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