May 29, 2021
So what does one do when your blog is about traveling in a boat named Salish Aire and you no longer own that boat? For now the blog will keep its current name and we will transition the theme to our life after Salish Aire (which has already happened to a great extent as we described our travels in Salish Airstream).
(Background: In case you missed the last installment we decided to sell Salish Aire when we realized that while we have really really loved living on her and traveling on her the work involved is starting to get to be closer to the fun of the adventure. We had planned to stay on her for another few years but never wanted to wait until we “hated” living aboard before we chose to sell. In any case a side effect of the Covid pandemic has been that boats are a hot commodity and we had several people cold-call us asking if we would consider selling. Normally selling a boat like Salish Aire involves a 1 – 2 year process during which time the seller has to pay for moorage and upkeep on the boat while trying to make sure it is available to be shown whenever the broker has a potential customer. We were able to sell her in about an hour to some really nice folks who were familiar with her from a prior visit.)
We left off the last blog in the Southwest United States with buyers for Salish Aire. Jumping around in time a bit we will start with describing how the sale proceeded as indeed Dan and Angie Freerksen did buy the boat and are currently learning about her as they sail around the San Juan Islands and other points in Puget Sound (the southern area of the Salish Sea). After dropping our Grandson off at the Airport in Phoenix Arizona (more on that later) we drove straight through to Bakersfield California and then on up to Olympia Washington after only two more overnight stops. We arrived back at the boat on March 29th and immediately set about prepping her for selling and removing our belongings to my sister’s house where they would fill part of one bay of the garage (on one hand my brother-in-law commented that he wondered how it had all been stored on the boat and on the other hand it was a pretty small pile considering it was everything we had to move).
We had about 2 weeks prep time to find out why the diesel furnace had been acting up (again) while our boat sitter was on the boat (it turned out to be a hole in a fuel line – easy to repair but it took me forever to find it). We had already purchased new standing rigging (all of the cables that support the outriggers) and since it was custom cut and non-returnable we installed it the same afternoon we arrived on the boat (the Freerksen’s were very appreciative as the new rigging should last at least ten years). Clarice was not about to hand off the boat without it being cleaned from stem to stern so she buffed and scrubbed. I ran all of the systems at least long enough to confirm they were working and then the Freerksens arrived on April 11th to begin a week of sea trials and inspections of the boat all of which we found very stressful.
Salish Aire ran perfectly for her initial sea trial and then we had promised we would take care of transporting her north for the inspections (called surveys in the boating world) and final transfer of ownership in Anacortes. The first leg took us to Everett to the same marina where we had lived for 3 years when we first purchased the boat. Since we had a couple of extra days we enjoyed the ride and all looked good for the upcoming surveys but Salish Aire was getting suspicious and decided to act out. It seemed excessive to us but the Freerksens wanted 2 full days of surveys and sea trials. In the end they did uncover several issues we had been unaware of (or that Salish Aire decided to use as ways of showing she was still in control).
As background our fuel, engine antifreeze, and hydraunic heating fluid are all tinted red. Since Mexico there has been red stains down the side of the main engine most of which were traced to leaking fuel return seals which were replaced a couple of years ago (but we have never gotten the stains completely cleaned off). There has also been a consistent red spot that develops on the white bilge “diapers” under the main engine which we have never been able to track down (in several thousand sea miles the spot grew to about 4 inches in diameter) to being fuel, hydraunic fluid, or antifreeze (this was not for lack of trying). The first survey team saw the spot and was sure that since it was directly below the fuel injection pump (a very expensive part) it was fuel and was a major issue. They also noticed fuel leaking behind (next to the outer wall 4” away) from the wing engine – this was a surprise to us and we hoped it was just minor spillage from topping off a fuel filter a couple of days before. The next day the engine surveyor looked at the same spot on the diaper and was sure it was antifreeze but couldn’t determine where it was coming from until he had us run the engine RPM up higher than we ever had in the 7 years we had owned the boat which revealed a leaking gasket as the source (tightening the bolt over the gasket stopped the leak but we explained to the new owners it should be replaced before the boat is taken on an extended voyage). He also found the area of the leaking fuel on the wing engine and got very worked up about an oil layer in the coolant reservoir on the wing engine – to say the least I was very frustrated that my boat I was so very proud of was not performing as I expected.
Backing up to our last trip in Puget Sound before taking off for several months in the trailer, Clarice had noticed a coolant leak from the wing engine. To make a long story short the leak was finally addressed by replacing a cracked heat exchanger which cost about $3000 as I recall. I had replaced all of the hoses on the wing engine at one time or another except for a fuel return hose that runs under the heat exchanger. With the old heat exchanger removed I took advantage of easy access to the hose and replaced it except that I didn’t have new metal washers to replace the old ones on the fitting at one end of the hose so I reused the originals and figured I could replace them later if they leaked which I didn’t expect as I have reused similar (but slightly different) washers in the past without problems. Then I put the new heat exchanger on and filled it with coolant. By that time I was pretty tired but went ahead and completed the last step of the switch out which was to run the engine and check for leaks (at that time I didn’t see any) while letting any remaining air in the coolant system work its way out followed by a final topping off of the coolant. OOPS, for the final top off I grabbed the wrong bottle and dumped about 1/8 cup of engine oil in the coolant reservoir rather than coolant. After a few swear words I thought it through and decided that since oil itself is not a problem in the coolant system (it is only a problem if it is coming from the engine – the leak is the issue not the oil) I decided to just keep dipping the oil off the top as it all eventually floated to the top except I forgot about the oil until it was discovered by the engine surveyor who was sure it was from a leak and indicated a failing engine. While he was still present with the help of the boat broker we were working with we were able to demonstrate that the oil present under the reservoir cap was only an about 1/16 inch layer and it was sitting on top of clean coolant. After he left I figured out that the reused washers were the source of the fuel leak (the boat broker let me know that the particular style of washer was infamous for leaking if they were reused) and was able to get a newer style set of washers for under a dollar at the local chandlery and had them installed within 10 minutes. A run of the wing engine on our final leg from Everett to Anacortes demonstrated the leak was fixed.
The final frustration was a delay in getting the results of oil analysis that were being done by a remote lab when the lab’s testing machine broke. The buyers were tried to calm our nerves by reassuring us that they had no plan to back out of the deal but only wanted to know any problems that might haunt them later. In any case the deal did close and the proceeds of the sale were transferred to our account on April 28th. Later the same day we used the funds to close the purchase of a house.
Before we move on we will back the story up to why we were dropping our grandson off at the Phoenix airport. Months before we had arranged to have a camp site in Grand Canyon National Park (which is a big deal as the sites are reserved within a very short time of reservations for the season opening). We hoped that our son and his whole family could join us but it turned out that with a new job and a new baby and the pandemic still a threat only our 18 y/o grandson Etienne came to visit. As this visit was so long in planning we decided to stay in the southwest until he left. We took the time to look at houses in Tucson Arizona (50 page HOA agreements were a huge factor in our decision to move on). We visited a nursing friend of mine who had retired to the area, checked out the desert museum and other fun stuff. Finally Etienne’s spring break arrived and he flew down to meet us.
One change we had made to Salish Airstream between our Ontario trip and our trip to the Southwest was adding a very fancy (and expensive) ProPride hitch designed to make the travel much more comfortable by removing trailer sway. It Works!!!
The plan was to set up camp and I would stay with Jarvis while Clarice and Etienne tried to get a stand-by spot in Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Canyon. This plan was quickly thwarted by snow. I have always wanted to see the canyon in snow and I got my wish the first morning after we arrived and it WAS BEAUTIFUL!! It was also slippery and even the mule trips were cancelled. The second morning the sun came out and Etienne was finally able to see the Canyon in all of its majesty. The only lingering issue was I was short of breath with the 7000 ft elevation with ANY exertion. I tried using my albuterol “rescue” inhaler which did very little for my breathing but the anxiety side effect was overwhelming and I had to walk away from the views of the rim. After 3 days the weather forecast changed back to another snowstorm coming and we decided the prudent thing was to leave and not take a chance of getting stuck inside the park. After a really nice visit with our grandson we dropped him at the airport at 6 AM and started our fast pull back to Olympia.
Once we had sold the boat on paper we realized we were going to need a new place to live as Salish Airstream was never meant to be a full time home. After much discussion, thinking about the places we had visited in our travels, learning about the housing markets in California and Arizona, and pondering where we were most comfortable and were closest to family we decided to localize our hunt to South Puget Sound in the Olympia area (near where Salish Aire had been moored since my cancer treatment). What was quickly evident was that if the boat market was hot the housing market was flaming. Houses were going on sale and being sold within a few days often at much higher prices than the original asking price. With this in mind we had been in contact with a local realtor who was recommended by a boating friend. While we were still south we spent a lot of time virtually looking at houses as we pared down what we really wanted, where we wanted to be and what we were willing to pay. Our final goal was to find a smallish house with space to keep the Airstream and favorable (or no) HOA regulations, moderately close to shopping, with good places to walk, in a pleasant neighborhood, for under $400K. We expected that we would be looking all through May, possibly into June, and likely give up and start over in the fall. We checked into acting as camp host at a local state park while we were house hunting but they didn’t need anyone until June (which turned out to be serendipitous). In the end a boating friend offered that we could stay in the yard of the house they were staying in a bit north of our search area (which turned out to be a very luxurious setting by our standards!)
So the first two weeks we were home madly trying to get the boat cleaned and all of our belongings off of it we were also touring neighborhoods and several houses a week. We came upon one house that met all of our criteria but knowing that we didn’t have cash yet from the boat sale we fully expected any offer to be rejected. Because we considered our chances of getting the house to be so low we probably viewed it for a total of 20 minutes before asking our realtor to make an offer just to see what would happen. Much to our surprise the strength of a cash offer with no contingencies other than that the boat sale closing (and going a bit above the listing price) put us ahead of 14 other offers and we had a house on contract.
We received the money from the boat on April 28, moved it on to the house escrow company the same day and were able to take possession on April 30th. We pulled Salish Airstream out of our friend’s driveway about 6:30 in the morning, drained and cleaned the holding tanks, stopped at the hardware store for paint and painting supplies and backed the trailer onto an RV pad next to the house a short time later. That was exactly 1 month ago and since that time we have:
- · Painted all of the interior walls.
- · Purchased and installed furniture – much of it from thrift stores as all we took from Salish Aire was a single foot stool.
- · Cleaned floors, light fixtures. Etc etc
- · Rewired the garage and some interior outlets and lights.
- · Pulled a couple stumps and started getting the gardens back in shape
- · Started “repairing” the front lawn.
- · Built a Kayak rack.
- · Rebuilt the side fence.
- · Started pressure washing concrete work and fences.
- · Re-gathered artwork that had been cared for by family and friends and got it back on display.
- · Cleaned out the trailer.
- · Got established in a local Episcopal Church.
- · Met the local HAM radio club virtually.
- · Met the neighbors.
- · Cleaned and checked out the furnace.
- · Arranged the garage/shop.
- · Visited family and friends.
- · Bought a hot tub.
And now we are ready to rest a spell!
As a sad note Clarice’s father who has been ailing for some time passed on two days ago and we believe is back dancing the Polka with her mother who died 4 years ago.
As a final happy note our son and his wife brought our 1 year old granddaughter up to visit. Despite her having a bit of a cold we had a wonderful time watching her explore the house and grounds and check out the doggy (who was very good as he has always loved little girls since Valerie charmed him when he first came to us). We also took a ride up to my mother’s apartment in Tacoma so she could have time to swoon over her great granddaughter. Today they headed back home with hardly a sound (they drive a Tesla) and all is well.