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Launching the Muthah-Ship

Yesterday, April 25, 2009 at 2pm we launched the muthah-ship at the Oak Harbor, WA marina on Whidbey Island. This marina is only about 15nm from Deception Pass and 20nm from the San Juan Islands (unless you count the island Anacortes is on as one of the San Juans – as some people do). We didn’t exactly choose the day because it just Muthah-Ship on trailer prior to launchinghappened to be the first weekend after the marine mechanic in Oak Harbor gave the boat a clean bill of health; we had a minus 1-foot tide. For anyone not familiar with Puget Sound waters we can have 14-foot tidal ranges (from low to high tide) and yesterday was about 13-feet and the low tide at the marina was at 11:45am which was about when we wanted to launch. We decided to wait and have lunch before launching.

Because of the low tide we opted not to use the free launch ramp but instead paid them the $15 fee to use the sling launch. We just backed the boat and trailer onto this pier and a marina employee (Chris) used slings to pick the boat up from the trailer and then traverse the I-beam out over the water, and then lowered the boat into the salt water next to their dock. Just in case, Chris kept the slings under the boat for 15 minutes or so while we started the boat and looked for leaks. Nothing found (fingers crossed) and the engine purred like a kitten. I went up to the flying bridge and was amazed to find all the instrumentation working!!! Continue reading Launching the Muthah-Ship

The Digital Age Marches Forward

As an official “ol’ guy” I’m more-or-less supposed to be computer illiterate. Unfortunately for my kids I had kept up with the computer revolution and kept ahead of my high-school-age children. My son, who works with me now in our network engineering consulting firm, once went with me to a talk I gave on network protocols and admitted on the way home that he had barely understood a word. But things have just gotten out of hand lately. Continue reading The Digital Age Marches Forward

The Muthah-Ship and the Dodge tow vehicle at the shop

The Muthah-Ship and the Dodge tow vehicle at the shop

As some of you may already know, my mothership (better known as the “muthah ship”) has been a project for the past 15 months. Three weeks ago we trailered the boat to Oak Harbor where we had a marine mechanic go through the engine/outdrive and get the power systems ready to go. Tonight Sue and I will drive to Oak Harbor (on Whidbey Island) and spend the night on the boat and then launch in the morning and do some test runs around the bay there. We have a covered slip there (least expensive – I hate to say “cheapest” – covered moorage in the Puget Sound area) for at least this summer; next summer we plan to have a mooring set up at our lot near Freeland on the southern end of Whidbey. Oak Harbor marina has a bunch of good things going for it: 1) 14 miles from Deception Pass and only another 5 miles to Lopez Island and the San Juan Islands; 2) A free launch ramp that used to be the ramp for Navy seaplanes (that means wide and well paved); 3) Oak Harbor itself has good shopping for provisions and gear; 4) Did I mention a *FREE* launch ramp? Continue reading

A Short but Blustery Spring Paddle on Moses Lake

My paddling partner Pam visited yesterday (April 22, 2009) and we ended up out on the lake for some reason. The day before was sunny and 84F but yesterday was cloudy, windy, and 60F. Goes to show ya what happens if you’re not in time.

Moses Lake can work up a nice froth when it’s blowing from the right direction. My arm of the lake (the locals here call them “horns”) is windy but there is not enough fetch to work up any waves. However when the wind has a southerly component the other “horns” can be exciting. The waves are never life threatening or anything; maybe 1 to 2 foot is all you get but still exciting early in the season. Continue reading A Short but Blustery Spring Paddle on Moses Lake

Planning Trips using Digital Charts

Just a few short years ago I would have had to drag out paper charts in order to plan a kayak trip. As a retired merchant marine officer I have a collection of charts gleaned from those we would have normally discarded from our ship’s navigation library. However the charts still had value for planning purposes and certainly for kayaking. So I brought them home. But planning meant that I had to locate the roll of charts for an area, unroll them, pull out the appropriate charts, lay them all out on the floor and take notes and make drawings on scratch paper and generally make a nuisance of myself. My wife, for some reason, objected to not being able to walk, say, from the living room into the kitchen.

Those days are gone (well, mostly) forever. Now I sit on the sofa with my laptop and charting software and several books of charts (labeled, for some reason, “not to be used for navigation”; what else would they be used for?) and only occasionally resort to full-sized charts. Long winter evenings of dreaming about summer adventures are easier than ever before. If you already own a computer (and how else would you be reading this?) and live or plan to paddle in the USA you have most of the cost covered already. All you need are a few software tools. Continue reading Planning Trips using Digital Charts

Kayaking Central Washington State

Many people assume that the entire state of Washington is “evergreen” but in reality the central portion – between about Ellensburg to the west and Cheney to the east – is a true desert with sagebrush, some cactus, coyotes and lots of sunshine. This dryland band extends from north of the Canadian border down through Oregon. In Washington the Columbia River cuts through this central desert region and provides good paddling adventures all by itself. But there are several lakes in this region that make for good paddling as well as a different type of paddling for those used to Puget Sound.

On rainy days in Seattle you can often drive just two hours eastward on I-90 to find sunshine and 75F temperatures. Even when the mercury climbs past 80F the weather feels comfortable because of the low humidity. And water temperatures over 75F are common so you can practice your self-rescue techniques. Continue reading Kayaking Central Washington State

Welcome to the NW Kayaking Blog

Welcome to my kayaking blog. I’ve been active on several paddling forums and finally decided to start one that will feature some of my articles and commentaries on kayaking in the Pacific Northwest as well as any trips and adventures. One unique feature of these articles will be a focus on using a MotherShip as a vehicle for kayaking adventures. My 1974 Carver 25 Santa Cruz (Add Hock) was bought in 2008 and has been undergoing refit and restoration over the past 16 months. I plan to use Add Hock to compliment my kayaking adventures both solo and in company with my family and paddling partners. Included will be reviews and reports on places to paddle and access plus commentaries about equipment,  gear and technique. I hope you enjoy it.