with no luck. Its runs for a few days and then without reason it stops. David had sent me some very detailed notes on how he had cured his freezer problems and kindly offered to come up and try his magic on my freezer. I gladly accepted his offer and David and Stephanie drove up to see us. We spent and afternoon working on the freezer and fingers crossed the unit will last through the season and allow us to enjoy a wonder variety of meals and ice cubes for drinks.

Looks like we are good to go! Wait. Not so fast. Another problem surfaces after our sea trial to Sucia Island. The 12v house battery looks like it is on the way out. It powers some of the instruments and the VHF and SSB radios. Replacements seemed to be hard to find and delays of two weeks looked likely. This would mean that we will have to rush up to Alaska rather than take a leisurely route. After lots of phoning around I managed to find a couple of batteries, albeit larger than I actually need. We have lost one week but it’s better than two.

Jude and Katya went off to Costco to do the provisioning which we have to split into two trips as certain produce cannot be taken into Canada from the US and therefore has to be bought in Canada. They arrived back from the shop at 10pm with 4 large cart loads of food. This had to be ferried from the car to the boat and then stripped of all its packaging stored away in various cubby-holes where we hope we remember where we put everything.

The night before our departure TC and Kelly and Koji and Katherine came around for drink and nibbles, food provided by everybody. Koji and Katherine bought a lovely chicken and rice dish and TC bought some pizza. All food consumed we completed the evening with a visit from some new friends we met, Jake, Daniel and their children.  

Pre departure drinks. Dont be fooled by Koji's shorts. Its cold

All the packaging removed

At last! Off we go. We left at 8am. Koji and Katherine came to wave us off. How kind. First stop: Friday Harbour to clear US Immigration and then on to Sidney BC to clear Canadian customs and then on to Montague Harbour in the Gulf Islands. 50 miles and probably 12 hours.   

Just a bit of current behind us..


  1. Friday, day 3:
    How far off, I sit and wonder?
    Did Sarita find the Princess's Cove?
    Were the Nanaimo Bars tasty?
    Is Sarita now in the octopus's garden?
    Can Katya see stars above and below?

    Strider should be splashed today!
    Off to La Conner, Oak Harbor then perhaps Cornet Bay for a shake down.

    Fair winds and following seas!

    -TC and Kelly

  2. By the by, a hit song for ages past:

    Was used for a John Wayne movie, North to Alaska