Prologue and Statistics

We traveled 870 nautical miles on this cruise of 36 days.  The trip went as planned which allowed us to enjoy the stunning environment we travelled through without much worry.  The weather was mixed with a lot of rain, without which we would not have seen beautiful waterfalls appear and bloom.  There was enough sun to get a glimpse of the snow covered mountains that surrounded most of our route and inspires us to return.  No bear sightings this time and we saw orca only on our last day in Canada in the Gulf Islands, but waterfowl, eagles, great blue herons, seals, white dolphins, porpoise, sea lions, and otters were plentiful.  Most of all we were able to unplug and find solitude in remote anchorages that are quickly fading at lower latitudes.  To this end the timing of our next cruise this far or further north will be about the same – from mid-June through July.  Before most boaters choose to set sail north and definitely before peak season in early August.  Even in The Broughtons remote anchorages are visited by more boats and the few small marinas are in high season in August making the experience less remote and too connected to the populated world that we seek to escape from on our cruises.  We look forward to our next cruise north of the 50th parallel.

Statistics

Statistics

Day 35: Winslow to Point Defiance (Tacoma)

Slept in a bit but we have time before floating an incoming tide south to Tacoma. Time for chores. As a cruise comes to an end we like to leave our boat ready for the next. Change the sheets, towels, recycling and trash, wash dishes, cat box, clean, sort and pack clothes, vacuum, stow items we don’t need any longer, and finally fill the fresh water tank. Like home, it’s nice to step onto a clean and ready boat when we return.

The float home was familiar and uneventful though the weather started out grim, windy, and with disturbed water. By the time we slipped past Blake Island the seas settled and the sun began to melt the clouds away. Colvos Passage is so familiar and brings back memories of sailing growing up and the people we knew who used to live along the Vashon shoreline. Lots of changes but still very familiar, especially between Cove and Robinwood. Wonder what we would be doing had we stayed? Probably not this given the exceptional amount of work required to keep our home and property up.

Home at last. Is the car still there – yes. Will it start? It did. After completing our docking chores, most of which we completed underway, it was easy carrying and loading our take home gear including the cat. Surprising small load given our 5 week journey. Satisfying.

Within an hour we were home on our deck enjoying the warm weather that decided to roost in Puget Sound while we were north in British Columbia. Oh well, in the end the weather helped make an unforgettable experience and won’t deter us from returning – next summer.

Day 34: Deception Pass to Winslow (Bainbridge Island)

Today is a long familiar cruise down the east side of Whidbey Island, south past Edmonds, Kingston, and eventually past Elliott Bay, Seattle, Bainbridge Island and finally into Winslow where ferry service creates an interesting cat and mouse scenario within the narrow channel. It’s a long day for cruising at around 7 hours at our speed. The engine noise and vibration though low on this boat take a toll on your body with a numbing effect.

The weather was clear so we were accompanied by Mt Baker, the Cascade Mountains and its numerous distinctive peaks, the Olympic Mountains to the west and of course amount Rainier. It’s always special when all are visible at once. We avoided all commercial marine traffics including ferries y monitoring the VTS channel (Vessel Traffic System – VHF 14) for ferry departures and ship or tug movement in and around our our cruising route. Relieves the stress from guessing.

Elliott Bay was typical lumpy from all the boat traffic is a relatively small bay. Into Eagle Harbor at at your outstation slip in time for happy hour in beautiful breezy weather. Busy harbor. We tried the English pub at the head of the harbor and really enjoyed the unusual menu, food, and deck view of the bay with Seattle lit up beyond. A very nice treat to wrap up our five weeks afloat. Tired and ready for bed right after sunset.

Day 33: Deer Harbor to Deception Pass (Cornet Bay)

Deception Pass bridge from marina park
Deception Pass bridge from marina park

After showers and our usual morning chores of making the bed, coffee, washing dishes, and vacuuming we set off for Deception Pass and the psychological end to our journey. This was where we started, the jumping off point of our journey. The three plus hour cruise through the heart of the San Juan Islands seemed to be the roughest of our cruise so far. The wakes of the large number of passing ferries and larger motorboats in a hurry created wakes upon wakes. We have come to detest the large forty to fifty + foot motor yachts that burn 20 to 30 gallons of fuel an hour only to push vast amounts of water aside for others to suffer in their wake. These boats are neither attractive (unless you think Cabbage Patch Dolls are attractive) or well designed to require so much power just to waste energy evident by the huge wakes they leave. Our favorite large yachts of this length were built in the 30’s and 40’s and barely leave a wake when cruising while burning very little fuel. They have beautiful silhouettes and designs compared to the “mega bloaters” of today’s most popular designs. Okay, so we’re snobs (technically anti snob snobs) and will stick with the slow, efficient, and attractive low profile tug-like or similar designs. Wish someone built the boat designs of the 30’s and 40’s in modern materials – we would definitely be interested.

Arrived at our outstation in Cornet Bay after an uphill yet uneventful climb through Deception (off slack tide) Pass. Beautiful breezy day at the park and the walk felt great before happy hour. We really like this outstation off the park. Understated, no restaurants or significant services, quiet – except for the Navy jets of the Whidbey Island Naval Airstation when practicing, abundant bird life, walking trails, and a low fuel price.

Another beautiful, if not chilly, sunset evening in the Pacific Northwest with the contrasting deep greens, blues, and lighting.

Day 32: Patos to Deer Harbor (Orcas Island)

We awoke after a deep sleep to rollers coming in to the cove from the northwest. Thought it was a passing ship but became regular and persistent. Weather from the Strait of Georgia was making its mark so we prepared to leave after making the bed and coffee. Last summer we experienced the result of a severe wind storm in the strait that created very large rollers through the cove here and, while on a park buoy, did not feel safe and left early. Today’s weren’t as bad but we we didn’t stay for a repeat performance. Lovely sunny morning with following seas for a while as we cruised SE between Waldron and Orcas Islands. Arrived at Deer Harbor at 9am. The outstation was full but were told a couple of boats would be leaving shortly so we anchored and then decided to use the pump out station which required a wait in line. By the time we finished another boat had left the dock leaving us a space to moor.

Deer Harbor is lovely and less busy than other harbors in the San Juans. However much busier than we have been used to over the past five weeks. Back to civilization. As was the case in Silva Bay and Pender Harbour we enjoyed the landing and takeoff of sea planes (4 today) next to us. The day slipped away as we were almost completely lazy. No swimming, no sailing, no dinghy ride. Just read and enjoyed the warm weather and a hamburger from the dockside cafe. Packed a few things away that we wouldn’t need any longer like the kayak and solar shower – only one use this trip.

Day 31: Otter Bay to Patos Island via Roche Harbor (San Jaun Island)

Patos Island light house with Canadian Gulf Islands in background
Patos Island light house with Canadian Gulf Islands in background

Yes for Spot Prawns at Roche Harbor (yay!) and it’s nice to be back in US waters. We started off the morning with Bill making our first Orca sighting! A pod of five were heading north as we came out of Otter Bay and we got a little video. A very nice way to end our stay in Canada today and this day also marks Christopher and Brittany’s first wedding anniversary! Cheers! Strangely the radio blew up this morning with tremendous “Boat Rage” as we listened to angry voices and cussing nonstop and it’s not even the weekend…hard to believe people have the gall to vent like this over our coast guard emergency channel. Too bad we couldn’t turn them off.

Roche Harbor was as usual, busier than ever, but we took an hour to grab a few items needed and post a letter. Glad to get out of this huge summer Hub, we much prefer coming here either Spring break or in September (Ranger Tug Rendezvous).

Onward to Patos Island which is our very favorite island in the San Juan’s and one of the smallest. Most people have never heard of it because of its size and that it is furthest north and outside of the main San Juan Island archipelago. It is magical and picturesque and has a lighthouse you can walk to as well as another hike you can take which circumnavigates this lovely oasis. While there are just two buoys, a third can anchor here and so coming mid week is best since Patos does have its regular followers. The tiny cove is really pretty and it feels like you are in the middle of nowhere, completely remote with abundant wildlife to enjoy.

We so lucked out and were able to secure an anchorage here today. Had some really lumpy and muscle-upsetting waters on the way and then with binoculars saw multiple boats and sailboats going into the cove and out again. We were so sure there was no room, but then wait for it…! Suddenly we approached the cove and saw one motorboat anchored at the head, and three sailboats. So needless to say we were able to take the third space and anchored with no problem. Unfortunately there is only one park buoy now – hope they will replace it soon as anchoring is not ideal in this rocky bottomed cove.

It was after 3 pm and we need to wait out the anchor to be sure it has set, so Donna took the kayak in and hiked out to the lighthouse to see if they were open. Unfortunately they were not and also didn’t have a sign to advise. But the upside was that I got to see a large group of seals sleeping on the tidal rocks and they really gave me a show! I unknowingly surprised them from above on the cliff and most of them jumped quickly into the sea. So I sat down and just waited awhile and they all swam back and right up onto their resting rocks, but with a lot of attitude and accompanying complaints! What a loud and noisy bunch of creatures they are and I have never heard some of their strange sounds today but I did catch them on video. On the way back to my kayak I came out to the cove and an eagle flew past and then put his talons down for a serious landing on the point. Right after that a kingfisher flew in front of me and hovered like a helicopter over the water but then decided it’s prey was gone. Back to the boat and so glad we are here tonight because the alternatives are not good. Right after that a great blue heron flew directly over our boat and into a tree, making an astonishing squawking sound that reminded me of our bow and stern thrusters. So funny, we just laughed.

Beautiful long and colorful sunset evening.

Day 30: Silva Bay to Otter Cove

Slept in a bit today to 8:00 which felt great. The Marina office and bookstore opens at 9 as well as the fuel dock so an easy morning. Wanted to buy a book recommended by Carol and Gail entitled The Curve of Time. An authentic British Columbia marine wilderness chronicle.

The cruise to Otter Bay was smooth and with the tide and we had no problem securing a slip here, our third time visiting another favorite. We love this place because of the natural landscaped setting and the wonderful adult pool! Brought our books and iced tea and just melted out with the 80 degree temps and such a warm pool . Finally took a dip and Donna pretty much wouldn’t get out. Felt so good to just take some down time and do anything.

The weather is finally holding well however it was strange to hear thunder as we come into this bay. We remember Alyssa’s warnings as a lifeguard to get out of the water if lightening is anywhere nearby. But luckily the clouds passed us by and we spent another very warm day here today. Tomorrow we enter back into the US at Roche Harbor, so have to eat some key items, namely citrus, tomatoes and potatoes not allowed through customs. We also hope to get some prawns there which are usually always available most of the year.

Day 29: Secret Cove to Silva Bay (Page’s Resort and Marina)

Silva Bay from restaurant.
Silva Bay from restaurant.

Awoke early to a very peaceful and windless cove and got underway at a little after 6am, with our usual “beat the Georgia” routine. Need to take advantage of calm weather when crossing the Georgia Strait. Today’s weather and seas were exceptionally calm and flat all the way to Silva Bay, about a nearly four hour cruise at a reasonable speed of 8 knots. This was our last potentially worrisome crossing for our trip and we are so relieved to have escaped Georgia’s temper tantrums yet again!

Silva Bay is another favorite of ours a beautiful respite from the stress and weather of the strait. We decided to try a different Marina this time and take advantage of a reciprocal yacht club slip if available. Lucky us, it was so the moorage is free. Paige’s Resort and Marina is a quiet alternative to the busy Silva Bay docks and right next door. The grounds are beautiful with an apple orchard, cabins, and grassy tent/RV area.

It had been awhile so we did our laundry spending a lazy midday back an forth between the laundry room and the boat, reading, catching up on e:Mail, and a call to Dad. We dangerously postponed lunch until after 2 so went on a walk through the woods to Silva Bay Pub and Cafe. Our walks this trip have turned into multi mile exercises and this started out feeling the same. But we found our way and in no time were sitting under an umbrella table overlooking the sunny bay enjoying a wine, Margarita and good food. The walk back went fast and took a breather in the hot afternoon on the boat watching sea planes land, taxi, and take off next to our moorage – exciting.

Happy hour occurs every evening around 5pm and usually includes a Manhatten/wine and a game or two – especially if Donna is winning. Rummikub (our current favorite), Sequence, Backgammon, Cribbage, Scrabble, Yachatzy, Spite and Malice or even Uno are our games of preference. As we mentioned in an earlier post we also tend to meet people who are curious about our boat. Two women visited us this evening who are cruising on a RangerTug 25. They were wonderful to talk to and we look forward to meeting them again at the RangerTug rendezvous in Roche Harbor this September. Carol and Gail (she is 81 years old!) are adventurers and have done a lot in a short time of cruising. We shared some short stories and experiences as well as some great reading material both technical and novel. It was a pleasurable exchange. They left early the next morning before we could follow up with contact information.

Took Chaiya on his almost nightly dinghy cruise around the harbor to the surprise of onlookers. He looks and acts like a dog on the bow of the boat and is very interested in the boats and sights along the way. Pretty funny to see I’m sure.

Nearing the end of the Planet Earth series for our bedtime tradition this trip. An amazing celebration of nature.

Day 28: Pender Harbour to Secret Cove

Woke up to a cool morning with signs of rain coming our way. Decided to try breakfast at the John Henry’s Marina Cafe as Donna wanted to purchase a couple of bottles of local wine sellable only after every 9am. The food was wonderfully prepared and fresh – highly recommend it. Bill went back the boat to prep for the dreaded sewer pump replacement. After prepping the area around the pump for the worst and having all tools in hand Bill decided to operate now rather than after pumping out at the municipal dock. Miraculously the replacement went as planned with the surgical nurses help and minimal cussing! Cleaned up and as good as new. Saving the old pump in hopes of an easy unclogging and repair for a back up. Time to cast off to pump and rinse the holding tank as well as test the new macerator pump. Hopefully this will be the only repair we need during this trip. What a relief. Onward.

With a late start luckily it’s a very short cruise to Secret Cove just south along the Sunshine Coast of mainland British Columbia. Small islands dot the coast line here offering some protection from the Georgia Strait. Sun came out and cleared the clouds in time for our entrance to the narrow cove. We decided to anchor rather than stay at the Secret Cove Marina – a favorite of ours. Found anchorage at the north end. Moved a little further south after a boat left to allow more swinging room between boats.

The restaurant here is fabulous and quite upscale but we enjoy the ambiance and of course the food very much. Unfortunately we failed to realize it was Saturday night when we dropped in at 6pm. Also noticed the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club is in port. No reservations and earliest time was 8:30 – past our bedtime. We made a reservation but cancelled after getting pizza to bake from the Marina market and headed back to our anchorage. Ended up glad we ate in as the evening and sunset were beautiful on our chain.

Day 27: Princess Louisa Inlet to Pender Harbour

Leaving this place is always bittersweet. While our water and food supply would have allowed several more days at this stunning anchorage our two night stay was ideal. Coming in with rain and seeing seasonal waterfalls bloom later in the day to low moody clouds and fog of black and white photos to a nearly cloudless sunny day. We saw it all and are thankful. Slack tide was around 8am so no rush to clean up and secure everything – mostly done the night before. A number of boats left between 7 and 7:30 to get to Malibu Rapids at the slack flood to ebb tide but we waited for another 45 minutes to insure we would catch some ebb tide and help from Mother Nature going outbound. The slow cruise from Chatterbox Falls to the rapids revealed high snow fielded mountain scenery hidden by clouds when we arrived. Beautiful departure.

Now for the long cruise through several reaches, past Egmont and out to the Georgia Strait. While the large mountain scenery continues the journey seems long probably due to a let down from the excitement of the past few days. Time for something new for us – Pender Harbour. Not on our original float plan but a place to check out as Kenmore Air provides daily float plane service from Seattle. Might be a pick-up and drop off port for our kids to join us someday.

We decided to try Henry’s Resort and Marina as it seemed central, quiet, and offered walking distance to a pub for dinner. Fueled up and secured dock space for the evening. It was hot and very humid though breezy. Decided to take long dingy ride to the municipal docks to shop at a grocery store and try to find a macerator to replace the non functional unit on the boat – a critical part if we want to use the toilet up here as pump out stations are few and far between.

There are many coves, docks, and marinas in Pender Harbor and while a chart is helpful the terrain makes it somewhat challenging to be confident you have found the right place. We managed to find the dinghy dock on the first attempt and took a short walk to the IGA and liquor store. Nice selection, especially produce, so re-provisioned our now meager stores. Also found the critical pump but paid dearly for the must have part.

Happy hour inevitably draws the curious to our boat with questions and conversation; we are a uniquely designed boat which can be good and bad…This evening was no different and we met a very nice and interesting couple who were chartering a Cutwater, a sister boat to our RangerTug by Fluid Motion, Ltd. After exchanging some experiences with our boats and contact information we ended up having dinner together at the local pub on the water (cannot recommend it though).