Monthly Archives: July 2011

Summer sailing in the Pacific Northwest

Summer sailing in the Pacific Northwest



Seattle is a tease. 

This summer, while other parts of the country are roasting in three-digit temperatures, La Seattle, like a beautiful woman capitalizing on her looks, has been playing hard to get. Locals expect lousy springs. This year, there was no spring at all. Still, La Seattle kept egging us on, a few hours of sunshine here, some gorgeous blooms there. 

One thing we can [usually] count on here, is decent summer weather after July 4. Not this year. Nope. Non. No siree! While we were in Europe, my friends had to deal with more teasing (a few hours of sunshine, a gorgeous 4th of July,) followed by clouds, and cooler weather. Last week, when I stopped by Madison Park, a favorite neighborhood on the shore of Lake Washington, this is what I saw…

Lonely lifeguard watching over a lonely swimmer

Another lonely lifeguard watching over three pale-looking Popsicles…

Lonely sailboat

Last week, as soon as we returned from the warm and sunny Mediterranean, Junior and a good friend headed for the Seattle Yacht Club. Even though he started attending sailing camp in 2nd grade, this was Junior’s first racing camp! It was offered only once this summer, and reserved for more experienced sailors. It turns out Junior and his buddy were the youngest ones there. My son paled under his impeccable (Spanish) tan when he realized that for the next few days, he was going to compete with teams who were at least two or three years older. I bet Junior really felt like… a junior at that point. He need not have worried. In spite of mediocre weather (it rained all day on Thursday,) cold water, and strong opponents, the young boys won one of the races and scored a very honorable 3rd place during the big regatta at the end of the week. Le Husband was very proud and took a few [fancy] pictures to celebrate.

Team work…
Proud of their 3rd place!

Young sailors…

All we heard about over the weekend is how Junior now wants to open a bank account in his name, and start saving to buy “his own V15 (sailboat)” by the time he enters high-school. It is going to be a while before he achieves his goal, but the child is driven. Who knows? I may have a future Eric Tabarly or a Michel Desjoyeaux at home. They can’t all be soccer or baseball players after all! 

Meanwhile, locals were considering pulling their fleece jackets and warm fall clothing out of their closets. The weather was Le-topic-du-jour on Facebook. Unbeknownst to most, La Seattle was waiting patiently, ready to strike again. On Saturday morning, the big tease was back in rare form: Gorgeous sunny sky, no clouds, summer temperatures. Perfect timing since this family had decided to go on a much-needed sailing adventure. You may remember our boat, Mistral, a beautiful 22-year old Catalina, lovingly restored and maintained by Le Husband

We had not seen Mistral since the end of June. In a good year, we have already taken several overnight cruises by mid-July. This year, as you may have gathered, things are a bit different. Everyone was looking forward to seeing the old girl again, and to settle in for a weekend voyage in the Puget Sound area. 

Bonjour Mistral!

Our favorite beach house… because it travels!

Ah, Mistral. Together, we have had most excellent adventures! No long cruise for us this summer alas (Europe was too hard to resist.) Short weekends will have to do. 

Have I mentioned that we all love boats? We have owned boats for 10 out of our 15 years in the Pacific Northwest. Ski boats. Cruisers. A sailboat. Like a lot of locals, we started with lake boating. It was fun while it lasted, but as soon as friends took us out cruising around the Puget Sound with them, we were hooked. A few months later, we bought our first cruiser. We never looked back. While Junior was young, we did not own a boat. We live inland and were miserable in the summer. What is the point of living in Seattle, and putting up with nine months of grey/rainy skies if you can’t be on the water when the sun finally starts shining? So we chartered boats, and took them around the gorgeous San Juan islands, north of Seattle. Finally, we came back to boating, thanks to Mistral. Le Husband learned how to sail when he was a young boy in France. He was itching to get his own sailboat. The rest is family history. 

Islands, inlets, secret coves, peaceful anchorages, state of the art marinas… all within hours of Seattle, our home base, make this area attractive to boaters from all over the United States. If you do not own a boat, WA state ferries can still take you to some of our favorite destinations, but not all. We have been lucky to be able to explore the Pacific Northwest on our own boat, and this is a privilege we do not take for granted.

What do we do on a typical boating weekend? You know, a little bit of this, a little bit of that. We eat, we drink, we explore. Most importantly, we relax. There is something magical about being on the water. Le Husband, who works hard during the week, is a different man as soon as he dons his skipper hat. 

Picnic on board: Simple food, but everything tastes better on a boat
Hailey the Yellow Dog, relaxing…

A boat, a boy, a boom, and a bag of chips: Isn’t life grand?

Boat + sun = Happy, relaxed Hubby

Thanks to Mistral and her predecessors, we have discovered some incredible places. There are favorite ones, and we go back often. They usually involve a small town, and a comfortable marina, with friendly tenants. When we arrive, we feel right at home. There are favorite boutiques, restaurants and coffee shops…


Scallops taste better when enjoyed on the shore

There are hidden trails full of surprises…



There is admiration (always)… There is envy (sometimes)… There are plans being made (often)… One day, one day…



Mostly, there are moments shared by our family. Not all perfect, not all grand, but who could help smiling when the sun shines like it did during these two long, wonderful days? La Big Tease be darned. She may be moody again tomorrow morning, or the day after, but we will go back out. Mistral is waiting.


Mount Rainier

A bientôt.

18 Responses to Summer sailing in the Pacific Northwest

  1. Now THAT looks like the perfect summer weekend! I am sure you are absolutely *thrilled* by the weather today after so much sunshine lately…
    🙂
    Have a fabulous week,
    K.

  2. Hello! After reading your post on Seattle and then the one on France, I can imagine that you are torn in two by loving both.
    Your pictures of Seattle made me homesick as I grew up not far from there. Then seeing your pictures of France made me so happy to be here in France.
    Will we always be missing where we aren’t?

  3. v….this was such a wonderfully honest and beautiful post…once again so thankful for the privilege of seeing a slice of your family life…we have never owned a boat although i have been drawn to them through various associations…we are blessed to have a small home on the south jersey shore that sits 2 blocks from the ocean and 5 from the bay…i TOTALLY get the draw of the water…and OH HOW I ADMIRE JR…and hubby too restoring a beautiful girl like MISTRAL…THAT TAKES SOME DEDICATION PATIENCE AND LOVE!! at the risk of sounding redundant…another REALLY GREAT POST….so LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog.-g

  4. A beautiful post with some great photos. I remember that PNW weather all too well as we lived in Vancouver (BC) for a while.
    Well done to Junior so it sounds like his sailing skills are “in the blood”!
    The Mistral is beautiful- I can see why you enjoy it so much.
    As for the weather… those of us who live in more challenging climates appreciate the sunshine and warmth all the more when it makes those odd, brief, teasing appearances!

  5. Kimberly– What a weekend indeed! Looking outside right now: Seattle is being a tease again. Tssssss…
    Dedene– Yes, absolutely. We will always be missing where we aren’t. Such is the daily life of international transplants. In my case, wish “where we are” were closer to “where we aren’t.” Life would be easier! 😉
    g — Thank you for the continued support. You know it means a lot. How are you surviving the heat over there? That small home of yours on the South Jersey coast must be coming handy these days. I bet it is lovely. Enjoy!

  6. Craig– Vancouver, lucky you. A favorite city of mine, even though she can be a tease too! 😉 I don’t know about you, but since it is overcast and cool here this morning, I can’t wait for the sun’s next “odd, brief, teasing appearance.” 😉 — Hugs to Boris. V.

  7. Wow this looks like an amazing weekend! I agree food tastes better by water. The three pale-looking popsicles made me laugh hard. I know the feeling.lol

  8. Wow these photos are gorgeous. I have always longed to visit Seattle. It seems like such a spectacular city. I visit Portland every summer (going again in a couple weeks) and from those visits I have fallen in love with the northwest. 🙂

    I’m sorry the weather hasn’t been as you hoped. I live in Missouri where we have been facing scorching 109 degree weather for a few weeks now. It is agonizing. I can’t jog outside anymore (except when the sun is down) and just walking to my car is a drag. But, I hate to complain because I would much prefer three digit temperatures than one digit! LOL!

    And how cool your son wants to save up money for a boat!! You are lucky to have a son so dedicated and with a good head on his shoulders. I mean, most kids his age don’t really think about saving money…

  9. Sounds wonderful… you’ve found the good life out there, on the water, islands, sails !

    Congrats to the juniors on their very respectable finishes in the races…

    I’m thinking you’d love the spot we are going to next week out in Brittany, where we go two or three times every year, to stay with la belle mère, sur la belle mer de la Baie de Morlaix… nos filles font de la voile là depuis des annèes maintenant, du catamaran surtout, sauf cet été, car elles font autre chose. But maybe if le husband sails he is a little bit breton ?

    Hope you had a good trip back to the USA, and that the US govt won’t be going bankrupt this summer… take care…

  10. — Sandy– Glad you enjoyed the story. Trust me, said popsicles weren’t laughing. One was VERY cold!
    — Jennifer Fabulous — Thanks for stopping by. I like Portland too. Great downtown there. As for saving to buy the small boat, well, let us see how he does in 6 months or so… 😉 So far, so good.
    — Owen — Brittany is lovely. We are hoping to go next summer and hopefully sail there. Don’t know la Baie de Morlaix yet. Not too far from Roscoff? We might check out Southern Brittany, but as long as we are on the coast and there are boats to look at, we will be fine. A bientot, Owen.

  11. Becareful sister…Junior could become a terrible “De Kersauzon”, love of the ocean and … drink banned (lol)
    …Mistral is very nice boat,and I “dream” to cruise with you around Corsica islands next time!
    gros bisous de France
    Le “frérot”, la “rustine” et les 2 voyous

  12. Excellent post encore and beautiful photos. Bravo to Junior for his sailing prowess. Merci for the bird’s eye view of your family weekend, honest and making wonderful memories. Yes, indeed Seattle weather is certainly the topic of our summer days along with the financial debacle on the other coast.

  13. — Olga– Thanks for stopping by Olga. Boating is definitely a big part of summer fun in the Pacific Northwest for us (even when the weather does not always cooperate…)
    — Cherie — Merci on Junior’s behalf. Glad you enjoyed joining us on one of our summer sails 😉

  14. sorry for commenting AGAIN…just had to tell you i am REALLY digging the family member’s take on your comings and goings…so sweet…really…have a nice weekend..yes heading to the shore…some work(plumbing issues) and some beach time hot and HUMID in the low 90’s, though not as bad as last week..looking forward to the next post,as always…g

  15. You certainly had a grand trip. I have never been in the Dordogne so I was pleased to look at your pictures. When we went to Seattle (twice) it was sunny and warm (several years ago.) One time it was very warm but the locals told me that it was the first week in 3 months! When we went to Seattle a third time on our way to Alaska (in May 2009) it was also very warm and sunny. It is such a pretty city (when the sun shines anyway.)