Labor Day Cruise to San Juans, Gulfs, and Victoria BC-Part 1

Note:  This blog is written by Nancy, with help from Jessica’s timeline.  Pictures are by Tom, Jessica, David, Susan, Peter, and Nancy.  Commentary in italics is by Peter. 

I (this is Nancy) am writing this blog to give Peter a break.  Also because this trip was my first excursion as the solo captain, other than one short trip from Lake Union Boat Repair to Ewing Street Moorings (with a detour to Lake Washington).  Although Captain Ralph had signed me off as competent to pilot the boat at the end of the previous voyage, I was still quite inexperienced.  I was concerned about my abilities to maneuver in any condition other than ideal, knowing that I had some challenging docking ahead.

Comment from Peter: Nancy has become one hell of a captain over the summer. She has nailed every approach perfectly and just keeps getting better and better.  All the other captains of the big boats are impressed when they see her (a girl for goodness sake) perform a perfect approach in our monster. It is a pleasure to serve under her. Of course the fact that she is so good does not stop her from worrying about each docking and locking in excruciating detail before we ever leave the dock. She doesn’t really start to relax until we are three quarters of the way through a trip and most of the dockings are behind us.

This second long cruise of the summer was planned to coincide with some wooden boat events up in Canada.  We invited two boating couples, Tom and Jessica Freeman (owners of Peaceful) and David and Susan Wisdom (owners of Navicula), along for the ride. Tom and Jessica are friends from Seattle–Peter and I used to share the distinction with them of having the smallest boats in the Pacific Northwest Fleet Classic Yacht Association fleet.  David and Susan are from Portland, and had been guests/crew at Bell Street.  We had enjoyed their company.

David and Susan

David and Susan

Tom and Jessica

Tom and Jessica

We asked both couples to be here on Friday night.  I (Nancy for this blog) wanted to get an early start to avoid traffic at the locks–what I really wanted to be is the only boat in the locks.  As I mentioned above, this was my first time flying solo.  Even though I had done almost all of the piloting on the previous trips, I had always had a more experienced captain (Rick or Ralph) to consult with and to fall back on if the going got rough.  The cruise was off to a great start…we had an enjoyable dinner with our crew and our neighbor Andy Hathaway.

Evening before the trip

Evening before the trip

As I write this, I’m thinking that this cruise should be called the Gin and Tonic cruise.  Last cruise, we had to make sure we had plenty of ice to keep the beer and pop cold.  This time, we needed the ice to make G&Ts.  Note the common theme in each photo of the montage below.

The G&T Crew

The G&T Crew

Day 1 (Saturday, Aug 23rd)

Engines were on at 0619, and we were underway at 0630, heading down the Ship Canal towards the locks.

Ship canal

Heading out through the Ship Canal

The trip through the small locks was fairly uneventful.  We had radioed ahead to say that we were a charter boat, and were busted by the lock staff who looked up our license and found out that we were licensed as a recreational boat.  We learned our lesson.

With our early start, we were able to head north through Admiralty Inlet, across the Strait, and to the San Juan Islands in one day.

Heading up to the San Juans

Heading up to the San Juans

The weather was clear as we started to cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but about halfway across, we ran into a thick but low fogbank.  You could see sky above, but couldn’t see anything at ground level.

Fog in the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Fog in the Strait of Juan de Fuca

The new radar worked great as we all picked out boats heading towards us or away from us.  Jessica is sold on radar–she wants one for Peaceful.  Fortunately there were no close calls.  As soon as we got a bit north of Smith Island, the fog dissipated.

We cruised by Lime Kiln Point, but unlike our previous trip, the orcas did not cooperate, so we continued on.  After Lime Kiln, we traveled through Mosquito Pass, which opens up into Roche Harbor, and then went on to Stuart Island into Reid Harbor.

We had pushed the speed toward the end of the trip and there was a bit of chop.   When we got to our anchorage, we (alerted by Eagle Eye Susan), realized that the GFB had become swamped, full of seawater up to the top of the transom.  I climbed in and bailed. And bailed.  And bailed.  The captain’s work is never done.

Bailing the swamped Go-Fast Boat

Bailing the swamped Go-Fast Boat

It turns out that nothing was damaged.  Yet another lesson learned with no serious consequences.  After the GFB was bailed out and dried, Tom directed crabbing efforts.  We caught 7 keepers total.

Preparation for crabbing

Preparation for crabbing

Day 2 (Sunday, Aug 24th)

We spent the morning in Reid Harbor.  I kayaked around the harbor and finally found the Osprey nest which we had looked for on previous trips.

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Gyrfalcon at anchor, shot from the kayak. One of the best things about kayaking in the morning is that the photography is fantastic.

Osprey nest on Stuart Island

Osprey nest on Stuart Island

The rest of the gang hiked around to the backside of the island to Prevost Inlet where Susan found her best friend, a washed up, burned out stick (which alas, met its demise in Brentwood Bay).

Susan and madrona tree

Susan and a Madrona tree

 

 

We weighed anchor about 1:30 pm, and took a short trip through Boundary Pass to the second inlet in  Echo Bay on Sucia Island.

Before we dropped the anchor, we used some fluorescent orange paint to paint the anchor where we had previously put plastic ties (see previous blog and the unique use of sunblock; alas, the ties were not holding up well).

High level negotiations about the paint project

High level negotiations about the paint project

Painting the anchor chain

Painting the anchor chain

I’m not sure if the paint will hold up any better than the ties, but it was worth a try.

I also started varnishing the stern steps from the lower to upper deck.  It was one of those projects that just kept on getting put off.  I wanted to get a few coats on before the Victoria Boat Show.  

The varnish project

The varnish project

Dinner was delicious Chicken Marbella by the Wisdoms.  

Readers of the blog may find these locations familiar–they were the ones that Peter talked about in the last blog.  They’re also some of the most beautiful islands in the San Juans, so we don’t mind going back to them over and over.  Tom and Peter dropped crab pots and caught 3 rock crab all of which went back.

Day 3 (Monday, Aug 25th): Morning

On Monday, we needed to prepare for entering Canada.  There are certain foods that can’t be brought into Canada unless they are cooked.  So we spent the morning cooking pies (David and Susan) and crabs.  There was also some deck cleaning, which caused using our new salt water pump (aka the fire pump), until it overheated.

Tom and David cleaning crabs

Tom and David cleaning crabs

Jessica and I kayaked and circumnavigated Big Finger Island in Echo Bay and saw whole families of seal who were very curious about our red and green boats.  It was Jessica’s first kayak trip.  She did great–getting in, kayaking, and getting out successfully.

Nancy demonstrating proper kayak entry

Nancy demonstrating proper kayak entry

In the kayak

In the kayak

Jessica on her first kayak trip

Jessica on her first kayak trip

She's a natural

She’s a natural

Jessica and Nancy kayaking

Jessica and Nancy kayaking

Jessica and I paddled by Adventuress (http://www.soundexp.org/); she was at Reid Harbor for an educational cruise.  We saw a familiar face–one of the crew on Adventuress was a guy who worked on Gyrfalcon last year at Haven Boatworks in Port Townsend.

Jessica and Nancy visiting the Adventuress

Jessica and Nancy visiting the Adventuress

Next blog–back on the Gyrfalcon and on our way to Bedwell Harbor

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One Response to Labor Day Cruise to San Juans, Gulfs, and Victoria BC-Part 1

  1. Diane lander says:

    Love your blog! Good for you Captain Nancy. I am SO impressed. I have loved learning to captain the Marian II this year as well. But your yacht is big. Get yourself registered as a charter boat – it is easy and no waiting at the locks!

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