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Caribbean Cruise 2013

Nieuw Amsterdam

Nieuw Amsterdam

Once again we sailed the high seas and again it was on Holland America. This is our third cruise on this line and have never had a bad experience (I assume you have seen the news). We had a great occasion also as it was our twenty year anniversary!!!! What a better way to spend it than on a glorious ocean liner with a beautiful wife!!

We started by taking a red-eye flight to Ft Lauderdale, my first time to Florida! The problem with that was our arrival was very early in the morning and we couldn’t board the ship until early afternoon. We killed time by hanging out in a Starbucks and walking around a shopping center that most stores hadn’t even opened yet……booooring! When we finally were in the boarding area, we had a big surprise for some friends of ours. Cordell had to stay back in Snoqualmie. He gets to go over and stay with Jenny, our pet sitter! When she picked him up, she was on her way to take care of our friends Rich and Gloria Monsoor that live up here on the Ridge. We talked about where we were going and she said it sounded very familiar. She checked their itinerary, and we were on the same cruise! What is weird about this is, it is the SECOND time it has happened! They were on our last two-week cruise to Alaska! When we found them in the boarding area, they were floored! Now we had cruise buddies!

It was a wonderful cruise and the weather was warm and the seas usually calm. We made stops at Grand Turks where we did a Segway tour and some awesome snorkeling. The overall impression we had there wasn’t that good. People seemed lazy and there was litter and trash everywhere. Seen it, don’t need to go back. Then we hit San Juan, Puerto Rico! What a vibrant place and pretty clean. We hit the Bacardi Distillery and went to the old fort of El Morro and walked through the old tunnels and took great pictures and a video of the surrounding area! Next we stopped in St Maarten on the Dutch side of Philipsburg. It was pretty hot and muggy there but we absolutely loved the place. It was so cool and the people were happy and content. The place was spotless. We walked about the shops and along the boardwalk. We stopped at the Blue Bitch Bar for some refreshingly cold beers and something to eat! Across the Bay we saw some condos that we may be able to stay in via our timeshare so we may be back to the beautiful place! Our last stop was at Half Moon Cay which is a very beautiful island, but owned by the cruise lines and just a place for the passengers to drop some more money! It was fun anyway and they provided a good BBQ! Then it was back to Florida boo hoo! Since we had almost a full day to kill since we were taking a late flight back to Seattle, we decided to do one more excursion. This one was to the Everglades for an airboat ride and a visit to the wild animal center there! It also included a transfer to the airport so that worked out great! We only saw one alligator on the boat ride. The Everglades are very dry and this upsets them and they move to other areas with deeper waters. The animal center was very cool. Debbie held a baby alligator and even touched the tail end of a huge boa which is a feat in itself since she is terrified of snakes. Finally we got on the plane for an uneventful trip home. It was a great time! Check out the pictures here! Can’t wait to see what happens during the next twenty years!

Boat Pictures

Click the link below to see pictures of our poor boat:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/boatvirgins/sets/72157622294251953/

Some Links To Our Tradegy

http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/whidbey/wnt/news/57657252.html

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/57666752.html

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=3596&id=100000187214124&ref=nf

Our Boating Tragedy

First off, let me say that I am glad that both of us survived this latest adventure that we as a couple seem to be chocking up in our lives together. The omens that befell upon us as we began what was supposed to be a three day weekend of fun on our boat this Labor Day weekend, should have stopped us in our tracks, but didn’t. It actually turned onto four, as I got an unexpected day off on Friday after I begged for it. After a long, hot dry summer this year, the weather suddenly turned sour for the weekend, but we had no idea how bad it would be. As always, we checked the marine weather forecast on Thursday and saw that Saturday was going to be the worst day out of the three for boating weather and I was happy to get Friday off so we could get an early start on our long voyage to the San Juan Islands. There, we were supposed to hook up with with our good friends Larry, Lynette, Pam, and Rick. Larry and Lynette were taking their boat up and Pam and Rick were gong to be camping there at Snug Harbor Resort. Once we were all there, our other very good friends, Tori and Kevin who live on San Juan, were going to host us all at their home for a BBQ. We were looking forward to it immensely!!

Right out of home port, things went south. After fueling, we started our trek which would be about six hours to San Juan Island. Our main goal was to get there before dark and we were on track to make it. After just 45 minutes into it, we discovered we had radio problems. We could transmit and be heard, but couldn’t hear any replies. After some investigation, it was discovered we had a wire that was shorting out. It was workable and we continued, but in the process of finding that problem, we had pulled on a vaccum line that used to be connected to two gauges on our upper helm and were now connected together after one of the gauges failed. This was allowing air to get into our fuel line and our port engine started losing power occasionally before it would recover for awhile then lose power again. We decided to reluctantly turn back and go back to our dock. I made an attempt to fix the problem and thought I had achieved success. In the meantime we discovered Larry and Lynette had blown a hose on the way and started taking on water. They shut down the affected engine, called the Coast Guard for an escort, and headed back to their home port of Edmonds on one engine. Thanks to a very good mechanic, their repairs were underway. Now knowing we could not make San Juan before dark, we decided to head up to Edmonds and stay in their marina and would proceed Saturday morning provided the weather was acceptable. We headed out, things seemed good and we realized the power loss problem was not corrected. We were also experiencing it in both engines at this point. It wasn’t bad enough that we thought we might loose either one so we continued to Edmonds and arrived just as it was getting dark. I made the decision then, that if the problem could not be fixed, we would not continue. Early the following morning, Larry and I changed both fuel filters and did a very thorough wrapping with rescue tape of the vaccum line connection. We did a last minute listen of the NOAA marine forecast and it sounded a bit dicey especially at our destination where winds were expected to blow to 35 mph later that day. This is where I felt a gut feeling that I should have followed that we should not go, but we did.

Things were finally looking good. The weather wasn’t bad, seas were calm, both boats were fixed and running fantastic, it seemed all was on the upside. We headed up Saratoga Passage and were rounding the north part of Camano Island and into Skagit Bay when the weather turned and all hell broke loose. The wind had picked up and the waves had also. I radioed Larry and wondered if it was wise to continue. After some discussion, we decided to go through Deception Pass and see what the seas were like on the west side and make our decision then. It wasn’t but another fifteen minutes and the winds had increased twofold. Just as Deb and I realized this wasn’t a good idea, Larry had already turned around and we followed hoping to get over to Oak Harbor and into safe harbor. Once again we faced ever increasing winds and the wave swells were hitting at our port side at a good six feet. We had waves going over the bow and even over our upper helm which was making visibility difficult. We began to get scared and tried to compose ourselves to remain calm. It was all I could do to try and hit the waves at a 45 degree angle to the bow and keep Larry’s boat in sight. We had lost our navagational charts as our laptop was thrown off it’s perch and I had directed Debbie to shut it down and get it secured to prevent it from becoming damaged. I was going to just rely on visual navigation from here. We hadn’t realized it that Larry’s boat had hit something and they were radioing us to move to our port. Once again, the radio had stopped receiving! Soon after we heard a very loud bang that shuddered the boat and sent us sideways. I knew at that moment we were doomed! We immediately began to loose speed although the engines were still running at cruising RPM’s. I got on the radio to Larry that we had hit something but got no response. Even though it was not safe, I told Debbie to get down to the engine compartment to check if we were taking on water. She did and we were badly! I called a mayday on the radio and waited for a response and got none. I was being heard though and Larry was already communicating with the Coast Guard as they were down to one engine due to their hitting something and receiving damage. I decided to shut down the engines hoping that maybe we had blown a shaft or something and shutting down the engines would halt the water inflow. I turned the bilge pumps on and then checked the wiring on the radio and got it working. I then heard the haunting words from Debbie standing below knee deep in water in the cockpit that the boat was sinking and I had to get down and off the boat NOW! When I looked down and saw the whole stern of the boat below water I knew all was lost and jumped into the water!

A strange calm descended on both of us! Luckily both of us had life jackets on although I had never had time to secure mine so I was using mine as a float. While Debbie had been below, she had the where with all to grab my wallet and her Coach purse which she still clung to in the water. She hadn’t had tiome to zip it up and her wallet floated out and beyond reach. We swam as fast as we could away from the boat to prevent being caught in any type of swamping suction that might take us down with it. Both of us remained eerily calm and even cried as we saw our baby sinking beneath the water. Neither of us were scared for our lives at this point for reasons we will never know. The water was frigid, but neither of us were cold. Larry’s boat was getting further away from us, but we were somehow positive we were going to be rescued although the Coast Guard was nowhere in sight. Finally Larry dropped his dinghy and got over to us and hauled us into safety. We got his boat and us in the dinghy into the harbor where there was a multitude of people and fire aid waiting on the docks.

To put and end to this drawn out oratory, we came out of it safe but cold and bruised. Our boat and everything in it is gone. We lost two laptops, three cell phones, TV’s, VCR’s, tools, everything. All we had was the clothes on our backs, my wallet, our lives, very good friends Larry and Lynette who saved us and put us up on their boat, allot of very generous and caring boaters, sheriff, marina personnel, and vessel assist people who went out of their way to help us. We also want to thank Tori and Kevin Hillstrom who came down from San Juan with clothes and treats, and all of our friends in Snoqualmie and Facebook who were caring and were offering their help if needed. Posessions can be replaced, friends and good hearted people cannot. Now it’s time to begin the cleanup and salvage process. It will be an ugly and trying time. Bear with us and we love you all!

Another Vacation on the Boat

Well we just finished our second annual boating vacation (I presume it will be an annual event), and we had a great time. We went further from home in her than we have ever gone before. During most of the Spring we performed annual maintenance, changing oil and filters in both engines and the generator, checking fuel filters, belts, hoses, repaired a raw water impeller, checking the diesel furnace, replacing all the zincs, and even installed a new electric fresh water toilet. Work was also done to our dinghy. Due to the fact we have no davits and can’t hoist it up onto our larger boat, it sits in the water tied up to the rear of the big boat. It sat in the water through the winter until we finally found a trailer to haul it out on. By then the barnacles had created a crusty coating on the whole bottom. Nothing we could do on our own would bring it back to near new, so we had to take it to a boat detailer and had it scraped and bottom painted with anti fouling paint and it wasn’t cheap. Now we were ready for anything.

Our first stop of our cruising adventure was at Snug Harbor Resort on the west side of San Juan Island. It is a very quaint kind of rustic setting and very beautiful. Our good friends Larry & Lynette met us there on their boat. For some reason, even after all my docking experience thus so far, I looked like a rookie boater when I attempted to dock the boat! I had to end the first attempt and turn her around and I backed her in on the second. It was ugly and an embarrassment for me and even Debbie was appalled at the misadventure! I never repeated the travesty again! We settled in for some cocktails and then cruised our dinghys over to Roche Harbor for dinner. Another couple, the Hillstrom’s, met us there and we had a very enjoyable dinner together. They once lived near us in Snoqualmie and now live on San Juan Island enjoying the good life the island has to offer.

We then headed for our next destination which took us into Canada! We have never taken the boat to Canada before and it was an interesting venture going through customs. Larry & Lynette also went up with us. We were in Bedwell Harbor at the Poets Cove Resort and it was a beautiful place. We had to check in at the customs dock before we could get to our assigned slip. Only one person from each boat could go up to the customs office to check in and Debbie did that while I stayed with the boat. It was very windy there and many other boats were pulling in to check in also. Twice I had to catch the lines on boats pulling in next to Larry’s boat as the wind was shoving them right at it! Once we had cleared customs, then it was time to pull out and go to our slips! This was another docking adventure as I had to pull in right next to another boat and the wind was carrying me toward it as I came in. I had to try twice and it took six people on the dock and Larry on the guys boat to get me in without banging into him. I guess I did a pretty good job considering a boat tried seven times before me to get into the same slip and finally gave up. It was a white knuckle experience! We spent two nights there and had a great time. Larry & Lynette went home the morning of the second day and we were on own from there.

Next stop took us to the Ganges Harbor and the town of Ganges. It is the largest town in the Gulf Islands and was a fun place and a little crowded in the harbor when you come in. Not only do have the contingent of boaters going in and out, but multitudes of crab pots everywhere and sea planes landing and taking off all around you. As we pulled into the marina, Debbie heard someone calling her name from another boat. Just so happens, Debbie had worked with her in the past. Small world huh! Ganges is located on Salt Spring Island and we discovered a golf course near by, hmmmmmmmm……..imagine that! Although the weather turned gray and wet, we got on our bikes which we had brought along, and rode up to Salt Springs Country Club and played nine holes of golf. I always enjoy playing golf courses in different out of the way places. It was a pretty good course. Being that Ganges was an actual town unlike Poets Cove, we could shop and eat out and get stuff we needed for the boat and even managed to do a load of laundry. I think Debbie liked it the most!

Off we went to Sidney BC and got a slip in the Port of Sidney Marina. Now this was a nice marina! It was huge and much newer than the previous marinas. They had a nice shop, and laundry where you could watch TV or surf the net while you washed your clothes, and even showed movies at certain times. As a marina, this was my favorite. Sidney itself, seemed like any other town you’d find here in the States, but it was still nice. We didn’t have allot of time to do much here, dinner in a nice restaurant, took a night dinghy ride into the channel, a little shopping, etc. Then we headed back to the US.

Back to San Juan Island we went, this time heading into Friday Harbor. We have been to Friday Harbor before, but never in our own boat. It is a nice place and would be a great area to move to down the road. Tori again met us and we had a great visit. I listen to quite a few podcasts and one of them is called the Gastrocast hosted by Chef Neal Foley (the Podchef) He lives on Shaw Island which is right next to Friday Harbor. I had always wanted to visit the Podchef so I figured this would be a good time. I had contacted him ahead of time and we set up a meet on his farm. We took the dinghy over, including Tori to Shaw Island. He lives right by the water and has a dock we tied up to.  The Podchef and his family really live a different life than most. He raises most of the food they eat which includes vegetables, pigs, chickens, rabbits, milking cow, etc. He is also a trained chef and has worked in restaurants and privately and does catering today, blogs, does his podcast, and works the farm! He has a great family, a wife and four beautiful daughters (two sets of twins)! I find it funny that all that hard work he has to do and has no other male to help out, but I’m sure the girls do what they can. We toured his farm and he treated us to a wonderful lunch prepared from foods he raised on the farm. We had a great time and it was awesome to finally get to meet him!

After the visit we dinghy’d around to the north part of San Juan Island where Tori showed us their waterfront lot where they will build their future home. It is lovely and they will have great views. Hopefully they will have a mooring bouy that we could tie our boat up to. Next we did a drive around the island and visited Bert, their Corgi, and had dinner. It was a nice visit, but it was too bad Kevin was out of town and couldn’t be there. Our final leg of our trip took us back to Seattle for one last night before going back to our home dock in Tacoma. We went through beautiful Deception Pass where the tidal currents can get real strong and nasty. We went against a 6.6 knot current, but handled it just fine! The only hitch in our trip came just as we were about a half hour from Seattle when we looked back to check the dinghy and it was gone!!! The tow line had snapped! Using our binoculars, we located it about half a mile back just bobbing in the waves. We had to scramble back and get it somehow tied up to the boat because we were in the shipping lanes and two cargo ships were bearing down on us! They do not stop! We did manage to finally secure the dinghy so we could tow it to Seattle after many bumps, bangs, against the boat and Debbie’s arms (bruises to prove it). In Seattle we pulled into Bell Harbor Marina where Larry & Lynette were waiting. Just by chance, some friends that live near us in Snoqualmie, the Sheehans, were in Seattle so they came down also. We had a great time and went for dinner. Larry, Paul, and I had many Jaeger shots. I laughed so hard my sides ached. The next morning we went home and ended our cruising vacation. It was fun, exciting, adventurous, and full of happy times with my girl! You can find pictures and videos on the links to the right! Until next time!!

Boat Update

Well I thought I might try and shoot another post. It’ll have to be quick because Debbie and I are sitting in our local coffee shop Zoka’s with our laptops and she is already getting fidgety. If you have been following our “Goings On” section from our web page, you’ll know we have a boat and had an accident back on July 4th. Read a previous post here and find out about it. I think the one I copied from our last post on our web page has the info. Anyway, we were able to use it until the shop was ready to work on it. We took her in September 16th knowing it would take awhile. Debbie went by the other day to check on the progress and she is coming along nicely. It will still be another month or so, but we are being patient. We would rather have her done nice then being in a rush and getting a less desirable outcome. This accident, in it’s own twisted way, was the best thing that could have happened to us. Thank God no one was hurt!!! Our boat is 17 years old, but by the time we get it back, it will be almost totally refurbished except for the engines. We will have new gelcoat, carpeting in the salon, new teak woodwork, new headliner, outside lights, inside lamp, a brand new port side window, arch reworked and remounted, new curtain, gunwhale railing, and more. While the repairs are being done, I have bought a new inverter which they will install for us at no charge. Also since the haul out fees have been taken care of by the other party’s insurance, we are having our bottom scraped and repainted!! In essence, we will have an almost brand new boat!!! We will take pictures of our baby when she is done, but you can see the damage photos to compare when we do. I’ll get back with mor updates later, it’s time to head out!

From Our Website

frankenpus.jpg

This a typical post from our web site and is the latest. I decided to make it a blog post and our web site will slowly revert to this blog. Enjoy! I left the above picture up from the last update because our little guy Simon is still having thyroid problems. He had to have a first surgery to have his thyroid removed, but in some cases of thyroid disease in cats, some tissue remained and came back. We had to take him in for yet another surgery. He didn’t bounce back this time like he did from the first one, but he is still hanging in there the best he can. We have realized that he is way more resilient than we ever knew. We just hope he can recover fully and have a few more good years, but when his time comes, that’s it for pets for awhile. Now, for what has been going on at the Estate!

We have really been enjoying our boat this summer. Back in June we took or longest trip yet up to Roche Harbor in the San Juan Islands for a big boat gathering of Bayliner boat owners. There were over 200 boats there and Larry and Lynette also joined us. We had a great time, but the weather didn’t cooperate like we wanted and we got rained on. On the way, our friends Tori and Kevin just happened to be on San Juan Island where they have a vacation home. We let them know when we were cruising by and they snapped some pretty cool photos of us out in the sound. We had come across a very large pod of orca whales and they were cruising along side us. I have uploaded them, so check them out by clicking here. Now for the bad news, we had our fist boating accident ALREADY!!! It happened on the 4th of July. We had guests aboard which included Carl, one of our dock buddies, and Debbie’s sister Dani and her husband Terry and son Truxton. We had just been out on the water for less than half an hour and had navigated into the log boom by the Tacoma waterfront. We were cruising at idle speed amidst hundreds of other boats and was looking for a place to tie up and begin enjoying the festivities. Out of the blue, a 41 foot 18 ton sailboat under power came right at us. All I had time to do is hit the horn and tried to maneuver somewhat to an angle at him and got slammed. His bow pulpit with anchor plowed through our port side window, into our salon, ripped out the wood support beam and through the aft window. Then his bow hit the side of our fiberglass area above the hull. It was disastrous and did massive damage to our boat. Nobody was injured thankfully, but Debbie was really bummed that her baby was now wrecked. Then the asshole took off without even a word of concern. Debbie got on the radio and called the Coast Guard. They and the Tacoma Police showed up and apprehended the guy and we learned he was drunk out of his mind. He was hauled off to jail. Since the accident, we have been in contact with the actually owner of the sailboat who was his sister-in-law. She is fully covered with insurance and said the guy is a real loser and wasn’t even supposed to be on the boat. Her insurance company is covering all the repairs to our boat. We had a boat surveyor do a damage survey and the result was very extensive. We will be coming out of this with new windows, wood, carpet, upholstery, repairs to our flybridge and radar arch, new gelcoat and complete waxing of the fiberglass, and more. It is estimated that the damage assessment will be close to $50K and will be out of the water at least a month and probably more. I have damage pictures posted here, and when we get her back and all fixed, we’ll take some more pictures and post the results of the repair work.

But we have done some boating on a somewhat larger vessel just recently. At the end of September we went on a cruise to Alaska on the ms Oosterdam! Neither one of us had ever been on a cruise before and it was so much fun!!! We had a seven night cruise and made stops in Juneau, Hoonah, and Ketchikan. We love Alaska and I could live up there. Not too sure about Debbie though. You think it rains here, well it rains three times as much up in the Alaskan panhandle. But the scenery and beauty of the area is worth the liquid sunshine. We saw bears, whales, dolphins, eagles, and seals. I set up a picture album you can see by clicking this link. We also took a couple of short videos with Debbie’s camera. The first one is of Mendenhall Glacier which is just north of Juneau. The second one is Debbie dancing a Tlingit tribal dance while we were in Honnah. She is very cute.  Anyway we are back to reality and now will try to work off all the indulgence experienced while afloat!!!

Well, guess Debbie has been doing lately? Some of you may know this, but Debbie is Welsh by birth and since she arrived in the great US of A around 44 years ago, she has remained a resident alien. That designation has just changed as Debbie has now become a US citizen!!! She is very happy and proud and this has been a long time coming. She passed every question on her citizenship test. Now she can do what she has wanted to for years and that is VOTE!! I guess now, we will have to keep our own voting preferences to ourselves. We are all very proud of our new US citizen and a very cute one at that. Check out some pictures of her getting sworn in.

And now for some more exciting news, the day I have waited for for almost 15 years has come……….Alex has moved out of the house!!!!!!! He landed a great job in marketing with Milgard Windows down in Fife, which is near Tacoma. His new place is also in Fife which means his commute is only about five minutes. He found a very nice one bedroom apartment in a newer complex with all kinds of amenities. He is close to where Debbie works, so they can hook up for lunches and dinners from time to time and he is also closer to his gal Mo. it has been a win-win for everyone and now we finally are empty nesters….yaaaaaahoooooooooo!!!!!!! Now my first project coming in the future will be to completely rearrange and organize the garage now that all of his stuff is outta there. Let’s see how long it takes me to get around to doing it!!!

I should also give you a Ryan update before I close this latest chapter. He is doing great and working very hard. He had a job offer from a competing company that really wanted him. Instead of just bailing on his current company, he went in and had a face to face with the owner about the offer, the problems he saw, suggestions on making things better for him and all the other employees, and other gripes. Not only did the owner listen to him, but he got a huge pay raise in addition to making many changes that Ryan suggested. Now the company is making money hand over fist and everyone is happier and working much harder. He will be doing big things in the future. His boss took him and some of their important clients on a fishing trip to Alaska recently. Ryan had a great time and brought home a ton of fish and it was totally paid for and he didn’t even have to use his own vacation time. Just goes to show you how much Ryan has progressed in his career. He has his own place with his cats and dog and is enjoying the single life when he can.

I’ll finish up with my last bit sad news and let you go. On the morning of September 23rd we lost our very good friend Mike Campbell. Mike was my first friend made when I moved up to Seattle back in 1990. He was a very good guy, very generous with himself with others too. We had a great time with him and his wife Jane, getting together over beers and solving the world’s problems. He will be missed very much. Good bye Mikey, we will miss you very much! Until next time, thanks for visiting!!!! See ya on the web!!!! Ahoy!!!!!

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