Strait of Juan de Puka PTSD - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 7 Old 06-30-2019 Thread Starter
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Strait of Juan de Puka PTSD

The last time I had to hit the strait we were taking delivery of our sailboat (5/2018) Anacortes to Seattle. The seas were 4 to 6 feet and I felt like all we did was surf up and down and the like. The delivery captain was like, "this is pretty normal here."

We spent the rest of that summer cruising around the central/south Puget Sound. And now we're heading north again. Hubby really has his heart set on going to the San Juans and I'm happy to go as well; but, I have some nerves about the Strait of Juan de Fuca and what would be the best route from here (Port Townsend) to there...

What's everyone's thoughts/advice on this. How would you go? When would you go? We were thinking of leaving on the 4th from here (pending projects go well). Weather looks pleasant enough, but...I feel like we're missing something (and hubby says that's my PTSD from last time when things were just a 'bit rough.'

We're in a Bayfield 36 sailboat.
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post #2 of 7 Old 06-30-2019
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Re: Strait of Juan de Puka PTSD

It can also be glass. In that event it's not a long trip. Quite variable. I motored across in dead calm a few years ago and a couple of hour previous, a buddy shredded his jib in gusty winds. If you are a little flexible on the weather window, you might get a calm period. Having said that, the forecast for the next few days is not real calm (W 15-25 on the Fourth).

Your only other real option is to go all the way down around Whidbey Island and up through Deception Pass. That is a beautiful trip if you can time the current right (sounds like you have been there in the past). It would add quite a bit of time for you though. Might be worth taking a look at the current tables. Cornet Bay just inside (before) the Pass is a pretty stop.
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post #3 of 7 Old 07-01-2019
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Re: Strait of Juan de Puka PTSD

If you go the Deception Pass route, the "gotcha" is that you may have to anchor and wait for near-slack water if you don't time it right.
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post #4 of 7 Old 07-01-2019
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Re: Strait of Juan de Puka PTSD

Is Swinomish Channel a viable option?

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post #5 of 7 Old 07-02-2019
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Re: Strait of Juan de Puka PTSD

I'm a believer in patches or Meclezine. And I will never, ever party like it's 1999 with beer and pizza the night before Swiftsure again. Ever. (shudder)

"When I have your wounded." -- Major Charles L. Kelly, callsign "Dustoff", refusing to acknowledge that an L.Z. was too hot, moments before being killed by a single shot, July 1st, 1964.

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post #6 of 7 Old 07-02-2019
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Re: Strait of Juan de Puka PTSD

Originally Posted by jephotog View Post
Is Swinomish Channel a viable option?
No direct experience, but it looks problematic from the chart. 7' dredged depth, 100' wide, 20 nm long. Means you will spend a lot longer in a space where tidal effects can be extreme, as compared to Deception Pass. Have to make sure that you are not below MLLW, as it would be pretty tight with the OP's 5' draft.

Navigating the Swinomish Channel - Port of Skagit
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post #7 of 7 Old 07-03-2019
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Re: Strait of Juan de Puka PTSD

SJF is and can be a mother of a crossing, or like a day or two ago, someone I know posted flat water as glassy as a cascade mountain lake! Been across with little to no wind, flat to rollers left from the night befores gail winds. Stop in PT, go across in the morning, you will usually find calmer winds. Later in the day to evening, the winds can pick up, as can the waves.
Other options do include the inside passage of whidbey. Just remember, from about Oak Harbor to the southern end, the tide is opposite of just about everything else. Ebb runs north to south, flood south to north from Mulketio to Oak Harbor.
Swinomish is not that bad either. Mid to low to mid tide, the water typically runs north to south, Mid to high to mid, the water runs south to north.
Real draft issues are the south part where you run east to west. Only aea I have had issues with my 5.5' draft, is just west of IIRC Goat Island, first island going in, just west an area can build up. There are a few other issues up to just after the curve going north. If in a minus tide range, beware, if positive, not as big a deal. As most I know with a keel of any depth, running aground per say, is not uncommon. If you go outside the channel, all bets are really off!
Deception pass.....not that big a deal, assuming you are going with the tide. If not, you can be going against an upwards of 8 knot current. Need to plan accordingly.
The channel from Oak Harbor north to deception is opposite of the south part. Flows towards deception in Ebb, and flows towards Oak Harbor during flood.
Also, remember going up to PT, you can get upwards of 4 knots of current by Bush Point on west whidbey. Plan trip accordingly, or as my wife said going south once, knot meter showed 7+ knots of boat speed, as we sat next to a house on whidey for close to an hour, fighting a 4+ know current, surfing southward in 20 knots of wind, 3-4' steep MF'ing waves.......doing maybe 1-2 knots over ground!
Gone all ways, really none are a big deal with some planning and knowledge.


She drives me boat,
I drives me dinghy!

Last edited by blt2ski; 07-03-2019 at 01:24 AM.
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