Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Return to the Octopus Islands, June 30

Distance traveled: 37.2 miles

We left Lund at 5:30 a.m. with the goal of hitting Slack Tide 4 hours late at the Beazley Passage Tidal Rapids. These rapids reverse directions with each tidal swing (approximately every 6-7 hours) and run to 12-14 knots at Spring Tides near the full or new moon. With our 7-knot boat, we have no chance of getting through except near slack tide. Lady Luck was with us, and we arrived 10 minutes early, sliding through in calm water and without incident.

The scenery in this stretch is staggeringly beautiful. Especially early in the morning with the spectacular light. Near the Octopus Islands, the final half mile takes you through a disconcertingly narrow, shallow (11 feet) , rock-lined passage, which can only be navigated at idle speed and with great caution. We've done it before, but it's always a challenge when tired at the end of a long travel day. And it's gorgeous!

So we anchored in Waiatt Bay with fewer boats this early in the season. Wind was gusty through the night. Kayakers enjoying an adventure are common in this area.

After getting settled in our anchorage, we dropped the dinghy and traveled to the "Art Shack" or "Driftwood Museum", which goes by different names to different boaters.

The cabin/shack is privately owned and only has a roof and posts, no walls, but the owners kindly allow cruisers of all kinds to install creative artworks commemorating their boat and visit. Some are 20 years old as indicated by the dates on the pieces.

This, our third visit, we installed a piece made of driftwood found at Blakely Island near home, using a wood-burning tool borrowed from brother-in-law David. We also re-found art installations from friends on "Eight Bells" and "Gold Rush" who have visited in previous years (we were here with Gold Rush in 2009 and with Eight Bells in 2014).

Check-in/OK from SPOT Bob the Octopus Islands BC

GPS location Date/Time:06/30/2015 11:11:35 PDT

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Secret Cove, Sechelt Peninsula, to Lund, "End of the Road"

Distance traveled:  48.8 miles

After three loooooong days of travel, we finally had a short one that allowed for play time. It's not common to see a tugboat hauling THREE barges loaded to the gills as below!

Another sunny, hot (90s) day found us in Lund on the Mainland side of the water in time for a late lunch at Nancy's Bakery. We hit the art gallery to arrange the purchase of a piece sister Susan wants.

Lund is a charming SMALL town, at the end of the road. Highway 1 begins at the southern tip of South America, continues north through Central America as the "Pan American Highway" and then up the west coast of the U.S.A. as highway 1 along the Pacific coast. After crossing into Canada, it finally ends here at Lund. Really. 

We've been here before and enjoyed our time again.

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GPS location Date/Time:06/29/2015 17:19:09 PDT

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Check-in/OK message from Secret Cove

GPS location Date/Time:06/28/2015 18:41:28 PDT

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

What's Next?

Anacortes to Bedwell Harbour

Distance traveled: 38 miles

We'd already traveled 23 miles from Friday Harbor to Anacortes with sister Susan and her husband Bob, but we arrived before noon, so it seemed to early to stop for the day. After bidding Adieu to the crew of Allure, we turned around and headed north.

A couple hours later we crossed the International boundary with Canada and began seeing BC Ferries instead of Washington State ferries. These are bigger and travel faster.

Soon we arrived at Bedwell Harbour on South Pender Island where we quickly cleared Canadian Customs by phone:  "No, we don't have any firearms, nor more than $10,000 cash, nor raw poultry or eggs (avian flu concern), nor alcohol beyond "Ship's Stores".

So we anchored for the night along with 30-40 other boats, near Poet's Cove Resort.

Nearly bedtime, the sunset was spectacular, and our anchor neighbor, a large Hatteras, enjoyed the view too. On waking the next morning, the wind had swept us disconcertingly close to one another, but the wind also carried us apart soon after.

Check-in/OK message from Bedwell Harbour, So. Pender Island

GPS location Date/Time:06/27/2015 17:27:34 PDT

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Adieu "Allure", June 27

Distance traveled: 23 miles

We got an early start Saturday to travel together back to Anacortes where both boats got pump outs and fuel, and the Shaffers turned in their charter boat. Again, ferries appeared in narrow passages where no regular ferry routes are charted.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Lopez to Friday Harbor, June 26

Distance traveled: a whopping 6.2 miles

Short travel day meant we got a slow start before pulling anchors and heading west from Lopez Island to Port of Friday Harbor where we were assigned adjacent slips. Lunch at the Cask & Schooner, walking the town to pop into galleries and shops, mostly looking, made for a nice afternoon. We got a few tiny boat projects done and Bob S did some work.

Susan and Bob S have friends/clients who live in their Texas neighborhood half the year, and in Roche Harbour half the year, where they keep a boat and live in a condo. They arrived from Texas today, drove the 10 miles to Friday Harbor, and we met them for dinner. We very much enjoyed meeting Tom and Cyd who have lots of great stories about the many trips they've made to Alaska on their beautiful Grand Banks Eastbay.

This was our last night with the Shaffers, and after dinner we sat on the aft deck of "Allure" sipping fine whiskey provided by the Shaffers. What a trip it has been, and we can't wait to have a reprise next year!

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GPS location Date/Time:06/26/2015 16:45:55 PDT

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Two More Great Days

Day 1:  Stuart Island anchorage in Reid Harbor, distance 12.7 miles

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After a good night's sleep for all 4 of us, we pulled our anchors and made the short, easy trip to Deer Harbor Marina on Orcas Island. We saw our first clouds, and the sunny skies gave way to cloudy, but flat, calm conditions.

Fittingly, shortly after we tied up at the marina, a Seaplane landed, painted to look like an Orca Whale. Cute! 

Afternoon filled with work (Bob S), laundry (Cathryn), minor boat project (Bob W) and dealing with business stuff at home (Susan) before walking up the hill 1/2 mile to dinner at the Deer Harbor Inn and Restaurant, where the food was fantastic, view excellent, and weather perfect. Starting to sound redundant, huh?

Day 2:  Deer Harbor to Fisharman's Bay anchorage, Lopez Island
Distance:  13.2 miles

Thursday morning the Shaffer crew on "Allure" took the lead in navigating us from Deer Harbor to Fisherman's Bay on Lopez Island. Flawless execution!

They even did everything properly when an enormous Washington State ferry appeared in narrow Harney Passage just after Crane Island, not a location of a usual ferry route.

Both boats dropped anchors, about 100 feet apart, and off we went in our dinghies to explore the tiny village on Lopez, where we had lunch and poked our heads into shops and galleries.

Our last dinner onboard was halibut eaten on the aft deck cabin in the sunshine. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Check-in/OK message from Deer Harbor

GPS location Date/Time:06/24/2015 20:36:29 PDT

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Off To Stuart Islands - Orcas!

Roche Harbor to Stuart Island (Reid Harbor) Anchorage

Distance traveled:  22.7 miles

On departure from Roche Harbor, we decided to take the Mosquito Pass shortcut to Haro Strait, travel a few miles south to Lime Kiln Point, and try again to find some whales.

Lime Kiln lighthouse and the white "splotch" on the shoreline, which is Lime.

After giving up, finding no whales, we turned around to head north to our anchorage for the night, and WHAM! whales appeared! It's hard to see in the photo below, but there's a whale just behind the bow pulpit (anchor) on the front of Bob and Sue Shaffer's boat. It was not more then 40' off their beam!

For 30 minutes we were swarmed, closer than we've ever seen Orca Whales to our boat. There was at least one male with a very large dorsal fin and more than a half dozen females.

Every time we turned around another whale surfaced close by.

What a thrill.

Finally the whales headed south (with commercial whale watching boats in hot pursuit) and we headed north to Stuart Island. Bob Shaffer wants to learn EVERYTHING, so declined our invitation to raft up their boat with ours on one anchor, saying he wanted to learn how to anchor his own boat. So we dropped our anchor, jumped on board their boat, and 30 minutes later Bob and Sue had successfully anchored their own boat, asking one question after another to understand the "why" behind every step. Woo hoo!

A short hike across the island took us to Prevost Harbor on the north side where other boats were anchored or tied to a State Park dock in a beatuiful setting.

It was Susan and Bob's turn to host dinner at anchor, and we had top-of-the-line Rib-eye and Filet Mignon steaks to end another terrific day.

Check-in/OK message from Stewart Island

GPS location Date/Time:06/24/2015 06:48:29 PDT

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Off To Roche Harbor

Sucia Island to Roche Harbor, San Juan Island

Distance traveled:  18.2 miles

We awoke Monday to high winds and some waves inside the Fossil Bay anchorage, so prepared for a rough crossing to San Juan Island. But we found it was the prevailing SW winds that made it rough inside the anchorage, and once out in President Channel, things were much calmer. Three hours later we pulled into Roche Harbor. After tying up "Next To Me", we called the Shaffers on the VHF radio to tell them to come in, where we'd catch their lines. Those Shaffers NAILED their first docking of a big ol' 36-foot boat! They looked like they've been doing this for years. Go Team Shaffer!

After getting the boats settled in, both Bobs dropped the dinghies and we traveled through Mosquito Pass, a shallow, rocky 2-mile stretch that the Shaffer's charter boat company warned against traveling in their big boat. It's a short, beautiful way to reach Haro Strait where Orca whales can often be seen, but we struck out on whales, so enjoyed eagles, Dall's porpoises and seals hauled out on rocks. 

Boats in the Roche Harbor marina range widely, from 143-foot "After Eight" which we saw our first day out of Gig Harbor and posted on this blog a few days ago. We talked to one of its' 8 crew who said they'd been there for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, then came here. On the other end of the spectrum is the beautiful 30-foot wooden yawl pictured above. And everything in between.

Susan and Bob looking utterly miserable drinking coffee on their aft deck in the morning sun, right?

Susan looks to be having a little less fun adding water to thru the transom deck fill while Bob looks on.

We all enjoyed walking the docks to look at boats, and love this photo of our "sister ships" below, Next To Me and Allure sitting happily side by side.

We enjoyed a late dinner at Madrona Grill at an outside table on the deck, where we enjoyed the sunset, the lowering of the flags, and playing "Taps". Life is good!

Anacortes to Sucia Island, First Night Out

Sunday morning Susan and Bob aboard "Allure" pulled away from Anacortes Marina and we left Cap Sante Marina to meet them in the bay. Their first-time docking getaway went flawlessly! Unfortunately their Raymarine GPS on the chartplotter wasn't flawless.

Susan and Bob had their first experience spontaneously "rafting up" with us out in the bay, so Bob White could jump aboard Bob Shaffer's boat and the two Bobs could trouble-shoot the GPS together. 

Success! Casting off the rafting lines, we headed for Sucia Island, with gorgeous Mt. Baker in the background.

Fossil Bay became our overnight anchorage.

Afternoon exploring in the dinghies yielded wildlife spottings of Dall's porpoises, one bald eagle and a number of seals.

The weather was perfect, warm and sunny, making for a nice beach walk.

Crab dinner aboard "Next To Me" brought a perfect end to a perfect day.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Check-in/OK message from Roche Harbor

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Check-in/OK message from Sucia

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Day 2: Port Ludlow anchorage to Cap Sante Marina, Anacortes

Distance traveled: 48 miles

Excited to get to Anacortes to meet up with Cathryn's sister Susan and her husband Bob, we woke at 5:40 and pulled the anchor at 6:45 after coffee, saving showers and breakfast for later while underway. It was cloudy and calm with a forecast for great conditions.

Bob says that with all new (since last summer) electronics: chartplotter, rudder angle indicator, depth sounder, radar, AIS, autopilot, compass and more, we hardly have to drive the boat: Garmin and Apple do it for us. There's a Garmin 741sx Chartplotter installed at the lower helm in the salon, and we use two iPads at the upper helm, one mirroring the chartplotter, the other running Garmin Blue Charts, a mobile app. It's nice to run one iPad scrolled in close up to see all the detail (rocks, kelp beds, rip tides and every mark or buoy) and the other scrolled out to large scale to get the big picture of the lay of the land and our route. In the photo below, on the right side of compass is the Garmin GHC 20 Autopilot with the remote just below and to the left of the compass. And in case we don't have enough, if you look closely we also have two iPhones, an iPod and a handheld Garmin GPS. Cathryn thinks that Bob is a techno-geek (but she doesn't seem to mind that it's all there.)

Near Deception Pass we came upon a sailboat race and found ourselves in the thick of 30 or so boats, threading our way carefully among them as they all had the right-of-way.

The pretty lighthouse north of Deception Pass means you're getting close to Anacortes.

Inside Guemes Channel approaching Anacortes, it's a busy place with lots of huge commercial shipyards, including giant dry docks. Some even hold Washington State Ferries for maintenance. 

The first half of today's travel the tide was running with us, so we made 8- 10 knots. The last 2-3 hours we bucked the current and ran only 3.5 - 6 knots.

Mammoth yachts, and funny little boats like the one above are fun to see.

At Cap Sante Marina, we found Terri and her daughter Savannah selling live crabs from their working boat. Terri's husband is a diver who harvests sea urchins to ship to China and sea cucumbers to ship to Japan for sushi. We just wanted Dungeness crab.

So the veggies got shoved aside and 4 live Dungeness crab found an overnight berth in the drawer of the refrigerator. Dinner tomorrow.

At 4pm sister Susan and her husband Bob arrived and collected Bob to attend an orientation for their charter boat for the week. They have a beautiful 36' Grand Banks, "Allure", well-provisioned, well-maintained and comfortably appointed. The guy giving Bob Shaffer'sorientation was sufficiently impressed with Bob's experience and intelligent questions that he skipped the usual "on the water check-out". Woo hoo! Tomorrow we take off.