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More Repairs on Willow

More Repairs on Willow

Owning a boat comes with a lot of responsibilities. The biggest one besides not hitting anything is maintenance and repairs. Some say it is a hole in the water which you dump money into. I agree and disagree with that statement. If it is your home than it is no different then home improvement projects or home repairs.

We had a good amount of time to do some maintenance with the mast out for almost a month. With all the rigging removed and out of the way, we took the opportunity to re bed the chain plates and jib car tracks. The chain plates were straightforward. Unbolt, pull them through the deck, apply some 4200, insert and re bolt. The jib car tracks were a different story. We had to pull back the vinyl interior to get to the nuts. Oh yeah, the liner has the original zippers which no longer work and had to be pried open. The hood for the oven also had to be taken off. And after all of that I had to squeeze into small opening and contort my arm to get the aft couple of bolts out. Once that was done, we cleaned the rails, installed butyl tape around the bolts and reversed the process. We now have safety pins instead of zippers, but hey, that is another project for another day.

During last winter we noticed a lot of water running into the head. We re caulked the teak accent piece above the head to no avail. It was time to pull the portlight out and re bed it. This was a lot simpler than I thought it would be. While taking it apart I notice that the frame was not tight and there was clear silicone. After looking carefully, I noticed that a temporary fix had been attempted but the inside ring was put on backwards, so it never got tight. Some more 4200 and the indoor waterfall was fixed.

The deck where the bow pulpit attaches was a concern during the survey. Somewhere along the line Willow had hit a piling with the pulpit and had some minor damage to the deck. This caused a bit of moisture to get into the core. Luckily there was no delamination. After contorting arms once again, we had it off and back on, leaving a day in between for the core to dry. Some of the bolts were bent so replacements were needed. There had to have been a lot of force to do that.

We had a couple of issues when it came to access in the interior of the boat. The mast step was inaccessible, hence the reason it was missed on the survey. We decided to leave access panels in these areas to make sure it could be monitored from here on out. Since the holly floor covered the port side access panel, we installed a hinge to make sure we could get to it and to create more storage under the floor. We also had an issue with a squeaky, bending floor in the companionway. I decided the best thing to do was to cut a hole and inspect because again, there was no access. After looking at the problem, the wood holding the floor was no longer attached to the stringer. A couple of screws fixed that right up. Now what to do with the panel I cut out. I went to the store and bought some two by two cedar and built a frame. Fixed!

Finally, the goofy table. Our main table has leaves on it which were falling off. But the only way to remove the table for fixing was to pull out the mast. Aha! While we had the mast out, we could fix it. I looked towards the previous owner of Willow for help with this. He is very knowledgeable of wood and has a nice woodworking area in his garage. After a week of gluing and cutting to make the table removeable with the mast installed, we got our table back. The whole time we were in the San Juan Islands we did not have a table. Glad to have our workspace back!

Sail On!

Cruising the San Juan Islands: Part 2

Cruising the San Juan Islands: Part 2

*This post includes affiliate links. That means if you click a link and purchase the item, we get a little bit of commission, which we appreciate the heck out of, btw!

Port Ludlow to Mackaye Harbor

Our first experience anchoring was…fun. Aside from some quirkiness from the windlass, we did pretty good! Port Ludlow is a muddy bottom (like most of the Puget Sound area), so it was a good place to learn. We were exhausted by the time we got settled down after taking Katie to shore to do her businesses, but we managed to spend a few minutes enjoying a beautiful sunset.

sunset at port ludlow


We faced our first “living on the hook” challenge: making coffee with no shore power. Usually we use an electric kettle to get the water temperature exactly right, an important element of the brewing process when you use a Chemex coffee maker. Without power, we had to heat the water in a pan and then pour it into the kettle (we use a gooseneck kettle for even pouring). A stovetop kettle is definitely on our wish list for future cruising adventures, but for now, this worked quite nicely for us.

Before we got to the actual cruising portion of this adventure, we had one stop to make: my dad’s family’s annual reunion in Sequim.

I have such fond memories of attending the reunion when I was a kid. We made a road trip out of it several times, and those trips are some of my best memories of childhood. We would stop and camp along the way, sleeping in this green tent, all four of us (my parents and my brother, Matt. Dan was there for one trip, I believe), and cooking on a camp stove. The Pacific Northwest is known for its berries, and I remember picking strawberries one year and my mom making a strawberry pie inside the tent because it was pouring rain outside.


This was the first time in over 20 years that I made it to the reunion. Since I was a kid the last time I went, I didn’t remember a whole lot of people, so it was fun to re-meet so much of my dad’s side of the family. Jim and I both really enjoyed chatting with everyone, getting a tour of the dairy farm run for three generations by the Smith family, and having my fingers sucked on by baby cows. There was so much good food and good conversation that all around warmed my soul.

dairy farm in sequim, wa
The family farm from the mouth of Sequim Bay

That night was a full moon (or almost full), and it was red in all the smoke from the fires. We sat outside, enjoying a nightcap and listening to the music coming from the wedding at the yacht club. It was a perfect way to end a wonderful day.


red full moon


From Sequim, we made our way across the Straight of Juan de Fuca and into the San Juans. Our first stop was Mackaye Harbor on the south side of Lopez Island. We picked blackberries and checked out a cute little general store and enjoyed a beautiful walk on this green and lush island. Everyone who passed us waved from their cars, and we just loved how friendly and welcoming people were.

dirt road on Lopez Island

Next week we start really exploring the San Juan Islands. Stay tuned as we anchor at Friday Harbor, Blind Bay and more!


Cruising the San Juans: Part 1

Cruising the San Juans: Part 1

Poulsbo to Port Ludlow

The most unfortunate thing about our summer was that we were caught up in replacing the mast step and repairing a stringer for most of the cruising season. We had so many plans, so many intentions to cruise here and there, exploring the Puget Sound, plans that were put on hold while we made major repairs to our boat.

So you can bet your bottom we set sail at our first opportunity once the boat was back in operable condition. All winter our friends had been telling us how great the San Juans are, how we have to get out there and explore the islands. And we’d been chomping at the bit to do just that.

We had a long list of things to do before we could leave. Provision the boat. Clean the boat. Check to make sure everything was in working order. Laundry. Make sure Katie had food. Learn how to anchor. Charge all of our batteries, since we would be staying at anchor most of the time. Make sure we had enough coffee to last us the trip. Fill the fuel and water tanks. Pump out our holding tank. Etc. Etc. Etc.

We got everything done except “Learn to anchor.” It made me a little bit nervous that we had never done this before we left on a long trip, but Jim had done a lot of research, talked to a lot of people and felt confident that we could figure it out.

And we did. In Port Ludlow, just before dark, with a windlass that just didn’t want to work at first.

Check out our video for more about the first leg of our San Juan Islands adventure.


Boat Chef: Steph’s Crabulous Crab Cakes

Boat Chef: Steph’s Crabulous Crab Cakes


Welcome to the first episode of our new series, Boat Chef! One of the questions we are asked most about our liveaboard lifestyle is whether or not we cook on the boat.

When we moved aboard, I promised myself I wouldn’t let the size of my galley prevent me from cooking exactly what I wanted when I wanted to. Last December I baked Christmas cookies aboard, and on St. Patrick’s Day I made Jim and our neighbor, Skip, a corned beef with all the veggies (I get double credit on that one since I don’t even eat corned beef!). I’ve made risotto while underway and handfuls of lunches on a heel.

I’ve always enjoyed cooking and I’d like to think I’m pretty good at it, so I am starting this series to share with you some of the recipes and dishes I prepare in my tiny galley.

Scroll past the video for the full recipe.



Crabulous Crab Cakes (with Sriracha remoulade)

These crab cakes are delicious and easy to make. 

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 people


For the crab cakes

  • 1/2 tbsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp mayonaise
  • 4-5 shakes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1.5 green onions chopped small
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • seasoning salt (or Old Bay) to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • Approx 1 lb fresh crab cracked, shelled and cleaned
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers crushed into crumbs
  • olive oil (or coconut oil) for cooking

For the Sriracha Remoulade

  • 1/2 green onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnnaise
  • 1-2 tbsp Sriracha depending on your taste
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • seasoning (salt, pepper, etc) to taste
  • 1/2 lemon juiced


  1. Mix remoulade ingredients together, set aside.

  2. Combine your sauces (Sriracha, Worcestershire, Dijon mustard), mayonnaise, green onion, crushed garlic, lemon juice, seasoning salt, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

  3. Add eggs and crab. Mix.

  4. Add cracker crumbs. Mix.

  5. Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a frying pan. When it is hot, add crab mixture in small lumps, flattening each one slightly.

  6. Fry each cake for about 3 mins on each side or until they're golden brown. 

  7. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

In the video, it only shows me adding one egg. I did add a second one that didn't make it on camera


We’ve been busy!

We’ve been busy!

The past month has been a crazy one. And we apologize for our virtual radio silence on the blog and on YouTube. But fear not, we have been recording video and we will be sharing all the details of what we’ve been up to as soon as Jim can get a video ready for you.


Here’s what you can look forward to in the next couple of weeks:

-We had our mast pulled

-We replaced our mast step

-We did a lot of rebedding

-We volunteered for Festival of Sail

-We shot a wedding

-We did a styled bridal shoot

-We celebrated our first 3rd of July in Poulsbo (and 4th)


So stay tuned. We’ve got a lot coming your way!

A single moment can change your life: one year since KABLAM!

A single moment can change your life: one year since KABLAM!


One year ago today, our lives changed. In such a huge way that it prompted us to take a hard look at every element of our reality. And then start over from scratch.

Well, not entirely from scratch. Our marriage provided a good foundation. And we weren’t going to get rid of Katie. But that’s about where we drew the line. The three of us, our family, was all we needed from the life we once live.

When most people lose their job (or leave their job), they simply find a new job, cut some corners until income and expenses level back out and proceed forward. Changing jobs is generally a minor blip, a bump in the road. It’s not often a reason to sell your house and all of your belongings and move onto a sailboat in another state.

1500 square foot house

But I’ve never been much like most people. I always take the road less traveled. I zig when everyone else zags and the idea of simply finding a new job and moving forward at the pace we were going was exhausting. For me, leaving (losing) my job was an excuse to try something new, something different, something more adventurous.

So here we are. Fast forward one year, and Jim and I (and Katie) live on a sailboat in the Pacific Northwest. If you had told me a year and one day ago that this is where I’d be right now, I would have laughed in your face.

We spend our time working for ourselves, building our own businesses (Life at Six Knots and our wedding photography business), and sailing whenever we can. We’ve made new friends, created new daily routines, and we are, quite simply, loving life.

living on a sailboat

We weren’t sure living tiny was going to work for us. Can anyone truly be sure of something like that without trying it first? We downsized from 1500 square feet of house to somewhere in the region of 250 square feet of boat. And that space is not only our living quarters, but our office as well.

But tiny living does suit us. I love that we use every square inch of our space. I love that we don’t have cluttered closets and piles of things we need to find homes for. I love that all I really need to do my job is my camera, my laptop and some internet connection. Oh, and a steady stream of coffee, but that’s a different story.

chemex coffee

And though its hard as hell, I love self-employment. I love that I don’t sit at a desk working for someone else. I love that I create my own schedule, that I can start at 10 am and work until 8 pm if I want to. Or I can take a Wednesday off and work on Saturday.  Or stop working at 2 pm and then start again at 6. There’s so much freedom in it, even though I work probably twice as many hours as I did when I worked for someone else. Those hours are all mine.

I used to worry that my life was doomed to be stuck in the rut of working a job I didn’t enjoy, living in a town I didn’t feel a connection to and waiting the days away until I could go on my next vacation. But all it takes is one moment, one sentence, one snap decision to send your life into a completely different, completely awesome new direction. As long as you have the courage to let it.

Have you ever done a complete 180 in life? Tell us about it!




Reflecting on our Six Month Live-Aboard-iversary

Reflecting on our Six Month Live-Aboard-iversary

We’ve spent the last two weeks in California in our old surroundings, visiting with our family and friends. And it has been great. And hard. And trying. And fun. And it has given us a chance to reflect on all of the changes we’ve made in our lives in the past six months.

life at six knots

It’s crazy to think it’s been that long. Six months. Half of a year. And three days. Since we became official liveaboards. Of course, all of the changing came about a bit longer ago than that. Gosh, we’re rounding the ten month mark on that. How has it already been ten months?! But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’re talking about the six month mark.

life at six knots

Six months ago. We’d been “sneak aboards” on Willow for just about a month before we got the call from the port to let us know they had a liveaboard spot available. We were out on the boat in Liberty Bay with Jim’s parents who had come to visit us. They knew right away what the call was when my face lit up with a smile I could hardly contain. It was the moment we’d been waiting for and we began celebrating immediately!

I’d be lying if I said we hadn’t been stressing about it. In Washington, you’re allowed to “live” on your boat for 90 days out of the year, and 30 days out of every 45 (I think….we were trying to ignore that one and focusing more on the 90 days). We’d been told not to worry about it, that the port wouldn’t kick us out if it went beyond that. But we are rule followers, so we were concerned about what we’d do and what our options were.

life at six knots
Moving all of our stuff aboard.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to worry for long, and here we are, six months as legal liveaboards.

I didn’t think much about it until we returned to California. We settled nicely into life on the boat. It feels natural to us, like where we are supposed to be. But now we are in California, cleaning out the rest of our storage unit, selling more stuff, and shooting a wedding. We’ve been living in a regular old house, showering without having to feed a machine quarters or worrying about running out of hot water (despite the port’s fancy new tankless water heater), watching cable television, and preparing meals in a full-sized kitchen.

life at six knots
Signing the paperwork for the purchase of Willow.

But with access to all of these modern luxuries (things most people take completely for granted, by the way), we actually find ourselves missing the boat.

I love our tiny kitchen, our fridge with just enough room for food we’ll eat within the week. Even our tiny three (though you can only use two at a time)-burner stove and tiny oven. It’s the perfect size for just the two of us. Even for four of us if we have friends over.

life at six knots
Cooking risotto for four.
life at six knots
Our first breakfast aboard Willow: muffins from the farmer’s market and coffee from Hot Shots.

We’ve realized that we don’t need the king-sized bed we used to sleep on.

We quite enjoy the smallness of our space. We use all of it, and we don’t need any more.

We miss how so much of our lives occurs outside. Those walks up to the bathrooms to take a shower are inconvenient, but we love that they take us outdoors, give us a little exercise and fresh air.

We love waking up every morning already on the water. Sunrise at the marina is so peaceful and quiet and lovely. Really, it’s wonderful all day, but sunrise is particularly special.

life at six knots

We miss our tiny town, where we can walk almost anywhere we need to go, where we leave our boat and almost inevitably run into someone we know. We miss the sense that we belong to the community and that it belongs to us.

life at six knots
Peter, the old owner of our boat showing Jim how to use Navionics.

Ten months ago, before we began this journey, we never would have guessed that we would be living on a sailboat in the Pacific Northwest. We wouldn’t have imagined we’d be surrounded by so many amazing people or that our lives would feel so full.

And six months ago, when we were granted liveaboard status in Poulsbo, we couldn’t have imagined that it would be exactly where we belong.



Repairs and Updates

Repairs and Updates

At the beginning of the year, we went through the whole boat and changed out all of the 110 wiring after a plug burned up while we were away one evening. With these final updates, all of our a/c wiring has been replaced (with the exception of the water heater).


Sail On!

Visit from Dan and Erika

Visit from Dan and Erika

A few weeks ago, we got a bit of cool news: my youngest brother, Dan, and his girlfriend, Erika, had taken jobs at a dude ranch in Montana for the summer. They were packing up and leaving almost immediately, and were we available for a short visit on their way up? Well, of course the answer as an ecstatic and high volumed YES!

They drove up, stopping to visit a few friends on the way and arrived in Poulsbo on Dan’s birthday, just in time to celebrate with a little dinner and a beer at Tizleys. The next day we spent doing the tourist thing in Seattle (since Dan had never been outside of SeaTac Airport), and they were on their way the morning after.

It was a short visit, but I’ll take any time I can get with my youngest brother!


We have a problem…

We have a problem…

It’s a well-known fact that all boats need work. And that as a boat owner, you’re not allowed to be shocked or surprised when you find yet another project. It’s the reality of owning a boat. But finding a big problem is never fun. And the other day, we found a big one…

So for now, Willow remains in her slip, just as the nice weather starts rolling our way. We’re disappointed, but we’d rather have found the problem while the boat was safely in the slip than find it out on the water somewhere where it could cause some real damage.

Stay tuned for updates!

Sail On!