Next stop on our first adventure to the San Juan Islands was Reid Harbor. When looking at how to exit Roche and head towards Stuart Island just north of us where Reid Harbor was located, we noted there were two exit points from Roche. In looking at the charts, and chatting with others, we were advised that really the route was to take the West side of Pearl Island as it was wider and deeper. So after pumping out at the dock, topping off our water tanks, and grabbing a six pack of beer from the store we took off to our next destination.
We headed through the narrow passage past the island and then I paused while Keith went down below to double check the charts and I scoped out the area looking for navigational markers. When we looked at the chart we knew there were several dangerous areas to cross in a sailboat, with a draft of nearly 7 and a half feet, places where a small powerboat might be able to cross, so just following what others were doing would quickly get us in trouble. In addition, we were hand navigating because our tablet required internet (that wasn’t available) and we haven’t upgraded our onboard navigation yet. So we pulled out the binoculars and started searching for the buoys – one green over red and one all green. Once we spotted these we were able to determine we had plenty of room to play around and we unfurled the sails for some light air sailing.
Looking around we saw friends aboard the powerboat Rebecca Rose off in the distance and headed off that direction but as we were making no more than 3 knots and they were chugging along at 5 or so, they left us in the dust fairly quickly. After a bit we tacked over and started to watch for the entrance to the harbor and the small islands on the right side of the entrance. We had Loren on the bow with binoculars looking around, partially to keep him entertained but also to spot for logs in the water. We kept seeing very large ones (half the length of a telephone pole) floating around and didn’t want to encounter one directly. As we passed by the entrance to scope it out, we were excited to see fellow member Steve coming out of John’s Pass. He had headed out earlier then everyone from Roche to enjoy some sailing and it was a fun to be syncing up with him once more as we headed into the harbor entrance. Once within we could see that there was one primary float off to the side and several mooring balls that were available. The majority of the other club members were on the free float but there were a few folks who had grabbed mooring balls as well. Keith and I opted to do that since the dock was full.
Putting Resa on a mooring is 1000 times easier than the Spindrift was with a lower freeboard and more ability to back straight with a fin keel vs a full keel, plus no dolphin striker to get in the way…it was seriously easy and helped me appreciate the boat even more. Once on the mooring we quickly threw the kayak overboard and Loren was off again exploring the area, the beach and visiting with the other members from the club. Keith and I meanwhile made some lunch and were soon joined by Steve who offered a ride over to shore to pay our overnight fee. I went off to shore to do that while Keith straightened up the boat. Once the necessities were done we headed back and hung out in the cockpit in the warm sun and enjoyed a beer chatting and sharing stories. We had decided to go for a hike on the island, with Steve and fellow member Bill, to check out the islands schoolhouse which we were advised was really interesting. So around 4 when the heat of the day had died down a bit we headed back to shore, picking up Bill and collecting Loren from the float and set off into the woods for a short mile or so trek up the island.
The walk was pretty straight forward, navigating the trail and steps over to a county road on the island that went straight to the schoolhouse. Loren was absolutely fascinated with all the old cars parked near the beach at the end of the road, likely used by locals to get supplies from boats to homes as there are no services on the island at all. When nearly to the school, we found a swing that Loren enjoyed and refused to leave, so we continued our trek to the school house while he remained to swing. Once we arrived at the schoolhouse we found that the school is now actually shuttered, there are no more school age children on the island. We did enjoy perusing the library, which was open for anyone to check out books and also the one room schoolhouse that was setup with a bunch of historical displays of the island, the families that grew up there, the teachers in the past who had taught there, etc. It was a fascinating display and reminded us how rugged and challenging it would have been to be an early explorer of the area and even more so a female during that time. Most women had families of 5 or 6 children, and spent all their time providing for their families from dawn to dusk. We purchased a history of Stuart Island book from the library, affording us more opportunity to read about the island when time allowed and then we headed back to the boat. After the lengthy trek we all decided that calling it an early night was the best course of action so we said goodnight to Bill at and our taxi driver Steve and I whipped up some food for dinner before crawling into bed with my new book to read.
In the middle of the night, the wind came up and we had to pop on deck to tie down a few flapping lines, and halyards but otherwise it was a quiet night. In the morning, with a free spot on the float we dropped our mooring line and headed over to say goodbye to the crew from the club. They were going to continue on to Deer Harbor and then Friday Harbor before they headed back to PA while we were heading home to get Loren back to school and me back to work after a short hiatus. Plus, we’d left Mason in charge of Elliot back at the home front and we knew there was a limit to how long they would hold out.
After saying our goodbyes – we headed out about 10AM in the morning knowing we were going up against a small tide but still making good time, averaging between 5-6knots while we headed back towards Discovery Island. With little wind we were relegated to motoring along until we passed the island and cleared the primary shipping lane. The wind came up just enough where Keith and I determined a little light air sailing (and a reprieve from the noise of the engine) would be enjoyable. So we sailed along at bout 3-4knots and I read aloud from the books we had purchased on our trip, one about Stuart Island and one about the San Juan Islands. I read through the history of Roche Harbor and we enjoyed the sun, the light air and the escape from reality. Soon the wind, as Keith had anticipated, turned off completely and we furled the jib and motored the remaining way home pulling into our slip at 5PM. Wrapping up a fun three days and our first excursion on Resa.
Our PAYC Commodore Chris knew our departure and grabbed some fun footage of us taking off on our maiden voyage aboard Resa. And yes, that stupid white bumper drives me crazy in this footage, it's the only white one and I didn't see it even though I knew it was there. Grrrr. :). On the fun side, the folks on the big yacht on the fuel dock were trying to figure out why there was a drone buzzing around us during our departure, looking at us then the drone and back. Probably wondering if we were somebody worthy of following. Little did they know we just had an awesome Commodore who cared enough to come down at the crack of dawn to capture the footage.
This past week we took off on our first adventure on Resa. It's a culmination of a plan we've been working on for the last few years. First part was to move away from land locked Colorado so that our sailing options opened up, next we needed to sell the Spindrift 43 as she didn’t meet the needs of our family anymore, last we needed to buy a boat up here and start sailing this area that so many have touted as the best cruising grounds. We finally made it and I don’t know what positive karma we scored but somehow we ended up traveling during the most beautiful weather days we've had in six months. The weather was equal to what we see during the late summer. As we headed away from shore and looked back on the snowy peaks of the Olympics it reminded me how fortunate we were with our weather window.
We motored across about half way to Victoria and then the breeze filled in so Keith and I unfurled the sails and turned off the engine for our first offshore sail in the boat. The wind was blowing about 10-12 knots and the water was flat with little chop, Resa flew towards Victoria at a modest 7 knots. I was comfortable sitting on the rail and driving as she sliced through the waves effortlessly. The wind built to 18-20 and she continued to charge on without any more effort and continued to handle the challenge beautifully. Keith meanwhile was running around the deck, adjusting the stays, adjusting the running backstays, adjusting the hydraulic backstays….so many opportunities to tweak and tune…but me I was in sailing bliss. We were getting headed away from our lay line but we didn’t really care because the wind and the weather was just too pleasant to pass up.
Soon we got close enough to shore to see the skyscrapers of Victoria and determined we needed to tack over towards Discovery Island. The tack was smooth and we continued on until we reach Discovery Pass where we turned on the engine and tootled our way through the channel that spit us out into Haro Straight and the shipping lane that we needed to carefully cross to get to San Juan Island. We easily tucked in behind one tanker and then noticed another off to Starboard just coming around Discovery Island. Noticing it was bearing down on us at nearly 3 times our speed we opted for a direct line across the straight to get out of their path and then trudged our way up the West side of the island to Mosquito pass which was a fun little straight made up of day markers and channel markers. I understand that at times, if the tide is running against you it can be quite impossible to get through the channel. This time, we had a ½ knot current on our nose, not much to worry about. About halfway through Keith managed to drop his shoe in the water and amazingly they floated so we took the opportunity to go through a man overboard drill – with Loren spotting, me driving and Keith retrieving.
Soon we rounded the final bend and looked upon Roche Harbor where friends from the Port Angeles Yacht Club were standing by with a slip and many hands to help tie Resa off to her very first destination. Loren quickly got the kayak off the boat and was off exploring the marina and the nearby beach creating many shaved sticks which he planned to catch fish with. We took off to register and explore the area guided by Randy who showed us what a quiet Roche looked like and tried to help us envision the Disneyland type mayhem that summertime brings. Our evening wrapped up with a lovely gathering of friends from the yacht club for happy hour and a home cooked meal from Kurt and Donna….yum!
The next day we walked over to the sculpture park which incorporated 19 acres of outdoor sculptures set in amongst grassy expanses, wooded pathways and a pond. It was peaceful and we enjoyed the meandering, the poetry and the amazing artwork. Loren spent a good deal of time in the kids area with Steve (his surrogate Grandpa for the trip) shaping his own artwork. On our way back through town we stopped off at the store and grabbed a few items we’d forgotten (like sunblock) before heading back to the boat to start packing for our next destination, Reid Harbor.
I'm the wife of the captain, a mother of three boys and a PM in the corporate world. This blog is my view of life and activities related to our boat.