Here you will find tales of voyages past and present on our trusty Pacific Seacraft Dana 24, "Sockdolager," and our Bigfoot29 powerboat, "Raven," from Port Townsend, Washington, USA. In 2009 we sailed north from Puget Sound up the west coast of Vancouver Island to the Queen Charlotte Islands (now called Haida Gwaii.) In 2010 we went back to the west coast of Vancouver Island. In July 2011 we left the Northwest, sailed to Mexico, and in March 2012 we crossed the Pacific to French Polynesia, then on to the Cooks, Niue and Tonga. We spent several months in New Zealand, and in May 2013 loaded Sockdolager (and ourselves) on a container ship for San Francisco. In June and July 2013 we sailed north along the California, Oregon and Washington coasts, and in August we arrived home. In October 2016, Sockdolager found new owners, and we began cruising on Raven, a unique wooden 29' powerboat. In 2018 we cruised up to Glacier Bay, Alaska, and back. But in 2024 we had the chance to buy Sockdolager back (we missed her), so we sold Raven. We hope you enjoy reading about our adventures as much as we enjoy having them. (And there will be more.)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Have Boat, Will Sail

Northwest Mantra--Repeat until July: The Sun is not a myth... the Sun is not a myth... Not even the coldest spring on record since the 1950s is going to keep us from getting ready on time, but it has made preparation a bit more challenging. Doing upside-down boat yoga in a cockpit locker, for instance, is more fun in sunshine than sleet. Trying to not poke a ladder through a garage window is much easier when it’s not blowing a gale. Click here for scientific proof that Spring in the Northwest has been “unstable.”

Don’t worry, we’re just practicing our spiffy new medical skills at an Offshore Emergency Medicine course. We highly recommend it (the course, not breaking both right arms.) Photo by Jill Dubler. More info below.

Something about juggling all those lists:
We keep forgetting things. It couldn’t be age causing this, or even keeping track of unfinished work, so it must be the cold. Yep, that’s it. Karen, for example, completely forgot that Jim had made her a nicely shaped piece of wood to fill in a space between exterior wall shingles and the garage door frame, so she laboriously cut little mini-shinglets to fill it in and layered them carefully, then joined their edges to full-sized shingles. Nice corner, the renters will like it. Very fine work there, she thought, until Jim asked, “Geez, aren’t you going to use that piece of wood I made?” Cue sound of extra energy going THUD.

One of our favorite photos, taken last summer by Mae Jong-Bowles of Prince Rupert, Canada as we were entering Port Angeles Harbor from Sooke, BC.

But Jim takes the cake on forgetting, at least this time. He lost his wallet. Actually, he loses it rather creatively nearly every day, plus his car keys and glasses. Eons ago Karen offered him a basket for stashing them the minute he comes in the door, but nooooo... “Where’s the fun in that?” he retorted. Usually we (note the pronoun) find them all after a daily ritual resembling an Easter egg hunt. But one day his wallet seemed lost for good. The signs are always clear: Jim mutters while rifling through stuff and wandering distractedly. After ten minutes of this, Karen asks, “Which one are we looking for today?” Occasionally Jim will call out something like, “If you TRULY cared about me, you would know where I left my wallet/keys/iPhone.” This turned into the best setup he ever gave her. Meanwhile, there was no finding the wallet, and Karen silently began making plans to call credit card companies. She did notice a wallet-shaped bulge in Jim’s jeans pocket earlier, but thought, Nah, couldn’t be, he’s not THAT clueless. But he was. “I found my wallet!” came the triumphant call minutes later. Silence.

Karen: Where was it?

Jim: In my pocket.

Karen: No, seriously, where was it? (She walks over, begins searching his pockets slooooowly.)

Jim: What are you doing? I have to go to work!

Karen: I’m showing you how much I truly care.

Sockdolager under sail. Soon, soon...

Of course, Jim had a good excuse for such forgetfulness: all his brain cell were full, holding an encyclopedic amount of arcane facts needed to pass the test for a General Class Ham license. No room left in there for mundane things like wallets. His study marathon began right after we returned from taking the Offshore Emergency Medicine course. The man’s unstoppable. Karen is still trying to keep all the medical stuff from falling out of her beleaguered brain.

Time to go sailing. The day cannot come soon enough when we’re on the boat and don’t need to take tests or remember where we put keys because we won’t need the dadgum keys. Wallets and glasses will be easy to find because on this boat anything you don’t put away is in plain sight.

More on the Emergency Offshore Medicine course: First we read the 200+ page book to get ready. Then we took an online test and passed. Then we flew to Denver, where we had three nine-hour days of intensive classroom time, which included how to identify if something’s a medical emergency or not, what to do about it, and how to keep something minor from becoming major. We role-played, diagnosed using “big net” systems thinking, and even practiced emergency radio calls. Then there were the labs, hoo boy... we cleaned, irrigated and dressed a horrendous wound in a ham hock, practiced giving shots with real syringes and real drugs except that we shot up a bunch of raw chicken legs and not each other, administered a hematoma block in another unfortunate chicken leg, and smeared fake blood on ourselves before going out to lay in various pained poses in the hotel hallway, which impressed the hotel’s other guests to no end.

This course was taught with panache and humor by Jeff Isaacs and a partnership of MDs who get what it means to go offshore by sailboat. If you are going offshore and beyond the reach of medical assistance or timely medevac, then this is the course for you. It costs about the same as two month’s insurance premiums and buys peace of mind. We’ve connected the Docs with the Northwest Maritime Center in hopes they’ll bring it here, because Denver’s as far west as they’ve taught it so far. You can find out more about it

Ahhh, sunset. Sockdolager at anchor behind Dungeness Spit National Wildlife Refuge, just off the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Photo by Mae Jong-Bowles.


  1. Whew. Celestial navigation seems easier than getting all the fonts and spacing right on this blog. Apologies to Followers if you got multiple postings. The "Preview" function does not resemble the real post, so it takes a bit of fiddling to get it to look halfway decent.

    Today, BTW, marks the last of the "construction zone" phase for the boat and the beginning of loading and organizing stuff aboard for the voyage. Woot! Off to celebrate!

  2. "Wallets and glasses will be easy to find because on this boat anything you don’t put away is in plain sight."

    Oh, you're so young and innocent. Although it's true that there are fewer places to look on a small boat than in a house, everything without a designated home gets piled on everything else. So, "in plain sight" one minute, is "deeply buried" the next. We are constantly searching for something we just laid down a few minutes ago.


  3. You got me at young and innocent, guys. To heck with the rest. -Karen