2015 A Slow trip in the Gulf Islands

Morning in Blind Bay - you can click on pictures to see them larger, remember to scroll down

The summer cruise for 2015 was planned for shorter trips from one stop to another, which meant that we were staying in the San Juans and Gulf Islands. It is historically bad luck to start a trip on a Friday so we started ours on Thursday. After Linda got off work on Thursday we got ready and headed to Helios. Our Thursday trip was about 500 yards long, as we went from our slip to TYC’s guest docks and then walked to the clubhouse for dinner. The trip to Eagle Harbor was a slow motor on one engine, as the water was smooth with no wind, and we were in no rush. Joe and Cheryl came later in the day, and we were ready to start with a jaunt to Port Ludlow on the next day. There was no wind to speak of on Saturday, and we arrived mid-afternoon. There was a Farmer’s/Flea Market going on, and later a couple of original members of Heart with their new band performed, followed by a fireworks show from a barge in the middle of the bay. Once again there was no appreciable wind as we traveled to Blind Bay on Shaw Island in the San Juans. We slept in and didn’t raise anchors until just before noon as our travel was only 8 miles and we were supposed to check in after 1 at Friday Harbor. The tied up in Friday Harbor was uneventful for Helios as we were asked to tie up first and then Focused by the Friday Harbor dock person. We got Helios tied up and then Joe stopped to let another sailboat untie and get away from the dock. The problem arose when a powerboat from the Olympia Yacht Club cut between Focused and the dock, bounced off the dock, and when his wife jumped to the dock and was having trouble, we sent the dock rep over and took care of Focused ourselves. The fellow came over to tell us he didn’t appreciate “Our Ladies” giving him orders, Linda and Cheryl had told him we were docking one boat at a time. It wasn’t a good time for Focused as a sailboat leaving the next day wasn’t paying attention hit Focused on the stern, but Joe was able to polish out the dings. We spent two nights at Friday Harbor before going over to Reid Harbor on Stuart Island. Linda and I had gone out for a dinghy ride around Reid Harbor, and spotted an F-31 trimaran, Son of Raven. When I was racing with Dave on Coral Reefer, F-31, we had raced against Raven an F-27. We stopped to chat and found out the owner was Chris who I had raced against. He was headed to Cowichan Bay for a weekend of racing. The Northwest Multihulls use this venue to decide their championship, which Chris had won last year; (note- he finished 2nd this year.) Reid Harbor was very relaxing.


We left Reid Harbor after two days and motored over to Sidney. We were able to use our Nexus cards to clear Canadian Customs via a cell phone, while motoring because there was no wind. The Port of Sidney harbour (Canadian spelling) is an excellent marina and a two block walk puts you on Beacon Street, which is the main street of town. Joe and I walked to the other end of Beacon Street to check out the West Marine store, only to find out that it was in the process of closing, as are all the West Marine stores in Canada. We walked back and met the girls between stores and made reservations for dinner the following night at Bistro Suisse, a German style restaurant. It only seats a few people and the food is excellent. We walked down the waterfront Pub for dinner, afterwards. After dinner Joe and Cheryl came over to Helios and we watched the sunset while having a little wine. The next day Linda and Cheryl were out to shop, while Joe and I worked some small projects, and then we walked up to the pub for lunch. Joe went downtown to search for another marine store, while I headed back to unlock Helios for Linda, as she was back without her key. We met the Joe and Cheryl at the marina office and walked up to the Suisse Bistro for dinner. We had a surprise a few minutes after sitting down when Walt and Leslie Burton and Rich and Judy Axlund from TYC walked in for dinner. After dinner we stopped by the IGA to pick up a few items as we were leaving tomorrow and wouldn’t be near a large store for a few days. The next morning we were up and after breakfast getting things organized to leave, when I got a text from Joe about staying another night to watch the evening fireworks. This seemed like a good idea so I met Joe at the marina office, and we signed up for another night, but Focused had to shift to another slip. While we were tying up Focused in her new slip Terry Paine on Red Jacket, TYC member came over to chat. While this was going on Linda started up a conversation with a couple that were from Austin, Texas and for the previous 8 years had cruised with the Wards from TYC, who had sold their boat. After a lot of conversation it was decided to rent a cab to Victoria to listen to Splash and see the fireworks at the end. We made the trip but left early before the fireworks. The next day we cut the lines loose and went up to Selby Cove on Prevost Island where we dropped anchors and kicked back to relax. We did take dinghy trips around the other coves on the island.


The following day around noon anchors were raised and we motored over to North Pender Island and Otter Bay Marina, where we met up with our friends from Texas and the Dents from TYC. We all gathered on the dock with our chairs, libations and something to snack on around 5 and spent a pleasant time. It was decided that we would rent the island taxi van to take us across the island to the Hope Bay Café the following evening. The next day’s weather kept us mainly inside doing inside projects until it was time to meet at the taxi van. The restaurant was very good with a wonderful view of Plumper Sound, Samuel Island and the Strait of Georgia. Upon our return we all gathered in Rod and Diana’s charter boat with the large salon and visited until 10:30. We were slow getting up, however, today’s travel is only 8 miles to Winter Cove, and so we left at checkout time, 11. Helios and Focused found it easy to anchor with plenty of room. We spent Thursday afternoon and evening aboard Helios, as it was a little cooler and windy. Friday we did small projects until a little after noon, and then took a dinghy ride. We went out through the boat cut/passage to the Belle Islets. There were plenty of seals, oyster catchers and a couple of turkey vultures. We came back through the cut, (note: the cut is about 20-25 feet wide, with a 7 foot deep channel at zero tide. It is like motoring up or down stream in a small river moving at 4-5 knots.) We headed over to the rocks by the entrance to winter cove and watched a couple of pups be curious while their moms watched us drift by.


On the way back we stopped by Focused to check in with Joe and Cheryl. They had a lazy Thursday and small project Friday, also. They will come over to Helios later for the cocktail hour. We visited for a while and then they returned to cook dinner and I BBQ’d halibut cheeks. We were a little short on sleep last night. Linda was up at 2 to tell a seal to get off the steps, and then woke me at 4 to get another seal off the tramps. We went back to sleep, but Linda heard another intruder at 5:30, otter. He was rolling around on the tramps having a great time. Linda tapped on the window in the saloon hoping to have him leave, but he came over and stuck his head between the blinds a couple inches from the window to see who was inside. Linda when out on deck and he unhappily dove over the side. I got up and dressed and stood otter watch, and I turned on the diesel heater on hoping the noise would keep them away, and it did. We raised anchor at nine and followed Focused out of winter cove. Our destination was Telegraph Harbour Marina and it was about a 4 hour trip. We were tied up across the dock from each other, and shortly after we had gone up to the office to pay for moorage the rains came. The rain was off and on during the rest of the afternoon and early evening, with the promise of the weather forecasters that the rain would end at midnight. Joe and I walked the docks around 7, mainly so he could look at the various C & Cs that were here for their rendezvous. Joe’s boat prior to Focused was a C & C 34+ for 17 years. After the dock walking we went up to the Bistro/Store/Office and Joe and Cheryl ordered a pizza for dinner. Linda broiled steaks for dinner upon our return to Helios. We were up around seven for coffee and a slow start to the day. We had a much better sleep than the previous night with all the animal activity. The weather was much better and we decided to stay on Helios for the day, while Joe, Cheryl, Lester and Linda Dent took the ferry to Chemainus. I spent 5 hours sewing and re-rigging the headsail on Helios. I had been in a rush when Paxton, Vern and I attached the headsail after having it cleaned and had installed the connection point of the camber spar to the forestay 180 degrees out, which caused stress and some stitching to pull loose when I tried to raise it on the way to Telegraph Harbour. It was a successful project only costing a little blood from poking myself with the needle, and dropping an open end box end 9/16 wrench into the harbour. We had a quiet evening and much better sleeping without the animal activity on deck. We left Telegraph and were on our way to Genoa Bay, where Focused and Homerun (Dent’s boat) decided to avail themselves to dock space and we anchored out. We spent the afternoon reading in the cockpit and watching boats come in and anchor. Cheryl texted us to have us come in tomorrow evening for dinner with them and the Dents at the Genoa Bay Restaurant, which we quickly accepted. We took a dinghy tour the next day of the bay, before tying up for dinner. The dinner was excellent and we returned to Helios and sat on the swing seat until the mosquitoes encouraged us to go inside. We were up a little after six for coffee and to be ready to start raising the anchor at seven, so we could be underway by 7:30. We were moving towards the entrance at 7:25 with Focused right behind us. The trip was 34 miles but with the help of ebb current for most of the way we were able to shorten the time to a 29 mile run. We tied up at the Coast Hotel Marina in the inner harbour with our bow out, and Focused right behind us. We walked downtown after getting settled and did a little window shopping at the various stores. We took the water taxi back to the marina and walked up to the Hotel’s restaurant, The Blue Crab. The dinners were outstanding as were the desserts. We returned to the boats, and Joe joined us up in the swing seat for a while to watch the activity, while waiting for the sunset. After sunset Joe returned to Focused and Linda and I buttoned up Helios and we were inside for the night. The following day we did some exploring of the town visiting various shops and areas, before returning in time for dinner. We had met the owner of Il Covo Italian restaurant while walking back from the Fisherman’s Wharf and made reservations for 8, as that was the first open table. We were up at 5:30 and checked the weather. It had strong wind warnings and later gale warnings. We discussed whether we would cross or go through the San Juans. We decided to cross and left the dock at 7. The water was sloppy and we had various strengths of current against us for most of the trip. We put up the headsail up about 8 miles into the trip and picked up a ¼ to a ½ knot and moved a lot flatter through the strait. We had rain, thunder and lightning after we rounded Pt. Wilson. We tied up at Port Ludlow a little before 3 with 45 miles traveled. We helped Focused tied up and then retreated to our boats to dry out and warm up. No surprise we slept in until 7:30. The plan is to fill the fuel tank and motor on down to Eagle Harbor. The winds will be on our nose. We took 90 gallons of diesel at $2.35 a gallon. We shouldn’t need fuel until before next year’s trip. Focused was in the lead as we motored south, along the west side of Puget Sound to Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island. The TYC outstation was empty so Focused went in on the east side and Helios on the west. Joe and I walked the docks to look at some of the boats, and then we got together on Helios for cocktail hour. Joe and Cheryl headed back to Focused for the evening and dinner. They want to get back around noon, so they plan on leaving at 9 and motoring straight there. We will leave around the same time, but plan on sailing down East Passage to enjoy the day and dry out the sails. Ahh, the last day of the trip. We were up around 7:30 to bright sunshine. We helped Joe and Cheryl get off the dock and on their way home in time to have the low tide let them go under the bridge without having to have it raised. Linda and I left a little before 10 with the plan of sailing a little, at least enough to dry out the sails. We raised the main while still in the harbor, and motored out on our way. We raised the headsail after passing the Vashon-Fauntleroy ferry path and shut the engines down. The wind was out of the north which allowed us to jibe our way down East Passage. We ran out of wind about 2 miles short of the TYC clubhouse. We lowered the sails and made our way to our slip in Breakwater. It was a very relaxing trip with good memories.