Quarantine Cruising Weeks 1+2: Life on the Hook

We’re one to two weeks into quarantine cruising, and not really cruising as much as just living at anchor. We “cast off” this year on March 20, a little earlier than normal – accelerating our plans due to the coronavirus spread in Seattle.

In the cities, the fear and anxiety was palpable. Now that we’re out on the water, that’s fading away – routine on the water is ruled more by weather than the news cycle. Outside, nature is still proceeding as normal. The sea is still the sea, the birds still the birds, seals still seals.

After finishing our haul-out on March 20th, the choice was between either living at anchor (“on the hook”) or in a marina where we’d be crowded closer to many more people, having more surface contacts and also paying a lot more for moorage. For these reasons the choice was easy – we like life on the hook anyway.

A few things have made it more difficult this first week though: weather (cold and rainy – it’s still March after-all) and the closure of WA State Parks (to all uses including hiking), and the San Juans to all transient overnight moorage.

We had planned to spend a week at Blake Island, but the closure of WA State Parks threw out that idea. That was a big loss because Blake Island is one of our favorite places and has great hiking for exercise in dutifully socially distanced manners (we usually see more deer and raccoons on the trails than people).

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2020 Plans: Slow Sailing to Alaska, Possibly, Maybe?

About a month ago I wrote a draft post of our 2020 plans that included aspirations for sailing to Alaska. Now those plans have been thrown into doubt by the coronavirus pandemic that has shut down the US-Canadian border to non-essential traffic. We’re beginning our 2020 cruising season now, but don’t know when we’ll be able to get into Canada. British Columbia represents over 75% of our cruising grounds, so it would be really disappointing if we lose access for the next 6 months.

Things are changing day-by-day, and hopefully the world is in a much better place in a month, but if it goes on much longer it would mean we wouldn’t have enough time to get that far north during the season. The good news is we’re fully stocked and cruise ready now, and living on a boat is the perfect social distancing tool (in anchorages we practice the “200 foot rule”!). On a boat we’re actually much more socially isolated than almost anyone on land – we also go through constant quarantine in between towns / ports.

These are unusual times, and there’s no doubt this year will be quite different. This is our 3rd year since “casting off the lines” and like prior years (2018, 2019) our plans are never written in stone anyway. The following is the original plan, the aspiration. It may change, but that’s always the case with cruising plans anyway – our 6-month plan is an outline, and we re-evaluate day-by-day.

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Living Aboard a Boat is One of the Best Things You Can Do For The Environment

Recently we’ve seen a lot of “greenwashing” – companies advertising they’re doing good for the environment when they’re really just interested in selling their product more. These companies are capitalizing on the concerns many people have for the environment now-a-days. One ad we saw on YouTube – for a company manufacturing a stainless steel water bottle with embedded electronics (for monitoring your water intake through Bluetooth) – claimed their product was earth-friendly because they’re promising to recycle one plastic water bottle each time you use the steel water bottle.

This is of course ridiculous, because the production of stainless steel and associated electronics is far worse to the environment. And all plastic water bottles should be recycled or properly disposed of, *without* having to manufacture a stainless steel bottle to do so. (In case you’re curious, the product is called REBO and fortunately the comments show many others have seen through the greenwashing as well).

Of course, some people are not concerned with the environment (if that’s you, you may not want to continue reading). But increasingly many people are, and they’re struggling to figure out how to help. But, almost never is the right answer to purchase a new product. And there’s an easy way to recognize greenwashing: unless the company is a charity or non-profit, if they’re advertising about how they’re helping the environment, it’s probably more in their self-interest than any actual benefit.

Trash on the beach in Suva, Fiji

We’ve traveled a lot in the last couple years, and seen trash in many, many places that would otherwise be considered “paradise.” In Suva, the capital of Fiji, trash littered the beach for miles, accumulating in layers that will require many dump trucks to remove. Sadly, the poorer a country is, the more trash and pollution it’s likely to have. In comparison, the Pacific Northwest is much cleaner than many other areas of the world – we’re lucky to enjoy such pristine conditions.

Despite the occasional accidental sewage discharge by city facilities (on the order of millions of gallons!), the deep waters and fast flowing currents of the Salish Sea quickly dilute most pollutants. That doesn’t mean we get to sit back and do nothing though.

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Rerig Part 5: Replacing the Lower Spreaders

When I finished our rerig two and a half years ago (Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, Summary), it wasn’t supposed to have a part 5. But such is the way with boats. Anytime you think you’re done with something, something new eventually pops up.

In this case it was our lower spreaders – on a routine inspection last summer on the west coast of Vancouver Island I noticed the corrosion on our port spreader seemed to have accelerated. It didn’t look life threatening, but certainly didn’t look good.

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How To: Replace Frameless Acrylic Windows on a Boat with the VHB Tape Method

Now nearing five years into owning our 1984 C&C, we’re finally getting around to replacing the badly weathered acrylic cabin windows. Our windows weren’t leaking (much) – a common reason to replace fixed ports, but were old enough that they were badly crazed and more translucent than transparent. We have frameless windows, also known as surface mounted portlights.

Acrylic plastic doesn’t last forever, and some say as little as 6-10 years is all it takes before you start getting UV damage in the form of spiderwebbing lines (crazing). Since we live aboard, having windows we can see clearly out of is a big livability improvement. How many people can honestly say they live in a home without transparent windows? Most houses have glass, which doesn’t craze like plastic does.

We try to avoid working on cosmetic projects (although this is more than cosmetic, since it allows us to see better), but now that we’ve finished 3 years worth of higher priority refit items (like the rig, rudder, etc), we have the luxury of spending some time on lower priority things. And this is a good one for our current cruising phase because it’s relatively low cost but high in time requirements. And we had lots of time available this past November / December.

New window to right, old one to left (note: the streaking on the old one is because I washed it with a dirty sponge)

Many C&C owners have done this project already, and my methods were for the most part simply copying what others have already done. There’s nothing incredibly hard here, but the details matter. If you rush this job, it’s likely to have a poor result in the end.

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Transition to Winter: Slowing Down, and Finding Balance between Sailing or Not

It’s been a bit over a month now since we stopped full-time cruising (after being at anchor 95% of the time for 6 months!) and holed up in a marina for a break. I know there are some sailors that spend northwest winters at anchor, hopping around, but honestly that seems really really tough.

Fall seemed to arrive fast and furious this year, bringing surprisingly strong early southeasterlies and pretty regular rain. Some people are saying that fall lasted only one week, because by early October we already had lows of 36 F in the coastal areas and snow in the mountains. A tough time to live on a boat at anchor, even with a diesel heater.

The rainy weeks are tougher than the cold ones – when it rains for 7 days straight we rely pretty heavily on our AC powered dehumidifier to dry out wet clothes and keep the boat from growing mildew. At times the pounding on the deck seemed unrelenting.

So in the fall and winter we turn to marinas more for power and also for a break from cruising. Marina life is way easier than being on the hook. We have luxuries like unlimited power, water, and laundry machines on shore. Plus there are restaurants, so occasionally we can get a break from home cooking all our meals. Of course, these luxuries are something most people take for granted, but as sailors you learn to appreciate them a lot more.

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Sailing Photography Prints for Sale

I’ve decided to make available a portfolio of photographs from the top ones I’ve taken over the years, for sale as framed, canvas or metal prints. If you’re looking for wall art (or boat art!) and any of these images appeal to you, please consider purchasing through the link. It’s professionally printed and shipped direct to you. Any proceeds will go towards helping support this blog and the camera equipment used to photograph the remote places we visit.

I started this site back in 2015 as a way to share our adventure learning to sail, but also as a way to share all the amazing, beautiful sights we’ve seen on the way. In the last 4 years of sailing we’ve spent over 500 days on the water, and I’ve taken over 4000 photos. Before that I practiced my photography through Seattle photography clubs and some work in journalism on a newspaper photo staff. If you want to read about how I do photography onboard a sailboat, I’ve written about that here: Photography Onboard a Sailboat.

There’s a lot of amazing photography on the Internet now, but I’m hoping that something of what I have might bring something unique to the table. We’ve had the privilege of sailing to remote areas of British Columbia that are only accessible by boat, and that few people get to visit. The anchorages and coastlines are pristine wilderness, often with no trace of human touch. It’s hard to communicate the beauty out there, but I think photography is one of the best ways to do it.

Some of the images that are available for sale:

Sailing in Dean Channel, Central Coast of BC

Sunset at Anchor

Bunsby Islands, West Coast Vancouver Island

At Rest in Watmough Bay, San Juan Islands

You can choose from canvas prints, traditional framed, unframed, a metal print (durable, with vibrant color reproduction) and other options, in sizes from small (8×10″) to large (48×36″). If you have any questions or need to reach me, send an email via this Contact page.