Sunday, February 1, 2009

The San Juan Islands and Anacortes

I slept fantastic last night as we made it through the last hurdle of clearing Customs. When I awoke, I noticed it was a little windy outside. Sticking my head outside, I could see the weather had deteriorated. It was windy with rain showers and some snow mixed in for good measure. I went to get a shower and on the way back checked out how the sea looked- not too bad, really. Winds were from the south-southwest, so I figured the wave action should die down a little as we neared the San Juan Islands. Listening to the VHF weather reports were useless- they were reporting 40 kts of wind and 3-4 meter seas. I was standing outside looking at 20 kt winds with 4-6 ft seas, a big difference! We decided to top off the fuel tanks and head to the San Juans.

The lady manning the fuel dock was very nice, and I think was glad to have something to do. She was originally from Norfolk, VA- small world. She told me to go into the marina office and I could get some coffee. The ladies working there gave me two cups- awesome! They thought we were kinda nuts for heading out. I told them while it wasn't the best out right now, it could be a LOT worse, and we didn't want to use any of our buffer days unless we really needed to. Our planned arrival was at Blakely Island.

After motoring for a bit and as we crossed the Straight of Georgia, the wave action died down considerably. This would be a great time for our first sail! We raised the main and unfurled the genoa, and then shut off the engine. Ahhh- finally! Winds had died down to around 12 kts, but we were still making 8.5 kts good- not bad at all! Suddenly, alarms rang out everywhere. The depth reading was at 10 ft, then 9 ft, then 8 ft, then 7 ft... But the chartplotter showed at least 600 ft of water under the keel! We fired up the handheld GPS and broke out the paper charts just to be sure we were where we thought we were. Yep, we are in deep water, alright. We lowered the sails and took a step back- was it different salinity layers giving false readings again? No, there were no rivers nearby. How about a dirty transducer? I took it out, cleaned it, but with depth still reading 7-10 ft. We even broke out the owner's manual (gasp!). Nothing there, either. Maybe the transducer was bad? Later we figured out that the depth gage only works in 100 fathoms or less, and that everytime we crossed the 100 fathom curve we would get faulty readings. Oh well, now we know! We crossed some mixed seas and entered the waters of the San Juan Islands.

For lunch we fired up some hot dogs on the grill, and shortly afterward saw a boat off to starboard. It turned out to be a US Customs and Border Patrol boat. Ever get that feeling? As soon as I saw who it was, I knew we would be boarded. Sure enough, they pulled up alongside and came aboard. Apparently 2 guys sailing a boat into the U.S. with Canadian homeport stickers on Superbowl Sunday looks suspicious. Anyway, they played the good cop/bad cop routine very well, and before long they were done with their inspection and we were on our way again.

By now the seas had calmed completely and the skies were clearing- I'm glad we didn't stay at Point Roberts!! We saw lots of marine life but no whales. We sailed a little more, but the winds had died down to the point of making sailing pointless. About an hour how from Blakely Island, we called the marina to make sure a slip was available. We got an answering service stating there were no services, but slips for transients were available by using a dropbox...

Jesse and I decided that we should head to Anacortes instead for some food and a shower. Why not? We arrived at Cap Sante marina around 5:15 pm. The entrance to the marina was difficult- the charts showed rock obstructions where the day shapes indicated to go. We took it slow, trusted the fixed day shapes that everyone uses to get in and out of the marina, and were fine. We moored and went out for some food, and maybe a beer or two...this was our longest day- 68 nautical miles.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so proud of you for using the owner's manual!