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.)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

North to Alaska!

Raven leaving Port Townsend for Alaska on a silver misty morning with the Hawaiian Chieftain sailing in the background. Photo by Leif Knutsen, who designed and built Raven.
We have sorely neglected our bloggery, but we’re back with fresh stories as we head for Alaska aboard our 29’ wooden powerboat, Raven.

The dinghy comes aboard through the tailgate and fits inside the boat - very handy.
On May 4 we left Port Townsend with a proper sendoff that included friends who brought treats, books, good wishes, and very bad puns. And one brave soul who waved farewell from his paddleboard off Point Wilson.

Friends seeing us off with good wishes and bad puns.
After several long days, one of which covered 90 miles, we arrived at Port McNeill, at the top of Vancouver Island, just ahead of a gale.

Sloppy going in Johnstone Strait...
...followed by a rainbow! (and a gale.)
There’s a lot of preparation, as you no doubt know, for any long trip (we will be gone for several months), and toward the end we became a pair of walking lists:

“Did get a spare whatsit?”
“Oh rats, I was just at the hardware store, I’ll get it next trip.”

There’s the endless organizing…

Jim makes things orderly aft.
…and the endless provisioning and storing of food, even though you rationally and totally get that yes, Virginia, people actually do eat and have grocery stores in Canada and Alaska.

Storing provisions in the cabin.
We have learned from our trans-Pacific crossing to never pass up an opportunity to visit a grocery store in a different country; you never know what you’ll find, and you never know when you may find it again. I think that idea may have cemented itself that time in the Marquesas when I paid the equivalent of six dollars for a third of the last head of limp cabbage on the island, and felt like I’d scored the deal of the decade. So what have we done with all that food that fills our boat? We left it aboard and went on the world’s longest pub crawl!

Here’s the itinerary so far:

Day 1: Cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca and anchor in Reid Harbor, Stuart Island, San Juan Islands. No pub unless one considers that Raven herself has served as a floating pub to a bunch of round-the-world sailors.

The tailgate as a private wharf.
Day 2: Cross Haro Strait, check in with Canadian Customs, and go to a wood-fired pizza pub. Also a very fancy boat show in the marina where we were berthed.

Day 3: Get underway at 6:00 am in order to make the slack current at Dodd Narrows, where people set up lawn chairs to watch the parade of boats chaos-ing through a whirlpool-infested rock bottleneck. Anchor off Nanaimo’s famous Dinghy Dock pub, which can only be reached by boat, and whose patrons and waitstaff were, to a person, extremely jolly.

Raven anchored off Nanaimo. View from Newcastle Island.
Day 4: Get underway at 5:00 am, go out into the Strait of Georgia in a spanking southeasterly breeze, think, oh wait, we’re not a sailboat anymore! and go like mad, downwind, sometimes surfing a bit, to anchor at Comox, where the exquisite Black Fin Pub awaits conveniently near the top of the fishing pier.

Underway at first light.
Day 5: Get underway at 4:00 am in darkness, picking our way out of crowded Comox Harbor, with a goal of passing through the dreaded Seymour Narrows on the slack tide at exactly 12:51 pm. To get an idea of the strength of this Narrows at maximum speed, imagine your boat being thrown into an industrial Maytag washer, first on extreme agitation followed by a nice fast spin cycle, with the twin peaks of a blown-up small mountain and some wrecked ships lying 45 feet beneath your keel. This was a 90-mile day; we caught the currents right and just kept going, all the way to Port Harvey, which has no pub.

Sonar view of the twin peaks of an underwater mountain that, after the largest non-nuclear explosion in history (in 1958), deepened from 9 feet under the surface to 45 feet. 
Day 6: Despite the weather service forecasting a strong Northwest wind, which worried us, we found a nice light tailwind from the southeast when we got underway at 5:00 am. It built to a gale by afternoon, but by then we were already tied up snug at the marina at Port McNeill. Dinner at Gus’s Pub.

Total miles so far: 279.
Gallons of fuel used per hour: 0.57.
Number of nautical miles per gallon: 10.5.

As you might imagine, we’ve been challenging ourselves to keep up such a pace because we want to get to Glacier Bay and then take it easy. Today being the aftermath of the gale, we decided to make it a lay day. But tonight we leave Port McNeill at 2:00 am, to catch the current and (we hope) lighter winds of early morning.

Did you know that there are a whole series of unspoken laws of the sea? For example:

#1. If you are on autopilot and there is a crab pot anywhere near your course, your boat will head straight for it.

#2: If you turn the temperature of the boat fridge down in hopes of preserving the food you’re not eating because you’re on a pub crawl, and also to test its power for the off chance that you might catch a nice big fish, it will cause a localized nuclear winter. Corollary: You will always discover the frozen beer at exactly happy hour.

#3: If, in desperation caused by Unspoken Law #2, you respond to your husband’s amused comment to “think outside the bottle” by cutting the top off a frozen bottle of Coke, you will have an instant slushee. Corollary: You will also have an instant brain freeze.

#4: If you are away from the worrisome daily news firehose for awhile and decide to check online to see what’s going on in the world, it will feel more like novelty than self-flagellation.


  1. What fun! I want to go on the world’s longest pub crawl, too! I’m enjoying your story, journey and photos and look forward to more.

  2. I went through Seymoue Narrows once and watched a whourl pool open next to my 58' fish boat that was 8' deep.

  3. So enthralling to hear/read about your adventures. Thanks for sharing.

  4. So nice to see you guys still blogging. Still haven't got my Dana but getting closer:)