Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Home Sweet Home

There's nothing like a good night's sleep on a boat. Jesse and I slept for 10+ hours Monday night, and woke up feeling like a million bucks. We had another skillet-style breakfast, and weighed anchor...

Monday was another beautiful day, simply amazing for this time of year. Clear, 50 degrees, calm seas...but still no wind. Oh well. We purposely left the anchor alarm on just to make sure it worked- it does. We had a quiet trip to Everett. It always gets that way at the end of a journey you don't want to end. We attempted to sail one last time before arriving in Everett- but the winds just weren't there. Next time! We arrived in Everett at 12:30 pm, and spent the rest of the day packing, cleaning, and setting up a space heater and a drier to keep the inside mold- and moisture-free over the next two months.

After leaving the marina, we headed out to the cabin for a free night's stay. After many beers and countless games of jenga, we turned in for the night. Yes, that's Beast Light in the photo. It is a Frank and Jesse tradition that is not likely to end anytime soon. The next day we did some sightseeing to Steven's Pass and then headed to Seattle for our return home. We had a great trip. Thanks, Jesse.

Typhoon is ready for her new family in Everett. And her new name, too.... :P

Monday, February 2, 2009

Deception Pass

What a beautiful day! Today was sunny, clear, and about 45 degrees. We still had no wind, but as a consolation prize the seas were flat calm. Considering we were going to be going through Deception Pass for the first time today, I'd prefer flat over breezy any day!

We woke up around 8:30 or so after a night at the local Irish Pub (and some much needed sleeping in). After cooking up a hearty skillet breakfast we got underway at 10 am. Timing is everything for transiting Deception Pass. Currents here can exceed 8 kts, so you really want to cross at slackwater. (For all those "landlubbers" just take my word for it- 8 kts of current is a lot!) Slackwater for this afternoon was at 2:07 pm, so we had plenty of time to get there.

We entered the pass just prior to slackwater. The ebb current provided maximum steerage with a good flow of water going over the rudder. Going through was exciting, even near slack water. There were whirlpools that you could throw a basketball down, back eddies, and onlookers waiting for you to slam against the rocks. We did have perfect conditions, though, and no other vessel traffic. It was a good first crossing, and it felt great to pass through! Some might say I was crazy to take a brand new (to me) boat on its maiden voyage and go through the pass, but we planned it well enough to manage the risks properly. Besides, I didn't want Jesse to come all the way to Washington on a sailing trip and not do Deception Pass! :)



We transited to Holmes Harbor and dropped anchor in Honeymoon Bay. It was a great anchorage. There were a few sailboats on moorings, but no transients. And wow- how about that electric windlass???? That was the easiest anchoring evolution I've ever had. We grilled the last of the burgers, and enjoyed a quiet night out "on the hook".


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.

Underway and the last unknown...U.S. CUSTOMS!



Jesse and I spent last night onboard Typhoon. The heater on the boat rocks- very comfy! We stocked up on some last-minute provisions i.e. beer (we had brought all the other food items with us) and had an early night. Patrick was to meet us at 9 am to get "Typhoon" out of their dock, but he was a little late. Brad had a party the night before. :)

We got underway at 10 am and set sail for Point Roberts for Formal Entry into the U.S. It was a beautiful day, with little wind and only small swells from the west-northwest. I can't believe how great the weather has been for us so far. We reached a cruising speed of around 8.5 knots, and doing the math knew we'd get to Point Roberts by 3 pm. They closed at 4 pm, so we didn't want to mess around with going any slower. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery pulling away from Vancouver and under the 1st Narrows bridge. Lunch consisted of ham sandwiches, and there was plenty of time for some OJT on the operation of the chart plotter. As we crossed the discharge point for theFrasier River, the freshwater made our depthgage give false readings of 10-12 ft instead of the 250-400 ft depths it should have been. Thanks to JP for the head's up on this before we left!

Around 2 pm I called US Customs in advance of our entry just to give them a head's up to our arrival, only to find out they had not received any paperwork from our customs broker! Damn it!! What the hell am I paying these ya-hoos for? If the paperwork doesn't come in, will we be quarantined all night? Or should we just stay at sea? So if I didn't call I would have shown up holding nothing but my.....??? Anyway, after some hammer-dropping on my part over the phone to get the customs broker on the ball all the paperwork quickly became in order and was faxed over to Customs. Whew.

We arrived at Point Roberts with no difficulty around 3:30 pm (due to having to sort out the paperwork fiasco). It was low tide when we came in, and the depth alarm went off as we went through 8.9 ft of water. That's plenty of room where I grew up in N.C., but very shallow around these parts! I guess everything's relative. We docked at the Customs dock, and made our formal entry into the U.S. It actually was pretty easy (now that they had all the paperwork), and I must say the Customs agents we dealt with were professional and courteous. Our work was done, now we could relax a little!


After firing up the grill on the stern and cooking some burgers for dinner, we went to TJ's for a few beers. TJ's was interesting, and I imagine it didn't help that it was the off-season. We drank a few beers and watched some MMA fights on TV, while all the locals were cheering for Vancouver to win the hockey game. Is this the U.S. or Canada? We left at 9:30 pm and the bartender told us he'd probably be closing soon anyway. So much excitement for a Saturday night! :)