We thought long and hard before we picked the name for our blog. We wanted to convey something more than just sailing and living on a boat. Life at Six Knots is about a lifestyle, about choosing to follow our hearts and not what society or our families and friends think we should be doing. It’s about living our best life on our terms and focusing on the things we find important.
It’s about having adventures. Sailing. Hiking. Cooking. Exploring. Trying new things. Meeting new people. To sum it up: its about living life, not just admiring it from afar.
Check out the video below to see what Life at Six Knots really means to us.
In our final episode of our journey we head back home. But before we head back home we take a quick break during to acknowledge my uncle Ken. He was my godfather and loved everything water related. He was the one who got me into fishing and boating as a child. We had some very memorable trips out including one where we got caught some bigger than wanted swell. We had to turn around and go back. As we turned we were hit on the side by a wave which could have overturned the boat. Luckily it didn’t. But at that point we decided we had to go into the swell away from shore before going towards the shore. It was one of the nastiest days I have been out on.
After a night of swell in Echo Bay we left Sucia Islands and headed for an overnight stay in Watmough Harbor. When we got there we did not feel very good about the anchorage, probably just newbie thoughts. We then backtracked to Hunter Bay to spend the night. It was a windy one with the chain going back and forth over the bridle. Not much sleep was had.
The next morning we proceeded back across the Juan de Fuca. Without knowing, there was a small craft advisory in the strait. We noticed a lot more swell than our previous crossing but it was not uncomfortable. It maybe just felt like it was bigger due to the fact there was not any fog. Here was definitely more wind though. We were cruising at 5-6 knots.
We were slated to meet with Peter and Mary in Mystery Bay. Once across the strait, we headed toward Marrowstone Island. If you have never been here before, the entrance can be quite tricky. This was our first time going in so concentration was of the essence. Once in Kilisut Harbor we started motoring toward Mystery Bay. We arrived to a “Please do not anchor” sign. We looked around and saw lots of mooring buoys and a state park dock. We headed out of the bay to look for anchorage but it was too windy for us to get any sleep. Port Ludlow, here we come.
We exited the harbor and made our way down the sound. We anchored in Port Ludlow while the sun was going down and a twelve hour day under our belts. That being said, it is a great harbor to get some well needed sleep. We were still deciding whether to go back to Mystery Bay or just go home.
Waking up the next day with the decision to just go home, we headed off. It was a pretty uneventful rest of the trip. Although as we were motoring into the wind, I saw other boats on a slightly different course sailing. I couldn’t have this. We point Willow out into the sound and threw the sails up. Tacking back and forth we finally made it into Madison Bay and sailed all of the way up to Agate Pass. Sails went down and motor came on for the remaining time.
After a few informalities, pumping out, we got Willow back into her slip and put away. It was kind of a happy moment knowing that we were going to get a couple of days of much needed sleep but also a sad one. We knew that our summer cruise was over and we would soon be hunkered down for the winter. We do go out in the winter, but with the lack of a diesel/kerosene/propane heater we are limited to mostly day sails.
We hope you enjoyed this first trip of ours with much more to come. We had a great tome sharing it and can’t wait for next season.
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
*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.
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.
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.
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.
Next week we start really exploring the San Juan Islands. Stay tuned as we anchor at Friday Harbor, Blind Bay and more!
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.
We’ve lived aboard Willow for six months now, and when we look back at the number of trips we’ve made in her, it’s a little sad. Of course, most of it isn’t our fault. We moved aboard at the end of fall and have lived through one of the Pacific Northwest’s nastiest winters in recent history. On a boat. As new sailors, the idea of getting out there in wet and windy conditions wasn’t appealing to us. For safety reasons as well as comfort.
But a couple of weekends ago, we decided it would be fun to sail down to Tacoma when our friend, Sue, who was also our boat broker, invited us to come down for dinner. The weather wasn’t supposed to be beautiful, but it wasn’t supposed to be too wet or too windy, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to venture outside of our little Liberty Bay bubble.
Though we didn’t have much good sailing wind, the trip was a learning experience for us, and we got to know our boat and her capabilities a little bit better. Though it probably won’t be for a while now (more on this to come!), we are excited to get back out on the water and learn even more about our boat we call home.
Kasey and Gabe are our very first wedding clients in Washington. When we heard that Gabe had proposed at Brownsville Marina, we knew right away that they our kind of clients. And when they suggested the marina was a place they might like to shoot their engagement session, we were stoked!
We woke up the morning of the session to blue skies and just enough wind. The video below documents our afternoon prepping the boat for sailing, cruising to Brownsville and a bit of our session with Kasey and Gabe!
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?
Our broker, Sue (who helped us buy Willow), introduced us to another client of hers who just purchased a Rhodes 41. He wanted to take it out for a little sail and she thought we might enjoy the chance to get out on another boat.