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.

 

An Afternoon on Possession Sound

Possession_Sound

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….

Blakely Rock Chili Race

BlakelyRock_ChiliRace

Last Sunday was the annual Blakely Rock Chili Race hosted by the Seattle Sailing Club.  Start time was around 09:45 hrs with boats finishing from 12:10 hrs to about 15:00 hrs.  There were five boats each about 35 feet in length that completed the 12 nm trip to Blakely Rock and back to Shilshole marina.  There were two parts to the event.  Who would finish first in the return to Shilshole with cooked chili from the boat galley.   The chili needed to be still in the pot.  All crews manage to yell down to the cook prior to jibing or tacking.

At 09:45 the fleet left and headed for Blakely Rock with 10 to 15 kts coming down from the NE.  S/V Avalanche, a J105, took off flying a spinnaker followed by S/V Totoro, La Dolce  Vita, Astrea, and Otava.

DSCN0316_edited-1After we got ourselves organized on Dolce Vita we  started coming up on the stbd side of  Totoro as we both headed downwind at 7-8kts towards West Point. Avalanche was further downwind flying her kite & ripping along.

DSCN0340_edited-1Avalanche could be seen up in the distance approaching Blakely Rock.  We were about a mile behind them as we approached the southern tip of Bainbridge Island.

Bainbridge Island ferry to SeattleWe kept an eye on the Seattle/Bainbridge ferry as it came out but were safely ahead and on our way to rounding Blakely Rock.

DSCN0345_edited-1The boat rounding the rock may have been one of ours.   I’m not certain since we were starting a stbd jib to round the rock.

DSCN0347 We rounded into the wind pointing at Magnolia bluff and heading home for West Point and then Shilshole marina.  We crossed the finish line at about 12:20 hrs.

DSCN0323 Our happy crew of Michael Good, Judy, and I were led by David Jade.

David Jade on S/V Dolce Vita That would be David at the helm.   Great job David!

After the race everyone gathered at the office for beer, soft drinks, water, chili, chips & COOKIES!  Margaret P was voted best chili.   A cold day but great sun, wind and fellow sailors.   A lovely time.