Leaving Leschi

January 14, 2010

Departed: Jan 3rd, 11:30 – Leschi Marina, Lake Washington, Seattle, WA

Arrived: Jan 3rd, 14:00 – Andrews Bay/Seward Park, Lake Washington, Seattle WA

Crew: Ken and I

Point: Leave Leschi, linger on the lake before moving to Vashon Island

Chart of the short trip from Leschi to Seward Park

Thirsting to sail for points south, I have imagined leaving my cherished slip at the Leshi Sailboat Moorage dock in Seattle many times in the last 33 months. The scenes in my mind never included the actual departure from the dock. Instead, I would sip on the dreams of what it would feel like to be leaving, where I might be going, and why. Each concoction my mind mixed up always included ample amounts of late summer sun and warmth, nine years worth of kindred Seattle friends- some mulling in Lake Washington, some bobbing aboard the Bruja Dulce, some lounging on the dock in spirited conversations, and a potent Bon Voyage atmosphere distilled from an immediately impending and well-planned and provisioned voyage.

The Bruja Dulce, engine running, turtle cover left on, ready to leave

The way it unfolded in real life couldn’t have been more different. The sun was low in the sky- just two weeks past the winter solstice. The weather was mild but it was still mid-winter just south of 48ºN latitude. My friend Ken, long trusted crew, proven ad-hoc engineer and problem solver, one who has been through as much as any other crew member with me aboard the Bruja, came with layers of wool, cheerful abandon, and a good jacket.

As for the events leading to the departure, they were indeed potent, distilled, and atmospheric, but they were far from festive. On the morning of January 3rd, 2 1/2 hours prior to departure, I had just finished working 24 hours straight, a crazed and surreal all-nighter, on boat projects of unspeakable filth. First, I had removed the old, dead, wet-cell battery bank, all 240lbs worth, cleaning up the sulfuric acid and corrosion mess from the battery box. This project, merely corrosive and toxic couldn’t hold a candle or a lit match, as it were, to the second project, the nightmare of relocating and completely re-plumbing the holding tank for the head. It was not a party. That is all I will say.

The immediate trip was a short fifteen-mile motor around Mercer Island and into Andrews Bay to anchor-out for a few days. The point was to bide my time, work a few days for my nearby employer of five years, Case Design, collect myself and more importantly

The Bruja Dulce at Seward Park

The Bruja Dulce anchored off the shore and old growth forest of Seward Park, Seattle

conjour a critical crew member for the inevitable voyage back through the four Seattle bridges, the Ballard locks, the train trestle, out into the salty waters of the Puget Sound and south to Vashon Island- my first temporary living destination on this not-quite-yet-planned larger adventure.

The trip was easy and fun. The day was beautiful. The mechanical systems which make the Bruja move in a lack of wind, namely the 33 year-old 40hp Isuzu diesel engine, cooperated marvelously with only an insubstantial display of antics from the tachometer. Ken and I arrived safely, in good time, and in good spirits. So far so good. I captured some video of the departure and a timelapse sequence of much of the trip around Mercer. It was a poignant move for me- one way, away from a stable and affordable moorage slip, my first “permanent” liveaboard (sneakaboard) residence, one which I acquired through miraculous synchronicity, one which I would have to get on a multi-year-long waiting list to get back into, one which I cherished, which offered a powerful sense of place, which I knew would be difficult to leave.

The Leschi shores of the lake reach into the water, a well established and walkable landscape. Rainier, the volcano, is ever present and multi-faceted. The marina sits in front of multi-million dollar houses jostling for the view I had for $285/month + $5/month for electricity.

Leschi, on the Seattle shore of western Lake Washington,  now evokes for me a familiarity akin to that of my birthplace. It has enriched me with a feeling of home like nothing I could have imagined even three years ago. The manicured shores of the lake with trails full of joggers and doggers, the fresh water and it’s varied but ever-present lapping-on-pebbles sound, the swim dock- sometimes a private solace offering me untold beauty ripe for absorption, sometimes, on a hot summer day, a flesh carpet of sun-seekers,

Leschi swim-dock

The Leschi swim-dock at sunrise

the squeaky wooden breakwater, the tidy but half-delapadated marina, the sailboats- half examples of nautical enthusiam, half examples of aquatic entropy, and the swim ladder at the end of my dock- all my backyard.

The small village at the foot of the ridge which makes up the eastern edge of Seattle, my neighborhood: Pert’s Deli, offering the best blueberry scones made fresh every morning, owned and operated by Max and May- Max for years has called me “Mis-ter Potatochip” in his slow and golden Italian accent, as in “Tim’s Potato Chips” (a Northwest-local chip) more recently upgrading my handle to “Mr. Wonderful” in response to a potent story I told him, the BluWater Bistro, the nice place to eat (or drink), offering lake-front seating, dinners, brunches, and happy-hours, and, as I learned this year, free champagne on New Years Eve, Leschi Mart, specializing in custom cured meats, a huge wine selection, and a charisma (and aroma) that is rare in upscale city neighborhoods, and a Starbucks. These were my walk-to places, my surrogate kitchens and dining rooms.

Leschi shoreline, dogger fetching, woman stretching

Turtle threatening to merge onto Lake Washington Blvd

Local wildlife were nearly always present. Turtles, herons, birds unknown to me, and the daily commute of crows kept me company in the quiet hours on the lake. The crows came every morning over the lake, hundreds, maybe thousands of them. They flew west from their apparent bedroom community in Bellevue to Seattle for their daily urban forage. Often they would pause, crowing and clucking in the rigging of the fleet of bobbing sailboats. They would arrive just before sunrise and like roosters on a farm, they would wake me up to start the day.

Heron and suspicious plastic owl

Lake Washington was for me an ideal place to become comfortable sailing, docking, entertaining, and living aboard the Bruja Dulce. The waters warm in the summer to just over 70 degrees, perfect for swimming, and in a pinch, bathing. The lake is big enough, deep enough, and without any sunken hazards as to provide ideal training and playing grounds for operating the 13-ton vessel. The environment is that of a beautiful urban landscape fenced-in by distant mountain ranges and volcanos.

I am shocked in going through my photos to discover I have near total lack of imagery depicting what it was like to take a spin on the lake in a warm mid-summer north breeze or a romp around in the white-caps stirred up from an approaching front. The header for this blog is from a hot summer day when I took my camera for a swim, the boat bobbing in the middle of the lake, me treading water with three limbs. The geographic and urban environments mix

Gonzalo and the Bruja on the Lake

Gonzalo, my personal purveyor of warm Chilean-Style, at the helm on the lake

and match to create a stunning view from the middle of the lake- In all directions there is something beautiful bouncing light in an endless variety of ways.

Yes, I wish I had taken more photographs. It is a lesson in how telling a story about your life makes you want to change how you live it. I will likely never live on the lake again. I may never even visit again. If anyone who has taken a spin on the lake with me in the Bruja Dulce has some sailing photographs to offer, send them to me at thebrujadulce @gmail.com and I will post them with moderate discernment. Otherwise, what I have is the story, and it is enough.


This middle-aged singer-hander goes sailing two to three times per week in the summer aboard his family's beautiful 60-70 year-old wooden craft. It was always a joy to watch him fly solo.

Yearly Seafair event on the lake: Thousands of boats, coolers of beer, the Blue Angels, and loud classic-rock- Friends and I always watched from the front-row saftey of of the dock...

dock projects

Flat workspace and ample power- It was a nice place to work on boat projects

place of beauty

Place of beauty!



  1. All you engineers and problem solvers out there, your help is wanted!
    About the tachometer antics: Ken and I discovered that when a light is turned on in the cabin, the gauge stops jumping around and reads properly. So, it only works when there is a load on the batteries. How do fix it? Leave a comment…

    • I bet it is a dry tach cable needing some graphite! Ususally someplace there is a cable (like a speedometer cable) inside a flexible shield. When it friction starts to get the best of it, the far end (away from the driven end at the engine) will display a springy, jerky behavior until lubricated (usually with graphite).

      Bruja Physicist and Dad

      • After talking on the phone, describing the problem better, this theory was filed away in circular fashion.
        The tach is informed electrically by the alternator.
        The current theory is now a “noisy” connection, something that is only visible when the clear “tone” of amps drawn from the battery is not present.
        What is this noise? Where does it come from? How do I make the noise stop? Make the noise stop! Make it stop! Stop!

  2. Okay – this is just the best story ever! I can’t wait for the next entry! Some of your descriptions brought tears to my eyes they were so beautiful! And the pictures are fantastic…the one of the dock at sunset is absolutely spectacular! I’d love to have a copy of that one to frame! You are so right honey….this will be a good year – no doubt about it. 🙂 Hugs! Mom

  3. I forgot to tell you that one of the pictures didn’t open up…it might be the video you mentioned in the paragraph just before it?? Not sure why it didn’t load/open up…it’s probably my computer rather the post. 🙂 Talk to you soon!
    luv U

    • Yeah, that sounds like the video. It’s a YouTube video.
      Here’s the link, I think: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLlCAomoBbg&feature=player_embedded

      • Thanks for the link….it was wonderful…I cried. 🙂 Was remembering the day we went out with you and how beautiful it was. I have some good sunset pictures. And of course…there was the bridge. “Tim, Tim we’re totally going to hit it!” Won’t live that one down any time soon! 🙂 I’ll send you some of my pics from that day….unless you already have them?? I can’t remember if I sent them to you or not. Anyway – the video is great and I loved the music too! Sweet….

  4. Gorgeous, gorgeous pictures and neat video. And what fitting music. But then, I’m not surprised. I think my surprise has all been used up by reading your blog. I continue to be blown away. Sorry I keep saying that, but I am. Hope you get the tach cable. or whatever it is, fixed.
    Love you, Grandma

    • Shucks, no sorry, you can say it all you want. Means a lot to me:)
      The tach will work itself out somehow, someday…

  5. Tim,
    This poignant reflection on your time at (and departure from) Leschi really brings the place to life. I feel privileged to have shared a few of those moments, including a sunny February sail.

    I’m eagerly waiting to hear about your next points of sail–places, people, experiences.

    • You know, one of my favorite parts of that sail we took after Thanksgiving 2009 was sitting back and letting you run everything!!
      Come take me sailing Carl!

  6. Ahoy Tim. This is Bonni from SEA ANGEL Sausalito.
    Any word from Kevin?
    My daughter is in Hobart, Tasmania to welcome in DAWN STAR (Baltic 46) after a horrific race. She is getting aboard again to sail on. She is loving your blog. Stop by my boat if you are around. Home #415-381-8944. Happy New Year

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