Time Out...

We are anchored in the cove with the arrow

Being stranded isn't nearly so bad when you're on a beautiful Island. In fact, I haven't felt stranded, at all. While the Captain has been involved with boring things like pump repairs and oil leaks, I've been enjoying the scenery, the wildlife, and the amazing variety of water craft moving in and out of this harbor. 

I've even taken a real shine to being rowed ashore in the dinghy, too. It makes me feel like chivalry is not dead. Of course, it helps to be married to someone who is old enough not to want to be rowed ashore by a woman. Which reminds me what a perfect match we are (thank you, God).

View out my galley window while
 I was baking bread
I think I actually have more time out here. Or, maybe it just doesn't come this far out into the water. Because I have taken to spending long stretches of simply soaking up the sun, staring at the sea, or watching the wind ruffle the branches of trees in the cove as it passes by. Which is so deeply satisfying, I don't care what time it is. Not even a bit.

The bread turned out fine
Of course, I have a lot of work to do, but I discovered something wonderful about that, too. It carries on without me. While I'm off enjoying myself, my brain is busy organizing and filing away little whispers of ideas I never would have taken time to listen to before. Marvelous little twists and turns of plot or character I might have missed otherwise. 

An otter came right up onto the
 boat and looked around one night
Right now, I think that trying to be "on time" for more than is humanly possible to do throughout a single day is highly overrated. Maybe even hazardous to one's health. Then again, there could be rapids ahead. Still, I wish I had a nickel for every time I felt like taking a "time out" was the last step before disaster. I would be a wealthy woman by now. It's never too late, though.

Especially when no one's keeping time.


Hold Everything!

View from the ferry dock
Nothing is as serious on a boat between ports than to go down below for something and discover the entire cabin is awash with water. There is only one thing I can think of that is worse. It's when you go down below, and the entire cabin is awash with black oil. 

If you should also be in a narrow channel between islands with a fleet of giant ferry boats passing by every thirty minutes, you not only begin to wonder what to do next, but what in the world it was that tempted you to be out there in the first place. I usually blame everything on the Captain and remind him that he is responsible for my life. Something I am not proud of, but I'm trying to be honest, here.

I felt something like this...
 but not as pretty
As usual, things always look worse than they really are (hmm… that almost sounds like sermon material). The oil was not new oil. It was the same stuff that had drained the engine when the hydraulic hose broke, last week. We hadn't pumped those eight quarts out of the bilge, yet, because it is against the law to do that. You have to pump it all into a bucket and dispose of it properly. Preferably at some official recycle center. But one doesn't run into a lot of those in the places we've been lately. Which is why we were waiting until we got to the next big place. 

Underneath those eight quarts, however, was about two hundred gallons of seawater. Which turned out not to be coming from a hole in the boat, but a malfunctioning pump that was letting water in instead of keeping it out. An easy fix if you don't count the hours it took to clean up the mess. 

Meanwhile, we are resting (literally) at anchor in Friday Harbor, in the San Juan Islands (a place where we actually used to live many years ago). It is our last stop before crossing over into Canada. I'm not sure how long we will be here. A couple days if all goes well, and a couple weeks if it doesn't. The nice thing is that it doesn't matter. 

Rowing back from town
Not even the fact that we are laying over in one of the most expensive tourist spots in the state at the busiest time of the season. Because we brought our own world with us. Our little home on the water is packed with everything we need for weeks on end. So, we live the same whether anchored in some deserted cove, or in the middle of a busy harbor. Not to mention we have the most "high dollar" view in town. 

Wow. More good sermon material.

An Unexpected Mishap...

It is the nature of  mishaps to arrive unexpected. If we could see them coming, we would do something to avoid them. Nobody can see them coming. And while one could spend a lot of time thinking up scenarios about what might go wrong and make provisions for that, a person could run out of courage dwelling on those things long before they ever covered all the bases. 

Things happen.

And, being human, we can't see into the future.

Too much sun this week, so I had to
 improvise (Hey, it worked for Katharine
Hepburn in the African Queen).
So it was as we set out one beautiful morning for our first crossing of real ocean, we felt things couldn't get any better. It was not a big crossing. Just a little stretch that would take maybe two hours at the most. A sort of “passing by the door” to the whole wide world before scurrying into protected harbors and bays of the northwest islands, again. The fact that our course cut directly through a major shipping lane should not be a problem. 

You could see those huge tankers coming a long way off so there would be plenty of time to steer out of the way. I have to admit I was a little jumpy about that because my depth perception is such that all distances look flat to me. It's the reason I don't drive. Not to mention the Captain has put up with my false alarms of eminent collision for so many years, he has highly trained and conditioned himself to ignore them. I've been a little slower at such conditioning, myself, since I've had to go the “beautiful mind” route and retrain my brain not to believe what I see. 

All of which could have made for big problems on an adventure like this, except that we  believe God has our lives in the center of his hand. As long as we can stay under His protective shadow in the daytime and that “pillar of fire by night.” Right? Not so easy when flitting around outside your comfort zone. The ocean is very big out there, even a little piece of it. And it actually feels alive the way swells undulate up and down in constant rhythm. Almost like breathing. 

That's how it seems to me, anyway, but I've got an active imagination. They say you get used to it. Much harder getting used to what happens when we end up in the “backwash” of one of those tankers going by. Or even a fishing boat if it passes close enough to us. 

We rock violently from side-to-side for a few minutes while things below begin to crash down from places you thought were secure. It's not as bad if you can turn the boat into the waves and meet them head-on, but that's not always an option. Especially when you are  busy arguing if they're far enough away to dissipate before they reach you. One reason I was feeling better the closer we got to the nearest island. 

Not close enough, however, because when the Captain suddenly announced, “We've lost oil pressure, I have to shut down the engine,” I had sort of a meltdown. 

“But one or two more minutes and we'll be out of the shipping lane!” I protested.

“You want to blow up the engine? There's oil spurting all over the place. Have to raise the sails.”

“Raise the sails—there's no wind—just fix it! Fix the engine!”

“It's going to take some time. I have to think about it.”

I am not going to document the rest of that conversation. What I do want to document is this. There wasn't a breath of wind out there and we were too deep to drop anchor. But there was a bit of a current in our favor that showed some possibility of pushing us toward shore some time before midnight. This necessitated me having to take the tiller so the Captain could work on the engine. 

As far as I could tell, we felt “dead in the water.” But I picked a point (I think I saw a house up on the cliff) and held steady, in case we should actually be moving. Or—better yet—in case a puff of wind should miraculously turn up. And please, Lord, don't let any more tankers pass by right now.

Not ten minutes later, there was a little whisper-breath of a breeze.

Little by little we began to move out of the shipping lane. By the time we were close enough to drop the anchor, I could see there was a path zig-zagging up the cliff to the house, and not too far beyond the beach, some kind of road. There were even a few hikers walking along the top of the cliff, as if there might be a trail up there. Plenty of options should we need to get parts. But we didn't need to. 

Because while I was busy going over our options, not caring how we rocked when the tankers passed anymore since we were finally well enough away, the Captain discovered a hole in some oil hose. Which he put a temporary patch on, poured more oil back into the engine, and we were on our way, again. 

We finally anchored in Fidalgo Bay,
 off the town of Anacortes.
I breathed a prayer of thanks, prayed forgiveness for my little faith, and marveled at what horrors could have come on us if all that had happened even five minutes sooner. Or if we had left ten minutes later and intersected with that last tanker instead of slipping safely toward shore. What if—but what if-- 

What if God knows so exactly how to get us from point A to point B we can stop worrying about missing any more divine appointments?


Goodbye Liberty...

Leaving Liberty Bay
Our 2013 Mystery Tour started quietly one morning, as we untied from the dock, pointed the GLORY B north,  and chugged out of Liberty Bay. It was a beautiful spot, and we were blessed in so many ways during our stay in that historical little waterfront town of Poulsbo. It's where we finally found the GLORY B, and decided to follow our dreams.

View from the deck of the GLORY B
No wind made for an uneventful first passage except for lovely things like the sun finally breaking through after days and days of rain, and a pod of young dolphins that popped up several times next to the boat for a quick look as they passed by. Too fast to get the camera out, so I'll have to be better prepared next time.

Getting ready to go under
Agate Pass Bridge
So far, all systems are working beautifully. We have our own hot shower, an oven to bake anything we want in, and my Internet connection works as flawlessly at anchor somewhere as it did tied up to the docks back in Poulsbo. It even works while traveling, but I've been enjoying the sights too much to get down to business, yet. Maybe tomorrow!

Tonight, we are anchored out in the bay at Port Townsend, where we will take the GLORY B, TOO (our dinghy) ashore for a few last minute items, before spending an enjoyable evening plotting our course to the next stop. Where will that be? Not quite sure, yet, because there are so many choices. But I know one thing.

We will definitely be looking for divine appointments! And while the Captain is busy plotting our course north, I will be plotting the next "Stella Madison Capers," which happen to be taking Stella and her friends up this very same route. Of course, I haven't forgotten Meg Jennings, from my novel GOLD TRAP, either. 
Did you know you can go anywhere
 in the world from here?

In fact, I've got my gold pan handy for the first pretty river I come across along the Gold Rush trail. Not to mention a lot of people with gold fever have been there before me, and, I'll be on the lookout for some of their stories and legends, too. So, I hope you'll stop by often to join us!