Desolation Sound 2013

Prior to committing on our boat I had heard stories about the world renowned cruising grounds of Desolation sound and the yearly pilgrimage that Ranger Tugs arranges for new and existing owners, as part of our purchase Kelley and I decided that joining this event would be both educational insofar as taking on a long trip and also an opportunity to make some new friends.

The plan was that I would depart prior to the beginning of the cruise to really run Current Obsession through her paces and also some time for me to cruise the San Juan’s. Below you will find small daily journal like entries describing our trip.

Day 1.

The time had come for the most anticipated trip of the year, the cruise to Desolation Sound, this would be a 2 week cruise comprised of the first week singlehanded and then I would pick up my wife Kelley and daughter Sofie in Sydney BC and from there start our itinerary together with a group of fellow Ranger Tug owners.

On day 1 I spend the morning with the girls at home ensuring that all the things I needed to stow on the boat was ready so when they joined me a week later, the trip on the Clipper high speed ferry to Victoria BC would be as light as possible.

Once at Stimson B43 I stowed everything and am constantly amazed of the capacity of this Ranger R-27, I cast of and head for the locks, as if everyone got the same idea as I the waiting area filled in no time, 10 min later we get the green light for the large lock, our boat being the size it is I am guaranteed that I will be rafting to a larger vessel, making my locking through completely uneventful.

Once through I plot a course for Coupeville, I choose the mellow cruise up through Saratoga Passage and decide to spend the night there before tackling Deception Pass in the AM, my cruise to Coupeville is uneventful and enjoyed cruising at a leasurely pace. Once there I dock, pay my fee and start preparing for dinner.

Having had several shakedown cruises, just completed my 50 hour service (at 71 hours) i find there are still systems I have not yet tested, this time around it was my inverter allowing me to run the microwave oven and heat my dinner, when switching it on nothing happens, I double check fuses, switches and the like to no avail, a quick call to Ranger only confirms my suspicion that indeed something is amiss, it will be dealt with in a week when I connect with the Ranger Tug crew of Andrew and Kenny. After Dinner I grab a book and retire for the night early.

Day 2.

I wake early Saturday morning, the wind and waves from the evening before have completely dies down and replaced by complete still and fog, I make a cup of tea and enjoy the silence, brush my teeth and prepare to hit the showers unfortunately the harbor master is not yet awake and he holds the keys for the marina shower oh well I head back and prepare to cast off.

my trip today is short, I head out to Saratoga Passage going east into Skagit Bay and up north to Deception Pass, my first time traversing the Deception pass but precise timing makes this narrow passage less challenging and everything is eventless.

once in Rosario strait I am greeted by 2-3 feet waves hitting me 45 degrees on the beam making for a rolley ride across to James Island and into Thatcher Pass. Now I am in the San Juan’s and its a short cruise up to the northern part of Blakely Island where I will spend the day relaxing, by now the fog is but a memory and the weather is great, in the marina I see people come in all through the day buckets filled with Dungeness crab, my dinner tonight is the microwaveable Trader Joe’s dinner that went unused last night due to my inverter incident, today i have shore power and Wi-Fi and making good use of it.

The plan as it develops is “must see” Rosario Resort tomorrow and likely onto Friday harbor.

Day 3.

Woke up around 6:30 at Blakely Island marina, prepared the kettle and grabbed my towel and toiletries and headed to the shower, upon showering I proceeded to make tea and scrambled eggs with smoked salmon after bringing the trash to the dumpster I cast off for Rosario resort.

This must see San Juan attraction is a former mansion turned resort/spa with a small marina in the east sound on Orcas Island, its but a 30-40 min cruise from Blakely and along the way I stopped and fished a bit for what I assume was salmon on my fish-finder…no luck though.

I pulled into Rosario and was assigned south dock #11, after situating myself I jumped on the shuttle to East Sound for some restocking of provisions and a collapsible crab pot, my intentions tomorrow is to depart and find a mooring buoy’s and soak the pot and see if Dungeness crab may be on the menu.

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Circumnavigating Bainbridge island

For this weekends outing several options were discussed and we finally closed on the following; depart Friday afternoon singlehanded from Stimson with Eagle Harbor as my destination, there I would secure mooring for myself and Hayden Bay which were to arrive around dinnertime. then the following day my wife and daughter would arrive by ferry and depart with me, travelling south  past Restoration Point and up through Rich Passage and past Manzanita Bay and through Agate Passage for our final destination that day, Port Madison. our final leg would be Sunday AM from Port Madison back to Eagle Harbor.

Friday afternoon arrives and I head for Stimson with a short stop over at Trader Joe’s in Ballard for some provisions. once on the boat I store everything and get her ready, slightly overcast but by and large not a bad day and the wind is light. I back out of B43 and turn towards the Ballard locks, there I am “greeted” by a large commercial tug heading out so I ready myself for the large lock. I am 3rd inline and directed to raft portside on a large sailboat. once at level with the sound and the gate opens I am instructed to leave the lock first and I comply.

While in the lock I lay a course for Eagle Harbor and once in the Sound I ensure visually and monitoring VST channel on my VHF that I am clear before crossing the “traffic lanes”.Approaching Eagle Harbor I am mindful of the area south of Wing Point with very low water and aim for the red buoy at the entrance. meanwhile I am closely monitoring the Washing State ferry Wenatchee  on my chart plotter (through my AIS) as she is making he way out of the harbor, making sure I give her a wide berth. Once in the harbor I locate the public dock and tie up Current Obsession. A few hours later I am hailed by Hayden Bay informing me they are entering the harbor, Marcus docks the 65.000lbs 40 foot Nordhavn with seemingly ease, I am so happy that my “little” tug is a mere 7000 lbs and 27 feet long. Once secure we turn our attention to food and drinks.


Marcus and Jorge have been to Winslow many times and they guide me to the place where the “locals” hang out, after a short wait we are seated and before long food is on the table and glasses filled, at the tail end of the meal I am getting a little parched and decide to go for some iced tea and suggest that maybe adding some kind of alcohol, I end up with a Long Island Ice Tea, not knowing there is absolutely no ice tea in that but all booze. Marcus and Jorge are nice enough to guide me back to the boats where we finish off the evening with one final drink and some Belgian truffles that I keep referring to as Belgian waffles. I clearly had way to much to drink, but alas I get a great night sleep.

The next morning we wake up and after brunch and exploration of Winslow, visiting the farmers market, the local bookstore where I get the current version of Waggoner Cruising Guide its time to start preparing to leave. Kelley and Sofie made it onto the island by ferry and after unloading the car and parking we are ready to head out. We leave Eagle Harbor and since Hayden Bay takes the lead there is no need to plot a course, i just follow a few hundred yards behind her. We choose the long scenic way around to reach Port Madison in part because we wanted my wife’s first cruise in the sound to be scenic and protected from much swell, the trip up is no disappointment and we reach Agate Passage at slack so traversing that is non eventful.

Once in Port Madison Marcus picks a nice spot to drop the Rocna and he guides me in to raft on his port side once secure we turn of the engines and the silence is so calming, we start planning dinner and to pass a little time I rig a fishing pole for Sofie, to test it out i cast and within one minute I have a fish biting, i call Sofie and she is so excited. we pull in something I have never seen before which is a spotted Ratfish, apparently very common, Jorge identifies the fish from several diving trips, apparently it not worth eating and also mildly poisonous through a spine on its dorsal fin, its released back in to the bay.  we retreat to have dinner which consists of salad, pasta with a seafood medley and cherry pie. during dinner my wife asks where I got the seafood and I tell he I bought it at Trader Joe’s initially intended as bait because my local bait shop ran out of squid (so i figured some frozen calamari would do the trick) she almost spat out her food, saying “You are serving me bait” after many years of marriage I think she has realized there is never a dull moment with me. After dinner Sofie decides to fish some more and catch what seems like the same ratfish, we decide he is to dumb and release him a second time, by now its bedtime and we turn in.

Next morning we have an early start by Marcus and Jorge standards, they need to pick up Marcus’s mum in Edmonds for a day on the sound, while Kelley and Sofie are still tugged in we tie off Current Obsession so Hayden Bay can prepare for departure and we head towards Eagle Harbor for some brunch and sightseeing in Winslow with the girls. We make it there and secure the boat at the public dock again, unload the girls luggage and head into town for some coffee and brunch, afterwards we part ways, Kelley and Sofie doing some shopping and I take Current Obsession back towards Stimson. Back in the sound I crank my Volvo to exercise her a bit, as much as I like cruising 6-7 knots its also nice to be able to open it up a bit and cruise at 16-18 knots. coming back Sunday afternoon can have some traffic at the locks and I arrive just as the green light goes on for the large lock, I raft up again and the whole thing is eventless, back in the lake I guide Current Obsession to C43 and wash her down.

This was another great boating experience and I am already looking forward to my next time on the water.

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First time in the “Salt”

First time in the “Salt”

Well the time was fast approaching when the Puget Sound spot shrimp season opened and I had been hard at work building buoys, getting pots and leaded line, researching bait recipes and last but not least trying to find some productive shrimping grounds. On Tugnuts I found Dennis Carstensen, long time Hood Canal resident and seasoned shrimper and he graciously invited me to his place to share his knowledge and after that I felt that I had sufficient knowledge to attempt this adventure.

This was something that was high on the bucket list for both my best friend and I so needless to say he was invited, my friend Adam Timney a seasoned hunter, fisher and forager flew in from San Francisco Friday before the shrimp opener. We were also joined by my new Seattle friend Langdon Cook and off course no trip is complete without my Jr. Capt. (My 8 year old daughter Sofie)

The plan was for Sofie, Adam and I to depart Stimson Marina Friday afternoon ahead of the official boating season opening, head up to the port of Everett and spend the night and then meet up with Langdon in the AM and head out for the shrimping grounds.

Around 4:30AM I am awoken by a loud thumb and I get up, we moored for the night at Port of Everett’s guest moorage on the outside in the channel and a nice big 8 foot log carried by an ebbing tide drifted into the boat, my first experience with logs in the Puget Sound. I decided to stay up and witnessed hundreds upon hundreds of boaters leaving the port for the shrimping grounds.

At 6:30AM my friend Lang arrives and we load up everything and head out, the plan is to find a nice spot around the Mukilteo oil docks with a depth of ~275 to 300 feet to drop our gear, it takes us about 30 min to get there and we add the bait and drop our gear, everywhere around us boat drop gear with yellow buoys. We let our pots soak for one hour before we pull, having never tried this before we are super excited and when the first pot appear we see the fruits of our labor, big red Puget Sound spot shrimp.

For the remainder of the day we continue to fish and by the end we tally up ~160 shrimp total, some were consumed as sushi style “Ebi” with soy and wasabi and some steamed in Guinness, fresh shrimp is tasty and we are all enjoying the experience.

As we wrap up the day the wind has picked up a lot, its coming out of the north and the ride in is bumpy, we go back to Everett to drop of my friend Lang and I make an executive decision that since the weather seem marginal and Adam is prone to sea-sickness and I am mindful of not subjecting my 8 year old daughter to severe conditions and thus dampening her desire to go out on the boat, we decide that they get to ride home to Seattle with Lang in his car.

Initial thought was for me to stay the night and head out in the AM, but as I am studying weather forecasts it becomes evident that it likely will not improve. So I prepare to take off, in looking at the chart and wind direction I realize that I have a following sea and if done right it may not be that bumpy after all, I get out and find a speed around 16 knots that allow me to ride the waves and in 1 hour and 45 minutes I am back at the locks, I wait for about 15 min and is directed to the small lock, 10 min later I pull into Stimson, rinse down the boat and savor the fact that not only did I take Current Obsession into the sound for the first time, we got shrimp and I traversed the locks singlehanded.

All in all a great experience with my daughter and good friends.

Puget Sound spot shrimp    Shrimp bouys  Ace pot puller

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Shake-down Cruise…Take 1

Well the time has come where we wanted to take her out and run her through her paces, spending a few nights aboard and just get more comfortable with the boat and start planning for outfitting her accordingly. (Nothing like being out, realizing what you forgot to bring. Hence notepad and pen for copious notes)

The plan was to head into the sound with our friends of Hayden Bay and Destiny and go through Agate passage and hang on the hook in Manzanita Bay. But even the best laid plans can be foiled by weather, NOAA forecast was “10 knot to variable” with variable being 25+ kicking up some nice wind waves between 5 to 7 feet and a “Small craft advisory”

So change of plans, luckily we have the option of looking “inwards” and we decide to head into Lake Washington and enjoy a favorite spot by Seward Park, Andrews Bay.

The trip there was uneventful, we all met up in Lake Union and headed out to Lake Washington, between 520 and I90 we did encounter some confused wind waves between 2-4 feet which produced some good spray across the bow.

Current Obsession_Lake Washington    Destiny and Current Obsession on lake Washington

Once past I90 on the east side of Mercer island it mellowed out (we had to go the long way around, south of Mercer because Hayden Bay is to tall to cross under the westward span of I90) we make it around Mercer island and now heading north I get a chance to “surf” the waves on the following sea. Both Sofie my daughter and I are having a great time.

We make it into Andrews Bay and Hayden Bay drops her Rocna, Destiny rafts to her port and we align my swim step with that of Destiny and tie Current Obsession to Destiny’s port side, all secure we turn of the engines and enjoy the silence…we have arrived.

The rest of the weekend is spend enjoying great company, snacks, food and adult beverages and Sofie is having a blast, she has at her disposal a “3 boat” jungle gym in which she can move about often gravitating back to “her” mid-ships berth with a book or her iPad.

Sunday AM after coffee in Destiny’s wheel house and as Sofie wakes up I head back to Current Obsession to make blueberry pancakes and test out the propane stove, I burn the first one but the birds benefit from that, after breakfast we head out and the weather is great, some sun and barely a ripple on the lake. We make it back to Lockhaven Marina and I am already contemplating where our next trip will be.

Destiny and Current Obsession in Andrews Bay   hayden-bay-and-c-o-on-lake-washington

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Hull# 2724 Delivery Day

The culmination of about a year’s worth of dreaming, talking details with Ranger and getting financing sorted out came to fruition today. Kenny pulled up to the ramp at Gasworks Park  in Seattle with my “Current Obsession.” (Ironically it’s not mine; since the bank required Coast Guard documentation, I had to sign it over to my wife because I am not a US citizen and that’s a Coast Guard requirement…the irony).

The day was spent going through every system, looking through every hatch at water pumps, hydraulic pumps, dipsticks, switches and what have you… This is one complex piece of machinery, and along with all the required safety equipment came two stuffed ranger bags all full of manuals.

The day was jam-packed and flew by and after Kenny was comfortable that I could get her in and out of our slip safely, I dropped him of back at Gas works and headed back to our slip by the Locks. All in all we put 5 plus hours on the engine today.


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Hull# 2724 Twas the night before “Taking Delivery”

Well it’s down to the wire. She had bottom paint done by CSR, and Margaux from Margaux Marine Graphics did her magic.  Andrew sent me a text with a picture attached and I couldn’t help myself — I swung by Kent just to get one last look and check out the graphics for both the transom and in between the windows. Also, the papers have been filed with the US Coast Guard for vessel documentation.

I guess it’s official now.  She’s our “Current Obsession”

IMG_0284    IMG_0285

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Hull# 2724 First Sea Trial

Well, the call came from Ranger Tug that Hull #2724 was ready for her first sea trial.  I had politely asked if it would be possible for me to observe this event and so it was that I came to see Current Obsession being put in the water for the first time.   The whole event lasted about 2 hours, as Kenny Marrs went through every system to ensure everything was working correctly.  It was a bit cold, and I am very happy we opted for the Webasto heater.  We did run her through the entire RPM range for the Volvo Penta D3-200 and this little boat moves — at full throttle, about 4150 RPM, she did just north of 23 knots.

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Hull# 2724 Day 5

Today the cabin was joined to the hull/stringer and I managed to snap one photo while I was discussing details regarding my “fishing” optimized navy blue Sunbrella bimini top with Dave from King Marine…everything is coming together nicely.

Hull 2724 Day 5

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Hull# 2724 Day 4

Today was another great day of seeing great progress in putting Current Obsession together.  The crew at Ranger was treated to Top Pot doughnuts this morning, and I got to see the finished house sitting outside waiting to be put on, and the insert suspended so I could see all the wiring, hoses and what have you. Then the best moment of all was when I got to see the insert being fitted into the hull.

This was one more step toward the dream.  The last time I was in Kent there were 3 pieces; today it’s down to 2.  And next time I see her, she will be all in one piece.

looking through the pictures below you may spy changes/upgrades like;

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Hull# 2724 Day 1

The desire for my own boat started in Bremerton in 2012, at the Ranger Tugs Rendezvous.  Since then, I have been working diligently on all the details.  And as we got closer and closer, the excitement rose, but it never really sunk in that we were going to have a boat until today.

Andrew called a few days ago with the news that Hull #2724 was out of the mold and I should make arrangements to swing by the factory in Kent and see “Current Obsession” take shape.  I arrived and after a short lunch with Andrew, Jeff and Ivan we went onto the production floor, and there she was… in 3 pieces…The hull, the insert and the cabin, each being worked on by many competent boat builders.  I got to see many of the details we spent all winter finalizing for my special version of the Ranger Tug R-27.

below you will find a small montage of pictures showing the progress.

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