Sunday, May 17, 2015

Living the Dream

It didn't matter if we were on the boat when it was pouring rain and waves sent huge sprays of water over the bow or if we were anchored in a quiet bay playing Scrabble while having a glass of wine.  Roger would turn to me and say, "Heather - we're living the dream."

And he's right.  We're healthy, have a boat that is small in comparison to many we saw but is perfect for us, have fun together and live in a beautiful part of the world.  The fact we are within a few hours of Brad, Anette and Magnus is icing on the cake.

We spent three weeks on Tranquillo exploring new anchorages and marinas from Anacortes, Washington to Nanaimo, B.C.  The San Juan and Gulf Islands are made up of countless harbours, bays, inlets and marinas and we know we'll never get bored.
The yellow stars show where we stayed overnight
We kept the boat in Anacortes over the winter and so started from there and went directly to our favorite spot, Reid Harbour on Stuart Island.  It was Earth Day, and we were treated to an incredible sight as we came across a pod of orca whales.  We stopped the boat and let the 12 or so whales travel by us.  The water was like glass and we could hear them breathe as they came up for air.  It wasn't until we looked at the photos on my laptop that we saw a baby orca beside its mother.
Mom and baby on the left with another orca seen on the right
Tranquillo at Reid Harbour
The weather was great when we went to bed, but we woke up to stormy seas.  We headed to Friday Harbour and stayed at the marina --- enjoying being able to plug in our heater when the cabin got a little chilly.
Friday Harbour at sunset
We headed back to Anacortes to meet up with Brad, Anette, Magnus and Anette's cousin, Ingrid who was visiting from Norway.  Cap Sante Marina is beautiful and our 30' boat looked like it could have been one of the huge yacht's tenders.  It is close to Safeway and a great restaurant, Anthony's is just steps away.  As we walked down the dock towards our boat, Magnus kept saying, "Oh, wow!"  We echoed his sentiments.
Magnus was watching Roger untie us from the dock and said, "Be back, RaRa....peasssssssssssss"  

It was pouring rain when they arrived, but after having fresh cinnamon buns and coffee, the guys decided to head to Watnough Bay about 11 nautical miles away.  The skies parted, and by the time we arrived, the sun was shining.  We had never been there before,  but will definitely return.

Brad smiling as he barbequed lunch from the back of the boat as the sun started to come out
Ingrid loves boats and enjoyed watching varieties of raptors fly above us and perch on the cliffs

Magnus loved everything about the boat
Magnus had lots to say.  He wore his "boat coat" for 6-1/2 hours and still didn't want to take it off.
Magnus saw his dad on the bow and didn't hesitate to go up there with him.
They headed back to Redmond, and we took off the next morning for Prevost Harbour on the other side of Reid Harbour.  An old sailor we met a few days before was still there and he was glad to have new people to talk to.
Prevost Harbour
A neat log along a path on Stuart Island

We left Prevost Harbour and traveled a few miles to Sidney, B.C. where we cleared customs.  We then went to Van Isle Marina and organized storage for the boat.  It is a great marina where they will launch and haul out our boat when needed and keep it in dry storage when not in use.  It is two hours from Parksville, but it's in a fantastic location for us to go south to the San Juans or north to the Gulf Islands.
Van Isle Marina:  The dry storage is across the street in the "Yacht Park".  The yellow sign says "Boat Crossing".
We headed up island and stopped at Mill  Bay for the night.  Friends that have also just moved to the island from Calgary, Laurie and Gareth Beverly joined us for lunch on the boat.
A wonderful afternoon with Laurie and Gareth at Mill Bay Marina
One of our main goals was to get the new dinghy and motor installed so we continued to Nanaimo where our good friends Paul and Jodi Ikert had been storing them for us.  Paul was really helpful and we couldn't have done it without him.

Roger and Paul rolling the dinghy on a trolley
We rented a car so we could run around and get parts.  It took longer to install the dinghy and winch; hindered by the challenges of working on the water because when you drop a tool or vital piece of equipment, the only option is to go buy it again.

While waiting for a replacement part, we towed the dinghy over to Newcastle Island which is a stone's throw from Nanaimo.  We stayed on a mooring buoy and it was fun to zip around in the dinghy as we explored the island and a couple of nearby pubs!

Our first stop was to the Dinghy Dock Pub - the only registered floating pub in Canada
Newcastle Island is a great place to walk around.  A ferry takes visitors from downtown to the island several times a day. 
The lights of Nanaimo from our boat
 Nanaimo Port Authority at night
It was fun to stay at the Nanaimo Port Authority as it is a marina with regular size boats, huge yachts, and real fishing boats.  Roger chatted with several of the men that had boats at the marina -- one fellow described how he sailed from Turkey through the Northwest Passage on his way to Canada.  He did the trip twice and the last time he only saw three boats while doing the passage and dodging icebergs.
A new experience -- having pizza delivered to the boat!  Great dinner with Barb and Rob Perry.
The dinghy, motor and winch were finally installed.  As one fisherman told Roger, "For a guy who is on vacation, you sure work hard!"
The dinghy, motor and electric winch finally installed
We left Nanaimo and headed to Montague Harbour on Galiano Island.


Taking the dinghy for a spin at Montague Harbour.  Roger is one happy man.
From Montague we went to Tod Inlet near Brentwood Bay and close to the famous Butchart Gardens.  We anchored then took the dinghy to  Butchart Gardens -- a place I hadn't been to since I was 12 years old.  
We docked in this little bay where there was an entrance to the gardens; so much more fun than driving to it in a car!
The Italian garden
Koi pond

I was trying to pose, but a huge bumblebee kept buzzing around me
The sunken garden

There is a reason Butchart Gardens is known around the world.  It is simply spectacular.  We also loved hearing different languages and seeing other tourists enjoy the gardens.

  Tod Inlet in the morning.  It was so peaceful we didn't have the heart to start our generator to use our coffee maker so we boiled water on our butane camp stove and Roger made "cowboy coffee".  Note to self - bring a french press next time.
 Not a bad view to have coffee, eh?
Our batteries started causing us grief and at one point in the hour trip from Tod Inlet to Sidney our GPS kept shutting down, but Roger managed to get us to Sidney where we bought three new batteries.
Eagle on top of the entrance to Port of Sidney Harbour
It was finally time to get off the boat.  After 22 days we were still laughing and having a good time but we were looking forward to seeing Brad, Anette and Magnus for a couple of days and then on to Idaho.
Staff moving the boat onto the lift
Tranquillo up on blocks until we go boating again

We took the Washington Ferry from Sidney to Anacortes and while the ferry is much older than the BC Ferries, the trip was beautiful going through the islands.

Brad, Anette and Magnus bought a house in Bothell, about 7 miles north of Redmond.  They used our Expedition to move a bunch of things while we were away, and we spent a very productive day moving. We worked hard, but we had a ball as we always do when we're with Brad, Anette and Magnus. Since they had planned a weekend in Vancouver, we headed back to Idaho and will return next week to help some more and celebrate Magnus' second birthday.

Yep - back in America.  "Gun control - use both hands".
 I keep pinching myself because I'm so happy, but it looks like Roger is right.  We are living the dream.

"All our dreams can come true....... if we have the courage to pursue them."

                                                                                                                    Walt Disney


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