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Roberta,Ken And The Pups Cruise The World On A Relatively Small Boat

[KensBlog] Roche Harbor, Our Home Port


Greetings all!

Well .. I wasn't planning to write any blog entries this summer.

If you read my last blog entry you know that our boat spent eight months getting made new again and we weren't able to start cruising this year until the season was effectively over.

That said, several people have asked what we're up to and at the risk of being completely boring I'll tell the truth, which is: 'As little as possible.' I sometimes joke about boats that are marina queens; meaning boats that just sit around and don't go anywhere. I probably shouldn't do that anymore because that's exactly what we've been since the cruising season started. After traveling 30,000+ miles over the past few years, it feels darn good just to sit still for a bit.


We started our run with a trip through the Ballard locks in Seattle. For those not familiar with locks, they are like elevators for boats and come into play when moving a boat between two bodies of water that are at different levels.
We started our run with a trip through the Ballard locks in Seattle. For those not familiar with locks, they are like elevators for boats and come into play when moving a boat between two bodies of water that are at different levels.




Since this was the first time I had driven Sans Souci in nearly nine months I really didn't want any excitement. But, things never seem to go as planned. While we were in the locks a smaller boat tied to us on the port side. When the locks opened the other boat discovered their engine wouldn't start. It was to be our first (and hopefully last) rescue of the season. I had to tow the boat to nearby Shilshole marina and then maneuver them to a dock. It was anti-climactic I am happy to report
Since this was the first time I had driven Sans Souci in nearly nine months I really didn't want any excitement. But, things never seem to go as planned. While we were in the locks a smaller boat tied to us on the port side. When the locks opened the other boat discovered their engine wouldn't start. It was to be our first (and hopefully last) rescue of the season. I had to tow the boat to nearby Shilshole marina and then maneuver them to a dock. It was anti-climactic I am happy to report




After dropping off the hitchhikers we tied up at the dock ourselves at the Shilshole marina. We had only gone about a mile but I wanted a fresh start the next morning for the 75 mile run to San Juan Island and our home port of Roche Harbor.
After dropping off the hitchhikers we tied up at the dock ourselves at the Shilshole marina. We had only gone about a mile but I wanted a fresh start the next morning for the 75 mile run to San Juan Island and our home port of Roche Harbor.




Sans Souci at Shilshole Marina
Sans Souci at Shilshole Marina




Next to the Shilshole marina is Ray's Boathouse a waterfront restaurant right at the entrance to the locks. On a summer evening it's great fun to watch the boats coming and going through the locks. I should mention that although it is fun when viewed from the restaurant, it can be quite annoying when on a boat. Priority is given to commercial traffic, which I think is loosely interpreted as 'Everyone But Ken.' I have thought I was next through the locks only to sit for hours while an endless stream of fishing and tourist boats cut line to enter the locks. It's why it is often good to go through the locks at odd hours. NEVER attempt the locks on a beautiful weekend at prime time.
Next to the Shilshole marina is Ray's Boathouse a waterfront restaurant right at the entrance to the locks. On a summer evening it's great fun to watch the boats coming and going through the locks. I should mention that although it is fun when viewed from the restaurant, it can be quite annoying when on a boat. Priority is given to commercial traffic, which I think is loosely interpreted as 'Everyone But Ken.' I have thought I was next through the locks only to sit for hours while an endless stream of fishing and tourist boats cut line to enter the locks. It's why it is often good to go through the locks at odd hours. NEVER attempt the locks on a beautiful weekend at prime time.









Our new home! Roche Harbor!!!!
Our new home! Roche Harbor!!!!






I have mentioned in prior blog entries that I've been paying for a slip at Roche Harbor for nearly ten years, and yet our boat has never been in the slip.

I don't know that I could completely explain why I kept paying even though our boat has been outside the United States. One reason is that it hasn't been very expensive. The marina rents out my slip when we're not here.

The bigger reason is just that it is a very special place and we've had various slips at the marina for nearly twenty years.

Why do we like Roche Harbor?

Roche is as much a tourist trap as it is a marina, and I mean that in a good way. Some marinas are just 'boat parking lots.' But, that isn't Roche. There are three restaurants serving the marina. Each morning, a line forms at the Lime Kiln Café to get the fresh donuts. The staff are primarily high school and college kids from the local town of Friday Harbor who are off school for the summer. Unlike many marinas where the staff seems to be perpetually bored, the kids at Roche understand that it is summer and summers are made for fun.


Keeping Roche pretty is a priority. I have been in marinas with water so scummy that the odor in summer was intolerable. Roche has a free service (although tips are expected) to come to your boat and collect your black water.
Keeping Roche pretty is a priority. I have been in marinas with water so scummy that the odor in summer was intolerable. Roche has a free service (although tips are expected) to come to your boat and collect your black water.




Roche Harbor
Roche Harbor




There is a float plane dock just behind where our boat is moored. In addition to the private planes that come and go each day Kenmore Air has regularly scheduled flights to/from Seattle. Back in my working days I used to look forward to each Friday when Roberta, I and the dogs would drive to Lake Union (minutes from downtown) pop on a Kenmore flight and 30 minutes later be on our boat, flying back to reality on Sunday nights or Monday mornings.
There is a float plane dock just behind where our boat is moored. In addition to the private planes that come and go each day Kenmore Air has regularly scheduled flights to/from Seattle. Back in my working days I used to look forward to each Friday when Roberta, I and the dogs would drive to Lake Union (minutes from downtown) pop on a Kenmore flight and 30 minutes later be on our boat, flying back to reality on Sunday nights or Monday mornings.




Kenmore Air --Making access to the islands of the Pacific NW fast and easy from Seattle
Kenmore Air --Making access to the islands of the Pacific NW fast and easy from Seattle




Within minutes of arrival at Roche we lowered our NEW tender into the water. Given that we were tied to the dock there really was nowhere to take the tender. But, it was new and we wanted to see how it felt. It is identical to the tender we had traded in, so we weren't expecting much difference, but were pleasantly surprised. It had no trouble getting up on a plane, and felt solid. Our old tender never failed us , but after eight years of intense abuse it was in pretty sad shape.
Within minutes of arrival at Roche we lowered our NEW tender into the water. Given that we were tied to the dock there really was nowhere to take the tender. But, it was new and we wanted to see how it felt. It is identical to the tender we had traded in, so we weren't expecting much difference, but were pleasantly surprised. It had no trouble getting up on a plane, and felt solid. Our old tender never failed us , but after eight years of intense abuse it was in pretty sad shape.




Taking the new tender out exploring. Our pups (Toundra and Keely) love riding on the tender, but haven't had a COLD tender ride ever. It caught them by surprise when they had to ride bundled up in blankets.
Taking the new tender out exploring. Our pups (Toundra and Keely) love riding on the tender, but haven't had a COLD tender ride ever. It caught them by surprise when they had to ride bundled up in blankets.




This picture needed a lot of cleanup, and still isn't a great picture, but it is a great story. On the right you can barely see Roberta's mom Nova, and next to her is Rita, her caregiver. Nova and Roberta's late father accompanied us in 2004 when we crossed the Atlantic. Nova wanted to accompany us on Sans Souci's first trip since our return to the United States. Nova loved the Atlantic crossing and wasn't going to miss this chance, even though physically it wasn't easy. We rigged up a special gang plank, and brought a special scooter for her to get up the docks, and she had an excellent time! This picture shows 'taco night,' our first dinner in the United States aboard Sans Souci.
This picture needed a lot of cleanup, and still isn't a great picture, but it is a great story. On the right you can barely see Roberta's mom Nova, and next to her is Rita, her caregiver. Nova and Roberta's late father accompanied us in 2004 when we crossed the Atlantic. Nova wanted to accompany us on Sans Souci's first trip since our return to the United States. Nova loved the Atlantic crossing and wasn't going to miss this chance, even though physically it wasn't easy. We rigged up a special gang plank, and brought a special scooter for her to get up the docks, and she had an excellent time! This picture shows 'taco night,' our first dinner in the United States aboard Sans Souci.




Shakespeare on the grass at the marina. What they lacked in fancy costumes and props they made up for in enthusiasm
Shakespeare on the grass at the marina. What they lacked in fancy costumes and props they made up for in enthusiasm




One reason that Roche is so popular is that it is a place caught in time. The best word to describe it is 'Americana.' Roberta and I live part time in Seattle, and we do love Seattle, but (how do I put this....) There are some aspects to Seattle, and probably every major city in today's America, that make us miss 'the old days.' We have a marijuana shop on our block, homeless people camping on the streets, and walking across town is always an 'interesting' experience. Roche tries to recreate a time not seen since the Andy Griffith show. In this picture we see a daily spectacle called 'colors.' They've been doing it every summer day since I can remember and I have no doubt it is a tradition that will continue into the future.
One reason that Roche is so popular is that it is a place caught in time. The best word to describe it is 'Americana.' Roberta and I live part time in Seattle, and we do love Seattle, but (how do I put this....) There are some aspects to Seattle, and probably every major city in today's America, that make us miss 'the old days.' We have a marijuana shop on our block, homeless people camping on the streets, and walking across town is always an 'interesting' experience. Roche tries to recreate a time not seen since the Andy Griffith show. In this picture we see a daily spectacle called 'colors.' They've been doing it every summer day since I can remember and I have no doubt it is a tradition that will continue into the future.




'Colors' happens each evening at dusk and is the bringing down of the flags. While the Canadian and US anthems are played the kids slowly lower and fold the flags, complete with cannon fire, enthusiastic applause and honking by all the boats in the marina. Occasionally the kids finish off the event by playfully tossing each other into the frigid water.
'Colors' happens each evening at dusk and is the bringing down of the flags. While the Canadian and US anthems are played the kids slowly lower and fold the flags, complete with cannon fire, enthusiastic applause and honking by all the boats in the marina. Occasionally the kids finish off the event by playfully tossing each other into the frigid water.




It has been a very long time since I have attached to American electricity. I've been spoiled by the 480 volt three-phase circuits we encountered in the Med. I had no trouble running the entire boat, air conditioning, dryer, electric stove, etc on a single 50 amp cable. I quickly discovered that I would be needing both my 50 amp cables and some sort of a 100 amp to dual 50 amp adapter. I thought it might be a challenge but the marina had an electrician to my boat within hours and an appropriate adapter custom made for me was ready by the next day.
It has been a very long time since I have attached to American electricity. I've been spoiled by the 480 volt three-phase circuits we encountered in the Med. I had no trouble running the entire boat, air conditioning, dryer, electric stove, etc on a single 50 amp cable. I quickly discovered that I would be needing both my 50 amp cables and some sort of a 100 amp to dual 50 amp adapter. I thought it might be a challenge but the marina had an electrician to my boat within hours and an appropriate adapter custom made for me was ready by the next day.




Sans Souci's slip at Roche. After years of dealing with the Med Mooring in Europe it felt SO amazing to just back into a slip and tie up. And, instead of a slip so tight that our boat's fenders were constantly bouncing off neighboring boats we now have a slip with several feet of air between Sans Souci and our nearest neighbor.
Sans Souci's slip at Roche. After years of dealing with the Med Mooring in Europe it felt SO amazing to just back into a slip and tie up. And, instead of a slip so tight that our boat's fenders were constantly bouncing off neighboring boats we now have a slip with several feet of air between Sans Souci and our nearest neighbor.




Long time readers of my blog know that we have a system called 'Simon' which monitors virtually everything on the boat. For example, if the shaft temperatures are running warm, I know it instantly. Well .. the techs who worked on the boat talked me into installing a Maretron system; an alternative to Simon. It was really installed just as an experiment and not fully implemented, and all of Simon is still on the boat and operational. The Maretron system was positioned as something I should try to see how I like. Maretron and I are off to a bad start. Notice that on a cool calm day it is showing 93 knots of wind, and that it is 171 degrees outside. I like playing with new toys, so I'm sure I will come to enjoy the system, but I can't say I'm there yet.
Long time readers of my blog know that we have a system called 'Simon' which monitors virtually everything on the boat. For example, if the shaft temperatures are running warm, I know it instantly. Well .. the techs who worked on the boat talked me into installing a Maretron system; an alternative to Simon. It was really installed just as an experiment and not fully implemented, and all of Simon is still on the boat and operational. The Maretron system was positioned as something I should try to see how I like. Maretron and I are off to a bad start. Notice that on a cool calm day it is showing 93 knots of wind, and that it is 171 degrees outside. I like playing with new toys, so I'm sure I will come to enjoy the system, but I can't say I'm there yet.




Outdoor dining at the Madrona Grill, at Roche Harbor.
Outdoor dining at the Madrona Grill, at Roche Harbor.




Fresh seafood being sold on the dock
Fresh seafood being sold on the dock




Kayak rental at the marina
Kayak rental at the marina




San Juan Island (where Roche Harbor is located) was once the battleground for a war between the US and Britain. Who knew?
San Juan Island (where Roche Harbor is located) was once the battleground for a war between the US and Britain. Who knew?




Few restaurants can compare with dining on the back deck of Sans Souci. We like it because we're up high, behind the pilot house. It feels like we have a bit of privacy perched high above the steady stream of people wandering the docks.
Few restaurants can compare with dining on the back deck of Sans Souci. We like it because we're up high, behind the pilot house. It feels like we have a bit of privacy perched high above the steady stream of people wandering the docks.














We added sun shades to the boat because there are evenings when we want to have dinner on the back deck, but can't because of the direct sunlight. I don't like the shades because they make us feel a bit boxed in. However, they are easily rolled up if we don't need them, and we can see out when they are down. A simple umbrella does not work because when at anchor the boat is constantly rotating constantly placing the sun in the least convenient spot.
We added sun shades to the boat because there are evenings when we want to have dinner on the back deck, but can't because of the direct sunlight. I don't like the shades because they make us feel a bit boxed in. However, they are easily rolled up if we don't need them, and we can see out when they are down. A simple umbrella does not work because when at anchor the boat is constantly rotating constantly placing the sun in the least convenient spot.




We like our internet on Sans Souci. Our favorite appliance is the Apple TV 4. It gives us all the tv shows and movies but also gobbles up a lot of internet. Marina wifi is rarely reliable or fast. I use a really nice device on Sans Souci to manage the Internet, called the Pepwave Max HD4. It allows me to simultaneously be connected to several sources of Internet (multiple cellular connections, wifi, Vsat) and instantly select between them, or even combine their bandwidth. I can do fancy (and even evil) things like allocating myself the fastest connection and our guests the slowest connection.
We like our internet on Sans Souci. Our favorite appliance is the Apple TV 4. It gives us all the tv shows and movies but also gobbles up a lot of internet. Marina wifi is rarely reliable or fast. I use a really nice device on Sans Souci to manage the Internet, called the Pepwave Max HD4. It allows me to simultaneously be connected to several sources of Internet (multiple cellular connections, wifi, Vsat) and instantly select between them, or even combine their bandwidth. I can do fancy (and even evil) things like allocating myself the fastest connection and our guests the slowest connection.



One of the best things about the Pepwave is the reports it provides. I can see in real-time the internet consumption of every device on the boat. I can also looks back at history and see who used how many bytes at any given time.
One of the best things about the Pepwave is the reports it provides. I can see in real-time the internet consumption of every device on the boat. I can also looks back at history and see who used how many bytes at any given time.



And, a couple surprises I'll leave you with...


It is usually tough to surprise us, but we weren't expecting this one. At dinner last night this boat floated past us. It's a HOT TUB BOAT! A boat filled with hot water and lively young people. What will they think of next?
It is usually tough to surprise us, but we weren't expecting this one. At dinner last night this boat floated past us. It's a HOT TUB BOAT! A boat filled with hot water and lively young people. What will they think of next?




OK -- here's another surprise from dinner last night. We heard this sailboat fire a cannon, and when we commented to the neighboring boat they said, 'Check out their bubble machine.' Bubble machine??? I pulled out the binoculars and the sailboat had a surfboard-based bubble machine. I'm not sure how practical it is, but it is very creative!
OK -- here's another surprise from dinner last night. We heard this sailboat fire a cannon, and when we commented to the neighboring boat they said, 'Check out their bubble machine.' Bubble machine??? I pulled out the binoculars and the sailboat had a surfboard-based bubble machine. I'm not sure how practical it is, but it is very creative!



That's it for this issue of the blog. We have just been goofing off at the marina. Next week we hope to go to anchor and try out our new kayaks... (and, perhaps our new stabilizers.)

Until next time,

Roberta, Keely, Toundra and me - Ken Williams
Nordhavn 68, Sans Souci
www.kensblog.com

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