Monday, February 15, 2010

Three day sail, high winds, no kids

While our boys are away with the grandparents for the week, Amy and I jumped at the chance to go on a trip. It turned out that Friday also had high SE winds and that determined our sail plan for us pretty well. We had toyed with the options of going to Victoria or Port Townsend or up into the Gulf Islands. All good choices. Turned out that Friday had 30 knot winds from the SE and so heading out Cattle Pass wasn't going to be much fun and so we headed north, with the wind.

It was fantastic. We put out a handkerchief of genoa and still did hull speed of 6.5 knots downwind all the way to Prevost Harbor on Stuart Island. Around Spieden Island things got pretty choppy as the waves reached 2-3 feet and gusts were reported to hit 33 knots. Aeolus handles that stuff gracefully and Amy did all the steering in the beautiful conditions.

We tucked into Prevost and had a great evening, even running into some friends from San Juan Island who had been blown into Reid Harbor by the storm instead of making it elsewhere.

The next day, though the winds were still high, we decided to head down to Jones Island for the heck of it and to open up our options for Sunday. We ended up motoring the whole way because the wind was on the nose and we weren't feeling the need to tack our way there. Jones is always a highlight, and we hiked around the windward side and were dazzled by our solitude and the exquisite views. Jones has not been logged in any real way and so it is a rare glimpse of an intact island forest. And the pocket beaches on the east side are just incredible.

The wind howled that night, hitting near 40 knots, but we were snug as bugs.

To top this trip off, Sunday dawned calm and so we fulfilled Amy's biggest wish of heading over to Doe Bay on the east side of Orcas. The trip there from Jones takes you through the heart of the San Juans, and through the Wasp Islands. Paradise. We hadn't been on our way for long when we were approached by an RCMP boat with an American Coastie aboard. They came aboard to do their safety inspection and we learned that the joint operations are due to the Olympics. They were very friendly and all was well. Curiously, they don't check a single thing that a true sailor would know to check when it comes to a boat's safety, but instead focus on some very cursory things. I'm glad they check for environmental things like oil discharge.

Anyway, that took 30 minutes, and we were on our way. Doe Bay was heavenly. Being fully exposed to the south meant that we could only anchor there in calm conditions, and that is what we had. It was a magical day of drifting low clouds and calm seas. We anchored out, rowed to shore, and hopped into the hot tubs and sauna. My gosh, is that the best thing for a NW body! We soaked up heat for 90 minutes and got that deep warm glow that feels so good here in winter. A nice lunch capped off our stay and we were on our way.

It is two hours straight from Doe Bay to Friday Harbor doing 6 knots. We had to motor the whole way as the wind was nowhere to be found.

Everything about this three day trip was fantastic. We had high winds and great sailing, great hiking on wonderful trails and a luxurious soak and meal at Doe Bay. We missed our boys, but it was nice to have the ease and fun of just being together too.

Thank you Aeolus!

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