Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Voyage #4: San Juan Islands - Days 7 - 9

Last week, we left Eolian tied up at the dock in Friday Harbor for the night. We had tied up there because we planned to meet the ferry the kids would be on the next day. Let's rejoin her the next morning, day 7 of the trip....

They arrived in the middle of the next morning - it was great to see them walking down the dock. By the time we were ready to leave the dock (11:30), we had 15 kt of wind pinning us there with no room forward or aft to maneuver. Our bowsprit was literally over the cockpit of the boat in front of us. We employed the help of folks on the dock and our newly acquired crew, and I released all but the bow line and backed up. This had the effect of turning the stern out toward the wind and away from the dock. I let it bounce back a little and did it again, turning us even more, and called for the bow line to be released. With a lot of pushing from the crew, we managed to leave without damaging Eolian or the boat which had been behind us. We couldn't have done it without all those involved.

As you might guess, having a strong wind nearly out of the west at 15-25 kt gave us a *wonderful* reach up San Juan Channel. We flew the main and staysail and were just about perfectly powered making 7 kt with about a 10 degree heel. While we were underway, Jane used the last of the crab we had in the refer to make a crab chowder. By the way, this was the first time we really needed to use the gimble on the stove - it worked perfectly. This was a great beginning for the kids' trip - it certainly got everyone's blood pumping. The wind carried us about halfway up Spieden Island, but eventually turned light. We enjoyed watching another boat caught in the tide rips, sailing north, but moving south with the tide... if you're not paying attention, this is an easy situation to get into. We then motor sailed the rest of the way to Stuart Island, dropping the hook in Reid Harbor at 15:40.

Reid Harbor is a perfect gunkhole - it is nearly a mile long, but quite narrow and has a nearly uniform depth of 15-25 feet. Given the holiday weekend, there were a lot of boats there, but nevertheless, we wove our way between them finally picking a spot about a third of the way in. The kids immediately got the crab ring overboard, and enthusiastically took responsibility for providing dinner for 5. It didn't take too long, and there were 7 crabs for dinner.

Another peaceful night at anchor led to another idyllic morning drinking coffee in the cockpit. We waited for wind to build, but by 12:45 we couldn't afford to wait any longer, so we weighed anchor and powered our way south to Parks Bay on the south shore of Shaw Island. At 15:30 we anchored as close in to the back of the bay as we could get, but this one is deep - we were in 50 feet of water. Late in the afternoon, Adventuress joined us in the bay, but nearer the mouth. Everything aboard this 120 foot wood schooner is kid-powered, and it was a delight to watch from across the water. Adventuress is run by a foundation which provides overnight or longer sea experiences to groups of children and adults who sign on as working crew. Although I didn't take any pictures of her in Parks Bay, I did catch her ghosting in light air off of Cypress Island earlier in the trip, and she was tied to the dock with us in Friday Harbor.

This night was not as calm as what we had had earlier. I was awakened to 20 kt blowing thru the anchorage at 06:00. I sat in the saloon and kept watch, but the anchor stayed firmly attached to the bottom. The rest of the crew woke later on their own. We had to get the kids back to Friday Harbor (across San Juan Channel) to meet the ferry, so we weighed anchor and drove across the channel. There was plenty of wind, but it didn't seem worth the effort to hoist the sails for the short trip. Again, the plan was to arrive as others were leaving, but we were not lucky this time. We ended up anchoring in the bay nearly in front of the UW Oceanography facility. We dinghied to shore (multiple trips, including an extra one because I forgot my shoes aboard), and went to the tavern just above the waterfront for a quick celebratory brew before the kids
boarded the ferry for the trip back to the mainland.

Jane and I enjoyed the rest of the afternoon walking around Friday Harbor, finally rowing back to Eolian late in the afternoon. We had a quiet evening watching the traffic, missing the kids. I think I enjoyed the night at anchor in Friday Harbor at least as much as the one tied to the dock a few days earlier. It is much quieter and more peaceful, but there is plenty to watch. Finally, it was a warm evening, and we sat in the cockpit drinking a glass of wine while we watched the lights - a much nicer view than the one on the dock.

To be continued...

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