Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Headed Home, or Back to the ICW?

Days on cruise:  7

Distance traveled: 83 miles

Travel time:  6 hours

Sunday morning we left Thetis Island under cloudy skies with wind and waves slightly above our comfort level. An hour later conditions calmed, the sun came out, and it became a beautiful day.

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We really wanted to take the shorter distance across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but kept checking the NOAA forecast, and always found the wind and wave forecasts higher than we prefer, so went east through the San Juan Islands to the north end of Swinomish Channel and down to the charming town of LaConner.


The Swinomish Channel is one of the very few places in the Pacific Northwest in which travel by boat is somewhat like traveling the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) where we spent more than 1,000 miles last year on the Great Loop.

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The channel is narrow, shallow, dredged (though not often enough to prevent shoaling, just like the ICW), and attentiveness to the red and green markers is important in order to prevent grounding.


We spent the night at Skagit Municipal Marina ($1.00 per foot during this high season) and ran into Sandy, one of Cathryn’s Book Group friends who was camping nearby with her husband and grand-daughter. LaConner has a number of new buildings, restaurants, winery and brewery outlets for tasting and galleries since we were last here.


Days on cruise: 8, last day

Distance traveled: 75.4 miles

Travel time: 4 hours, 37 minutes

Monday morning we pulled out of La Conner to travel the second half of the Swinomish Channel at low tide and had a tense half hour during which our depth sounder frequently registered less than 1 foot (beneath our hull), and 2-3 feet most of the rest of the time. It reminded us of times in Biscayne Bay in Florida and Georgian Bay on Lake Huron in Canada. We’re not used to this in the PNW!


Much to our surprise we were passed by the Victoria Clipper on the east side of Whidbey Island; we thought they always traveled out in the bigger waterways. This boat travels at high speed between Seattle and Victoria, British Columbia.


South of Everett we crossed the Puget Sound Shipping Lane, and it was busy with commercial traffic, including this huge Hyundai freighter traveling more than 20 mph (we know because it passed us!)


We arrived back home mid-afternoon, and after unloading the boat, starting laundry, and mowing the lawn we relaxed with a late evening glass of wine on the deck, enjoying the almost full moon and its’ moon beams on the water. We had a great trip, and it’s good to be home.


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