This past weekend we took a trip to Stuart Island in the San Juan Islands. This is our second time to the island as we stopped over two years back as part of a hop around with the yacht club. We decided to try Prevost Harbor since previously we had stayed at Reid. We were watching the weather window, both for Port Angeles and the crossing at the strait as well as the weather up in the islands. It looked like we might get a small weather window, especially if we managed to get through the strait on Friday so I took an extra day off work and we left on Friday with the tide, fully expecting to deal with high winds and gusts - there was a small craft advisory in effect.
We put one reef in the main and only unfurled a small jib. We had 18-20 knots or so in PA Harbor and under one reef in the main it was pretty comfortable, rounding the entrance buoy and heading across the strait it remained pretty comfortable for about another half hour and then as we got about ¼ of the way across we were really riding the rail and the weather helm was making the boat hard to handle with water coming across the bow and at times into the cockpit with the swell. We decided to add another reef in the main and that made a significant difference. The wind was a consistent 25 with gusts and with the swell it was pretty exhilarating! As we exited the strait of San Juan de Fuca and entered into Haro Strait the seas flattened but the wind held. We maintained the same tack riding right along the edge of the shipping lane and then cracking off to go right by the Q tower marking the reef in the strait and held course all the way up and past the lighthouse at Turn Point. A quick gybe and the wind shut down at the north end of the island so we turned the engine on and , dropped sails and headed into Prevost Harbor, a first for us.
On the way over we determined that our depth sounder that had been hit and miss for a while was a total fail so we took a cautious slow approach into the new anchorage. Just in front of us was a small 30 ft sailboat and we followed behind them for a bit before they headed off to a small anchorage on the Port side entrance of the channel and we headed further down the main channel. We took it slow and scoped it out and I was very very grateful we did. Turns out the other boat took a left turn too soon and hit the rock outcropping. Keith saw them come to a halt and then they threw it in reverse and got out of there pretty quickly. We on the other hand happened to find a free mooring and decided to grab it. Especially after watching the other sailboat hit bottom and knowing that we drafted twice what they did.
So mooring is always interesting. Depending on the type of mooring, some you can pull the loop through the middle and up to your deck to loop your line through. Others are more stationary and you need to get your line down to the hook. On Steadfast, these were very annoying and I would find myself hanging off the dolphin striker on the bow to reach it. The ones in Prevost were stationary. Generally it’s not an issue as we always seem to have an extra body and a kayak or dinghy so we tend to throw someone overboard and have them sit right next to the mooring while we hand down the line. It should be simple. It would be simple if the person in the kayak was an adult and the person on the bow was an adult but communication between teens and adults (at least in our household) is lacking. Maybe it’s hormones. You say go left and they go right. Simple directions like “loop that through twice” are met with half a job and an argument. Needless to say, we prevailed and settled in for the night.
A fascinating lesson learned this time out, the person who cooks and prepares meals (and that is me!) should be the person who shops and stocks the boat. Right now I’m putting in very long work days and that leaves very little time to do much of anything let alone prep for a trip so what I tried this time, given the fact we had a weather window to make, was put together my meal prep and shopping list….but I didn’t finish it and it was only listing out items to purchase not items that needed to get pulled from home. So Keith went shopping and grabbed everything I asked for then took it all down to the boat and got her loaded on Thursday afternoon. I didn’t get down to the boat until Friday morning and started to organize what we had and became a little worried, noticing a few gaps of items I would normally pack. When I tried to actually make something after we had settled in on the mooring it became evident that we had serious gaps. For example, I had planned sandwiches on our arrival. We had yummy focaccia bread, cheese, sprouts, tomatoes but no condiments. Those were still home in the fridge. Also, that was the only bread we had packed where generally I would always pack a full loaf of wheat bread and also tortillas which I can make cheese sandwiches or burritos out of. Belly filling fuel food for growing teen boys which goes with the beans and soup I always keep stocked on the boat. So lesson learned, if I cannot do the provisioning end to end on my own then I need to make my shopping list and I have to make an additional packing list to ensure we get everything we need.
Tucked in as far as we were it was very well protected, I slept soundly, from sunset to morning’s first light. The next morning we kicked the teens off the boat to kayak and use the SUP around the anchorage. They got a dozen yards from the boat then sat there for an hour yapping. I didn’t argue, it meant I could sip my coffee in quiet bliss watching boats come and go through the anchorage. Keith and I waved the kids back and then took off just the two of us to check out the reef that the other sailboat hit, which was fully exposed, several feet above the water line at low tide. I again was very glad that we were ultra cautious and went for the main channel. In the distance we also saw S/V Sonata from our home dock in PA and we paddled over to chat with them for a bit. They have a great deal of experience in the area and it is always fun chatting with them. Keith and I headed back to our boat for a quick lunch and then a hike out to the lighthouse.
We were not sure how far the hike was out to the point. We heard some conflicting reports about exactly how long but knew it was several hours and we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time. Getting to shore was fun as we had left the dinghy at home and just brought the kayak and the SUP so we doubled up on these and headed to shore where we put them on the high ground and locked them together with our lifejackets and paddles and headed off into the woods. We motivated the boys with enticements of swinging on the swing near the school which Loren had enjoyed the last time we were on the island. Unfortunately, as we approached there was a large family enjoying the swing and we didn’t want to share any COVID germs so we kept on trekking and advised the boys we would check on the way back. After several miles of meandering down “county road” we made it to the lighthouse and enjoyed the beautiful view. As expected everything was shut up tight but they provided a pamphlet and walking tour to describe the buildings and their use. We hung out for a bit on the lawn and enjoyed a snack and water (and rested our weary legs) before heading back down the road towards ‘home’. The boys took off and left us in the dust, to the point where we were a little nervous that we didn’t see them even in the distance but I trusted their motivations...the swing...and indeed found them there. Elliot was sitting on the side of the road trying to recover his stomach as he had spun himself silly. We collected the boys, finished the trek, including the 127 steps back up towards the campground...and yes, we counted them! We gathered the boats and paddled back to Resa for a quick meal, a short game of cards and bed as we knew we had an early start the next morning to catch the tide.
Sunday we were up at dawn and off the mooring around 6am eager to catch the favorable tide home. It was very cool and there was a slight breeze so we hoisted the main, namely for stability, turned on the autohelm and motored on back through Haro Strait. The boys stayed below in the warmth and played cards, while Keith and traded watches ensuring we stayed clear of shipping traffic which was out and about so early. We set our course to cut around Discovery Island and back home towards Port Angeles ahead of the weather change coming in the next day. We had gone a few miles past the island when in the distance we saw a boat heading towards us, and as it got closer we saw lights on it. The Canadian border patrol stopped us for a chat about the fact that the Canada border was closed. We knew this, but it had totally slipped our mind when we set our course to head home and crossed from US to Canadian waters. They were very kind and admitted that normally they don’t worry about boats “cutting the corner” but with restrictions in place they were being very tight. We provided our details and they called them in and then sent us on our way. A few hours later we pulled into Port Angeles Harbor where the local US Customs & Border Protection boat paced us from the entrance to the harbor to the marina entrance ensuring we tucked in where we were supposed to no doubt. A fun story to share with our dock neighbors about our quick trip to the island.
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.