Tom and Valerie's "Windsong" P19 #352: San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands, August 1998

Old NWP Website's picture

Valerie and I just returned yesterday from a 6-day, 121 mile adventure aboard our P19, Windsong #352. This is the short version of the story. (it's still long - sorry)

Beautiful sunshine accompanied our launch from Coronet Bay near Deception Pass between Fidalgo and Whidbey Island, Washington. There was a boiling ebb running through the pass which gave us a wild ride out into the Rosario Straits. We crossed the 6 mile wide strait and entered the San Juans through Lopez pass. Great wind from behind as we sail up Lopez Sound. Fought alot of current and slop from passing ferries and stink pots around the north end of Lopez island, and had to take turns bailing out the water from centerboard slurpage with a large sponge. Headed to a favorite overnight spot at Turn Island, but all the state provided moorings (this is a state Marine Park) were in use, and the holding ground is not good (we tried to set the hook for half an hour with no luck). Gave up anchoring and pulled into Deer Harbor, Orcas Island and tied up to the dock for the night. Dollar per foot for moorage!

Just as we sat down to eat dinner at the cockpit table, the fella on the next boat comes over an offers us fresh Dungeness Crabs - already cleaned and cooked just minutes before! What a nice addition to our little feast. Slept well - that new V berth board I added makes that a fine place for the two of us to sleep.

Crossed Boundary Pass into Canada next morning, clear customs, and stop to fish. I catch a rock cod, and before I can fillet it, Valerie catches 5 more! A pair of Bald Eagles swept down from their Saturna Island lookout trees to snatch up the first two carcasses I tossed overboard. On to Winter Cove that afternoon for oystering, walking on the beach, sunbathing, etc. This anchorage is one of the most well protected, quiet, relatively little-used anchorages I know of...please don't tell anyone about it!

We haul the portable BBQ to shore for a fine evening meal of fresh oysters, cod, and veggies from our garden at home. Great night - only one anchor check, as holding ground is good, and there is no worrisome currents to bother about. Next morning, we go gunkholing around some of the little used back channels between the smaller islands in the vacinity before chugging up to Montague Harbour, Galiano Island, BC. Rode the old red "pub bus" to the hummingbird pub for refreshment and a fine meal in the evening. Moorage at the little marina here is $10 (that's six-fifty canadian, folks - cheap!). Topped up our water and fuel tanks before bed.

The following day, I slipped out of the harbor while Valerie slept in and cruised through some little passages I have avoided on previous trips to this area on big charter boats (Catalina 34's, Seacraft 24's, etc.) due to the relative shallowness. No problem for Windsong with that shallow draft! Headed back south and were escorted by a small group of about 7 Dahl's porpoises across the border to US waters. Nice overnight stay at Reid Harbor Marine Park, Stuart Island. Val digs steamer clams with her hands, and an old shell to accompany that evenings T-bones. Once again it seems we are the smallest vessel in the harbor. An otter entertains us all afternoon, playing and diving near the shore.

Side trip the next day to Nature Conservency owned/managed Yellow Island. Anchor offshore, and paddle our kayak into the delightfull little cove where the caretakers cabin is. No one home, or anywhere on the island for that matter. Lots of seals laying on the beach, some with their young beside them. We see a number of seals munching on salmon in the passes between the islands, gulls hovering around waiting for the scraps. Some great sailing off East Sound, Orcas Is. - 5 knots on a beam reach, with Mount Baker towering over Obstruction Pass, our heading for the afternoon. The last night we anchored off Doe Bay Resort - a sort of a left over hippie-colony-turned-resort-for-the-unconventional. As Valerie are something less than conventional, we delight in the laid back atmosphere of Doe Bay. Took advantage of the 'clothing optional' mineral water-fed hot tubs, beach, and saunas.

Uncomfortable night aboard, as a light southerly sprang up causing Windsong to roll a bit. Each roll brought the inevitable slurp of a tablespoon or more of water aboard through the centerboard trunk. We bailed several gallons out at 2am, and more at 6. Little sleep. Dense fog in the morning greeted us, but we had taken compass bearings for our intended heading across the Rosario Strait the previous evening, so it didn't stop us. We took it slow, and occasionally stopped the outboard to listen for ships (there is alot of shipping traffic in there - tugs with tows, oil tankers, etc. plus recreational boaters). Motor acted up (Tired from over 100 miles I guess), so we altered our course for Cap Sante Marina on Fidalgo island in order to save hours of upwind sailing, or unreliable motoring to get to our planned pull-out location. Fast sail into the marina under jib, and sputtering outboard.

Took a cab to get our truck/trailer, then hauled Windsong out using the sling launch at Cap Sante. This was a bit challenging as it was necessary to take the mast down to use the sling, and they wouldn't let us do it right next to the dock where the sling is located, but told us to do several hundred yards away at the guest dock. We can't steer with the mast down, as the mast crutch uses the gudgeons where the rudder goes (Arrrrrgggghh!!). Ended up tying the mast half-assedly on deck, and then motoring (sputtering) to the sling. All in a narrow marina with strong cross winds. A second set of gudgeons would have been handy then! Now we're home putting Aloe on our sunburns and wishing the house would stop rocking. One of our best sailing trips ever!

Tom & Valerie
P19 #352 Windsong

(This content was imported from the old 2003 NW Potters website.)