Cascadian Cuisine 

Farm and Sea to Galley

Isostatic Rebound

During 1794 George Vancouver, and his meticulous survey parties exploring Icy Strait, did not find Glacier Bay. It was filled with 4000 vertical feet of ice.

Leading edge of the Lamplugh tidewater glacier.

Less than a century later, In 1879 John Muir entered and “discovered” Glacier Bay, describing a geology melting into the geography we might recognize today.

Over 200 years the immense trunk glacier and most of the feeding glaciers were wasted at their bases by the warmer seawater and at their heights by the atmosphere.

A section of Reid Glacier’s leading edge, recently calved and exposing blue dense ice

Not to be outdone by sea-level, in this region the land is rising, fast.

Relieved of the great weight of the rapidly melting ice, its mantle is lifting out of the underlying magma like a river barge unloaded of its cargo. Simultaneously the earth’s crust is decompressing like an unburdened memory-foam mattress. In Glacier Bay the uplift is causing land rise of almost an inch per year.

This is geologic Isostatic Rebound.

Entering Glacier Bay National Park on a five-day cruising permit, Jupiter travels north and backwards in time to a land that is scraped clean and newly exposed.

At its southern entrance Glacier Bay has a similar prospect to the rest of Southeast Alaska, but traveling up bay you finally reach a glacial bulkhead in its dirty impermanence where recent recession of glaciers leaves a raw and poor landscape gradually and sparsely populated by indigenous flora and fauna.

Relieved of its icy burden, the land receives a succession of vegetative species beginning with mosses and lichens. Pioneer plants such as fireweed and paintbrushes are followed by small shrubs, alders and cottonwoods. After 100-200 years coniferous forests will again prevail.

Jupiter, anchored in the loom of Reid Glacier, enjoyed a pleasant afternoon and evening, until the glacier had other ideas.

Bergie Bit aboard, nothing deters Jupiter’s natators from 34º water.

Ambient temperature drops into the 40’s, sea temperature into the 30’s near ice. The unfamiliar scope of Glacier Bay confounds a sapient escapade.

Alice & Ky in front of the Reid Glacier whose upper surface is covered with cryoconite.

Jupiter’s crew logs more bears, more birds, more sea otters, sea lions, dolphin, whales, wolves, and freshly peeled rock in one week, than during any previous month of cruising.

We anchor each afternoon in one of the few remote coves or bays shallow enough and protected enough to allow a peaceful night.

Exploration by Jupiter, the mothership, is well in this immensity of ice and water, but close examination must be by tender or kayak.

A place this vast and empyrean, encompasses the curious and the observable. We are removed from the carping of societal life, and savor our own psychical isostatic rebound.

Iceberg Salad

Divide half heads of iceberg lettuce into three wedges for each plate. Fry pancetta in a dry skillet and remove to crisp as it cools. Sauté finely sliced shallot in the rendered fat until golden brown.

Organize wedges like mountain peaks, slotting the pancetta between. Create lateral moraines of sliced cherry tomatoes and wedges of avocado. Rain smoked blue cheese over the summits. Drizzle with a creamy dressing then shower shallots across the whole range.


Gloomy Knob was formed on the ocean floor at the tropical equator, and through plate tectonics has traveled, like us, northwest to this latitude where it was pushed above sea level then scoured and gouged by flowing glaciers.

The Laundry

Jupiter is anchored up in Mosquito Cove at the Inian Islands, at the edge of the Pacific where a great tidal exchange feeds the food chain. We are outside the Inside Passage and inside the protection of an archipelago from the outside waves and weather from Cross Sound. Inside out and crossed out. Double crossed.

After arriving in the aerial manner daughter Alice and her boyfriend, Ky, don Alaska Sneakers, footwear for exploring ashore.

Jupiter is hooked bordering long lashings of kelp with fish rising, gulls soaring, sea otters flashing furry faces and sea lions slapping and savaging salmon with a violence warning Jupiter’s shipmates to keep their distance.

Kelp is our friend – until it is not. This healthy bed of ribbon and bull kelp lies in the narrows connecting our anchorage to The Hobbit Hole

Nearby our quiet cove roils a restless reckoning of seawater pouring in and out of SE Alaska. Here is the pescatarian plaza where native seiners fish backwards using currents to propel the catch into the net rather than the net into the catch. This place of agitation is known as The Laundry.

A Pigeon Guillemot on the wing and our review of Mosquito anchorage on Active Captain, a source of mariner opinions on useful locations.

Wily King Worries

Oh! What a wily King am I
On the salmon scale of four I’m a five
Carefree at sea, I’ve gotten so fat
Eating krill, herring, and fish-fingers like that
I’m strong, in good shape, agile and sleek
In time to swim home to my freshwater creek
I feel a strong urge to hang out with the misters
To leap up some rocks and spawn with my sisters
I know the way back and I’m all set to go
Through the Laundry’s big tide and really rough flow
But sea lions are waiting, nets too, I am told
I might get chewed up, or smoked and served cold

Oceanic Odes ~ Salmon Rush-die


White Wily King with Radishes and Peas

The flesh of about one in twenty King salmon is white due to genetic anomalies. The meat is mild, nutty, delicious.


Coat salmon lightly in olive oil. Season and grill. Meanwhile sauté radishes until golden in generous butter. Add a small amount of water, miso paste, an anchovy and mustard and stir until a smooth sauce forms and the peas are just tender. Top with salmon.

White King Salmon with Radishes, Peas and Golden Mashed Potatoes

The Inian Islands Cathedral

Bears Watching

Jupiter anchors up at sublimely situated Windfall Harbor in anticipation of two long-planned events.

This arresting basin lies far up the Seymour Canal inside the Glass Peninsula of Admiralty Island, and is inconvenient to most things except for a traditional seaplane arrival of friends, and access the following day to a rare and remote brown bear sanctuary.

The seaplane arrives on schedule with Penny and Craig aboard, sunshine in their pockets, loaded for bear and adventure. The aircraft coasts into Jupiter’s swim platform with pace and percussion enough to knock loose any resident barnacles.

Amphibious Assault

It is a miserable, parky morning to navigate the 3½ mile crossing in a small inflatable tender – four persons in foulest foul weather gear – traveling too long and too slowly, pawing through cold curtains of a deluge, to seek bears at Pack Creek estuary.

Expectations are further dampened by cautions from the ranger station that bears are unlikely to be active or even present this time of year. But visit we must, and our permit falls on a frightful Friday.

Arrival at Pack Creek is ultimately attained by avoiding several orange balls marking a submerged mooring line arrangement and misunderstanding onshore semaphore by a weathered ranger atop a small tombolo.

The tide is receding, coyly revealing an immense alluvial flat impatient to ground our tender.

Jane, wisely in waders, hitches Jupiter’s tender to the clothesline mooring system.

Going ashore at tidal flats involves running the boat, outboard stopped and raised, gently onto the shore. Those hoping to maintain dry feet elbow themselves to the bow to hop on point like clumsy ballerinas up to higher ground. This rarely succeeds.

Although our bow is firmly beached and all wear rubber boots, a step into the shallow sea instantly overtops footwear flooding smartwool feet with a cold chowder of sand and algae that remains in place throughout the day.

The Laundry Line

With crew more or less ashore Jane, from Alaska Fish and Game expertly uses a clove hitch to secure our tender’s bowline to the laundry line mooring arrangement, whereby a small boat can be pulleyed out to deep water when not needed ashore for access and egress, the exact location of which is entirely determined by the synchronous height of the tide.

Habituation

Wet through from the rain, the boat-ride and the landing, we receive a safety orientation that entirely ignores hypothermia. Instead it focuses on expectation of close encounters with large and dangerous bears: remain in a tight cluster, move only along the designated routes and remain within viewing areas, do not carry food, do not raise your voices, and act like the humans bears expect to see.

Since the 1930’s generations of bear have been habituated here to the presence of human visitors.

Making our bear-approved way along the bear-approved shoreline route we find the viewing spit and Christy, a U.S. Forest Service Ranger waiting to introduce us to Pack Creek and its bears.

Within minutes an immense sow and two large cubs appear from the nearby forest as if summoned by radio. These three perform all the bear activities anyone could hope for: romping cubs, swatting mother, suckling and grazing, rearing up and lying down, rolling, sniffing, back scratching, pissing and pooping in a steamy brown bear extravaganza that moves ever closer to our location.

Christy quietly reassures and educates us on brown bear life and times, but we secretly wonder if her glistening green forest service rain garb conceals a Glock 10mm high velocity pistol – just in case.

Although we have seen and photographed numerous black and brown bears on explorations of southeast Alaska, nothing has prepared us for this intimate liaison with these magnificent wild creatures. Our close bear family, oblivious to concerned comments and continuous camera clicks, eventually moves out to the tidal flats for an all-you-can-eat clam buffet.

This sow will soon kick out her three-year-old female cubs forcing them to become self-sufficient.

Evacuation

Wet and wetter in a rising wind, our team is cleared for an aggregated withdrawal from the viewing spit, returning along the shore to Jane who must be anxious to see our damp backsides disappear into the drear in order to return to better shelter. Other visitors, she tells us, are unlikely to arrive on a day such as this.

The clothes line is activated in reverse and we freshen up our boot soup as we load into the dinghy. The long return to Jupiter is enriched by an hour of grey seas over the pontoons and into our faces.

Ultimately, we climb aboard the mothership looking like denizens of the deep in a trashy horror film. Hot showers and chowders restore the brown bear explorers, whose outerwear take two days to fully dry.

Penny and Craig wonder what just happened.

“Instead of falling, the rain, mixed with misty shreds of clouds, was flying in level sheets, and the wind was roaring as I had never heard wind roar before.”

John Muir ~ Travels in Alaska, 1879

Rain Boot Chowder

Alaskans prize the “tips” from Sablefish, known locally as Black Cod, which are pulled by hand from the collar meat. Their rich velvety texture is ideal in this hearty chowder. Any firm white fish will suffice.

Dice bacon and cook until crisp in a soup pot. Remove crispy critters and set aside, leaving drippings in the pan. Thinly slice sweet onion and sauté in the drippings until golden. Add a sockful of small potato halves to the pan, and toss to coat well. Add rich fish stock just to cover, cast in the cod tips, simmer gently for ten minutes then refrigerate and let rest overnight.

Reheat the stew. Pour in cream and a generous slug of sherry. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Stir gently until it reaches a steaming simmer. Ladle into warm bowls and top with reserved bacon bits.

The Journeyman

Errands in Ketchikan last week found us in the careworn cab of a careworn woman from the Haida tribe. She related how she grew up in the village of Hydaburg on the remote western coast of Prince of Wales Island, whose declining population is mostly Haida, Tlingit or both.

Hydaburg from the water

We mention that we might be cruising that way, and she transforms into a radiant one-woman Board of Tourism bent on convincing us of the beauty of her native village.

Rarely squandering a recommendation, six days later we ease Jupiter into a slip at the Hydaburg Marina after picking our way up the island’s rugged shore. The sun is hard out, the docks robust and new.

Jupiter in the harbor with the Hydaburg fishing fleet

A few vessels belonging to local fishermen range from small and raddled to large and raddled. Time floated out on the morning tide.

As we secure Jupiter’s lines around the bull-rails, a tall and weathered fellow with long feathered hair knotted tight approaches to welcome us to Hydaburg. His earnest deep-set deep-brown eyes gaze deep into us – his small black dog prances at his feet.

He introduces himself as Sáádùùts. We ask him to spell that. He is an Elder of the Haida and of the village. He offers to walk with us to wherever we are bound.

Our curiosity and his seem to flourish under his gentle aegis, and the walk becomes an hour, a morning, and lunch. Sáádùùts grew up here, but he has been away, and now is returned. He embarked upon a journey decades ago. His journey continues, and will for the rest of his life.

He is living in and restoring the house of his parents, Elders before him, long passed. The recurring theme of his measured conversation is about the journey: his, ours, the tribe’s, and Mother Earth’s, much of it delivered with his gnarled chestnut widespread hand across his widespread heart.

He teaches the art of canoe building in the ancient Haida tradition, from one massive tree carefully chosen and deeply revered in its felling, its carving and carrying of souls across vast waters. Into children he etches the reemerging arts involved in incising and paddling such a soulful vessel.

With Sáádùùts we visit the Carving Shed, warm and sweet-smelling, clubhouse for the many village carvers. His younger brother is seated within carving fine pointed paddles.

Outside, we lay our hands on the massive canoe Sáádùùts carved with many children, and each of their hands is imprinted along the gunwales. We learn that this boat, crafted from one 740 year old red spruce, will soon be restored to praise. It will journey out upon the sea from Hydaburg.

We visit the town totem park which adjoins the new school, now breaking for lunch. Everyone knows Sáádùùts, everyone greets him, and us by association. This is what he wants to happen and he tells us that. In the park Sáádùùts sings to us in the Haida tongue – a song of the eagle, protecting all beneath its wingspan. He is of the Eagle Clan.

He tells us of his grandmother – of the double-finned Orca people. With edified eyes we find double-finned Orcas represented in every pole, painting and carving throughout the village.

Many Hydaburg homes have their own family totems in front that show their family’s clan lineage.
This one includes the double-finned orca.

We visit City Hall and are welcomed by the mayor, Tony, an engaging a vibrant big thinker – a regional leader in conservation policy and resource stewardship. He is determined to find ways for his people to remain true to their native descent and teachings, and to spearhead sustainable solutions that will dam the ebb-tide of departing youth.

We meet others who share intentions that this revitalization can be managed. Tony is proud of Hydaburg’s classification as an Alaskan First-Class City. The village boasts a first-class basketball program at every grade level. The coach, hard to miss in passing, is a tattooed tower of a man clearly revered by the local children within his rangy reach.

Across a cleared circle is a unique full-immersion Haida language Montessori pre-school. Last evening they graduated five. Only Haida is spoken within.

As we amble the afternoon curve of the shore to the harbor we meet others. A Navy veteran of the Vietnam War whose only fight now is with the tangled trapline in his lap; a weaver who peels bark from red spruce without damage to the tree.

Yesterday she harvested a 30-foot long stripe which now lies drying, as she waits for it to hint at what it will become. Basket, hat, rug? When it speaks, she will be listening.

We learn about the nature of halibut strips drying in the sun over salmonberry branches, and how bentwood cedar boxes are easier to construct now, with power-jigs and electric steamers.

It seems to us that there is much to know, much to learn, and much to tell. Slowly. Gently.

As the late light fades Sáádùùts returns to Jupiter to bring us more love and more story. He again sings aboard Jupiter, four legged Apollo waiting patiently on the dock. This time he sings a lullaby. A story of Mother Earth and how she holds us all while we rest.


Journeyman’s Halibut
with Warm Creamed Cabbage

When cold batter hits hot oil you puff up and crisp. To chill ours we used glacier ice brought to us by a friend last week. This bergie bit, compressed through eons, is dense, clear and slow to melt. It adds rare cachet to frying fresh Alaskan halibut.

Prepare a mustard sauce: In a small bowl mix well a small amount of finely diced sweet onion, sour cream and dijon mustard. Allow the flavors to meld.

Cream the cabbage: thinly slice some fresh cabbage and some kimchee. Heat a tablespoon of butter in a skillet. Sauté the cabbage, add a splash of water and cover. Steam until it’s as green as it gets. Uncover, add the kimchee and cook until liquid has evaporated. Coat the vegetables with some of the mustard sauce. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Batter the Halibut: Heat a couple of inches of frying oil in a heavy bottomed pan until hot enough to sizzle a drop of liquid. In a shallow bowl whisk together a handful of well-seasoned flour with an egg and a drool of olive oil to form a thick paste. Thin the paste with glacier cold water. Keep chilled until ready to use.

Pat dry fresh halibut fillets, dip and generously coat in the batter and slide into the hot oil. Fry up until puffed and golden.

Serve the fish immediately atop the warm spiced cabbage. Proffer the remaining mustard sauce along side.

Fresh greens and reliable cell service have been in short supply since leaving Ketchikan.



On The Beach

A friend writes that Jupiter’s mariners remind him of characters portrayed in the book, On the Beach – survivors roaming to avoid contamination in a post-apocalyptic world.

Wandering restlessly aboard our little ship, aspirations for this venture are quite the opposite. An improvised progression along Washington waters exposes places, events and behaviors, obscured like shoreline pools, until low tide.

The natural world endures, Jupiter detours.

Sunrise at Sucia Island

Seaside populations of Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands construct mansions and salty shacks, cabins and fishing huts close on to storm swept beaches and sloughing bluffs. Full frontal real-estate that has served since ancient times.

Jupiter, our homey float-house, perfectly weathers an unintended summer without complaint, unfixed from any shore.

In Our Wake: Eighty-Six Days

During the summer of 2020 Jupiter and her seafarers:

Navigated 675 nautical miles underway within Washington waters.
Hiked 179 miles on mountainsides and woodland trails.
Swung 58 nights on anchor, berthed 28 nights on 10 docks.
Enjoyed 68 sunny days, 12 with rain, and 6 of smoke and fog.
Explored 15 enchanting Washington marine parks.
Permeated 5,700 gallons of fresh water from salt.
Gutted 21 dozen local oysters, clams and mussels.
Trapped and boiled crabs a plenty.
Launched 7 new friendships.

To revisit our summer tracks click Find Jupiter on the website and zoom in to any time and place.

Knitting the Weather

The season’s project of registering the state of sea, sky and precipitation in fibre grows inexorably longer and warmer as the days shorten and cool.

The purpose is yet undecided, other than to spin a yarn of a summer well spent.

Some friends bring wildness to wilderness.

Ash and Fog

Smoke from western wildfires creates opportunities to practice radar skills.

The achromatic miasma of mid-September makes red skies of warning while smoky aerosols un-define the land, sea and sky.

South winds carry a clapperclaw offshore.

Turn Point obscured by ash and fog

The Throne of Jupiter

Provocative stories of a mysterious Throne of Jupiter are heard throughout summer, but these are neither explained, sought, nor found round Jupiter’s routings.

Now, on the antepenultimate shore day, friends reveal the arcanum: an architectural niche hidden in plain site, stoped into a limestone hillside and overgrown with climbing vines.

This rupellary folly incorporates a narrow bench, like a curved Medieval misericord set into musing masonry, meaningful to someone, noticed by few except those whose whispered secrets it remembers.

Everything Elsewhere

During seasons afloat we become fluent in littoral languages, making decisions based on moods of weather and winds, enabling daylight and dark to guide sleeping or leaping.

Natural forces shape time and place, and rule actions. We are content in relative isolation and complicit with the sea.

Returning now to land where man-managed constructs and contexts govern, we anticipate choices coerced by unnatural forces.


Smoked Chicken Liver Paté
with Fogged Fig Compote

Source fresh chicken livers from pasture raised chickens. A well smoked bacon adds great flavor to this preparation.

Dice smoked bacon and fry until crisp. Drain bacon, set aside, and save dripping.

In the same skillet, soften sweet onion in butter without browning. Season generously with smoked salt. Add more butter and fresh chicken livers, and poach gently in onion butter until brown outside, rosy in the centers. Scrape into a blender.

Deglaze the pan with sherry and pour into the mixer. Process until smooth and decant into ramekins. Seal tops with a thin layer of melted bacon fat, then refrigerate.

Return a little bacon dripping to the skillet and sauté chopped onion until golden. Add chopped fresh figs, a little honey, water, and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Cover and simmer slowly, stirring occasionally until soft and amalgamated. Mash together with a fork and stir in the crisp smoked bacon. Mixture will thicken as it cools.

Scrape fat-top off paté and serve with compote on toast, crackers or croutons.


“It’s not the end of the world at all, it’s only the end for us. The world will go on just the same, only we shan’t be in it. I dare say it will get along all right without us.”

Nevil Shute ~ On the Beach, 1957

The Fifth Dimension

Traveling in consort with friends aboard their own boat adds a fifth dimension to any voyage.

In the course of a typical summer Jupiter hosts friends aboard, however Covid concerns complicate companionship. Tiring of our own company we are thrilled to cruise in tandem with new-found friends aboard Raven, their spanky new yacht.

Craig and Penny, the captivating couple whose trim vessel is being sea trialled, are habitants with local knowledge and contacts that enrich our week in delightful ways. Fine late summer weather adds buoyancy stirred by fellowship.

At commodious Reid Harbor on Stuart Island we anchor in sticky mud among an August-full of visiting vessels.

Ashore, we climb through steep Garry Oak savannah to the top of the island’s tip, Tiptop Hill. The summit offers international vistas of Salish Sea islands and serves as a landmark for mariners entering US waters from Canada, should such navigation again be permitted.

Cruising in file along the dry flank of Spieden Island, we spy a range of exotic wildlife. Decades ago animals were imported to Spieden from alien regions, and the island was promoted as hunting ground by Seattle taxidermists.

The end of that brief and bony business allowed the descendant beasts to thrive, carelessly wandering the golden veld among glacial erratics, deposited during the previous ice-age.

Double anchored at Double Island on our duet of boats, we lower two tenders to explore the west shore of West Sound, Orcas Island.

We disembark at lovely acreage under restoration by absent acquaintances of our boat friends.

On the grounds we encounter carvings honoring native legends. An old farmhouse with its restored gardens and orchard observes the chronicle of original homesteaders. Revering the past, the owners enrich the present.

Repositioning to Sucia Island in open channels, we prove engines spooled up with hulls lifted high probing speeds, rides and wakes.

Distance afoot is a daily essential, often accomplished as the sun descends its arc. The craggy wind-incised rocks and trails of Sucia Island fascinate and seduce.

Glacial erratics stand proud, and ribbons of aggregate pebbles swirled into sandstone, entombed for epochs, are revealed by dynamic forces of wind, water and salt.

Anchored in the narrow channel along South Finger Island, the rising Corn Moon overhangs our berth, vividly illuminating the rock-walled aisle. Each turn of tide overturns Jupiter’s tethered heading.

Like cobbles emerging from sandstone, more friendly accomplices surface into our conjoined cruise. Kathy and Chic, a dynamic and knowledgeable couple, are deeply embedded at their finger of rock that delineates the south side of Echo Bay.

They hew complex constructions from the island’s trees, every splinter of their own making.

A sawmill and cordless tools facilitate construction, one tree at a time.

The builders direct us to a reef outside Sucia’s embrace, where we locate a crash of Steller Sea Lions, massively muscled, posturing atop their chosen rock.

Growls and damp snorts thrum like ancient chanting. Harbor seals pack the lesser perches around this communal haul-out, seemingly ignorant of their nutritive appeal.

Our two inflatable tenders are dwarfed by amphibious behemoths who roll about us in the sea before shouldering themselves back ashore to bake and bark.

We land ourselves later at the float on tiny Matia Island to wander through first growth cedars protected inside a deep rock valley. Sunlight is dispersed through the impossibly tall trees, motes reaching down like light in remains of ancient abbeys.

Before sunset on this day of oversized fauna and flora, we convene at the dock of the finger of rock, sharing laughter, last light, and a potlatch of our own devising. Six erratics deposited at the edge of evening by enigmatic forces.

Traveling in consort with friends aboard their own boat adds a FIFTH dimension to cruising.


The FIRST dimension appears as your vessel initiates a heading off her moorings, and the SECOND is traced by her wanderings port and starboard. These are mariners’ only jurisdictions.

The sea, with all her tidal upheavals and wave rebellions, renders a THIRD dimension of heaving or foundering.

Time is the thief of seafarers, a FOURTH dimension of fixed and grim unwinding.

A FIFTH dimension is born of the variables and values of shipmates whose sorcery is the cogent miasma impacting all previous dimensions.

Echo Bay looking towards the Finger Islands and Matia Island

Sunset Salad

Roast, cool and peel golden beets. Remove the peel and pith from oranges. Slice beets and oranges into discs and interleave them in a round shallow plate.

Chop any remaining pieces and place in the middle of the circle. Crumble goat cheese atop the ring of beets and oranges, and mound microgreens in the center.

Whisk a tangy vinaigrette of olive oil, sherry vinegar, and a dab of mustard, seasoned to taste. Drizzle over the salad just before serving.


A Distant Island

Jupiter is Not Alone

Cruising the San Juan Islands in August presents challenges to voyagers longing for remote, unoccupied anchorages. The seasonal surge of cruising craft is compounded by Covid closure of Canadian waters to U.S. vessels, creating congestion throughout the archipelago.

After five days of intense indolence disporting the appealing and bustling resort marina and environs at Roche Harbor, Jupiter’s mariners search for solitude.

In route to Sucia Island, a popular holding ground, we are impressed with the suddenly seen, brooding sandstone headlands of Waldron Island. We divert to explore.

Waldron Island, resembling a Swedish halberd on charts, is hidden in plain sight – bypassed by most boats for reasons known to them and unknown to us.

With its finely honed cliff edge cleaving the waters, little or nothing of this enigmatic island is reported or recommended in cruising guides.

“It is sometimes best to go places where it does not always make sense.”

Rounding the striated looming headland on approach to broad Cowlitz Bay, we see not one cruising yacht. Winds are light. Depths of thirty feet offer convenience, and the sandy bottom security.

Anchored some distance off shore, we launch our tender, IO, and putter to the public landing. A modest float, nearly aground at low tide, is attached by a steep gangway to a wharf.

It is comforting to know that Waldron is a Nuclear Weapon and Drone Free Zone

This arrangement for moving from boat to land does not encourage incidental visits.

No Birds

A hooded and masked youth appears indifferent to our arrival, ratifying his mood with a grunt to our greeting. A fisherman next, rowing his skiff. Attempting amiability, we ask him about fishing.

“Look around, there are no birds here”, we are told, as if determined to deter uninvited ornithologists.

The Landing

At first there does not appear to be much of anything here, and whatever exists on the island is hidden from casual view.

A magnificent ancient Madrona tree overshadows the landing. Planted beneath is an open structure, equal parts Post Office and Community Center with mailboxes, library shelves, maps, and wood stove waiting for winter.

Mugs instead of mugshots adorn the walls at Waldron Island Post Office.

Nearby rest remains of a doorless van, where well-aired packages are collected and left.

The Road

Dusty and rusting vehicles with out-of-date plates line the wharf end of a gravel lane leading in the only direction. The road is completely overcast by tall cedars and fir, tunneling through forests and past rustic homesteads and meadows, obscured by ferrel thickets.

A man appears, nodding towards us on a reciprocal course.

Another stops his vintage truck with an overstuffed causeuse in back and a blue-eyed elfin daughter in front. He predicts our visits to the farm-stand, the community noticeboard and the schoolhouse down the distant way as if prophetic. Soon discovered, these are the only landmarks.

The girl stares, assessing aliens in her midst.

Along the road

Landmarks

We visit these community cornerstones in the dusty silence that blankets the inland, hearing our own footfalls on gravel. With no ferry service, few vehicles, no public electricity, water, or sewer service there is little to disturb Waldron.

The Schoolhouse serves the island’s children through eighth grade.
The state of Washington designates it “Remote and Necessary.”

An honor system governs island life.

Eighty residents are said to reside here, with the summer population exploding to two hundred. Vegetable farms sell produce off island, but this is undeniably commercial and tourist free territory.

Waldron Community Notice Board: Land of Goat’s Milk & Honey

Many Anchorages One Boat

A placid night, alone and well-hooked, breaks into day. A tight circumnavigation to find additional Waldron anchorages is completed aboard IO.

We relocate Jupiter around Sand Point to the island’s north side and find good holding at Severson Bay with a fine view of islands, mountains and the deep currents of heavy shipping routes to Canadian Ports.

A humpback whale rolls and blows abaft our boat in the early evening, close enough for a nodding acquaintance with Jupiter.

Birds Aplenty

Kayaks carry us ashore for a morning’s caper of tidal beaches, cliffs and rocks. Despite warnings to the contrary, abundant birds are found at Waldron: gulls, kingfishers, bank swallows, geese, cormorants, guillemots, herons and eagles make the isle home.

It is said that the geology of Waldron is as different from the rest of the San Juans as the culture.

A vacant Coast Guard mooring was Jupiter’s only neighbor at Severson Bay.

Moderation

Waldron Island seems to be a place of few factors for few people. Trespassing signs are unnecessary and no fences are built. Modesty and privacy are at home here, secrets kept close. Matters that normally involve human interaction are accomplished largely without it.

Social distancing has been convention on this island long before the term was broadcast, and relies heavily on individual moderation. Love of the land and of the sea unites lives of simple stillness.


Spicy Spot Prawns with Mango

A generous friend shared the bounty of his Spot Prawn trap with Jupiter. These beauties are inherently buttery and sweet, and want for nothing more than a thin glaze of spice.

In a small saucepan stir together equal parts tamari, honey and water. Add a teaspoon of sesame oil, and rice vinegar, gochujang paste, minced garlic, pepper and honey to taste. Stir occasionally and simmer gently to thicken. Let cool.

Meanwhile, shell prawns, and double skewer into short racks for the grill.

Dice ripe mango and red onion. Douse with fresh lime juice and stir in cilantro or micro-greens. Let flavors meld.

Paint the prawns with the sauce and grill over medium heat just until bronzing. Serve hot with mango salad.


“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

H.D. Thoreaux
~ On Waldron Pond

Food Chain

Inspired by the legendary 60’s hit single, Chain of Foods, we explore the ways gastronomy governs life aboard Jupiter.

Chain, chain, chain
Chain, chain, chain
Chain of foods…

Aretha Franklin, 1967

Following the Food Chain

Itineraries are carefully managed to enable provisioning long before any want or need is imagined. The best fisheries, farmers and markets are researched and charted, arrivals timed for their openings. No source of littoral freshness, firmness or fineness is too remote by sea or too far by foot. Appetites are whetted prospecting for victuals at every port.

Dining on The Hard

Eateries ashore, while never necessary, are occasionally attended out of curiosity for inspiration, by reputation, or during dishwashing strikes. No-one eats better or with more butter than mariners aboard m/v Jupiter.

Wave Top Crops

Our flybridge farm of micro-greens, three crops in rotation, are harvested in conjunction with celestial observations; or possibly not. These floccose salads appear abreast, allover, asunder and astride dishes at every banquet and nosh regardless of the subastral season.

The Table is Set

Jupiter affords three distinct messes, inevitably dictated by weather: the Flybridge Café for sunny breakfasts or casual lunches with a view; the Pilothouse Bistro for savory knife and fork feeds and the hypaethral Cockpit Cantina where sapid meals and moshing music meet the madness below the waterline in our midst.

The Galley

Jupiter’s galley is ajar within the pilothouse, convenient to the helmstation and quite small. The chef, like the Pacific Octopus can clutch everything and forge anything from collected cookware and foraged provisions tucked away in hidden drawers, lockers and reefers.

Hot meals are prepared under way in every sea way. Neither waves, nor chop on a blustery day dissuade the master-mariner-gourmet.


Location 🔘 🔘 🔘 🔘 🔘

Food 🔘 🔘 🔘 🔘 🔘

Service 🔘 ⚪️ ⚪️ ⚪️ ⚪️

Value 🔘 ⚪️ ⚪️ ⚪️ ⚪️

I’ve been dining at the Pilothouse Café for many years and consider the location impossibly convenient when exploring the Pacific Northwest on a boat.

The food is inventive and chef uses only the finest healthy local and seasonal ingredients prepared with proficiency. The farm and sea to table menu changes daily and offers abundant opportunities to sample seafood, meat, and vegetable offerings perfectly prepared, seasoned and sauced. Presentation of dishes is artful and consistently delights diners.

The service in this restaurant is, however, dreadful, or non existent. Patrons are required to enter the kitchen and serve themselves or each other. Additionally, after the meal, they are obliged to wash-up and dry their plates and all the greasy pots and saucepans in the kitchen.

Appealing cuisine followed by appalling scutwork!

Also, the food is expensive as sin considering fuel consumed moving this fat floating diner all around the Pacific Ocean.

Trip Advisor Restaurant Expert Level 25

Crabby Benedict

The Catch

This recipe is dependent on catching Dungeness Crab.

Bait your crab pot using fresh organic chicken parts, or lacking those, one artisanal bratwurst. Soak the pot in 8 fathoms of water for one complete tide cycle, about 12 hours + 25 minutes. When the weather turns wet, pull your pot and find at least 4 immense crabs convening inside.

Return the pot with crabs to the ship. Heat a sizable cauldron of heavily salted water to a rapid boil and prepare to butcher.

Stun the crabs with a wooden club, remove the apron and carapace. Rip off the knuckles and legs and retain. Overboard the remnants.

Boil the crab legs in shell for about 8 minutes. Drain, and cool in an ice bath. Once cooled, crack and carefully pick all the leg meat. 4 Dungeness yield 6 cups of densely packed meat, about 3 hours.

The Recipe

ROAST TOMATOES:
Slice tomatoes in half horizontally. Lightly oil the cut side with olive oil and roast at a low temperature for 3-4 hours until concentrated, soft and jammy. Cool to room temperature.

HOLLANDAISE:
Bring a stick of butter to a bubbling simmer without browning. In a warm bowl whisk two egg yolks with a splash of water. Whisking fiercely, ease the butter into the yolks drop by drop at first, then in a painfully slow drizzle. When sauce is emulsified and thickened add lemon juice, paprika and seasoning to taste. Cover with plastic wrap on the surface and keep gently warm until serving time.

BUILD-A-BENEDICT:
▶️ Prepare a salad from two cups of crab, finely chopped green onion and bell pepper, lightly bound with mayonnaise and lemon, seasoned to taste.
▶️ Toast and butter 4 half English Muffins and top with roasted tomatoes.
▶️ Divide the crab salad atop the tomatoes forming a hollow with a spoon.
▶️ Loosely poach fresh eggs and settle them aboard the crab.
▶️ Ladle an abundance of homemade hollandaise over the egg. Garnish with greens.


NorthWest Side Story

In 1792 Captain George Vancouver failed to discover the Swinomish Channel because it was not constructed until 1937.

The Swinomish waterway was conceived to facilitate marine commerce by connecting the natural sloughs and marshes of the Skagit River estuary with engineered channels. The new canal joined Padilla Bay and Skagit Bay to provide an alternative, protected avenue from the Straits of Juan de Fuca into Puget Sound.

On paper charts the channel appears narrow and constricted indicating that Jupiter may need to diet before transit. Electronic charts, however, work navigational miracles; if more sea room is desired, just zoom in. Thus zoomed we are emboldened to traverse this curious waterway from south to north.

We anchor overnight and part of the next day south of Hope island in Skagit Bay where outré currents have us over-floating our anchor in puzzling ways, and the chop far exceeds that typically begat by the light winds.

The currents in the bay run swift, cold and confusing. Emerging from the Pacific at Deception Pass, and pouring up from Puget Sound, tides collide like amorphous street gangs from some NorthWest Side Story. Jets and Sharks circle and lunge in the dim glacial neighborhoods of muckle and slew.

Menacing F-16s, eager to join some rumble, thunder low overhead bristling with weaponry on final approach to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

Timing passage into the Swinomish requires study and patience, particularly if the destination is the port at La Conner, a few miles north of the channel entry from Skagit Bay.

We consult times of tides, customs of currents, and ambiguous advice in pilots and guides, staging our departure for best advantage.

Owing to the salty river coursing past the La Conner waterfront Jupiter must arrive there at or near slack water. And, in order to find 60′ of reserved space along the dock, we should arrive on the afternoon slack.

Bizarrely, at La Conner, slack water occurs sometime between 2½ and 4 hours after high or low tide there, leaving much to instinct or blind luck.

Much entertainment can be had on the waterfront observing skippers attempting to land vessels on the dock during periods of rapid flow.

Boats delineate the linear town of La Conner. Rainbow Bridge, now painted orange, spans the waterway.

Jupiter completes the hour-long passage to La Conner on a rising tide without experiencing shoaling or other dire hazards forecast in cruising guides. We make an uneventful landing at our assigned float and quietly tie up, disappointing everyone pretending not to watch.

La Conner, found its French definite article in the initials of Louisa Ann Conner, wife of an early settler. Once a minor 19th century trading post, after it was endowed by engineers with the Swinomish Channel in 1937, it became a minor 20th century trading post.

A good meal of mussels and clams ashore and a promenade in Old Town prepared us for a quiet night alongside the unquiet waters. Next morning Jupiter nudges her bow easily into the falling tidal stream, northbound.

During the 7 mile passage into Padilla Bay views of tidy waterside homes give way to sprawling tidal flats with gulls, bald eagles and vast numbers of blue heron, lined up shoreside while a fishy buffet moves past like sushi on a conveyor belt.

The immense oil refinery at Anacortes and its fleet of petroleum tankers soon dominate the view, and we are through. The Swinomish Channel washes out in our wake.


“To live fully, one must be free, but to be free, one must give up security. Therefore, to live one must be ready to die. How’s that for a paradox?”

Tom Robbins, resident of La Conner.
~ Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

NorthWest UpSide Apple Muffins

The apple is the official state fruit of Washington, and almost 70% of U.S. apples grown for fresh consumption originate here.

Heat the oven to 375°f.

Peel, core and slice three apples and combine in a skillet with 4oz each of butter and brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Simmer until apples begin to soften and are coated in a thick caramel. Distribute fruit and sauce evenly amongst muffin cups.

In a mixing bowl whisk together two cups flour, ¾ cup brown sugar, a tablespoon of baking powder, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. In another bowl mix until smooth a stick of melted butter with 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, and ¾ cup sour cream. Pour wet ingredients into dry and fold together into a thick batter. Mete out evenly into the muffin cups atop the caramelized apples.

Bake until the muffins are slightly puffed and firm, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool a bit before turning out upside down with the caramelized apples on top.


This handsome Bull Kelp found us at anchor in Skagit Bay where currents wrapped it onto Jupiter’s starboard rudder.



Logs

Baited by rumors of a famed Farmers Market, we are reeled in and landed at the Port of Olympia where we make our ultimate southing in Puget’s sound.

We find a berth with a view on the seawall at Swantown Marina named by a muddled ornithologist for the large numbers of geese resident in the port.

Within our prospect is Weyerhaeuser’s vast log marshalling yard, defying the reality that many trees yet stand in Washington State.

Olympia’s working waterfront, legislated at the State Capitol Building which looms over all, is a port brokering many large things; this per the Port of Olympia Compendia.

Exporting logs and lumber to China for construction; cattle, specifically heifers for Vietnam’s child nutrition goal of one glass of milk per day; military and humanitarian apparatus wherever merited; automobiles to Asia; heavy steel pipes, sheets and wire coils in unimaginable sizes to tiny countries.

Importing gold ore from Europe for processing into jewelry of unimaginable sizes, windmill blades from Brazil, automobiles from Asia, ceramic proppant from China for fracking, and premium organic grain from Turkey to feed heifers before export to Vietnam.

All we can see from our berth is logs.

Logging aboard Jupiter is also serious business, and many types of logs are fastidiously maintained.

Ships Log

Our traditional Ships Log is a manuscript register of each day’s navigation including times, distances, locations, notes on sightings or shenanigans encountered. We collect basic meteorological observations which appear routinely dull except when they are not. Occasionally fascinating, sometimes even alarming.

We record trip times, averages, fuel consumption, as well as water rendered fresh by our reverse osmosis plant, and remaining boat fuel. Faults with equipment and service performed on board is fully documented.

There has only been one day – June 20th, 2020, during Jupiter’s eight year chronicle when everything aboard this vessel performed perfectly. We are normally satisfied to quote our sage boat broker “many thing work!”

Judgement of harbors and anchorages is freely opined, and crew confessions are carefully crafted.

Engine Logs

Our two Caterpillar C12 engines utilize helm instruments that display current trip and lifetime data. Presently our port engine trip log is unavailable and the totals screen reports corrupted or missing information.

Photo Log

We photograph everything, boat parts, whole boats, mariners with bad haircuts, destinations and locations, sunrise and storms, seafoods and latitudes. Our cloud storage now holds over 15,000 images from Jupiter’s wanderings. A rare few appear in Jupiter’s Way

The B(oat)LOG

This blog is our choice way, since 2018, of recording and sharing some of the adventures of Jupiter and her crew. At year’s end the blog is bound into a printed volume, and shelved for accumulation of dust.

Aside from the shipboard journey, blogging is our chief form of entertainment, particularly the amusement of one another with ideas that cannot be published.

Garmin inReach

A small but powerful satellite communicator quietly occupies a corner window of the pilot house and provides a record of Jupiter’s track and a real time look at current location at the Find Jupiter tab on the website.

This little handheld can send and receive texts, acquire marine weather reports, and transmit an SOS.

Navionics App Recordings

A chart record of each day’s voyage is made using a Navionics Marine App on an iPad, and this image is saved as a dated photo providing an overall perspective.

It is simple to select a navigational or sonar chart and to add a satellite overlay or any annotations.

Knitting The Weather Log

A project underway this summer aims to register the weather and sea conditions during the cruise. At day’s end three rows are woven with color and texture coded yarns to log the sea state, sky state and precipitation.

Yarn key for marine weather knitting. Running out of “calm” wool!

This project was inspired by women in occupied territory during WWII who sat in train stations, appearing innocent, but observing enemy troop movements and knitting coded patterns into scarves. These were ultimately sent to MI6 for decoding.

Sleeping Like a Log

Of all this information, only the smallest fraction ever finds a function, but to the keen and curious mariner it seems pertinent and necessary. When all that is done, we sleep well… like logs.


Capitol Clams

Our fresh manila clams were harvested in Little Skookum Inlet in the nether reaches of South Puget Sound on the morning that we met them, and sold to us by their growers at the Olympia Farmers’ Market.

Soak clams in fresh water for about half an hour to stimulate them to void any sand and grit from their shells.

Add two cups of chicken stock to a large pot, and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile chop an abundance of garlic and some sweet onion, and sauté until soft in butter. Deglaze the pan with wine and reduce by half, then add chicken stock and cream, and season well with black pepper, hot pepper flakes and white miso. Hold at a very low simmer until clams are cooked.

Lift clams out of fresh water by hand, leaving behind all silt, and transfer into pot with stock. Cover and keep stock at sufficient boil to produce ample steam until all clam shells have opened. Pour some of the resulting liquid into the cream sauce and stir to combine.

Place opened clams into warm bowls and generously ladle sauce over them. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve with wedges of lime and warm bread.


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