What's in her name?

What's in her name (Salish Aire)?

from her new home the Salish Sea

Aire as in a melody of song.

Salish + Aire = The melody of the Salish Sea.

Salish Sea:
In the late 1700's Captain George Vancouver wandered around the waters of what are now known as British Columbia, Canada and Washington State, USA. He did the usual 1700's explorer thing and put names he chose on everything he saw. The names stuck and are recognized and used to this day.

New lines were added to Captain Vancouver's charts in 1872 (after a near war with Great Britain over a pig) which made waters on one side of the line Canadian and those on the other side of the line American.

It wasn't until 1988 (officiated in 2009) that someone finally realized that fish and various critters, (to say nothing of the water itself) were never involved in the boundary treaties and really ignored them completely. (This is best illustrated by the problems that Homeland Security has with Canadian Canada Geese and American Canadian Geese - it seems they refuse to carry passports and have been known to poop on the head of any border patrol person who tries to challenge their right to cross the border when and where they choose!) In reality the waters from Olympia to the well up the East side of Vancouver Island are pretty much one ecosystem.

The Coast Salish are the indigenous peoples who live in southwest British Columbia and northwest Washington state along the Salish Sea and share a common linguistic and cultural origin. The Salish Sea is named in honor of the earliest recorded peoples who plied her waters and learned to live in harmony with her.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

A New Year

February 6, 2018

It’s been an eventful time for our family since our last notes.  Our long planned Holiday trip gave us a wonderful time to be with our children and grandchildren but also challenged our extended family’s health.  The plan was for Clarice and I to head south from Alaska to Washington State the day before Christmas Eve and visit with Clarice’s family to the north of Seattle and then we would head south of Seattle to spend time with part of Norman’s family.  We also picked up Norman’s 90 year old mother to take back for what we expect will be the only time she will get to see our daughter’s home in Ontario, Canada.  Shortly after arriving in the cold Canadian mid-west, Clarice, Norman, and Norman’s mother caught a nasty respiratory bug (we may be some of the” lucky” ones that had influenza despite getting immunized).  Norman and Clarice recovered but Norman’s Mother moved on to pneumonia and had to visit a Canadian urgent care clinic on New Year’s Day for antibiotics.  She seemed to be recovering and was able to tolerate the flight back to the West Coast where we visited our son in Portland, Oregon before Norman’s sister and brother-in-law took her home on the train and watched her 24 hours a day for the next week. 

We flew out of Sitka on a beautiful sunny day.  We both agreed we felt like we were leaving "home" even though we were returning to where we had lived most of our lives. 

We had a chance to really appreciate how mountainous Baranof Island is as we were flying south.

While in Ontario our daughter took us to Niagara Falls which is quite the winter wonderland complete with fireworks.  The grandchildren showed off their prowess on sleds and skates and with their toys and computers.  Despite the temperature dropping as cold as -7 degrees (F) we had lots to see and do. 

Our daughter and her husband are active in the local curling club

"Blue Rock" had traveled from Rapid City SD to Sitka Ak and then to Seattle and on to Ontario Canada.  Photos where sent back to the Rapid City Rocks Facebook page all along the way and his travels became quite the sensation.  In the end our grandchildren decided to keep him warm until spring when he may once again head off on his travels. 
This original sleigh was on the lawn of our daughter's neighbor.

Niagara Falls Park was decorated for the holidays and there were even fireworks and a light show over the falls.
Norman's mom enjoyed watching her great grandchildren showing her their games.

Grandson H. catches some air at the schoolyard next to their home.

Our Daughter-in-law in Portland Oregon has quite the fancy quilting machine which Clarice put to good use finishing an Alaska themed quilt she had been working on.
Finally we headed back to Sitka with our bags full of Amazon goods that Amazon wouldn’t ship to Alaska, Costco stuff that is “really cheap” comparted to Sitka prices, and other items we just can’t find locally. All in all, everyone (including Norman’s mother) agreed that the chance to be with family was worth the challenge and the unfortunate illnesses.

On returning to Sitka we were met with our first significant snow here at sea level.  

Our landlord had left us a snow shovel at the first forecast of snow which were put to use the as soon as we arrived back at the boat.

Like everyone else in town we continue to keep busy with walks on the many trails in the area (with less concern about bears while they are hibernating – hopefully), and even a day trip to Goddard Hot Springs with friends (about 3 hours south at 7 knots).

3 river otters were playing in the snow on the next dock over one morning.

We put on our Yak Traks (AKA ice chains for boots) and walked 9.4 miles round trip to frozen Indian River Falls.  The scenery made the walk well worth the effort.

Jarvis did fine while he was walking on the trail but started to shiver once we stopped so Clarice warmed him up.

Soaking in the upper Goddard Hot Springs bath house with our friends from Sitka.
Looking down from the upper bath house toward the lower bath house and Salish Aire anchored off shore.

Clarice and August made like "real Alaskans" as they went from the upper bath house to the lower bath house in their swim suits over the ice and snow.

We had to try the lower bath house as well.

Trail to the upper bath house.

Lower bath house.
 Sitka keeps busy even during the winter months with concerts and festivals.

The lead flutist from the Toronto Symphony played a concert at the Sitka Performing Arts Center.


Sitka Jazz Festival goes on for 3 days

One thing that has fascinated us about Sitka is that there are graves and cemeteries in this very old town in the most unexpected places.  Yes there is the usual formal cemetery with manicured lawns but there are also graves from long past and fairly recent in the forests about town and in church yards.

Russian Orthodox crosses are common with the cathedral having been active from Russian times to the present. 
Grave markers range from simple to fancy looking off through the forest

A marker at the Memorial Park recognizing a sad time in history.  The marker sits at the base of a knoll. 

Another forest graveyard.

Graves in the churchyard of the Episcopal church we attend. 
A fenced grave at the Russian Blockhouse

The memorial grave of one of the Russian Orthodox bishops at the Russian Blockhouse
We have talked about putting a SCUBA compressor on Salish Aire for years but the costs and concerns about where to mount it have always stopped us from moving forward.  We have had our tanks filled once since we arrived in Sitka and realized that depending on finding a reliable filling station as we get farther afield is not an option. We have now added a compressor on the bow (and moved our existing bow deck box forward.

The new SCUBA compressor was quieter during its test run than we had expected.

The compressor with its cover in place.

It was great to get back home to Sitka and we were just settling back into our routine when an 8 AM call from Norman’s sister made it clear that things were not going well with his mother so he caught the noon flight back to Seattle.  Once he was at his mother’s side he put on his nursing cap and determined that she needed to be seen in urgent care.  To make a long story short she was finally released from the hospital 2 weeks later to an Adult Family Home on Hospice Care while her mind/body decides if it can recover from her illness or not.  We last returned to Sitka on January 29th and are continuing to monitor the situation from afar.

When we started our trip we knew that Clarice’s Father and Norman’s mother were of advanced ages and in declining health.  We have often been asked about leaving Washington with these concerns.  We weighed them against the reality that running Salish Aire requires a reasonably good state of health and decided that we would never get younger and we have no way of knowing if our families would live for months or decades so we headed out.  Part of our cruising budget has always included funds for emergency flights back home and some of those funds have now been put to use. We mention this because this is a very real concern when leaving a steady home but if you let issues out of your control cause you to stay in port then your adventure will never begin.

The only silver lining to the story of flying south to care for Norman's mother is that we were in Seattle for the annual boat show which was a lot of fun for us.  At the show we were able to touch base with Marselle from the Hurricane furnace factory.  Norman has talked with him on the phone in the past and considers him to be the "guru" of all things Hurricane.  Since we were having some new problems with the furnace it was good to chat with him and get some new ideas on next steps to take (we believe the problems have now been resolved). We also had a chance to vent to the Time Zero representative about our frustrations with their program.  Finally we were able to attend the Nordhavn get together hosted by Seattle Nordhavn.  It was great to see some friends that we only know from our contacts with them on the internet.  We talked with other owners we may travel with when we head to Prince William Sound in the spring and our biggest surprise was seeing the Goldbergs who used to own Salish Aire (we thought they were in the South Pacific but they had needed to fly back to the States for a short time). 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Waiting for the winter solstice

Clarice's thoughts:

We had the good fortune to be invited to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Lots of their family had flown up for the holiday so it was similar to being with our families…noisy, fun and a general good time by all along with a wonderful traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I really appreciated it as I’d been a little blue all day remembering my mom and this being the first holiday without her.
I have decided I’m getting excited about continuing on our journey when the spring comes so have been working on boat projects that need to be completed (in my estimation). I have sewn a new windlass cover and remodeled it in the process so that it will stay in place in high winds. The next project I have come up with is an idea of making screens for the opening windows in the salon and pilot house that can remain in place while under way and not be snapped on from the inside. The idea is good; the implementation is proving more challenging. I’m getting excited to do the spring wax job. I’ve been cleaning and washing storage areas and culling items that we are not using.

Clarice renews her interest in sewing and quilting
Clarice sewed a new cover for our anchor windlass

She improved on the original design by adding a bit of elastic cord to keep it in place in heavy winds.

We had heard and seen previews of the Nutcracker ballet that Sitka offers every other year. It’s an “Alaska” version of the ballet. Same music (for the most part – we don’t recall Tchaikovsky having any jazz numbers with hot-pants clad mosquitoes in his version) but definitely Alaskan flavored costuming. There was a large fishing boat that had the cutest little herring dancers pop out from under it, the most creative jelly fish that we’d ever seen (the girls had tutu’s with lights in them and umbrellas with silk draped over them that were lit as well – the umbrellas were gently raised and lowered and the result was the floating look of jelly fish – overall a fantastic effect coupled with the music), the previously mentioned mosquitoes, dancing bears, dancing fireweed and northern lights. We both agreed we enjoyed it more than the Seattle Maurice Sendek version that was so popular for years.

(Nutcracker photo credits: http://www.bjordanimages.com/ used with permission)

Local humor throughout this scene with the locals sporting t-shirts, shorts and ExtaTuf boots while the tourists dress like they are in, well, Alaska.  The local bookstore really does have the "Please don't drip on the books" sign.

The mosquito queen was finally vanquished by Clara who swatted her with a ballet slipper.

The many little herrings that jumped in the fisherman's net.

The jellyfish.

The Dance of the Fireweed was pure classical ballet.

One day on the Facebook page for Sitka Chatters Norman saw a notice that excess shares were being offered to the public for the local organic food weekly offering. We went up to check out what was offered after we found out that the shares were already spoken for by the time we had responded back to the posting.  Similar to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) sales system that we are used to down south, but with a better tweak that we liked. The produce is brought up by barge on a weekly basis and it is beautiful. They strive for a $50.00 amount of food. The offering is of vegetables and fruits. We signed up for the next week’s delivery and received some of the best produce we’ve had since we left Everett. Since we’ll be gone for a couple of weeks we opted to restart after we return. What’s different is that you go to the church to pick up the produce offerings. You are given the list of what is available that week. If you don’t want an item you have the option of returning it to the “opt out” table and choose something else from the “opt out” table that have the same value. You can also add things from the “opt out” table to add to your total for the week. This is a wonderful option as the complaint I’d heard about the CSA boxes is that frequently you get the same items weekly and they may not be something you want. Here we can somewhat customize what we get. I have figured out how to maximize the lasting power of produce and so this is going to be a great option for us while we are in Sitka. We just took out the last of the apples that we put in lazarette in October and they are crisp, sweet and juicy.

Norman's thoughts:

We are now 2 days from the solstice and we are finding it a bit of a challenge to keep active.  We usually don’t get out on our morning walk until 9 am or so after the sky has lightened and the night rain showers start to let up.  Then by 4 pm it is quite dark and our “lower 48” brains think it’s near bedtime.  We try to take advantage of the frequent evening programs in town, go for evening walks with the dog in his reflectorized vest and doggy powered flashing light (it has a tiny generator in it that makes an LED flash every time he jiggles the magnet), and watch movies we borrow from the library or download. 

We had a couple of sunny days so we tied to a buoy near the Forest Service cabin at the base of the Mt. Edgecumbe trail.  We walked a few miles in first through moss draped rain forest and then over muskeg (soil where the water can't drain because of shallow bedrock such as much of SE Alaska or permafrost further north).

Typical muskeg with stunted trees and many ponds

There was a layer of ice on the ponds and some of the trail despite the sunshine

The trail to the top is about 7 miles long

Jarvis thought the boardwalks were great 

Looking east toward the mountains of Baranof Island
One clear day I rode my electric assist bicycle up the Harbor Mountain road as far as it would go on the snow and then walked a bit further.

Barges make the 5 day run to and from Seattle twice a week

Looking north towards the entrance to Olga Strait (the inside passage to the east side of Baranof Island)

Mountains to our north
Sitka's extensive trail system includes a trail that follows the Indian River.  We walked along it after about a week with no rain and the water was crystal clear.  No one can say why some of the deeper pools still have coho salmon that should have spawned and died by now.

Indian River #1

Indian river #2

Indian River salmon

We have managed to go scuba diving a couple of times.  The water is incredibly clear compared to what we are used to in Puget Sound and a few degrees warmer.  The flip side is there is not nearly the amount of sea life we are used to seeing.  Our dives did make it very clear that we are going to need to become more independent with getting our air tanks filled.  The only local who fills recreational tanks had to fit our tank inspections and fills in between his two other jobs and it took a month to get them back (he was happy to lend us tanks in the mean time so we can't blame anyone but ourselves for not diving more). In any case we have now ordered a compressor for Salish Aire and have rewired her generator to accommodate it.

We had a couple days of good weather and decided to go to Nakwasina Sound north of Sitka Sound and anchor for the night.  After going to bed under clear skies with a bright full moon we awoke to snow falling.

Dawn Nakwasina Sound anchorage 
Snow Nakwasina Sound

Salish Aire is not nearly as decked out in lights as she was the past two years but I couldn’t resist buying as many as I could find at the thrift shop and hanging them here and there.  I had put out on the local Facebook page “Sitka Chatters” (mandatory membership if you want to know what’s going on in town) a question asking is there is a tradition of a local decorated boat parade.  Apparently there used to be but it had faded.  My question brought out a lot of renewed interest and 8 boats joined in the fun.

Parade boat #1

Parade boat #2

Salish Aire decked out for the parade

On Saturday we will catch a southbound plane to spend the holidays with our families.
I had purchased a new camera before we started north and recently got a 400 mm zoom lens for it.  I’m having fun trying to improve my long dormant photography skills and record the scenes here about especially the variety of waterfowl.  The trails around town and in the National Park provide constant opportunities for nature photography.

Trumpeter swans are frequent visitors to the park and a marsh north of town

These guys are often seen in the park and swimming around our moorage

This guy is hard to catch on film as he is always in motion

We now have a juvenile otter who visits the boat in addition to the couple of adults that hang around

This eagle's favorite perch is directly over a walking trail next to Crescent Harbor
Site of the battle where the Russians retook Sitka back from the Tlingits 

Probably the most photographed pole on the Totem trail at the National Park (Clarice's photo)

Totem #2 at Sitka National Park
Totem #3 at Sitka National Park

Totem #4 at Sitka National Park

This little guy wouldn't look up long enough to get his picture without his bill in the water

Finally: Sunrise over Sitka Sound.