Cruising in British Columbia in the Spring

Last summer as we returned from Alaska in August we found the fabled cruising grounds of Canada’s Desolation Sound a bit, how to put it, overcrowded.

Here we were pulling into legendary Prideaux Haven Marine Park only to find a traffic jam.  We were lucky to find one of the last stern tie rings off in little Melanie Cove, one of the side coves off the main basin.

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I know what you boaters out there are thinking. “Well, duh. You went at the height of the summer cruising season when Yacht Clubs will send someone out early in the week to anchor, and others will show up later and they’ll all raft up.”  In our defense, we were returning from Alaska, and the timing was what it was.

The point is, it’s hard to enjoy the wilderness with a hundred other boats all crammed in every possible anchoring spot and stern tied next to each other all around the rim of what is a lovely protected bay. And no matter how well we all get along out there, if you get 100 boats together, one of the skippers is a jerk who plays music loud and parties late. 

I get that July/August is vacation time in Vancouver and Victoria. And also it’s cruising season for all the American boats that come up here too. All the guides and January boat show seminars will tell you, “Yeah, it can get a little busy. Desolation Sound ain’t so desolate in July or August.

So this year, part of the reason we’re up here in May and June is to see just how much less crowded it is when you play just off the main summer season. Are there services? Can you get into marinas without a reservation? 

Our working theory was that if you come early, you get all the great cruising with a lot less of the crowds. Friday night, June 7th, we pulled in to popular Prideaux Haven and found this. There are 11 other boats here tonight. There is plenty of room. You don’t need to stern tie unless you want to. You don’t need to anchor near anyone, unless you want to. (There was pack of four 25 foot express sedan boats back in Melanie Cove who were hanging out together)


And this has been the story of our trip.

We’ve had no trouble getting into marinas when we want or need to. We’ve just called on the phone or VHF Radio as we approached and they said, sure come on in….lots of room. We haven’t had to wait at any fuel dock.  Every one we approached was wide open.  Makes sense if we’re coming in right in the middle of the afternoon.  The fishermen and commercial folks are usually filling up early in the day, but in the afternoon it’s mostly cruisers.  And there just aren’t that many out here with us in May and early June.

The other cool thing about cruising this early is that traffic jams at the best destinations, or tricky rapids and narrows, aren’t as much of a problem.

Malibu Rapids, the incredibly dangerous tidal rapid at the head of Princess Louisa Inlet intimidates the heck out of boaters; as it should. In the height of season there can be a lot of boats trying to get in and out at the same slack current.  And that slack is only so long.  Going even 15 minutes early or late is a real challenge for a sailboat or slow displacement cruiser.

First timers are nervous anyway.  With all that summertime traffic in an amazingly narrow gap (especially at the low tide slack) your “I don’t know what the heck I’m doing” meter is now starting to peg over to the right, in the red warning area.  And in the back of your mind you’re still thinking to yourself, “I wonder if there will even be any room on the Chatterbox Falls dock? If there’s not, I’ll have to try to pick up a buoy at MacDonald Island (Note: The park has added 5 additional mouring bouys up by the falls). If they’re full, Oh God, I have to try to find somewhere to stern tie in here? No not that.”

Spring cruisers don’t have to worry like that.

Malibu Rapids still needs to be respected, wait for slack. But even at mid day slack you’re unlikely to run into more than an handful of boats coming with you….or coming out as you come in. That means everyone will get to go through at or near slack water.  When you’re at slack, it’s just a narrow S-curve by the nice Christian youth camp. You even have time to think, “Oh, that’s such a nice looking facility. I bet the kids have a wonderful time up here.”

And when you get up to the head of the inlet, there’s usually lots of parking room for you.  If I can’t land it on an empty dock that long….I really shouldn’t be out here.


So, are there downsides to cruising this early in the season?

Well, as we all know, weather in Washington and BC is more unpredictable in the Spring and Fall.  You can get some cool rainy days.  But you can also get epic weeks long periods of sunny blue skies and balmy temperatures.  If you’re prepared for that, and have the time to hunker down if that’s what the weather calls for, the rewards of spring cruising are enormous.

The only other thing to remember is that North of Lund on the Sunshine Coast, mainland BC, and North of Campbell River on the Vancouver Island side, the earlier you are the more likely you’ll run into seasonal resorts and small marinas that aren’t quite up in full operation yet. After Memorial Day you should be fine, but before that it’s worth a phone call while you still have cell service to make sure the place you were planning to do a fuel stop in three days actually has any.

What, the RV trip is over? Well, for now.

Gee, has it been a month since that last post? Yes it has. Wow, time does fly. So lets play catch up

After Sante Fe, we dropped down into Texas. We went through west Texas pretty fast, stopping only at a winery for the night (see previous post about Harvest Hosts). We saw wild turkeys on the way out of Lubbock, so that was cool.

Then to another winery in the Texas Hill Country, which Karin found stunning in full spring bloom of wild flowers…and we mean everywhere. So this whole trip has been eye opening for Karin. As we passed through Arizona, New Mexico, and now Texas, she continually exclaimed, “This is so beautiful, and not at all what I was expecting.” I finally turned to her and asked, “What did you think that the entire US Southwest was an unending parade of brown dirt, sand and scrubby bush?”

“Yes. I thought it was all like Southwest Idaho.”

OK, it’s not. Especially in the spring when all these areas are to some degree putting on their magic flower shows.

Spring in the Texas Hill Country

We dropped down in the San Antonio and had the chance to see niece Sarah, her hubby Ryan (Congrats again on the new Masters Degree), and the kids; Brooklyn, Jaxon and Ryder. What a hoot it was to hang with these kids. And a reminder of how much work toddlers are. Sarah, you are amazing.

It was also nice to see how Ryan’s Mom Kathy, Boppi and the girls are settling in after the move to Texas. (Sorry about the Unicorn thing Gabby, you’ll get used to it.)

After playing around, touring the Alamo and Riverwalk, and such, we were off again to Austin to catch up with House Darby-Smith (Amanda, Brandon, and the kids; Eleanor, Henrik and Lennox). Yet another awesome family we are blessed to play with from time to time.

While the kids were in care and parents working, Karin and I got to see a little of Austin. We toured the Lady Bird Johnson Wild Flower Center and the Johnson Presidential Library. OK, we also found cool Austin breweries

It was also fun to hang out in the cool neighborhood in Austin where the kids have built a home. With the explosion of tech jobs in Austin, the Meuller Neighborhood is an interesting experiment in what you can do with an old airport. In this case redevelop it into a mixed use neighborhood that is designed to be walkable, transit oriented, and have a mix of housing styles and priced….to try to make sure it’s not just a home for the rich. We’ll see how affordable it is in the long run, but they are trying. The mix of shops and restaurants, all in walking distance is awesome. They need it cause traffic in Austin general is terrible. Ugh. Price of success and notorious Texas aversion to taxes that might pay for solutions. Good luck on that.

One of the highlights of our stay with the Darby-Smiths was what we all thought as a wine tasting and a local farm. But it turned out to be a tour of the most amazing urban farm, while we drank champagne with the owner. I’ll let Karin explain….

This urban farm was created and worked by a woman who owned a restaurant in East Austin for 25 years and now supports area restaurants with organic food from her farm. It’s a beautiful spot with herbs, greens and fruit growing in every spot imaginable. They raise ducks, chickens and rabbits. They have 2 donkeys to eat garden waste and create compost for the garden. A self sustaining enterprise. It was wonderful. Plus we got to drink French champagne during the farm tour. The gander’s name is Gustavo and will give goosey kisses to everyone. It such a such a pleasure for me (I really miss my garden) to hang out and talk plants and pet the critters.

After Texas, we decided to run over to New Orleans. Our friends Deborah and Marty have been living out dream….of moving there for four months to get the feel of the place. We figured, we’d stop by for a weekend.

You can drive from Austin to NOLA in a day….but we don’t have to. So we found a winery again South of Houston that was great (The woman who is their head wine maker got her start in a winery in Nampa, Idaho…small world). Then we stopped at a brewery in the middle of nowhere in Louisiana. Bayou Teche Brewing in Arnaudville. It’s a small place that makes a big brew. They also have a wood fired oven for making pizza. And it’s good.

One thing we came to understand in Louisiana is that what ever they are doing with state tax revenues, it’s not spent keeping the roads smooth. Holy poop. The long miles on causeways over gator filled swamp is one thing. You expect those expansion joints to have a little bump. But when you’re on US90 from Lafayette to New Orleans, on dry land, the road was so crappy, I got off and drove on the frontage road. It was in better shape. Sheesh.

It was better in New Orleans cause we just parked the rig and took an Uber into the quarter to meet Marty and Deborah. We had drinks in the historic Roosevelt Hotel, then walked to dinner at Nina Comptin’s Compere Lapin….awesome. Caribbean- and European-accented takes on New Orleans flavors. It was fabulous.

The next day, based on Marty and Deborah’s recommendation, we wandered the Quarter, and went over to Frenchman Street for music at the Spotted Cat Music Club. No cover, just by a drink during ever set and you keep your seat. The music was great, and the beer was cold.

But time waits for no one. BD was having a health scare back home so we had to start back.

We skittered North, up through Mississippi and into Arkansas, stopping briefly at Hot Spring National Park. Lovely, and we’ll be coming back here….to take the treatment. But we wanted to get back should BD need us, and we went through Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and into Wyoming in just two days.

We stopped at a Bison ranch south of Cheyanne for a night, and that was tasty done up all BBQ. We then shot across Wyoming, cut the corner on Utah and rolled into the Camas Prairie to see Rebecca, Jeff, and all the nephews and nieces. And it was here that we learned BD was on the mend…so we decided enough time on the road. We’re going to stay a few days. Besides, that lets us put on our hat and boots and see if we can be useful at all.

There was also that track meet on the following Tuesday, and Braydon, Briana and Levi were all competing. We had to stay for that.

After the track meet, we rolled on, stopping a night in a remote campground in Eastern Oregon, at a winery in the Tri-Cities, and then for a couple nights at a pretty state campground near Winthrop, WA. You have to love Winthrop. They had to have a meeting one day decades ago where they said, “Well, that Bavarian thing is going well for Leavenworth. What can we do?” And the western theme town was born. It’s very cute, you just want to put on your boots and mosey down the wooden planked sidewalks to the Saloon for a whiskey. In our case, the Old School House brewery.

Finally, it was time to get up and over the North Cascades Highway, which was beautiful and still had lots of snow at the top. There were lots of hardy outdoors fold strapping on their backcountry skies with moleskins on the bottom so they could climb up, and then get some last runs of the season in on the snow.

And just like that, we were home. Well almost. Our engine mechanic on the boat was still doing a few tweaks on our engine, so we camped in sight of Anacortes at Bayview State Park for 3 days while he finished. It was not a hardship in any way. It was peaceful and allowed us to wind down from 6+ weeks on the road on our first RV Adventure.

What did we learn. That we don’t like driving so much. In future outings, we’re going to design the trips to get us somewhere…..and then we’re going to stop for a few weeks…or even a month….to poke around and see the area. I wouldn’t be surprised if we spend next winter in Florida or New Orleans…head to the Texas Hill Country for a month from Mid March to Mid April…adjourn to Santa Fe…then wind up through Colorado and Wyoming to Yellowstone. But you can’t get up there too early. None of the good camping spots opens until May.

So all in all….it was a great first test of our land cruising as a complement to our water cruising.

Nice test cruise in Dewey

Get Your Kicks On Route 66…..

So, Santa Fe. Sure, you’ve got your sun baked adobe downtown teeming with upscale stores and locals selling silver and turquoise off blankets around the historic central square. You’ve got Georgia O’Keefe’s Museum, and several others all in a tight walkable area. There are restaurants galore (go to Café Pasquale and order the Carne Asada).

But where do you go to really feel it? And I’m talking about the road; the travel; how far you’ve come to get here?

There is a song that’s been humming in your head since you turned left at Bakersfield (Hey, we’re from the NW). You keep running into these cities, and you tick off the lyrics, in reverse order. Kingman, Arizona, don’t forget Winona, Flagstaff, Gallup, New Mexico. That’s right, you’re on Route 66.

So when you travel the “Mother Road” you are bombarded with signs saying, “Historic Route 66”. How do you know if it’s going to feel real, or if it’s going to be another of those places with more cheap trinkets?

Karin and I were driving into Santa Fe when we spotted it. The El Rey Court. Yep, a motor court that stepped out of every 1940’s Black and White movie you’ve ever seen of people rolling down the highway in the west. Family vacation movie, screwball road comedy, noir murder mystery/chase. If they had anything to do with travel in the west, you know they all stopped at a motor court. That’s the El Rey.

The El Rey Court

After touring Sante Fe, and making dinner, Karin and I headed out to the El Rey to soak in the atmosphere, and have a drink at their great bar, Le Reina. The bartender there focuses on agave and mezcal cocktails, but they pull a good microbrew as well.

When we stop in Santa Fe again….we’re going to check in for at least a night.

Clearly giving visitors a feel of the old Route 66 motor court was the vibe the owners were thinking about when they bought and remodeled this thing. As they say in this article, it was more about peeling back they layers and letting the adobe do the talking.

Hey, It’s Not All Camping at a Winery Sipping Merlot. Mostly…but not All.

In all the research we’ve done about rolling across the country with a travel trailer everyone always says, “Look, it’s an earthquake in there as you roll down bumpy roads, and things are going to break.”

So, early report, we’ve had two minor issues with Dewey (our 30 foot Arctic Fox travel trailer). First, and most humorous, on day 2 of testing near Anacortes Karin was locking the back door. She carefully put her key in the door lock, turned, and gently pulled the key out. Then she looked at the key, and saw that the entire locking mechanism was still on her key…no longer in the door. Minor issue as the door still had the deadbolt for locking purposes. Humorous as Karin swears, “I was being so careful.”

So we called our dealer, and he said, “That’s not good.” We were about to leave, going by the folks at Apache in Everett, so he asked us to swing in on Saturday and they would put a new lock on. Took more time to get off the freeway than it did to get the lock replaced. The tech did it so fast, you could miss it if you blinked. So far, high marks for Apache.

The second issue was a little more troublesome. We stopped at my brothers near Astoria, Oregon for a night, setting up in front of his house. The next morning, checking tires (pressure and lugs ever day you move) I noticed the right rear tire was down to 60psi. It should be 80. No worries…we’ve got a compressor and I pumped it up. I checked during the drive to Cape Kiawanda that day, and we didn’t loose air. Three days later we were getting ready to leave, and again that tire was low. Hmm. I pumped it up and we drove to Suzi’s ranch in Yoncolla for a night. Again the next morning….low. All other tires were great. More hmmm. This has to be looked at.

Did I mention I love Les Schwab Tire Centers.

We pumped up the tire and took off South to visit Angelo near Medford, but Karin looked up where we could find the first Les Schwab. Turns out it was in Sutherlin, about 16 miles ahead.

So we called ahead, and they said, “Sure, just pull around the building and line up on the big bays for trucks and RVs.” We got there in minutes, and while Karin talked to the desk, I pulled around. We had to wait….about 5 minutes. Then John the tire tech motioned us forward.

Dewey in the dock

He crawled under to carefully place the jack, lifted Dewey just enough and popped off the tire. He dropped it in the water tank to find the bubbles, pulled it out and headed into the shop.

Five minutes later, he was back, bouncing the tire beside him. Bottom line, we picked up a nail somewhere and that was the cause of the slow leak.

Needless to say, he plugged it, and now it’s holding pressure like a champ. John spun the tire on the hub, pulled out the torque wrench to get the factory setting right, and said, “Just check those lugs in about 50 miles to be sure nothing comes loose.”

When I said, “ok, I’ll go inside to handle the bill.” He just laughed and said, “No, no charge for that. Just enjoy the sun today on the road.”

Did I mention these are factory installed Goodyear tires. Yeah, no worries. Now, of course, you know why everyone in the NW eventually ends up at Les Schwab Tires.

That’s it. Those are the only early mechanical/technical issues to report. I know other things will go wrong….but not yet.

The rest really is camping at a winery sipping Merlot.

Consumnes River Farm, Lodi, CA

Now we’ve really done it.

Well, there’s no going back now. We’ve hitched up Brunhilde to Dewey and are now “officially” on the road.

Brunehilde and Dewey together at last, oh right…and Dan and Karin too.

Those first few days after picking the trailer up where really just the “getting to know you” days where we loaded….and rearranged all the stuff for the trailer. Turns out, there’s a lot of stuff. And, of course, the cupboards and drawers on a travel trailer are not really normal sized….so normal sized stuff doesn’t quite fit in there. To make our lives easy, we drove it from the dealer to the Swinomish Casino. The tribe has a little RV park out back that’s flat, has wide lanes, and full hookups. It was the perfect place to go play with systems. It’s also near both our boat and our storage in Anacortes.

Of course not everything was smooth. That first night, as it was getting dark, we couldn’t get the hitch to open. We struggled a bit…then said…ah the heck with this. “Let’s go home to the marina; leave this in the parking lot, and come back Wednesday morning to fiddle with it.”

Needless to say, the next day…all rested…we had no issued getting the hitch to open. So we played that day with systems, then on Thursday we moved over into the casino overflow lot. There we got to set up again, and practice dry camping.

Finally on Saturday, we were ready. We hooked up, checked all systems, and headed out for Oregon. Well, with one pit stop back to the dealer in Everett where we bought Dewey. That was prompted by the first part breaking. Karin was locking the back door, and gently pulled her key out. The whole tumbler came with the key. Nice….but not secure. The dealer laughed when I called, and said swing in on Saturday. We did, and a technician ran out and in 5 minutes we had a new door lock.

Then we headed South for a night at my brother’s near Astoria. We leveled up in front of his house and spent a quiet night. Then it was for reals. We headed out for Astoria and highway 101 South. It’s when you pull away from all you knew that you get that nervous feeling in your stomach; and the questions? Will everything hold together? The road seems a little damn bumpy. Where will we stop tonight? What if we pull into that parking lot will we be able to get out?

It’s a million little things.

Lunch stop

But then you see a wide spot along the Oregon coast and realize, “Hey, we could just pull over right here and go in the back and make lunch. So we did.

Sure the road is a little bumpy, but you learn to see it ahead and slow down.

We got to Pacific City near Cape Kiwanda, South of Tillimook, by 3:30 and found Harts Camp. That’s a little RV park right across from the Pelican Brewery that Jim and Shirley told us about. And the two of them are going to arrive today from the South. They’ve been playing snowbird for several months, and are on their way home to Seattle. We figured it would be fun to meet for a day or two as we head out, and as they head back in.

Just a note for family who like to follow our ramblings, yes we mean you mom. We’ve turned back on the Garmin In Reach Explorer device that we were using on the trip to Alaska. That’s the cool little device that tracks where we are, and where we’ve gone and puts it up on a fancy TOPO map so anyone with a link can follow along. It’s easy to find. If you are on there will be a link under the title that says “Where are We?” Click that and you’ll find the page with a link to Garmin’s In Reach Map. That’s where you’ll see us appear, and it should show our general track. It looks like this. (And yes, there’s no track yet. I didn’t turn it on until this morning…so it missed the drive from Anacortes)

So now we’re off to see people and places who aren’t near a seaport. We’ll be rambling to Texas and back over the next month and a half. We’ll return to Anacortes in May, and then transfer our flag back to the boat for more sailing. The Waggoner Cruising Guide has asked us to be correspondents this summer to check out some of the amenities along our sailing route to make sure the guide is still accurate.

Endless Song, Due…aka, Dewey

Well, it’s been an eventful winter.

First up, we sold Terrace House. It went on the market on Thursday February 28th, and a lovely young couple made a no inspection, no contingencies, all cash offer way over the asking price that evening. Friday morning, March 1, we said, “Yes please.”

Then it was the rush to get all the last bits of our furniture out of the house so the new owners can move it. We signed final paperwork just 10 days later. And just like that, we don’t have a home any more. Just a boat.

Well, that’s not quite accurate. We decided last year that if we were going to sell the house we’d need something that could get us around on land. We have people to see and not all of them live in port cities. That something else, is a brand new 30 Foot Arctic Fox 25Y travel trailer. We looked at all the options, and all the manufacturers, and we think this coach built in LaGrande, Oregon will fit the bill.While we were fighting snow and loading boxes at Terrace House in February, down in Oregon the crew at Arctic Fox (Northwood Manufacturing) was busy building our little home away from the water. A few days after we signed the papers on the house, Dewey arrived.

Endless Song, Due….”Dewey”

We have christened our new trailer Endless Song, Due (Italian for 2)….but will forever know him as Dewey. I had some other, more colorful, ways to say Part Deux, but Karin nixed them all. So Dewey it is. He’ll be pulled by our new RAM 3500 diesel pickup. He’s a BIG boy…and we’re still working on a name for him. It may end up Huey…since we, like the McDucks, are Scottish! “Late breaking news. My brother Dennis…who knows about these things…has informed me that,  “…You silly boy, the truck is a she, and she is the younger sister of Helga. Her name is Brunhilda”   Since he is the guys with the college degree in diesel things, and will help me keep this Cumins purring, I’m not going to challenge this name thing.  Brunhilda its is. You would think she would have told me by now. Playing coy. They do that, right up until they call down lightening bolts on your head.)

So, now that we have trailer, and since its still a little too cool for long sails into the BC interior, we’re going to hit the road for 6 weeks to do a shake down cruise on the RV. We’ll be hitting Oregon, NorCal, then cut across to Texas to see the Wingers in San Antonio and the Darby-Smiths in Austin. I’m trying to convince Karin to make a run all the way to New Orleans….but she’s hesitant.

That was some trip to Alaska!

Sorry there’s been such a long pause in postings. That’s what happens when you “get back to the real world” I guess.

In any case we wanted to take a moment to pause and remember what a great trip we had this summer to Alaska.  We retired and left on May first….and didn’t get back until mid-September.

So, how to summarize.  We’ll…there’s too much.  So we’ve made a few video montages that show going up, playing around in Alaska, and then coming home.  I’m not actually asking you to watch my home movies. 😉   These are really more for us to remember.  But if you want a peak, you are welcome too.   Just click on the red titles and it should open the videos. 

Part One; Getting from here to there


Part Two; Playing around In SE Alaska


Part Three; Mid Summer in Alaska


Part Four; Coming Home


Well, that was some adventure, and we already know we’re going back.  But first we have a few chores to complete.  This fall and winter we’ll be splitting time between the boat (which is home) and the house near Seattle (which while comfy no longer feels like home).  We’re doing the cleanup and projects needed to sell Terrace House, which will happen in the spring.

After that, we’ll be sailing on the waters of the Northwest and when we’re ashore we’ll be venturing far and wide in a land yacht (Basically, we’re buying a trailer and a truck that can pull it).    

Wallace Island : Back in range of your friends

One of the great things about getting South of Desolation Sound and back into the Canadian Gulf Islands is that you are now back in the near summer cruising grounds for boaters from Seattle and elsewhere in Western Washington.

In other words, you may run into your friends.

David and Lang are the nice folks who also live aboard on the D dock down in Anacortes, and whom we went to see in Vancouver on our way North back in May.  As we were about to leave Nanaimo they posted a pic from Wallace Island Marine Park…only 21 nautical miles away. We were only going to go about 15 miles that day, but for the chance to see friends, and pet Ollie dog, we’d do another 6.

After passing through Dodd Narrows early in the morning with a whole bunch of other slow boats who need to time the Slack we meandered down to the Provincial Park at Wallace Island.

Wallace Island Marine Park


Pulling into Princess Bay….David and Lang’s boat Sapphire was just inside the entrance, and the stern tie chain right next to them was open.  We took is as a sign.


David jumped into his dingy to take our line over to the mooring chain, and after a little fiddling we got the hook and the line balanced.  We had 25 feet under the keel and it wasn’t going to get much lower.

After David finished his afternoon calls (he’s still a working man, but has a great cell and wifi booster system set up) we rowed over with drinks and apps and spent about 3.5 great hours catching up on the summer. The more people we meet the smoother we’re getting about telling that “whale in the narrow passage” story from Alaska.

Friday David and Lang were off to see friends near Ganges so we decided it was time to get the dinghy out and see more of the island.

Wallace Island Marine Park

This is a jewel of the Provincial Park system, but it’s very popular.  We got there about Noon after our early start to make slack at Dodd Narrows, and if you get there later during the busy summer months you definitely can have a hard time finding a spot to stern tie.


And this is a tough stern tie as both coves, Princess and Conover, can see cross winds that make backing up once you’ve dropped the hook a little dicey.  But then again, that’s part of the fun.  You get in, pour a cocktail, and watch the fun as everyone else has the same struggle you just had. The Germans have the word for it; schadenfreude.

Once you have the hook and stern set, you’re good to go. You can hop in the dingy and get to the park dock. From there there are trails to all four points on the island so you can look out into Trincomoli Channel to the East and Houstoun Passage to the West.

Hiking over to Conover Cove is fun as that’s were you’ll find a few remaining buildings from what was a lodge years ago. One of those remaining buildings is the site of one of the Gulf Island’s more famous landmarks. The cabin where you are supposed to hang up a driftwood shingle with your boat name, your first name and the date you visited.  It’s packed by know with so many shingles, and yet there’s always room for one more; yours.


Karin and I thought about it for a bit and decided to hang ours next time we visit. We want to work on ours for a bit….making it special.

After a lovely two days, we woke up Saturday the 25th to a few raindrops (nobody minds as we need the rain around here to tamp down the fire danger and clear the smoke). It was time to head a little Northwest to visit Ladysmith, and nice little village we’ve heard a lot about….but never been to before.

The journey continues.

Selling a boat in the middle of nowhere

So, what do you do when someone wants to buy your boat and you are a million miles away? Ok, not a million really… but in the wilderness of Northern BC.

In the immortal words of Douglas Adams: Don’t Panic.

We’re not talking about our current home; Endless Song, but about Marie; our 1981 Hinterloeller Niagara 35. Marie has been on the sales dock at Marine Service Center on Lake Union since we bought Endless Song.

Lots of looks at her in two years… but the bite finally came when were were waaaaay far away…. with bad cell service… and that only occasionally.

We floated by a First Nations village and had cell coverage for 15 minutes and got an email that someone who had come to look at her 3 times was ready to offer. A day later, another village and 15 minutes coverage, and there was an offer sheet. We slowed the boat, downloaded the PDF. Opened it on the phone, signed, saved, and sent it to the broker. Amazing tools we have these days.

Another day or so and we got to Bella Bella. Real phone coverage for a few days, so we could call and talk to our broker. The deal was on, moving to survey and sea trial. Normally the owners will be there for that, but the folks at Marine Service Center said, no worries. They’d handle that.

So we continued South, waiting to hear results. Somewhere North of Cape Caution we got word of a few minor issues, but again MSC worked on getting one fixed, and we lowered the price a bit to cover the rest. All in all, fair deal for all.

The deal is submitted to Marine Title service. Just as when you buy a house, there is a lot of checking of titles and paperwork, and legal documents that the Coast Guard cares deeply about.

So by this time, we’re around Cape Caution… headed into the Broughton Islands. We stopped at Sullivan Bay Marina for a night. No cell coverage… but I know they have some wi-fi. There should be final paper work in my inbox at some point.

Now, a moment here about wi-fi at little marinas in the wilderness. It usually sucks. And it makes sense really. You have hot stuff wi-fi at your house. But what if 50 big RVs pulled up, surrounded your house, and asked for your password. They’ve all been driving around looking at mountains and have no phone or internet connections (except those really big white RVs, that are more like small hotels. They have domes on top for TV and internet.) You put up a sign that says, “Sure, check email and IM but be considerate. No Skype, facetime, photo uploading, or streaming video or music.” Right.

To be fair, most folks are nice… and behave. But it only takes a few. So getting up at 5am, making coffee… then wandering down to the picnic tables where wi-fi works is a winner.

And they are in the inbox; the final papers to sign and close the deal.

Here’s where being in the wilderness really is a problem. First, we need a printer. Then we need a notary. These are legal docs, and need the stamp from someone who says, “yep, Karin and Dan signed these.” And once signed, these originals have to get to the Title Team in Seattle. Scans or photos don’t do it. They need the originals.

So, at dinner that night… we got the last two tickets for BBQ…we were seated with another couple. Lovely folks, Teresa and Don from Edmonds. They are on a pretty wooden Grand Banks power boat. Great dinner, wine, and chatting about our summers. We got around to the story about selling the boat and our need to find help. Don smiles at Teresa, she looks down at her plate for a second, smiles, and says, “I’m a Notary, and my stamp and a printer are on our boat.

You have got to be kidding me. Randomly, at dinner in the middle of nowhere, I have found the Wilderness Notary.

Much laughing followed. After dinner we pulled the docs off the phone to a USB drive, went to their boat, printed them all, and signed and had Teresa notorized them. We paid with wine.

Now we have signed documents. Next issue, getting them to Seattle, fast.

We knew the was a Post Office at another little marina in the Broughtons, Pierre’s Echo Bay. So the next morning we sailed over. After tying up, we ran up to the office. We missed the mail plane by 30 minutes. Next one… in a week. Ok, this isn’t going to work.

So much as the new owners wanted to take the boat and the kids sailing, every one was going to need to be patient. We could go back North to Port McNeil, or just keep going South…and make an unplanned stop in Campbell River. Either option would delay closing a week. So rather than backtrack, we headed South.

Midday on Monday the 13th of August, we tied up in Campbell River and walked to the UPS store. The team there said no worries. Docs will be in Seattle by 10 am Wednesday.

And they were. Since we had emailed copies of the docs to Amanda at Pacific Marine Title she was ready. By 11am she sent us email that the deal was closed, and we were no longer owners of Marie. That afternoon I was able to log into my bank, and the funds were already in the account.

Amazing the technology we have today. In the past this would have taken weeks. Now, the deal was done, and last weekend the new owners took their kids and went sailing on their new sailboat…s/v Marie.

Love that boat. I hope we run into them in an anchorage one day soon.