Dock *free*

Today is the end of the month which means that today is our last day at the dock that we have been tied to for the bulk of the time since October 1.

We are rootless again and it feels so very, very good.

Plans include a month or so cruising before a major (planned this time) haul out including pulling out the mast.

Seattle Boat Show - Take 3

Seattle Boat Show 2011This was my 3rd Seattle Boat Show and all I can think is "we've come a long way baby".

This visit, I was struck by the contrast between how I felt and approached the boat show on my first visit as a completely novice sailor and new boat owner and this year's visit, as a slightly less novice sailor/cruiser/boat systems tech.

The first Seattle Boat Show we attended was in 2007 and we had flown into Seattle to close on the boat and spent one dizzy, overwhelming afternoon and evening running around the boat show. We watched a few cruising seminars and were giddy with excitement at the plan we were forming. Carol kept asking me if we should buy things and I knew so very little about sailboats that I felt paralyzed with indecision. Despite having just purchased a fantastic boat, I had yet to raise a mainsail at that point.

Seattle Boat Show 2011Fastforward a few years and we were again at the Seattle Boat Show. This time we were making major purchases like life rafts and windvanes, researching future major purchases and attending DC system seminars. We were in preparation for our first multi-day trip out into the ocean (for practice) and we had a fair amount of weekend sailing under our belt. We learned so much that trip because we had enough background knowledge to ask the right questions and understand the responses.

What stood out for me this third time was how many booths were selling stuff we no longer needed. We have all of the gear we had been researching and purchasing. Also, instead of the seminars being filled with revelation (although there were still quite a few learning moments), mostly the seminars were filled with information I already knew. Rather than being boring, this was quite reassuring.

We've come a long way baby.

Seattle Boat Show

I think there is a fair chance that I'll be heading to the mammoth Seattle Boat Show this Thursday on my way to the airport to pick up a good friend.

This is a most excellent part about being a boatwife. Poor Carol is stuck in Victoria bringing home the bacon while I'm heading out to the boat show to spend it.

Sssshhhh...don't tell him.

On Troost

I'm rereading The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost. Here are two quotes I like related to vagabonding/cruising:
"I had grown accustomed to life being interesting and adventure ridden and, rather childishly, I refused to believe that this must necessarily come to an end and that the rest of my life should be a sort of penance for all the reckless, irresponsible, and immensely fun things I'd done before."
"I was simply restless, quite likely because of a dissatisfaction with the recent trajectory of my life, and if there is a better, more compelling reason for dropping everything and moving to the end of the world, I know not what it is."
Love it.

Raymarine A50 with "Rest of World" Charts

Our very old Raytheon Raynav 300 GPS is dying and we are trying to decide what route to go in replacing that functionality (main GPS, plus course-over-ground in cockpit on autopilot control head). Our autopilot is a Raymarine Smartpilot and it's nice to have the two talking to each other.

As far as I can tell we can't just buy a GPS anymore, we have to buy a chartplotter. The simplest by Raymarine is the A50. For not terribly more than the base model you can get one loaded with Navionics charts for the "Rest of the World" (interesting name for everywhere except the US, Canada and Europe, isn't it?).

However, although the regions are listed, neither Raymarine or Navionics appears interested in telling me what detail the coverage is. They won't give me a chart list, just a map with regions circled and they won't tell me the level of detail/zoom.

The only thing Raymarine would say is "Depth contours would be available out to 5m." If I'm understanding that correctly, you would have a chart with a "deep area" and then a line at the 16 foot level with depths under 16 feet listed.

For the money we are may try to interface our PC system (we have a PC with a DC-DC regulator and a USB GPS puck) to the autopilot instead but I'm posting in case anyone has more information or experience with that plotter-package? I've tried searching unsuccessfully online.

Xantrex Link 20 woes

We've had some weird moments with our Xantrex Link 20 particularly when relying on solar as our primary source of incoming current.

For those not in the know, a Link 20 basically monitors how many amps you are taking out of your battery bank and how many are coming in and gives you a running tally of how many amps you are "down". It also gives you your battery bank voltage. The issue with the Link 20 which is both a strength and weakness is that it knows it is imperfect in its tallying so it re-sets itself when the battery voltage gets high enough for a long enough time.  This is good because it has a re-set value but bad because, apparently, solar panels can trick it into thinking the batteries are more full than they are..causing you to fail to recharge...causing damage to the batteries.

See our sister ship Piko's excellent post on the matter and update. They are already in Mexico. *le sigh*

We haven't figured out what is going on for us. Sometimes the Link 20 would go from something like 100 amp hours down to 'fully charged' in a period of time that wasn't realistic. So, we started monitoring the voltage instead. Tentatively I think in our case it was somehow overestimating how much we had used instead of underestimating as Piko experienced.

Food for thought for any Link 20 owners. Anyone know the answers? You can customize many of the settings but I haven't found a way to make it less sensitive to resetting or to turn off the reset function. If you could turn it off you could reset manually when needed.

Update: This link gives some great advice. I've tried their suggestions and I'll report back after we've had some experience with the new settings at anchor using solar.

Newly Salted: New Interview Site

You can take Livia out of academics but you can't take the academic out of Livia. Collecting and sharing data is just plain fun. So...I've created a new interview site.

Do you know anyone who left to go cruising less than 2 years ago or who went on a less than 2 year cruise and returned? Encourage them (or yourself) to self-interview for Newly Salted, a companion site to the Interview With A Cruiser Project.

The first interview went live today. The interviews will be posted sporadically so interested readers should be sure to subscribe somehow (email, feed, twitter - all options at the bottom of the blog) to be notified of new interviews.

Meeting readers


Recently we’ve had another set of meetings with people we met via our blog or theirs.

We had Carol & Lance from SV Syrah over for drinks while in Victoria as they were making plans to move their new boat.

While at the Seattle Yacht Club in Lake Union, Bob & Jane from SV Eolian (and also the great site Small Boat Projects) came over with a bottle in hand for a session where we tried to get stories out of them and Bob managed to always turn the tables and get us yammering on again. Next time, you’re in trouble Bob!

And finally, we hung out with Aaron & Nicole, some likeminded sailors on the similar sized yet opposite-to-us boat SV Bella Star who very kindly helped us out with a bottle of home brew that my brother gave us (in this case, you’re in trouble Josh!).

Cheers to new friends and to fun people aboard ships passing in the night!

Best and worst of the West Coast of Vancouver Island

The New Year is a time of list making and we thought we would jot our favorite anchorages and the most disappointing places on our few month trip down the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Of course, we didn’t go to many places, particularly those deep into the various inlets. Also, as usual, YMMV. We started out trying to make a list of the 5 best and 5 worst but it was difficult to only list 5 of our favorites.

Both lists in no particular order, and put on the list by both of us unless indicated. We tried to make our lists independently so a few of the items that are only on one of our lists (like Mary’s Basin) would probably make both lists after discussion. Carol found his list more influenced by the beauty of the actual anchorage than Livia which is why he left off Hot Springs Cove (bleh anchorage, but great things to do).

Special places:
Disappointing places:

There is a fairly good chance we are going to be on the West Coast this summer before heading to CA and then Mexico so perhaps we will revise or add to this list later…

Leaving the Puget Sound

After a really lovely sail from Everett to Shilshole, a little over one week later when we left Seattle, from Shilshole again, we had a near perfect sailing day – so great we didn’t stop at Port Townsend as planned and just kept going, ending up at Mackay Harbor on the South tip of Lopez Island.

With wind at or aft of the beam, from 5-10 knots apparent in the Puget Sound, wind just at or foreward of the beam at 15-20 knots apparent in the Strait, and a current with us through Admiralty Inlet, we flew. We left at 9am after a lazy morning waiting for the current to switch to our favor and dropped anchor just before 8pm. We reached Lopez in time for freezing temperatures and snow and spent two nights at anchor with a day of hot tea and interior boat work.

Here is some video of our sunset under sail in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I’m starting to realize how similar our sailing videos will start to look to non-boaters! The important part of this video is the fenders still on the starboard deck proving the depths of our laziness.

Christmas on SV Estrellita 5.10b

Estrellita received a binnacle mount binocular and cup holder for Christmas 2010. We have been delaying for 3 years because we were looking for a cockpit table. Because apparently we are unable to commit to a cockpit table, after reading a review of cup holders (seriously, they had a review of boat cup holders) in Practical Sailor magazine, we decided to stop spilling drinks and searching for the binoculars and pick up the Snap-It version. It’s plastic-y, it isn’t a cockpit table, but man oh man, we already love it.

Carol received a Ray Odor 3 piece pole spear with two tips (paralyzer tip shown) and is looking forward to testing it out by dinghy this summer and in the warmer waters when we reach Mexico:

In addition to non-boat spa and yoga related gifts, Livia has the coolest new sailing gloves
a woman could want and which were baptized in salt during our Strait of Juan de Fuca crossing after Christmas.

The Best Coffee in Seattle

Our tastes: We are both fond of the deep, dark roasts that initially put Seattle coffee on the map; these are the same roasts that those who prefer milder flavors often feel is too bitter. Remember YMMV.

What we tasted: 8 oz lattes as prepared (no special milk, no extra shots) plus Carol had a few 8 oz cappuccinos as well.

View Best Coffee in Seattle in a larger map

Where: Mostly in Capitol Hill (Bauhaus, Stumptown, Vivace, Victrola) although we also tasted one location near Westlake (Vivace again) and one in Ballard (Verite). Pictured below in the order listed - both Vivace cups tasted the same and are lumped in the ratings.

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How we rated: Carol found that his ratings were influenced by the coffee shop atmosphere in addition to taste. We both found many of the coffee shops too loud with sharp, clattering acoustics. We both enjoyed the interior of Victrola the most and found Verite the most relaxing of the loud places (the cupcakes from Cupcake Royale didn’t hurt either). Livia rated on coffee only as much as possible but had a difficult time separating her top 4, feeling that they were so tightly grouped that on a different day she might have shifted the order.

Carol’s ratings:
1. Victrola
2. Vivace
3. Stumptown
4. Verite
5. Bauhaus

Livia’s ratings:
1. Verite
2. Vivace
3. Victrola
4. Stumptown
5. Bauhaus

Overall Victrola, Vivace, Verite and Stumptown all offered fantastic cups of coffee, were tightly grouped in both of our minds, and we would recommend stopping by or making a special trip to any of the four.  Bauhaus, which had been formerly a favorite of both of ours, served a disappointing, milky latte with weak coffee flavor and was a far 5th for both of us. I wouldn’t return even if I were walking by. Vivace which had been our ultimate coffee destination in Seattle prior to this trip fared quite well taste-wise although the new location was more plastic and less interesting than the location they were forced out of. If we both made a recommendation for someone visiting with time to visit only one place, we would recommend Victrola.

Compared to our two favorite locations in Victoria (Habit and Discovery), we both feel that Habit would take first above all of the Seattle coffees that we tasted. Carol felt that Discovery would move into 3rd on his list, moving Stumptown etc down one. I felt that Discovery was too close to my top 4 to rate it without having tasted it more recently but would definitely put it somewhere in the top four.

If you missed our foodie recs for Victoria you can find them here. This several day coffee binge was funded entirely with ad revenue – thank you readers!


We spent 6 nights in fresh water, taking the bus into different areas of downtown Seattle and walking around. We sampled a half dozen coffee shops, several breweries, ate gourmet hot dogs (or at least unusual) at Po Dog Hot Dogs, walked around Capitol Hill, the University of Washington, the Pike Place Market and visited some marine stores like Armchair Sailor where we saw a sister ship (Piko) on the cover of Latitude 38, the new mega West Marine where we picked out new sailing gloves for me for Christmas and Discovery Yachts where we peeked at another Pretorien for sale.
While at Armchair Sailor we used the gift certificate from the Wauquiez Rendezvous to buy a guidebook to the Sea of Cortez to start dreaming. While at Discovery Yachts we took a picture with the book to contrast January 2011 with January 2012. Look for this picture to reappear next year next to a picture with the same book in warmer weather!

At the Pike Place Market:
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Rafted up in Lake Union:

Looking back at the bridges and locks and the Space Needle peeking at sunset:
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Locks & Bridges: A Seattle reunion


Four years ago this month we sailed Estrellita out of Lake Union for parts North.


For those not familiar with Seattle geography, the city is bordered by both saltwater and freshwater. The Puget Sound (the big dip in the state of WA) is saltwater and tidal, but there is a cut connecting the Puget Sound to Lake Union (centered in the Waggoner 2007 map below) and beyond Lake Union to Lake Washington. To get into Lake Union you have to pass through 4 bridges, 3 of which are too short for our mast and must be opened for us to transit. You also pass through one set of locks which control the water level in the lake and separate the fresh and salt water.


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After one bridge, we entered the small locks (there are two) side by side, and it was full of boats. Rather than tying to the wall we had to squeeze into a spot not much wider than our boat and tie to another boat (see boat on our left in first photo). While the locks fill and empty there is a bit of turbulence and jostling and then we had to squeeze out of the locks going first without crushing ourselves into the wall or the other boat. Our stanchion and his rub rail brushed against each other with no damage (whew). I’m on the foredeck and Carol is driving.



After the locks we passed through 2 more draw bridges and one “tall enough” bridge into Lake Union but we were heading to the fancy schmancy Seattle Yacht Club and so we continued on through another tall bridge (I-5) and another draw bridge into Portage Bay. We posted the video yesterday but this is what it looks like from the helm to aim your mast at the gap in the draw bridge.



Leaving the SYC for a cold weather NYE viewing of the fireworks at the Space Needle:


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Ballard is way cool

Shilshole is a huge marina with relatively nice facilities and about a 30 minute walk to the funky & cool Ballard. Although using reciprocals at various marinas means we are moving more frequently than we would normally like it has been fun to dock hop in the winter. We haven’t had the dinghy inflated at all this trip and with the water and air temperatures that is just fine with me.

We walked into Ballard both days we were at Shilshole, eating and having a beer at the Lockspot Cafe, coffee & cupcakes at Verite/Cupcake Royale, seeing a movie (True Grit) at the renovated Majestic and eating a tasty dinner with my parents at La Carta de Oaxaca.

Comments not posting

For unknown reasons, some people are having problems posting comments to this blog while others are having no problem or intermittent problems. In fact, today *we* couldn't post a comment while yesterday we could.

I've reset cookies, cache on my browser and reset the widgets on the blog. Any other ideas?

I've set the comment window to now appear in a pop-up window (which I don't prefer) until I can determine the problem. If you have a pop-up window blocker you should see a notification asking if you want to allow a pop-up window from this blog when you hit "post a comment".

As always, feel free to email us if something isn't working or to chat directly:

Everett is like Edmonds, right?

In our last logbook entry we tried to make way to Edmonds but returned to Port Ludlow. The next day the forecast was again for winds on the nose but they were supposed to start more moderate in strength and decrease throughout the day. Instead, they started the same strength as the day before and increased in strength. Strong wind, choppy waves, mixing a word, snotty.

So, we turned our backside to the wind and headed North to Everett where we spent two nights at the deserted guest dock (we had to get security to let us into the showers) and a very nice dinner with my brother and his family.

After two days we had NW winds forecast in the 10-20 knot range. Instead we had W or WSW winds. That was enough to make way to Shilshole marina (next).

We still need to record the tale of our unexpected haul-out in Port Townsend but I want to take time to do that right.


Click on the dollar and buy Livia and Carol a cold frosty one:


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