Elsa liked the challenge of being ‘bow girl’, and on the way back in Lisa declared ‘We should leave the boat in for September!’. Yay!
Megan was off to a camp for the weekend, but I wanted to get everyone into the day sailing mode, as that’s what we’ll be doing if we keep the boat in the water for September. There wasn’t much wind, the weather station at Pt Roberts showing about a 3-5 knt average wind, but not a bad day to continue getting the girls comfortable with the sailing part of boating. It turned out there was nowind; not even enough to truly take the luff out of the sails. We sat out and enjoyed the peace and quiet for a couple of hours, then decided to motor over towards Lighthouse Park while emptying the ballast, to see if Megan and her group were down by the water. No such luck.
Elsa liked the challenge of being ‘bow girl’, and on the way back in Lisa declared ‘We should leave the boat in for September!’. Yay!
Prior commitments kept us from the previous squadron rendezvous, so we’d been looking forward to this one; we’d pick up Lisa after work and then head out to catch the slack tide occurring at 1800 through Active Pass. Then Lisa came home sick from work on Thursday. Friday she felt the same. We began looking for contingency plans, and a way of making things still work. Lisa insisted on us going, so I started checking into ways that she could catch up later. If she felt up to it, she could take one of two ferries scheduled to Mayne Island on Sat.
So without having to wait for the end of Lisa’s shift, we quickly prepared for heading out, trying to get as close to the 1100 slack as possible. The weather for the day (Friday) was supposed to be really hot, but as we departed Point Roberts, there was a high overcast, and what looked to be areas of shower activity on the island side of the Strait of Georgia. The wind had picked up considerably in Tswassen, and flags were outstretched as we approached the marina. I was a little concerned how the kids would be taking this, but out on the water things were fine. There were long, slow, swells, with little wind wave development. The worst of the crossing was the 3 knt current through Active Pass. We did have to make a stop at Miner’s Bay to clear Canadian Customs, but after circling the dock until the appointed time waiting for a customs officer to appear, we were on our way with our pre-approved clearance number.
In our haste to get going, we had some snackfood on the way over, but the first thing needed to take care of was lunch. After that, the girls headed up to the pool, while I touched base with Jeff, the cruise director, and then the other squadron members that had already arrived. We started having wagers on whose boat would be last to arrive -especially with the car fire on board a BC Ferries vessel that tied up the Tswassen terminal- so it was down to Jim and Terry. Jim was in relatively by their standards, and Terry was in by about 2300. So we were all in early tonight.
I had spoke with Lisa the Friday night, and she felt good enough to catch the early morning ferry; nothing was keeping her from the afternoon’s wine and cheese party! But Saturday morning began with the past commanders’ pancake breakfast, where they served up a wack o’ pancakes and sausages for everyone there. It was a great way to start the morning. Lisa made it in at 1130, but wanted to rest for a while. I was a little concerned, but she perked up again afterwards, and that was that.
The wine tasting was great. Jeff managed to get one of the local vintner’s to come by and offer samplings. The plan was to offer tastings at $5 per person. Well, he sold enough wine that he waived his fees entirely -I’m not sure if that should be considered a good or a bad thing
The evening consisted of visiting and chatting away.
Sunday morning most were away in good time; the Maple Bay boats having to allow for a ferry trip home, the mainland people wanting to catch the 1100 slack at Active. There was a lot of chatter and good natured ribbing with us being the last boat away, but passing all but the first boat out before we reached the west entrance to active pass.... and our fuel bill will still be less
Another great weekend.
A group of LPS members decided to meet up at Montague for the BC Day long weekend and invited us along; but Lisa was working. So it was with mixed feelings that we headed out without Mom, for our first trip out with just dad and the girls. Although we got away a little later than we had planned, the crossing was flat. We missed slack through Active Pass, but it wasn’t running more than 1.5 as we went through, so remained pretty calm. When I called in for Customs clearance I forgot about how long the reduced speed channel just prior to entering Montague was, and found myself having to call Customs a second time to adjust our ETA at the clearance dock. As it turned out, we circled around for about 5 Min. until our allotted time had past, then continued on our way to find the rest of the squadron.
Newfie Bullet and Persistence were already in place on the NE shore. They both had anchors set and tied off to a big fir tree on the shore, so all we had to was tie onto them. Gladsong II came in shortly after us. They also call Point Roberts their home, but their boat was fully enclosed in its protective green tarp, so I didn’t expect to see them out. They were there however, and were just about to begin untarping her when they saw the stern of BoB go by. They did try to hail us once they got underway. I heard the end of a transmission from a Gladsong (not II), but knew that they weren’t out because I had just seen her tied up at the docks. Anyway, knowing that another 20 tonne vessel would be coming in much later and should go on the other end of the raft for balancing sake, we cast off and let Gladsong II into our place, and then came up and secured along side them.
Trincomallee II was expected in around 2330, but didn’t make it in till around 0045 Saturday. I was listening to the VHF as Bob hailed her as she was entering Montague. There were so many boats in the Harbour, she really didn’t have a chance of finding us through all the anchor lights, so I started flashing my mast light and Jim picked it up pretty quick. Once along side of Persistence, everyone was quckly asleep for the rest of the night.
Elsa was relieved to see Lucy, the Henderson’s black lab pup, had made it inovernight. Some people get to know boats, or people, but Elsa has a knack for remembering dogs and their boats. Every other boat was getting me in trouble by trying to get me to borrow their tenders instead of getting the girls to do the rowing. Of course when some of them started having outboard problems, I just smiled. Karma.
Gladsong II had other commitments and had to leave Sat. morning. There was another larger vessel expected to take her place, so while we casted off to let out Gladsong II, we swung around to the other end of the raft and tied up toTrincomallee II.
There were a lot of activities happening at the park throughout the weekend. There was an archaeological dig/lecture going on so I took Megan, Elsa and Jilly into it. Jim gloated me into using their powered tender and off we went. All three girls found it really interesting, but best of all was watching Jim rowing our tender in to take Lucy for a walk. I also signed up the girls for the night time viewing at the marine shack. The Hendersons went with their tender and we hitched along side for the ride. Again, the girls found this really interesting, but the woman presenter could have given them a lot more interesting information.
Everyone enjoyed the pot luck feast that went down Sat. night. By now the girlsand the grandchildren from the other boats were starting to get to know each other a bit. When we rowed in to use the facilities, we couldn’t help but marvel at the vivid green phosphorecence in the water lighting up our wake and paddle strokes. It was a full and fun day.
Late Sat. morning, Elsa and I rowed out to the bakery boat, the old 3 car Gabriola Island ferry, to order cinnamon buns for Sunday morning, and to get an afternoon snack. So Sunday morning we were heading out to get some fresh baked buns. Delicious! After breakfast there was a late morning beach combing being done by the marine park, so all of the kids went in for that. We cheated and hitched a ride from the Hendersons again. The Stones came along side us to make for a twin screwed trimaran, but they had to break off and rescue the Snezels, who had ran out of gas. We couldn’t help but laugh when they too, ran out... I never seem to have these problems with the oars! The kids spent most of the afternoon over on our boat, playing cards, entertaining/watching over the younger kids, and just having fun. After dinner, the Snezels put a DVD and popcorn on for them all to watch, and that took care of Sunday night.
Everyone else had to get going earlier than our planned Monday morning departure time, so we went over near the park dock and tied up for a couple of hours in order to catch slack at Active Pass. We whipped up some pancakes, went for a walk on the beach, then it was time to go. The only thing that could have made it better would have been if Lisa could have made it. More photos
After hearing so much about Sucia (maybe we’re just wearing them down), the Munros were determined to join us down there again. Both Lisa and Peter were working, but with Lisa off at 1530, and her new job being in Surrey, we figured we’d be in good shape for getting away in good time. So after dropping Lisa off at work (so we wouldn’t be leaving a car there for the entire weekend), we went about our day, then loaded up our gear and picked her up from work. Although her work is about halfway from the house to the marina, after driving through the heart of Surrey, it still took just as long to get to the boat, and after stopping at the bank & for groceries, it was still a push for our 1800 departure. Running against the wind, waves, and tide, it was 1925 by the time we pulled in to Fossil Bay. The bay was the fullest I’ve seen it; there was no dock space or mooring buoys left, so we elected to anchor.
One of benefits of a Mac is how little water it draws. I knew we would be having a neg. tide on Sunday morning, so I checked the current time, the tide chart, and watching the depth sounder, went up as far into the head of the bay as I felt comfortable with; directly abeam of the top of Dock #2. After setting anchor and taking bearings, we proceeded start getting settled in and making dinner, as we knew the Munros would be following in shortly. The Munros came across from Blaine, but had a slow, rolling trip, with seas abeam. We got them tided along our starboard side.They were glad to get in, and to save time, their girls borrowed our dinghy to take in their tent and get camp set. By the time everything got taken care of, we had a bit of time to visit, then it was time to call it a night. We were awoken a few times during the night. Some of that was likely due to anchoring ‘jitters’, but some was due to our tender bouncing against BoB’s hull; it’s amazing how loud that can be from inside! After I adjusted the inflatable’s lines, all was fine. However, around 0100 a large, displacement hull boat came in, setting itself up to anchor even closer in than we were. I was about to say something, but then they must have thought about it, and moved farther out -although they were pretty tight where they did finally chose.
Saturday morning we got things going by getting the Munros dinghy inflated; we had a leisurely morning then went off to do a little exploring of the trails and beaches of Sucia. The Munros were taken by Shallow Bay and I think that is where we would like to target, weather permitting, for a future trip to Sucia. There are several bays with buoys and good anchoring bottoms around the island, but exposed to different wind directions. Part of the appeal of Shallow Bay is China Caves, where the kids had a blast climbing around the worn sandstone caves and working their way up the vertical chasms. After a late lunch the kids created a full blown dinghy race/tourneyment, followed up with a dunking contest! In the end, there were people on the shore as well as from other moored boats, cheering them on and enjoying their good natured competition. After dinner at the campsite, and some serious 6-Dice games, we enjoyed the campfire as it burned down. The really loud campsite from the night before was very quiet (after a visit from the park warden, who left his park vehicle parked within view Saturday night), so we called it a night and rowed back to the boat.
Sunday morning was the lowest tide (-0.7 @ 0742) of the weekend, and I rose at around 0630, to find we had about 3 ft of water still under us (I had expected about 2), but I think the boat just past us assumed all would be okay seeing a sailboat so far in... right? Given that he didn’t raise the twin outboards he had on the back, I’d guess that’s what he was thinking, as they awoke to find themselves still firmly aground the soft, muddy bottom. Other than making a required trip in to take their dog for a walk, they made their way out shortly after being refloated.
It was an easy trip home for the Munros, and Amanda’s first anchoring. They agreed with all praises we had placed on Sucia, and were already talking about ‘next’ trip. Another great weekend. More photos
Tues., July 8: Port Sidney
After an (relatively) early rise, everyone was up to catch the fuel docks for 0900. There were gale warnings at the west entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and predictions of that moving inland towards Haro Strait in the afternoon, so an earlier departure seemed prudent. As it turned out, the crossing was dead calm the entire trip, and the most excitement was watching to see if the Sidney/Anacortes Ferry was going to catch up to us before making the turn at Sidney Spit. It didn’t.
After tying up and clearing customs from the direct phoneline at the customs dock, we got our slip assignment for the night. Port Sidney is an extremely well sheltered marina, enclosed (except for its entrance) by rock breakwater. The facilities have been completely redone recently, and have almost any item you’d typically imagine to be labelled with a ‘Port Sidney’ logo available. While the main gate is wide open during office hours, a pass key secures the entrance after hours. The only complaint I had with the facilities was their decision to put the men’s facilities outside the main gate. You still need your key to get into them, but having to use your pass key in (to the washrooms) and out (to get back into the marina) seemed odd.
Sidney boasts 10 bookstores along its main street, so Megan was raring to go before we even entered the breakwater. So after we took care of signing in & securing the boat, we headed off; armed with only a bookstore ‘map’. I don’t remember really stopping in Sidney before, but it has the sense of a little town that has rebuilt itself; an upbeat, revitalized feel. While there was overlap, some of the stores; particularily the used bookstores, seemed to develop a bit of a theme. Some would focus more on kids books, or some on historical books for instance. Some were pretty cavernous, so we only got through a couple of them before we decided it was time for (a late) lunch. Quiznos was right in front of us, so toasted subs it was. Afterwards, we continued up the main drag. We certainly could have spent even more time than we did in the bookstores, but our boat is only so big! The girls were good sports and after going through all the bookstores, they went along with walking an extra 3 or 4 blocks to the WM store up by the Pat Bay Hwy.
We still hadn’t gotten a crabbing license, and planned on doing some over the next few days. As it turned out they don’t carry licenses; those were available back down at the hardware store about 2 blocks from the marina! Now, during our 1st week of the trip it had become readily apparent that we were lacking in easy to access book storage; I knew of a specific storage bag I wanted to mount under the dinette table, but they didn’t carry that item at the West Marine ‘express’ store in Friday Harbor, and with today’s stops, it was going to get really messy onboard if I didn’t find something. Well, they did have them here at this store, but there were a couple of different sizes, and I didn’t have the measurements of where I wanted to install it with me, so I knew I’d be doing another walk later on.
On our way back down towards the boat, we stopped in at Starbucks, then while I went over for the crabbing license, the girls went over to a great little bakery to pick up some pastries for a special treat in the morning, we then headed back down to the marina. Once we were there, Megan & Elsa got right into their books, while Lisa & I stored our goods, and I checked the measurements for that storage bag location. Megan was totally engrossed in her book by now, so there was no getting her attention, so it was Elsa and me to make the trek back up to purchase that bag from WM.
On our way out of the marina, there were 3 or 4 CSBA (Canada Border Services Agency) -Customs- agents loading CASES of alcohol from several overloaded dock carts into their van. Apparently they confiscated 10 dock carts of the stuff. I guess there are still rum runners out there. I’m not sure what vessel it was off of, but I imagine it was a fair size.
When we got back from our journey, I got the pouch installed, and then Elsa helped organize all the various books that were ‘floating’ around the boat. After that, we all buried our noses in our various books.
Wed., July 9: Port Sidney - Otter Bay (via Portland Isl.)
Again there was an early afternoon strong wind warning in effect up into Haro Strait, so we wanted to make sure we didn’t get away too late. While reading over the regulations that came along with the fishing (crabbing) license, it stated that the girls both needed licenses (free, but required), so we had to head up the hardware store to get those issued.
We still got away as planned, hoping to do a little sailing and then lunch anchor at Royal Cove on Portland Island. It was dead calm as we left the marina, so we motored out past Sidney Spit and when we saw a little wind we decided to raise the sails. Well, I’m not sure which moved us more; the minuscule amount of wind, or the flooding tide, because if we broke 2 knots, I’d be surprised. But, each time we have the sails up, the girls -Elsa in particular- get more comfortable with it, so it’s still good. Actually, even it the lack of wind -which can get pretty boring I know- they noticed how relaxing the absence of (engine) noise was. We kept the sails up for about an hour, but lowered them before the girls got bored of it. We continued on up to Royal Cove to anchor for lunch.
This was our first anchoring attempt, so a lot of talking through things as worked our way through it. Lisa took the helm, as I went forward to lower the anchor. Cautiously, taking way longer than we needed to, we walked through the process, and proceeded to make lunch. The current action kept us from settling in to one spot, so it was hard not to keep watching where we were and worry about whether we were drifting or not, but that was part of the idea of lunch anchoring for our first attempt. After lunch we again, walked through the procedures of raising anchor, then were on our way for Otter Bay.
The wind did come up a bit as we crossed over towards N. Pender Isl. (Otter Bay), but we elected just to motor across. Once secured in our assigned slip, it was off to the pool for the girls. While the kids were expelling energy up at the pool, we struck up some conversation with the sailboat that had pulled in next to us. They were part of a boating co-op, so it was interesting to talk to people with first hand involvement in one of those groups, as it was something that had crossed our minds as we initially began getting serious about boating.
Thurs -Sun., July 10-13: Otter Bay
Our original plan was to spend the night at Otter Bay, head over to Ganges for Friday, then meet up with the Munros at Montague Harbour for the Sat & Sun, as their boat was in the shop, would be ready for this weekend, and they were beyond itching to get out. As it turned out, the convenience store at the Marina was much better stocked than I remembered it to be from last year, and the girls were having such a good time here, we elected to stay second night, and then head to Montague for Fri & Sat nights. Well, about half an hour after paying for moorage, the Munros called, asking if we’d be willing to meet up at Otter Bay instead, as their folks wanted to come out with their boat to join us. No problem, although we had to quickly come up with a plan to occupy some extra time for the kids.
The first part of that was to go set the crab traps, as Elsa couldn’t wait to do it. So we we rowed out past the point and set our trap in about 40 ft. of water. Twenty minutes after returning to the docks, she was ready to go check on it again. A good walk seemed in order, so we headed of for Driftwood Mall, across the Island near Port Browning. It was a hot day, so after the hour long walk, ice-cream was the priority. After going through the stores (another nice bookstore included), we grabbed a couple of light things from the grocery store, and headed back to Otter Bay. The pool became the top priority, and was a refreshing pick-me-up after the long walk. Afterwards Elsa & I headed out to haul in our first catch of 2 rock crabs. A nice addition to dinner.
Thurs. night, was a crew change on the co-op boat next to us, so Friday morning we introduced ourselves to each other, and seeing our two girls on board, the quickly offered them the use of their kayaks; it didn’t take long for the girls to finish with their morning routine and go out playing in the them. It turned out the husband was a retired history teacher, while the wife taught with one of my school’s VPs prior to her coming to our school district. Anyway, Friday was filled with a lot of lounging around and just relaxing. Oh yes, and Elsa’s desire to go set the crab trap. Not sure when to expect the Munros, we held off on dinner. They ended up being later than expected (we know all about that!), so we reheated some dinner for them, and enjoyed the rest of the evening. The Munros often do boat camping, but given the time, we offered to have all the kids pile onto/into BoB. Amanda and Ally couldn’t make it because Ally had to work, so Peter would get their cutty berth all to himself to stretch out in.
Peter’s folks were coming over from Birch Bay so we knew that they would be later, but by 2200 we were starting to wonder. Peter got ahold of him by phone, and it turned out they were requested to put in at Bedwell Harbour for Customs clearance. As it turned out, when they phoned in to Customs upon landing there, the officer they spoke with didn’t see any reason why they were asked to report, and sent them on their way over the phone. A pointless stop. By the time the Mary Rose made it in it was 2330. We got them secured, offered them the remaining crab for a late night snack, and called it a night.
The Munros graciously suggested we head up to Montague for night, but after the ordeals of getting everyone together finally, we declined. After all, it’s also about getting together and enjoying the company too. So for Saturday and Sunday the kids played away and we sat back and enjoyed the days. We all brought something for a potluck dinner, and enjoyed the rest of the evening together.
Sunday had an 1100 slack tide at Active Pass, so we wanted to get away in time to catch that, as we knew a thorough boat cleaning was going to be needed to clean up BoB after our 2 week trip. While it would have been nice to get to do more sailing, this was the longest, continuous trip to date, and it included our first anchoring; all good steps in the right direction. More photos
Although trying to make this years Blue Water Yacht’s Rendezvous was out of the question, we loved starting the summer off with an extended trip, and were able to make schedules align and do that again this year. Last year it was basically out for a week, home for a couple of days and then out again. This year we did a consecutive 14 days -and were all still talking to each other!
Sun. June 29: Point Roberts - Blakely Island
There was a lot of extra stuff to take care of at the end of this school year, so I was still going at it at 3:30 on Friday. I decided enough was enough, and would go back in and sort some things out after we returned. Rather than scrambling, we opted to take our time prepping and chose to depart on the Sunday; we’re on holidays after all!
We stopped briefly at Blakely Island Marina for fuel on last years trip, and wanted to make a point of including it this years outing. It was a flat day, and a nice couple hour motor down from Point Roberts. We fuelled up upon arrival; having to tie up on the inside of the wharf due to the outside being filled with other vessels. It actually turned out to be better for us, as there were a series of vessels going through Peavine Pass that were quite content to throw up nice big wakes for everyone else to enjoy Although the wharf broke them nicely for us, I was over holding off another unmanned vessel who getting its freeboard scraped up.
We paid for fuel, moorage, and the obligitory ice-cream cones before proceeding in to our slip for the evening. We wandered around on the grounds, amused the marina sea otter for a while, and then had a very enjoyable visit with a retired boater from Montana who keeps his SeaWolf sportfisher (MV Red Wolf) boat slipped at LaConnor and drives out quite regularly to go boating for 2 or 3 days at a time. He had been out 3 of the last 4 weeks. That’s one committed boater. He was planning a trip for him and a few buddies up to Nanaimo, so we pulled out our Gulf Island book and pointed out a few highlights, as well as a few points (like timing Dodds Narrows) to watch out for.
Mon. June 30: Rosario
With the idea of doing a few, shorter hops, we headed up to Rosario, on Orcas Island. It’s one of the‘Destination’ Resort/Marinas that you always hear about, so we decided to treat ourselves for the night. It was another windless day, so the motor made short work of the 4 mi. trip up into East Sound. The wind began to pick up a little while we were approaching the marina, but too late to bother with the sails. Besides, when the girls read in Wagoneers that there were three pools, there was no delaying our arrival. I only wish that the harbourmaster realized their urgency. We were put on hold for about 15 min. outside of the marina awaiting instructions & a slip assignment. One would have thought that they were extremely busy, but afterwards it became readily apparent that it was more a case of inefficient Rosario role-playing. We were finally hailed in and directed to a slip, and prepared for a port tie while underway. As we approached our assigned slip, we spotted the reason for the traffic delays; 4 dock hands were waiting for us, all decked out in red golf shirts and white pants/shorts, at the head of the slip. You’d think we were bringing in the Queen Mary.
Slipped beside us was a 28’ sailboat with the Master perched in a hammock chair suspended from the jibsheet. He was just sittiing there relaxing, reading a book of some sort, when this hand appeared from the foredeck hatch to present him with a magarita. Now, I have to figure out how to work that one out on BoB! Through a bit of dockside chit-chat it turned out they are also moored at Pnt. Roberts. I also noticed that he had a ROCNA anchor slung from his bow, so it was nice to ask questions to someone who actually uses one, as it is one that I’m seriously considering for BoB. He confirmed/clarified all the specs and questions that I put to him, so I really appreciated his candor and the time he spent with me. I think it will mean having to install a new bow roller and also its reinforcemeant underneath the deck, but the 13 lb danforth w/10’ of chain that came with it would never allow me much sleep on anything but the calmest of nights.
The rest of the day consisted of ‘pool time’, tetherball, rowing around in the dinghy, and just relaxing. At 1700, there was an Organ performance/historical presentation up in the Rosario Mansion. Very informative, entertaining, and we enjoyed it thoroughly.
Tues. July 1: Deer Harbor - Canada Day
Another nice, but windless morning. I guess that this continued May-like weather and its’ cooler temperatures are keeping the morning offshore winds from materializing. As we were wrapping things up in preparing to depart Rosario, I overheard one boater’s disbelief of what it cost him to fuel up... he had just put in 600 gallons at $5.85/gal. Considering that we paid $4.95/gal the day before at Blakely, I’d be more on the livid side. However, considering he had what looked like a new 50-55’ Marquis, I didn’t have too much sympathy
Low tides are getting quite low as the new moon approaches, so right from the beginning of our Rosario/Deer Harbor leg, I kept debating whether or not to take the short cut through the shallow channel between Channel Isl & Orcas Isl as we neared Deer Harbor. Being at a -1.0 ft tide in unfamilar waters, I had ultimately decided to go south of Channel, but as we came up to the turning point I saw several displacement coming out of the chute, so I swung it back to the north and watched my depth gauge. Entering the marina at Deer Harbor surprised me with how fast the water was running. No troubles, but it did call for some adjustments in the approach. The next few boats entering after us seemed to have their hands full with it, and had many neighbouring boats standing nearby to help...(watch out for their own vessels that is).
There were 3 or 4 vessels that we recognized from Rosario that seemed to be doing the same loop that we were. Later on after dinner Lisa & I walked the docks and ended up chatting with the owners of a couple of older Catalina 42s (if I recall correctly) for quite a while. A nice, leisurely evening was had by all.
Wed. July 2: Friday Harbor
And the re-occurring theme again today; no wind. Whether you like or don’t like the bustle of busy Friday Harbor, I am in awe of how the harbormaster handles the huge volume of traffic coming at him/her over the radio. Elsa’s radio etiquette and manners is actually based on it (and that’s a good thing). We were on a mission to complete some tasks that we didn’t complete last time. 1) Most importantly in the girls eyes were to visit the whale museum, which we delayed to near the end of the day. 2) To make use of the West Marine Giftcard we received from Blue Water Yachts when we bought BoB.
We wandered up the main street (Spring St.) and did some window shopping/planning our return for later, as we knew we would have to return directly to the boat to unload after buying out the WM store. Picked up a set of Magma nesting cookware that Lisa says is nicer than what she uses at home; a detailed Maptech waterproof chartbook for the San Juans, as all we previously had was a large scale Puget Sound chart along with some photo copies of relevant pages from our neighbours PS chartbook; finally found a rigging knife that fit my needs, hand, and budget; and most importantly an insulated big based travel mug for my coffee. This pretty much loaded us down for the first trip, so back to the boat we went to unload and have some lunch. After our pit stop we continued back into town for more exploration and window shopping. The kids were being their typical goofy selves and having a great time; they joke about how scary it is the way they get along on when they’re together on the boat... but they really do! It certainly helps to re-affirm what is to me, the best of boatings’ benefits. The next stop was the Whale museum. Right from the early stages of planning this trip, the girls both put this, and seeing Popeye, the harbours’ mascot seal, agreed these were at the top of their to do list. The museum is a small, non-profit presentation center that has a lot of interesting displays, and information to take in. The girls really seemed to enjoy it. Elsa started to just race/glance through things on a surface level, but then went back and started to go deeper into them. We all had a chance to explore at our own pace, and enjoyed it very much. After that, we ended up at the grocery store to re-supply and make sure we had everything for our upcoming weekend at Sucia, where the Munro’s were to meet up with us. Tomorrow we would be at Roche, but we’ve never been there before and not knowing what sort of grocery store they had for provisioning, we elected to do so here.
The blue skies of earlier in the day had been replaced by overcast clouds throughout the afternoon, but now after dinner the clouds were darkening, and it looked the weather was definitely changing. We watched as a couple of nearby sunbridge cruisers began to get their canvas put up, but the skies opened up too quickly and they were pretty wet before they got the covers up. The rain eased off after about half an hour, but then the thunder & lightening began! This was one time the kids were glad we had one of the smallest boats in the marina, as we re-assured them that we were safe amongst all of the higher masted vessels. This was one of the biggest (and closest) lightening storms I’ve experienced for a long time. It did move past us , but continued throughout the night and into the wee hours of the next morning.
Thurs. July 3-5: Sucia (via Roche?)
We awoke to cloudy but improving conditions, and everyone talking about the previous nights light show. Fourth of July seemed to have come early. There was a nearby coffee shop with internet access, so Lisa & I left the kids asleep on the boat, and headed over for our early morning coffee and to catch up on email. Then it was back up to the grocery store to grab the last of the provisions we couldn’t carry down the night before, and get things ready to go. We did need to fuel up before departing, and I recalled the fuel docks being very busy last time, and wanted to get in there before the neg. low tide got too close. We hadn’t called ahead for reservations at Roche, so we opted to head out a litlle bit earlier to make sure we could get in. We figured stay the night and get over to Sucia early Fri. for the long weekend, as all of Sucia is first come first served. The trip from Friday Harbor to Roche was uneventful enough, but we were shocked by how packed and busy Roche already was at 11:00am! I had my hands full trying to find my way through the chocked full harbor, let alone try to get into the harbormaster on the VHF. Bottom line was that they were full and would make up a waiting list; call back in @ 1500 when they would begin that process. Well, we weren’t that comfortable with that process and figured with this type of chaos here, we’d be better off securing a spot at Sucia before the same sort of crowds begin to spill over to there. But we did need to pick up milk & ice, something that we wanted to wait until Friday -our intended Sucia departure day. Anyway, as we tried to pull in to the fuel docks, it became readily apparent that that was not the place to try to tie up. So I made an executive decision and headed for an empty slip at the guest dock and Lisa was ready to make a run for the wherever the nearest store was. We hadn’t even tied up and two dock hands were on us informing us we couldn’t do that. Pleading our case of a 5 Min. stop, they allowed us to remain tied up as long as it was only Lisa going up. We got what we needed, then got out of Dodge. We agreed we wanted to come here, but not for the 4th of July! After a lot of work for milk, and a lot of miles for the detour, we were on our way to Sucia; one day early.
Other than the extra gas & time we took to get there, the trip to Sucia was straight forward. The weather had improved enough as we were coming into Roche that we had completely removed the vertical canvas & windows of the enclosure, and pulled back the bimini to enjoy the improving weather. As we cleared Spieden Island we were watching the closing skies, and by Flattop Isl., we were buttoning up the enclosure once again to protect us from the rain that had begun. It certainly is easier to do at the docks than underway. We got into Fossil Bay around 1330 and tied up at the inside end of Dock 1 and carefully checked our depth to compare it to the tide tables, as we knew there was a pending -3 ft tide the next day.
Sucia was surprisingly quiet. In fact, there remained dockspace most of the weekend, and there were always at least a couple of mooring buoys free. On Friday we went back and revisited China caves. Elsa & Megan found some geo-cache boxes in and around the cave site. We didn’t go away for too long, as the afternoon tide was they lowest of this lunar cycle at -3.3 ft. The minimum depth we ever had under bottom was slightly less than 4 ft. Elsa the ‘Dinghy Girl’ expanded her title to include ‘Sounder Girl’, as she found a straight stick about 7 ft. long and would check the water depth every 20 min. or so. In fact, that stick came in handy, when a sailboat coming in to raft next to the boat behind us questioned the depth below. Elsa ran and grabbed her stick, took a measurement, went to the end of the dock and held up the stick to show them.... ‘about this much’.
Friday we went for a trek out to the end of the eastern point of Fossil Bay. This trail is a little narrower than the main trails on Sucia and changes elevation a bit more as well. There are a couple of short, steep inclines, but other than that is a nice couple of mile hike. On our return we looked out and saw 2 or 3 sports fishing boats waited too late, and were trying to get out of Fox Bay without enough water. Although they had raised the leg of their nice big outboards, I still hate to think about how much sediment they were sucking through their impellers. In the early evening a park ranger came by the docks came by to make sure we knew about going over to the south shore of Fox Point to watch the fireworks being set off over at North Beach on Orcas Island. There ended up being a group of about 20-30 campers and boaters over there watching. Someone had a ghetto blaster playing a Beattles CD, so we had our own little Symphony of Fire right there.
Saturday we took it easy and didn’t head off too far, not being sure when to expect the Munros. As it turns out they had engine trouble with their boat the previous weekend, so were not able to make it. The kids were naturally disappointed, but we still had lots of fun. The dock was chocked full of pups, so Elsa was in seventh heaven. I think her favourite new friend was a Russell Terrier X that was on a Macgregor 26X that was already tied up at the foot of the dock when we arrived... ‘See dad, one of these would fit on our boat!’ Friday we filled the shower bag, so Sat. afternoon was hair washing day. I don’t know if were ready to be live-aboarders yet, but we’re getting there.
Sun./Mon. July 6 & 7: Roche Harbor
Knowing boaters would be making their way home to prepare for work Monday, we set off back to Roche. It was a cloudy morning, but the skies slowly cleared and by the afternoon it was sunny. With the barometer rising, it looked like the sunny weather was finally returning. Service at the docks was great. The dockhands were helpful and always nearby, but never in the way. The first chuckle we had was how we had to step up onto the docks to get out of our boats; the deck of the dock was actually a couple of inches above BoB’s rub rail. Looking around, we weren’t the only boat in this predicament, but we definitely were in the minority; this was big boat country!
We got settled in and services connected then went up the wharf to deal with the most urgent of needs; laundry and lunch! We lucked out and got 2 empty washers right away (like winning the lottery!) then ordered lunch right on the wharf. Everyone enjoyed their meals, and started to plan the rest of our day. There’s a lot to wander around and enjoy at Roche; a small number of nice shops, marina amenities, as well as the grounds themselves. While continuing with laundry duties, we checked in & out of some of the nearby shops & kiosks. Lisa’s been keeping an eye out for a new swimsuit, and found a really nice one that was actually very well priced. We enjoyed the artisian kiosks and succumbed to the ice-cream stand as well. There were Sunday afternoon music shows happening by the flagmast, and we recognized the familiar sounds of Dave Calhoun, a solo singer/guitar + backing track act in the style of Jimmy Buffet. We thoroughly enjoyed his music at last years BWY rendezvous, so we went over to listen for a while.
Once all our chores were done we walked over toward the recreation area to check out the pool, playground and tennis courts. We wandered around a little bit, but were surprised at how long it took us to get everything done earlier, and dinner was already going to be late tonight; in fact we had barely finished dinner when the 10 min. warning for Colors (lowering of the flags) came across the PA. Without having had a chance to do the other things that we had heard about at Roche, we knew we would be staying another day.
We had read about a field of outdoor art in Wagoneers, so headed over towards that after we got our morning chores & rituals out of the way. I thought it was an interesting concept but to be honest, I probably would have passed on it had the rest of the family not been so keen to check it out. Would I have missed out! This was a great experience that we got increasingly into as we went through it. There’s about a 6-7 acre field across which about 50 pieces of outdoor art -in a variety of media- are installed. Part of the fun is find the works (there is a walking map, but some of the works may be installed overhead in trees, for example), some is in interpreting them, another is when you just step back and look over the expanse and calm of the field. Although Wagoneers noted that that 1/2 hour that they spent here was not enough, the 2 hours we spent there flew by. There is an unmanned kiosk at the entrance and the admission box was on the honour system. Well worth the time, and it would have been a shame to have not gone.
As if we hadn’t done enough walking after that, we decided to follow the roadsigns to main center, thinking that it may lead us to a more ‘non-boater’ oriented part of Roche. It actually only took us around through the housing/vacation development that is well underway behind the marina, but we did take a road to the north that branched off and took us up towards an area of older development, a working boatyard, etc. From there, we returned to the marina via a walking trail that led us back to the marina.
The day was getting warm, but the girls really wanted to play tennis, so we (Elsa) rowed us across the rec. area and we played tennis (okay, we chased a ball around) for awhile before hitting the pool. Both were lots of fun. Both areas were great, and the pool temperature was just right. For some reason, the pool was closing earlier that night (6:00pm), so we stayed until just before the closing rush, and headed back for dinner. After our late dinner -that included boiling up all the corn (we got for when we were supposed to meet up with the Munros)- we headed out to find the Masonic Museulium, designated as an American National Historic Site. It was approaching sunset, so it was becoming a little darker amongst the the tall trees of this forested area, and Elsa did start to get a little anxious as we followed the marked trail up through the cemetary. But it was another site that we would not have wanted to miss. What struck me about it was how recent of history was included in the tomb, as the last entry was from 1984. There remained one empty ‘spot’ at the table, but that spot also aligned with a ‘broken’, incomplete pillar that rings the table. Historically, I don’t know enough about this to hazard a guess, but it was a fascinating place to visit.
The wind forecast for tomorrow for late morning gale force winds, so we went to bed planning to depart as early as the fuel docks would allow in the morning. More photos
Okay, we’re finally out! However, some things don’t seem to change, as we didn’t actually get away until 7:00pm. The crossing was uneventful and we hit Active Pass at slack tide, which made for a smooth trip through. Because there is no customs clearance at Otter Bay, we had to stop in at Miner’s Bay as we came through Active Pass. Because we have Nexus, we are able to get our clearance number before we arrive at the Customs dock. While we are required to be there at the time we give them, we are free to continue on our way if the Customs officer elects not to attend, so we got there and circled the wharf for about 5 minutes until the designated time came and went, and then we continued on our way. By the time we arrived at Otter Bay it was 8:30, so when the Munro’s started dishing us up the Hawaiian Ribs on Rice that they’d been saving for us, we were thrilled. All that extra living space we gained with the cockpit enclosure was put to the test as we slept seven (7!) onboard BoB. Jenn & Meg took the V berth, we folded down the table for Ally, while Kyle & Elsa couldn’t wait to sleep up in the cockpit! We got more than a couple looks from other boaters in the morning, as all of these bodies kept climbing out onto the dock! I can’t imagine what they were thinking. With our late start, I didn’t take the time to do the software update that I expected (prayed) would solve our GPS/VHF issues before casting off. So I took some time in the morning to try it and sure enough -problem solved.
The weather was great, and Otter Bay is very kid friendly. After a leisurely breakfast, we took the kids up to the pool and visited with Amanda & Peter while the kids did their thing. Afterwards we had a ‘competitive’ game of volleyball with the kids (kids vs grown ups).... we won (YES!). After a nice late lunch in their picnic area, we packed things up and headed off. It was a beautiful day, and way too short of a trip. But it was nice to get out finally, and we’ll work at making up for lost time once school is out. More photos
Well, it certainly doesn’t feel like summer yet, but we’ve finally gotten BoB back in for the season. It’s been a terriblally busy spring, touring season, and year end at school this year and that has made it impossible to get the boat in any earlier. If fact it was a push just to get it in, but I was starting to worry about even being able to get a slip at this point!
We actually only went for a short run on Sunday. We spent Saturday launching, rigging, and prepping, so rather than trying to race out to somewhere (and it was not very warm out to begin with), we opted just to stay onboard in our slip, plug in the heater, and just relax for a few hours. Our big upgrades this spring were the VHF and adding all the remaining sections to complete our canvas cockpit enclosure. Everyone I’ve spoken with has said it’s the best add on they’ve done, and I think I agree. Although the black canvas gets hot pretty quick on a sunny day, it sure makes the mornings out in the cockpit much more enjoyable. The VHF was a necessary addition. Knowing we would always want a back up/handheld, we made due with a Icom M34 floating handheld VHF. It’s a great little radio and it allowed me time to figure out what fixed mount radio would best serve our needs. I ended up going with a Icom M504 Class D, along with a HM 162 handheld controller mic for at the helm. This gives me full radio control in the palm of my hand at the helm, as well as in the cabin. I was really pleased with how the install turned out at home.
Anyway, back at home I quickly checked to make sure that the GPS & VHF were wired together correctly and that the radio was indeed receiving Lat/Long info from the plotter. However down at the boat, there was a real problem with the GPS locking up after a few screen refreshes. Okay, we can still have our charts onboard... right? Wrong. Having not actually gone into our original destination of Blaine before, we decided to not make the first attempt without charts, so we just went out and puttered around and enjoyed being out on the boat. In spite of everything else, it was great just to be out once again.