Gorgeous Sunday on the Sound

It’s only 3:11pm and already it’s been the perfect day. I woke up at 9:30, and Greg was long gone, downstairs to feed the dogs and the children. On weekend ...


Motoring to the boatyard for bottom paint, we encountered a Quandary

Lehua needs some new bottom paint, so we made an appointment with CSR, after getting some great reviews from fellow boaters via Duck Dodge and Cascadia Sailing Association. I’d called ...


Ahh, romance

It was date night tonight. Greg wanted to go to Billy Beach Sushi, and he knew I’d be onboard, because of the cabbage salad. See, I don’t like sushi. Twenty ...

Gorgeous Sunday on the Sound

It’s only 3:11pm and already it’s been the perfect day. I woke up at 9:30, and Greg was long gone, downstairs to feed the dogs and the children. On weekend days I will often text him with some ridiculous reason that he needs to come back to bed and snuggle for awhile. Today I claimed our love might not be that strong, and I needed at least ten minutes of snuggling to know for sure. While planted in the crook of his arm, I brought up the weather on my phone. Winds out of the SW at 6-8 knots, and possible showers, but nothing coming down yet. The sky out our window was part grey, with a peek of blue from the north. I got ready to bat my eyelashes.

“Wanna take Lehua out for a little spin, just get out there and practice a bit and then come back?”

“Sure!”, he said, to my surprise. Woot!


Beth wanted to come, but Miles decided to stay home with Jason – they ended up gardening and working on some Elder Scrolls something or other. I think it’s a new game they’re into. I grabbed snacks, my foulies, hats, gloves, neck warmer, and water bottles, and we piled into the car and went down to the marina. The motor boat next to us is owned by a guy who lives aboard, and he came out and chatted with us on our way out.

I’m always aware that Lehua is mine, and that technically, I’m supposed to be in charge of everything. In practical terms this is very rarely the case; Greg and I are always together, and two heads are better than one – he has caught me missing stuff, I’ve caught him missing stuff, and so it goes. But I want to practice being the Captain and learning every bit about my boat that I can, and so as we get to the dock, I’m usually rummaging around in my brain, trying to remember everything we need to do to get out. Oil, check. Coolant, check. Flip the power over, bring in the cord, check check. Turn on the nav/com, check. Get the seacocks open, turn on the water pressure, check check. Pull off the cover to the depth meter, take all the winch covers off, take the sail cover off. And on it goes.

I got the engine going, and Greg stood on the dock, ready to push us off. Our neighbor looked at me behind the wheel and said to Greg, “So do you drive, or does she drive…..?”

Greg said, “She drives.”

“Wow. That’s interesting,” the guy said. I almost laughed out loud.

“Well, she’s really good at it,” Greg said, smiling.

(I should have knocked on wood when he said that, because even though it’s true, I’m superstitious, and I am still learning, and when we came back, the wind from the southwest was so hard it blew our stern to close to the sailboat to our port side – which no one lives on, thank goodness. I just pushed us off her with my foot, it’s a normal sort of maneuver, but I still would have been embarrassed to have woken someone out of their nap with my jostling.)

We motored out to the buoy, and got close enough for Beth to see, hear, and smell the seals barking at each other (“This is MY spot” “No, this is MY spot”), and then we put up the sails and headed out, pointed roughly south into the wind, tacking back and forth in looooong stretches up and down the Sound. Basically we’d tack every time we got close the shipping lanes, which made for some  nice long stretches of just sitting and looking at the gorgeous scenery, feeling the wind, watching the other sails pop up in the distance.

When we turned out of the breakwater, we saw a group of five Lasers, and then off Golden Gardens Park we saw a sailing class. In the distance we saw maybe four or five other sailboats. When we came in two hours later, there were more than a dozen boats out. We never saw a drop of rain, and the temperature was cool but not freezing; it was a perfect sailing day!

Greg and I decided to practice with me as the Captain, where our agreement is that I’ll make all the decisions unless he seems something happening that could, in any way, be dangerous. I love doing this, I learn so much. I had to decide when, where, and how to put the sails up, where we were headed, and then I had to steer the whole time, picking our point of sail and deciding when to tack, and giving orders to do so.

I often find steering to be the most exhausting, but today I figured out how to do a lot more sitting down, by utilizing what I call “the clamp” on the wheel (it’s the thing that lets me lock the wheel in place, and there’s undoubtedly a name for it that I don’t know), and by practicing sitting on the high side (when we heel over there’s the high side, where you can see, and the low side, where you’re down close to the water and see virtually nothing) and steering with one hand.

The steering with one hand was way easier than I thought it was, although the wheel was a little far away, which explains why a few of those big boats at the boat show had a wheel so freaking huge that you could hardly step around it without falling overboard; it was so you could reach the wheel easily from either side, but geez, then you’re trapped behind it for the entire trip (not literally, but it felt like it when we visited those boats). See, my next boat will probably be even smaller than Lehua (I’m having daydreams of a stout little Flicka, which makes no sense because Greg couldn’t even stand up and neither of us could sleep comfortably), and it will have a tiller. No more of this wheel nonsense. I don’t see the point of a wheel in a smaller boat.

I’m always overcome with joy when we get out on the water, and even more so when we get out there and there’s wind. For awhile I just kept laughing, it was the only thing I could do feeling that incredibly good, and Greg would look at me and then start laughing himself. I told him, “Thank you,” and then I just looked up at our tight sail, wind pushing us over, and I said, “Thank you,” again. Thank you, thank you. I love this, I love it so much. We even saw a dolphin! Just one, oddly enough. There isn’t anything else I’d rather be doing. Sailing is the best feeling in the world, and I got to sit there for two hours with the best co-Captain I can imagine having, and just watch the world go by, from my little perch on my little boat. Best Sunday ever.

Here’s a movie and some photos that I took today:

Sailing – March 9th, 2014 from Hollie Butler on Vimeo.

Motoring to the boatyard for bottom paint, we encountered a Quandary

Lehua needs some new bottom paint, so we made an appointment with CSR, after getting some great reviews from fellow boaters via Duck Dodge and Cascadia Sailing Association. I’d called another boatyard and wasn’t too impressed by the conversation; they seemed annoyed that I didn’t know what the haul-out process was, even after I explained we’d never done it before. So, I began asking around, and CSR got hands-down the best reviews. I called them, and they were friendly and explained everything in a way that a new boater could understand. I felt great about it, and made my appointment.

This morning we left with a lot of time, which was fortunate because we ended up getting held up at the locks. Normally we enter the canal from the west, pass under the railroad bridge, and then head into the locks. Today we got to the bridge, and found a strange sight; what looked like two small dinghies trying to push a fishing boat (50 ft long), the F/V* Quandary, that was apparently dead in the water.

Another boat, R/V Liberty, a King County research vessel (found out later they do water quality and environmental science, nifty stuff), had pulled up to some pylons and was waiting, watching the drama unfold. Eventually the two dinghies got the fishing boat pushed up against a wall.

Fishing vessel Quandary (great name, oui?) is pushed to the wall.

At that point, another, much larger ship from the Army Corps of Engineers came through, went past us, and then the fishing vessel was pushed gently into the large lock.

Army Corps. vessel

At that point, we heard over the speakers that the Liberty and “the sailboat” were free to move forward. “Sailboat to port side, tie up to Liberty,” which we did.

F/V Quandary

If you do a search for F/V Quandary you’ll find all kinds of information about them. Greg heard the lock guy telling the other folks; apparently Quandary lost power just as she was heading into the small lock. She hit the wall at about 4 knots. The small lock will need to be drained to make sure there isn’t any damage. They lowered the boat, let her out, and then she was passed around to the large lock, to head back home – I assume to Fishermen’s Terminal. Hopefully they get her fixed up soon! Good luck to the Captain and crew. And also – to the adorable black puppy we saw being passed around!

Tied up to Liberty.

Finally we made it to CSR, and got Lehua tied up to a dock. We got the kids off, and all our stuff, and then we watched as they slid her to the crane and lifted her up.




Beth was so concerned! “Are they going to take good care of her? What will happen to her? Will she be okay? Are they going to put her on the ground? Do they know what to do? Will she get hurt? She won’t get hurt, right?”

Finally I said, “You’re concerned, aren’t you?” and she said, “She’s our flower! She’s our floating flower!” (The word “lehua” is Hawaiian – the lehua flowers are found on the Ohi’a tree, and also in Hawaiian mythology). I caught a  bit of her concern in a little clip I made of them rolling Lehua in.

And then we were done! She’s in there a week or so. Hopefully I won’t get a call telling me that there are any surprise problems we need to fret over. *fingers crossed* *wood knocked*

A few other photos from the trip:

* F/V means a fishing vessel. R/V means a research vessel. M/V is motor vessel, and Lehua is an S/V – you guessed it: sailing vessel. There are a lot more, if you’re interested in ship prefixes.

Testing my new IFTT recipe….

…by taking photo of our shopping list. Our friend wrote “love” once, and I never delete it. I’m seeing how we can go writing and erasing around it. She also requested the vermouth. #lists

from Instagram: http://ift.tt/1dKbz6E

Whack a mailbox, meet a ham

I have been toying with the idea of starting another blog for my ham radio adventures, but I’m not convinced I can keep up with two blogs (history proves I usually end up abandoning one). In the interest of keeping everything on Salt Water, here’s a ham radio post I wrote on October 27th, re-posted here to keep things consistent: 

The other day I took my two kids to a fellow homeschooler’s house for an afternoon of board games. I’d never been to this house before or met the people hosting, and so it was an especially great first impression I made by accidentally backing into their mailbox post in our van and knocking out three out of six of the mailboxes. Three of six! That’s not bad if we’re keeping score. In case you’re wondering? We’re not keeping score.

The host stepped out her front door and onto her porch, as I’m walking up her house with what must have been a look of abject horror on my face, and to my shock she calls out sweetly, “Oh don’t worry! It’s okay! People hit that thing all the time!” I couldn’t believe it. I just shaved three mailboxes (still full of mail!) off a post in front of her house and she’s imploring me not to worry about anything.

We picked them up and set them, battered but not broken, back onto their post, and the whole time I’m telling her how happy I’d be to pay for the replacement of any of these, to which she calmly replies that her husband can fix everything, no problem, they’ll just screw them back on. Then she starts rattling off a list of all the people that have hit this thing. After spending three hours with her, I can attest that she is just as friendly and sweet as this initial meeting suggested.

Her neighbor, Ed, stepped out of his house to investigate, and then he started reminiscing about all the people who have hit this post, including himself. While he’s telling me this, he’s holding a hammer, with which he’s battering out the dent in one of the mailboxes. It was so funny. Later, in the house, after I’d been handed a cup of tea to calm down, and met everyone else (oh you bet I had a couple other witnesses – guess who they won’t be calling to do homeschool field day transport duty?), we got to talking about hobbies, and I mentioned something about being a new ham radio operator.

My host exclaimed, “Oh! Ed is into ham radio!”, and I looked across the street and noticed what I should have seen twenty minutes earlier: three tall antennas coming up out of his backyard, towering over his house. Ed really is into ham radio. I almost went over and re-introduced myself, this time with my call sign, but resisted the urge. I didn’t want to bother him.

Later, on the 9 o’clock net, I told the story, but I was transmitting on a frequency 5 kHz higher than the right one, which made my signal weak and my transmission garbled. It seems that our net host got that I had managed to dust off some mailboxes in my van, but the rest was a mess. I’m not sure Ed heard me well enough to recognize what I was saying, if Ed was even listening. I’ll keep an ear out for Ed in future nets and hope that I get to meet him.

Incidentally, that was the second time I’d accidentally hit the UP button on my little Baofeng HT and knocked my frequency off by 5 kHz, apparently right before I hit the PTT button. So tonight when I checked in with an in-and-out, the host joked, “Well, your signal sounds great, you must be on the right frequency this time.” Every n00b has their story, this is mine. I’m 5kHz-off girl. Or 3-mailboxes off. However you want to remember it.


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