Saturday, November 7, 2015

To Mermaid Condensator Or Not?

When we bought our very first sailboat "Moon Chaser" a 1999 Catalina 250 on Canyon Lake in Texas I received some really good advice from the Commodore of Hill Country Yacht Club, Charlie Teat. He said "Steve, the first thing you need to know is to keep the water on the outside".  Probably the most valuable piece of advice we ever received as we began our sailing adventures.
Living and Sailing in Southern waters you definitely search out ways to stay cool. Since we spent lots of Hot weekends on our 25' sailboat we had a "In the Hatch" style of AC unit that we kept in the dock box and then just put over the hatch and plugged it in. It did a great job of keeping us cool and you did not have to worry about the AC condensate inside the boat, You just directed the little condensate tube overboard and it ran off into the lake.

Then we bought our 30' 1986 Catalina and put "Hey You" on Lake Travis. The boat had a great 16K BTU reverse cycle unit (since it came from the Houston Area and you need the best there!) The problem was that the condensate ran into the bilge. These units can easily pour 6-10 gallons of water into the bilge in a days time so frequently you hear the bilge pump going off to discharge the water overboard. That is when I remembered what Charlie had taught me and I searched for a solution. Friends told me just to get a Mermaid Condensator, that will solve the problem!

The Mermaid Condensator comes with everything you need, the Venturi Valve, a strainer to prevent any debris from clogging the valve, a check valve to prevent AC cooling discharge water from backing up and flooding your vessel and connecting hoses. see:
I can't believe the price has dropped to $200, what is this deflation?

I searched the internet and bought the Mermaid Condensator for only $260! But I thought it had to be worth it to keep the water on the Outside. For the first time we had a completely dry bilge and we did not have to hear the bilge pump cycling on constantly. Definitely worth it, and the little valve that everyone said was way overpriced worked great the entire four years that we owned the boat. I can't even remember having to maintain the thing but I must have  cleaned the little strainer occasionally.

When we bought our currant vessel it had a AC unit that also drained the condensate into the bilge, but since the boat was in the PNW it was only occasionally used and so the bilge pump did not have to work as much to remove the water. But we took the boat to Texas and put a second unit in the vessel. The cool thing was a good sailor friend, Jim Clower,  called me up just after we bought the vessel and said he was at West Marine that was closing in San Antonio, Texas and they had their Mermaid Condensators marked down to $40.00! He asked if I wanted one, I told him to get me Two! Perfect. I had those little buggers installed the first day we boarded the boat in Texas. We lived aboard every weekend for a couple of years and then eventually moved aboard to get the vessel ready to go cruising. The AC units ran a LOT!. Now maintaining the little valves became critical. Once I let one of the valves go to long without cleaning the crud out and even though I revived it for a short time it died. That's ok I just bought another one and I have been much more attentive to doing regular maintenance, taking them off and cleaning any specs of debris and re-installing.

Then Our Neighbors, Wendy and Randy discover another source for venturi valves from Ryan Herco Flow Solutions.

Randy and Wendy keep a spare on board, that way they just take the working valve off if it gets clogged and replace with the spare quickly getting the AC back on. Then they take the time to clean one they removed and have it for a spare for the next cycle. They report that is works great. 
I decided to buy one of these and keep it for a spare especially since the are only about $52.00.
This unit has a built in check valve so you only need to add a small strainer and the connecting fittings/hoses.
Why am I even blogging about this? Well I recently read some comments about all this on  Cruisers Forum It was interesting to see others frustration with the Mermaid Condensator and read about their rather creative solutions for keeping the water on the outside. One solution was found at a Aquarium shop where they found a venturi valve for less than $25.00. Then there is a couple who built a separate sump and pump like many vessels have for their shower
So you could add a sump and pump for about $100 plus any installation hardware/labor and the connecting hoses. 
This seems like a whole lot of trouble to me and you get to hear the pump cycle on constantly. Another couple used a cheep 12V fish bowl pump to just pump the water directly out of the condensation pan. The pump was wired into the AC electrical system so it only came on when the AC was on. Then there is Ebay: Be very careful what you buy here.

I felt it was my Sailor Civic Duty to write this post. I am sure there are at least another dozen creative ideas out there on how to Keep the Water On The Outside!

To Mermaid Condensator or Not?

Friday, November 6, 2015

SeaClear II - How To Use This PC based Navigation Freeware.

This is part of a email flyer sent out to its members

I recently volunteered to do a workshop at the Center of Wooden Boats on How to use SeaClear II which is a free ware that turns your PC laptop into a fully functioning Chartplotter. Over the last several years I have helped several sailors along the way learn to use this incredible tool. A sailor, Dean Dominique,  who had just returned from a cruise Corpus Chris to New Orleans and back took the time to teach me the software. So I enjoy paying it forward to others who may find the tool useful for their journey's. I thought it would be a great idea to just include it on my blog for that purpose, not sure why I did not do it sooner?

How to Use SeaClear II and Downloading Free US NOAA Charts
SeaClear II is an Open Source Freeware that functions as a simple Chart Viewer, Route Planner or a complete chart plotter with the addition of a USB GPS puck. In addition you can connect through USB cables to your NEMA 0183 and NEMA 2000 on board electronics allowing you to also view AIS targets, depth, wind, and radar.
 Charts can be downloaded free from NOAA or any other source like the US Army Corp of engineers for inland lakes and rivers. If you can access a chart in electronic form or even scan a paper chart SeaClear II has a chart calibration program that can prepare the chart for use in SeaClear II. Additionally whenever charts are updated by NOAA you just download the latest revision FREE!
The software is PC based but Mac users can download WINE and successfully use the software on their Mac Books. We use SeaClear II primarily as a route planning tool but it is comforting to know we have a backup chartplotter handy just in case and our total expense is just the $35.00 we spent on the USB GPS puck. I prepared this document to assist others to get started on the initial process of downloading the software, NOAA charts and a few tips on how to plan a route. The software comes with a complete manual but it is a little techie for some of us. The two stumbling blocks seem to be how to view the charts after downloading from the NOAA site and How to enable the GPS puck on your device. There is also a very active Yahoo users group for help. I enjoy passing on this valuable tool as other sailors passed it to me. Just a note, some Windows 10 users report that it is working successful on that OS.

The following are examples from the SeaClear II Screen:

Steps to Install SeaClear II and NOAA Charts:
1.    Go to and scroll down to SeaClear II Full install sc_setup.exe ~ 2 Mb. With English Manual.  (You may want to check the other options for older operating systems). When you click on the link to download the software be sure to choose “Run” on the File Download box. This will download the software into your programs folder and prepare the software for use. The software comes with a utility program called “MapCal II” that will load the NOAA charts into SeaClear II. You also get the manual, which of course is written for persons who can understand highly technical language. This is normal for Freeware but if I can do this anyone can do it! After the program has been downloaded on your computer then it is time to download the Charts from the NOAA Site.

2.    Here are the steps I take to load the NOAA RNC (Raster Navigational Charts) into SeaClear II. These are of course the most up to date NOAA charts available. So anytime a chart is updated at NOAA then you can always go back and download the latest version.

1. First I created a folder to download the NOAA Raster charts into from the NOAA website and I just named it "NOAA Charts". (I put this folder in the 'My Documents" folder but you of course can put it anywhere.)

And click on the "proceed to chart downloader" link at the bottom of the page.
4.    Click on “Here" to load NOAA Raster Navigational Charts at the top of the page. You can choose to download the charts either by the coast Guard district, State, or Region. I chose to load by state (to help me stay organized since I am not that familiar with which charts are in either CG Districts, or Regions).
5.     Click on the Blue link for the state Example: WA
6.    Click “OK” at the bottom of the users agreement.
7.    Click “Save” at the File Download Box.
8.    In the “Save As” box choose the folder "NOAA Charts” that you previously created in step 1 in the "Save IN" window and then click "Save" at the bottom of the window. This will download every single Chart from the state or region you selected as a “Zipped File” (Zip files allow for faster downloads for large files and for example Florida has 85 primary charts with over 100 sub-charts for bays and rivers). Can you imagine not only buying all these charts but also storing them? . I suggest you do this process for one state before downloading more so that you can get the hang of it. If you want to just download an individual or small area of charts they can be accessed at Just follow the onscreen instructions for downloading individual charts. If you need help downloading individual charts see for an explanation.

9. You get a zipped folder downloaded with all the state, regional or individual charts so you have to unzip or “Extract All”. Put your curser on the downloaded zipped folder and Right click on the downloaded zip file. Select “Extract All” This places a unzipped folder in the same location. Open the unzipped folder and you will see a folder named BSB_Root, open this folder. You will see all the folders with the chart numbers as names. Open the first one and you will see one or more (KAP) files. These are the charts you need to individually drag into the Charts folder in the SeaClear program files. You will need to do this for each file folder. There may be a quicker/easier way to do this part but I have not figured out how to simplify this. (If you figure it out please let me know!) I copied the following from the users manual:

Installing BSB charts
The BSB/KAP file format is licensed from Maptech. BSB/KAP version 1 – 3 is supported. Projections
based on Mercator, Transversal Mercator, Polyconic, Lambert Conformal Conic, Sinusoidal and
Orthographic are currently supported.
Charts are available for most areas of the world from Maptech, NDI and many other sources. The
actual chart is in a KAP file, while the BSB file only contains data regarding coverage and similar. As
SeaClear keeps it’s own database, the BSB files are not needed.
Before using BSB/KAP charts in SeaClear they should be registered:
Start MapCal and make sure all KAP files are in the chart path.
From the top menu select “Tools-> Autoload list-> Scan for New Charts”. The KAP files will be
scanned for name, coverage and other data and listed in the SeaClear autoload database.

So this is how I learned to deal with the above instructions:
1.      I goto the start menu and open "My Computer" 
2.      I open the Hard drive and goto the "Program Files" and open it.
3.      Then I open the "SeaClear" folder.
4.       Then I open the SeaClear "charts folder.
I minimize the window with the NOAA Charts folder right next to the SeaClear Charts File folder open next to it and I individually open each of the chart folders and drag ALL of the “KAP” files into the SeaClear Chart folder. This is the most time consuming part, for Florida it can take 30 minutes to do this Tip: Select all the KAP files in each folder and drag the whole group into the SeaClear chart Folder.

Do this for every downloaded chart file. For Florida there are approx 85 folders you have to individually open and drag the files over to the SeaClear Chart folder. ( I know there must be a easier way but I have not found it yet).
If you need a Chart Catalog goto:

5.      After you have the KAP files in the Seaclear folder then go to Start then All Programs then SeaClear and open the MapCal II program. Goto the tools menu and then Autoload List. Select “Scan for New Charts” this will load all your charts into SeaClear II and you are ready to go.
6.      Open the Seaclear II program; from this point forward it is best to use a mouse to Navigate SeaClear II. You can use the touch pad on a Laptop but it is slower and more cumbersome, a mouse with the little finger wheel makes it a snap. The finger wheel on the mouse will allow you to quickly Zoom in and out on the Charts. The first screen on the SeaClear program is a chart of the world, just zoom in and click on the area of the state you want to view and the appropriate chart will open OR goto the File Menu, select chart, then List All. Here you get a list of all the charts you have downloaded and select the one you want.
7.      It would take a while to write out all the features of this software so please refer to the Manual that comes with the software, just go to the Start, All programs, SeaClear II and select the Manual. But just to get you Started Goto the Tools menu at the top of the screen and select “Route Editor” Just for fun using your mouse goto anywhere on the chart and double click, then move a few inches away and double click…this is how you build your routes, you can easily change your waypoints on the chart by either dragging them to a new location or right-click on them to delete, add a new point between any two established point…just play with it and notice the side bar on the right, as you build your route it gives you distance and other data. After you build your route be sure to save it, you can always call it back up and edit it or use it over and over again, you can even email it to your friends.
One more excellent feature is when your route extends beyond the boundaries of the chart just move your cursor to the edge of the chart and right click and select “Best Chart” The adjoining chart automatically opens and you just continue to build your route. Just think if you have a friend that is following behind you a few days you can email him your routes and he can easily load them into his SeaClear. So I have all my routes from Corpus Christi to Miami, FL. and I can just email them to anyone.

Lastly you can make SeaClear II a Chart Plotter by simply adding a USB GPS puck. This is the one I use and it works perfectly: So for a couple of hours learning how to use SeaClear II and $26 bucks you have a chartplotter with the latest NOAA charts that you can always update for FREE. You can goto to check on updates. In the event something happens to my primary chartplotter at the helm I always know I have this as a back up system. If you need a driver for the GPS puck goto

If you connect your computer to your NEMA panel then you can also get depth, AIS, Speed, Wind, data on the Chart viewer screen, See Page 7 of the SeaClear Manuel.

Link to the Yahoo Group SeaClear
Mapping: I joined this group and and it is a great place to learn how to use the full use of SeaClear. _

Q & A From the Yahoo SeaClear II Group:

Dave Gilroy wanted to include the interior river system charts that are available through USACE as PDF files. These files can be converted either by scanning the paper charts and saving them in formats compatible with SeaClear or by using online file conversion software. See Dave’s Notes:
“I  had to convert the USACE PDF file to a BMP file with a  free online converter in order to load the chart into Mapclear.  I was then able to convert it to a WCI file, calibrate it and load it to Seaclear II.   I have something wrong with the scale of the chart but I ran out of time last night so I am going to work on that today. 
There is also a site for USACE electronic charts but they are in an S-57 format and downloaded with as an ENC file that is not recognized by Mapclear.  I did not have time to try to convert them to BMP or WCI files but I will give that a try when I get the time. is the website for these charts.”
 Managing Com Port of GPS Puck
For seaclear cannot find com port in win 7, 8.1.
Open  < control panel>
Plug in your GPS. 
Start seaclear.
If it says cannot find com port number #
Check which number com port the GPS is connected to.
Change com port setting in seaclear to the same number.
Restart seaclear.

Please be informed that Windows 8 or 8.1 typically requires a different USB driver for the GPS. In some cases you might be able to use the old GPS with Windows 8 or 8.1 in compatibility mode, but not always. For instance the commonly used GlobalSat BU-353 (SiRF III) GPS does not work with Windows 8 or 8.1. Instead there is a new version of the same GPS mouse called GlobalSat BU-353S4. So it is not at all self evident that you will be able to use your old GPS with Windows 8.1.
you might need to lock the com port to the device
plug the device in
goto windows device manager
find the device
right click to get to the properties
goto port settings
click on the advanced button
set the port number you want to always relate to that device.

 Thank you Paul, I am glad the antenna works well. Good that you can feed in instrument data as depths is particularly useful on the river.
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2014 15:34:11 +0000
Subject: [seaclear_mapping] Re: Laptop use with BU-353S4 antenna.

There's a really good explanation of how to use your Sea Clear software in simulation mode here
Which will let you learn to use it at home without a GPS signal.

I also have a BU353 antenna, it works well. Plug in and it will install the drivers.
Go to Devices and look at the Prolific USB to Com device and note the Com port
Start Sea Clear, go to Tools > Properties > Comms tab. Set one of the RX ports to match the com port number and the baud rate to 4800 and you're good to go. If you plug the antenna into a different USB port in future you'll need to repeat this procedure.

I also feed it NMEA AIS and instrument data from my instrument systems, again just configure the port and rate and it worked.

Hi, I am running Seaclear II on a netbook with Windows 7 and a BU-353 gps receiver. The position displayed on the chart appears to be off by at least 50 feet. I am using NOAA charts imported to Seaclear using MapCal. Does anyone know how to correct this problem?
 Check you chart datum against gps datum. North of Vancouver Island as example uses NAD 1933 or simlilar and yields about 200 ft difference from NAD84. 
Thanks for your reply. 
I checked the Latitude and Longitude data reported in Seaclear against my Garmin and the Latitude is right on but the Longitude appears to to vary slightly ( .005' to .010' ).
I just found how to set the GPS Data to NAD 84,
I went to Tools_Properties_Comm Tab and changed the GPS Setting.
I was set on North American 1927. The chart says either would work 
but now the data on Seaclear matches my Garmin within .001'.
I'll test this new setting on the lake this weekend.
Thanks for the information that got me digging!
Using a Garmin handheld as the GPS source for SeaClear II
Just closing this topic out for anyone who may have similar problems in the future. I use a TrendNet TU-S9 serial converter to go from the 9-pin on the Garmin handheld to the USB for my laptop. It turned out windows/SCII didn't really care about a Garmin handheld driver, it wanted a driver installed for the TrendNet USB device.
Installed the driver. Everything working fine. 

Using SeaClear II on Tablets

WalMart is selling a “Nextbook Flexx 10” 2-in-1 for $165. It’s a 10” Windows 8.1 laptop who’s screen detaches to be a touchscreen tablet. It has two full size USB ports in the keyboard, and a micro USB port in the tablet part.
Unusually for a tablet, the charger is not the micro USB, but a separate 1/16” round pin jack. This lets me use the micro USB for the GPS dongle and have the tablet plugged in at the same time.
Control Panel identified my GPS-360 dongle as Com 3 with no fiddling or driver loading at all. (I did of course have to buy a full size USB to Micro USB adapter for $14.99)
SEaClear s running perfectly on this. Thee screen isn’t really daylight bright, but it’s usable outside in the sunlight. I’m running up a holder with a screen shade to try to improve it.

Connecting SeaClear to Onboard Electronics

Paul Smith [seaclear_mapping]
Mar 12
It works for me, Raymarine ST60 instruments feeding C80 and Brookhouse Mux. Mux out via USB to SeaClear gives consistent wind speed readings between Raymarine and SeaClear

Is there a Serial to USB Driver available?
Yes there are USB to serial to adaptor and driver. I searched on EBay and bought a single one. After setting up my PC nav system I realized I needed a 4 port one. I think I also ordered it from EBay, along with DB9 breakout boards to hook the wires to. I send and receive data from my AIS-VHF radio and send data to my Autopilot. It was a bit of a challenge getting all the stuff to work, but it does, and has for 3 years.

Adding AIS to SeaClearII

Op 3 aug. 2014 13:41 schreef "J Corsican [seaclear_mapping]" <>:
What's the easiest and cheapest way to add AIS to Seaclear?
1. Buy AIS receiver with USB output.(no need for serial output)
2. Buy USB 4-port extension hub and plug in laptop.
3. Connect the AIS receiver, mouse, keyboard and GPS USB puck to hub.
4. Configure the second Rx port in Seaclear-tools-properties (comport nr - see windows device mgr)
5. Configure baudrate as 38400 

Converting Tracks to Routes

You can convert a track to a route in SeaClear:
Tools => Route Editor => File => Route => Import Track
Then you can edit the route on screen and save it for later use.

Using a MacBook Pro for Seaclear II
Yes it can, if you install WINE first. I have it running fine, although I have not tested connecting it to a GPS, but I think that should work OK.

However, WINE is a bit techy, so you need to be familiar with using the command line interface to your Mac, accessing the Unix Operating system beneath. WINE lets you run Windows software on an Intel Mac from within MAC OS. It actually works on most Unix operating systems, e.g. Ubuntu.

It is very convenient, as you don't have to reboot your Mac to use it, you just click on an icon as usual. I run the Windows version of MS Word and Excel very successfully under WINE as well. I'm afraid I installed WINE years ago, so can't remember how I did it, but I would have searched Google for the instructions.

Do a Time Machine backup before starting, and if you make a complete hash of it, you can always revert to a backup.

I should say though, that I favour buying a cheap old robust laptop PC running Windows XP for use aboard the boat, dedicated to SeaClear. Do you really want salt water over your Macbook? Also, every addition of complexity always bites you back when seas get rough and you feel a bit seasick! My laptop always works flawlessly in harbour and goes wrong when I really want it to work :-) I've even replaced the hard drive with an SSD drive, in case it was the slamming of the waves that was causing the hard disk to complain.

But for route planning at home, SeaClear on a Mac is lovely. I keep my route and track files in Dropbox so they are automatically synchronized between my Mac and the boat's laptop. Plan route at home on the Mac, upload from PC laptop to GPS when on board.

For my Blog Readers:

If you decide that you want to use SeaClear and run into any issues you can easily get my attention by joining the SeaClear II Users group on Yahoo. If you post a question there I will surely see it and get you a response right away along with several other users as well!
Happy Navigating,

October in Seattle 2015 + Texas

Typical October Sunset as the fronts start up again.

After Drew's Spanish class we drove the short distance down the hill to Lake Washington Blvd. Park.

Great spot to anchor out ini this cove.

Looking toward Hwy. 90 and the floating bridge, Northeast to Bellevue. That is Mercer Island to the right.

Bellevue, a Whole different city

Another sunny but cool Seattle day.

To the South Mount Rainier is out today, just a different view over Lake Washington.

Even though Rainier looks close, it is pretty far away.

Super clear water.

We stopped over at Fisherman's Terminal to get some Salmon to grill.

I have been wanting to check out this shop for a long time. It is just what I Imagined, every possible chart to sail the world. 

The advantage of taking walks along the waterfront. 

This young Harbor Seal was in Bell Harbor.

The sunsets continue to be Interesting all month long.

We finally scheduled a Salmon fishing trip on a charter boat out of Edmons, WA and got there a day early to see the area.
Another huge Marina there and this guy has a whole new concept for a cockpit enclosure. Notice he is relaxing in the Hammock on the foredeck.

We just saw another young Harbor seal.

"Annie A" Our 50' Charter Fishing boat loading up at 0700

Choose your weapon.

Pretty foggy just outside the breakwater.

This sailboat has a very creative way to keep the birds and other critters off.

Heck, I do not even want to board 

Departing the Port of Edmonds

We fished the South end of Whidbey Island where the Admiralty Inlet
and the Saratoga Passage meet to form a fishing Haven. 

Bait fish Balls were occurring in record numbers in Puget Sound, they were all around us all the time.

1st Mate stands ready on the bow to scoop up plenty of Herring bait fish

The Gulls feed till the las moment.

Several pounds of small herring eventually fill two Home depot buckets.

We see these Bail balls all day long all around us. The Captain says it is the most ever he has seen in the sound in 30 years of charter fishing.

Of course I would see a 37' Lord Nelson vVctory Tug fishing.

The Admiral has already almost landed two huge salmon.

It is hard to describe these huge 120' tugs working the area.

We drifted into a "shallow area" of just under 60' so I landed this Flounder since my bait dragged on the bottom.

Gotta keep the bait moving.

You stay there and I will stay here.

I attended a Solar Power workshop hosted by the Seattle city electric company. It is amazing that a city in one of the lowest sunlight regions of the U.S. is aggressively promoting singly family home solar power systems. Why are they doing this? Because due to climate change they are losing their primary power generation: Hydro power from all of their electric generating damns on the rivers coming down from the Cascade mountain range. due to low snow pack in the winters they are losing their year round source of hydro power. Due to incentives offered by the power company and lower cost of solar power technology you now see solar panels installed on at least one home on every city block in Seattle and growing fast. We personally have enjoyed some of the lowest electric rates in the nation due to Hydro powered electric generation, our monthly bills have been $17-$30 a month, the higher bills in the winter due to occasionally using a space heater.

We spent two weeks in Texas to take care of Texas stuff. Thank God for Texas Mexican Food.

We had time while we were in Austin to go see a movie, "A Walk in the Woods" Incredible we were the only one in the theater!, I guess movie theaters will soon turn to dust as all the other movie viewing choices contribute to their demise.

It was supposed to be October in Corpus Christi. But The daily tempertures were over 95 degrees and humidity over 80. I had to get up by sunrise to start working on the boat. I could do about 5 hours out in the heat before I succumbed due to being acclimated to Seattle Temps. 

But the Sunrise was nice to see.

I then had to wait for the morning dew to dry before starting my waxing of the deck and topsides.

A complete Surprise. My incredible Canyon Lake friends Bob and Barb who frequent Rockport just happened to be in Corpus and thought they spied me on the boat, We hooked up for an amazing reunion for dinner, lots of old and new stories. Look forward to seeing them both soon again!

A corpus friend sent me this picture of a Wooden Boat festival held in Rockport, very cool.

Our oldest Granddaughter has now earned her drivers License. Austin streets are actually much safer!

Back in Seattle we take a walk along the hike and bike trail along the waterfront and discover a small piece of dock has floated up on the beach. Maybe we could use this as a mooring if we bring Wand'rin Star up here?

Late October is very fall like now.

Russell bought us tickets to the Friendly between the 2015 Women's US World Cup Champions and Brazil
See the Supporter Parade:

Incredible match at Century Link Stadium resulting in a 1-1 tie.

We return to Discovery Park to hike all the way dwon to the the West Point Light House

The Puget Sound views are the best from here.

What goes down has to go back up.

The Admiral questions a Birder, looks like we might be returning for a birding tour.

October in Seattle 2015 + Texas

Fall weather arrived about three weeks Islan late in Seattle but at least the temps were now back down with highs in the 70's. Big "D" is taking Spanish near a Lake Washington Location so we took the opportunity to visit one of the city Parks on the South Western shore. This area is blessed with lots of city, state and national parks, all of them that we have visited in the Seattle area give credence to Seattle being known as the Emerald City.
I have also been hanging on to a couple of Groupons bought several months ago in anticipation of going on a Salmon fishing charter trip out of Edmonds, just a short drive North of Seattle. The Salmon fishing season nears an end in October so we Had to make time for the trip. finally the Admiral agreed on a date and instead of getting up at 4 am to be on the dock in Edmonds by 6 am we decided to drive up the day before and stay at aacht Charters and  hotel across the street from the Marina. We spent the afternoon walking about the huge marina and driving a short distance to one of the top ten places to visit in Edmonds. Unfortunately Meadowlands Beach Park was closed for the season so we just returned to the hotel to relax and be ready to get up pearly to go fishing. One thing was obvious though, Edmonds seems to be both a bedroom/commuter community of Seattle and a  retirement community. 
We managed to show up on time at All Season Yacht Charters and after a short check in time and getting our one day fishing license about 12 of us were led down to the docks to Board the 50' "Annie A". After a short safety briefing by Captain Mike we slowly motored out into the morning fog North towered Whidby Island. Evidently the currents that flow around the southern point of Whidby Island  creat through Admiralty Inlet to the West and the Saratoga Passage to the East of Whidby create a prime spot for Salmon fishing.
Captain Mike explained that there were record numbers of Bait Balls in the Sound, the most he has ever seen in over 30 years of fishing this area. "bait ball, or baitball, occurs when small fish swarm in a tightly packed spherical formation about a common center. It is a last-ditch defensive measure adopted by small schooling fish when they are threatened by predators. Small schooling fish are eaten by many types of predators, and for this reason they are called bait fish or forage fish." see Twice during the trip Captain Mike zoomed right up to a bait ball, which are easy to find since the gulls and other seabirds are in a feeding frenzy wherever they are, 
The Crew EJ would would a long pole net and scoop up lots of Herring bait fish which provided all us plenty of live bait for the trip. We saw all kinds of wildlife including Gray Whales breaching and blowing! Between the 12 of us fishing only a about six Salmon were actually landed and a few other fish like Dog fish Shark, and Flounder. The trip was way worth the experience catching fish or not.
Then we took of for Texas. We spent a few days in Austin and since I had to fast for a visit to our doctor, we zoomed straight to Amaya's after the appointment to get some real Mexican food! We caught up on Family and then I drove to Corpus to do some fall maintenance as the Admiral drove up to Ft. Worth to help her dad with a few projects.
Is was supposed to be October in Texas but instead it was still early September with temps 97+ and 80%+ humidity. Cleaning and waxing in the heat after living in Seattle for two years was tough, I could only last about 5 hours in the heat before going below where our two AC units have been running nonstop. I did get it done though in the 5 days I had and since I planned to return in November I already formulated a to do list. Joe has been doing an excellent job of looking after Wand'rin Star and since his boat is just two slips away he can check on her easy and often. Also our boat neighbors Randy and Wendy walk by her several times a day so she is well seen after.
We celebrated the end of October by returning to Discovery Park and hiking down to the West Point Light house. If you want some of the best Puget Sound vies this is the place. The trial down from the very high bluff overlooking the Sound down to the beach can't be beat for a great Washington State Hike just a few minutes drive from Downtown Seattle. The hike is about two hours but just remember what goes down has to come back up!