By Capt. Bill Pike
To rescue Hensel’s wife Lisa from the workaday world, we made a short but rousing run over to the mainland and back, a trip you can’t fairly factor into our easygoing weekend’s expenses. Nevertheless, Lisa came aboard well prepared for a mini-vacay, with a big smile, a good book (Kurt Timmermeister’s Growing a Farmer), and a whopping bag of homegrown lettuce. “Maybe we’ll dine onboard tonight,” she explained. “David’s a great cook.”
But first came Coupeville (www.portofcoupeville.org/data/wharf.html), also on Whidbey, some 18 nautical miles north. At our now-accustomed speed of 22 knots the jaunt took us a half hour or so. And en route, the thermometer took a nosedive, a light rain commenced, and the sky got wintry.
This was a revelation. The day before I’d been toying with the notion that Puget Sound (barring tidal ranges of 15 feet or more) might be a lot like the Virgin Islands, what with deep channels, lots of line-of-sight navigation, and spectacular scenery. But the fact that I could now see my breath—in June for cripe’s sakes!—opened my eyes.
A sense of onboard coziness set in, though, in large part due to the warmth generated by our trusty reverse-cycle air-conditioning system. And the little Coupeville establishments we subsequently visited, from Toby’s Tavern (where a pound of lip-smackin’ steamed Penn Cove mussels cost us only 12 bucks each) to the inimitable Bayleaf, a gourmet grocery where we shopped for dinner that night, only enhanced the vibe.
Indeed, the sense of coziness ultimately became so disarmingly pleasurable, if only because frosty zephyrs in June tend to push us Florida boys off the deep end, that that very evening, while we dined aboard at Islands Marine Center on Lopez Island (www.islandsmarinecenter.com), a truly magical thing happened.
“Man, that smells good,” I said, as the aroma of Hensel’s lobster ravioli (with truffle-butter sauce) filled the 46’s salon. Outside, a hard rain fell, the same hard rain that had fallen as we’d barreled through the swirling rips of Deception Pass halfway along our wild, 40-nautical-mile ride from Coupeville.
“Salad, Bill?” asked Lisa. I knew full well it contained the aforementioned homegrown lettuce and you guessed it—the aforementioned goat cheese!
“Why not?” I replied.