Pender, Saturna, and Tumbo Islands

Pender Island Bridge

It’s Saturday, the day-after the 4th of July. One of the heaviest tourist days in the San Juan Islands. Andy’s boat, Gladness, and my boat, Solace, are the only ones at the government dock on Saturna Island. I woke up this morning to the squawk of a heron and water as placid as a pond. As I sipped my morning coffee, a pontoon plane landed and dropped off three people at the end of the dock. This seems to be the most popular form of…

Summer Sailstice

I’m pointed north with two sheets to the wind. The breeze this morning is coming from the southeast and I’m on a downwind run heading northeast from Watmough Bay on Lopez Island, to Eagle Harbor on Cypress Island. It’s Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. As I write this I’ve got my Genoa jib up trying to grab as much of this 10 mph wind as possible. I’m averaging 4-5 mph and haven’t had to tack once in the last 10 miles. I’m…

Orca-gasm!

In a word, this past weekend was an Orca-gasm. I saw more whales than I’ve ever seen in my life, combined. Staying mostly to the east side of the San Juan Islands, it’s rare for me to see even one whale. This weekend, it seemed like I couldn’t get away from them. The weather over Memorial Day weekend was rainy and there was work to do at the office. I postponed a three-day vacation and worked on Memorial Day. As compensation, I took Monday off…

Mary Leach Natural Area, Sinclair Island

“Wait a minute… you guys! There is a piece of public land on Sinclair Island that I read about. Apparently there was a lady who donated her land to the public before she died. Let’s go find it!” …That’s how our little expedition got underway. My friends Andy and Izak will be joining me on my 250 mile sail to Texada Island in September. They will each have their own boats and our small regatta plans to storm Canada together. This weekend we rendezvoused at…

Blind Bay, Shaw Island

Blue Camas and Yellow Death-Camas

It took three hours to reach Blind Bay, motoring the whole way from Skyline in Anacortes. I had calm weather and a significant flood tide helping me. Entering Thatcher Pass on a flood tide or leaving the islands through it on a ebb tide works great. Try that with the opposite tide, and it can turn into a nasty piece of water. All the passes are like that though, but Thatcher is probably the worst because of all the traffic. The sheer rock walls rebroadcast…

Making It Mine

Making_It_Mine

A boat is just a boat. It only becomes your boat when you put your energy into it; when you take it apart, inspect it’s components and put it back together. Until that point it’s just so much fiberglass, wood, and steel. I find that I harbor a trepidation against all new components that I add to the boat until I’ve taken them apart and rebuilt them. Until that time, I always half-expect it to blow up and misbehave when I turn my back or…

Making Blackberry Wine

Blackberry wine is not only incredibly inexpensive to make, it’s fun, makes a great gift, and is an excellent product to barter with. The recipe below makes a tasty wine and is very hard to mess up. Every September I pick as many blackberries as I can, put them in ziplock baggies, and throw them in the freezer for a rainy day. This winter, rainy days were not as prevalent than in the past, so it wasn’t until last month that I got around to…

Circumnavigating Lopez Island

Circumnavigating Lopez Island

Last weekend found me with perfect weather and nothing better to do than circumnavigate Lopez Island. Along the way I met Alan of ArtOfHookie.org, ran aground, hit a log, lost my hat overboard, rescued a lost dog, and had a great time. Friday Winds were forecast on Friday at 12 mph from the southwest and a slack tide. I have a healthy scepticism this time of year that the weather will behave anything like the forecasts. This turned out to be an excellent example of…

Spring in the San Juan Islands

As I sat down on the ferry, I looked out the window. Over the space of five seconds, I saw five unique species of bird. Cormorants perched atop the pilings, scanning the water below for an easy meal to swim by. Ever-present pigeons and seagulls lazily flying along the shore. A large, beautiful merganser, a migratory sea bird that will soon head back north. And finally, another black and white migratory waterfowl that I can’t identify yet. On the walk down to the ferry, I…

Mating on Cypress Island

Moored in Eagle Harbor

As I headed across the opening of the harbor, I was rewarded with the sight of a bald eagle gliding low over the water with a fish clasped in its talons. A couple seagulls were screaming bloody murder, which meant they thought the eagle stole it from them somehow. Shortly after pulling the dingy up to the beach, I crouched down to reset my GPS. At the familiar chirp of a bald eagle, I looked up to see three eagles flying in my directions –…

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