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Cruising the San Juans: Part 4

Cruising the San Juans: Part 4

In case you haven’t caught on yet, we’re suckers for good coffee, and when we learned that the Shaw General Store roasted their own coffee beans, we had to try it out.

And, frankly, we had to get some more of those salted caramels. They were so amazing, we still dream about those salty-sweet little morsels.

But we were also ready for an adventure, and our friend, Pamela, had suggested we take the mile or so walk to the county park at the other side of the island. So we did.

shaw island seeds

abandoned little boat

Shaw Island is one of the coolest islands we went to. The general store alone gives it major points, but we were pleasantly surprised to find so much character here. From yard art that could put any other to shame to the tiny seed shack (that was sadly, not open) to the old boats left to die in the bushes, we enjoyed every moment of our time on this island. It was a beautiful walk and the sounds of birds chirping and wind rustling in the trees as we walked down the road made for a serene and peaceful day.

shaw island

From Blind Bay, our plan was to stay a night in West Sound. We found a marina where we hoped to get a little water and pump our tanks, maybe stay an hour and check out the cafe close by. It didn’t look like there was a lot to do close to the marina, but we wanted to do a little exploring anyway. Sadly, things didn’t go as we’d hoped, and we had to come up with a different plan.

Willow anchored in Massacre Bay

That’s how we found ourselves on Skull Island with Katie. We wanted to do some exploring, so we found somewhere else to do some exploring. It was a neat little island, small enough to walk all the way around in a short amount of time, but it was hot, so we let Katie do some swimming and got ourselves back to to the boat.



Next week we make our way to Stuart Island and hike to a lighthouse. Check it out!


Cruising the San Juans: Part 3

Cruising the San Juans: Part 3

Mackaye Harbor to Blind Bay

ferry at Friday Harbor

Our first night in the San Juans was a rough one. We barely slept all night because of rolling waves, so we woke early, got some coffee together and headed to Friday Harbor!

With only two night’s of anchoring behind us, we had a challenging time anchoring in busy Friday Harbor. With so many boats around, it took us over an hour just to choose the right place. We dropped and pulled up and chose a different spot twice before we finally settled down somewhere that felt comfortable to us…only to have a fishing boat show up a few hours later and hook up to the “crab pot” we thought was floating near us. Fortunately, it was a small boat and it wasn’t too close, but its presence kept Jim awake for the second night in a row.

Friday Harbor sunset

We enjoyed exploring Friday Harbor the next morning. We got iced lattes and breakfast sandwiches at Salty Fox Coffee and then meandered through the streets of town, checking out shops and enjoying the beautiful day. Down at the dinghy dock as we were heading back to Willow, we happened to notice a couple in a dinghy struggling with their motor and fending off a piling, so we rode over to see if we could help. They were grateful for the tow back to their boat as they were transporting blocks of ice for their ice box, and were fearful they’d melt by the time they got the motor going again. Things always seem to go wrong at the least convenient moment, don’t they?

After debating staying a second night in Friday Harbor, we decided to move on. Peter (the old owner of our boat) had suggested we check out Blind Bay on Shaw Island. He said it was a quiet anchorage, not too much motion even though the ferries passed by on their way to Orcas Island, and a good place to just relax. It sounded perfect.

Though it seemed to be a more popular spot than he’d remembered, it was still exactly what we were looking for. We found a nice spot, dropped anchor and then took Brutus out to explore. We parked at the Shaw General Store dock and grabbed an ice cream and some of their amazing salted caramels and then brought Katie over to Blind lsland for a little exploring. We finished off the day with a nightcap on deck and watched the sun set over the San Juan Islands. It was perfect.

Stay tuned next week as we explore Shaw Island and head to Westsound!






Boat Chef: Tummy-Warming Veggie Chili (in the Wonderbag)

Boat Chef: Tummy-Warming Veggie Chili (in the Wonderbag)

As soon as the weather gets cold, I start craving soup. Soup is such a cozy, comforting dish to warm your tummy. And while chili is technically not soup, it has the same warming properties and it sounded good on this cold Pacific Northwest fall day.

When we started looking into moving aboard last year about this time, we came across a YouTube channel called Sailing Selkie. It was a young couple who were making the transition from living in an apartment to living on a sailboat in the Seattle area. We watched their videos over and over. They were doing exactly what we were working toward! In one of their episodes, they made a delicious looking pot of soup in a Wonderbag and we immediately added it to our list of needed boat items. Sadly, Sailing Selkie is no more, but we had to credit them with our discovery of this awesome slow cooker that requires no electricity.

This chili recipe will work in any slow cooker (or even just on the stovetop if you prefer!), but it was perfect for our Wonderbag.

Scroll past the video for the full recipe.


wonderbag veggie chili

Tummy-Warming Veggie Chili

Veggie chili to warm your tummy made in a Wonderbag or other slow cooker

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Author lifeatsixknots


  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 large carrots chopped
  • 1 med sweet potato chopped
  • 2-3 jalapenos chopped
  • 2 med zucchinis chopped
  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • 2-3 cloves fresh garlic chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or chili powder)
  • 1 can kidney beans drained
  • 1 can navy beans drained
  • 2 cans white beans (Great Northern) drained
  • 2 cans pinto beans drained
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can petite chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can fire roasted chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can Guiness draught beer or other dark beer


  1. Melt butter in a pan. Add onions. 

  2. Add sweet potato, carrots, jalapenos to the pan and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. 

  3. Add fresh garlic and spices. 

  4. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, beans and beer. 

  5. Bring to a boil.

  6. Remove pot from stove and put it in the Wonderbag. 

  7. Set aside for 3-3 1/2 hours.

  8. Add zucchini and corn.

  9. Let cook for another 1-2 hours. 

  10. Serve with your favorite toppings. We love sour cream, a little shredded cheese and sliced avocado!

Recipe Notes

If you are using a regular slow cooker, simply put all your ingredients into the slow cooker, mix well and cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 8-9 hours.

If you are planning to leave your boat while your chili cooks, you can add the corn and zucchini with your beans and tomatoes. We just like them a little less soft, but they will be fine cooking the full amount of time.

What are your favorite chili toppings? Let us know if you try this recipe and what you think!

Boat Apetit!





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.


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!




Sailing Lessons with Skip

Sailing Lessons with Skip

When we decided to move our life onto a boat, one of the things we were most excited about was the sense of community that seems to exist within a marina. Living in a house in a neighborhood where the residents seemed to care very little about each other was sad for us and left a lot to be desired by way of feeling like we belonged where we lived.

When we got to Poulsbo, we were immediately welcomed into the fold, and we love it. There are 25 liveaboard boats in our marina and we’ve become friends with several of them. Two boats down from us on a Hunter 37 is Skip, a seasoned sailor who was eager to share his knowledge and passion for sailing with us. As newbies to this realm of the boating world, we are eager to accept any tutelage that is offered to us, and last week Skip came out with us to show us a few things about sailing our boat efficiently and safely.

We were so grateful for the lessons and the company of our friend, Skip. And we are so glad to finally feel like we fit in with the community we live in.

If you live on a boat, what is your favorite thing about boat life?