Tin Hat Update – Welding, Windows and More
This week saw lots of progress on the Tin Hat Project. We stopped in at Fluid Fabrication to see how things were taking shape. They’d begun assembling the framework for the front of the pilothouse. It was the first time we got to see the curving lines of the new house for real. We’re not sure exactly how long it will take them to finish welding, but my feeling is soon. Maybe just a couple more weeks until we can bring the boat over and have the house put on.
While the welders have been busy, Jeffrey, Tim, and Greg have continued on all of their projects. Jeffrey’s work on the refrigeration system is shaping up nicely, and Tim’s been steadily preparing the boat so we can quickly and efficiently install all the systems in the new pilothouse. Greg’s been turning out windows and doors all week. Our good friends Pete and Jackie graciously loaned us the use of their garage to set up a varnish shop, and with the help of their daughter Naomi, I got started on the bright work. I also put together a little video for you to enjoy…
Four Great Days in the San Juan Islands
We just got back from our first trip of the 2014 season. It was a lovely 4-day cruise with wonderful family of six on board. We left Bellingham and motored to Stuart Island. Along the way we found a bunch of Steller’s sea lions lazing on Spieden Island’s Green Point. They made a few guttural grunts, but otherwise they took little notice of us.
When we arrived at Stuart Island’s Reid Harbor, our guests went ashore for a walk to the Stuart Island School House. While they were away, I spent the early evening making a Coq au Vin for dinner and a fresh berry parfait for dessert. While I cooked, I listened to the calls of a family of osprey that nest in the harbor.
The next day we went kayaking and slowly paddled along the shoreline to look for sea stars, crabs, and anything else that we could find. While we paddled, two bald eagles came flying in pursuit of an osprey. It was a little like those World War II dog-fights. The osprey eventually gave the eagles the slip and soon returned to its nest. The eagles flew off to the other side of the island.
After we returned from kayaking, we raised anchor and cruised over to Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. Our guests went for a walk to the McMillian Mausoleum. Jeffrey went up the dock with them and I stayed on board to prepare a special Mother’s Day dinner. I noticed that it was taking Jeffrey a long time to return to the boat and I wondered what happened to him. When he returned, I discovered that he joined our guests for an ice cream treat from the Roche Harbor General Store.
Later that night we anchored in Garrison Bay. The highlight for me was watching a bald eagle swoop down from a tree and catch a fish. It then took the fish to the beach and was joined by two patient crows who waited from the eagle’s scraps.
On the third day of the trip, we motored back to Roche Harbor. Our guests had arranged for a special side-trip to Zip San Juan for a zip line adventure. The zip line folks met our guests in Roche Harbor. They were gone for about three hours and when they retured, they raved about how much fun it was to fly through the woods.
We left Roche Harbor and cruised up President Channel to Sucia Island. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. Once we were anchored, Jeffrey took everyone ashore for some beach combing. When they got back, they reported that they’d seen a family of river otters.
Sometime after I went to bed, the wind picked up a bit. From my cabin below deck, I could hear the wind in the trees and the lapping of tiny wind waves on the hull. I loved the sound and tried to stay awake longer, but soon I fell asleep.
In the morning the wind was still blowing, but I didn’t think about it too much because it was Croissant Day. I love making pastries, but I really, really love making croissants and pain au chocolat. After they were out of the oven, they (the croissants) didn’t last long.
Once breakfast was finished, we took the kayaks out once more. There were tons of purple sea stars and leather stars. We paddled for almost two hours before returning to the David B.
On our way back to Bellingham one of our guests, an eleven-year old steered the boat with me and Jeffrey. I think he spent most of the way back at the wheel. I enjoyed watching him and answering his questions. It was a fun way to start a new year on the David B.
Traveling When You Were Young
More Faster Backwards Gets a Blue Ribbon
Earlier this summer my book, More Faster Backwards: Rebuilding David B won 1st place in True Adventure from Chanticleer Book Reviews! We were in the middle of our cruising season (I had just dropped the anchor in Alert Bay, BC. when I got the news.) and so I couldn’t attend the awards ceremony.
Just recently I received a beautiful blue ribbon and a very nice review from Chanticleer.
Read an excerpt of More Faster Backwards…
Here’s a list of places you can buy More Faster Backwards:
Jeffrey to Give Talk on Winterizing Your Boat
25 Reasons to Book an Inside Passage Cruise on the David B
We feel that the David B is a special boat and that the cruises we provide our passengers are unique. For a couple of years now we have kept a logbook for our passengers to write their observations, poems, songs or appreciations. It’s a keepsake that Capt. Jeffrey and I enjoy looking through in the off-season. What our passengers write about is also a lot of fun for us to share. This excerpt is from a 12-day cruise we did between Ketchikan, Alaska and Bellingham, Washington. We had four people on board from Dallas, TX and two people from Australia. Together the group came up with their Top 25 Experiences on the David B:
1. The David B
2. A black bear catching a salmon while a bald eagle swooped over
3. At least 50 Pacific White-Sided Dolphins swimming – They took turns swimming at our bow
4. Orca Pods – They did a Sea World performance just for us
5. Amazing Grace played by bag pies in Prideaux Haven – David B led the ship horn response
6. Christine & Jeffrey
7. Traveling companions on the cruise – Lesley, Ian, Amy, Wendy, Jan, Richard
8. Kayaking – saw a grizzly bear with eagles overhead
9. Salmon trying to jump up a waterfall & continually splashing all around us.
10. Humpback whale watching
11. Weather – sunny, clear, cool – perfect
12. “It’s so cute!” The seals & how they always knew to dive when we got the cameras focused
13. Bread: Sour[dough], seed; croissants; pain au chocolat; muffins; scones, adds up to 5 extra lbs/person
14. Swimming in Prideaux Haven to the rocks, Twice – Wendy and Lesley only
15. Bald eagle sentinals at coves and on the tips of islands
16. Our daily Happy Hour
17. CUFF – Card game imported from Austraila
18. Dinners – Every one was excellent
19. Pub bus to Hummingbird – better than promised
20. Soups – Couldn’t pick a fav
21. Black Spotted Canadian Foot Pox (Wendy especially got nibbled by No-see-ums when we went to go watch bears and we forgot bug spray)
22. Cute Staterooms
23. “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story”
24. Lesley’s bear avoidance plans. They are all some variation of Lesley going faster than anyone else so the slower person could get eaten!
This was the vacation of a lifetime.
-Wendy G, Amy, Jan and Richard J, and Lesley and Ian C.
5 Must See Out-of-the-Way Places in Southeast Alaska
Small Ship Cruising Alaska – The Loss of Cruise West
It’s been about a month since Cruise West announced that they were ceasing their operations. In the tail-end of our busy season on the M/V David B, we were surprised to hear that they had gone bankrupt, but we too consumed with our fall operations to really take in what it means to us when a company like Cruise West is no longer around.
For the last few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about next year and how our prospective passengers will hear about us. I know many of our passengers have gone on Cruise West tours in the past. That was their first exposure to small ship cruising and it primed their enthusiasm to find an even more intimate cruising experience – something like the cruises we offer on the David B. The loss of Cruise West also means that there is now an even bigger gap between mega cruise ship companies and owner/operator tour companies. Without the advertising dollars of Cruise West firing up the imagination of prospective passengers, it makes more work for us to educate prospective passengers that there are alternatives to seeing Alaska on an enormous cruise ship.
Many of our passengers began their search for an Alaskan Cruise by typing in “Small Ship Cruise Alaska” or “Small Cruise Alaska” and found Cruise West’s website sitting at the top of their search results. After looking at beautiful, professionally staged photos of smiling, happy people in expedition-style skiffs racing to the face of a tidewater glacier, close-ups of brown bears and breaching whales, our passengers asked themselves, “Hmmm, what else is there?” That’s when we would capture our passenger’s desire for a truly individualized cruising experience in Alaska. Maybe it will be easier for people looking for a quality small ship experience to find us more directly. I hope so, but I wonder without the bigger voice of Cruise West out there promoting small ship cruises, if we’ve lost something valuable. I hope not.
In the coming months we’ll be talking to more people who would have gone on a cruise with Cruise West, and I welcome everyone who had hoped to see Alaska with Cruise West on board the David B. We have admired the cruises that Cruise West offered and we look forward to sharing our style of small ship cruising in Alaska on an even smaller scale.
Roasting Our Own Coffee Aboard the David B
Capt. Jeffrey and I were given a wonderful gift this year from his sister Cynthia and her husband Craig. It was the Fresh Roast SR500, a home coffee roaster. We had no idea what a great gift it was until we roasted our first batch of green coffee beans.
“Wow!” was the first thing Jeffrey and I said to each other after our first pot of coffee. “We’ve got to have this on the boat,” was the next thing.
What was so surprising about fresh roasted coffee beans was the clean, bright and faint chocolate flavors that jumped out at us. What also surprised us was that the coffee didn’t leave the familiar harsh burn on our stomach linings like so much of today’s popular coffee shop brews.
What’s amazing about roasting coffee at home is that it only takes about 6 minutes and a little fore thought for a medium roast. I roast my coffee in the morning when I’ve used up the last beans from the previous roast. Once the coffee is roasted it’s freshest for the next 72 hours.
While it is true that roasting coffee makes a good amount of smoke, I simply set the roaster next to an open window that lets the smoke out. Cynthia and Craig roast their coffee on their balcony. The more I roast coffee the more I’ve come to love the toasty smell that lingers in the house for a couple of hours after roasting.
For the last three months Jeffrey and I have been roasting beans from around the world and since we decided that we absolutely have to share fresh roasted coffee with our passengers this summer, I just made an order for three different coffees that I”ll testing to see which will be the best to serve on the David B this summer.
The first beans that I bought are the Kenya Nyeri Gathaithi Peaberry. It should be fun to experiment with the amount of time I spend roasting this coffee. A lighter roast should bring out the flavor of red currant, while with a darker roast we should be able to detect more of wine flavors and lemon citrus. For more information on this coffee visit…
The next coffee that looked good to me was from Sulawesi. I picked this bean, the Toarco Flatbean for its aromatic floral and piney flavors which seem like to good match for the ambiance of of wood boat in the Pacific Northwest. For more information on coffee from Sulawesi…
The last bean that I’m experimenting with right now is from Costa Rica. I picked the Guillio Prancesca – Finca El Espino for a slightly darker roasted coffee that has fruit, chocolate, mint and almond flavors. It makes my mouth water just thinking about warm and gooey dark double-chocolate cookies paired up with a nice fresh roasted cup of coffee to bring out the chocolate flavors of the cookies and visa-versa.
So having just dipped my toes into the world of roasting coffee I’ve been trying my best to come up to speed on the terminology used for roasting coffee. I’ve been learning about first and second crack as well as wet-processing versus dry-processing. The best place I’ve found is Sweet Marias. The website is little hard to navigate, but the information on the site is wonderful for beginner coffee roasters like myself. I also found a book by Kenneth Davids called Home Coffee Roasting. It’s well written and has great illustrations. You can buy copies of this book from our online bookstore or browse through our copy when you come cruising with us on the David B.
One advantage of buying green coffee beans and roasting them yourself, is that places like Sweet Marias list coffee farms where they buy directly from the farmer. To me this as an added bonus because I’m always happy to pay more to help out a farmer directly.
As I experiment more with coffee roasting, I’ll be sharing with you what I’ve discovered along the way. So get ready to drink a lot of great coffee on the David B this summer and experience the subtle flavors of fresh roasted coffee brewed while the beans are at their peak flavor. It will be hard to go back to coffee brewed any other way.