Dinghy Dog

A dog and its owner having a great time on their dinghy.

It’s time to head back to Bellingham and turn in the boat for the next charter guests.  We had a most wonderful vacation, probably the best one we have ever had. Will our next vacation be on a sailboat or on another tug?  Well, we are getting rather spoiled with tugs, but sailing is so much fun.  Guess we will all know when our next vacation shows up here.

Hope you enjoyed reading a bit about our adventures.

Jim & Kelli


La Conner

Today begins are last full day on the water.  We leave La Conner behind us and head for Chuckanut Bay, just south of Bellingham.

Swinomish Channel

We wind our way through the Swinomish Channel, then under the bridge at the edge of the bay.

American Tug

Here is a big sister to our Grey Goose.

Oil Tanker

When navigating the waters of the San Juan Islands, you must keep your eyes open for these monsters.  They can’t maneuver as well as the little boats, so it is up to keep out of their way.  Fortunately, this one was at anchor, so no danger.

Chuckanut Bat

We arrived at Chuckanut Bay, dropped our anchor and had a great evening taking in the sights around us.


There were a total of about 8 boats from our charter company that used this bay as their last anchorage.  Here is one of them.

Nordic Tug 32

A Nordic Tug 32, Florian, shares the bay with us, their cabin lights on, enjoying the evening.


Deception Pass

This day brought some adventure to us.  Our plan was to go through Deception Pass between Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands, but timing had to be very good because of the high current possibilities in this pass.  If you do not time it right, then you could get stuck in currents running 8-knots with eddy currents that could push you into the rocks.  But, if you plan it correctly, then currents are less than 1-knot and you can pass safely.  We planned correctly and didn’t have any issues getting through.

Channel Markers

Once through the pass, then we had to navigate a pretty narrow channel to keep from running aground in the mud of the shallow bay.  It is well marked, but you can go from 15 feet of water to 3 feet of water in a very short time.  When your boat takes nearly 5 feet of water to float…well, you can see what could happen.  These are 2 markers that you line up with each other.  When they are, you are centered in the channel.

Rainbow Bridge

Our goal of the day was to reach a town named La Conner.  It is on the Swinomish Channel which is the body of water that makes Fidalgo Island an island.  Here is Rainbow Bridge at the southern part of town.

La Conner

La Conner

La Conner is a fun waterfront town with many shops and restaurants to visit.

American Tug Factory

We called ahead and made arrangements to tour the American Tug factory in town.  This particular boat dwarfs Kelli.  It is the 49 foot version of the 34 foot one we chartered.  It’s amazing what an extra 15 feet of boat does to the other dimensions.


It was a little rainy this day, so we had to be careful where we stepped.  This little guys was enjoying the rain.


Maple Bay

Maple Bay is a charming little community that is far enough away from the big cities that the people are even more friendly.  We had one lady come up to us and offered to let us use her car for a few hours if we wanted to see more of the island.  You sure don’t see that kind of hospitality very often.

Float Plane

If you don’t want to take a boat to get to Maple Bay, you can always fly.  These came several times while were were there.

Kelli at the helm

Time to head back to the US and it looks like Kelli is in a hurry with her hand on the throttle like that!


On the way there, we saw some Harbor Seals…

Massive Scene

Turn Point Lighthouse

…and some amazing scenery.  The bottom one is Turn Point Lighthouse on Stuart Island.  This is about the same spot where we saw the pod of Orcas 3 years ago.  Nothing this time around.

Friday Harbor

Cleared US customs at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.  The it was off to Lopez Island for the night, swinging on our anchor.



Sidney is a nice town with a cute walkway along the water.

Sidney Harbor

The Marina was very large with some incredible boats.  Canadians are very friendly people.

Maple Bay Map

Well, it’s off to our next destination of Maple Bay a few hours north of Sidney, but still on Vancouver Island.  My wife Kelli was the NSO (Navigation and Safety Officer) and made sure we stayed away from any of the hundreds of obstacles that were just below the surface along with making sure the current through some channels would be okay for our journey.


I was the Skipper, and listened carefully to the NSO.  We didn’t want to become a statistic or leave any fiberglass on any rocks.

Sucia Sunrise

The night was calm, but  was awoken before sunrise and I’m glad I was.  This was a totally different look from what we saw the night before.

Sucia Sunrise

So, very calm.  What a great place to just and enjoy the world around you.

Hiking on Sucia

We put our dinghy in the water and headed for shore for some hiking.  Sucia has miles of trails with some amazing views.  Next time I think it would be fun to spend 2 nights there, just to get a full day of exploring done on the island.

Boat Wake

I’ve been known to take a few abstract shots.  This one of the wake of our boat as we head into Canadian waters.


That evening we cleared Canadian customs and stayed on in Sidney Harbor Marina on Vancouver Island.  This is the entrance into the harbor as seen from inside.


Grey Goose

Since it was nearly dark when we first saw our boat, I waited until morning to take a photo of it.  Grey Goose is a 34 foot American Tug, built in La Conner, Washington, one on our stops on the trip.

After we provisioned our boat, it was off to our first anchorage on an island named Sucia.

Echo Bay with Mt. Baker

The late afternoon provided some great low angle light of a neighboring tug in the Echo Bay, a Nordic Tug 37 named Sea Horse II.  I could only hope that we looked so great in the bay on Grey Goose.


San Juan Yachting

Today is the day we started another boating adventure in the San Juan Islands.  We arrived at San Juan Yachting in Bellingham, Washington to attended the skippers / safety officers meeting with the rest of the charter guests.  This is a great company to do business with.  They make you feel like family.

After the meeting we an opportunity to get on the boat and figure out all the systems (with help from documentation and experience) before the checkout skipper came on board to answer any questions.  After about an hour, he left the boat and said, “Have a great vacation.”  I think we will.

Its off to a late dinner, then back to the boat for our first night of sleep on the water.


A couple of years ago we were just leaving Victoria Harbor, BC, Canada on our way back to the US.  The wind was great, making the sailing superb.  A few miles from the harbor we came across another sailboat having as much fun as we were.  I did some major adjustments using NIK Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2 software.  Here is the result after trying a few options:

Sailing in Juan de Fuca

I’m experimenting a bit more with the Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 software.  I wanted to show you the HDR output along with the original “close to the right exposure” frame.  People can get carried away and overdo the effect, but I’m trying to take a more subtile approach.

Here is the image combining 8 frames into one to expand the dynamic range:

Here is the single exposure image:

Which do you like better?

P.S.  If you look closely, you can see the moon high in the sky.