Sunday, September 25

Extreme Makeover: Boat Edition

After living on our boat for almost a year, we finally decided we can't stand the interior anymore. As my step-mom would say, "It's fine." And it is - if you like 1970s yellowing off-white paint and grungy tan tiles. But we're ready to truly make the boat look nice, both inside and out. We're not talking a full-blown remodel - at least, not the type of remodeling that includes granite counters and all-new kitchen appliances. I'm still a grad student, which brings down our average income considerably!

However, we decided it was time to at least replace the tile with new laminate countertops (surprisingly inexpensive) and paint the walls white (one of the bonuses of living in a relatively small space - not much square footage to paint).

We're starting in the master bathroom. Our plan is to complete the bathroom and see how much time and money it takes. If it's not too outrageous, we'll move on to the master stateroom.

We shopped for tools and paint at Lowes today, and tonight we took our frustration at the idiotic Lowes employees out on our bathroom tile.

No turning back now!

With a hammer and chisel, the tiles just pop right out. It's surprisingly gratifying. The bathroom is so small that removing tiles is a one-person job, and Tom and I were both fighting for the opportunity. In all honesty, partly it's because we enjoyed it, but also because we know that the next step - removing the gunk underneath the tiles - is gonna be hard. ("No way, that's your job! I popped out the tiles, you're the one who has to remove the cement adhesive!")

In just under 45 minutes, you can do a lot of damage!

One thing that kills us about this boat: originally, all of the walls were a beautiful dark wood. The previous owners decided it was best to cover this wood with a number of ugly materials, such as tiles, paint, and horrendous wallpaper.

In the words of Nancy Kerrigan, Why? WHY?


Monday, September 19

A Weekend at the Office

As I've mentioned a couple times, I spend June through Spetember working in the San Juan Islands. I'm a graduate student and that's where I conduct my field work (if you really want to know more about that, send me an email! :)
For those of you who don't know where the San Juans are, hopefully the map below will help. The upper left hand corner is a regional map of the Pacific Northwest - Vancouver Island in the top left, and the Olympic Peninsula below that. The San Juan Islands are enclosed in the very small box on the left, with an enlarged view on the right:

Anyway, I usually head back to Seattle every weekend because it's nice to get off the island, and because that's where Tom and Duncan are. But sometimes Tom comes up to visit me - the San Juans are gorgeous and not a bad place to spend the weekend.

The summer office

A couple weeks ago Tom came up and we decided to go scuba diving. I dive 4-5 days/week for my research, so I'm not always keen to spend my weekends underwater too. However, Tom got certified over a year ago and we STILL hadn't been diving together, so we decided it was about time! And yknow, I forget that there really is a big difference between research diving and recreational diving. When you're diving for fun you can just cruise around and go where you want to (not only where the transect dictates), and you don't have to carry a clipboard or transect pole or any other research equipment. How liberating!

My research dive buddy Pema joined us, along with her friend Jess. (Yes, another one!)

Pema is ready to go!

Jess gearing up. I wouldn't be smiling either, if I had to dive a wetsuit!

Tom, heading into the water

It was Tom's first dive since he'd been certified, and he did great. I can't wait to go diving with him again!

Tom underwater

Tom and I tried to give each other a smooch underwater, but it didn't work out so well.

After diving, we warmed up and then went to enjoy the scenery at the Pingrees. Just as we arrived, a bald eagle swooshed down and landed on a tree directly above us! Very cool!

The eagle has landed (sorry, couldn't help myself)

Screaming at us... somehow much less annoying than our marina "bird"

The eagle flew away, but before we could be disappointed, we were already distracted by the sunset.

Such a nice relaxing weekend in the San Juans!


Wednesday, September 14

Tom's 'rents

So my parents came to town to spend some time with Jessi and I. We had a great weekend, hanging out, doing some nothing...

Ahhhh... nothing.

Actually my dad and I worked on the boat a little, replacing the forward toilet, and Jessi and my mom did some shopping and manicuring (tough work!). But one thing my dad really wanted to do was take the boat out for a little cruise.

And cruise we did. I'd rank the little trip we took in the top 10 trips we've taken... well, that's not fair, we've probably only taken 10 trips, so I'll put it in the top 2.

Pops helping get underway.

All we really did was hit Lake Washington, no big deal. But, the sun was shining, it was late summer, we had meat on board. All the conditions were right. My buddies Matt and Megan (who are sadly leaving the area soon-ish - damn Navy!) came over and the 6 of us went for a BBQ/swim trip.

We headed north on Lake Washington to Juanita Bay, found a good spot to drop anchor and set up the grill. We sat out on the bow for an hour or so enjoing beers, brats and chit chats.

Tom and Matt on the bow.

After eating, and waiting the appropriate amount of time (safety first!), we decided to jump off the boat.

Let's go that way!

Tom jumps off the roof!

Jessi hovering 10 feet above the water! She's MAGIC!

Matt, Ma and Jessi. The water was AWESOME!

Even Duncan got in on it!!

But he didn't like it, so we put him back on the boat.

After we finished swimming, we pulled the anchor and started heading home. Jessi decided she wanted to practice maneuvering the boat so she jumped in and got us underway.

Tom and the Captain

After she got her fill of playing with the boat, she resumed her primary job... Having fun.

Megan and Jessi chillin

Ma and Jessi

Megan and Matt

We pulled back into our slip with no problems, a very very successful trip. Thanks to my Ma and Pops for coming out and spending the weekend with us!


Tuesday, September 6

No more Pre's

And finally... the famed Jessi's-parents-trip. I was damn nervous about this one.

Intimidating huh? Jessi's dad is almost as tall as that tree! And, look how huge his hand is!

Just kidding, but I did want everything to be perfect. I mean, talk about pressure. I just HAD to do it right. I could just see the breakup happening, "Tom, I love you, but... I mean, you sank our home with my parents on board. And did you have to scream like a girl while being the first one to jump from the burning wreckage?" I played pretty much every scenario in my head. I just didn't want to look like a fool... ramming other boats, or forgetting things like how to start the engines. What boyfriend doesn't want to impress his girlfriend's family? But it went off without a (significant) hitch. Pretty much smooth like butter.

We spent one night in Seattle before taking off early the next morning. Sea Change can sleep 4 in two staterooms, plus we have a big inflatable mattress. We could probably sleep more, but it was fairly comfortable with 5 of us (Jessi and I, her parents Peter and Meredith, and her brother Eli). Of course that's easy for me to say, since I get one of the real beds...

Eli sleeping in the topside stateroom.

We set off early the next morning for the San Juans. Unfortunately, out of the past 4 times I've crossed the Straits of Juan de Fuca, this one was the worst. We had 4-5 foot seas and moderately heavy winds from the west. The whole time we were in the Straits (2 hours) was one big exercise in keeping things from falling off of shelves. It sucked. Cabinets slamming, dogs whining (not a "sea dog" remember), the boat bobbing like a cork, getting knocked 30 degrees off course... Everyone was a really good sport though. Even at his worst, Jessi's brother Eli insisted everything was fine... and then 10 minutes later he officially christened the boat by yakking off the stern. (Sorry Eli!) Other than that and the mild fog at the entrance to the San Juan Channel, we had no issues.

That night was the first of 3 parties (1 birthday, 1 wedding vow renewal, and 1 retirement - all for the same family). It was a great weekend filled with great company and great times.

Left to Right, bottom to top: Peter, Jessi, Tom, Meredith, Eli, and Suzy (the hostess, birthday girl, bride, and retiree!)

After partying and relaxing for the weekend we got underway for Seattle. The trip home was much smoother in terms of wind and waves, but boy was it foggy. I had to sound the fog horn for about an hour through the Straits. Nerve wracking. But, we made it home safely and I was finally able to relax! Of course, I knew that in a few weeks MY parents were coming to town, and that they'd want to cruise Lake Washington for a day. But I was a lot less nervous about impressing them... I mean I have known them for 28 years!


p.s. Tom wasn't going to post this pic but I absolutely love it, and I'm sneaking it in. It was taken the night of the wedding. Check out Tom's Navy dress uniform and Eli's all-denim Levi's suit (interesting formal attire was greatly encouraged):

Also, Tom's a guy and so he doesn't understand the importance of including a pic of the gorgeous bridal party - not to mention the fabulous scenery! Here's a photo of Suzy and Hawk renewing their vows at their property on the west side of San Juan Island:

And finally, it should be mentioned that most of the pictures for this entry were blatantly stolen from Ray's website. Ray is Suzy and Hawk's son, and a great photographer as well!


Saturday, September 3

Jess and Eric come to town

For our next trip - our pre-Jessi's-parents-trip - Jessi's best friend Jess (confusing, I know) and her boyfriend Eric (at least his name's not Tom) came up to visit from California.

Eric and Jess

The plan was to head north to the San Juans and cruise around for 3 days before coming back. It was wonderful! No boat issues, and the crossing was very smooth. We caught the tides right (a must, going from Seattle to SJIs). The only rough patch we hit was near Foulweather Bluff where Hood Canal dumps into Puget Sound. The boat would rock fairly violently when taking seas to beam... but it didn't last too long. I had the helm most of the way but I did have some help from time to time.

Help! I'm lost!

Actually, he's on my lap because my lap and Jessi's lap are about the only places he's somewhat happy when the boat is rocking. He's a better "port dog" than he is a "sea dog," but overall he did just fine.

Friday Harbor was the first stop. We got a slip on the inside of the breakwater, which was nice, but it involved parallel parking... not as nice. I almost bumped into the boat behind me while pulling in, but escaped with inches to spare! We had fun in Friday Harbor getting some mexican food and walking the downtown area.

Duncan guards the boat while we go have fun.

Next we cruised up north of Orcas island to Sucia Island. It's a small secluded island accessible only by boat or float plane, and it's shaped kind of like a hand. The little fingers are islands that make awesome places to anchor and chill. We were originally gonna go and swim and hike, but ran low on time. Eric did manage to jump in for a quick dip, but the frigid water prevented real relaxation. It's a gorgeous area and I'd love to go back and spend some time there.

Who wouldn't want to come back?!?

The fingers of Sucia Island.

As I said, we were running low on time so we just continued on south around Orcas, through Obstruction Pass and into the mouth of Orcas Island to Rosario Resort. When you get moorage at Rosario, you are considered a resort guest and get to use the hot tub and pool, and you can lounge at the outdoor bar! Very nice, and not bad for 75 bucks for 4 people!

Ahhh, boat life!

The next morning we started heading home. We decided to break the trip back into two legs so we cruised south to Port Townsed to spend the night there. That's a fun town, a bit of a walk from the marina into downtown, but well worth it. It was Sunday and lots of the shops were closing, so we just grabbed some grub and walked back to the boat.

Monday morning, and the rest of the return to Seattle leg, was a windy one! Pt Townsend marina does not have a lot of maneuvering room, and on departure morning, waking up to 10-15 knot winds made me very very very nervous. AND to add to the stress there was a Coast Guard vessel there running some drills for training, so I had an audience too! But through some very tense button pushing, lever pulling, and a little bit of "TOM, YOU ARE GETTING CLOSE!" we managed to get out of the marina without a scratch!

Duncan: "I'm just gonna hide up here for the trip home!"

A few hours later, and a countless number of games of Boggle later we arrived back in Seattle. All in all another very successful trip!


Thursday, September 1

July 4th

Yes, I know... it's an odd title given that it's Sept. 1st... but we are playing catch up remember?

So, the first boating trip didn't really involve Jessi or Sea Change. It was July 4th weekend, and my buddies Matt and Megan were going up to the San Juans in their First Child so I tagged along. It was to be my pre-pre-Jessi's-parents-trip. That's right, two "pre's" - I had a lot of learning to do.

Matt and I started in Kingston and sailed up to Port Townsend on that Friday. It was an 8ish hour day filled with salty sea stories, laughing, chips, a bunch of beers and even some sailing. We met up with Megan in Port Townsend, had some dinner and hit the rack. We woke up early Saturday morning and took off for Friday Harbor. A little rough out off Point Wilson where the tides tend to rip, but smooth sailing (and some motoring) most of the rest of way. The only snag we hit was working our way around Smith Island. It's a tiny island with a bunch of shoal water in the middle of the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Looking at a chart you may barely notice it, but of course, the winds were such that we had to tack north and south for an hour just to get around her to the west. Such is the life of a sailboat. We arrived at Friday Harbor, rafted up in the port and went into town. For the rest of the weekend, I hung out with Jessi (she was already up there for work) and Matt and Megan did some cruising. We all met up to watch the fireworks from the boat, which turned out to be spectacular. They next morning we set sail for Port Townsend again, although this time we mostly motored. I learned a lot on that trip, it was really a great experience, and thanks to Matt and Megan for showing me the way. Now to put some of that learnin' to use on our own boat!

(pics will be posted soon, so check back)