Days on cruise: 2
Distance traveled: 86 statute miles
Travel time: 7 hours, 45 minutes (over 2 days)
Perfect weather cropped up Tuesday and Wednesday: sunny, high temp of 78, light wind. So we took a break from projects and chores at home and headed out on Always Ahead, our 27-foot Regal Express cruiser, a very different boat from Next To Me, the 42-foot Jefferson on which we traveled 7,000 miles over 15 months recently.
We cruised slowly past the community of Salmon Beach (above), a cluster of 80 homes built on stilts over the water, to see what changes occurred in the past two years. Our new “Gold Loopers” burgee was flying, and we laughed to think that if anyone knew what it was, they might think we did our Loop in THIS boat!
Despite the fact this boat can get up and go, we headed south at more-or-less trawler speed, having become accustomed to seeing the sights in a more relaxed mode.
It was a beautiful day with blue skies, calm water, snow-capped mountains including majestic Mt. Rainier (tallest mountain in the 48 contiguous United States at 14,411 feet), lots of marine life including sea lions, seals, otters, Dall’s porpoises, bald eagles, herons and more. This is all gorgeous and familiar boating territory to us.
Arriving at Jarrell Cove on Harstine Island 4 hours later, we tied up at the State Park dock and were the only boat there, a good reason to travel mid-week before kids are out of school and families begin their summer vacations.
Dinner found us grilling Alaskan Copper River Salmon on the barbecue, accompanied by a bottle of wine, and the days are so long this time of year we were able to read our books without turning on lights til after 9pm.
Wednesday morning was a bit cloudy and cooler, but still nice. The tide swung 14 feet from high to low, making the trip up to the campground restrooms like climbing a mountain from the floating dock to the fixed portion, seen above, 1 hour before low tide.
After taking advantage of being on a dock to scrub off the stuff growing at the waterline (our boat stays on a buoy in front of our house where this activity is hard to do) we meandered across the bay to Fair Harbor, (above) a favorite annual stop for fuel and to buy something nautical at the extremely nicely-stocked gift shop. After 7 years of stopping here, Cathryn has yet to leave without at least one, and often several, small purchases.
The trip home was interesting due to the huge 14-foot tidal swing from low to high, and the ensuing current, especially coming through The Narrows, above. Running the engine at 2300 rpm, our pace slowed to 3.4 mph bucking the strong current as we headed north, and it wasn’t until 6 miles later after rounding Point Defiance that our speed picked up to 11 mph, still at the same rpm!
Things we noticed about our boat on this trip: we missed having autopilot; we missed having twin engines when docking, even though the wind and current gave us no problems this trip; we missed having anywhere particularly comfortable to sit in a salon; the bed is fine but not as comfortable. Oh, we’re spoiled after living on a larger boat! What are the implications, you ask? We’ll report later when we know too.
So it was a good shake-down cruise to remind us how this boat works, what we need to bring back aboard to be fully provisioned, and how it feels. Great trip!