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, June 2, 2020

Cancer therapy in Seattle

June 1, 2020

Hmmm a bad pattern is developing when I notice my goal of a once a month post to the blog keeps slipping and each post begins with a “gee, it’s been a long time since I posted note”.  Let’s just start with a summary note and then we’ll go back and cover each topic in detail. First we loved our time in Moss Landing (despite a minor pandemic) where I started my cancer treatment and then we had a glass-smooth sail up the coast to Washington and finally we are currently nestled in Elliot Bay Marina in Seattle while I get my daily radiation zapping and, Oh! we bought a brand new truck and camping trailer.

So back to Moss Landing in California where we arrived about the time the Covid-19 pandemic was really starting to clarify that it planned to dominate the history of the world if something wasn’t done and soon.  The something that was done was to tell pretty much everyone in the country to stay home so that we humans could slow the spread of the virus long enough for our medical systems and pretty much every other system could catch up.  Being in California (where they seem to do everything in excess – example: I dare you to spend a single day without seeing a notification that something is “known by the State of California to cause cancer” (although I didn’t see any stickers on the redwood trees –yet!)) we got daily notices via the emergency broadcast network on our cellphones telling us to stay home.  Driving up the coast (when you live on a boat your home is where you are so if you are in your car you are home – right?) state beaches were all closed (which made walking to the beach near the boat a delight with no cars on the entry road so Jarvis got some off-leash time) but county beaches were open in the county where we were with plenty of signs reminding folks to use “social distancing” to help slow the spread of the virus.  Since you couldn’t park in any of the park parking lots folks parked on the roads and walked into the parks (which was allowed) until we got closer to Half Moon Bay south of San Francisco and there the County had coned off every pull out along the highway and the police were out in force writing tickets.  A big problem was that the State of California had decided that a pandemic makes people not need to rest or pee.  Truckers pulled off where they could to get legally and physiologically mandated breaks and redwood trees hid folks trying to empty bladders with some privacy.  That said, I am grateful that the west coast governors jumped in and did the best they could think of in the face of a huge unknown as it has become apparent that it worked (or at least has worked so far).  We are not seeing the bodies stacked like cord-wood such as we see on TV from Italy and The Bronx but instead my inside sources tell me the hospitals are running with plenty of beds available and the Covid case numbers have been kept to a dull roar.  Hopefully there will be a really good review of what was done and what could have been done and notes will be kept for the next pandemic.  That review may come to the conclusion that we did way more than needed (and could have had a lot less economic devastation) or that every action taken was appropriate.  In any case only time will tell how this whole pandemic thing plays out. (As of this writing here in Washington, restaurants are serving food to-go and are working on making plans for opening dining rooms to limited customers, parks are open for day use (and overnight camping as of today) and in general folks are out and about but using masks and social distancing as each person deems appropriate.)

Enough said about the pandemic except to remind future readers that at this moment in history it is a big deal that is ever-present in our daily lives affecting everything from walks in the park, to shopping, to going to church (not yet – we still attend on-line) and politics. 

Back to Moss Landing and California.  While the state was in lockdown our movements by private car were not challenged.  Since we had never really visited Central California before we would often load Jarvis and a picnic in the Prius and head out to explore a new direction.  On several occasions we visited smaller redwood parks and loved the solitude.  We drove up to Half-Moon Bay to see what the marina and anchorage looked like in case we decided to harbor hop all of the way back to Puget Sound.  We drove down the central valley and started to understand how much of our nation’s food supply comes from this part of the world. We visited the amazing sand dunes and beaches of Monterey Bay (we never did feel ready to go diving after my sepsis caused me concern about my lung health).  In general we really got to appreciate how varied the landscape is from one end of the state to the other when we finally really checked out the middle where we had only rushed through on past visits.

Looking out over Elkhorn Slough (AKA Moss Landing Estuary)

Looking out over Elkhorn Slough (AKA Moss Landing Estuary)

Kayaking with the sea otters in Elkhorn Slough

Jarvis checking out the wildlife in Elkhorn Slough

Sea otters frolicking in Elkhorn Slough
Visiting the coast redwoods

Visiting the coast redwoods
Visiting the coast redwoods

We drove the coast highways and had beaches to ourselves
We both loved the colors of the ice plant flowers

Clarice was elated to learn we were in the "Artichoke Center of The World"
Yes, the artichoke plants were almost as tall as The Woman Who Loves Artichokes
We saw signs for Pinnacles National Park so we drove up to the back gate
(closed because of the pandemic) and this is what we saw after a lovely drive.
Selfie along the Big Sur coast.
Clarice, Norman, Jeremy and Jarvis Gregory on Gregory Way in Beverly Hills.

On our arrival in Moss Landing, Clarice noted that there was a marine work yard about a mile from us and that the weather was such this far south that we could potentially get our needed haul-out done several months earlier than in Puget Sound.  Since we were expecting to stay in Moss Landing until at least April it made good sense if the yard could accommodate us.   The yard was able to operate fully 2 days a week despite the Covid-19 restrictions so they hauled us on one Tuesday and splashed us 7 days later. They had a funny (to us) quirk in their pricing in that if you brought your own paint in they would add $100/gallon to cover the lost revenue to them.  Since the paint was on special in Washington we bought the 5 gallons we would need and expected it to be a savings despite the $100 surcharge.  Once we hauled out we offered that we would hire their crew to prep the bottom of the boat (a job we really don’t like to do) if they would waive the paint fee – they agreed and we were happy to watch a young man do a very nice job while we got other work done.  In the end the total fees were less than we had budgeted for. While the boat was out we painted the bottom, did some work that required pulling the wing engine shaft, and changed out covers over our through-hull fittings to a type we can open under water. We stayed on the boat while it was in the yard and were happy that we had gotten everything we needed to done and wouldn’t have to take “valuable” good weather time up north.

Salish Aire showing off her new bottom paint
In the last post we wrote about our very challenging ride north to Moss Landing from Puerto Vallarta. We had been advised to sit tight and stay south of Point Medocino California (a bit north of San Francisco) until April when we were likely to get a break in the weather along the west coast.  Every day we would pull down weather charts for the Pacific Ocean and no matter what the general trend there were be a localized patch of ugly weather from just north of us up to just past Point Medocino.  We watched storm after storm track across from Asia and then finally we saw the fabled Pacific High Pressure zone start to form for the summer over the northern Pacific which then started to push the storms north to BC Canada and beyond.   We looked at several options for harbor hopping if we could just get past Point Medocino then we could duck into Humbolt Bay and wait for an opening from there north.  That was the plan until we saw a pattern develop that suggested we might be able to make it all of the way from Moss Landing to Port Angelas Washington in a single run if the forecasts held true.  This raised the question of how long we were willing to be at sea with just the two of us.  Our previous record was 3 days and we were exhausted on our final day.  Going the full distance would require 5 nights and 6 days at sea without stopping.  April 16th arrived with low clouds and light winds and we left Moss Landing looking to make a night passing of The Point when winds should be lightest.  The weather improved every day until when we got to our no-go (stop in Humbolt Bay) or go-for-it decision point.  We both agreed that we might not see quite this good of an opening for some time so we adjusted our course from near coast (where there are commonly some favorable currents and more favorable winds in the area of San Francisco) to a straight line to Cape Flattery, Washington.  It was like Poseidon had decided that we needed to be reminded of why it can be fun to be at sea as the winds abated further every day and the seas got smoother until when we turned the corner into the Strait of Juan de Fuca on April 20th the water was so smooth that we could see the surface easily with just starlight to guide us.  We caught a very favorable tide into the Strait and were kept awake through the night with more boat traffic than we had seen since San Francisco arriving at the dock at Port Angeles at 07:30 the next morning.

As we approached the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca about 9 PM
(The mountains in the distance are on Vancouver Island in Canada)

Taking Jarvis for a bike ride to a little pocket park in Everett, Wa

On our way to Seattle we took a side trip to Liberty Bay (AKA Poulsbo)
where we anchored next to Nordhavn 62 "Roxia"

Seattle from Elliott Bay Marina

So here’s the update on the “cancer thing”: If there is a good thing about the Covid-19 restrictions it is that it has made doctors’ offices very un-busy.  I contacted my Kaiser radiation oncology department in Seattle and let them know that I expected to be available to start radiation sooner than we had previously indicated as a boating rendezvous previously planned had been cancelled. Their office indicated that the Radiation Oncologist wanted me to weaken the cancer cells with two anti-androgen drugs for at least a month prior to starting radiation.  I offered to contact a Kaiser doctor locally and see if he or she would start the therapy under the Seattle guidance and was given a go ahead but told due to the separation of Kaiser Puget Sound and Kaiser Northern California this hadn’t worked well in the past.  A few phone calls later and I was scheduled to get my liver lab test checked that very afternoon and an injection (good for 4 months) and pills the next morning.  After leaving Port Angeles we moved into some good friends’ slip in Everett very near where we had moored for the first 3 years we lived on Salish Aire.  Further planning with the radiation oncology department indicated we would start the process of getting radiation on May 18th so shortly before that date we moved south to Seattle where we had been graciously offered an open slip for a very reasonable price by the Seattle Nordhavn dealer.  Today I completed #5 of 20 radiation sessions and we expect to stay here in Elliot Bay until my therapy is completed at which time we have arranged for a slip in Olympia at the southern tip of the Salish Sea.

The huge machine that zaps me every morning with high energy xrays.
To end the blog entry on a more upbeat note, we have purchased a truck and trailer so that we can chase the sun during the northwest winters.  The truck is a ½ ton diesel Ford pickup with plenty of room for dog and grandkids to ride and it pulls the trailer easily.  The trailer is a 2004 Airstream 25 ft that we felt we got at a very good price.  We have spent the past two weekends fixing up the trailer while camping in my sister’s back yard and grandson’s mother’s mountain property.  In general the trailer has provided an excellent diversion while we are pretty much stuck on the dock and I am physically dragging with the radiation therapy sessions.

Preparing to be "snow birds" with a new truck and trailer.
Mt Rainier from our grandson's mother's property.

Testing out the trailer with a weekend camping trip.

Hilltop photo near Mt Rainier

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Back in the USA

March 7, 2020

Looking back at our last entries we have not kept up very well but there is a reason so with a bit of foreshadowing I will just say that our travel plans were significantly interrupted for almost a month by a critical illness and needing to make plans for cancer treatment.  More about that whole mess later.

Our last notes got us north as far as Ensenada Mexico where we hung out waiting for the crazy California tax day to pass.  California marinas are required to send a list of anyone moored in the marina or to a mooring ball on January 1st of every year to the local tax assessor who then takes a wild guess at the value of all of the boats and then collects a year of property tax.  It doesn’t matter that you have already paid taxes and registration in another state and the sticker on your bow attests to this fact – California does it their way.  Folks have written about challenging these bills and noted that it took up to a couple of years and the assistance of a lawyer (not free we are sure) to clear up the mess.  Our approach was to wait until January 3rd to officially enter the USA via California.

We tried out the new phone application offered by Immigration and Border Patrol as we approached San Diego Harbor.  It was a bit of a challenge as the Border Patrol folks have some training issues at their end (they couldn’t figure out how to aim their camera and the agent was based at the airport and didn’t know much about boat entry requirements) but they were polite and we got our clearance just as we were entering the very busy and somewhat narrow channel into the harbor proper.  We tied up in the municipal visitors marina about 4 PM and tried to reprogram our minds to speak English and that now a dollar was a dollar and to quit automatically dividing by 20 before we broke our bank account. We provisioned with fresh food that we weren’t sure would be allowed across the border when we entered the country.  I also managed to get a blood test done to see in my prostate cancer marker (PSA) had gone up again (it had).

This is only the second time we have tried the CBP (Customs and
Border Patrol) ROAM application and it worked well after
not working at all when we tried it coming from Canada to Washington.

San Diego is the ONLY place we have seen that dinghies need to be
cable locked (not uncommon) AND the oars locked for security.

San Diego river on the left of the jetty (with a spillway over the top for flooding)
and the entrance to Mission Bay on the right.  "Dog Beach" to the left of the river.
We harbor hopped up the coast first stopping in Dana Point for a night where Nordhavn lent us a slip for the night and then on to Long Beach early the next morning.  One of the highlights of our visit was a bus ride across the channel to tour the Queen Mary.  It was eye opening to appreciate the days of opulent travel by sea.  She was built for speed and luxury with no expense spared.  She first served the rich and famous and then during WWII became a troop ship and still holds the record for carrying the most passengers on a single ship (even the swimming pool was converted to a bunk room).  Luckily no German gunner ever collected the bounty on her hull by sinking her (it was said that she had enough speed to outrun the fastest torpedoes of the era had one ever been targeted at her stern).  From Long Beach we made a 12 hour run to Santa Barbara. We could see some foul weather headed our way but the Santa Barbara Yacht Club kindly made sure we had a secure place to tie up and felt comfortable using their very nice facilities. 

Queen Mary

Queen Mary 1st class hallway
Queen Mary 1st class lounge
Queen Mary 1st class lounge

Queen Mary life boats

A Ham operators dream - the local ham club uses the Queen Mary's
original radio room to broadcast from
Santa Barbara Harbor

After several days of watching for a good weather window to move from Santa Barbara around notoriously nasty Point Conception we finally accepted a forecast of up to 20 knot winds off our bow and headed out.  Here are our InReach posts for the transit:

Jan 13, 202011:13:15 AM
Passing Point Conception. 20 kn winds. Short steep waves
Speed: 6.01 kts

Jan 13, 20205:21:00 PM

20+ kn winds continue. Sea state awful. Occasionally bury bow in waves paravanes help with motion but concerned about arrival time
Speed: 4.90 kts

We were concerned enough about getting into Moss Landing before dusk that we contacted Monterey Harbor and confirmed we could put in there if we needed to.  We had also learned before we left Santa Barbara that Moss Landing Marina was not yet ready to accept new boats as their dredging project had run past the expected completion date.  We frantically called the Elkhorn Yacht Club who assured us that they could make room on their guest dock until the dredge was out of the way.  Brian, the yacht club dockmaster was in frequent contact with us while we approached Monterey Bay and helping us make contingency plans as he watched our AIS signal and realized that slowing to 4-5 knots meant we were in foul water and behind schedule.  Finally we rounded the corner into Monterey Bay and were able to make up time as we crossed the bay to Moss Landing (we burned a lot of fuel on that run!).  We arrived just before dusk ad Brian met us in his launch to lead us past the dredge (after he confirmed their floating pipe was sunk to the bottom) and up the poorly marked channel and into our side tie (up wind and up current) berth.

Planning to stay in Moss Landing for several months we set about learning the local bus system and finding our way around the local small towns.  We kept waiting for the dredge to move to allow us access to the larger south municipal marina where there was LOTS of human activity and LOTS of sea lion activity and NOISE as they occupied (and nearly sank) their favorite docks.  In the end we learned that a first come first serve spot in the South marina near the yacht club was available to us and we decided it was in the end very serendipitous that the dredge had kept us from moving.  Salish Aire is now tied up in the middle of a marine bird and otter sanctuary and the local pinnipeds are relatively quiet and polite harbor seals that stay on their sand bar and leave the docks to boat dwellers.  We can walk several hundred yards to the Elkhorn Yacht Club whenever we want to socialize or get a good internet connection and the folks at the yacht club have treated us like honored guest.

A few words about the Moss Landing area are in order as it fits us well and we are very happy we learned of this harbor that is a bit off of the typical cruisers' routes.  The harbor is in an enclosed estuary where the Salinas River historically outletted to the sea before moving a bit to the south. As is common for river deltas the ground is low and fertile and now covered with miles of farmland (much to Clarice's delight we are in the self proclaimed artichoke capital of the world).  The local towns are small and friendly and we get plenty of chances to keep practicing our Spanish.  Its about a 1/2 hour drive south to Monterey proper (with its world renowned aquarium), 1/2 hour north to Santa Cruz, 2 hours to San Francisco, and not far to see redwood forests). Every morning we watch groups of kayakers launch from our dock to explore the estuary with its many sea mammals and birds. We enjoy walking a short distance out to watch the surfers challenge the waves just over the sand dunes that are only a few hundred yards off our port beam or taking a longer walk to the 1 block "downtown" area of Moss Landing 1.5 miles away to collect our mail from the post office where we are already recognized by the 2 very helpful post mistresses.

Starting our morning walk at dawn looking towards the dunes between us and the beach

Kayaks ready for the next tours to start

Jarvis' "private" off leash area (with lots of bunnies)

Some of the many many birds in the sanctuary

Sanctuary areas are on both sides of the road so Jarvis has to be on-leash

Salish Aire looking from the dunes towards the mainland,
the smokestacks are a major landmark at a partially decommisioned power plant

Beyond the dunes looking north towards Santa Cruz

Looking south towards Monterey with a fishing boat entering Moss Landing Channel

The north section of Moss Landing Harbor where Salish Aire is moored

Looking from the dunes towards the mainland

Elkhorn Yacht Club 

Our neighbors
With the boat safely stored we flew out of San Jose on January 21st to Portland Oregon where we picked up the Prius we had previously arranged to purchase from our grandson’s mother and then headed north for planned visits to family and a speaking engagement on the opening day of the Seattle Boat Show about cruising in the Sea of Cortez.  Everything went according to plan and our presentation was very well received (we have already been invited to speak next year). We then moved into Clarice’s father’s house (he currently resides in an assisted living facility so the house was empty) and took care of a number of things like routine doctor visits and visits to Puget Sound friends.  The only thing that seemed amiss was Jarvis was drinking lots and lots of water and peeing lots and lots of urine.

Our plans were that I would have a biopsy of my prostate on February 7th then meet with the urologist the next week to discuss the results and head back to the boat.  On February 8th life took a huge turn when I developed life threatening sepsis (it seems that my personal crop of e-coli in my gut were completely resistant to the antibiotic I took in preparation for the biopsy).  I went to ED twice within a few hours and ended up being admitted for 4 days when it became apparent that my body was very rapidly decompensating.  And to make the day even more interesting we learned the same morning that Jarvis is diabetic and will need two insulin shots every day for the rest of his life.
I was sent home on IV antibiotics that Clarice has administered every morning with the final dose finally planned for tomorrow (March 8th).  Along the way I have gotten a diagnosis of prostate cancer, had a false positive bone scan (it looked like I might have advanced cancer rather than early disease – a CT scan put that scare to rest after a very long weekend), and lost count of my doctor visits. 

Yes, I really looked that crappy when I entered the hospital.

Morning routine was coffee, check the news, get my daily 
antibiotic dose, and give Jarvis his insulin

Tomorrow we will pull the IV catheter I have had since I left the hospital and then we will head to my mother’s 93rd birthday party in Tacoma before heading to Portland to visit with our newest granddaughter (born February 15th in the midst of all of our chaos) one more time before heading back to Salish Aire on Monday.

March 10, 2020 (Tuesday)

Just to finish the post by saying we made the 738 miles from Portland to Moss Landing in one day and were able to sleep in our own bed last night.  I started the today walking along the road that provides access to the estuary, sand dunes and beach with Jarvis and we were greeted with a split in the light cloud cover that allowed the rising sun to shine on the low breaking waves and it was good.