Getaway to the San Juan Islands

If you are looking for a weekend getaway that’s near Seattle or Vancouver, then the San Juan Islands are a great choice, and a Weekend Getaway aboard the M/V David B is the prefect way to experience “our backyard islands.”

Kayaking in the San Juan Islands
Kayaking in the San Juan Islands

What’s great about the San Juan Islands are the endless rocky shorelines which are fun for tide pooling and the lush  green forests of Cypress, Sucia, Stuart, Jones, and Orcas Islands that provide shade for easy and moderate hikes to gorgeous panorama views. Also great about the San Juan Islands are the beautiful sweeping pastoral fields of San Juan Island and Lopez Island which are perfect for an evening or morning stroll along on rolling country roads.

The San Juan Islands offer calm and protected waters for kayaking. From the M/V David B you can take a leisurely paddle along sea-sculpted sandstones or rocky barnacle and encrusted shorelines where oystercatchers, with their bright orange beaks, pry open mussels, and in the shallow water below your kayak you can make out the shapes of crabs, fish and sea stars as you pass over.

Orca Whale
Orca Whale

While you’re visiting the San Juan Islands you’ll also find that the wildlife is both abundant and amazing. The San Juans are home to 89 resident orca whales and a fluctuating number of transient orca whales. There are many seals, sea lions and porpoises to watch as well. While you are in the San Juan Islands you’ll want to bring your binoculars for bird watching because there are many birds to see from the majestic bald eagle to the tiny, shy marbled murrelett and the uniquely painted Harlequin duck.

Besides the wildlife and scenery there are also quaint towns in the San Juan Islands, such as Friday Harbor, home to the Whale Museum, and Roche Harbor where you can take your time to explore the Westcott Bay Sculpture Garden as well as the beautifully maintained gardens at the Hotel de Haro.

Cupcakes for desert or just a treat

If you’re just dying to get out of town and into the Islands for a weekend of relaxation, you can join us for one of our Weekend Getaway cruises. These trips are planned especially for you to get the most out of your weekend. They start from our slip at Squalicum Harbor in Bellingham, WA. on Fridays at 3pm and return to our slip in the evening on Sundays around 5-6pm. Visit our schedule page on our website for dates and pricing and don’t forget we’ll do the cooking!

Kayak Mothership in the San Juan Islands

David B with Kayakers
David B at Anchor with Kaykers

What is a kayak mothership? It’s one the the best ways to explore the San Juan Islands without all the hassle of mounting a major expedition of planning, packing, and provisioning on your own just to get in few days of premier paddling. On a mothership, all you need to do is to show up with some comfortable clothes, a camera, and a sense of adventure. Everything else is taken care of by us, the crew of the Motor Vessel David B.

With the David B as your mothership and your base camp, you’ll get to concentrate on the best part of a kayak trip – kayaking. We’ll do all  planning, provisioning and cooking while our professional guide expertly and safely takes you through the maze of beautiful madrone covered islands, and past ancient water sculpted sandstone. While you paddle you’ll learn about the amazing geological history of this dramatic archipelago; the colorful stories of early settlers, from the 11-year long Pig War, to the hideouts and crafty tactics of infamous rum-runners. You’ll also observe wildlife as you float over brightly colored purple sea-stars, snow white anemones and intensely orange sea cucumbers. Bring along a pair of binoculars to watch bald eagles sitting majestically in a tall Douglas Fir tree or to catch the fleeting glimpse of a rare marbled murrelet. You’ll also find yourself amused by the puppy-dog faced harbor seals who seem as curious about you as you are about them and friendly deer who have been know to follow along on our hikes.

Deer on Jones Island
Deer on Jones Island

The best part of the David B experince as your kayak mothership might just be after your step out of your kayak. After a long day well spent enjoying the the scenery and wildlife of the San Juan Islands, you don’t have to find a place to haul out your kayak and then spend the rest of your evening making camp hoping that you read the tide tables correctly so you don’t find the sea slowly creeping inside your tent at 2:00am. Instead, you simply paddle up to the David B, hop out of your boat and step on deck. We’ll take care of the kayak while you stretch your legs and get a bite to eat.

In fact, while you were out paddling with our guide taking in the scenery, the crew of the David B, has been busy preparing for your arrival back at the boat. Christine has arranged an appetizer for you made up of  local cheeses, fruits, nuts and a hot dip prepared from fresh Dungeness crab caught earlier in the day and cooked on board. You can kick back and enjoy the early evening sunlight on deck while nibbling cheeses and fresh local fruits with a cool glass of white wine as a to compliment a great day on the water.

Tim give a short demonstration on kayaking
Tim give a quick demonsreation on how to hold a kayak paddle

Another advantage of the David B as your mothership, is the opportunity for a hot shower, or even better yet a long hot soak in the David B’s cast iron bathtub at the end of the day. We’ll even have the fireplace next to the tub going so you can really relax your tired muscles in style. You’ll be happy that you’re not still coated in sweat, sand, and sunscreen when you emerge from the warm water of the bathtub. You’ll be even happier think how much better a bath is on the David B, than taking a short coin-operated shower with your flip-flops on in a cold concrete public restroom at some state park; this is especially true at a park if you run out of coins with shampoo still in your hair.

Besides great food, easy kayaking in a stable boat, beautiful scenery, hot or baths, and a caring crew, the best part of the David B as your kayak mothership is your warm comfortable private cabin. When you crawl in between the soft sheets and pull the comforter up to your chin after an amazing day’s worth of exercise and a belly full of gourmet food cooked especially for you, you’ll sleep like the logs you left behind on the beach. You won’t even miss that one annoying rock under your left shoulder or the ‘swishing’ sound of your traveling companions nylon sleeping bags that you could have been enjoying if you’d gone kayak camping. You’ll have nothing more to care about as you drift off into a deep sleep than what’s in store for you tomorrow when you wake up to the smell of fresh blueberry muffins being baked in the ship’s wood cook-stove. You’ll be glad you came. No tents, no rocks, no stressing about tides or currents. Just great kayaking, great food, great company, great showers, clean sheets and a comfortable bed. It’s seriously a great vacation.

Trying out a single kayak

Our kayak mothership cruises are for beginners and experts alike. We have three fiberglass double kayak and two singles on board the David B. These kayaks are made by Northwest Kayak and are sturdy and dependable. Our guide not only helps beginners get a feel for their boats, but can also give tips and quick lessons to anyone what wants to know more.

Read more about our Kayak Mothership cruises in the San Juan Islands, or visit our schedule page.

Adventures in the Shipyard 2010 – New Stern Bearing

Our month in the shipyard is finally over and we are back at our slip with the David B looking beautiful. Over the month of February we got a lot accomplished. I spent most of the month working on sanding, filling, painting and oiling. We had amazing weather for painting and I took advantage of every rain-free pacific northwest day. While I was busy running the sander, Jeffrey had a full to-do list. His first project was to send out the propeller to have it re-shaped. It’s always been too big for the boat and Jeffrey has been worried that the propeller bogs down the engine too much, so off it went to the Prop Shop in Seattle.

After the propeller was removed, Jeffrey began inspecting the new high-tech stern bearing we had replaced two years ago. He noticed that it had moved in the housing and we then proceeded to remove the bearing to see what was going on. It had been chewed up a lot and after discussion with the shipyard, who had installed the bearing we decided that we would go back the old style of a Babbitt bearing that had worked for the previous 78-years. Since it turned out that machine shop which made the new bearing had gone out of business three weeks before we hauled the boat out, we poured our own new Babbitt bearing and then took it to a machine shop for finishing.

New Stern Tube Bearing for the David B
New Stern Bearing for the David B

The picture above is the set-up we used for pouring Babbitt into the housing for the stern bearing. Once the metal was melted Jeffrey poured in the molten Babbitt in between the bronze housing and the pipe sticking out of the housing.

Below is a picture of Jeffrey holding some material called bear s#!t. This stuff was packed around the places where the molten Babbitt might leak out.

Jeffrey makes a new Babbitt bearing
Jeffrey shows off his bear s#!t

Here’s some real bear poo to compare.

Bear Skat
Real bear s#!t

Once the metal had melted it was time to pour. Watch the video below to see Jeffrey pour hot molten Babbitt into the stern bearing housing.

Inside of the bearing
Inside of the new bearing before taking it to the machine shop

Once we finished the pour Jeffrey removed the mandrel and we then took the bearing to a Grant’s machine shop in Seattle to finish up the inside of the bearing.

Setting up the lathe
Setting up the lathe for machining the new bearing

We arrived at Grant’s shop at 4:00 in the afternoon to set up the lathe to machine the bearing to the right size. It was a long evening of taking measurements and making jigs. Grant needed to first make the bearing housing concentric, then he was going to need to make the cutter bar which would be attached to his lathe. The bar with the cutter ran through the inside of the housing and it spun rapidly as it was attached to the lathe.  The housing itself would be secured to car that slowly moved back and forth while spinning cutter trimmed thousandths of an inch of metal off the inside bearing per pass. After each pass Jeffrey and Grant would measure exactly how much metal was removed.

Machining the Bearing
Making the bearing housing concentric

In the photo above you can see the cuter Grant set up to trim the outside of the bearing housing to make it concentric.

Bearing housing's concenstric
Finished making the bearing housing concentric

Above shows the housing once it had been centered.

Ready for cutting
Bearing is in place with cutter bar inside

The bearing housing was placed and secured on the lathe.

The cutter
The cutter

Here’s a picture of the cutter that was used for removing excess Babbitt from the stern bearing. Between passes Jeffrey and Grant measured how much material was being taken off. They continued to make passes until the inside of the bearing reached the right size.

In the video above you watch the cutter making a pass through the inside of the housing. It was an amazing process to watch. We worked on the bearing until 2:00 am. At midnight I took a nap so that I could drive a tired Jeffrey and our new bearing back to Bellingham. We got home at 4:00am and the next day we took the bearing down to the boat to be fit. Not only did it look great, but it went back on to the boat just right.

Shinny new bearing
Shinny new bearing ready to be installed

This was only one of the projects we did this year in the shipyard. Besides the bearing project, Jeffrey also worked on the rudder post by pouring a modern-day tallow in to the rudder post box and he installed a new oil filtration system in the bilge. Now that the boat’s back in the water we are schedule for an engine alignment and valve cleaning, along with more painting and more varnishing.

Back at the dock
Back at our slip after a month in the shipyard

For more pictures of pouring the Babbitt bearing and other work we did on the David B this year in the shipyard, visit us on Facebook and become a Fan of the David B.