We Did It!

“WE DID IT, WE DID IT, WE DID IT”! That was all I could think as Cindy pulled our docklines at Shilshole and handed them to me at 11:30 on Friday, January 28th. We were only headed to Port Townsend for 3 months of hard labor on the boat, but the feeling that we actually pulled it off and were going to get to go cruising finally hit as we backed out of the slip that morning. It was an uneventful trip north, but typical of Puget Sound there was just enough wind on our nose to be annoying. We spent the weekend at Boat Haven waiting to pull the mast on Monday morning. It was all I could do to keep that silly grin off my face as we kept thinking it was really going to happen afterall. Six years we’ve planned and saved and worried and worked and studied and learned. Seeing that all come to an end was an amazing feeling.

DSCN2276_MediumNow we’re inside the Navy Building at Fleet Marine in Port Townsend. We’ve been working for a month on the boat and we’re still in the “destruction” phase. We have 3/4 of the caulking stripped from the teak decks, and all the portlights pulled and ready for refinishing. I’m going to start stripping the stain and oil from the interior teak tomorrow, hoping to have a nicely varnished interior in another 2 months. Rob has lots and lots of new “schtuff” to install in the next two months, including solar panels, wind generator, new electronics, new galley, new heater, etc, etc.

Our “plan” is to have the boat done and head north May 1st. We’re working hard and hoping for the best.

Point Hudson is here

Ready, Set, NO

It took until mid July before we both finally admitted that we were not going to make it out of Seattle this year. Our refit took so much longer than we expected. The boat’s still not back together. But the work that has been done is awesome. And we have a project schedule that says we’ll be done by late winter. But the good news is that Tim & Cindy got delayed also (likely not so good for them, but good for us). So we’ll be in Port Townsend another winter at Point Hudson. I’ve gone back to Infospace for some more contracting while Rob finishes the boat. As much as going back to work this soon was not appealing, Infospace is such a great team of folks, and I’m happier working there than working on the boat. We’ll keep the site updated with refit pictures and info as we get finished.

Our plan is to leave Port Townsend April 1st and head for Juneau. We’re trying to get into Glacier Bay and then turn south and come outside Vancouver Island to San Francisco. So I’ll post more logs when we’re on our way next spring.

On Our Way

leavingThey were all standing there when we left just like we had imagined and hoped they would be. All of our sibs (except TB, Lisa & Lynn), Mom & Michael and Rob’s parents. It was incredible. After 8 years of planning, a 9 month delay, and 4 solid days of partying we were finally getting “off the dock” for good. Of course they were also all teasing us about not having any instruments that worked and going aground in Oak Harbor our first day out, but that’s to be expected. And as we all knew they would be, the instruments were hooked up and working an hour before we needed them.

So here we are – finally “on our way”. And I think we’re on our way because our family always believed in us, even if they did think we were more than a little crazy.

Later this week we’ll meet up with Tim & Cindy in Sucia and head for Canada. There’s not much to report right now, except the list of things that weren’t hooked up before we left. But we’ve finally realized that we’ll be working on this boat for the rest of our lives, so why let it slow us down now?

For now, life is very very good on Yohelah….

Shilshole Bay Marina is here

Made It To Canada

I can’t believe we’re already into week 3. The bad news is we’re not getting very far very fast. The good news is we have at least made it to Canada! And the boat’s in much better shape than it was when we left (we now have a working radar and gps, and there’s no more stuff we have to cart out of the forward cabin before we go to sleep at night). We’re in Nanaimo this morning, expecting a good weather window tomorrow morning to cross the Straits of Georgia over to the Canadian mainland. After leaving Shilshole we spent 3 days in Oak Harbor with my pop, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Then off to Sucia, where we caught up with Tim & Cindy, but couldn’t get off the boat because the fuel for the outboard was too old and it wouldn’t start (oops, forgot that one on the list). Off to Roche harbor for a few days to get the outboard fixed and new fuel. Then we left Tim & Cindy and spent 4 days in Sidney at the Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club. What a nice place, but really horrid weather. Spent a day being tourists in Victoria, which was fun.

From there we sailed (even had a spinnaker day!) up Trincomali Channel to a little harbor on the north end of Thetis Island. Then yesterday our first of many passages waiting for slack tide through narrows with 9 knots of current. Today we have a long long list of chores, as this is the last big town we’ll see for a long time. Hopefully this weekend we’ll be in Princess Louisa Inlet. Tim & Cindy had to go back to Port Townsend to get some wood work done on Masquerade, so we’re hoping to catch up with them in a couple of weeks.

I don’t know where the time goes, but life is very very busy on Yohelah…

Nanaimo is here

Princess Louisa Inlet


princesslouisa“Securite, securite, securite. This is the sailing vessel Yohelah transiting Malibu Rapids outbound.” That’s the call you make on the VHF to alert vessels on the opposite side of the rapids that you’re coming through. With an 8 knot current, slack tides of only minutes, and a very narrow and shallow channel at low tide, the transit is a bit nerve wracking the first few times you make it. And you can’t see the boats on the other side of the winding channel when you start. The trip in on Sunday was a piece of cake, with no other boats waiting to transit. Yesterday when we came out, though, was another story. After I made the announcement and we were committed to the channel we heard a motor vessel announce his arrival and transit inbound. Crap. I ran downstairs and called him twice more with no response. Too late to turn around. And if we missed this slack we’d have to wait another day since the afternoon slack was so late in the day and there wasn’t an anchorage to be found within 30 miles outside the rapids.

Of course all’s well that ends well since he was just a little boat and flipped a big u-turn when he got to the channel and saw us in the middle of it (we wouldn’t even hardly have noticed running him over). All of our friends who have been this far north over the years are used to this now, as we will be after a couple more. Our next chance is Seymour Narrows north of Campbell River – when we transit it on Sunday it’ll be the slack between a 12 knot flood and a 14 knot ebb.

We’ve finally started to feel like we’re getting into “cruising mode” now. An arrival into a new town means taking care of chores like grocery shopping, laundry, website updating. And of course there’s an occasional meal out. Today when we had planned to cross back across the Straits of Georgia and heard a stinky weather forecast we decided to sit tight until the weather was better tomorrow.

The best news is that Tim & Cindy should be in Campbell River when we get there tomorrow afternoon. We’re going to start putting some miles under our keels and getting north. We’ve got approved cruising permits for June 1st in Glacier Bay, so it’s time to stop dawdling and get up there!

Today, life is quiet on Yohelah while we wait for better weather tomorrow….

Princess Louisa Inlet is here

Seymour Narrows

“Have you heard about the local fishing boat that went down in Seymour Narrows last Wednesday at 7 a.m.?” That was the information being passed on by the woman in the boat next to us as she helped us with our lines when we tied to the dock in Campbell River. And it was told again by two locals who came to chat with Rob while he put the boat up. Big news in Campbell River when the locals have trouble with the narrows. The crew came out alive, although the boat was trashed having been on it’s side and filled with seawater. Of course I couldn’t stand it and finally checked the tide tables to find exactly what I’d hoped to – the max current in Seymour Narrows that Wednesday morning was a 13 knott ebb at 8:00 am. We were carefully planning another transit at slack water and knew we’d be fine. But it’s still enough to make you be very careful and appreciate the need to time your travels.

Tim and Cindy made it in on Sunday and took a few days of well deserved rest time. Rest time being, of course, time to work on the boat a bit. Rob & Tim got the new high output alternators installed on the engines, so we both now recharge in much shorter time than before.

Yohelah and Masquerade at Pearce IslandsWednesday we headed north through Seymour Narrows in calm waters at slack tide and into Johnstone Straits. The weather was so nice and the current so favorable we pushed on long past our planned stop. On Thursday the wind came up a bit, but was behind us, as was the current again. We stopped in a little island group called Pearce Islands at the bottom of the Broughton Archipeligo and spent Friday enjoying the sun and watching the population of enormous eagles around our anchorage.

Friday night the Canadian weather folks forecast a low pressure system moving ashore, so we zipped over to Port McNeil yesterday morning and are sitting it out today. Tomorrow we’ll head for a little anchorage called God’s Pocket at the mouth of Queen Charlotte Strait to cross Queen Charlotte Sound and head north. This is a crossing we have to have a good weather window to make, and a high pressure system is forecast to build tomorrow, so it’s time to make a run for it.

Today we’re making plans for a big push north while we get a little rest in Port McNeil……

Port McNeil is here

North To Prince Rupert

“Don’t cross Queen Charlotte Sound if the height of the waves at Sea Otter Buoy is more than one meter”. That’s the advice given to us by our friends Jim & Barbara who made this trip last year. It’s also the advice in the cruising guide.

We got up at 4:00 am in a little anchorage at the south end of Queen Charlotte Sound to check the latest weather forecast. A high had built in, but a low with gale force winds was pushing through, and it had slowed down. If we didn’t make the crossing that day we could possibly be stuck for days waiting for the low to pass by. The forecast was perfect for the crossing, since the wind would be a light south easterly (behind us) and the gale wasn’t coming through until night time. But the seas at Sea Otter Buoy were already 2+ meters. Rats. What to do?

That was over a week and nearly 300 miles ago. And indeed, we did make the crossing that day in very big seas with no wind. It was quite a ride, but of course we had confidence our little boats would take good care of us. And did a gale blow through? We have no idea because we were tucked in tightly in Fish Egg Inlet and never felt even a breeze.

Today we’re heading for Prince Rupert after waiting out another big blow yesterday. This one, though, we did notice. The inlet we’re in this morning is not nearly as protected as Fish Egg was. But our anchors held tight and we rode it out without too much of a worry.

The last week has been filled with incredibly beautiful passages in deep channels that are long and narrow between high mountains. We’re truly heading up the inside passage now and the scenery is spectacular. But unlike the cruise ships, we get to (have to) make stops along the way, most of which are quite interesting.

We stopped one morning in a FirstButedale Nations village to take on water and found the folks incredibly charming and helpful. Of course it didn’t hurt to have our Native logo and boat name. That night we were on the dock in a ghost town called Butedale that was literally falling into the sea. Lou the caretaker was a gracious host and we had an impromptu potluck at his house with another sailor headed north. Butedale was formerly a fish packing community housing up to 2,000 people in the summer. Now Lou watches over what’s left to keep vandals out. The power house is a trip – it’s a concrete building built over a downhill stream, sucking water through a turbine. The generators don’t work anymore, so the turbine is still spinning the rotor of the inoperative generator, and is attached to a pulley system that spins an alternator the size of the ones on our boat, which provides power to Lou.

The next afternoon we were at Bishop Bay Hot Springs on the dock alone enjoying the incredible springs and sunshine. About 3:00 we were gloating about how wonderful it was going to be having the whole place to ourselves overnight. Of course, about a half hour later a charter group of 6 power boats comes in. In the end we were sharing the tiny little dock with three power boats and a commercial shrimping boat, and there were four other boats out on anchor. So much for “all to ourselves”. But we still got to go back up to the hot springs after dark with Tim & Cindy, wine and candles. Very cool.

Today we’ll stop in Prince Rupert to do some much needed laundry and get some rest. Then the last big crossing of open water (Dixon Entrance) into Alaska. It’s a 90 mile trip to Ketchikan, and legally we can only stop in Foggy Bay on the way across, so we have two long days to get to customs and check in. We’re still trying to get to Glacier Bay by June 1st, and may just make it afterall.

Life is full of interesting stops on Yohelah…..

Prince Rupert is here

Made It To Alaska

Yippee – we made it to Alaska finally!!! We’re going to slow down a bit and start enjoying ourselves more. We’ve decided to skip northern BC on the way back down and do an offshore passage back to the outside of Vancouver Island. That’ll give us plenty of time to enjoy Alaska. We changed the entry date on the Glacier Bay permit to June 6th, so we’ve got a little more time to get up there. Then we’ll have several weeks to actually see the sights, do some kayaking, and enjoy the anchorages.

We’ve accomplished the first big milestone of the trip – now it’s time to relax and enjoy…..

Amazing Alaska

Alaska has been amazing. The difference between the anchorages here and the stops we made on the way up here is incredible. And seeing all the humpbacks and orcas is just icing on the already delicious cake.


After leaving Ketchikan we transited the Wrangell Narrows up to Petersburg. It was one of the passages I’d been worried about while I was trip planning. We have to share a 22′ deep, 300′ wide channel with the commercial traffic. There are 53 buoys in the 23 mile passage. You begin near the end of the flood tide and ride the current to the middle of the channel, then hope you timed it right and when the current changes to an ebb you ride that back out to the other end. Petersburg was a nice little town at the end with very friendly folks (and no cruise ships) who still earn a living in the commercial fishing trade. We made a quick overnight stop to get water and headed north again in the morning.

The next two stops were beautiful. Portage Bay had miles of beach to walk. Sanborn Canal was a quiet little cove where we hid out from a passing low pressure system. It had a stream at the head that we explored in the dinghy (and rain) for a mile or more hoping to spot some moose or bears – but no luck. The boat that was in there when we arrived was Wandr’n Star – it had been across the harbor in Point Hudson from us all winter long. Gary & Dorothy are also headed to Mexico via Alaska.


“Go slow, don’t hit the big ones, and don’t back up.” That was the advice given to me on the VHF yesterday by the commercial tour boat coming out of Tracy Arm as we were headed in. We had Tim & Cindy and Gary & Dorothy on Yohelah, and everyone but me was on the bow pushing ice bergs (bergy bits) away with pike poles and boat hooks as I drove through them. Exciting? Absolutely! And the reward was good; South Sawyer Glacier was spectacular. We were still a mile away from the base of it when we turned around, but that’s as close as we were willing to push to as the ice kept getting thicker and thicker.

Now we’re on to Juneau in a couple of days (where I’ll send this update from). Then to Glacier Bay on Tuesday for our up close and personal visit with the glaciers. The ice in Glacier Bay shouldn’t be packed in like it is in Tracy Arm, so we can get closer and see the glaciers better. And we’ll get the kayaks out and do some paddling if the weather’s nice.


After that, we just don’t know yet. We want to make it to Sitka. Our friends Steve & Elsie are enroute headed this way and we want to catch up with them at some point. But what we will know is that we’ll be officially headed south!

Today life is an exciting adventure on Yohelah……

Tracy Arm is here

Amazing Glacier Bay


We anchored in front of Reid Glacier for 2 days. We had gone ashore at the end of the bay for a walk in the morning until the bear tracks looked too big and too fresh. That afternoon we beached the dinghy and climbed over the boulders to get to the base of the glacier at the head of the bay. The enormity of the glacier was amazing, as were the colors in the parts that were actively calving. Rob was taking pictures and I was scanning the glacier with the binoculars. We were on the north side of the glacier. I panned the binocs to the south side and suddenly the lenses were filled with two grizzlies – mom and cub. Ohmygosh (not what I really said)! The dinghy was a half hour scramble over the boulders, and the bears were moving in the opposite direction away from us. But I could not convince myself I didn’t need to be off that beach immediately. Rob continued to snap pictures of the glacier as I hauled butt for the dinghy.

Of course the entire event turned into an incredible photo op for my husband. We motored over to tell Tim & Cindy and we all headed to the beach. Mom and child were not bothered a bit by Rob & Cindy’s cameras, and we got far closer to a grizzly than I ever want to be again.


That was only one of the many animal sightings we enjoyed in Glacier Bay. We were totally blessed with spectacular sunny weather the whole week. The sounds the glaciers make is incredible when they calve off and fall into the sea – truly an amazing sight.

We were at our furthest point north before turning south to head to Mexico. It was Margerie Glacier at the head of Tarr Inlet. After the cruise ship left it was just us and Masquerade to enjoy the glacier. We rafted up and had a champagne toast from the bottle my sister had given us, celebrating the fact we had made it to Glacier Bay and that we were now heading south!

The highest animal count for a single day included 3 grizzlies, an eagle on an iceberg, a humpback whale, 9 mountain goats, a sea otter and 16,000 mosquitoes. Truly better than any trip we could have imagined.


Now we’re headed for Sitka, where we’ll stay awhile. We’ve got to get Yohelah ready for an offshore passage, and there are some unfinished jobs from Port Townsend that can’t be put off any longer.

Our trip to Glacier Bay was so incredible. Today on Yohelah we’re heading south………

Glacier Bay is here