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.

Thoughts on a Month and a Half Sailing the West Coast of Vancouver Island

We just finished our first full circumnavigation of Vancouver Island. This is a big milestone for many sailors, although for several years we shied away from it – partly due to misplaced fears, and partly because we don’t do things just to check them off a list. We’re trying to maximize the fun ratio in cruising, and we weren’t sure the west coast provides the best bang for the buck.

To sum up the whole trip would be very difficult – we spent over a month going north on the inside, and 6 weeks going down the west coast. I’m going to recap the west coast part though because that’s the portion that was the most unknown to us (and to most PNW boaters).

As they say in cruising, the highs were very high and the lows very low. Overall though we didn’t have any terribly difficult parts – our main challenge was dealing with the weather, which turned out to be highly unusual this year. It was the rainiest, chilliest, darkest, most humid July we can ever recall.

And that’s not just our perception – Seattle meteorologist Cliff Mass apparently thought so too. We had southerly wind the majority of the time, which meant our voyage was mostly upwind, not a downwind sleigh ride like everyone thinks it is. More on that later.

Route

We started out from Port Hardy, sailing/motoring up Goletas Channel to Bull Harbor. From there we crossed the Nahwitti bar and sailed around Cape Scott in excellent conditions. We spent some time in Quatsino Sound, spotting sea otters and refueling at Winter Harbor, and then sailed around the Brooks Peninsula, having one of our best sails on the headland that has the scariest reputation.

Next we spent 5-6 days in Kyoquot Sound, slowing down to explore the beautiful anchorages and also because there was no wind. We motored to Esperanza Inlet on a flat, calm ocean, and then the forecast changed to a low pressure front bringing 5 days of southeasterly wind! We wondered if there is ever northwest wind on the west coast, and where summer was.

In the second half of July, summer showed up and we sailed from Nootka Sound to Clayoquot and then Barkley Sound, spending 2 weeks in Barkley Sound. We had sunny days and easy sailing inside Barkley Sound, although the rain wasn’t completely over (we got drenched for 24 hours on August 1). A few days later we headed into the Strait of Juan de Fuca via Port Renfrew and Becher Bay, bringing the west coast portion of our voyage to an end.

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Nootka to Barkley Sound: Final Legs of our West Van Isle Trip

In the last week (July 13-20) we’ve sailed from Nootka Sound to Clayoquot Sound and then on to Barkley Sound, the last stop on our trip down Vancouver Island. As we left Clayoquot Sound on July 18, summer finally showed up and we’ve had northwest winds with sun and blue skies most of the time since then. We’ve still had some rainy southerlies sweeping through about every 4-5 days, but they’re usually short-lived.

Needless to say we’re reveling in the summer sailing experience now – shorts and t-shirts, ample solar power for cold beverages, paddleboarding, swimming, and rigging up the hammock between mast and forestay.

Rounding Estevan Point: Nootka Sound to Hot Springs Cove

Getting out of Nootka Sound is always hard. The entrance to the sound is shaped like a funnel, and it funnels both wind and current at the constriction point. Westerly ocean swell tries to roll into the entrance, and with an opposing ebb current the waves can get quite steep and sharp. And going out is always an upwind sail, because the wind inflows.

Fortunately we had a pretty good day for it, with light south wind (8-10 kts) – which comes pretty much from the west until you make Estevan Point. The waves were choppy and pound-happy but we had timed our departure to near slack current so they weren’t nearly as bad as they could be.

 

It was a long day (~9 hours) but a fun one. We think we saw an ocean sunfish near Estevan Point. They’re a very rare creature that we’ve never previously seen. They can grow quite large and have two fins, which wave alternately above the water.

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