November 2006 – April 2007

Winter Log

According to the calendar, Spring began this week which means that we have officially survived a winter on the boat in the Pacific Northwest! Back home in Big Bear, Spring generally means that storms are coming to an end and rather than only having four or five days of sunshine per week, they will now have an average of six days of sunshine per week; in Mexico it means that the weather will begin to creep into the 90’s, and in the Pacific Northwest we think that means that the rainy, cloudy days just have more daylight to them?? What it does mean to us, is that we will begin making our way up the Inside Passage to Alaska at the end of next month – i.e. We will reap the rewards of living on the boat in Washington during one of their worst winters on record! We had a relatively warm partly sunny day yesterday which was responsible for producing the inspiration to write yet another long overdue update for our log.

Knowing that there is so much to see inland and that we would be encountering some nasty weather on the boat over the winter, in November we decided to pick up our car from California and bring it back up north so that we could explore some of Washington and Canada’s interior. We stretched our road trip from Washington to Big Bear and back to just short of a month while visiting friends and family along the way. It was a real treat being able to spend Thanksgiving with daughter Keri, her boyfriend Brendon and their friends in Lake Tahoe. It was there that the cold/snowy weather began and remained with us the rest of the trip. When we returned to our boat, on Whidbey Island, at the end of November, she had 4” of snow on her and there were icycles on the windows, both inside and out! Up until this point we thought perhaps we could get away with a few little electric heaters to keep the boat warm for the winter…. after all we are used to living at 8,000 feet, it couldn’t be that bad! We piled about 97 blankets on our bed that night and the next morning Ken promptly went to work installing our new/used diesel heater. It’s kinda like having a wood stove on board – very cool & very warm!

In December we pulled Dreamweaver out of the water in Port Townsend with plans to do some maintenance work on her, extend our hull by 4 feet (which also provides for a built in swimstep,) extend the keel by 18” so that our prop would be protected, and to sand and paint her bottom. Initially we thought we would be “on the hard” for about six weeks. “No problem, we’ll be back in the water cruising before you know it” Ken says. The 4” of snow on the boat at Thanksgiving should have been our first clue that this was going to be a rough winter in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. After about a month of windy, blustery, cold days, Ken built an enclosure around the back of the boat so that things could progress a little quicker. The bad weather did give us a chance to work on some indoor things that we were never able to finish before leaving for Mexico last year. For much of the winter we had a table saw, chop saw, skill saw, router, workbench, etc. - all in what was once our salon area. There is nothing quite like living and preparing meals in a work shop full of saws, power tools and sawdust:) While the boat was out of the water, we were not able to use the shower or restroom on board. It meant that we had to climb up and down a 10 foot ladder every time we needed to use the restroom – no matter what time of the day or night it was - no matter what the weather conditions were! We felt fortunate that we were close to the showers/restrooms while we were in the yard; however, they were closed for a month for remodeling, and during that time we had the pleasure of climbing up and down the ladder to use an outhouse and traveling 2 miles to the neighboring marina for showers. That was incentive enough for us to get our work done and get back in the water ASAP! Life's little challenges is what keeps it fun and exciting:) All boat owners know that boat projects notoriously take 2-3 times longer and cost 2-3 times more than originally projected! Between that little fact and the uncooperative weather, we spent all winter in the yard with Dreamweaver up on stilts. Our six weeks turned into four months!

Aside from the weather, we found Port Townsend (PT) to be an absolutely charming town with warm, interesting, and friendly people everywhere we turned. If we could learn to do PNW winters we could easily settle here. We spent a lot of time with friends Tom & Kathy who live in PT, and whom we met in Hawaii when Ken sailed over in the spring of 2005. This winter we were able to connect with several of the boats we cruised with in Mexico. Christmas was spent with John & Gaye (from Maestra) on Whidbey Island, along with their family and friends Curt, Tina & Jim, and for New Year’s we traveled to Panorama Ski Resort in Alberta, Canada to stay with our friends Joan, Roger and Kimberly (from New Paige) and went skiing. We also got to see Linh and Teal from Savannah, and Patrick, Susan and Jonathan from Paloma this winter. A regular reunion I tell you!

PT’s full-time population is about 8,000 and it had all the attributes of small town living. I joined an athletic club for a while and we even took a few swing dance lessons, where we also met some interesting friends, Mary and Jerry. Anyone who has spent any time in boat yards know that you find some interesting boats and some memorable characters – here was no exception. Ken (Captain Chaos) was definitely able to relate with many of them and had no trouble fitting right in and adding to the list of PT boat yard characters! We grew very fond of Kenny, from the boat “Ila J” (named after his wife) who was an inspiration to us. He is around 75, has a twinkle in his eye, and smile lines that cover his face. He’s also crazy enough to have extended the stern of his boat, the way we did, and built a giant bulbous bow, like a torpedo that cuts thru the water. He and Ila have traveled up and down the coast to Alaska many times and are going up again this year about the same time we are. We are hoping to hook up with them during our trip.

Another of the more memorable moments we had this winter included a week-end at a nice hotel and spa in the Seattle area that Kim & Keri gave us as a Christmas gift. Living in Big Bear for 35 years and now living on a boat, doesn’t necessarily lend itself to going to big health and beauty spas often. In fact it was mine and Ken’s first experience and thought it would be a really cool way to spend an afternoon and a fun thing to experience together. We were given a tour of the spa and then a woman showed me the ladies spa area while a young man showed Ken the men’s area. She gave me a towel, slippers and a robe then proceeded to show me the lockers, showers, hot tubs, sauna etc.. She went on to explain that no one wore clothes in this area and asked if I had any problem with that. I quickly answered, in a mature tone, “of course not.” Well, here I am a 55 year old grown woman and realized that I had not been in a place where heaps of other women ran around naked since I had been in a high school locker room… and then everyone was always trying to cover themselves with a 2 x 3 foot towel! It was while we were in the spa that we realized that the spa was located in Korea town, as we were about the only Caucasians there. Well I must tell you that it was my first experience running around naked with 30 other naked Korean ladies! I thought to myself, at least my flat chest didn’t stand out in that crowd! After an hour or so Ken & I rejoined each other and had a relaxing, introspective and fun filled experience at the spa.

I had an unexpected flight home to Big Bear in February to attend services for a close family friend, Jared Landaker, who was killed in Iraq on February 8th. The helicopter he was piloting was shot down and he perished along with six others. He had been selected to attend an elite “top gun” type of training school and was due to come home the following week. When the kids were growing up our families seemed to be inseparable for several years and our hearts are just breaking for his family. Jared was a very special young man, who wore his Marine uniform proudly in addition to being our town hero. Over 500 people attended his service. Freedom comes with a high price tag and I hope none of us ever take it for granted. If you Google “Jared Landaker” you too can see what a truly remarkable young man he was.

On a happier note, we attended a most unusual wedding in Rossland, Canada at the end of February. The wedding was held on the top of Red Mountain, a very steep ski area in British Columbia. Tash and Ian are from New Zealand but are now living in Canada and both are excellent boarders. About 40 of us gathered under an outcropping of trees, in blizzard like conditions at the top of the mountain – including his 75+ year old parents and her 87 year old grandfather (who all flew in from New Zealand!) She was dressed in a beautiful white jumpsuit and look like a regular “Bond” girl! It was quite fun and an unforgettable day was had by all.

Ken did a great job extending the hull, swim step and keel. We re-launched Dreamweaver the first part of April and headed down to Seattle for the Christening of Jo & Adie’s new boat, a 43 foot Selene. It is a gorgeous boat with all the bells and whistles on it! The Christening was held at the Seattle Yacht Club. We were able to stay there on our boat as well, using our Big Bear Lake Yacht Club reciprocal privileges? Most of the family and many old friends flew in to attend. We will be traveling buddies with Jo & Adie this year as we head up to Alaska and then back down to Mexico at the end of the year. Going thru the locks in Seattle and into Lake Union and Lake Washington was great. There is something really special about taking your boat right thru the middle of a large city with skyscrapers and the hustle bustle all around. There are wonderful boat houses that line much of the shoreline. We passed Tom Hanks boathouse, from Sleepless in Seattle and on our tour of Lake Washington passed Bill Cates’s amazing house and compound.

All in all we had a memorable winter and are really, really, really ready to do what we traveled all the way from Manzanillo, Mexico to do - see Alaska! We will be starting our five month trip from Washington, thru Canada, and up the Inside Passage to Glacier Bay Alaska the first of May and we promise to do updates more often. We would love to hear from you too!

Love and Dreams...
Ken & Dottie

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