Tuesday, December 16, 2014

November 2014 in Seattle

The newest addition to the 20' Blanchard Fleet at the CWB I helped step the mast shortly after taking this pic.

http://sparkmanstephens.blogspot.com/2011/02/design-1557-spirit-class.html

Sparkman and Stephens Spirit 33 "Orpheus"

The Basic principals and Sailing remain the same even with lots of technological advances.

Managed to eek out 1 more sail on Puget Sound in November, Marine Biologist Christine took the helm for a sail over to Port Madison.

Heading back across the Sound to Shillshole we spotted the weather filling in and we almost got back without getting wet


We visited the Chief Seattle memorial but found out it included Chief Kitsap as well.


Plan on riding the Great Wheel sometimes?

November days you get a few sun breaks here and there

Enjoying a little treat from our Daughter and Son and Law

Four Seasons Style




A Little Storm blew in on the 23rd, the November weather had us convinced we were about to experience the Real Seattle Winter ahead.


Planning our Thanksgiving Getaway to the San Juans.

The Admiral was up early in the thick of it. It snowed all the way down to the lower elevations, the foothills of the Olympics got an unusual dusting of Snow.Not enough to build a snowman in Seattle but fun to look at.

Robots are a fun activity for a cold morning, I hide them around like Easter Eggs then Drew searches them out and arranges the Robot Crew.


The coldest night yet for us in Seattle on our way to Lake Union for the Christmas Parade of Lights.

Christmas ship on Right, Good times II in the Middle and the Dinner boat on the left.
 see  http://youtu.be/gHE2fPZg-jU

The Christmas ship has a Choir on board already blasting music across the Lake. 

The Seattle Nightscape light up with decorated cranes and the Tree on top of the Space Needle.

Lighted garland decorates the deck. 

Feels pretty good in here.

Have to venture out on the frozen foredeck to get the best views. 

I swear we have been Good!


Please!
 http://youtu.be/oj-OcQ1KISA

November 2014 in Seattle

If the last three weeks of October were any indication we were getting ready to experience a real Seattle Fall and winter. The good news though is we planned on spending three weeks in Texas sporting our grandson Drew around to all of the Texas Family. Just as we were leaving Seattle a real cold blast was expected to hit the PNW so we thought we were really lucky to be heading to warm, even hot Texas. Well that cold front was in Texas the next morning when we woke up in Austin bringing Rain and cold down to the upper 20's! Always trying to pack light I just brought warm weather clothes, no heavy coats. Just had to put on layers. We did not do our homework for the weather forecast in Texas but it is pretty straight forward: Cold fronts every 4-5 daqys in the winter and Thunderstorms sometimes the rest of the year. As you can tell from the previous post we navigated our Texas visit way better than expected.
Arriving Back in Seattle the Admiral and I planned our Thanksgiving getaway to the San Juans but first we wanted a repeat of the Christmas Boat Parade we went on last year so we had tickets for the same night, same ship on Lake Union. The morning of the boat parade the wind was howling and it was freezing outside with just enough moisture to form ice to make you watch your step on the downtown sidewalks. We wondered if they would even have the parade but knowing Seattle they do it in all types of conditions so we bundled up and walked the mile or so down to Lake Union.
Last year there were literally hundreds of private vessels participating in the parade, this year maybe a tenth the number. Most people participating in boat parades make a full day of it inviting their guest out to help decorate the boats during the daylight hours and having a day long party with it. But it was blowing 30+ all day with freezing mist, The foredeck of the vessel we were on had ice so you had to really watch your step. Hanging lights in the rigging of sailboats with such winds will cut the participants down to just the most determined or those that got it done before the weather came in.
Fortunately the winds died so you could stand out on the foredeck and get a good view for about 20 minutes or so and then retreat back inside to warm up.
The 2014 Sail Now! Program at the Center for Wooden Boats wrapped up in November and over 200 adults completed the program adding another generation of sailors to the Seattle waters. I volunteered just over 100 hours in 2014 which translate to 50 two hour sailing lessons for 100 people. The students take a 4 hour shore class +  6 X 2 hour lessons to complete the course. Each volunteer instructor teaches two students on the Awesome 20' Blanchard Sloops giving each student 6 hours on the helm and 6 hours of close observation. The Students could have 4-6 different instructors during their lessons providing them with as many as 6 different perspectives on how to solve the same problem. There is a consistent curriculum that all instructors adhere to and we compare notes often to  improve our own teaching styles, but the dynamics provide a very effective methodology and climate of learning. Being part of this volunteer staff is very rewarding and has definitely made me a much better sailor as well.
Weather is a big deal just about everywhere now but being sailors we are just so tuned in to the details. Here in the winter you can experience more than a couple of types of weather phenomena but the "Pineapple Express aka "Atmospheric River" http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/atmrivers/questions/  which streams all the way to Seattle and beyond from Hawaii bringing tropical moisture to the PNW,  and the Cold Fronts that come down out of the Alaska Yukon are dominant patterns. The first couple of weeks of December have been warm (Highs 50's up to the mid 60's with low's mid 40's) due to the Pineapple Express. Even when you get a cold front out of the Yucon the really cold temps with highs in the low 30's and lows in the mid twenty's are short lived since Puget Sound is like a heater in the winter which drives the temperate temps of highs in the mid 40's and lows in the high 30's. It is December 16 as I write this post and the 1st Day of winter is Dec. 21 so we really do not know what to expect for Christmas. Either way I am sure it will be a surprise!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ferry waiting on San Juan Island

The Admiral begins her Christmas shopping here

Everywhere on San Juan Island is beautiful, it's obvious the Alpaca are well cared for.












They take the Alpaca to livestock shows so they get all fluffed up.

The Winner

The Trophy wall.

Had to stop for a bottle of Mona Vino!



The vineyard.

The winery

The successful Christmas Shopper


The tasting Room

Just a remiinder.

At first we thought these might be Snow Geese.

Great timing, The International Ferry.


The Cascades full of snow.






Looking North at the Canadian Cascades.
Ferry waiting on San Juan Island

Your last day on any of the San Juans are primarily determined by the ferry schedule. On the off season you usually do not have to be concerned about getting to the ferry que but Holidays are just like the High Season and you need to be in line at least 1.5 hours before the scheduled departure time. There were two sailings posted on the State Ferry website from Friday Harbor to Anacortes but there was a rumor of an additional sailing added to the schedule. Even with the help of the locals we could not determine the time of the special sailing. So we chose the 2:45 International Ferry that comes over from Vancouver Island (Canada). It meant we would spend an additional 30 minutes or so in the customs line at Anacortes but it would get us back to Seattle at a reasonable time.
Top on the Admirals to do list was to visit the Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm and store to pick up some Christmas gifts for our Granddaughters in Austin, TX. After another fine breakfast prepared by Greg at the Hillside B&B we got to the Alpaca farm just as they opened. The Country Store there sold all sorts of Alpaca wear and we learned alpaca is 5 times the warmth of wool. It is certainly much softer for sure. The Admiral had come prepared with pre approved pictures of exactly what the girls wanted and that made it easy for the store clerk to help find the right gift. We've seen a lot of picturesque farms but this one wins the Blue Ribbon. see http://www.krystalacres.com/index.html
Fortunately we had just enough time to visit the only vineyard on the Island and buy a bottle of Mona Vino before heading off to get in the Que for the Ferry.