Saturday July 6th – The weather was changing our plans quickly. Rain was forecasted for the next 10 days north of Nanaimo which is where we were headed. So, after trying to rent a car and get it picked up (turned into a very long ordeal) we decided to drive to Wild Play, a zip line and ropes course adventure park.
We booked the standard and advanced ropes course, a zip line tour, the WTF (What To Fear) jump and Skylar convinced me to do the Primal Swing with him. The place was huge, and much more elaborate than I expected.
First up was the ropes course that had some cool zip lines along the way. We started out on the easier course and worked our way up to the advanced. Ava was especially super excited. After some challenges getting her safety line moving through the course, she rocked it without any fear. It was super fun and a lot more of a challenge than we expected.
Then the WTF Jump. After climbing a 60’ ladder up a tree to a little perch, you connect your harness to a mechanism that allows you to free fall for 20’ or so then starts to slow you down as you near death on the earth’s surface. The tough part is actually jumping off, but Skylar did it without much problem then Ava was even super brave and jumped off without even much hesitation. They both said it was super fun! I was next. It took a little more for me to make the leap but after a minute or so, I did it.
Then Julie. This was not going to be easy. The guy supervising the jump defiantly had his work cut out for him! She got to the top, then said she was coming down. We all said no way; the only way down is for you to jump! There was a whole lot of conversation up there that I couldn’t completely understand but I knew exactly what was being said. “is this safe? What if this, what if that? No, I can’t do it, I’m really scared.” We all urged her on from the bottom as she told the supervisor “I’m not trying to be rude, but can you please just be quiet” referring to his countdown to get her to jump. Finally, eyes shut tight, she jumped off and landed softly in the dirt. Hart pounding, she said that was the worst thing she has ever done.
Then the Primal Swing Skylar and I signed up for. Things were looking a little more freaky than I signed up for. A bridge, high above a canyon, complete with a river flowing below, would be the launch point for the swing. You swing two at a time, tied together but hanging in your own harness. As we approached the launch point two young girls were just about to get shoved off the edge. We watched them swing off and that’s when I started to feel the butterflies. But it wasn’t our turn yet. Two guys in their 20’s were next, just in front of us. I asked them if they were scared and they both said, “no not at all, it’s going to be fun”. Ok, I thought if these guys are not scared, I can do this. Then I watched the process of them getting harnessed in and on the edge of the bridge. They said it’s a 150’ free fall before the lines of the swing catch you and swing you back up toward the sky again. These two 20 something tough guys turned into frightened little dogs. One of them literally couldn’t stop shaking and the other nervously asked the attendant a bunch of questions that sounded like – “Is this Ok, are you sure this is hooked up right, my harness seems loose, wait a minute, not yet……….”. Then the once happy go lucky men turned quivering puppies were literally pushed off the edge.
All of that literally pushed me off the edge and I turned to Skylar and said, “I can’t do it, I’m too old and I just plain don’t want to”. He called me a few names. I really did feel bad for him, but it just was not fun, way too much anxiety and I had no idea what I was really signing up for when I originally said I would do it. I completely wimped out.
Julie and Ava were watching from a view point down below. I marched down there with resolve in my decision. Julie was FaceTiming her dad so he could see the drop and she had no idea Skylar and I came down. She did a double take and said, “I thought you were up there, what are you doing”? “I can’t do it, I’m not going to do it, I’m 44 years old and I don’t want to”. I said with authority. She called me a wimp too, but I didn’t care!
Skylar got lucky and still got to do it. One of the workers, a cute young girl just a little older than Skylar, went with him. Skylar looked excited, and I was happy for him, but that sure didn’t make me feel any better. He got a little nervous too just before shoving off but pulled through and loved it!
All and all a great fun day at Wild Play. Julie conquered her fear on the WTF jump and I totally wimped out on the Primal Swing just to have a young cute girl take my place.
Friday July 5th – After 4 nights at Roche we pointed the bow north headed for Nanaimo in Canada. If you are cruising north through the Gulf Islands you have to go through a passage called Dodd Narrows to get to Nanaimo. This is a narrow passage where the current can run up to 8 knots and it’s best if only one boat at a time passes through the narrowest spot.
We timed our arrival for slack tide so we wouldn’t have much current, but so does everyone else. It was packed with boats lined up trying to go through the passage both north and south. Its good practice to announce your passage through the narrows on the radio so any opposing traffic knows what you are doing. As we got close a tugboat with a log boom announced they were headed through in about 10 minutes. I couldn’t see them, but we waited while the boats stacked up behind us. Soon they came through, all squirrely in the current. All the boats hugged the shoreline just south of the narrows to give them plenty of room. After it was clear we announced our passage north on the radio and headed through. About 20 seconds later another boat announced they were heading north as well, no big deal, they must be behind us. Then 3 seconds later they corrected that saying they were heading south. At this point we were committed to the passage and I really didn’t have any idea what they were actually doing, so I got on the radio and told them not to go through until we were clear. Thankfully we did not encounter another boat and I still have no idea who they were.
We hadn’t cleared customs yet and never have in Nanaimo, so we searched for the customs dock which ended up being full of boats. The fuel dock was right next to customs and the nice customs agent at the dock allowed us to clear customs there and fuel up at the same time. Once cleared, we made our way to our assigned slip in the Port Authority Marina. The weather continued to suck (and the 10-day forecast wasn’t any better) so we decided to stay 2 nights in Nanaimo.
Tuesday July 2nd. About 10am the rain started to come down and at the same time we vacated our slip at Roche Harbor. Roche Harbor said they don’t take reservations for the 4th and they kick everyone out of the marina on the 2nd then it’s a 3-night minimum. Fortunately, we were able to get on the wait list the day before, but we had no idea if we would be able to get back in.
With the rain pouring down we anchored in the bay and waited for Roche to call us back in. A couple hours went by before we started hearing other boats calling in on the radio with “reservations”. Never did figure out what the deal was, except that it sounds like if you were “in” somehow with Roche, or you have been coming there for years on the 4th, you could make reservations. We were not so lucky.
5pm we finally got a call that they had really good spot for us. They put us on the outside of the breakwater with 2 other boats. The best view in the house for watching the fireworks! Turns out we were lucky!
We spent the next fun filled 3 nights at Roche surrounded by some seriously festive boaters. They were all decked out, especially on the 4th, almost everyone was dressed up in celebration of Independence Day! Super fun to see, but we should have been much more prepared. We did the loop hike a couple more times, but our biggest adventure was a 10.2-mile hike Julie, Ava and I did around Lake Roche Harbor. We didn’t think it would be that long but once we were in it there was no turning back. Ava did especially well, the girl can hike!
We had a nice time meeting up with some friends who were staying at the Seattle Yacht Club docks, then at 10:30pm the show started. The fireworks barge was right in front of our boat. It was incredible, we sat on top of our boat with an unobstructed view of a long, loud and brightly lit show. Super fun and a great way to celebrate Independence Day!
Monday July 1st, 5:50am Julie and leave the Edmonds dock to our stern and head north for the start of a very long day! We have to make it to the south end of the Swinomish Channel before the extremely low -3 tide. At 9:15am we arrive at a zero tide and start through the channel. Our depth sounder read 5.4’ in some spots, thankfully we were not any later or we may have been grounded!
LaConner Maritime Services was waiting to haul us out of the water to have our underwater lights fixed. While the boat was on the hard, we had a great lunch at Seeds. The crew at American Tug installed new lights and fixed a bunch of other little things in quick fashion. So quick in fact that at 2:30 we were back in the water heading north again to Roche Harbor. Another 3.5-hour cruise and we arrived at Roche just after 6pm, a very long day! Our plan was to stay at Roche for the 4th but they don’t take reservations and they have a 3-night minimum which means if you get in on the 2nd you have to stay until the 5th. We got a slip assignment for the 1st but they said we would have to leave in the morning and anchor out until our name was called off the waiting list. Their system is crazy, we asked multiple people how it works, and everyone gave us a different answer.
We were all very tired but after dinner we did the “Loop Hike” to get some exercise then early to bed.
Sunday June 30th – The last few days have been a scramble. We spent the middle part of June at our house in Palm Desert trying to get everything setup for new landscaping to be installed this summer. Then back home we only had 4 days to get ready to take off on the boat for the next 2 months. On top of everything I got a sinus infection which almost made me useless. But after I finally gave in to antibiotics things started to speed up.
Without much time to prep the boat, Julie decided to “just buy everything” in the way of food. And she wasn’t kidding, the boat filled up fast. Skylar looked around while we were stocking the boat and said, “if we were to sell the boat right now, with all this food onboard, we could get twice as much for it”!
We did it. At 2:22pm (yes it really was 2:22 and not planned) we cast off from the boathouse in Tacoma headed for Edmonds.
A beautiful cruise until just north of Seattle a mass of sailboats were all under sail going mostly east and west while we were going north. There was no avoiding them, so I slowed the boat to 8 knots and kept what I thought was a watchful eye. Boats would cross my path in front of me and then you would think you were in the clear, but sailboats have a way of tacking, I guess. I don’t know what happened but all of the sudden there was a sailboat about 100ft away on a collision course with us, no idea why I didn’t see him. Scared the living @#$% out of me, and Julie just hid. He turned last second, and I did the same to avoid a collision. Totally my fault, not only did he have the right of way because he was under sail, but he would have had the right of way even if he wasn’t. No excuse, I jacked that up, and Skylar will never let me forget it!
Arrived in Edmonds, ego shattered, but a beautiful night on the docks.
Tuesday August 28th – We abandoned the big city for 2 more nights in the wilderness. Leaving Seattle, we headed for Blake Island just a short distance away.
It was nice to get back to the outdoors for the last part of our trip. Actually, it’s a tradition. We always leave Seattle after school shopping and stay a couple nights at Blake before heading home.
After arriving in a snug little spot on the dock we hung out watching all the boats come and go. We spent the next couple days just relaxing on the beach, doing some fishing and prepping the boat for our arrival home. But of course, Blake wouldn’t be complete without our annual hike all the way around the island which is about 5 miles.
Thursday August 30th – After 53 days on the boat it was time to go home. You get used to it. It becomes your home, like everyday life with lots of chores and things to fix. None of us really wanted to go home, I felt like it would be so easy to just point the bow north again and stay out for a few more weeks. But those pesky kids have to start school. Speaking of pesky kids, I can’t say enough how difficult and rewarding it is to be stuck on a boat with your kids for 53 days. It creates a bond that’s hard to achieve when at home everyone does their own thing. Julie and I wouldn’t trade it for anything and amazingly the kids feel the same way, at least most of the time!