On a clear day…


This photo is one we took on our last trip to Oregon about a year and a half ago, in April 2011, during spring break.
I can remember how hard the wind was blowing and how fresh and soft the air felt up in the forest.
As I write this the rain is gently falling on our parched valley. Our thanks to you, Creator. That is what the native people here say when
good things happen.

I should have alerted you all to what I’m up to a couple weeks ago, but I simply got distracted. I was taking a bit of a blogging break while
I work on my writing/publishing/general catch up. This week I hope to return to my novel in progress: Marsala Dreams.

I posted this photo because the novel is based on the sea, sailing, and adventuring in and around the northwest coast –mostly the book takes place on Haida Gwaii or the Queen Charlotte Islands in Canada. I am anxious to finish it before the end of the year so I’d better get cooking, huh? I don’t have that much left but tying all the little threads together is going to be a challenge.

So wish me luck. I’ll be back with some photos in a few days because once the sky clears we’re going to have some fantastic sunsets over the mountains.

And.. the fall colors are turning out great right now.

Sailing small

Matthew and I are in the process of outfitting our Red Raven canoe with a small, breeze efficient sail.  This video truly has me excited about the prospect of taking the Raven out on Flathead Lake or even canoe sailing on Lake Ozette when the weather permits. We will only have one sail to start – both of us to be seated in the bottom of the boat with an attachable rudder.  It looks fine and fun, doesn’t it?


October is suddenly mild

We finally had the leisure and the weather opportunity to take our Red Raven canoe onto Flathead Lake Sunday morning for (most probably) the final paddle of the season.  The lake was calm and the air warm – a golden chance.  I don’t mention the word golden lightly:  Last week we had record crushing, freezing temps which set all the fall colors to the most yucky interesting shade of brown – freezing all the leaves on the trees.  The leaves are still just hanging there.  A few here on this old willow tree and the bushes near the lake shore still maintain their color, but so much for the yellows and reds of Autumn.  We are now waiting for the big fall – a huge Kerlunk perhaps – a giant swoosh as the trees will shed themselves in the next strong wind.  Or not.

Oct canoe

The warm weather respite was indeed welcome as we paddled, venturing out onto the placid water.  There was very little going on;  just the way I like it.

Fall survives

At a nearby Marina, most of the sailboats were being put into dry dock for the winter.  Click these following to enlarge.  That big sail cruiser to the left covered in orange tarps we have often admired as we drive past this bay.  It is a beautiful boat done in green with Teak.  We discovered she is for sale, but honestly a boat that large is total overkill for this lake and also she is going for about 130k – Yikes!.  Well, you know what they say about some boats — they end up being a deep hole in the water into which you pour money.

Never mind, I am still quite content with our modest water transport powered by love and peanut M & M’s. love & M&M's

All the cares of the everyday
just simply melt away.
How sweet it is.

shady cove

earth & water


Like so many others, I too would like to recognize Earth Day. In some respects I strive to make each day around here a mini-earth day but it’s moving to see so many people joining together on April 22.  It’s good to take a moment of reflection about where we are going and what we as individuals and families can do to help make things better for all living beings on this beautiful, blue and green planet.  As many of you know my big thing is quiet water — actually, human powered craft of any kind turns me on! Humans have been messing around in boats for a long, long time and for many of us it is in our blood to paddle.   In several aspects we are of the water.    Here is a link to a Dutch woman who has built a remarkable wind powered craft and set it to sail on its own out to sea – unmanned.  Or in her case – unwomaned.  It has a propeller system built onto it which always points it with the wind and the project is rightly so named:  Wind vinder


“Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean an unmanned “windship” makes its way through the waves – almost transparent, people say, wings everywhere… and it is headed, without a doubt,  INTO THE WIND ! Born in 1971, Wipke Iwersen spent a great deal of her childhood and youth on the North Sea, on the sailing ship that belonged to her grandfather and then to her parents, and of which she herself is now the skipper.”

Sailing local produce

green-transport ~~Imagine our food being delivered without running a truck up and down the highway?  This isn’t exactly applicable for us here in Montana, or is it?  This is a follow up on an earlier post last year where I mentioned a small, organized sailboat fleet around the Seattle area exploring the ancient art of hauling goods in and around the Sound:  the Sail Transport Network. Folks in Puget Sound now have the opportunity to buy their produce off a sailboat.  A small fleet of sailboats have been making produce runs from the Peninsula — imagine organic produce delivered from town to town free of fossil fuel?

I told Matthew last summer that eventually some cherry grower in the Flathead is going to want us to transport their produce  from the east shore across Flathead Lake – either north to Bigfork or south to Polson.  I always say it with a smile on my face but in the back of my mind I wonder, why not deliciouly ripe red (green) cherries?  Get on board!  And lift the sail!

Boat humor

It’s a rather black-humored joke in our family that when Matthew and I get to that place of old age we’ll launch our boat and sail for Tahiti. (Never mind that Seashell is not a blue water sail boat, but this is a plan in the works, keep in mind.) We might need to have our boys drive us to the coast and point us in the right direction too. They both swear they would never be a part of such a scheme, so that is another glitch we’ll have to work out but hey – anyway: If we don’t make it to the south Pacific, then the sea will have taken us and we won’t be a burden on our kids – if we do make it, then we’ll be in Tahiti! I know, it’s weird silly, but then the other day Aly saw this comic on Married to the Sea and it was just too funny. You’ll have to click to read the caption.

Chrissy the Great

~~The title to this post is a joke in our family regarding an old wooden ruler which I kept from my elementary school days. On the back, in my massive, eight year old hand I had written in red marker: “Chrissy the great.” I’ll confess I never received good marks for my handwriting and I had trouble with penmanship all through school. Talk about red marker! I saw a lot of it in third grade from the teacher during penmanship exercises. Circles I did well, but the M’s and W’s? Oh and those pesky P’s and B’s. When I entered High School I finally dumped the idea that I must persist with cursive and took up printing which gave way to my own, interestingly unique style – mostly an improved, legible script. I come by this deficiency naturally however, and I guess this is one minor attraction which I had to my mate – his hand-writing pretty much mirrors mine. He just spends more time on it. No, actually his is prettier. Both our boys were blessed with these genetics too, so much so, we bought our oldest an Alpha Smart in middle school to spare his teachers from pulling out their hair – hair which they really could not spare anyway. Alasdair has fairly good penmanship which is remarkable as he is a lefty growing up with right-handed parents.

The above is a lengthy prologue to a story which has nothing to do with handwriting except that I lived through the experience and I am here to tell the tale.

I have not mentioned much about our sailing adventures. We have been so occupied with visiting family and my Mom’s shoulder surgery that we’ve only had Seashell out once this month. However, about two weeks ago we launched the sailboat up at Lake Mary Ronan. This lake is usually quite calm but during our efforts to raise the sail offshore, the wind started gusting in a frightful way. We were carried out to starboard immediately heading for the opposite side of the Lake, with the keel cable humming – meaning we were moving at a fairly good clip. The rising gusts of wind became disconcerting, to say the least, and we decided perhaps we’d better turn and head back to the dock. Now that proved to be easier said than done.

After about four attempts at tacking to the opposite shore, (you remember that oh so distant shore where the dock is?) I suddenly became aware that Aly was down in the cabin with his head in his hands looking very green and disturbed. We had been thrown around for the last hour, quite violently by the wind and the waves, and our attempt to turn the boat without tipping too far over was not getting us anywhere. He was nervous about the way our expedition was progressing, and besides the whole ordeal was making him queasy. I distinctly heard him mutter: “I don’t want to go like this.” I coaxed Alasdair to stand up and face towards the bow. That seemed to help him a lot. The wind was certainly fresh enough.

Then I sat down at the tiller, wrested it from my poor husband’s sweaty grasp and took over. I commanded him: “Don’t you dare touch the tiller; just keep the lines secure.” He couldn’t manage everything in conditions like this; I had to do something definitive and I had to do it now. The wind gusts were terrific but I quickly learned that if I filled the sail for a bit headed toward leeward, then I could redirect Seashell back the other way and still keep up our momentum. In short, I was using the gusty conditions to our advantage without getting blown off course. Shortly we were opposite the dock but still a fer piece out on the water. Our valiant journey ended with a final, violent gust of wind from the side which sent us spinning and tipping madly. With our sheets flapping in the wind I held onto the downed sail and we made it back safely with Matthew oaring with all his might towards the dock. We couldn’t get out onto that dock fast enough. Our little boat kept us safe; we made it!

Later that day we heard on the news that the gusts had peaked at around 55 mph. Not only were we out in dangerous conditions but it was almost one of the most difficult sailing situations for anyone, not just beginners, because the wind was blowing us too fast toward a lee shore. After we hauled the boat out of the water and our hearts stopped wildly beating within our seafaring breasts, Alasdair paid me the biggest compliment I’ve ever had as a Mom. “Mom, you are a natural! You got us back! Good job.”

Lessons Learned:

1. Check the weather forecast. Especially the parts labeled “wind”.
2. It’s quite possible to get “3 sheets to the wind” without drinking.
3. There’s a reason sailors are known for their cussing. Probably several reasons.

Wow. Avast, me hearties. Just wow.

(Thanks to Matthew for editing my sea-faring jargon.)

Sailing on Plastic bottles

These folks are trying to raise awareness of the plastic chaos loose in our oceans. They are going to Hawai’i on a downwind sailing vessel composed of discarded plastic bottles. Lots of them. Contrary to popular belief most all that plastic comes from land; garbage washing down the watersheds, and not from fishing vessels or ships. Industry reports 120 billion pounds of plastic was produced last year. That is double the amount of plastic produced since 1992. Whoa, it is a lot of oil used so we can drink our beverages out of plastic bottles and cart our groceries home in plastic bags. Learn more from this video. Here is the YouTube of their departure on June 1, 2008 from San Nicholas Island. They have a blog too called Junkraft and it was just up-dated on Sunday. Plastics is forever.


Sky Watchers

This photo was taken from our little 17 foot Venture sailboat on Flathead lake just a few evenings ago. The rain had gone and the sky was a deep, evening blue. Read an account of our first sail below titled: My crazy parents. This next shot was taken near Plains, MT close to a Big Horn Sheep reserve on the Clark Fork River west of us. Heavy skies prevailed that day. There are Big Horns up there on that cliff, but hidden from view. I saw seven of these wild sheep through the binoculars. See more Sky Watch Friday pictures at Tom’s place. Click on the photos for a larger view.