Posts by sailpuppy21

A senior sailor with offshore experience currently living in the Pacific North West

Salish Sea Journeys, Nanaimo thru Mansons Landing Provincial Park

A day in Desolation Sound

A day in Desolation Sound

A major attraction for local cruisers beyond Puget Sound are the areas north from the Straits of Juan de Fuca which is the beginning of the inside passage to Alaska. In Seattle you can always tell when the cruising season has started by the appearance of three large cruise ships in downtown Seattle. Each of these cruise ships are engaged in taking you and two thousand of your closest friends up the inside passage. For those of us that are more insular, I would be in this group, we choose a more intimate means of transport. A 40’ sailboat will do nicely for me. Then there is the more adventuress who choose the Race to Alaska which started in Port Townsend and ended in Ketchikan, Alaska. There is excellent coverage in 48º North.

Crossing Straits of Georgia toward Desolation Sound

Crossing Straits of Georgia toward Desolation Sound

The seductiveness of this area is rich with possibilities. There is the big open deep water of the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Straits of Georgia to the deep fjords of Desolation Sound and the San Juan and Gulf islands. Orcas, dolphins, and sea lions are frequently encountered.  There are many small coves for a quiet evening anchorage.

Seamanship/Cruising Challenges

From my reading prior to the trip several issues became apparent.  I had never used a stern tie anchor along with a bow anchor, nor had I any experience with 16′ tidal changes.  The other issues that surfaced during the trip were places for food, fuel, fresh water, garbage disposal, pump outs and showers.  Finally, it is a small area and “in season” it can be very busy and “out of season” its empty!  The last factor might be whether to go in a sailboat or a motor vessel.

Anchoring in many of the small coves requires good skills & technique.  My first choice is to survey the area for suitable depths/sea floors and noting both the tidal range with current depth and charted depth.  In many anchorages the sea floor only shallows up very close to shore and the seabed angle may be acute (20-40°). Typical depths away from shore may be 50 feet or greater.  The other problem with 16 foot tide ranges, is an area with a current depth of 20 feet based on your depth sounder may be exposed rocks & wetlands at low tide.

Rocks at low tide.

Rocks at low tide.

We passed over these rocks, in the above picture, with 20 feet of depth at high tide.  The chart showed wetlands but no rocks.  We also evaluated the scope of our bow anchor rode.  We used a 5:1 ratio at high tide on the bow.  Once the anchor was dropped and set , by backing on it,  two persons took a line off the stern to shore and tied it to a tree, rock of ring in the rock.  At low tide allowed a small amount of slack for the rising tide and also tied a floating fender at the mid point.

In planning a trip to Desolation Sound fuel, water, groceries, and pump out should be done at Lund on east side of the Straits of Georgia or one of the areas close to the Campbell River on the island side.  The Waggoner’s Cruising Guide is invaluable for this sort of information.  Frequently, you can download the pdf version from there website at no charge!  My advice is minimize your garbage.  The barge in Refuge Cove is the only place that will accept garbage for money.  All the small marinas will not take garbage and frequently do not have extra water to fill your tanks.  Planning ahead and conservation are the best options.

Garbage Barge in Refuge Cove

Garbage Barge in Refuge Cove

The busiest season is July thru early September.  Make you marina reservations in advance.  Although June is frequently cold and raining, it is an opportunity to meet many of the locals and have fewer concerns about finding anchorages and marinas.

Navigational & Weather Challenges

I began to understand the challenges of traveling to Desolation Sound and the Broughtons early in my reading about Johnstone Straits.  Anecdotal statements of “I would never do this again” to “No worries it was beautiful” capture the wind and tidal dynamics of this area.  When you are pushing 16 feet of water though channels with considerable topographic/bathymetric changes and add 35 knots of wind you have the makings of a bad time for sailboats that can only move at 5 knots.  Timing is everything.  Seymour Narrows at 13.9 knots is the extreme example.

Desolation Sound & Broughtons

Desolation Sound & Broughtons

This chart provides an overview of the entire area.  Since tidal current and timing is a primary factor, understanding whether the flood & ebb are from the Georgia Straits of the Queen Charlotte Sound is a good beginning.

Current Sources

Current Sources

The channels on the “A” side of the dashed red line flood & ebb with the Georgia Straits.  Channels on the “B” side of the dashed red line are linked to the Queen Charlotte Sound.  This helps for channels that are oriented in a north-south direction.   Those channels oriented in an east-west are more problematic.  The NOAA tidal current predictions for Canada were also helpful.  They state the direction of ebb and flood in degrees.  The Canadian Tide and Current Tables volumes 5,6,& 7 are available both in print and on the internet.

 

With significant tidal currents, rapids, and whirlpools the wind can make the sea state conditions easier or ugly.  Forty knot winds out of the northwest are fairly common on Johnstone Straits especially in the afternoon.  Checking the weather on either the VHF or internet and then the tides can lead to really nice transits.  Remaining in port during forty knot winds opposing the tide is a sound decision.  Enjoy the place where you are instead of creating a epic that is driven by schedule.  I’ve made that mistake and have been blessed by good luck.  A careful retrospective analysis has said to me “if one thing went wrong” you would be calling the Coast Guard.  That is a poor decision!  If you check the canadian weather online be aware that under the “current conditions” tab you can access buoys & land stations the provide weather in the last hour.  There are two buoys in the straits of Georgia.

Log Entries

0600 hours 6/16/2015 @ Everett, Washington.

Judy & I are up for showers, coffee & breakfast before heading to the Kenmore air base on the north end of Lake Washington.

Sea base for Kenmore Air

Sea base for Kenmore Air

After an 0800 checkin we boarded the plane at 0900 for an hour and a half flight to Nanaimo, BC.  I got the copilots seat as you can see from the video below.

There were low clouds until we were north of Port Townsend and then it was blue skies & sunshine.

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Sea Plane Dock in North Nanaimo

Despite planning before the trip, we landed three miles north of the city marina.  So I taxied to the city marina by the ferry landing to meet Ken and the crew at the fuel dock.  The crew was a mixture of both experience and talent.  Jon had sailed with Ken on the previous trip north and is an experienced sailor/navigator frequently spotted with a big camera.  Some of these pictures are his shots.  Wendy was a source of prior experience in these waters and had used maps before GPS. She came with maps, guide books and local information.  Geoff was the boats “MacGyver”.  He had good knowledge about the boats mechanical & electrical systems and would frequently improvise. Irene brought several talents.  Most notably joy was frequently shared with all crew. Not only is she a capable seawoman but also prepared some lovely meals. Everyone was busy.  Taking on fuel, water while others went for groceries.

Gallows Point leaving Nanaimo

Gallows Point leaving Nanaimo

At 1330 hours we were out of the harbor and passing Gallows Point on an NE heading to skirt Wiskey Gulf and then turn NW for Secret Cove marina.  Before crossing the strait check with the coast guard if you plan on transiting thru Wiskey Gulf since it is a live fire area.

Route to Secret Cove marina

Route to Secret Cove marina

We motored across the straits, no wind, and skirted the south end of South Thormanby Island before turning NW thru the Welcome Passage and then NE into Secret Cove marina around 1900 hours to tie up for the night.  The marina, part of Sunshine Coast, has lovely showers, got grocery store, fuel and a lovely resturant.  This would be our last chance for snack food favorites, beer, showers before heading north to Desolation Sound in the morning.

0800 hours 6/17/2015 @ Secret Cove BC

With showers done we glided out of the docks and headed NW up the Malaspina Strait between  Texada Island and the mainland.  Our destination for the day is Mansons Landing (N50°04.494′ W124°58.898′) on the west side of Cortes Island.  It is about 55nm NW of Secret Cove.

Secret Cove to Manson Landing

Secret Cove to Manson Landing

At about 1700 hours we reached Mansons Landing. We settled down for an evening of dinner in the cockpit and admiring the late evening light of the north.

Evening light at Masons Landing BC

Evening light at Masons Landing BC

We were now at the north end of the Georgia Straits and in the morning we will pull the hook and head east for Refuge Cove,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A blind date at the Columbia Bar

A Coast Guard Boat on the Columbia Bar

A Coast Guard Boat on the Columbia Bar

5/29/15 @ 2345 hrs, Everett, WA.   The alarm wakes us. I get up and put my sea gear in the car while Judy makes coffee.  Then its the drive in the dark south to Portland.  0400 hrs we arrive at the Thunderbird marina, sounds like a Las Vegas casino, where the games begin.  Judy drops me off and I head down to the boat with my 1112 liter dry bag with shoulder straps.  Judy drives home in the dark and early morning back to Everett.  I can not thank her enough for her support of my craziness.  The crew is up and stowing things.  A crew of Ken Snow the owner, Geoff a McGiver fixer, Brandon an agile seaman & new boat owner, Chris a good helmsman, and myself.

5/30/15 @ 0430hrs, Thunderbird Marina. We cast off the dock lines go out onto the Columbia river come to a westerly heading for Astoria which is 70 nm downstream.  We slide beneath the I5 bridge with 2 feet of mast clearance and on to the railroad bridge.   Contact is established with the bridge tender and in 20 minutes the bridge will open.  Its a pivoting bridge rather then a bascule bridge.  We circle a respectful distance upstream.  Thru the bridge, we continue downstream.  Many hours pass as we motor down the Columbia.  Breakfast, lunch, drinks, afternoon snacks and talk of the trip.   I reflect on my navigation planning for the trip.  I had never crossed the Columbia bar.  The stories are things of legend, perhaps Disappointment Cape sums it up completely.  From the McKenzie Head at R8 (red sea buoy #8)  out to R2, the end of the bar, it is 3.4nm.  In a sailboat this means about one hour to transit the bar in favorable conditions.  The bar is southwest in its orientation and is flanked by Peacock Spit to the north and Catsop Spit to the south.  Favorable conditions are slack tide and 5kts of wind or less.

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Bulk Carrier on the bar in breaking seas.

Unfavorable conditions are 15-25 kts coming out of the SW during an ebb tide of 7 kts.  Twenty foot short stacked seas are fatal.  Just imagine twenty foot beakers close together(5 seconds apart).  So timing and weather are everything when crossing the bar.   We arrive in Astoria at 1930 hrs with time to refuel, water up, and pump out.  No party crew here, we are all really tired and head to bed by 2130hrs.

5/31/15 @ 0530 hrs,  Astoria

Up to the marina for showers.  After that its coffee and check weather, tide times, and the offshore Catsop weather buoy.  Winds 5kts north, slack tide is 0753hrs and 4-5foot seas with a period of 12 seconds at the buoy.

Astoria Megler Bridge

Astoria Megler Bridge

0600 hrs we depart Astoria turn to 249 degree (magnetic) heading at 5 kts and slip beneath the Astoria Megler Bridge. A cantilever bridge with a span of 6,545 meters opened in 1962.  We are 10nm from the mouth of the Pacific as we pass under the bridge, clearance is 60m at high tide,with plenty of room.  At Tansy Point we come to a 2790 m heading to Sand Island.

Breakers on Catsop Spit

Breakers on Catsop Spit

As we skirt the edge of Catsop Spit, you can see the breakers on the Pacific side.  With Sand Island off the starboard we come to 2550 m and 3nm to the mouth.  0800 hrs we are at the R8 buoy.  The new heading is 2090 m we start out across the bar with slack tide.  Sea state is 4-6 foot rollers with a 10 second period wind out of the north at 5 knots.  Sea lion heads are popping up frequently and all around us.  They do have a large population in this area.   In Astoria they have purchased an Orca sculpture to keep the locals off the pier.  I suspect the sea lions are smarter then the fake Orca and eventually we’ll have a picture of an Orca sculpture surrounded by basking locals!  All over the place in the water…heads popping up every place you look.  A large container ship is heading in fishing boats going out.  0825 hrs two grey whales surfacing & diving off the port.  0900 hrs we are at R8 buoy and across the bar.  Our depth has changed from 50 feet to 104 feet.  At the 250 foot contour line we come to a new heading of 2550 m as we turn W toward deeper water.

1100 hrs at 0460 13.663’N   1240 1321.746’W we turn north to 3270 m for the layline  north to Cape Flattery.  Our next way point is 110 nm to  a buoy north west of LaPush.  Sunday, 6/1/15 @ 0030 hrs 25nm west of Greys harbor the diesel dies and will not restart!  Chris suggests we pull out the gib since we have no motor.  Its done.  Really no wind and small seas.  0130 hrs the conclusion is the fuel filter….We can’t find the filter wrench on boat.  A good hour of searching commences while one member mans the helm as a lookout.  NO FILTER WRENCH!*#  Necessity is the mother of invention.  Geoff is a true McGiver & rock star.   Duck tape , a fiber strap, a locking leatherman and we have a filter wrench. Its now at least 0230 hrs. While Geoff and Brandon are working on the filter Chris & I are in the cockpit as lookouts.  Earlier we had spotted a fishing trawler with all its lights  off our starboard beam at a distance of 5+ miles.  It has come closer and is still on a heading for us.  Really no wind currently.  All nav lights have been on including the deck lights which fully illuminate the genoa. I take the radio mike and on 16 broadcast “Large fishing trawler about 25 NW of Greys Harbor this is the sailboat in front of you with the illuminated foresail”.  Two broadcasts on 16 and two on 13 with no response from the trawler.  Another sailboat about a mile away did respond but nothing from the trawler!  Fishing trawlers are always a problem.  I think they use autopilot a lot and are out of the wheel house doing what ever!!  The trawler continued to approach until you could start to see its bow wake before it turned to starboard.  The more I dwell on this incident the more threatening it becomes.  I wish I had a solution but with no motor and no wind I’m gobsmacked.  0330 hrs the filter is done.  Back to motor sailing. Everyone was pleased to hear that noisy deisel! The remainder of the night was quiet as we motor sailed towards Cape Flatter.  

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Cape Flattery

1300 hrs and we are off Cape Flattery.  1500hrs we round the Cape and check out the Duncan Rocks passage.  Whitecaps in the passage so we go north and around Duncan Rocks. 1800 hrs we are on the approach into Neah bay.

Neah Bay Marina

Neah Bay Marina

The marina is occupied by small fishing boats and several docks full of sea lions.  We tie up fix dinner and prep for sleep.  Sleep comes amongst a cacophony of sea lions.

 

Salish Sea Weekend

Grey Whale

Grey Whale

We arrived in Puget Sound one year ago. After three months of appraisal we decided to put roots down. Missing our friends, sun shine, ski patrol, and the meditation center are experiences that we still cherish. The challenges of new experiences have not dimmed our past but rather have encouraged us to embrace these new opportunities. To wander about and find our new home.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Map of Saratoga Passage

Map of Saratoga Passage

We left home and drove down to Mukilteo to take the ferry over to Clinton on Whidbey Island.

Mukilteo Lighthouse

Mukilteo Lighthouse

The ferry transit is about twenty five minutes to cross the southern end of Possession Sound below Hat Island. On most crossings, including this morning, the sea state is calm.

 

 

 

 

Mukiliteo_FerryDuring the fall winter season when some tightly packed cold fronts come roaring thru it can be really bad when there may be fifty knot winds coming up the sound from the south. The winds, the long fetch, and the narrowness of this section of the sound combine to create considerable seas!

Clinton ferry approaching Mukilteo

Clinton ferry approaching Mukilteo

Saturdays wind was much kinder as the ferry approached from Clinton.  At Clinton we drove north along the Saratoga Passage up to Oak Harbor some 25 miles north and the northern most harbor of the island.

 

 

 

Saratoga Passage

Saratoga Passage

The Saratoga Passage is the body of water between Camano Island and Whidbey Island. Its is named after the war ship Saratoga that cruised Lake Champlain during the war of 1812. The passage is about 20 miles long in a north orientation and connects with the Straits of San Juan de Fuca thru Deception Pass and the Skagit river empties into Skagit Bay on the north east end. Along the passage there are several marinas and state parks for sailors. Clinton, Langley, and Oak are the most notable on the west side of the passage. On the east side there are bays and a state park on Camano Island. Cabins and small day sailboats can be found at Camano State Park and are managed jointly with the Center for Wooden Boats.

I have day sailed the southern half of the Saratoga Passage from Everett. It is a great area. Plenty of deep water with little traffic. One sailing cruise I would like to do is from Everett thru the Saratoga Passage to the Straits of San Juan de Fuca via Deception Pass. This trip would require correct timing for transit of Deception Pass since it has a seven knot current on the ebb tide.

As we continued to drive north to Oak Harbor I was looking forward to the jet boat tour of Deception Pass since it would allow a view of the currents without the risks associated with a sail boat. We found the marina but I was disappointed to learn it was to early in the season for jet boat tours thru the pass. However, March and April are the months when five grey whales come into the Saratoga Passage to bottom feed on shrimp. Two weeks earlier we had sighted a grey whale in Steamboat Flats while sailing out of Everett. Also local media had reported sightings off Camano Island.

Official whale tourists!

Official whale tourists!

Being opportunists, we signed up for the three hour whale tour of the Saratoga Passage. We suited up in our fleece lined expedition suits since the jet boat is an open design and roared out of Oak Harbor and headed south down the passage. At key spots where greys have been spotted they killed the engine and looked & waited.

After checking many spots we found two greys feeding off Elger Bay on the west side of Camano Island. Every two to six minutes they would announce themselves by blowing a heart shaped geyser of air & water arching their back and diving back down for more shrimp. We drifted on the current along with the greys for about 45 minutes before we needed to leave return to Oak Harbor. A lovely time………. A kayak would have been so intimate.   A future thought.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cascades from Possession Sound

Cascades from Possession Sound

 

Carrier Group @ Everett

Carrier Group @ Everett

 

 

Part of the Crew

Part of the Crew

Sunday was a day to sail out of Everett on Scott Selby’s Catalina 34 S/V Duck Soup. We cast off the lines at 1100 hours, motored out of the marina to a 15 knot wind from the SE.

 

 

 

 

Everett Marina Buoy

Everett Marina Buoy

We passed the outer buoy with its residents &  I jumped the main, came back to the cockpit & we hauled out the jib for a beam reach over to Whidbey passing south of Hat Island.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hat Island Shore Homes

Hat Island Shore Homes

Then a jibe north pass Hat Island up to Camano Island and into the Saratoga Passage. At 1400 hours it was time to return home so we headed back south. No whales today but great company and conversation. The tide had turned to flood so we had the bow into both the wind and tide. With us pointing up as high as possible into the wind for the starboard tack we were making no headway for thirty plus minutes.   The port tack was more promising for a lay line around the bottom tip of Camano and on the next starboard tack we finally made it around Camano and toward the marina.

 

USCG in the channel at the marina

USCG in the channel at the marina

1700 hours and we’re dropping the main. Back in the channel to the marina to tie up. A wonderful weekend in our new home.

The Iceberg Regatta

Iceberg Regatta

Iceberg Regatta

 

Saturday…..January 24, 2015 @ 11:00 hrs start time for the Iceberg regatta on Puget Sound.  Weather at the start is 17 to 20 knots from the SE, 2 foot chop, 45 degrees air temperature.  Beneath leaden skies rain is possible.

IceBergRegatta

Iceberg Regatta Course Puget Sound

 

The distance is approximately 14.5 nautical miles with 40 boats starting at five minute intervals in five classes from 24 foot crafts to over 35 foot boats.  We are in the class 5 start at 11:25 hours on “Avalanche” a J105 in the FS (spinnaker) class.  We have a crew of five.  Paul is at the helm, Sarab is doing mainsail trim,  Erica and Brian are doing jib sheet trimming. Raising, dowsing, and jibing the kite is a synchronized dance by the entire crew.  My role is managing the spinnaker halyard and tack lines.

Motoring Out

Motoring Out

After rigging the kite lines for hoisting on the starboard side we motored out of the Shilshole marina and raised the mainsail.

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Boats preparing for start

 

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Boats thru the start

 

The start will be south, up wind, between the committee boat and the burger buoy (#1).  The five minute horn sounds and I start the stopwatch running.  Our start will be in 30 minutes.  With the jib furled and the mainsail up we cycle between east west  on the north side of the start line waiting for our start.  We plan on a westerly beam reach approaching the line from the east.  When the horn sounds we will swing the boat from a port beam reach to close hauled and bring out the jib.

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Heading for West Point

 

Our  start horn sounds and we cross the line within 10 seconds of the horn on a port tack for West Point buoy (#2).  At 1.9 nautical miles we round the West Point buoy and with the wind on port stern quarter, port broad reach, we hoist the kite & furl the jib.  With Skiff Point buoy (#3) 2.8 nautical miles to west, we accelerate and get into position to round the buoy and jibe the kite for a starboard beam to broad run to Spring Beach some 6 miles to our north east across the sound.  The wind pipes up…….to much power….so its time to douse the kite.  A massive effort by the crew to get the spinnaker into the cockpit of the boat and not in the water.  With the kite down things settle on the boat as we continue to the Spring Beach buoy (#4).  Rounding the buoy inshore its a port beam reach towards the finish line 3.5 miles into the wind.

Some boats stay inshore and some go out toward the center of the sound.  The wind looks good for both!  We choose offshore and initially have a great ride until,  upon further assessment ,we realize it will take us two far out.  When we tack in toward the finish line, our line will bring us in but too far behind the finish line because of the wind angle.  The end result will not only be two tacks instead of one but the necessity of going in close to the beach before the final tack.  With a boat speed of 9 knots and the crew ready to turn the boat quickly we head for the beach as observers on the beach stare on with disbelief.  Finally, we tack and head for the line.  There is a great release of tension mixed with satisfaction as we finish what we started two hours earlier.

Sunday Brunch

January 4, 2015.   Happy New Year to all.  When I was younger, I would celebrate the new year with a solo trip into the mountains to refocus.  Some of these trips were wonderful and a few involved packing up my tent @ 2:00 am and skiing out.  I have now aged/evolved to sailing, enjoying the company of other sailors and this year a Sunday brunch!

Leaving Shilshole for Bell St. Marina

S/V Dolce Vita @ Shilshole

Sunday was the day for myself and several kindred spirits to gently celebrate the new year with a sail.  The celebration began at the Seattle Sailing Club where we gathered amongst discussions of the weather, tomato basil soup & toasted cheese sandwiches for those sailing with Margaret Pommert, and our destination.  At 09:30 hours with everyone aboard, Dolce Vita and Silver Girl left the marina for Bell St. marina in downtown Seattle.

Silver Girl crew to Bell St. Marina

Silver Girl crew to Bell St. Marina

Our crew consisted of Justin, Paul & Dylan Benson, Brian & Ann Heckman.  With a nice 5-10 kts from the south east we exchanged experiences and approached the Bell St marina in time for brunch at Anthonys.

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Bell St. Marina

After brunch some had a ride on the big wheel and with an increasing breeze from the south east we passed the Space Needle and headed to West Point.

Space Needle

Space Needle

We made nine knots on a downwind sail back to Shilshole.  The day was a gentle and pleasant experience with new sailors.

 

The Dark and Stormy

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The forecast…..Sunrise at 07:55 hrs, sunset at 16:17hrs, grey and raining, and from NOAA…..

PUGET SOUND AND HOOD CANAL-
230 AM PST SAT DEC 20 2014

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT

TODAY
SE WIND 10 TO 20 KT BECOMING S 20 TO 30 KT. WIND WAVES 1 TO
3 FT BUILDING TO 3 TO 5 FT. RAIN.

The quintessential conditions for the Sloop Tavern Yacht Clubs “Dark & Stormy Cruise”.  Shake out your foulies, put on mid calf rubber boots, neoprene gloves & a southwester hat.  Pack your ginger beer and rum for arrival in Kingston. We have “full conditions” suitable for a cruise to Kingston today with a return on Sunday.  Pay your dues to the weather gods to what was first described by that old guy Copernicus.

Thalia leaving OHM 2 060512

This is my new home.   Crazies that celebrate the winter solstice with style!

 

 

 

Puget Sound Sailing Opportunities

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Will I choose to live around Puget Sound?

When we left Boulder Colorado in late March the key question about Seattle was whether this could be a new home.  Boulder, my home for the last twenty years, is a place of great raw beauty and dear friends.  It is always difficult to reach out to new places and experiences.  During an azure sky afternoon, we left Colorado to head west via Wyoming.  The next morning we crossed Wyoming in a spring snow storm and headed west toward Seattle.  April first we took an apartment for six months in Mount Lake Terrace, Washington and  began our exploration of Seattle with a greeting from Sally and Kevin at Shilshole marina. After four months we reached a decision to settle here.

Sally & Kevin @ Shilshole marina

Sally & Kevin @ Shilshole marina

I hope to tell you about the places, people, culture, and institutions that have won my heart.

The Salish Sea alive with Orcas, marine life, islands, and an extensive deep waterway.  I can only hope to see a fraction of this magnificent sea.   It is absolutely massive, diverse.   Yes…..I know the Orcas are endangered.  Locals are continually hopeful for babies and its not happening.   The Salish Sea Sanctuary is a proposed marine sanctuary.  We need places like this desperately.  Saving our oceans and mountains is saving ourselves, our grand children, our species.  There are numerous opportunities for wandering these waterways.

 

Bainbridge to Seattle Ferry

Bainbridge to Seattle Ferry

A great option for exploring the sound are the Washington State ferries.  They are numerous and as a walk on passenger the fare is from ten dollars to twenty dollars one way.  The Bainbridge ferry has downtown Seattle as a backdrop as you cruise across to the islands.  Another great cruise is a sunrise or sunset ferry passage between Anacortes and Friday Harbor.   You can take a morning ferry to Friday Harbor. In the afternoon you can whale watch or kayak in Haro Straits and then return in the evening to Anacortes.  Smaller islands such as Whidbey can also be reached by water transport. The Victoria Clipper is a faster transit from Seattle to Victoria, BC that can be done in one day.

Schooner Zodiak

Schooner Zodiak

There are also many classic boats and smaller vessels that offer classic & more intimate ways of exploring the waterways both locally and to Alaska via the inside passage.  S/V Zodiak based out of Bellingham cruises the San Juan Islands and Desolation Sound.  Finally for the adventuresome there are numerous boats that can be chartered in many local waters.  I’ve tried to provide a sampling of the opportunities for exploring the area.  The depth of possibilities can be more fully realized by considering Seattle. From April thru September the choices are staggering.  Regattas, races, flotillas occur every weekend along with Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night races on the sound, Union, & Washington lakes.  The local sailing magazine 48 North is full of the possibilities.

In July there is a maritime festival on the Seattle waterfront that features mostly working boats.

DSCN0134 Puget Sound tug boat

 

The Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Union is a place to volunteer and learn about boat building, sailing, navigation, and local maritime history.  They host a wooden boat festival in July along with free sailing rides on Saturday and Sunday on Lake Union.

Center for Wooden Boats

Center for Wooden Boats

Center for Wooden Boats

Center for Wooden Boats

The other and more notable center for wooden boats is Port Townsend.  The Festival for Wooden Boats held in September of each year is a wonderful reason to travel to Port Townsend.

This is a short survey of things to do in the Pacific Northwest and its waterways.  If you have comments or questions I would encourage you to comment and I will do my best to respond.

Crewing, Meetups, Blind Dates & Personal Safety

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Shilshole Marina Puget Sound

 

One could pose the rhetorical question “What does a sailor bring to a blind date?”.  Based on the title some search engines will be here for the wrong reasons!  My experiences with crewing & sailing meet-ups are very similar to blind dates.   Some can be wonderful and the beginning of new friendships while others are problematic and to be avoided in the future.  Certainly, my experiences with the crew of S/V Duck Soup have been auspicious.  A new network of friends who are well skilled sailors of even temperament.  I can only hope that I give to them the same friendship and courtesies they have extended to me.

 

S/V L'Amarre an Alberg 37 in Charleston Harbor

S/V L’Amarre an Alberg 37 in Charleston Harbor

Other settings have stretched me into areas of “more challenge than I anticipated” resulting in considerable discomfort.   Moving L’Amarre from Charleston to Marthas Vineyard via the gulf stream in early April is the prime example.  Three days, out of five, that required “one hand for me & one for the boat” along with only bottled water and power bars quietly characterizes the last 3 days approaching Marthas Vineyard.

SV Tate

S/V Tate @ Royal River Maine

Finally, there are times to just get off.  I consistently need to appraise the balance between aspiration, discomfort, & safety.  There are times of self honesty when the answer is simply…….just get off.  So….An appropriate question for me had been “What do you take on a blind date?”.

Personal Safety Gear

 

These are my choices for personal safety gear.  My life vest, a retaining strap to keep the life vest from escaping over my head, and D rings to clip off my dual tether are with me every trip.  Since I’m in Puget Sound, the life vest is aways worn.  If I’m working on the deck, especially offshore, the tether is always used.  The other devices (radio, compass, gps, headlamp, Spot satellite communicator, knee pads, & weatherman) are equally important but will not keep me on the boat.  I understand that this list my not be yours and may well be adjusted based on the setting of your voyage.  This for me is a situationally based bare bones kit.  Let me know what your experience has been.   I welcome your thoughts.

 

Be well…..Fair Winds…..

An Afternoon on Possession Sound

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Possession Sound

Possession Sound is the body of water bounded by Whidbey Island to the west and the shore of Snohomish county to the east.  It was claimed by George Vancouver for England during his exploration of the area on June 3, 1792.  The Tulalip people were the local residents.  The Snohomish river flows into the sound on the east and the sound opens to the Puget Sound basin to the south around Mukilteo.  Along the eastern shore of Whidbey Island is the Saratoga passage bounded on the east by Camano Island.  This passage provides an opening to the Straits of San Juan da Fuca via Deception Pass.  Transiting this area requires tide timing since the current my reach 6 kts at times.

On Thursday with a forecast of 10-15kts from the south east the crew of S/V Duck Soup slipped the lines of Duck Soup and we ghosted out of the marina for an afternoon of pleasure, conversation, & friendship.  It was what I’ve come to regard as ideal fall sailing weather.  Gray, chilly, rainy and good winds.  If I come wearing my foulies and rubber boots, a sun break is a bonus surprise!

Scott Selby & Wayne Porter

Scott Selby & Wayne Porter

With Scott as the skipper, in his cheerful yellow foulies,  we headed out of the channel and south west toward Hat Island.  The smiles reflect the quality of the day for the crew.   Cold, rainy, good winds!  The perfect day.

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Hat Island

With Hat Island off the starboard we turned south west towards Puget Sound.

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Mukilteo Clinton Ferry

As we zipped along on an autumnal breeze with Whidbey to our right and Mukilteo off the port we passed astern the ferry.

Mukilteo Ferry

With the knowledge that the ebb was coming and the light waining we came about and started our  return north to the marina.

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Port of Everett

A quintessential afternoon that brought smiles, good conversations, and friendship.  Below is a brief video of segments from the day.  Click on the link below to view the smiles.   Be well….