21 jun 10 sailing into solstice

Light wind sailing in Prince William Sound

With the end of June only a few days away, I start to feel like the summer is slipping away. I try to remind myself to live in the moment, but it's so difficult not to pace this season in Alaska by its number of weekends (14 with Memorial and Labor Day). This is the 5th weekend (and it's rainy and gray). If we're lucky, we get a few warm weekends in May and September to stretch the summer vibe. I also usually mark the summer's passage by the number of camping and kayaking trips. This summer, it's the number of sailing trips. And due to boat repairs, family reunions, work, and more boat repairs, we've only had the boat in the water one weekend so far this season.

Thinking about what we did that weekend (4 days over Solstice), I realize that we are making progress. Our goals for the sailboat this summer are threefold -- get to know it, fix the problems it has (sometimes these seem to be multiplying), and get more comfortable with boat handling. We're doing pretty well with all three despite the limited time on the boat.

The first two goals go hand-in-hand and are the most frustrating. Seems the more we get to know the boat, the more we find things that need to be repaired. The bilge is very clean now that we've discovered the windows leak, the water tank leaks (especially if the mystery O-ring is fitted into the hose), and two stanchion bases leak. Thankfully, Paul is very good at repairing just about anything and has a good supply of tools and hardware on board. (Though sometimes those things are on board to fix the problem we found the weekend before.) In addition to those leaks, in the last two weeks, we've had problems with the motor, the windlass (just the power option), and the trailer hitch. At this point, (knock on fiberglass), it doesn't seem like there's much left to be broken. Paul already re-wired and re-plumbed it.

In the third goal - the most fun - we both became much more comfortable motoring around the harbor, docking, and launching/taking out. We anchored for the first time for snacks and a shore walk in Shotgun Cove, about 7 miles out of Whittier. We used commercial and shrimp buoys at the mouth of the cove to practice handling and to get a better feel for how tight a radius the boat turns in all directions. We are relieved to find that dropping the rudder more than a foot actually gives us reverse to starboard (we don't know how the previous owners did it with the rudder raised to the trailering position even in the water).

I could whine more about broken things but it's probably wiser to remember how beautiful the weekend was, how peaceful it was sailing in Passage Canal, how quiet Shotgun Cove was on a Sunday evening, how nice the various people we met in the harbor were, and how much we like being on the boat.

our first anchorage -- Shotgun Cove

Click here to see more sailing photos

13 jun 10 dog days of summer

Another gratuitous photo of my pooch, just before I got brave and cut his hair myself. It's been almost two weeks (the difference between a good vs bad hair cut) and he's almost ready to let me post another photo.

31 may 10 and it's summer

You know it's summer in Alaska when ...

I'm never quite sure when to say that summer begins here. If you're Paul, you stick strictly to the idea that equinoxes and solstices bookend each season. I tend to think of those dates as the halfway marks. But when spring is really only a couple of weeks long, how can you call that a season? Or is Memorial Day the true kickoff, with a long weekend, holiday events, and the start of outdoor gardening?

I don't know when it truly starts, but this past weekend, I knew it was summer in Anchortown. I wore shorts all weekend and it was 60 degrees on Sunday morning at 7:00! I swapped out the flannel sheets with the 'cool-feel' summer sheets. All the leaves are full-fledged and green now and the elderberries are starting to bloom. And the surest sign -- the mosquitoes are so thick in the lower elevations of Bicentennial Park that I couldn't let the dog stop to do much of anything that wasn't vital.

Paul is reunioning back East with the Buttons so I devoted the weekend primarily to gardening. On Saturday, I rebuilt two raised beds for vegetables and planted all my seeds and seedlings (except the last few that I bought that morning at the farmer's market). On Sunday I pedaled around town on the Veggie Roll, a tour of vegetable gardens organized by Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage. We saw some creative and productive gardens where people are trying really hard to grow most of their produce right here in the big city. On Monday I turned to the flower beds. I weeded, watered, and mulched with leaves and wood shavings from Paul's 2009 winter project. I still need to weed and mulch the raspberry patch, but by Monday evening, I had accomplished all the big tasks on the garden to-do list.

Yes, it's summer in Alaska ... go-go-go while the sun shines.

B taking a little break on Sunday evening in Bicentennial Park