Has spring finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest? For those of you who do not know the Washington coast, this is the time of year when even locals start complaining about the weather [a lot.] No more of that “Ah, rain! It is liquid sunshine, you know!” Everyone is just desperate for sun and natural light. Every year, the 3-month stretch between spring break and July 5th tests all Northwesterners, and separates the men from the boys. Why July 5th? Many Seattleites are under the impression that the weather magically changes overnight after July 4th. It is Seattle’s Declaration of Independence. On July 5th, they claim, the Emerald City resolutely dismisses clouds, cool temperatures and rain; stands up; stretches; and starts shining and delighting pasty and exhausted locals. Voilà: They have survived another Northwest winter and spring.
Imagine the collective waves of happiness when the weatherman predicted o.n.e. sunny day this weekend, just in time for Easter. You’d better believe we were all ready to get out, spend time outdoors and celebrate.
This French girl decided to welcome spring by renewing with a favorite tradition: ice cream from Mora Iced Creamery. Une excellente idée: Mora ice cream can only be found on Bainbridge island, one of the largest islands in the Puget Sound, and our family’s favorite sailing destination for short weekends. What is so special about Mora ice cream? Everything. It is old world style ice cream at its best, prepared in small batches with natural ingredients. They offer at least seven different chocolate flavors, but my favorite, always, is dulce de leche. I digress.
If you read this blog on a regular basis, you may remember that it takes a while to leave our suburban piece of Heaven to reach Seattle, and ultimately Elliott Bay marina, where our sailboat, Mistral, is docked year round. A day like today, we do not mind taking the long drive, because if we get stuck in le trafic somewhere along the way, there are many breathtakingly beautiful sights to keep us company.
|Crossing the 520 bridge with the snow-capped
Olympic mountains in the distance
|Seattle skyline, Space Needle and Cascade mountains
|Cause for celebration: “The Mountain (Mount Rainier) is out!”
Today was perfect sailing weather. A gentle breeze pushed Mistral and her crew across Elliott Bay towards Bainbridge island. Ahhh, sun!
|A lot less traffic on the water than on the 520 bridge
|Les Boys, goofing around on the bow
|Enjoying the best seat in the house
After less than an hour, Mistral entered Eagle Harbor, the main port on Bainbridge island. Most visitors and commuters arrive on the island on one of the green and white ferries operated by the State of Washington. With 20 boats, this is the largest fleet of passenger and automobile ferries in the United States, and the third largest in the world. When Le Husband and I moved here after leaving Paris, we immediately fell in love with the green giants and traveled with them all over the Puget Sound area. One remarkable feature of WA. state ferries is the double-ended open vehicle decks, located at each end so they do not need to turn around.
|Ferry passengers are boarding as we enter Eagle Harbor
|Open vehicle decks on both sides of the ferry
|Eagle Harbor and the sleepy town of Winslow, Bainbridge Island
Once at Eagle Harbor, Le Husband expertly tied up Mistral at the public dock. Junior and I did not waste time and headed to downtown Winslow to buy our ice cream. We were not the only ones there but we lined up in civilized (a.k.a. American) fashion. Ten minutes later, we left, with one 8 oz cup of espresso-mocha ice cream, one pint [to be on the safe side] of dulce de leche, and one root beer float for Junior. It was really starting to feel like spring.
|Ah, Mora. I have missed you so!
|Mistral waits for her crew at the Eagle Harbor public dock
|Le Skipper and Mistral, our gorgeous 22-spring old girl
|Forget diamonds: Dulce de leche is a girl’s best friend!
It was getting late and it was time to head back to Seattle. We said goodbye to our new friends, a brave couple who risked pneumonia while paddle-boarding, a trendy water sport.
|Notice pasty legs, commonly found on the area’s natives
|Brave souls or future popsicles?
Little did we know, as Mistral left the harbor, that we were about to experience our first “adventure” of the sailing season. Even though Le Husband sails year round, rain or shine (rain, more often than shine), Junior and I are fair-weather boaters. We had not been on board for several months when we took off today, and we found out the hard way that we were all a bit “rouillés.” (rusty)
I will make a long story short and summarize today’s events.
1. Boats enjoy fresh air like the rest of us. After aerating for 15 minutes, skipper and crew should make a mental note to close all hatches and portholes on board.
2. Once underway, check that all hatches and portholes have been securely fastened.
3. Even if the water is calm, and the cruise a short one, check all hatches and portholes again.
|Leaving Eagle Harbor: Notice open hatch above Junior’s cabin
4. When skipper notices a GIGANTIC wake, likely created by tanker returning to the Seattle harbor, rushing towards Mistral across the Puget Sound, all crew members should, once again, remember to check all hatches and portholes.
5. Crew should refrain from laughing and shouting “YEE-HAW” while riding the mini-tsunami until they have checked that all hatches and portholes have been securely fastened.
6. Too late. Gigantic wake has entered boat through open hatch and portholes and left several inches of salty water in front cabin.
7. Return to port and spend the rest of the afternoon soaking up water, drying gear, linens, and doing laundry. Next time, CLOSE THE @#$& HATCHES AND PORTHOLES!
|Hey, you in the red! It was you, wasn’t it?
Bienvenue, le printemps! Welcome, spring!
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