This is the time year when the days are getting quite long, the weather is becoming more beautiful each week and nature is coming alive. There are many birds singing each morning and the trees are all flowering (with a lot of pollen in the air). The Canadian Geese are back on their way north to return home, but many have stopped long enough in the Seattle area to have young ones. It always surprises me how small, yellow and fluffy they are. The other morning a family swam by ‘Alice’ dutifully watched by our gargoyle, Dido as shown below.
There is always something happening on Lake Union and Lake Washington and today even more so as the boating season officially opens. This day was made even more special because of the clear sky, shining sun and relatively warm weather.
I went for a paddle on one of the kayaks and amongst the usual sightings of boats, seaplanes, stand-up paddle boarders, kayakers, sailors and such I also had two remarkable new sights. The first was a pair of Canadian Geese with three yellow fluffy goslings in tow all going for a swim and the second was the very unusual sight of three amphibicars out in the middle of Lake Union, dodging boats and the converted army ducks that are now used for sightseeing tours.
A truly wonderful day!
We have a “pet” beaver who lives at the dock and of course he’s been named Justin Beaver. He is reasonably friendly and will sometimes swim along beside us as we walk off the dock and of course all he dock residents think he is very cute and quite the celebrity.
This afternoon I went for a walk along the Burke Gilman trail and as I was walking back and close to home, there Justin was, living up to his rock start image. I wondered why a number of people had stopped beside the trail and some were taking photos. As I got closer, the reason became clear. There was Justin, larger than life right beside the trail making a meal out of some bushes.
So naturally I had to join and take a photo as well – after all I didn’t want him to think I was dissing him!
On a beautiful Saturday in Seattle we took our new boat out for the first time. After packing some snacks, filling the water the tank and putting some necessary supplies on board we were off on our first adventure. Getting away for the mooring next to ‘Alice’ was relatively straightforward and we made our way to the fuel station for our initial filling of the fuel tank. This all went relatively smoothly so the adventure now began in earnest.
A nice slow trip across to Lake Union, stopping a couple times to admire other houseboats and floating homes and we were through the cutting between Lake Union and Lake Washington. Between seaplanes, Coast Guard, Police boats, wake boarders, kayaks there was plenty of activity on the lake. We had a great time trying out different speeds in between my practicing maneuvering the boat at slow speeds. Then it was Kate’s turn…
It was hilarious as she practiced turning the boat and then trying to keep the boat heading in one direction while countering the wind and waves. All in a totally brilliant day for us all!
This weekend our new boat arrived – a red 21ft Stingray. We had to have this one as it has a head compartment which makes it more convenient if you’re out on the water for a few hours or more. It was delivered and we went to take it away from the dock next to the boat ramp. There is no fear like the fear of trying to back a new boat that you’ve never before driven, turn it around in a narrow channel lined with boats on both sides, with the wind and waves up all while a “Ride the Duck” boat is coming down the boat ramp straight at you.
Of course this adrenalin rush was equaled after we had spent some time tooling around Lake Union and it was time to take the boat home and dock it beside ‘Alice’. My intent was to turn it around and back it around a corner to moor it between Alice and the bank. Of course there is very little space to maneuver and the wind was still doing its thing. After a couple of tries. We determined that it would be far easier to dock beside the full length of Alice, giving us much more room, have one person hop off and then they could be ready around the corner to catch a rope and pull us in. I also had a quick lesson in throttle control – use very short ‘bumps’ in gear and above all else remember “slow is pro”.
It was a good feeling to have the new boat tied up and spend a little time relaxing and calming down. The next order of business was what to name the boat. Given our houseboat already shares its name with my wife, we felt naming the new boat after our daughter would be cool – hence the “KatieG”.
Now to put the name on the boat.
Our daughter, Kate, came into town to spend a few weeks with us. So we went to the coast (Ocean Shores/Moclips) for the Easter weekend. It was a great time as along the way we visited a cat breeder (more on that later) and stayed in a house on the cliff overlooking the beach. Although we missed the chocolate festival, the kite festival and the Fireman’s Ball, we were there in perfect time for… the clamming season.
We’d never been clamming before but this wasn’t going to stop us. We went to purchase a clam gun – although we were very impressed with the gentleman selling very slick ones on the roadside, we figured we go with the cheaper version from the gas station. Armed with the clam gun, a net and a clamming license we were good to go for Easter morning. An early start ensured we were out on the beach before the low tide and before too many people showed up.
If you haven’t been clamming, there is an art to it. You need to watch as the water rolls out for little dimples in the sand which indicate the presence of a clam under the surface. You then quickly push the clam gun into the sound to cover the dimple and try to get it down far enough and then extract it to pull out a cylinder of sand with hopefully the clam inside the sand cylinder or exposed. It sounds easier that it really is, as there is significant suction that makes it difficult to lift the gun back out of the sand.
Kate tried her hand first. A few unsuccessful attempts, then Alice tried to no avail. I had more luck with a clam being exposed and then Kate was able to successfully extract two herself. Of course each time one was exposed, the girls squealed much to the amusement of the other clammers and I had to pull the clam out and toss it in the net.
Once we had three (the limit is fifteen each), we figured we had enough for breakfast, so we headed back to the beach house. After I cleaned them Kate cooked them up and both she and Alice declared them very tasty and a great way to spend Easter morning.
Spring has definitely arrived in Seattle. The trees are blooming with flowers, the birds are singing, the Canadian geese are starting to appear on their way back north, Justin the beaver is splashing around in the mornings… and the raccoons are becoming more active.
Have you ever come face to face with a raccoon? With their face masks, beady eyes and shifty demeanor they certainly have a creepy aura. They travel in a pack (it could be a family) and seem to have no fear of people, bicyclists or vehicles. This morning on my way to the gym at 4:45am I had a staring match with one as he seemed to be daring me to walk by him on the Burke Gilman trail. I wasn’t about to be intimidated, so I set my sternest face and used hand gestures to show him I had my eyes on him. I will say I was quite pleased to be past him and safely across the street.
These raccoons seem to be getting more cheeky. Last week as I was leaving for work quite early in the morning, one was wandering down the dock. As I stepped onto the dock, he stopped, considered his options as I started walking towards him, and then thought better of continuing the standoff, as he turned around and headed back down the dock and then towards the exit. Of course the exit has a chain fence so there was no escaping there for him, but the sides have a lower wooden fence that is surrounded by bushes. He managed to scramble onto the wooden fence and buried his front-half into the bushes. As I walked by his rear end was still hanging out, but I managed to resist the temptation to slap it on my way past.
I’m hoping that as the weather continues to warm up and there is more activity around the dock, that the raccoons might become a little more timid and give us a little free space.
I have the privilege and pleasure of living with my wife on a houseboat that is docked on Lake Union in the Fremont area of Seattle. This is such a wonderful experience and so I figured I should share this with others – hence this blog.
Living on a houseboat is definitely somewhat unique and Seattle is one of the few places where this type of lifestyle is actually possible. You may be wondering what houseboat living is like. Is it comfortable? Does it rock? Is it cold? Over the course of this blog, I hope to answer these questions and provide some additional insights into the experiences of houseboat living, Lake Union and the very interesting Fremont area.
First some information on our houseboat – ‘Alice’. It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, dining room, lounge room, study and a pilot house with a day bed and stunning views. It really is very cozy and homely with lots of internal wood (floors, ceilings, trimmings). It also has two decks for outdoor living and a basement in the hull which provides a good amount of storage space.
‘Alice’ is next to the Lake Washington Rowing club as well as the Burke Gilman trail which provides a great opportunity to walk or ride a bike for up to 30 miles in very nice surroundings.