Thursday, September 10, 2009

Langley, Poulsbo Gig Harbor, and Home to Olympia

Sep 7... We motor sail into southerly winds all the way home. Lots of friends to meet us and it is great to see all of our wonderful Swantown community again. What a great group of people! It's been a wonderful and a bit of an exciting trip, and we are truely richer for it. I'm bushed.

Sep 6... After birthday dinner at Shari's favorite Mexican restaurant in Gig Harbor, we celebrate with some pinot gris and cake.
Sep 6... Happy Birthday Shari! Breakfast and hugs in bed.

Sep 5... We are delayed leaving the docks at Poulsbo due to 25 knot winds and the narrow exit from the marina. We finally get off with a lot of precautionary help from new friends on the dock. We had planned to fill our fuel tanks in Poulsbo, but, with the wind so strong, and the fuel dock in a tight spot, we decide to purchase fuel another day.
We end up motor-sailing to help make progress into these strong southerly winds. As we approach the west end of Blake Island, our motor suddenly quits. Wonderful. Shari continues to sail the boat while I go through the familiar routine of troubleshooting the engine. Of course, the problem turned out to be a fuel inake venting air into the line. We were healing over so much that the 50 remaining gallons in the tank we were operating off of, shifted over in the fuel tank far enough to allow air to be sucked into the fuel line... Diesels don't like that. I bled the system of air in about 5 minutes (I'm getting really good at this) and switched to the fuller tank and we had no more problems.
We anchor in Gig Harbor and relax.

Sep 3-5... We moor at Poulsbo Yacht Club reciprical dock. Great facilities and just a few blocks from cute nordic town.

Sep 1-3... We motor out of Swinomish Channel and go to Langley on Whidbey Island. Another beautiful, friendly, artsy town.


A Near Disaster At La Conner!

Pearl at rest at the city dock in La Conner. (Looking south)

Aug 30... We departed Pelican Beach in fog making judicious use of pilotage, radar, gps, and marine radio to pick our way through islands and into Swinomish Channel, a river-like channel that separates Fidalgo Island from the mainland. The fog broke just as we entered the north end of the channel and arrived in the artsy town of La Conner an hour later, and after a little waiting, managed a spot at a city dock right downtown (anchoring is not an option in this narrow channel and the currents can be swift as the tides ebb and flood). We enjoyed the art, bookstores, eateries, and did a whole lot of laundry.

Aug 31... After enjoying our last day here, we settled in to make dinner in the galley. I noticed the current was flowing fairly strong out of the south but we were secure on the linear dock with the boat facing south into the current. As we were preparing dinner below, Salty suddenly goes totally berserk on deck, running back and forth and barking at something in the water. As we came up to see what all the commotion was about, I jokingly quipped to Salty, "What is it Lassie?". Then I say what had captured his dedicated interest. A humongous root ball was floating down our starboard side northbound. Then I saw what was attached to that mass of tangled roots. This floating monstrosity of a log was over 100 feet long and flowing right along our hull. I quickly grabbed a pole and try to shove it away from our home, as if that was really going to move it. The current had complete control of this obstacle and all I could do was watch as it cleared our boat and managed a slight bend in the channel without hitting any of the many pleasure boats moored along the channel. Once we could see it was no longer a danger to any one, we could smell dinner burning on the stove top and ran below to manage a busy galley and hungry children.
After reading the "Chronicles of Narnia" to the children and tucking them into their berths, I did my nightly checking over the boat's systems, lines, halyards, hatches, and any other items that can become an nuisance during a good night's sleep on a boat. Tucked into our aft stateroom berth, we both settled in with a good book for the night.
That's when I heard the strange lapping of water against the hull near the transom. I crawled out onto deck in my underwear with a flashlight to see that the current has now reversed, and was now flowing at over 2 knots from the north and causing a notable ripple against the back of our boat. I double checked the lines for strain and made sure the rudder was centered before heading below to warm up from the exposure. I crawled back into bed and we read for another 20 minutes. We were both ready to turn out the light when our world experienced a force that shook us to our very keel, and made a deep resonating crashing sound that we will never forget. I don't remember this, but Shari says I yelled out "It's baaaaack" as I ran outside to see what I already knew had just happened.
The log could not have hit in a worse place. The pointed end had threaded past the motor boat behind us, rammed our nearly vertical transom, scraped along to our port side and promptly wedged itself ten feet in between Pearl and the dock. I looked out into the moonlit channel and could see the giant root ball, 100 feet away, attached to this log, and to my disbelief, it was still moving, being pushed down stream by the strong current. I immediately realized that a gigantic lever arm had just been wedged between us and the dock, and, very soon, something was going to have to give. I screamed to Shari to turn on the deck lights, turn on the engine master, and start the engine. We had to leave the dock now or one of three things were going to happen. 1. The force of the log prying us out into the channel would pull out the dock cleat (it looked more like the dock was going to come apart) and we would be forced down channel out of control with a giant log steering us at it's will and many obstacles in our path, or 2. Our dock lines break with the same result, or 3. The log rides under the rear hull, breaks off the rudder and creates a large hole where the rudder post had passed through the hull (if your not a boater, holes are bad, think Titanic).
Shari has the engine running in a heartbeat as I struggled to untie the bow line. Suddenly I looked up to see that option 3 was quickly becoming the most likely scenario. The bow was sitting unnaturally low in the water as I could see the rear end of our 25 ton boat being lifted like a toy as the log begins to ride under the transom. The strain on the lines was incredible and was making a sickening creaking noise that can only come prior to a sudden, huge release of energy. My time was running out as I released the spring lines, and my hero Shari released the final aft line from the boat cleat with a loud pop. The boat immediately swung out 30 degrees from the dock, I jumped on board to swing the rudder clear as the log broke loose from the dock and pirouetted around the transom of our boat. The root ball came near the far shore of the channel as it swung out into the lead heading south and the rest of the log cleared us down our starboard side. Some how we never drifted far from the dock and we were able to throw lines to the crew of the motor vessel that had been moored immediately behind us and had come out when they heard me screaming like a little girl. Amazingly, Shari was able to retrieve the tail of the aft line that she had popped loose to free us, and this really helped to pull us back into the dock since the strong current was working against us.
After getting the boat secure at the dock again, we started to assess the boat and check for leaks, holes, rudder damage, frayed lines, etc. All I can say is that I love thick solid fiberglass boats. We showed one small scratch on the transom (from the initial impact), and a small scuff on the paint of the rudder. Not even any stress cracks in the gel coat. It would have been totally different story if we hadn't been able to get loose from the dock so quickly. The log had been on the verge of hitting our rudder and the weight of our home didn't seem be stopping it.
We spent most of our night in thankful prayer rather than restful sleep. The next morning we asked Sydney and Annie if all the commotion the night before had scared them. Neither one of them had even woke up during the whole ordeal. I guess we've been working them too hard.


Sucia Island, Cypress Island

Aug 29... We did manage to wear out Salty for once.
Aug 29... We sail to Pelican Beach on Cypress Island and hike to the top of Eagle Cliff. What a great view of the San Juan Islands. Our girls legs have gotten soooo much stronger since we started this trip- they are real troopers.
Aug 26-29 We split with our friends on Cygnet for the final time as they begin their trip south and homeward bound. We spend 2 quiet nights at Echo Bay on Sucia Island and hiked and beached at Ewing Cove.


Patos Island

Aug 25... Bliss
Aug 25... We enjoy another perfect sunset as Sam goes for an evening row.

Aug 25... Orcas swam right past our anchorage this afternoon. Our friends on Cygnet joined us along with "two bouy" Bamboo.
Aug 24... Hot dog and marshmallow night was a big hit. Shortly after this picture was taken, we saw a group of kayakers and a large rowing skiff arrive from Orcas Island. It was an entire family that came out to camp. Most impressively, it was their mother that rowed the dinghy the whole way with most of the supplies on board while everyone else glided along in their sleek kayaks. She was a total stud and a total hoot to visit with. Great people.
Aug 24... Patos is one of our favorite of the San Juan Islands with good beaches, tide pools, hiking, and history. A wonderful semi-non-fiction book called "A Light On The Island" was written by the lighthouse keeper's daughter about their life and adventures on Patos in the early 20th century.
Aug 24... We anchor and stern tie in small Active Cove on Patos.


Back into U.S., Roche Harbor, Stuart Island

Aug 24... Before we leave Prevost Harbor, we have a hearty pancake breakfast and catch shrimp and nudibranch off the docks with the kids' nets. Today we split up with Cygnet for a day so they can drop off Leslie in Friday Harbor. We sail on to Patos Island.
Aug 23... Future lighthouse keepers.
Aug 23... She still puts up with me.
Aug 23... Salty found a way down the cliff to go for a refreshing swim while the girls did a treasure hunt.
Aug 23... A great panaramic view looking N-NW across the border into the Canadian Gulf Islands.
Aug 23... The girls rest after reaching Turn Point Lighthouse.
Aug 23... Pearl and Cygnet crews near "Lover's Leap". Mark and his cousin Leslie on the right.
Aug 21-22... We clear customs in Roche Harbor and anchor there for 2 nights. The crew of Cygnet joined us to go see "Shakespeare Under the Stars"... "As You Wish", performed by Island Stage Left outdoors on a stage in a forested setting. These guys are the real deal- an incredible performance that we all loved, including the kids and our dog!
Aug 23... We soon tired of the mega-yachts and cadillac dinghies buzzing all around us so Cygnet and Pearl left for Prevost Harbor on Stuart Island. To our surprise, the park dock was open so we both promptly tied up and left on a 6 mile round trip hike to Turn Point Lighthouse. We made our usual stop at the old school house and went through the library and small museum, looked through the self serve treasure chest of t-shirts and hats, and watched Salty do his imitation of a tasmanian devil in the field.


Montague and Ganges

Aug 20-21... We decide to pay for a spot at the marina for the night to get a good charge on the batteries, enjoy the pool and hot tub, get rid of some garbage, and let Salty make friends. This swan was very protective of it's two cygnets nearby, and Salty met his match.
Aug 20... Pearl with sails spread wing on wing on wing for the down wind run.
Aug 20... Cygnet, (with Mark, Sam and Leslie) showing us what a 9 foot extentable keel can do for you on a close reach.

Aug 20... We all end up dinghying to the bakery boat for goodies and coffee. While we are there the wind switched direction and pipes up over 15 knots. When we dinghy back to our boats, we notice Mark has thrown out his anchor to keep us from drifting into some other boats. Apparently our anchor lost hold when we spun around and pulled the opposite direction and didn't set properly. Since we were planning to leave that morning anyway, we decide to pull up anchors and sail over to Ganges. In a heartbeat, our anchors were up, we untied from each other, and sails were set.
Aug 19... The crew of Cygnet left us a message in our cockpit (no pen or paper handy). We raft up our boats and mix up some "Mast Climbers".
Aug 18-19... We motor-sailed to Montague and took the old school bus up to the Hummingbird Pub for dinner. The next day we hang out on the white midden shell beaches and upon our return to Pearl, we find that he have visitors.


Wallace Island

Aug 17... Annie and Sydney are becoming very useful crew members.
Aug 17... Of course, since we had a loss of one family member(Tabor), and the addition of another (Salty), we had to edit our previous edition.
Aug 17... We have to stop by the old resort lounge to check on the memento that we left last year.
Aug 17... Shari adds to her painting journal with a little help.
Aug 17... Salty decided to swim to close-by islets to do some exploring.

Aug 17... Hiked to Chiver's Pass. Had picnic on the rocks, visited with kayakers.

Aug 16... Princess Cove always has spectacular sunsets.

Aug 16... The beaches here are great for exploring, with lots of tide pools and sea life.

Aug 16... We crossed the Straits of Georgia with 20-25 knots of wind and had a great sail, however the beam seas had some of the crew feeling nauseous for a short time, but they shook it off and enjoyed the ride. We sailed through Gabriola Pass and on to our favorite Gulf Island, Wallace Island, where we stern tied in Princess Cove.


South to Thornaby Islands

Aug 15... Salty found some new playmates. He slept very well that night.
Aug 15... The kids were in heaven.
Aug 15... Buccaneer Bay had the best beaches we experienced on the whole trip. Lots of sand, a shallow beach, warm water, and dogs off leash everywhere. Just our kinda place.
Aug 15... Promptly upon arriving in Buccaneer Bay, the dinghy broke free from its' stern line and started to blow away while we were trying to anchor. Time for a swim.
Aug 15... We have a great spinnaker run south out of Desolation Sound, down Malispina Strait, all the way to the Thornaby Islands, and into Buccaneer Bay. Note the home made dog-pirate flag... Our tribute to Tabor who died in December.


Desolation Sound

Aug 11... We spent the evening dinghy sailing and kayaking. Nice figurehead on the bow.
Aug 11... Another fun day exploring.
There are no sandy beaches here, but the water is relatively warm.
Salty guides us to Laura Cove... a perfect place for swimming, rope swing, and exploring.
Aug 14... Exploring Prideaux Haven. The narrow entrance is directly behind us.
Aug 13... Pearl anchored and stern tied in Melanie Cove at Prideaux Haven