Our course for the week.
Okay, we’re back from our first “real” cruise. We’ve done overnighters, but this was our first full-week cruise on a chartered sailboat. We had an Islander 28 for a week in the San Juan Islands from San Juan Cruising
in Bellingham, WA.
First and foremost, we can do it all, on our own, with no big problems. We used all we learned in the ASA classes, and more (anchoring, mooring balls, fuel dock, managing the head and provisions, navigating with chart plotter and paper charts, checking on the diesel, etc.).
Additionally, our kids did great. Our nine year-old son fished almost every day, and our seven year-old daughter became increasingly relaxed throughout the trip. We worked hard on not “overdoing it,” and we succeeded.
The trip went so well that we’re already planning next year’s trip. We hope to reserve the same boat for two weeks, but visit Victoria, Canada, for three nights, and then one or more of the Canadian Gulf Islands before checking back in to the US. We looked over a Crealock 34 as a possible alternative boat, but it didn’t seem worth the extra $$$ given that we fared just fine on the Islander 28 with the two kids.
As for the Islander 28, it sailed beautifully. We could balance the boat perfectly when sailing, and let go of the tiller for brief periods with no problems. The main was perfectly manageable, and the roller furling on the 130 genny worked fine. We liked the open interior and fold-up table in the cabin. In fact, my wife has a crush on Islanders now.
Pictures from the trip are available here:
(There are 75 images in the gallery, so feel free to feel bored.)
Vamanos, our chartered Islander 28, during provisioning.
Drive five hours to Bellingham, WA. Check out boat. Spend 30 minutes getting the oil dipstick back into block via blind angle. Provision boat. Sleep on boat at marina for the first night.
Sail and motor (50/50) from Bellingham Bay to Echo Bay, on Sucia Island. First time with a dinghy off the back. First time setting an overnight anchor on our own in a crowded harbor. First time using a dinghy back and forth to shore, etc. The boat did great with some sizable swells going to Sucia. Even our seven-year-old daughter got used to it. Hiked to Fossil Bay and Shallow Bay. BBQ’ed ground turkey burgers in Magma on stern pulpit rail.
Stayed in Echo Bay, but moved to an open mooring buoy. Used advice from charter company to put a full loop of the mooring line around the mooring loop, to prevent chafing through. Hiked to Shallow Bay, snorkeled and swam. Lost Teva and spent an hour finding it at China Rock. BBQ’ed chicken on Magma.
Sailed/Motored (30/70) from Sucia to Stuart Island. Encountered serious current (5.7 knots on knotmeter, but 1.5 knots speed over ground) near rocks. Encountered real “rip” action with breaking swells. Boat and kids did great, and we learned that the course plotter projected our actual course adjusting for current. From that, in one case, we aimed right at some rocks in order to avoid some down-current rocks. Depth finder on boat only works at zero knots, so the chart plotter was essential. Navigated past three reefs going into Prevost Bay with no problem, and got a mooring buoy. Hiked to Reid Harbor for fun. BBQ’ed hot dogs.
Stayed at Prevost Harbor. Hiked 2.5 miles across island to Turn Point Lighthouse for some great views of Gulf Island (Canada). Stopped at one-room schoolhouse, bought tee-shirts and cards to support school. Son fished on Charles Point and caught/released two copper rockfish.
Sailed/Motored (40/60) from Stuart Island to Rosario Resort Marina on Orcas Island. Most complicated navigation of the week to reach and pass through Harney Channel. Some excellent sailing. Toured mansion at Rosario, ate out for both lunch and dinner. Kids swam in pool while I washed, re-iced and cleaned boat at slip.
Sailed/Motored (40/60) from Rosario to Chuckanut Bay. Best sailing of trip crossing Rosario Strait. Dropped anchor in north Chuckanut Bay, but strong winds came up and really tossed us around. (Probably should have dropped hook in south end of Bay, since winds were from south.) Stayed aboard and relaxed on our last night.
Sailed/Motored (60/40) from Chuckanut Bay to Bellingham Bay to return sailboat by noon. Only cloudy day. Good sailing on broad reach. Worst part of trip: visiting the fuel dock. There were around two dozed chartered boats returning the same morning, and all were required to refuel on return at fuel dock. Pain in the neck for 5 gallons of diesel (all we used for the entire week). Tired after tidying up boat and unpacking all gear. Drive back to Portland took 7 hours because of Friday-afternoon traffic.
On the hook for lunch at Obstruction Pass State Park.