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Discussion Starter #1
We're planning an overnight sail to Friday Harbor this weekend, so I was hoping to hear some folks' experiences in the area.

Basically I'm proposing approximately three plans that the crew and I can decide on while we're under way, given the conditions. The reason I'm leaving it up in the air is the forecast: supposed to be north winds for two days, which is great for getting down there from Point Roberts, but sucky on the way back.

Plan A: overnight in Friday Harbor. Pros: electricity, plus a new town to check out. Cons: could be 12+ hours return trip, which means sailing in the dark part way.

Plan B: lots of good anchorages along the way. We could spend the night on the hook in the lee of Jones or Waldron Island. Pros: knock as much as 10 nm and thus possibly 3 hrs off the return trip (beating the whole way don't forget); anchoring practice would be nice. Cons: potentially can't spent much time ashore; no electricity.

Plan C: Sucia/Patos/Matia. In principle we could spend the night there, but it would be almost as easy to just head back to PR for the night and return or go to a different island on day 2. Pros: close to home; familiar with the area; more time to spend on shore. Cons: wife and I have been there already (guests have not).

I've also looked at Roche and Deer Harbors but they don't seem any closer than Friday.

So those are the options. Our guests are fairly newbly but they have been out with us before. Forecast again is for N (sometimes NE, sometimes NW) winds around 20 kt on Monday; currently looking for clear skies but near-freezing temps. Heading northbound late Monday morning also calls for fighting the ebb in the Channel.

I'd appreciate any pointers from mariners familiar with Waldron or Jones Island, or the San Juan Channel in general, especially around this time of year.

Thanks in advance! Will update the forum upon our safe return.
 

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Hmmmm.. some thoughts...

You're leaving from Point Roberts in a Catalina 27, right?

Do you have a heater?

Do you have a heater that doesn't require you to be plugged into shore power?

I think that you'll need heat either way. You are going to be cold and miserable hanging off the hook otherwise...

If you don't have a heater that you can run while you are on the hook, then I think you need to head to a marina...

That leaves..

Friday Harbor
Fisherman's Bay on Lopez
Roche Harbor
Deer Harbor
Bellingham
Anacortes
Blakely Island

Friday Harbor is an interesting town, with the Whale Museum and a movie theater.

Anacortes has a movie theater and restaurants

Bellingham does too, but it's a long walk from the guest moorage

I think Jones Island is a mistake, since the main anchorage is exposed to the north.

If I was going to choose a town in this kind of weather, I'd go for Friday Harbor, frankly..

Let me think some more... I'm planning a trip this week also.

David
 

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Discussion Starter #3
We have a ceramic heater for on-the-dock use and a Force 10 kerosene for off-grid use. Frankly I'm not too impressed by the heat put out by the Force 10; this is exactly the main concern I had regarding overnighting on one of the islands.

As for Jones Island, I was going to use the bay on the southern side. How's the anchoring there? Supposedly there are mooring balls, but I've noticed that such things often disappear in the winter.

I wasn't considering Anacortes, Lopez, or Bellingham, being even farther than Friday Harbor.

Anyway I totally agree about the heat. I guess we'll see if the Force 10 provides satisfactory heat on the way out in the morning, and partly base our decision on that.

Thanks for the advice!
 

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the pointy end is the bow
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I don't see many cruising types anchoring off Waldron Island because the Island is private as far as rowing ashore. Jones Island is a popular stopping point with mooring bouys on the south and north side, depending on the direction of the weather. The float in the north bay is currently out, at least as of two days ago, and won't be in until April I think.

Sucia Island is a great stopping point. We like Shallow Bay on the west side, but only if we can get a stern tie either a sharp left or sharp right as you enter the bay. Otherwise you roll all night from tide rip induced waves.

Friday Harbor is a great destination. There is the whale museum to check out and some reasonably priced pubs/restaurants. We took the ferry there as foot passengers when my brother and sister-in-law were visiting from Las Vegas. The bathroom/shower facilities have always been kept up too when we've been there.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Good info about the mooring ball in Jones. I would guess that means the buoys are out from the southern bay as well.

We've been to Shallow Bay -- moored right in the middle -- and didn't have much problems with rolling. Patos Island was much worse. This time around I'm thinking Fossil Bay will shelter against the N winds better.

Okay I still think Bellingham is too far :) Sounds like Friday Harbor is the best bet... we'll just have to leave early on Monday :)
 

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If it was me... I don't think I would take new sailors in conditions like this for that far of a trip...

PZZ133-151730-
NORTHERN INLAND WATERS INCLUDING THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS-
900 AM PST SUN FEB 15 2009

...SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR WINDS IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS EVENING...

TODAY...N WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. HIGHEST WIND AND WAVES SAN JUANS NORTHWARD.

TONIGHT...N WIND 15 TO 25 KT...EASING AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT...SUBSIDING. HIGHEST WIND AND WAVES SAN JUANS NORTHWARD.

MON...N WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS.

MON NIGHT...N WIND 5 TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS.

TUE...LIGHT WIND. WIND WAVES LESS THAN 1 FT.

WED THROUGH THU...NE WIND 5 TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS.

Others will disagree, but I would hate to sour them on cruising with a trip that is likely to be uncomfortable.

Can you put it off until tomorrow?

Sorry to be a stick in the mud.

Just my input.

David
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
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 :)

 

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the pointy end is the bow
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I've been meaning to get up to Sucia in the winter time but just haven't done it yet. As a retired attitude adjuster on this forum would say "good on ya!"
 

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Adam,

Glad you had a good time. I wanted to get out, but never did. Monday the winds were higher here in the Edmonds area too, got some 15-25 knot winds when 10-15 was forecast!

marty
 

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Adam:

I'm glad you had a good trip... Sucia is beautiful. Never seen it so empty.

David
 

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David,

Where are you posting from? An LT somewhere, or home? I did not see Kyrie in here slip 2 1/2 hrs ago or there abouts!

marty
 

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Good show, Adam! Nice picture too. Well done.
 

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Courtney the Dancer
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Sounds like you had a good trip despite the problems, good job. The current was ebbing hard most of the day Sunday, must have been a long trip home. We were in FH Saturday, then up past Jones and into West Sound Sunday. There looked to be two mooring buoys on the south side of Jones, didn't get around to the north side. We had N 20-25 knots Sat. and Sunday morning there was light snow and N 10-15k, but it got stronger as the day went on. Winter is a great time to visit all the places we avoid during summer, there was actually room to spare on the guest float at Friday and I think there was only one other boat anchored in all of West Sound. We tucked up behind Victim Island, had planned to anchor at Skull Is. but the wind was too strong there.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
We had a light dusting of snow as well around noon on Monday. Didn't last long. I'd love to get deeper into the San Juans and explore some of those places... with that information about the buoys, Jones Island sounds like a great stopover in either N or S winds. Maybe in a couple of weekends (after I get a new spare tiller!).
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Jrd - interesting to hear about wind at Skull Is. I would have thought Orcas would have provided great protection form N winds. Is there some kind of funnel effect in the sound there?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
p.s. It should be noted also that the trip would not have been as enjoyable as it was without the wife, who did much of the helming and all of the cooking, ensuring that everybody was well-fed and hydrated. I have this unfortunate tendency not to eat, and crankiness is the inevitable early symptom of the onset of starvation-induced insanity. Victuals are the bedrock of morale and good seamanship :)
 
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