Friday, December 28, 2012


We went for a bike ride behind the marina and were treated to
a lovely view of town.  The Pacific Ocean is on the left.  Mountians
(covered in haze on this day) surround the town to the Eas
Our nomadic life has come to a stop.  For now, "home" is Barra de Navidad, a small town in central Pacific Mexico, situated on the tip of a peninsula that protects an estuary and lagoon from the Pacific Ocean. From December 2nd until about January 8th, the good ship Northern Passage will be quietly tucked into her slip on C dock, resting from over 5,000 miles of travel. Her crew is adjusting, trying not to look at the guidebooks and charts to figure out where to go next, trying to feel okay about living a land-based life for a few weeks.  It is an adjustment, this change from always-moving to settling in.  It feels good to learn the nuances of a town, to feel the vibe and experience the community.
The marina, with the lagoon and anchored friends 
in the background, is a dinghy ride into town.

Barra is a cobble-paved dead-end town where many people walk rather than drive.  The cruising boats who visit here commute across the canal to the town via panga (an open skiff taxi) or dinghy.  About 20 blocks of tiendas, restaurants, hotels and street vendors make up the lively village.  Also, a surf break adds to the excitement when wave conditions are right. It is a popular stop for cruisers, and a tourist destination for more rugged travelers who want to experience a little slice of small-town Mexico.

The small spec in the center is our dinghy,
the kids driving to the lagoon
where friends in another boat are anchored.

Staying here, I feel as if I am truly living in Mexico, as opposed to just passing through.  I am getting used to the slow simple almost old-fashioned lifestyle and enjoying the lack of big box stores and highways.

Richard helping make small repairs while dockside.
One big difference is grocery shopping.  Florescent-lit musak-playing supermarkets with 20 brands of ketchup do not exist here (although there is a Sam's Club about 40 miles away).  On the streets of Barra, shopping occurs in tiny "tiendas" scattered throughout the town, each about the size of a single-car garage in the U.S.  In fact, the storefronts ARE garage doors, left open all day.  The lights inside are often kept off, as there is enough sunlight to see inside.  This threw me off at first, I thought the stores were not ready for customers.

One of Carmen's favorite streetside treats
is the mango on a stick.
Each tienda, named after the owners ("Tienda Maria," "Tienda Lupe"), has a unique specialty.  It took me many days of browsing and trial and error to decode the system.  One has cheeses, another a large selection of cereals.  One carries lovely fresh fruits and vegetables.  Disappointed to find no eggs in any of them, I finally learned that eggs are kept behind the counter and are purchased one egg at a time.  Ask for "seis juevos" and you will get six eggs in a plastic bag (no carton - who would have thought I'd be kicking myself for throwing away that last egg carton?)  The next mystery was meat.  Where was the meat?!?!  After a few days wandering the streets, I discovered the Carniceria.  There, lovely thick slices of bacon are sliced to order, and beef is ground before your eyes.  I was not brave enough to try the sausages hanging in long strips and dripping on the counter.

Richard catching a wave!!  At the Barra break on one of
the few surfable days this month.
Shopping is just one of the many differences.  I have not seen a television.  People are friendly and happy.  And then there is the siesta.  From about 2:00pm until about 6:00, many of the stores and restaurants close.  I have grown to love this tradition, as I am happy to do my shopping in the cool of the night, when the stores all re-open until about 10:00pm.  Many pharmacies, tiendas, and even doctors' offices stay open into the night - but don't try to go there at 4:00pm!  I have yet to actually take a siesta.  Life always seems to be too busy.  But one of my goals is to start participating in this excellent and wise tropical-climate tradition.

The beach is about 2.5 km long and ends the small town
of Melaque, one day we walked there for a playdate!
Now, we are headed North to Alaska for the holidays.  We will take a plane to the Amtrak train to another plane.  When we get there it will be an entirely different, snowy, world.  I am looking forward to being around familiar places, people and culture.  I think, though, that I will miss this Mexican lifestyle and be ready to return to our slice of paradise.  When we do come back, we'll be heading further south, to the lands of rainforests and monkeys!  Looking forward to the next adventure.

One of our favorite things to do when on land is go for a
bike ride - this is what we found at the end of a road near Barra!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Finding Alaska in Mexico

If you squint your eyes so you can't see the cacti and pretend you have clothes on instead of a bikini, you might think you were in Alaska at this untouched bay in Ensenada Carrizal, near Santiago, Mexico. A rocky shoreline, too steep to land on, a small gravel beach and lush green mountains encircle this almost closed-off circular bay.

Last evening around sunset, when we arrived, we heard the crashing of water on rocks, a sound we had not heard for a very long time, as much of this coastline is sand beach which absorbs the sound of water more than rough rocky outcroppings do. We were also pleasantly surprised to see no development in this natural bay. No palapas lining the beach, no bands or dj's announcing human presence into the wee hours of the night. The final touch that brought a huge sigh of relief to me, there was not one other boat anchored here. Aaaaahhhhhh. Wilderness.

Only a few miles via land from the major city of Manzanillo, for some reason this bay has been left untouched. Perhaps because there are not sandy beaches nor electricity. No roads can access it. There is evidence of an attempt long ago to build a structure but nature has taken over the foundation and steps.

I don't mean to imply that we are not enjoying the sand beaches, the mariachi bands, the camaraderie of other cruising sailboats. We are certainly loving these non-Alaskan experiences. However, for a few days, this little slice of untouched wilderness suits us.

We are getting the kayak and paddle board in the water, preparing to snorkel and paddle a little, then return to anchor for a siesta and lunch. A little school work this evening when it cools and later tonight, stargazing in the hammocks. It is nice to be warm, to play in and near the water. This is a perfect blending of Alaskan-style wilderness and Mexican tropical weather. Magical.

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hot shower on deck.....mmmmmmmmmmmm

Started the day today with a hot shower. On deck. Naked. Fresh water with soap and shampoo. Warm sunshine my towel. Boat moving slowly under sail alone (no engine). The first shower in many days (I forget how many), it was heavenly. I am a huge fan of playing in the salt water, but this feeling of being clean.....and of sunshine on bare skin.....mmmmmmmmmmmmm......nothing like it. It will be a good day today!

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Finding My Groove in the North Pacific Ocean

If this trip were a pregnancy, I just got through the first trimester.

Just like when I learned I was pregnant with our first child, this journey began with elation and a feeling of being invincible. At the beginning, the days took on an unreal quality, "pinch me,is this really happening?" as we sailed through and played in the rugged, quiet, pure Alaskan and Canadian wilderness where we saw countless magical creatures and natural phenomena. We visited remote villages and met new friends. The dream was living up to expectations.

This feeling of wonder lasted for the first few months. So did occasional seasickness. And a whole bunch of fear. During pregnancy when I really contemplated the fact that I was creating a human being, I thought to myself, "what am I doing?!?!". Here, too, I have wondered what we are doing, quitting work and school, running away from responsibilities to travel the seas.

As we slowly made our way down the West coast of the lower 48, a sort of whining irritability became my story. I started to feel bogged down by the day to day. The kids still bickered, rolled their eyes and slammed doors, just like they did at home. The long days and nights getting to the next port lost some of their charm. Chores needed to be done.

In the cruising world, this slog down the west coast of the U.S. is known as being the place where many cruising families lose their way. They arrive in San Diego beat up and exhausted and turn around for home before stepping foot on tropical beaches. It can be the make or break portion of the trip.

By last week (and coincidentally with three months under my belt), I hit a wall. At 8:00pm at the start of my night watch, I told Bruce I wanted to go home, I was tired of struggling with my children, I wondered why I was out here. I wanted to be WARM in a bikini and was still wearing long underwear at night. I felt like 3,000 miles had passed under our hull and we had gotten nowhere.

Once at the dock in Santa Barbara, I dragged Bruce out for a marguerita at a local watering hole and dumped on him. Talked about fears and hopes and dreams. Worried about our moody daughter, our sensitive boy. We looked each other in the eyes and told the truth. My truth was this: these fears and worries were the same ones I carried around with me on land, and they had nothing to do with this trip. I listened to myself repeating the same old anxieties, and decided I would try once and for all to purge them during this year at sea. Throw them overboard, set them free in the open sea.

The next morning I woke up changed, worry-free, happy. The first trimester was over. The nausea and fear were gone and in their place, a sense of belonging and of cherishing this time.

Now, I feel lighter. And full of anticipation. Ready to grow and nurture this journey, to live every good bad and ugly moment as if it were the last moment.

This is sounding like some sort of manifesto, I know, but the truth is I feel that charged up about it! I am finding my groove in my dream, something I didn't think I would have to do. I am growing a family with love and compassion. We are falling down and getting back up, wiping the dirt from our pants and moving forward.

We are creating something. We don't know what. It will grow and evolve and change every day. And one day, perhaps something magnificent will be born.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Cockpit Watch at 5:00am

Gently rolling ocean 
       vast, soft as velvet
            lifts and lowers effortlessly
Sea and ship move together
       as one 
            like baby in her womb
Crew belowdecks dreams
Night's last hour
reveals black sky
Venus boldly declares herself 
       in the East 
Before Sun takes her watch
Ursa Major, Alaska's muse, stands
       impossibly end on end, 
            handle pointing down
Stars shoot trailing light
       boldly declaring their demise
            like dad did

My soul man at the helm,
Barely awake after overnight watch
Venus with her power steers us 
       into each other before
           he retires belowdecks
And I make coffee
To begin my day

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Shifting Gears - Wardrobe, Expectations, and Activities

Clipping along at 8+ knots under full sail with following winds and seas, we are heading to Moss Landing, CA today, a community of 207 residents according to Wikipedia.   I am looking forward to what I hope will be a Seldovia-like experience, a small fishing village and quiet harbor devoid of the hustle and bustle of a city and surrounded by natural beauty.  Perhaps Northern Passage, with her chipped paint, dirty decks, brightwork on its way to going grey, and rails decorated with gear (paddle board, kayak, sailboard, bikes) will fit in a little better than at the mega-yacht docks in Sausalito, where we saw more divers and boat cleaners than boat owners.   And my how those boats glistened in the sun!

I have to admit, I miss Alaskan marinas and small towns.  Functional and low-key with breathtaking natural beauty in every direction.  In AK, boat owners don Carharts, hoodies and Xtra tuffs.  Docks are generally made of railroad ties, with dock cleats few and far between.   They are slippery with rain and sometimes tinged with moss due to the ever-present moisture in the air.   Eagles perch atop pilings and sea otters lazily drift among finger piers.     On those rickety, well-used docks I feel at home.

During most of the three months and about 3,000 miles we've been at sea, the climate and attitude has been much the same as at home.   About a week ago, when we reached northern California, it started changing.   Gone was the persistent cool bite in the air, the dense green forest and the Xtra tuffs.  We have entered a different world.

Our on-shore experiences so far have included hiking and paddling in empty coves in the wilderness, tiny island getaways run by  eclectic couples, big city tourist adventures, renting a fire tower to sleep in overnight, one day of skimboarding, and visiting natural parks. Bike rides and sunset beach walks, discovering sea creatures and going to museums top it off.  

In the next few days we will be entering southern California, leaving the chilly evening air behind, cracking open the sunblock and christening our water toys - snorkel gear, skim board, paddle board, kayaks.  Our onshore activities will move to the water. 

I find it hard to believe that most of our recreational activity will happen in the water from this point forward!  If you have never lived in Northern Lattitudes, you may not understand how hard it is to comprehend 80 degrees day in and day out.  I almost don't know how to get ready for it.   Can I really send my Xtra tuffs and wool sweaters back home?   Will I actually wear a bathing suit everyday?   Will the jeans and Carharts go to the bottom of the closet and shorts and skirts come to the top?  Really?!?!

Three months getting to a place is a really long time!   When we departed, we knew it would take this long, but it felt longer.  A lot longer.  For years talking about this trip, I dreamed about speaking Spanish and swimming every day.   I just didn't visualize the time spent getting there.     Today I am wearing my polypropylene thinnest long underwear shirt and Carharts, as we departed in the chill of northern CA early morning.   But I have shed my hoodie and am getting ready to shift to tank top and shorts.

We are all ready for this change.   It will be interesting to see how we adjust.   Will we crave coolness, miss the warmth of a wood stove in a winter cabin?   Time will tell.    I have a feeling the Alaskan-born aboard will have a harder time than the transplants.    

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Around the North Pacific in 80 Days

by Richard, age almost 12

Hi, it's been eighty days since we departed Seldovia on the good ship Northern Passage. We are currently in Newport, Oregon, 1,340 nautical miles from Anchorage as the crow flies, yet we have traveled 2,465 nautical miles due to our winding route down the North American coast and the islands in Southeast Alaska. We have seen hundreds of animals, weathered storms and crossed the Gulf of Alaska, and that's only in eighty days!

The best animal sightings were the whales, both humpbacks and orcas, some even sounding not fifteen feet away! Then in Prince William Sound we saw a shark that must have been at least six feet long!

Crossing the Gulf of Alaska, we ran into eight to to twelve foot seas for about eight hours before calming down after midnight. The next day I woke up with a stiff neck from sleeping in the cockpit. "Only two more days to go," I thought as I lay in the cockpit, then I saw an albatross skimming over the waves and I saw that they had calmed down a lot. I was really relieved. We've had some rough seas since then, but nothing worse than that night entering the Gulf of Alaska.

We've been waiting out a storm here in Newport, Oregon and are leaving tomorrow, bound for Eureka, California. We will be out for two days and I hope for calm seas and a following wind. Wonder where we will be in another eighty days, Mexico maybe?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Getting Ready for A Few Nights Out

When we depart Newport, Oregon on Thursday, we will be out at sea for two nights in order to arrive in California on Saturday.  When we are on an overnight crossing Bruce and I split the night, each taking a watch for six hours and sleeping for the other six hours.  The kids usually stay up with us for an hour or so of our shift to keep us company.  We turn on the autopilot, and when she is working properly we are able to rest, read, play cards, have snacks, and even write, but not to sleep during our watch, for we always need to keep an eye out for other ships passing quietly in the night.

Of the 80 days that we have been sailing so far, we have only done five overnight crossings.  Bruce has a lot of experience with this from his years as a merchant mariner, tug boat crewmember, first mate aboard a cruise ship, and project manager aboard fiber optic submarine cable ships.  The rest of the crew are just getting the hang of it. 

I am no longer afraid of the overnights, in fact I have begun to enjoy the solitude, the feeling of being no different than the birds and whales and sea lions traveling the ocean day and night.  I am growing to love the sweetness and simplicity of it, the uninterrupted time with the three people I love most in the world, the quietness.  Still, the all-nighter thing is hard to recover from at 47 years old, nothing like the ones I pulled in college when I could go to classes and carry on the next day as if nothing had happened.

One of the big tricks I know I need to master in order to have a pleasant overnight experience is to sleep at OTHER times of day.  It reminds me of being a nursing mom, at the beck and call of an infant who needs to nurse every hour or so around the clock.  Back then, I resisted the nap; it was nearly impossible for me to sleep when the baby slept, because I yearned to have my own time, do my own thing, read that book or take a bath or do that laundry.  I do the same thing aboard Northern Passage.  I fiddle and fuss, I don't want to miss anything.  I resist.  Bruce is a master napper.  He will sleep anywhere, anytime.  I wonder if he has always been this way, or if he learned it from his years at sea.

Although this 6-hour shift from 9pm-3am is hard to get through, it is not without its rewards.  I found this bit of writing (below) from a perfect night watch a few weeks ago.  It is difficult to capture the magic that occurs during that time of night out on the sea.  So, while I drift to sleep at 9:30 tonight in an attempt to bank the hours I know I won't be getting out there, I'll attach this bit of night watch writing:  

     A moonless star-filled night on the Pacific Ocean outside Washington state.   It is 1:27 am and I have another hour to go on my night watch at the helm.   
     Steering through the black night on black water is a little bit like driving around at night without streetlights or headlights on a road that is constantly rolling beneath you.  Although we are steering a course, our 51-foot boat feels miniscule in this great body of water.  
     The bouyancy of a boat has always been soothing to me, though, the gentle swaying, the lapping and pulsing of water along the hull, and it seems even more magical at night.   As a kid growing up in Chatham, Massachusetts one of my favorite things to do was to go out in our little dinghy under the full moon, and drift.
     Tonight is about as perfect a night as a sailor can ask for.   A slight breeze keeps two stabilizing sails full while following seas push us along.   The air is crisp but not cold, the sky a magnificent display of light - first sunset colors, pastels painting the entire sky and now starlight wonder.
     We bob along, the subtle glow of the gps chart plotter and the green of the radar keeping me alert.  I have kept busy tonight, making tea, reading a book, reefing and adjusting the mizzen sail, playing and singing along to music, and now with head sticking out of the cockpit, looking straight up at zillions of stars, I write. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Teachers, I Bow to You

 “Treat me like you treat your teacher, NOT like you treat your mother!” I yelled.

When I heard these words come barreling out of my mouth a few weeks ago, I felt utterly defeated, both as a teacher and as a mother.  The statement was directed at my eye-rolling 6th and 4th grade children when I attempted to give them a writing assignment and they sprawled across the couch in their pajamas, moaning, “Ugh.....Mom, do we HAVE to?”  My wiser than wise 9-year-old daughter’s response to my outburst went something like this, “Maybe if you want us to start respecting you as a teacher, you should start respecting us as students!  Teachers are nice to us when they teach, just like you are nice to us when you tuck us in at night.”  Ouch, insert knife and twist.  That girl has a way of getting right to me, of pointing out the honest truth in the most brutal (and loudest) way possible.
Carmen during "P.E." class -
climbing and swinging.

The image I had envisioned of a carefree and unstructured boat-schooling environment went right out the window.  I found myself fantasizing about strict schedules and dress codes, about punishment for disrespectful treatment of teachers and classmates.  I felt like giving up.  Only a few weeks into our foray into this world of home-schooling and their bad attitudes combined with my lack of training in teaching made me want to quit. 

I was reminded once again of my deep-rooted belief that teachers are the most important, powerful, influential, undervalued and underpaid professionals in our society.  Having grown up with teachers as parents, I have spent countless hours debating this point to my peers over the years, and have seen first hand the amount of work, energy, time and dedication it takes to teach.
Bruce giving the kids their sailing/physics lesson.
Our boat-schooling started about a month ago, when Bruce and I became our children’s academic teachers in addition to being, as parents, their primary teachers in life.  The kids wanted to start school at the same time they would have started back home, so we began on a Wednesday in late August.  The first week and a half went well, as they arrived at the table fresh and eager, ready for a change from summer adventures.  They seemed thirsty for the familiar structure and knowledge they receive at school.

Working at the table that serves as our classroom, dining room and living room, the kids were enthusiastic, jumping into their math and spelling textbooks and excited about writing their thoughts down in journals.  All jazzed about the science unit Bruce taught them on the physics of sailing and on cartography of the ocean floor, we saw the sparkle in their eyes and felt proud of them (and proud of us) in achieving success in our boat-based classroom.

The kids made wooden sailboats
to learn about points of sail.
Then came week 3, the week the charm wore off, and the outburst from their teacher/mom ensued.  I now realize this was no different from the first few weeks of school on land, when the kids started to feel bored, the information was mostly review, and they missed the unstructured freedom of summer.  For some strange reason I have yet to discover, I had thought it would be different out here.  What was I thinking?!

Luckily, this negative attitude from both students and teacher came right when we had planned to take a week off from school while their grandparents rendezvoused with us in Victoria, British Columbia.  We closed our textbooks and sunk head-first into FIELD TRIPS!  Now I understand how important they are!  We attended museums, studied architecture, read about the history of the city, went to a castle, talked with artists at the market, and learned about the history of the nearly 100-year-old schooner in the slip beside us.

After this much-needed week off, the grandparents returned home, we set sail and are getting back into the routine of school.  I feel ready to make it work.  With $170 worth of books and teaching materials from Amazon, I am now armed with tools at my fingertips written by educators, and I feel confident I can become a better teacher with a better attitude.  My teaching will not come close to the skilled teaching that comes from years of experience and a proper and continuing education that our public school teachers pursue, but it will improve, I am sure of it.

We took the classroom outside this day,
and learned that it was too difficult to
concentrate on the beach....but if we
hadn't gone there, we wouldn't have found
Ernie and the boatbuilding shop
So, we march on.  As Bruce reminds me, these two children are learning every day out here.  We navigate and map our routes, we notice changes in weather, identify birds, watch animal behavior and learn about the history of the maritime world.  While ashore, we go to museums and talk to people.  Last week, we walked into a wooden boatbuilding shop and talked with Ernie, who told us to come back the next day.  We returned, and the kids stayed with him for four hours, building a boat.  Emergent curriculum is what this year will be about.  We will engage in the types of educational experiences that enrich us as human beings.  Meanwhile, the ABCs and the 123s will happen in our makeshift school, one way or another.

Richard machining wooden plugs to go in "Pocahontas"
Carmen installed the plugs in each rib.
The plugs ready to be installed.
I am confident that Richard and Carmen will learn to accept the teaching styles and limitations of their new teachers and we will respect with kindness the students we are teaching.  One day, perhaps we will find that we treat our mothers like we treat our teachers, and our children like we treat our students.  Wouldn’t THAT be lovely?

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Tortoise Way - Sailing Around Alaska

The Zen of Traveling Thousands of Miles at 7 mph

Traveling via sailboat is slow.  When the wind, waves, current and weather are in our favor our speed is about 6-9 knots (that’s approximately 7-10 miles per hour).  If any one of the above-mentioned factors are not ideal, i.e. too much wind, too little wind, wind in the wrong direction, current against us, sea swells on our beam, breaking waves, etc. then the speed reduces to as slow as 3-4 knots.  Overall, our average speed is about 6 knots.  And that is mostly with the engine running and a few sails.  Without the engine, there are times when the boat would be moving backwards.  Factoring in weather predictions and our travel goals, those of us who love to sail are often making decisions about when and if we can raise the sails and cut the engine, how that will affect our ETA, and whether or not we care about our ETA.
One day a few weeks ago as we departed Pelican, AK, we were faced with one of those decision points.  The wind was almost behind us, and if we headed just a wee bit off course, we had a lovely broad reach and made about 5-6 knots over water, under sail with no engine.  But, with the current against us in Liapinski Straight, we were only making about 2-3 knots over land.  We looked at each other, at the full sails and semi-open sky, and grinned, deciding to push back our arrival at the anchorage an hour or so in order to enjoy the quiet peace of sailing this leg of our journey.  The slow easy lapping of water on the hull, the beauty of Alaskan waters and mountains and sealife, make it an easy decision.  Carmen got the sailing bug during this leg as she became our winch handler.  She loved cranking on the winch handle to pull in our jib.  We have been waiting to see if she would ever find the sailing passion that the rest of us have, and got a glimpse of it that day.  She said, “I don’t like pulling in the sails with the winches, I LOVE IT!!!”
About three days before that, however, as we made our three-day crossing of the Gulf of Alaska at this pace, the world was not so rosy and my attitude not so accepting of this slow and easy pace. 
It was 2:00am and I was on the night shift.  We had spent the day and night before getting tossed about in uncomfortable 8+ foot swells on our starboard beam, with not enough wind to level us out or so much wind we heeled over like mad, and all kinds of crazy currents slowing us down.  I was sleep deprived and angry and totally stuck in my head.  I couldn’t stop thinking about how intolerable it would be if I had to drive 4 miles per hour to the grocery store five miles away, and here I was going hundreds of miles offshore, for three days, at that pace!  As I reached the end of my rope of sanity, I ran belowdecks and shook Bruce awake.  Crying, I declared that the ETA box on our navigation screen had changed from 4:00pm tomorrow to 3:00am the morning of the next day!  “We will never be off this ocean, Bruce!!!”  I shouted as I pounded my fists into his chest.
Always the voice of reason, Bruce suggested that I stop looking at that ETA box, he said that the weather and wind and currents would change and it would all even out.  “Be patient, Jen, it will get better.”  I was reminded of our personal motto, “The only thing constant is change.” 
Well, I was in no mood to wane philosophic, so I stomped around the cabin a bit before crawling into a sleeping bag in the main settee and trying hopelessly to sleep.  Nauseous and full of despair, I curled up beside Carmen and tried to breathe.
A few hours later when I awoke from a dead sleep, I could feel and hear the boat making progress.  Indeed, things had changed.  The wind had shifted enough to help us and we clipped along at a nice 5-7 knots.  Back on track.  Sigh . . .   Once again, Bruce was right.  The ETA box said 4:30pm again.  

As seen only from the open sea, sunset......
Cockpit time during the crossing
Richard sleeping during the crossing

When we aren’t doing a long overnight crossing in treacherous waters, I really don’t mind the pace.  In fact, I don’t even notice the slowness.  The hours go by with the gentle lapping of water along the hull, we make and eat delicious food, watch wildlife, take naps, plot our course for the evening or next day, read aloud, laugh and snuggle. 
Typically, we see whales or porpoises, countless types of sea birds, otters, waterfalls, mountains and glaciers.  I am constantly amazed the light.  Clouds lit from below, from above, from the side; fog whisping between mountain peaks; warm horizontal sunlight making everything glow; light reflecting on tiny ripples in the water; rainbows; alpenglow; sunsets.  I take hundreds of photos.
Somehow, the hours and the day mostly pass by effortlessly.  The boxes I lugged along of “things to do” - knitting, beading, drawing, painting, games, etc. sit untouched.  So far we haven’t needed them.  Six weeks into our journey and they haven’t even been opened.
Full moon rising...early in the night before my little panic attack!
I do not wish to travel faster.  I love our pace and honestly wonder if 60mph in a car might feel like some sort of scary carnival ride the next time I find myself on a highway.  For now, I’ll take the slow way of the tortoise, the way of the S/V Northern Passage.  It is good for us.  Bruce’s worry wrinkles have disappeared, we have each lost weight and have a ruddy, fresh-air look about us.  The kids are happy and reading like fiends, excited at every sighting of a whale or porpoise no matter how many times they have already seen them.  I get it, I get what the author of that children’s fable was saying.  I am reminded of Simon and Garfunkle, “Slow down, you move too fast, you got to make the morning last just kicking down the cobble stones, looking for fun and feeling groovey.  La la la la la la la feelin’ groovey.”

Humpbacks!!!! ten o'clock!!!!!!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Alaskan Wildlife As Seen From S/V Northern Passage

While I type up my next blog entry, I am posting a little photo essay of some of the incredible wildlife we have seen in the past few weeks while traveling around Alaska.  Remarkable creatures, all of them - enjoy!

One very happy sea star feasting on muscles - at the dock in Pelican, AK

Dahl porpoises regularly swim with us, moving across the bow with ease, fast as lightning and playful

Lounging Stellar Sea Lions near Resurrection Bay.

Jellies and the fish that like to hang with them, taken with our new underwater camera from a dock.

Sea otters.  Curious creatures, I love these guys.  They float around on their backs as if they have not a care in the world.

A yearling, or 2-year-old, bald eagle.
We think this is a brown bear?  But not sure, as its nose looks more black-bear like. 

I think seagulls get a bad rap for being garbage birds - they are magnificently beautiful flyers.  For my grandma Lygia.

This was taken at about 10:00pm, gotta love Alaskan light.

A pod of Orcas swam past us - many times.  This group looked like a family to us.  They emerged out of the fog one day.

Oyster catchers in flight.

We never tire of seeing eagles, a common bird around here yet always so intriguing and huge!

A mama otter with a pretty large pup napping on her belly, reminded me of hauling around sleeping toddlers!

A favorite place for sea lions to hang out and honk - they make the craziest sounds.

An eagle in flight.....ahhhhhhhh.

Not a WILD animal by any stretch of the imagination, but I wanted to include our Tiger in this collage.
Sea lions splashing around!  We had never seen them so active, only lounging on rocks before this time in the inside passage.

I love these little birds, I think Common Muhrrs (I probably spelled that incorrectly), they seem to line up in a row when they swim off, and they look like mini loons.

The whales.  Nothing more to say except.  WOW!  We saw at least a dozen, more if you count all of the spouts on distant shores.  It was a magical day.  And it was my birthday!  Traveling along the south side of Frederick sound toward Petersburg.