Sunday, July 29, 2012

San Juan’s Part 1–Everett to Friday Harbor

After repairing the dingy oarlock, installing the grill, a life sling and the rest of about $500 worth of expenses at West Marine on Saturday, I went back home and collected the second load of trip gear and the family.  It was blowing just less than stink – no idea where that term came from, but I hear it a lot – so I was concerned about getting Sojourn and her tender out of the slip with the prop shaft and dinghy painter in tact.  This was my first experience a loading a 120 pound dinghy on the foredeck, but with he aid of the main halyard I managed without too many scratches.  2012-07-01_09-52-24_136
We loaded up, backed out of the slip and headed for Langley.  Our goal was to keep each passage to four or five hours. Langley is two and La Conner is about 6 from Everett.  Langley was lovely as always, though it was chilly.  It was very low tide the next morning and I always have to marvel when I see beached sailboats.  There is a wonderful and in some ways very authentic French restaurant called the Prima Bistro, which caters to some of our dietary needs and culinary desires with gluten free calamari among other things. The wonder has worn off for our kids, so in the future I think we will save the modest expense for just Carrie and I who fully enjoy it.  Jack still claims that the have the best fries in all of the seven seas.2012-07-01_20-55-22_488
On day two we motored directly into a 12-15 knot head wind most of the way to La Conner and were rewarded with very pleasant sunshine and a light breeze.  After watching a 38 foot sailboat with what looked like a newly minted skipper at the helm attempt to dock and nearly destroy his vessel going with the current last year, I was more the wiser and managed a very soft landing at about 1800 RPM going into the current. Here we had the first opportunity to use the dink. 2012-07-01_21-18-45_47
Per our usual we hit the road, or water as it were, at around 11.  We’ve since concluded that my getting up much earlier and motoring or sailing for a few hours while visions of sugar plums or transformers  still dance in little heads would be much smarter.  This was also a short trip so we arrived in Anacortes in the early afternoon.  Apparently a severe leak had sprung in the heavens.  Sojourn isn’t exactly what you would call water tight on the decks, and I pumped about 2 gallons of water from the bilge the next morning. I had gone to the trouble to install a PSS shaft seal this spring and eagerly looked forward to a dry bilge this summer.  It seems my wait isn’t over.   We very much liked Anacortes with its modern wide docks, easy shopping, and spacious parks.  While Carrie shopped and took a break from parenting, I lead a march to the lookout, a mile or two around the harbor.  We actually made it about half way up the hill which was about 90 percent of the journey before the girls gave up. Maggie will declare “I’m tired” and plop herself wherever she happens to be standing.”
The leak had either nearly been mended or the heavens were running out of water, with patches of blue sky in the direction of our destination, so we cast off.  After about 15 minutes, the leak started pouring anew.  I had removed Sojourn’s tattered dodger believing that I would not need it in the summer time – a regretful decision. Just before committing to crossing Rosario Straight, I was carefully watching other boats and the chop through binoculars. Visibility wasn’t great and not having experienced the straight before, and not wanting to risk terrifying the passengers, I headed to the “Ship Harbor” as noted on the chart on the northwest corner of Fidalgo Island.  After about an hour at anchor, the heavens dried up again and we continued our journey.  The winds were fresh and crisp, filling in behind the low pressure system that had just moved through, but being on the bow, I would have been beating into 3-4 foot waves for a couple of hours, so we motored.  As the day proceeded the clouds receded and the sun shined brilliantly through pristine blue skies. I got about 15 minutes of sailing as we headed north around Lopez, but the wind has an uncanny ability to blow right up the passages between the islands so no matter the heading, it is always into the wind.  Tacking in a narrow channel with the family in cruising mode is a challenge so I just motored.2012-07-03_16-54-32_3
As we arrived in Friday Harbor, 100 foot steel square rigger named the Hawaiian Chieftain was docking.  At any distance it couldn’t look more like a classic pirate ship.  Annie declared it was Captain Jones!  We had previously been regaled with stories of the famous Captain Jones by a father of grown children who sailed through the San Juan’s finding treasure left by Jones and his first mate Scully. 2012-07-04_19-42-16_99 We managed to get a tour the next day.  The crew were friendly and the captain very enthusiastic.  She is quite peculiar having been designed and built as a beachable, steel hulled square rigger with hybrid polymer and hemp shrouds, wooden dead blocks and convincing cannons lashed to the deck.
The water is clear enough to see nearly 20 feet down to a completely alien ecology.  Everything is covered in large leafy kelp with a plethora of critters and creatures swimming about.  Translucent shrimp were abundant and a favorite local attraction among the junior sailors, my three being no exception. At night, you can shine a flashlight on them and pluck them out of the water by their antenna.  On the second night we got a slip at H-49, which is very near the north west corner of the marina and one of the best seats in the house for the fireworks show.  Just before the show, we were treated to a giant full moon rising over the mountains to the east.  Annie declared it the ‘super moon.’

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