Monday, July 27, 2009

Good crabbin'

We managed to nab a total of 7 crab this weekend (6 dungeness, 1 red rock). Not a home run, but pretty good. The real treat was the weather. While it was smokin' hot with little wind, we got to witness (and not experience!) some great thunderstorms. Frank and Katreina were super sweet, sitting together on deck looking at rainbows! We ended the weekend with trips to the farmer's market and park so the kids were completely wiped from the heat. It's going to be sooooo hot this week.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Repairs and a rescue!

I left work early today with one mission--re-splice the anchor rode onto the anchor chain so we can get underway tonight and go crabbing! As I walked down the ramp to the dock around noon, I noted the very low tide. Heck, I could even see the bottom. Wait, I could see the bottom...could I see the GPS??? I ran down our finger pier and laid down to get a close look. I couldn't be certain, but something definitely looked square, but a small square, like the GPS was standing straight up. Low tide, a -2.0 tide at that, wasn't for another hour. I decided to work on the anchor and think about the GPS for a bit...

As I got the splice going I became more and more confident that I was in fact looking at the GPS in the water next to me and at low tide it should only be about 8 feet down. I finished up the splice (not pretty, but I think it will do the job!) and got changed. I decided to skip the wetsuit since it was going to be a short dip. When I got back out to the dock I was in for a shock--I couldn't see the bottom! Silt had been stirred up somehow. I was so close, I didn't want to back out now! I had to try. Shortly after 1pm I jumped in and INSTANTLY lost my breath! Chilly!!!! I hung onto a line for about a minute to acclimate then took a deep breath and went for it. Thankfully the water cleared up about 4 feet down, then almost instantly I was at the bottom, snatching our GPS that had been sitting upright in the mud. In what felt like one swift motion I was back on the dock.

Repairs complete! Rescue complete! I'm kind of proud of myself today!

Dinner and a show, and a rescue operation!

Last evening started out pretty great, actually. We had my friend Michelle over for a lovely dinner of crab bisque and wine. She was our first non-family visitor and since she lives part-time in a trailer she wasn't overwhelmed by our "crazy" living arrangement. All was well until Trent threw his partially chewed hunk of bread straight into Michelle's bowl! Then Katreina spilled her entire glass of milk, splashing our guest. She was a sweetheart though and didn't seem to mind our kids making a complete mess.

After she left, Frank headed out to retrieve our crab pot for the night while I set to prepping the anchor rode to get re-spliced. Frank returned without any keepers. While he was unloading stuff from the dinghy I heard the "plunk" sound of something falling in the water. I looked at Frank, who was staring at the water.

"What was that?" I asked.

"The GPS," he said more calmly than one would expect. "The GPS" just happens to be a Garmin 60csx, which is pricey in my book.

"THE GPS!!!" I jumped up, ran onto the boat, stripped down, donned a pair of Frank's shorts and a sports bra and ran back up to the dock. I was ready to go in for it! We checked and the water was 18ft deep. Doable. But as we discussed the brilliance of my plan the sun sank lower and lower in the sky. Suddenly, I chickened out. Without even being in the water I was almost feeling claustrophobic.

Now it was Frank's turn. He ran to the Naval Station to grab some dive gear essentials out of our storage unit there--wetsuit, fins, mask, and a flashlight. Oh wait--he forgot the freakin' mask!!! So he put everything else on then donned our daughter's pink & purple swim goggles. I knelt on the dock shining a flashlight straight down at the spot the GPS was dropped while Frank hopped in. It was cold, he said, but not deathly so. We figured it should take no more than 3 swift kicks with dive fins on to get to the bottom. After a couple of deep breaths, he was off! No, wait--he was flopping frantically on the surface, splashing gallons of water onto his wife! He paused a second, then did a strong kick that sent him straight towards the dinghy!

"What happened?" he said when he came up for air. After sharing my version of the story with him, he informed me that he did 3 strong kicks (which I noted by the volume of water soaking my clothes) and didn't feel like he had gone anywhere so he paused then kicked again. I kindly informed him that his fins had barely been below the water and therefore hadn't pushed him down at all. That's when I think it hit both of us. We weren't afraid of being in the water at night. We were both experienced at night diving (with sharks) and hadn't had any anxiety. Our issue here was the lack of an air source. The GPS was dropped within a tiny window of water between our dock, our boat, and our dinghy. If we hit one of those on the way back up, we would be fighting to get out all while our lungs were burning for more air. We decided to call off the mission for the night. I wasn't about to lose Frank for a GPS.

Things were settled down after 10pm. We did a little research and found out that our GPS was rated "Waterproof to 1m for 30 minutes." Waterproof? Sounds more like water-resistant to me! May still try to rescue it sometime during daylight.

At the end of the day, we got a damn good laugh out of this one. I realized I'd like to find room for a mask/fins onboard and would like to purchase a pony bottle. This way if we ever actually have to do something under the boat in an emergency we can do it without the major air issues. $240 for a little piece of mind? Sure, I'd buy that.

So let's see...what all have we sacrificed to King Neptune?
Spanner wrench (Jody)--$17
Crab pot/line/bouy/bait bags (Frank)--$180
Garmin 60csx (Frank)--$350

Living on a boat? PRICELESS!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


This afternoon I taught myself how to splice with a little test piece of line and it worked! Next up, anchor repairs!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The travel and company experiments

This past weekend saw our family divided--mom & kids off to Illinois, dad on the boat with friend Marty visiting for some epic geocaching.

For my part, I was beyond nervous about flying (a 4-hour flight at that) with both kids all by myself. I was so happy with how well the kids flew and got through security for me. Angels! We had a great time visiting with family, but by the end of the trip I longed for my little home. We'd be at the house, but grandma and grandpa could be in other rooms while we were in the family room. I realized how our little house forces us all to be together, to experience everything together, even if at times that means that I don't always get to relax or do what I want, or if it means the kids will make so much noise that no one can think! Good times and bad, we're stuck with each other and I've grown to love that.

The boys meanwhile were trekking all over western Washington on their geocaching adventure. From 16-mile hikes, to camping, to hiking through the woods with a kayak on their backs only to have to inflate it and then paddle to an island for a cache, they were doing exactly what they love!

When we returned Marty was still staying for another day so we got the chance to try something else new--the kids sharing one bed. While they did play for a bit, they eventually slept (albeit splayed all over the bed!) and I saw a new potential for having guests over. Little by little, we're learning new things!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Holy crab!

Ok, we have officially bounced back from Thursday's tragedy. After replacing all of our gear, Friday night we anchored in Elgar Bay and dropped the pot near the boat. We used the kayak to fetch the line and pulled the pot up deck. Good stuff here, got keepers to round out our quota.

Last night we shifted anchorage to Honeymoon Bay and Frank used the kayak to actually drop the pot in some deeper water, then pulled the pot onto the kayak and paddled it back to the boat. These crab were MASSIVE compared to the ones from the previous night. Beautiful, large male keepers! The only real bummer was snagging a jellyfish on the first drop and getting a few stings from the tentacles that were smeared all over the pot, but boy was it worth it! The grand total from 2 days was 9 crab and I had the pot of water boiling nonstop for hours to cook 'em all, two at a time.

Big fella!

Our Captain and lead fisherman!

Tonight is all about picking crab! We've had yummy crab cakes twice now and I think I'm going to try some bisque and dip this week. We even got enough crab to be able to give a few to my coworker Michelle who is always happy to share the bounty from her garden with us! Dare I say we're having fun!

7 of the 9 keepers of the weekend, cooked and ready for pickin'!

Friday, July 10, 2009

First casualty of the crab season

Last night was a rough crabbing night. Frank headed out in the dinghy to drop the pot outside the seawall. When he returned to pick it up it was empty so he decided to move and drop it again. It was really choppy by then, too. He consulted his paper chartlet, estimated his location relative to some nearby buoys, and dropped the pot. Then the unthinkable happened--the buoy disappeared below the water. He hoped that a seal had grabbed it to play, but after about a half hour of searching he headed back in. He was pretty upset about the investment possibly being on the bottom now. I was happy he was back safe.

In a last ditch effort, I headed out in the dinghy this afternoon at the low low tide to see if maybe it was dropped just a little deep and would now poke its head out. But alas, there was no pot. I will not be deterred! I'm off to shop to get ready for the weekend!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Let's go crabbin'!

As yesterday was Wednesday, the waters were open to crabbing! We registered the dinghy so Frank could take the pot out without a full-blown underway so he headed out as soon as he got home. And...SUCCESS!!! Our first Dungeness keeper and a red rock!

We're definitely learning as we go and getting better at this. I think we may need to make some crab cakes tonight!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Date night!

Tonight was a special night in the Powers home--date night! Katreina and Dad had plans to go out to a REAL restaurant while I entertained Trent and had a mini-date of my own. Katreina was very excited to get dressed up in her Princess Aurora dress, get her hair done, put a little "sparkle" on her face, and carry her purse--it was adorable! She and Daddy went to Lombari's, an Italian restaurant right in the marina. Meanwhile, Trent and I had Thai take-out, watched "Cars," and took at little walk to the nearby marina store. When the couple returned, my little Princess excitedly told me about getting to eat pizza and ice cream and lemonade (Dad was pretty jazzed about his meal and wine, too!). Then Frank let me in on the quote of night...while Katreina was enjoying her vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup topping, she said, "mmm, yum...It looks like bird poop." then continued to eat away. Kids say the darndest things!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Crab and orcas and fireworks--Oh my!

Soooo much to cover for this long weekend. We took off the afternoon of Thursday the 2nd for the long 4th of July weekend with our sights set on Stuart Island in the San Juans.

With no wind, we motored to Hope Island for the night where we made our first attempt at crabbing. We learned alot! Tying the pot off to the boat is only a good idea if you pull it shortly thereafter and before the boat swings, gloves would be nice, crab like chicken, if the pot drags it will likely flip and release your whole catch, and if you check the pot and it has crab in it get them--don't put it in for a longer soak or they may get flipped and get away! In the end we had 2 red rock keepers. We caught Dungeness, but none of the males were big enough to keep. Maybe next time! We also had our first significant fishing catch that night, a dogfish. We didn't keep it, but it was big enough to offer excitement!

Getting set to cook up our first crab of the season!

We were up early the next morning to catch the 7am slack water through Deception Pass...beautiful day (except for Trent getting sick at some point in the night and messing up his bed!). We motored and motor-sailed up through Haro Strait which is where the next big event of the trip took place. Frank spotted several boats clustered along the coast near American Camp and sure enough they were watching orcas! We got an amazing show. I so enjoyed sharing it with the kids that photos and videos were far from my mind, but we did get a few pics. Some were playful and coming a ways out of the water, but my favorite was a mother/calf pair that was cruising precious. A Sound Watch boat approached us to remind us of the stand-off laws and let us know that we were observing members of L-pod.

We made it up to Reid Harbor at Stuart Island just after lunch. We anchored at the east end of the harbor, away from the busy docks/buoys of the main state park, but near 2 little islands we thought the kids would enjoy playing on. During the anchoring, we had to wrap the splice at the chain/rode juncture as it looked like it was coming undone a little and hoped it would work for the weekend. After nap we kayaked over to Gossip Island, hiked around, then hung out on the beach while the kids frollicked in the water. Ok, Trent dove in! It was hilarious! It was a nice night there...bed for the kids and movie for the parents!
Our hotel for the weekend.

The kids enjoy the beach on Gossip Island.

July 4th was fun! We started the day kayaking to the west end of the harbor where we docked at Stuart Island State Park. We hit the trails there and hiked over to Prevost Harbor. We ran into a dear on the trail, probably 20ft in front of me. She wasn't too scared and slowly walked into the woods, allowing the kids plenty of time to see her. The trails and facilities in this park are great and I can see why so many boaters were up there. We had the all-American hot dog lunch and nice long naps for the kids while we parents fished and sunbathed on deck. After nap we hit Gossip Island again for some more hiking/beach play. Back at the boat we enjoyed another all-American meal--burger night! Everyone went fishing and Frank landed a sole--our first edible fish catch! We also popped some party-poppers on deck so the kids would get some fireworks. The kids went to bed and once the sun finally set we realized we had a front-row seat to a fireworks show at a house on the beach. We woke up Katreina so she could see it, too. I loved seeing her cuddled up on her daddy's lap in her pj's and princess blankie! Good time, great show, awesome holiday.

Reid Harbor, hiking the state park, and kayaking.

A great time with the family on Gossip Island!

We started the trip back on the 5th and chose "a relaxing trip through the San Juans vice going via Haro Strait." BAD CALL! The journey through the islands was anything but relaxing with a ton of boat traffic around Roche and Friday Harbors and a strong current in the San Juan channel. By now I was also getting a little tired of Trent's endless string of poopy diapers. I don't know how he does it! We made the slack at Deception Pass just fine, but found that the mooring balls at Hope Island were all taken and the ones at Skagit Island were WAY off from their charted position. With small craft advisories for the evening we weren't about to take chances there! With SSW gusty winds forecast for the night we didn't like the idea of staying on the south side of Hope Island so we headed for Utsalady Bay. That didn't pan out as 20kts were coming over the headland and we couldn't lay out our desired scope without coming crazy close to other boats moored there. After 2 attempts and a rescue of Frank's favorite ballcap, we abandoned that anchorage and headed for Honeymoon Bay. It was becoming a long day! As we approached the bay we say a mega yacht in our favored anchoring spot so we had to try a new one. With the first set we were coming dangerously close to grounding at low tide so we pulled the hook and repositioned a little closer to the private mooring balls. 4th try is a charm! We had to be cautious given the ghetto anchor repair and wind forecast. This one worked, but we realized that less-than-ideal conditions don't make for a good time to try new anchorages--we need to play the field more when we're out during good weather.

The anchor held just fine all night and we made the final push for home on the 6th. Lucky us, we got to enjoy 25kt winds on the beam and scattered showers. It was a rough ride above and below decks. We docked around noon at our new slip on the north side of the marina and treated ourselves to an end-of-trip feast at Kate's. We all slept the afternoon away, took a nice long walk and dinghy ride, and thoroughly enjoyed our showers! Frank and I enjoyed a late dinner of crab, fresh guacamole, and white wine...a nice end to a nice weekend!