The majesty of sailing the San Juan Islands Part 1: an overview

P1020950The San Juan Islands here in Washington State are a treasure. Sailing, fishing, crabbing, kayaking, hiking, history, Orca, whales, seals, seaside villages with unique appeal, and oh yeah…some of the best sunsets in the World all await you in this Pacific Northwest gem.

After a winter spent working on our boat and a spring spent replacing the main mast, Rebecca and I were super excited to be able to ‘get away from it all’ for two weeks aboard our trusty Hudson Seawolf 44, ‘Fair Dinkum.’¬†The choices here in the Pacific Northwest are many, but the San Juan’s are our favorite. Far enough from our homeport in Tacoma to feel like we have gone somewhere but close enough to be doable for two separate nine day journeys without breaking the bank, the islands beckoned us yet once again. The slide shows below show just a sampling of our experiences and we plan to elaborate on them in later posts. Feel free to leave a comment if you would like to know anything in particular. For now, enjoy.

We love to sail. The Puget Sound is finicky in the summer months and even going North, it can be a challenge to get where you are going whilst taking advantage of the wind. This year, however, we resolved to sail, and sail we did! Yes we spent plenty of time motoring, but on both trips we logged over a hundred miles of sailing. It was simply put marvelous! The scenery that you see under sail here is amazing. We saw whales, caught salmon, and just soaked it all in!

A great day of sailing is always made better when you are then able to have a good time at anchor. The San Juan’s are replete with activities for the cruiser. Kayaking is a favorite of ours and exploring those places inaccessible to us in our sailboat is a real joy. Bull kelp billowing in the current, enjoying the rock formations, jigging for bottom fish, crabbing, hiking on the miles-and-miles of trails, exploring historic landmarks, visiting lighthouses, enjoying the company of friends, and having a drink or two after our passage all made our days memorable and full.

Sunsets! I am of the humble opinion that the sunsets in the San Juan’s are beyond compare. The color never ceases to amaze as does their longevity. It is common here to begin watching the sunset at 8 in the summer and watch it transition and develop until 11 or later. This year the colors were especially magnificent. I don’t know why but they were. Sunset is our favorite time aboard as it is for many cruisers. It can be a time for enjoying a sundowner, listening to music, reading, contemplating, or all of the above. Salmon on the grill and crab in the cooker certainly help fill in the senses. It is all here in the San Juan Islands.

Up next, we will dive in to the specific islands we visited this year and details of our voyage. Let us know what you would like to see! Until then, fair winds!


IMGP0139Cheers from Dylan and Rebecca :)


The value of a great (boating) partner

P1020680Thanks to all who have followed this blog so far. There has been so much going on that it has been difficult to keep you all up to date on our progress. One thing I can say is that 2015 has been a huge success so far thanks in no small part to my wife Rebecca.

There are many types of boating partners floating around in this World. There are salty sailors, restoration experts, rigging maestros, sailing gurus, and then there are the countless supportive partners that lend themselves to our sea fairing dreams in countless other ways. I am a lucky guy who has the later. Rebecca is not a sailing guru, though she is learning to be one and with no doubt surpass me one day in sailing knowledge. She is not a systems expert, nor an expert in sailboat restoration. She is, however, the most amazing and supportive partner a fella could have when endeavoring to achieve nautical greatness. She is the inspiration behind this blog and the encouragement that keeps the project going day in and day out.

This year, we had the unfortunate experience of needing a new main mast which we learned while knee deep in our restoration of the main salon aboard Fair Dinkum, our Hudson sailing ketch. We bought her with the future in mind. She is a stout blue water cruiser that will take us to all of our dream destinations…but she is a project!!!

P1020655Our first year was filled with replacing the teak deck with a fiberglass deck. In this I had about 200 hours of work, much of it with Rebecca by my side handing me tools and learning about boat construction. After this work we were rewarded with an amazing wedding aboard Fair Dinkum and then some much needed time away from it all on the boat. Our second year of ownership started off with an aggressive but achievable work list that included replacing the cabin top, but we were then sacked with the need for a new main mast. Throughout the time, Rebecca kept my spirits up and supported the additional funds needed to secure the replacement mast. While I tended to the boat almost daily this winter she picked up the slack at home…whether making sure dinner was done for our 4 children, or taking care of bedtime whilst I slaved away at grinding and preparing our cabin top, she was and is a real trooper.

P1020668It is true that she was not able to do many of the things that I was able to when it came to epoxy and compound mitre joints, but she DID afford me the opportunity to do these things while being on of the best cheerleaders one could ever hope for. With this motivation, permission, and support WE were able to accomplish the impossible over the winter. As I type this, the brightwork on the cabin top is drying, the new (to us) mast is ready to install, and the cabin top is sparkly new. Every day I work on the boat I eagerly send her pics of my progress which are met with “yeah baby” and “yahoo.”

P1020650Since my last post, much has been done. All the cabin top beams have been rebuilt with epoxy. A NEW marine grade plywood cabin top has been installed from the underside of the fiberglass skin. This was a months long process using jacks and supports as well as our full 300 foot anchor rhode to balance the weight and ensure a proper bond. New deck vents and hatches have been installed, and finally the cabin top has received new paint both inside and out!

P1020675About the paint…I am a really good epoxyer and a really good boat builder guy…but I am the WORST when it comes to paint. I never seem to get it right. I always seem to get more paint on myself than where I am trying to put it…but my partner Rebecca is brilliant at it! I learned this when we had a “boat day” a few weekends ago. I was hoping I could get some help painting the inside of the cabin top, but she said “I can do that” and she sure did! Her results were better than I could have ever hoped to have done! Simply put…She has made beautiful what I have made strong. I could ask for nothing more.P1020677

Here is to my boating partner and to all those out there. Thank you for all you do! You add to our lives and make our dreams possible. Not only that but you sure do make our boat look a lot better! Sometime that means making the cabin top beautiful….P1020685

And sometimes it is just making the whole thing worth while…



Hey everyone! We have a new mast and up next we will hopefully go over the fitting of it! Here she is on the deck…gonna look a whole lot better rigged!



We can’t wait to share the experience with you. Until then take care all and enjoy the upcoming sailing season!!!

It’s the little things: Making progress!

P1020639Man this is a big project! Replacing the cabin top of our main salon has now consumed 7 months of our time. It is easy to get lost in the largness of it all and perhaps get sucked into the “wormhole” of boat projects from which I assume there is no recovery. However, today my friends we have progress! I installed the last of the cabin top panels today, marking a huge step in our project. From now on, we are re-assembling the interior. We are far from finished, but today is a day to celebrate. It hasn’t come easily thus far and many sacrifices had to be made…including my hair. We’ll get to that later though. Continue reading It’s the little things: Making progress!

Digging in: Deconstructing our dream


P1020588Okay folks. When the love of your life asks you how she looks wearing her proper safety gear, be careful how you answer ūüėČ It’s important to have fun while tackling a major boat project, especially when you are working as a team. It can be hard to keep your spirits up as you are tearing apart your dream…breaking more than a few eggs in the hopes of making the omelette which will carry you around the world. However, this is what we have chosen to do, so there was nothing left to do but dig in! Continue reading Digging in: Deconstructing our dream

Five stages of boat work

P1000035“I am pretty sure this is bad” is what I thought as I was probing the salon cabin top gingerly with a screw driver when we were deciding whether to buy Fair Dinkum. Okay, we had already decided to buy her, but we were still pretending to be making a decision. It is pretty amazing what sailors can live with on a boat but wood rot is not on my list of acceptable things to have on board. After our first full season of sailing it was time to get down to business and begin addressing the stinky black rot. Continue reading Five stages of boat work

Orcas in the San Juan Islands

IMG_5164We have written about our love affair with the Pacific Northwest resident Orcas on a few occasions. It is true…We just love them! We especially love to see them in the only place that we feel they should be seen…their natural habitat.

Now is an especially happy time because a new baby was recently born! Yay!!! In celebration of the NEW baby J50 I thought we would share some of our Orca footage with you.  Hope you enjoy!


This year we resolve to sail!

P1020348This year we resolve to sail. It is a simple resolution really. Last year the diesel logged too many hours on the hour meter. We were pressed for time and so had to rush rush rush everywhere we went. Don’t get me wrong, it was a wonderful year for our family on the water. In fact it was epic, but this year we resolve to sail!

Continue reading This year we resolve to sail!

Rebuilding the deck part three–The big payoff!

DSCN0920March of 2014 was a very hectic time. ¬†Spring always is. Our deck was now solid, but we feared that it would not remain so if we stopped our project at that point. I talked to numerous boatbuilders who all assured me that the work done thus far would be sufficient, but I was not satisfied that our boat was truly blue-water-ready, so I decided that adding a couple layers of fiberglass to cap off the project would be in order. Continue reading Rebuilding the deck part three–The big payoff!

Rebuilding the deck part 2‚ÄĒthe long slog

P1000056Big boat projects can be tricky to complete. You have to be committed to getting the job done, but not at the expense of family and time on the water. Winter is a great time to get things done up here in the Pacific Northwest. I learned from past failures that working as a team with your loved one can mean the difference between a relationship building experience and a horrible mistake where everyone feels bad.

In January of this year we had the deck stripped down to raw fiberglass. Tearing out the old teak deck and prepping the fiberglass had taken 3 months of weekend and evening work. The size of the project ahead was daunting but there was no way but forward. Our first step was to take the trusty hammer and survey the deck. Surprisingly, much of the deck was in fairly good shape.  The normal spots you would expect to find a wet deck (around the deck fittings) were actually quite solid. No, it was wet and spongy in random spots due to the leaking teak and extra holes throughout.

We decided to drill out all the holes and inject epoxy in every single one. We did not want a single hole in the deck when it was all over. By drilling the holes that were already there, we were able to ensure the epoxy would get to where it needed to be. We also drilled a few additional holes where the deck was soft in order to ensure good epoxy penetration .

Continue reading Rebuilding the deck part 2‚ÄĒthe long slog