Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Crab and orcas and fireworks--Oh my!

Soooo much to cover for this long weekend. We took off the afternoon of Thursday the 2nd for the long 4th of July weekend with our sights set on Stuart Island in the San Juans.

With no wind, we motored to Hope Island for the night where we made our first attempt at crabbing. We learned alot! Tying the pot off to the boat is only a good idea if you pull it shortly thereafter and before the boat swings, gloves would be nice, crab like chicken, if the pot drags it will likely flip and release your whole catch, and if you check the pot and it has crab in it get them--don't put it in for a longer soak or they may get flipped and get away! In the end we had 2 red rock keepers. We caught Dungeness, but none of the males were big enough to keep. Maybe next time! We also had our first significant fishing catch that night, a dogfish. We didn't keep it, but it was big enough to offer excitement!

Getting set to cook up our first crab of the season!

We were up early the next morning to catch the 7am slack water through Deception Pass...beautiful day (except for Trent getting sick at some point in the night and messing up his bed!). We motored and motor-sailed up through Haro Strait which is where the next big event of the trip took place. Frank spotted several boats clustered along the coast near American Camp and sure enough they were watching orcas! We got an amazing show. I so enjoyed sharing it with the kids that photos and videos were far from my mind, but we did get a few pics. Some were playful and coming a ways out of the water, but my favorite was a mother/calf pair that was cruising along...so precious. A Sound Watch boat approached us to remind us of the stand-off laws and let us know that we were observing members of L-pod.

We made it up to Reid Harbor at Stuart Island just after lunch. We anchored at the east end of the harbor, away from the busy docks/buoys of the main state park, but near 2 little islands we thought the kids would enjoy playing on. During the anchoring, we had to wrap the splice at the chain/rode juncture as it looked like it was coming undone a little and hoped it would work for the weekend. After nap we kayaked over to Gossip Island, hiked around, then hung out on the beach while the kids frollicked in the water. Ok, Trent dove in! It was hilarious! It was a nice night there...bed for the kids and movie for the parents!
Our hotel for the weekend.

The kids enjoy the beach on Gossip Island.

July 4th was fun! We started the day kayaking to the west end of the harbor where we docked at Stuart Island State Park. We hit the trails there and hiked over to Prevost Harbor. We ran into a dear on the trail, probably 20ft in front of me. She wasn't too scared and slowly walked into the woods, allowing the kids plenty of time to see her. The trails and facilities in this park are great and I can see why so many boaters were up there. We had the all-American hot dog lunch and nice long naps for the kids while we parents fished and sunbathed on deck. After nap we hit Gossip Island again for some more hiking/beach play. Back at the boat we enjoyed another all-American meal--burger night! Everyone went fishing and Frank landed a sole--our first edible fish catch! We also popped some party-poppers on deck so the kids would get some fireworks. The kids went to bed and once the sun finally set we realized we had a front-row seat to a fireworks show at a house on the beach. We woke up Katreina so she could see it, too. I loved seeing her cuddled up on her daddy's lap in her pj's and princess blankie! Good time, great show, awesome holiday.

Reid Harbor, hiking the state park, and kayaking.

A great time with the family on Gossip Island!

We started the trip back on the 5th and chose "a relaxing trip through the San Juans vice going via Haro Strait." BAD CALL! The journey through the islands was anything but relaxing with a ton of boat traffic around Roche and Friday Harbors and a strong current in the San Juan channel. By now I was also getting a little tired of Trent's endless string of poopy diapers. I don't know how he does it! We made the slack at Deception Pass just fine, but found that the mooring balls at Hope Island were all taken and the ones at Skagit Island were WAY off from their charted position. With small craft advisories for the evening we weren't about to take chances there! With SSW gusty winds forecast for the night we didn't like the idea of staying on the south side of Hope Island so we headed for Utsalady Bay. That didn't pan out as 20kts were coming over the headland and we couldn't lay out our desired scope without coming crazy close to other boats moored there. After 2 attempts and a rescue of Frank's favorite ballcap, we abandoned that anchorage and headed for Honeymoon Bay. It was becoming a long day! As we approached the bay we say a mega yacht in our favored anchoring spot so we had to try a new one. With the first set we were coming dangerously close to grounding at low tide so we pulled the hook and repositioned a little closer to the private mooring balls. 4th try is a charm! We had to be cautious given the ghetto anchor repair and wind forecast. This one worked, but we realized that less-than-ideal conditions don't make for a good time to try new anchorages--we need to play the field more when we're out during good weather.

The anchor held just fine all night and we made the final push for home on the 6th. Lucky us, we got to enjoy 25kt winds on the beam and scattered showers. It was a rough ride above and below decks. We docked around noon at our new slip on the north side of the marina and treated ourselves to an end-of-trip feast at Kate's. We all slept the afternoon away, took a nice long walk and dinghy ride, and thoroughly enjoyed our showers! Frank and I enjoyed a late dinner of crab, fresh guacamole, and white wine...a nice end to a nice weekend!

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