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10/22/2015

Touring San Juan Island, Orcas, and Lopez Using Public Transportation and Bicycles and Ferries

        Don't go to Friday Harbor and just stay there. If you do you are missing out.  About once an hour the San Juan Transit van/bus picks up and drops off passengers.  From the marina, simply walk over to the ferry lanes where cars are waiting to board and look for the small four foot wide island between the waiting lanes and the road.  There's a little sign saying Transit Stop - that's where you wait, the posted schedule will tell you when the next bus leaves.  For five bucks you can ride anywhere, and for five more you can ride back. For fifteen bucks you can ride all day back and forth everywhere.  Kids are cheaper.

       The talkative drivers will give you a mini tour guide talk while taking you over  to Roche or to whale watch at Lime Kiln.

        So, get on the bus, get off somewhere and hang around, get on the next bus, and repeat. When you've had enough, go back to the marina and talk to your neighbor boat people that went nowhere.

        Lopez and Orcas transit bus/vans are the same, except with different stops (you think?)

Click here to go to the page with all the schedules and links and much more
>>   getting around on public transit and ferries
public transportation in the San Juan Islands
all---aboard!

10/21/2015

Where are the BIG grocery stores on Lopez, Orcas, San Juan Island?

       When you cruise somewhere with no local knowledge, you must bring it with you or make do as best you can. That's how you end up buying $5 wine for $20, and outdated perishables.

        Just about all little landings have snack bars and minimally stocked shelves, and I admit I buy lots of stuff from these guys and so should you.  If we don't support them with our purchases they will not stay in business. When they are gone, everyone loses.  

        But,  what about the other products that the little guys simply don't have?


  • Lopez Village
  • Friday Harbor
  • Eastsound
  • Cap Sante
  • La Conner
  • Roche Harbor
These places have major stores with everything we want.

Lopez Village:  This is a hard one to get to from a dock, but you can dinghy ashore, here's a link to get you provisions.  Anchoring and Getting ashore at Lopez Village
The store is about a one block easy walk.  You can walk from the Islander in Fisherman Bay, but its further than I want to carry groceries.  You can bicycle from Odlin Park in twenty minutes.


Friday Harbor:   The marina will let you park in a slip or at the breakwater while you walk up to Kings Market. It's about two blocks right on the main street, you cant miss it. This is a big and busy place and so close you can run up from the boat when your cooking breakfast and need eggs.

Eastsound:  It's kind of a long run up East Sound to Eastsound but the store is big and only one block to walk from the county dock.  Note: the dock is small, you may not get to park the mother ship and may have to anchor and dinghy over. One time we dragged the dinghy up on to the dock because there was no room in the water, you can also beach the dinghy and climb up a trail.   Don't worry, you will get to the store one way or another.  BTW - Eastsound has a good assortment of places to eat, yum.

La Conner:  There are three public docks scattered along the city waterfront,  all right on main street.  (these docks are not the marina, which is a little longer walk)  Once on shore, walk to the  left on the main drag to the stop sign and only main street to the right.  Follow this street about one block to the towns main grocery store, it's pretty big, keeps long hours and is only two blocks from boat at worst.   
Chart of Laconner public docks and boat ramp
The above map shows the five tie up floats at La Conner and the red dot is the grocery store, (no, not the dot marking the boat ramp under the bridge)

Cap Sante (Anacortes):  The store is a full size Safeway and is directly across the street from the marina.  Call the harbor master to arrange for a short term shopping slip.  If you are transiting Swinomish Channel, its just a small detour into Cap Sante to provision.

Roche Harbor:   Lastly, don't forget Roche Harbor for groceries.  The store is right at the top of the marina gangway.  You can get a free slip assignment for shopping or anchor out and dinghy over to one of several dinghy docks.  You could even walk upstairs while getting fuel.  The Roche Harbor store is the smallest of the bunch but is complete and stuffed to the gills.


More Stores: Yes, but those are the biggies with complete inventories.  The smaller stores include Blakely's, Rosario, Deer Harbor, West Beach, Shaw Landing, Orcas Landing, Cornet Bay at Deception Pass, and that's pretty much all of them. 

10/20/2015

What's in your Galley? - improvements, hacks and tricks for our San Juan Cruising and Boat Camping

         First some background thinking - most of us simply use the boat we have the way the PO (previous owner) set it up, plus some of our own tinkering.  Once in awhile though we get to make a major decision. For example; about twenty  years back we acquired a boat with a pump up alcohol cook top, and of course it was a useless rusty piece of stainless (s)crap so over the side it went.  (dumpster) My cheap rush rush solution was to nail a piece of plywood over the gap where the alcohol stove used to take up, and set my propane camp stove on top. And then we took off for the San Juans or somewhere.

        Later I replaced the nails with screws and painted plywood for formica on plywood and created a pretty nice looking counter top.  Of course while underway the propane camp  stove is stowed away.  Boring - Ok, what I learned was how well the set up worked. Over the years several of our boats have had factory propane ovens, some with gimbals, and I admit they were nice, but they also took up precious space 100% of the time. Don't forget the propane bottle fills a locker too.

           So let's fast forward to Kraken to see what we do today.  Thanks to the PO, Kraken has a Dickinson diesel stove which gets zero use in the summer because its primary function is to blast us out of the boat in freezing weather, which it does very well. Our cast iron soot belching mini monster  takes forever to heat up and cool off, but for now, I put up with it in spite of the baggage, weight, space,  and occasional tantrums.
Bristol diesel stove
Our  Dickinson Bristol with door open - yes,  the oven on your boat is bigger.


      I could have set kitchen dishes etc. on the cold cook top, but I opted for a cleaner counter and varnished up a scrap of plywood with little spacer legs.
Counter top over diesel stove
See!

But wait there's more.  I made sure my camp stove would sit comfortably on top.
boat camping with portable cook stove
I also whacked up a set of shims for leveling, which we use once in awhile when making pancakes.


Here's more in our galley bag of  tricks.
cook top oven by coleman
This cool Coleman oven fits just fine, and is just a smidge bigger than the Dickinson, (see the same tray)
It also heats and cools as fast as the flame can be turned on or off.  This set up makes fantastic biscuits, pizza and cookies, I highly recommend it


Wait, it gets better.
cook top oven and drip coffee maker
Our camp drip drip coffee maker fits too!
Hot cinnamon rolls and coffee anyone!
(guilt free boating at its best)

Everything gets easily stowed, and we get our counter space back.
folding oven
The oven folds up into that little box and fits under the Dickinson next to the camp stove

And that's the way our galley stove works.

Galley improvements on Nordic Tug
BTW - when the diesel stove is hot we place the camp stove on the counter to the left of the sink and  carry on.