COMMUNICATING FROM THE MOON IS HOW IT FEELS, a bit, now that The Nuthatch has a land-line phone that works and we are finally guaranteed contact with the outside world. “One giant step…” (We must acknowledge, of course, that we’re technological dinosaurs, yearning for a land line when most In-Touch 21st-Century Modernists are dumping that antiquated service. But cell-phone signals on our “outer island,” as the phone installer liked to call it, are about as reliable as nursing-home bowel movements.)
The big headline, however, is that we have internet now. Our Wi-Fi in the Woods even lets me stream Amazon Prime video so I can watch the latest Harry Bosch episodes on my laptop.
It also means I have no excuse not to blog, so here I am.
Frankly, I’ve been too busy in recent weeks making this whole island escape happen to write much about it. Moving all your stuff to a little island without regular ferry service is like an ongoing game of Tetris: We have the boat here now, but our Ranger pickup (acquired a year ago, as we anticipated this jump off the Cliffs of Insanity) is parked on a back street in Anacortes, with the boat trailer stored in a nearby lot. Next Tuesday, we plan to squeeze my slightly rusty island bike (the old green GT hybrid that has lived here for 14 years) on board our little runabout and ferry it 3 miles to the public dock at Hunter Bay on Lopez Island. Then I’ll cycle 12 miles to catch the Washington State Ferries boat to Anacortes, pick up the pickup, throw the bike in back, run some errands, then bring the truck to Lopez on the state ferry and drive back to Hunter Bay, where we’ll park it (with a special permit from San Juan County) until our next foray to the bright lights. Next magic trick: getting the trailer here.
Our new old (1957) boat is key to our existence. Last weekend, we spent three busy days spiffing her up in Skyline Marine’s DIY boatyard in Anacortes. We applied new paint to bottom and transom, did some minor repairs, waxed and polished, and reapplied the name she was given by her original owners in 1957: WeLike. It’s a corny, whimsical name for a boat, and it fits her fine.
We also had lunch at the La Conner Brewing pub with WeLike’s saviors, Scott and Fran McDade, the La Conner couple who found an old boat (built in their town) in need of rescuing and rebuilt the cabin from the sole up in 2009. They shared tales and photos of her comeback and we found a couple of new friends who have promised to come visit this summer.
The boat had sat on its trailer in covered storage all winter and I’d never piloted her on my own before we launched at Skyline last Monday. I felt trepidatious as to whether WeLike’s modern Evinrude — a computerized 90-horse E-TEC outboard — would start right up or leave us stranded at the launch site, but with some last- minute phone tips from Scott, it purred like our lovable 15-year-old tuxedo cat, Bosun. WeLike delivered us without a hitch across 5-mile-wide Rosario Strait to Center Island on a sun-kissed May afternoon.
Two days later we took the boat to meet Ken, the CenturyLink phone installer, at Hunter Bay dock and gave him a ride to our island so he could hook up our new service. He needed to borrow a cordless drill from the island’s caretaker and a few wood screws from my hardware stash, but that’s how things happen in these islands and we got ‘er done.
This is our new Tranquility Base. Coming soon: attempts at staying fit on a small island; growing a garden where there are so many deer and squirrels; the coming summer water shortage; and managing trash disposal where there is none. Never dull.