The weather in the PNW was gorgeous for a change with temps in the mid 70's and winds from the North at 10-15 so two of my Sons and one of their friends just back from fishing in Alaska and my self decided to sail my Venture 21 from Anacortes to Friday Harbor on San Juan and back Saturday. We launched with a flood tide at about 10AM and motored out a mile or so to find wind. We sailed along at 4-4.5 knots across the Guemes Channel in leisure mode to the right turn into the always challenging Rosario Strait.
The wind came up and we blasted along with the tide and against the wind into 2-4 foot chop mixed with 4-6 foot breakers. With the speedo reading a peak of 7.4, we pounded through the waves at 30 degrees of heel while doing our best powerboat imitation. I didn't think you could fly a sailboat but I swear we left the water a few times jumping and pounding across some of the bigger waves. It was a wet and fun ride with the sails getting wet halfway up but the boat, and crew, handled it fine. It was fun to see the looks on some of the other sailor's faces as we blew by them with all sails up while they were only flying their jibs. Finally, the sleigh ride ended and we turned into Thatcher Pass and glassy water.
We motored through this and over the top of Lopez, below Shaw and into the San Juan Channel where the winds came back. So, here I am, sailing along on a Starboard tack, running 5.8 knots while listening to the tunes and enjoying life when my Son points back behind us. I look back to see 400' and 3,000 tons of Washington ferry just 200' off my Port quarter at 15 knots. Hollering "Crash Tack!" I put the helm hard a starboard and scooted away from the beast. Amazingly, the ferry wakes aren't bad at all. The tugs however, are a different story. So after the encounter, we sailed proudly straight into the entrance to Friday Harbor, dropped sails, contacted the Harbormaster for a slip and motored in to tie off at 4PM at which time I noticed that my wallet had once again left my pocket and apparently, left the boat this time. Luckily, Christopher bought me Lunch.
After eating and walking around in the sunshine in this gorgeous little tourist trap called Friday Harbor, we launched again, motored to the fuel dock where the lady put up the CLOSED sign while we were 50' off the dock. Thankfully, she let us fuel anyway. My little outboard has no gears, it starts in forward so you have to spin it around to do reverse. So, I started out in forward only to have the boat glue itself to the dock as we tried to get away which prompted a quick spin to pull us off while looking STUPID in the process. No harm, no foul, we motored out, raised sail and left the harbor only to find NO WIND. We found wind in the place where it was glassy before and did some nice sailing to the strait.
On reaching the Rosario Strait, we again found no wind and had to motor towards home with big rollers on the beam and later on the quarter. About an hour after sunset we caught good air once more as we approached Thatcher Pass and were off. With everyone on the rail and once again heeled to 25 - 30 degrees we were running along at 6.0 knots steady and surfing to a max of 8.4 down one of these rollers. We were running right at the speed of the waves so when we'd surf, we'd stay on the face of the wave for up to a minute at a a time. I was in the corner trimming while Christopher was driving. He did very well in some challenging conditions. Picture this, four peeps on the rail with the sails still full up, heeled at 25 - 35 downwind with following, quartering seas at night while surfing. It was OUTSTANDING!!!!
We exited the Pass in full dark into no wind, fired up the OB and headed across the Guemes Channel for the ramp via GPS. Of course, the OB ran outta gas and filling the tank in rollers at night was fun but so what. The boys got their first taste of phosphorescence and were playing footsies with the water coming up the keel cable hole. I was amazed at how well I could see out there. Along about 10PM we got within 100' of the black hole the GPS said was our destination, fired up the searchlight and lo and behold, there was the unlighted ramp. Simply amazing. We dropped sails, in the cold light of an LED flashlight and motored in.
We tied off, hopped on the dock and promptly started shivering with cold. Actually, I think it was adrenaline letdown since it was only 58*. Of course, we HAD to go and the honey buckets were far away and invisible in the dark so we added to the Sound and were amazed at the globes of phosphorescence that chased our streams around. You can just imagine, one 51 y/o and three 20-21 y/os at the end of the dock in the middle of the night laughing their collective tails off. Of course, the adventure wasn't quite done. The trailor lights went out while I was backing down and I couldn't see the back of the trailer. To make a long story short, I managed to drop the left front wheel off the ramp and ground the frame. I had it in 4X4 already because the ramp is algae covered but she wouldn't hook, just spun all four. The boys jumped in the bed and I managed to jump her back up on the ramp while throwing saltwater and sand all over everything. We recovered the boat and went home finally, exhausted to the core.
Here it is Tuesday and we're all STILL amped over the trip. This was the friends first sail and he is SO hooked now. Now my daughters are all clamoring to go for a sail like this because all the boys talked about at the after party was this trip. I guess I'll be doing this again SOON!!