Please visit our home site at

Anke and I are building our next boat, and writing about it at Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.

Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write, and I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirl gmail daughter com

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Day in the Life

"Maybe you're getting into the rhythm of sailing life," says James. "You know, the tides going in and then out, the wind blowing east and then west, the high of a perfect day out on the water, the low of a thunderstorm or a wind that won't go your way."
― From Unbreak My Heart 
by Melissa Walker

A Day in the Life

Okay. Several of you have requested a 'typical' day in our life. Not so sure there is such a thing. But if a day like this were to happen, I wouldn't be in the least surprised. Here you go, in all its gritty detail.



The alarm wakens us and I kill it with a swipe. It's still dark in the wee hours, with a light lip,lip of water against the hull. As time and space return to our groggy minds, we recall that we're anchored along one of the 'walls' of Chatham Strait, waiting to catch a fair tide. We've got about an hour to get underway.

Morning. Mmm... kiss, kiss... mmmm.

We've got a few minutes to spoon and cuddle, and make the most of it. A little later, we sing:

It's up in the morning drinking gin...
Hey! Ho! Chicken on a raft!
To have another would be a sin...
Hey! Ho! Chicken on a raft!

Dunno why... it's our 'gotta get up and go' song... it's driving rhythm helps get the blood flowing, I guess.

With an effort, I roll out of the bunk to look around. Wind is light and, of course, contrary... if it had been fair, I'd get us underway, over-running the last of the tide, and Anke would make breakfast when she's ready. As is, we'll wait for the tide to turn before beating into it.

I load and light the woodstove, using kindling split fine and drying in a can beside the stove. In minutes, it's crackling, cabin temp is rising and my breath ceases to steam.

Grind coffee. Set water boil and rice to cook. Saute some greens and spices in a cast iron pan. Slice cheese. When the rice is done, stir it in, part a hole in the middle and add three eggs, then deal cheese over the top. Cover with a lid, and the lid with a towel. Voila! A 'standard' breakfast. More water on for the 2qt thermos and hot drinks through the day.

Anke dozes until she hears The Sound.


That's me, imitating Anke's preferred Italian Expresso Pot as I plunge the French Press. When we moved into SLACKTIDE from LUNA, the smaller galley meant keeping one or the other. The FP handles company, so the other had to go. Turns out, the sound was the critical component of expresso, so far as Anke is concerned; so long as I make The Sound, her coffee tastes right.

We sip our coffees, interspersing thoughts about the upcoming day with quiet appreciation of pre-dawn.

We're vaguely heading for a favorite estuary about 20 nm north. Weather is s'posed to be mild, so we don't have to push ahead of high winds. On the fair, rising tide, we will sail further out to take advantage of stronger current, undiminished by friction with the 'walls'. We note on the charts any rocks, coves, shallows and points of interest along the route, and recall the last shelter behind us (ya never know). We listen to the marine weather forecast (if in range).

Spit bath? Too late... get one tomorrow. Dishes in a bucket for cleanup underway. Start the day's log. Bail the dory. Drop the boards. And time to go.

One of us hauls anchor while the other takes the helm. Today it's Anke's sailing us off. She frees the sheet and raises the mizzen, letting the sheets run (the junk rig hauls sheets vertically on raising) and spilling the halyard in a puddle at one corner of the cockpit. She watches her ranges as I haul, ready to act if we begin to slide before she hears from me.

Anchor's a'trip (Anchor's a'trip)... the flukes just broke free; I can feel it through the line.

Anchor's away (Anchor's away)... anchor is free and I'm hauling hand over hand.

At this point, we begin to slide aft in the light headwind, bow held up by the slack sheet mizzen. Anke backs the helm – shunting the stern opposite our intended course - and begins to raise main.

Anchor's aboard (Anchor's aboard)... cleated taught-set in its roller, ready to drop.

I step to the main halyard and help raise the last of the mains'l. We've angled off on our tack, by now, and the lax main fills. Anke trims and makes fast; the vessel comes alive – heeling a bit – as we begin to slip forward, about 45deg to the apparent wind. I close and dog the anchor hatch before coming aft to help tidy halyard ends into their stowage buckets.

We note the time in the log, along with actual windspeed and direction and barometric pressure. We'll enter these every hour until anchored. Underway, five minutes into the young flood.

And a glorious morning it is!

First light dilutes blue black to blue greys, dark greys to silvered. Mother-of-pearl, opalescent highlights in rose and gold begin to define the clouds before giving way to full day. Today it's squally, stone sky with shafts of golden rays in the breaks. Our sister calls them God's Eyes.

We start slow and pleasantly in light wind and little current before picking up to the day's breeze and mounting tide. Long tacks out (the good one) and short tacks in. Short tacking along the edge of the rain, parallel to and inshore. Where there's something of interest 'longshore, we pull in further than is strictly efficient. Sometimes, we're becalmed, checking out a beach behind a headland and scull our way back to the breeze.

A squall or two bluster by. We drop the sails a panel or two to reef, then sheet to trim. Once past, we ease sheets, raise 'em back and trim again.

By late morning, the tide has maxed and waned. Slackened and fouled. We shift inshore, 'wall-crawling' where the opposing current is slower. Riding back-eddies behind the points and shooting a goodly ways out around them to avoid the counter rush at their tip.

Cold lunch – a rice and pickle salad – and later, coffee and a spoot (peanut butter, brown sugar, chocolate with cinnamon and/or vanilla and thickened with milk powder) to fuel us through the afternoon.

We've made good progress. Rounding a bluff, we see the berm – a twelve foot wall of sand and gravel running perpendicular to the river and parallel to Chatham – embracing our estuary under the watchful eyes of Lynn Mama (one of our favorite mountains). We plan to round that berm and anchor behind it, neaping out for a week or so.

We reach and pass our river entrance, slightly, to a point just upwind and current. We round, and, unopposed, approach with full control and good power to fight the river current (extra strong as the ebb is with it).

We watch our ranges as we enter, pointing counter-intuitively high upstream to track straight for our goal. We slip in behind the berm. As usual, the current is very strong, here. as the flats empty, funneled by the berm. Anke shoots as deep in as she can, then bunks the bow against the steep backside. As she drops sail, I jump ashore with the anchor (pre-cleated) and run it in.

Using the pole at the bow, we position ourselves mid-creek (the flats are narrowing down to drainage creeks), checking with the the pike pole on all sides for equal depth (we want to settle down flat, and can't see through the glacial water). One of us rows out a second bow anchor, then one off the stern. We'll explore our options while the tide is out, then shift the boat on the next incoming tide.

Now it's time for a glass of wine on deck as we take this new place in and wait to ground out. We hold our wine loose as we settle in little lurches, the not-quite-down chine digging in as we sweep back and forth over the bottom. Then a feeling of resignation as she takes her feet; afloat no more.

We're a little low on firewood and it's not raining. When the water's down to ankle depth, we wade across with wood bags (nylon navy surplus sea duffels), saws and axe and walk the berm. We spot and note a muddy flat, perfect for a week's stay in all weather.

Once in the woods, we find a standing dead tree – not so thin as to waste effort; not so thick as to require too much – and drop, buck and split it. A little less than two bags worth, so we split the load. We only carry them near water's edge... we'll pick them up with the dory near high tide.

The sky's clearing to a beautiful sunset, reflecting in from the Pacific on the ocean side of the islands. We decide on a beach fire, and whip up some Dutch Oven delight. Not a lot of small, dry wood on most berms, but always seems to be enough for a week or so, if we don't go crazy.

Well fed, we watch the clouds lose their scarlet ribbed radiance. Shy stars show one by one, regarding themselves in Chatham's now glassy water. The world hushes down in that moment before the night hunters announce themselves to their prey.

We'll have to shift the boat to the flat we spotted sometime after mid-night, riding the incoming tide. Pick up our wood before it rains again. So we dowse the fire and head home.

If we've any juice left, Anke may draw while I doodle a barge. We might read a little, separately or aloud, one to the other. Or play a little music. Or a game of Scrabble?

Like as not, I'll look over and she'll have nodded off. Watching her face - relaxed and flushed in sleep - I'll feel that familiar, warm rush of love and gratitude...

That she lets it be me.


PS. There are other days, of course. Not all go this bucolically. It's even been a while since any day under sail is typical (building for a while, now).

And there are lots of days when I'm the one slug-a-bed and nodding off at the end. It ain't so purty, themdays!


  1. Dave,

    Very nice. Succeeded in giving me a sense of it, but more than utilitarian. Beautifully written.

    If you care to supplement or comment, I'd be interested to know, in general, what motivates you to go or move around. Is it just exploring, or a hunt for resources, or the idea that living on a thing designed for moving seems silly unless you move?


    1. Hi Yoda,

      It's a combination of things...

      We love solitude, but are also very social, with friends throughout SE. We think of ourselves as living 'out', but dipping in to reconnect with friends (more and more including online).

      Buying property plugs you into a bureaucracy, if not a neighborhod, and resource rich properties (waterfront, seashelter, water) is out of our financial range. Squatting is frowned fiercly upon. Homesteading is all but over. And then, we'd be pretty much stuck to one spot.

      We love all the various perspectives the Archipelago affords. We can go from a cozy cove, hemmed by towering cliffs to the wallhangs of Chatham/Lynn (200nm) to intersections of channels among tiny islands. And more!

      And then there's the Tao. We both love to drift along by the world's whim. Can do it in one spot, but it just isn't the same.

      Dave Z

  2. Paints a nice picture Dave, Thank you for it!

    1. Hi Alan,

      Thanks! Won't be long before you (and we) are out there!

      Dave Z

  3. "Squatting is frowned fiercely upon. Homesteading is all but over."

    I understand the comment on homesteading. And a shame about that. Particularly annoying that it wasn't until after watching the truly inspiring documentaries about Dick Proenneke that I learned homesteading was no longer possible. Brings to mind Jimmy Buffett's refrain ... "arriving too late, arriving too late."

    I was struck by your description of squatting as "fiercely" frowned upon. The opposite of what I would have expected. Can you say more about the prevalence of and attitudes about squatting in that area, and maybe how that has impacted your movements and choices?

    1. Hi Yoda,

      Yes, sad and diminished times, these.

      RE Squatting... mostly it's officials who do the frowning (USFS, DNR), as there are few who squat on private land (not too many of any kind, these days). Supplemented, of course, by the 'I got mine, Jack' crowd of concerned citizens, some of whom were squatters themselves, or purchased land from them. Go figure.

      There's a squatting phenomenon loosely referred to as 'outlaw cabins'... mostly hunting cabins that are little more than shelters.

      It doesn't affect us much, since it doesn't really apply to boaters. We do hesitate to haul up and out into the woods (for, say, major carpentry). To date, we've rented. Just wouldn't do to get chased out halfway through a build!

      Dave Z

    2. Really nicely written, Dave.... a small portrait of a life well lived filled with peaceful, satisfying moments. Inspirational for sure. Such a sharp contrast to most folks hurried and stressful lives.Revealing of just how ultra proficient ya'll have gotten as sailors. Thanks for taking the time to write this fine piece.