Here is an image that I captured on Lopez Island, Washington.  It is actually a combination of 8 different images captured at 2/3 of an f-stop difference between each one. They were then combined using the Nik HDR Effects 2 software. The goal of the software is to easily combine images with different exposers in an attempt to expand the dynamic range of the camera sensor to more closely match what the eye sees in real life.

This was my first attempt at using the software and I have a lot more learning to do. But, it is fun learning new things and it gets me thinking a bit more about the final image when I’m capturing the shot in the field.



We were again blessed by being able to take our vacation in the San Juan Islands of Washington state. We also got to take some very close friends with us to enjoy the time on the water.

This year was a bit different that most of our boating vacations. Normally we sail, but this year we wanted to try out a motor yacht to see what that was all about. Our boat of choice was a 37 foot Nordic Tug named “Weak Moment.”

This boat normally spends the summer season in Alaska in charter service, but at the end of the year the owner brings it back down to Bellingham to a slightly warmer climate. The boat was the most comfortable boat I’ve ever been on. It has full-time AC power to operate a microwave oven, crockpot and even a curling iron (for one of our guests). Add to that the forced air furnace, windshield wipers, wall to wall carpeting and you ended up with some very happy campers.

From an operational point of view, it has a 330 HP diesel engine, bow thruster for maneuvering in close quarters, radar, navigational chart plotters with weather overlays and just about anything else you could imagine. Here is a twilight shot of one of our guests being illuminated by the chart plotter screens.

We had just hooked up to a mooring buoy in Fox Cove on the island of Sucia. You’ll notice how calm the water was on this first evening out. That was not to last. By the time morning arrive, we were facing 25-35 knot winds with 4 foot waves. Fortunately, we were in a relatively protected bay from the waves, but the wind was howling. The radio was alive with chat about various people in trouble due to the weather. There was even a US Coast Guard helicopter out looking for boats that were not in safe places, suggesting to the captains of those vessels to head for shelter.

The wind was forecasted to be a bit less in the afternoon (15-20 knots), but was then to increase to 35+ later that night.  We decided to make a run for it to Friday Harbor. Weak Moment handled the then 2 to 3 foot waves just fine and we pulled into a slip for a couple of nights to wait out the storm. Not a problem for us, as Friday Harbor is our favorite place to visit.

The storm passed and we ended up with nice weather for the rest of our trip. We visited Montague Harbor and the town of Ganges in Canada. It was nice to have some sun.

Two nights left on our trip, so we headed back to the US to clear customs at Roche Harbor. On the way, we passed Turn Point lighthouse on Stuart Island and had a very big surprise. A whale was spotted about a quarter of a mile in front of us. Then we saw some more. The next thing we knew they were all around us. We’re guessing there were probably 15-20 total in the pod, some being quite young and small, but two others that were gigantic. The dorsal fin on these big ones must have been 5 to 6 feet tall. Here is one of my favorite photos.

This was taken with my Canon 7D with the 70-200mm f2.8L IS lens. I still can’t get over how massive these sea creatures are.

We finally made it back to the US, but we were late so the on-call customs official had to make a trip across the island to check us in. I was the only one that could leave the boat until we were cleared, so we enjoyed a bit of dock time as we waited for the official to arrive.

Weak Moment was moved to a slip in Roche Harbor for the night and I’m glad we stayed here, as I could get off the boat for some fun night shots. Here is one that was was captured with my Canon 5D MkII with a 24-105mm f4 lens set at f5.6.  The exposure was 30 seconds in length, making the stars shine though the thin layer of clouds.

All in all it was a wonderful trip. We’ll probably charter another Nordic Tug in the future (especially in the rainy season), but you’ll just as likely see us on a sailboat next time around.

Hope you enjoyed a glimpse into our adventure.



A very tired skipper weighed anchor and we headed off under motor power to Anacortes.  We timed it perfectly as to the currents through some smaller channels.  Currents in this part of the world can be very strong and can get you in trouble if you enter certain areas at the wrong time.

As we entered Guemes channel about 3 miles from Anacortes, we spotted several pair of porpoise surfacing every once in a while to catch a breath of air.  It’s always fun to see marine life like this.

So ends another wonderful vacation in the San Juan Islands.  I hope you enjoyed reading about the journey as much as I had sharing it with you.

Until next time…

One of the things we always do before we leave Friday Harbor is to walk the docks.  There are some boats that have been there so long and are so unkept that it is a wonder they are still floating.  Then there are those that are obviously owned by people who love their boats, with their glistening varnish, polished metal, etc.  It is also fun to see the names of some of the boats which are generally a reflection of the owners.  I take this time to look for detail photos of nautical things.  Here is one of the images I captured this morning showing a dock line tied up to a cleat.

It’s time to get ready to leave, so let’s see…. Bag of of ice… check.  Ice cream cone… check.  I think we’re ready to leave.

The wind teased a bit today, but not enough to make much headway to our destination of Hunter Bay on Lopez Island.  I wonder where the winds are that they spoke of on the radio yesterday?

The closer we got to Hunter Bay the stronger the winds became.  The last couple of miles were actually a pretty nice sail and we got the boat speed up to over 5 knots.  Our boat was a bit slow for its size, but it was fun nonetheless.  Here one of the boats that was close by as we approached Hunter Bay.

There were probably about 20 boats in the bay when we arrived and being in close made me a bit nervous when strong winds expected, so I chose to downwind edge of the anchored fleet to drop our anchor.  The bottom of the bay is quite muddy and has very good holding properties, but as the sun went down the winds came up and it left me a bit concerned about where we would end up if the anchor dragged.  Needless to say, it was a very sleepless night for me.  I kept an eye on the GPS map every half hour or so to make sure we were not dragging.  I also kept my eye outside to look at all of the anchored boats around me to make sure they were staying put as well.

All night long the wind whistled through the standing rigging of our sailboat, but when morning finally arrived it started to subside just a bit which made me a bit more comfortable.  An interesting night to say the least.

See what I mean about a peaceful calm night?  So far, in our many visits to this harbor, we have yet to have a morning that is not as nice as this.  What a great place to wake up, grab a cup of coffee, sit back and admire God’s creation.

Today will be a pretty quick trip to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.  Friday Harbor is the county seat and is a very active port with a huge marina and a Washington State Ferry dock.  As we rounded the corner and headed into the harbor, I radioed in to see if they had any boat slips available for the night.  A minute later we were given our slip assignment and moments later were tying up the dock lines.  We were now at our favorite place to be.  Neither Kel or I know why we don’t just move here.  It probably has something to do with still needing a job at this point in our lives.  We need to get the photography studio moved to a new location and call this place home.  I like the sound of that.

When it was time for dinner, we walked the docks back to land and saw something that excited us both.  Friday Harbor has a marimba band that is made up of islanders.  We have listened to them on a prior visit to the island, but this was a big treat to hear them again.  Dinner can wait.

The marine weather forecast tells us that tomorrow evening may bring a change to the nice weather we have been experiencing.  No rain is expected, just strong wind.  For now, it is off to bed and the end of another day in the best part of the world.

We said our fair-wells to Victory and started our journey back to the United States.  But, to get there we again needed to get into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Fortunately, it was not as rough this day and the wind was coming a bit from our front, so we could see the saves coming towards us.  We were not the only ones heading back to the states on this day as shown in the following image.

Whenever you cross a border into another country, the first place you stop needs to be at a customs station.  We took care of this in Roche Harbor on San Juan Island.  After a few minutes declaring what we were doing while in Canada and what we brought back, we were given the stamp of approval to be back home.  Now that customs was behind us, we could depart to where we would drop the anchor for the night.

Well, we didn’t have to drop the anchor as there was a convenient mooring buoy to hook our bow line to.  After we got securly connected for the night, we sat back and admired one of our favorite spots in the San Juan Islands… Reid Harbor on Stuart Island.  We had many neighbors that night and it was fun to hear the laughter from the various boats as people enjoyed their surroundings and their companions.

It is bound to be a quiet night!

Today is about our longest day of the entire trip. Our destination is the Inner Harbor at Victoria, BC. To get there we had to spend about 4 hours in the “Strait of Juan de Fuca,” or as my wife likes to call it, the “Strait of I Wanna Puke’a.”  The water in this strait is open to ocean swells from the Pacific.  The swell was not too bad this day, but the weather report on the VHF radio warned of a small craft advisory.

The wind was from from our back quarter and we were making over 5 knots over ground with just the jib sail.

After about 6 hours we pulled into Victoria after stopping momentarily to let a container ship pass.  We cleared Canadian customs and the radioed for a slip assignment at the marina in front of “The Embassey” hotel.

Here is an image I captured with the help of a tripod showing the great colors surrounding the inner harbor and that gorgeous building just to the right of center.  What a blessing it is to be able to visit such a beautiful place.

Welcome to the first day of our week long sailing vacation, starting at one of our favorite cities in the northwest named Anacortes, Washington.  Our goal for our week long trip is to head over to Victoria, BC for a couple of days, then hit some favorite spots from prior years.  We hope you enjoy the photos and text.

Today we took posession of a 1994, Beneteau 35 foot sloop from a local yacht charter company.  (That is my beautiful wife, Kel standing on the boat wondering why I’m not ready to go.  🙂  ) This is the first year that this particular boat has been in charter service with this particular charter company.  We’ve never chartered a boat up in this part of the world of this vintage and was a bit surprised as to the idosincracies of the various systems on the boat. Let’s see… To drain the water out of the ice box do the following:

  • Lift up a seat cushion on the backside of the table
  • Rotate a lever to route the drain from the icebox to the bilge pump
  • Lift up another seat to find the manual switch for e bilge pump
  • Engage the pump until icebox is empty of water
  • Rotate lever back to the bilge position
  • Replace cushions

On the newer boats, you just push a button next to the icebox.  You sure do get spoiled on the newer boats.

Back to the trip….

We just motored to our first anchorage on the southern tip of Lopez island due to the lack of very good wind.  Tonight we share the bay with only 2 other boats and we were the last to leave the following morning.


Some dear friends of ours took us sailing on their Catalina 22. Their boat is very well equipped, including a sail called a “spinnaker” which is a very large sail generally used for going down wind very fast. It was a perfect day for flying this sail and we did just that.

I made my way up on the bow of the boat with my camera which was equipped with a wide angle lens. I laid on the deck so I could get a good shot at the sail with the nice blue summer sky in the background.