Author Archives: Patrick

Quitting Our Jobs & Plans for the Next Year

People don’t share their dreams often enough. Dreams are what fuel our adventures. They’re what make all the work to get there worth it. We’re happy to share now that in one week we’re quitting our jobs and taking off for a year or more of travel, both sailing and land/air travel.

We’ve had this dream in the works for a while now but weren’t able to share it until we had told our teams at work. The idea is to sail for 6 months, April thru September, and then in October take a Transpacific repositioning cruise on Royal Caribbean (we’ll be taking a boat across the Pacific, just one much larger than ours!) to Sydney, Australia. From Sydney we’ll explore for a while, hopping over to New Zealand and then most likely either SE Asia or South America, getting back to the Seattle area or San Juans in January or February of 2019.

In 2019 spring/summer, we’ll probably do another extended season of Pacific Northwest cruising. To say we’re excited currently would be an understatement – this is such a big life change that we’re a confusing mess of anticipation and anxiety.

Our Sailing Plans / Route

In early April we’ll leave on a relaxed, slow schedule through the San Juans, Gulf Islands, Johnstone, Desolation Sound, Broughtons, and Haida Gwaii (at least 2 weeks there), and then sail down the west coast of Vancouver Island to get back in the San Juans area by late July. Our plan is to finish major passages by August because it typically has little wind, and we’d rather hang out and paddleboard in the San Juans than do a lot of motoring. In early September we may head up to Desolation Sound for a couple weeks.

Very tentative / approximate route

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Maintaining an AutoProp Propellor

This post is a bit more technical and more for other sailors interested in propellers. Hopefully it may come in handy someday for those with AutoProps, because there isn’t a whole lot of community info on them that I could find.

We have an AutoProp propeller on our boat. It’s like a MaxProp, which is also a feathering propeller, except that the AutoProp is also dynamically pitching – instead of a fixed, preset pitch, it changes its pitch to match operating conditions.

It’s really a very clever piece of engineering – dynamic pitch means that in theory it’s always at the optimal pitch for our speed and engine power. This mainly applies when motor-sailing (which is pretty common in the Northwest) – our sails can contribute some speed while the AutoProp contributes some as well, but allows our engine to work less hard – meaning lower engine RPMs, saving on fuel but getting the same power as a higher RPM.

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This Year’s Haul-out: Bottom Paint, Thruhulls, and Prop Work

As I set the sails in Elliott Bay under blue skies with a perfect 8-10 knot breeze at my back, it was hard not to feel overwhelmed with joy at the successful completion of our haul-out. In five days we (myself + the yard) had gotten a ton done, nothing had gone wrong, and the haul-out was completed on schedule. Amazing. And no leaks!

It felt really good to have the boat back in her natural element, and as we glided smoothly along I noted it felt faster than before – probably thanks to the freshly painted bottom and prop, but more testing is needed to say for sure.

If you’ve ever done boatyard work, you know that haul-outs are stressful times. In a short period of time we take the boat out of water, do some of the most critical projects of the year and also incur our biggest expenses of the year (in one week, a haul-out doubles our yearly maintenance cost). It’s easy to see why some people avoid / postpone them as long as possible. But we want to get the boat into prime cruising condition, and delaying bottom paint any longer wouldn’t have been good.

Hard growth on our keel – a few mussel and barnacle families had taken up residence!

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On the Difficulty of Casting Off the Lines

Several years ago, a couple friends and I were hiking Mt Rainier’s Wonderland Trail when we came upon an elderly gentleman stopped to admire the view. He was in his 70s or 80s, and spoke to us with a deep gravelly voice. As we stood on a lookout over a ravine cut into the glacier, deep reds and browns showing in the dirt, he said: It’s always over too soon, isn’t it?

At the time I didn’t really recognize the wisdom in that one sentence. I thought, it’s not going to be over that soon – I have a heavy pack on, three more days of 18 mile days, and my feet hurt.

Later I realized his comment had life wisdom beyond what I was capable of seeing at the time. He may have been talking about the hike, or maybe he was talking about life. The good stuff is always over before you wish. That’s why it’s so important to savor it and live in the moment.

That’s what we find when we go sailing. Yet, getting to the part we know we’ll love is sometimes more difficult than it seems.

Untying the Lines

In sailing lingo “untying the lines” means casting off dock and setting off to fulfill whatever your dream cruise is. There’s even a YouTube video blogger with a series called “Untie the Lines”.

Over time I’ve noticed many people have difficulty getting off the dock. Life gets in the way. Even though we live aboard our boat we sometimes still have difficulty getting off dock. And getting away for that “big” cruise – whether it be a month, a year, or even an multi-year sail around the world – is super difficult. There are a lot of competing interests keeping you tied in one place.

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Winter Cruising to Eagle Harbor and Blake Island

On every sail, either things go wrong or they don’t. When they do go wrong, usually at least 2 or 3 things go wrong. Winter sailing is prime time for things going wrong because generally conditions are tougher. My Friday sail was one of those where a few things go wrong. Fortunately they were minor enough to be worth laughing over, and we had 3 days following where everything went right.

Friday: Shilshole -> Eagle Harbor

I had Monday off for MLK Day, so I took a vacation day Friday to make it a 4-day weekend. Natalie didn’t have Monday or Friday off though (she has less vacation accumulated than I do), so on Friday I singlehanded down to Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge. Eagle Harbor is our staging point when I want to sail somewhere and pick Natalie up – she can take the ferry over from downtown and I row over to the park to pick her up.

Friday had a small craft advisory with 20 knot winds from the south – against me of course. So I was a bit nervous heading out because that’s probably the most I’ve singlehanded in upwind. Downwind would be easy-peasy, but upwind is harder. It was wind against current, making for some choppy waves (wave spray hitting the dodger), and I had two close crossings – one with a tug in the shipping lanes who I was on a collision course with (he didn’t respond on VHF 16, but I bore off to take his stern).

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Costs and Impressions of Traveling in Thailand for 2 Weeks

I’m never sure whether readers of our blog are interested in hearing about travels we do off the sailboat – like Mexico last year. But since Thailand is a pretty major cruiser destination, I figure it might be of interest.

We flew to Thailand the day after Christmas for a two week vacation, visiting Bangkok for 5 days, Patong Beach in Phuket for 3 days, Phi Phi island for 3 days, and Naiyang Beach, Phuket for the final day. 2 full days were consumed by the plane travel from Seattle (22-24 hours travel time).

Of course, I viewed much of Thailand thru the perspective of sailing and other cruisers’ experiences there. Delos has been to the Phi Phi islands that we visited on our trip (Delos in Southern Thailand and Phi Phi Islands).  The prior-prior owner of our boat actually bought it to sail to Thailand, and after a year of prep work decided it’d be easier to fly there and charter. I’m inclined to agree.

We rewatched the Delos episode. It was really interesting seeing our different perspective on it this time. It still looked awesome and fun, but we could see all the things they had omitted. They avoided the most touristy bay, briefly mentioned the party beach’s loud music keeping them up at night while at anchor (a 5-second clip that would be easy to miss), and snuck into a park that charges a high tourism fee (I think they said 300 baht, but it’s 400 baht now).

I don’t blame them – they’re catering to their audience, most of whom are not going to sail to Thailand, or necessarily anywhere else. Those people only want to see the fun times, and discussing practicalities won’t get you a quarter million followers on YouTube.

Phi Phi Leh

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Photography from 3 Summers of Cruising

In the midst of Seattle winter, I find myself often turning to photography from past cruises as a brief consolation. It’s tough to get out much in the winter (it gets dark at 4pm!), and some of the winter blues are relieved by reminiscing over photos from sunnier times in the San Juans, Desolation Sound, Barkley Sound, and other places our travels have taken us.

Photography is a long-time hobby of mine, and I feel photos really do tell a thousand words as they say. So I’ll keep this short and sweet and highlight some of my favorites from the past three years:

Sunset from Heelboom Bay, Clayoquot Sound

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