Gratitude Sailing || San Juan Trip

Dates:  August 18,19,20,21,22)

Crew:  Miranda, Sach, Blake, Diane (nurse), Lamson

Passengers: Rich Gladden (spinal disease), Moe Gladden (MS), Jerry Lee (Cancer), Donna Lee (anxiety), Britney (niece, depression).


Sailing schedule:

  • Friday, August 18th, at 9:30 AM we departed Shilshole heading to Port Townsend, expected to be about a 6 hour trip. Winds light from SW 3-5 knots, current ebbing 2.3 knots. As we entered Admiralty Channel, winds picked up slightly to 6 knots, wind also starting to shift towards a N and eventually from the NW. Sailed on slight beam reach for about an hour. With Marowstone Island in sight we spotted a few porpoises for about 15 minutes. We averaged about 6.5 knots the whole trip to Port Townsend, arriving about 2:30 PM, as the tide was begging to flood. We made way through a very narrow and shallow marina channel (1.8 to 3.1 fathoms), to our starboard docking location, and moored for the night. Crew in good spirits, some staying on the boat, and about half heading up to catch a electric classic cab to a restaurant and the ladies did some shopping. Great meal at a well known Seafood Restaurant over looking the bay. Went to bed around 10 PM. Early start on Sat. morning, planning on leaving at 7 AM with a favorable tide and to make safe out of the shallowing marina channel.
  • Saturday, August 19th, left marina bound for Friday Harbor at 7:30. Winds very light (2-3 knots), and current ebbing helping us make way. About 30 minutes out we noticed in the distance larger waves appearing to come down from the NW. Using charts and our GPS at the helm, we decided to cross between Partridge Bank to starboard, and Eastern Bank to our port. We made way at about 7 knots or better with the eb tide until about an hour out and then we encountered rapidly building waves and swells. Predictions from US Coast Guard, com and Navionics had been only 1-3 foot waves and 4-5 foot swells at 8 to 10 second intervals. Alerted everyone to make sure their life vests were on securely and to start moving items in the cabin that needed more securing. In less than 15 minutes we were in large 10-12 foot swells and waves estimated at between 6 to 8 feet heading to us from the NW, and a flood tide now beginning. Making sure to impact the waves and swells at 45 degrees or slightly less we battled the seas for almost 2 hours until reaching far calmer water and less winds. At this point we passed Heim Bank to our port heading to deeper water safely and quickly. Two people suffered some sea sickness but recovered quickly once we reached Middle  Channel past Cattle Point. Entering San Juan Channel we encounter a large array of dislodged fishing nets and missing them thanks to an alert crew by about a 1/4 mile. Captain Lamson congratulated the crew and passengers for maintaining a good mindset and not panicking as we battled the seas a few hours back. We headed into to Friday Harbor, all in good spirits, and looking for a good moorage location in a very crowed harbor. After about an hour delay settling at a break water dock temporarily, we were guided to the Friday Harbor Marina and moored on a starboard tie on J-18 for the night. Crew welcomed the opportunity to take showers, use the bathrooms and of course do some shopping and touring the cute little town of Friday Harbor. We also had the holding tank pumped out, filled the water tanks, and tidied up the boat. Steak & seafood dinner was prepared by Miranda, Donna, Moe and griller Sach. Again, I congratulated the crew on working as a team and being calm through the 2-hour ordeal crossing San Jaun Straits. A few of us played a fun game of poker to top off the evening. Our aim was to leave Friday Harbor right about 10 AM Sunday morning bound for Sucia Island.
  • Sunday August 20th, left Friday Harbor at 10:10 out San Juan Channel and up President Channel with a slight ebb and winds from the NW at only about 3 knots. We also saw porpoise and possibly a whale passing Waldren Island to our port on the NE side of Orcas Island. We noticed a building sea-haze or fog building so we ran up the radar and overplayed it on our GPS chart at the helm. It worked very well, allowing us clear view or any obstacles. As we sighted Sucia making very good time we noticed many whale watching boats heading towards the east side of Sucia. We got excited and soon came along side a 130+ foot two masted schooner with whale watches aboard as well. As we began to enter the small channel to Echo Bay we saw several whales to our port and heading in for a closer view making sure the depths were good for our 7.5 foot keel. We viewed these huge animals for about 45 minutes before heading in to a very calm Echo Bay, and we were gifted a wonderful anchoring buoy about a 1/4 mile from shore with over 25 feet of depth. We deployed the new inflatable tender dingy, with it’s 9 HP engine and headed to shore with two aboard to test the waters so to speak. Throughout the afternoon two thirds of the crew went ashore, some hiking the trails to Fossel Bay and some just relaxing on the beach meeting new friends. Coming back from the hike we noticed the tide coming in rapidly and moved the dingy farther up the shore even though it was tied securely to a large log. Everyone in great spirits, they enjoyed Sucia’s views and beauty very much. Tonight our cooks prepared breaded rock fish, salad, rice, and fruit with much to munch on before hand. We hailed our cooks and enjoyed a fabulous meal together. The night air was cooler than past nights with clear skies, but not uncomfortable. Some of the passengers and crew played some more poker and then we all retired around 11 PM. Our plan was to rise around 9 AM and head out down Rosario Straits around 10 AM.
  • Monday, August 21, heading out of Sucia and Echo Bay at earlier than planned (10 AM) greeted by calm seas and hardly any wind. We had a nice 3 knot ebb to ride all the way past Lawrence Point, staying well clear of charted rocks. We also saw a few whale and many porpoises on our way to Burrows Island and Green Point eventually to Flounder’s Point and into a cute little harbor with a tricky shallow entrance. We moored at their fuel dock for about an hour, taking fuel and water and letting the women head up to town for some provisions. We had a great lunch of freshly prepared pasta salad, fish, and sandwiches. From our chart and tide/current predictions book and Navionics, US Coast Guard, we noticed that Deception Pass would slack around 4:30 PM, so we took our time heading down to Deception Pass, whale watched, ate again, snacking and eventually at 4:20 we headed through Deception Pass with a favorable 2 knot current. This was a fun experience for our passengers on our way to Qak Harbor. We set sail with light winds at first from the NW and then switching to the SW about an hour. Winds picked up to about 15 knots as we sailed down Skagit Bay and then into Saratoga Passage with Oak Harbor in view about 4 miles in. As we entered Oak Harbor, luckily at a modest high tide we navigated the marina entrance very carefully staying in the deepest water we could using our chart, GPS and our depth sounder. We moored, again on a starboard tie for the night, the passengers and crew were treated to delivered pizza of great quality, as well as fresh green salad and fruit, almond clusters and apple sauce. We headed to bed around 10 PM with a pretty tired crew and passengers after almost 10 hours on the water. Our plan was to rise about 6 AM and make passage by 7:15 before the large ebb began. This was our biggest concern with the shallow marina channel heading around Forbes Point and into Saratoga Passage.
  • Tuesday, August 22, headed out of Oak Harbor at 7:15 with the beginning ebb and careful made way out the two mile shallow channel. We then headed down Saratoga Passage, with Camano Island to port and Whidbey Island to our starboard. We had wonderfully weather, light seas, and a calm breeze from the N to NW. We sighted more propose and possibly one whale on our way past Everett and then Edmonds. We made way to our home destination at Shilshole well ahead of time, arriving at 1 PM, and docked the boat on A Dock, Bill Buchan’s slip. We all celebrated our 5-day cruise, and began cleaning up the boat, refitting the dingy under the boom temporally, and called in for a last holding tank pump out. In summation, it was a wonderful 5 days with beautiful weather and although we shared one challenging crossing of the San Juan Straits, we proved that teamwork and a positive attitude can mean a lot.