So, the trip turned out mostly not as planned, but was still fun.
We got to bed early (11pm) on Saturday night and up at 7am next morning. The girls went for groceries and by the time they had returned (10am), Walker (second trip with us) and I had gotten a bunch of our projects done, including a much-needed remeasuring and relabeling of an anchor rode whose depths markers had faded to illegibility. We transferred some stuff to the car to make room on the boat, and then were ready to go.
That's when things started to go wrong. We stopped for gas on the way out of the marina and, newb that I am, I forgot to open the vent on the portable tank. So, just as we were passing the customs dock, the motor sputtered and died. I opened the valve and put in about two seconds of effort to get it started again, but it wouldn't even turn over. Sigh. What momentum we had left was used to steer us over to the customs dock and tie up there. As I was checking the wiring, the customs guys decided now would be a good time to show up and inspect the boat. After they left I noticed that indeed I am a newb for I had left the motor in forward gear while trying to start. Ah, stress.
Anyway, we made such a late start that we decided to overnight on Sucia. We had a great tailwind -- about 25 knots and plenty of whitecaps -- on the way down, great enough that during one big roll, the tiller arm snapped off where it mounts to the rudder post. Walker got the spare attached while I practiced steering with the mainsheet.
We got to Sucia in about three hours and moored in Echo Bay. It was spectacular -- we had the whole bay to ourselves. It was relaxing to circle around all the mooring buoys under sail and take our pick. Dinner was followed by shanties and sleep. We ran the kero heater on and off, and most of us were feeling quite toasty.
Next morning we had lunch on a bluff overlooking the bay, with no vessel besides ours in sight. It was like being in the Caribbean! With the trees blocking most of the wind, it was arguably warm. We slipped our mooring lines and departed the bay around 1pm. Another windy day -- I would say that the 5-15 knot forecast cited above was an underestimate -- and we slowly beat back to the north. It took ridiculously long to get back. We weren't pointing well, and I hadn't bothered to check the current tables I had brought along. We ended up sailing thirty-six miles over eight or so hours of pretty constant pounding. Somewhere along the way my nervous system decided that I was warm, which was great, if a little scary.
Anyway I had a great time. It was Walker's second time sailing, and he's a fast learner. By the end of the day he was doing all the deck work. We were all cold and exhausted, but grinning big stupid grins. It was just the sort of trip we needed
Thanks for all your input, folks. I still plan to try for Friday Harbor again some time, though I'm glad we didn't go all the way this weekend. I agree that it was rough conditions for inexperienced sailors, but both of our guests had been with us in such conditions before. Also I think everybody around here appreciates that, if you're unwilling to sail in such conditions, you only get half a season of sailing. Not to say that we're not looking forward to summer, of course