Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dash to Avoid 30 Knot Winds: Ganges to Stuart Island

Distance Traveled (both trips combined): 25.4 miles

Travel time: 3 hrs, 37 mins (both trips combined)

After a good night’s sleep, we woke to a forecasted calm morning with winds rising throughout the day and into the night. Not wanting to be stuck in Ganges, though it’s a nice little town, we headed south. If you look to the top right corner of the photo below, the body of water you see there is the Strait of Georgia. That and the Strait of Juan de Fuca sometimes combine to make Haro Strait, the body of water to the west and north of where we are now, pretty ferocious in high winds.


The forecast called for late afternoon winds in the mid-teens, not bad, but gusts 27-32, and our fully enclosed flybridge means we have a lot of “windage” so get batted around easily.


Environment Canada was predicting even higher winds, but we’re guardedly skeptical of almost all their forecasts.


This photo looks nicer than it really was, since it rained almost the entire trip, but the water was fine. So much for Environment Canada forecasts! “Poking our nose out in the bigger water to see for ourselves” seems to be about the best forecasting tool available sometimes. No shame in turning back if conditions aren’t to our liking.


Just after crossing the U.S.-Canada border, we called U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and in 5 minutes had our clearance number and were told we didn’t need to report anywhere in person to clear Customs. Woo hoo, we love our NEXUS and Small Boat Reporting System numbers, making it all so easy.

We pulled into bucolic Stuart Island and dropped anchor not far from the State Park dock. And then a text message conversation began with Aaron and Julie on “Eight Bells”, friends we spent time with in the Octopus Islands late last month. Turns out they were on the south side of Stuart Island in Reid Harbor, while we were on the north side of the same island in Prevost Harbor.


Though the two anchorages are less than 1/4 mile apart by land, with an easy-to-walk trail connecting them, it was raining hard. So we left and traveled another 6 miles to the south side of the island.


We dropped anchor 100 feet from “Eight Bells” and got a call on the VHF radio inviting us for soup for lunch. Perfect rainy day activity! Aaron and Julie’s friends (former marina mates in Port Orchard) Doug and Miriam were also aboard for soup, and we met them for the first time. They’re traveling in the sailboat to the right, in the background behind “Eight Bells”.


The soup was delicious, and the six of us had an enjoyable visit, so we invited everyone to come to our boat for dinner, lasagna (coincidentally already made while we were underway earlier in the morning, an attempt to use up all the veggies aboard before crossing the U.S. border). Everyone accepted, and Julie said she’d bring Caesar salad, while Doug and Miriam said they’d rush back to their boat and make chocolate mousse. How could we resist? No top ramen or canned clam chowder for this crowd!


Stuart Island is pretty, displaying the seemingly unique-to-the-San Juans yellow dry grasses as the predominant undergrowth, rocks and evergreen trees. Late in the afternoon the rain quit and the sun came out, partially anyway.


A couple dozen boats were anchored around this large harbor. As we gathered for a glass of wine before dinner, a double rainbow appeared.


Doug, Julie, Aaron, Miriam and Bob, with Cathryn’s now-scraggly basil plant just aboce Julie’s head. That plant provided a lot of fresh stuff over the past five weeks!


Well after dinner, a gorgeous sunset finally made an appearance.



At 9:15, Julie sagely announced “It’s time to go Aaron. It’s Bob and Cathryn’s bedtime!” Sometimes even relatively new friends get to know us well, quickly.

No comments: