Crabbing with Family

Happy Dance

My nephew does the happy dance in front of my parents boat.

After years of cheerleading and encouragement directed at my parents to get a four-season boat so that they could join me on adventures, they finally got one. No-one in my family but me has any sailing experience, despite three generations of avid boating, so it was no surprise when they purchased a Bayliner 288. The four-day trip we took last weekend was months in the planning, yet only considered a ‘trial run’ for the three-week trip we’ll be taking in September.

If it wasn’t for my parents love of boating, we would never have taken that fateful trip to Sucia Island at age seven, where I fist fell in love with this archipelago. My nine year old nephew rode along with my parents, and I viewed this trip as a chance to pass that love along to a new generation. Only time will tell what becomes of the seed that was planted, but unquestionably, he had fun.

Dungeness Crab

This was the biggest crab we caught last weekend.

July is arguably the best month for boating in the San Juan Islands. It’s consistently warm enough to sleep in the boat without a heater, and fog season hasn’t quite started. One of the purposes of this trip was to celebrate the opening of crab season by catching and eating Dungeness crab until we were sick of eating it… and then take some home to share with friends and family. The deeper you go into the islands for crab, the bigger and more prevalent they tend to be.

Boating in tandem with a power-boat has historically been a negative experience, but this trip was painless. I tent to run at an average of six miles per hour. I burn about a half-gallon per hour that way. Some power boats are uncomfortable to drive that slow, but it didn’t seem to bother my parents a bit. I know they appreciated the fuel savings.

Rafting wasn’t an issue either. US Yachts and her sister boats, Bayliner Buccaneers, have high gunnels. Our two boats had nearly identical gunnel height. Irregardless of their extra five feet in length, rafting was not an issue and we didn’t have a single incident of fenders slipping and boat hulls hitting, which is so often a problem when rafting. As the large boat in the party, I let him anchor his 22 pound Rocna instead of us using my 16 pound Bruce.

Nephew Steering

My nephew steering the boat and my parents’ boat in the background.

After rendezvousing at Rosario Resort on Orcas Island, we hopped around Lopez Island over the next three days, searching for the best crabbing spot. Friday night a mean south-westerly blew in. Thankfully, we were docked at the Fisherman’s Bay Resort on Lopez Island. It was rough enough that many of the boats at anchor the night before chose to come in, and began fighting for dock space as we left the next morning.

Fearing another rough southerly, we dropped anchor in Parks Bay off Shaw Island. The bay opens to the north and provides a lot of protection against the dominant southern wind. As wonderful of an anchorage as it was, the Bay was completely underwhelming as a crab hole. Still, the kayaking was some of the best we had this weekend, and luckily, we had plenty of crab from the previous couple nights.

I’m jealous of the windlass my father recently installed on his boat. He can set and weigh anchor at the push of a button while I have to haul mine hand-over-hand. However, he tripped the circuit breaker several times, which made me appreciate the ability to anchor reliably. One of the advantages of a small sailboat like mine is the fact that a windless is completely optional without sacrificing quality ground tackle.

Overall, the weekend was a success. There were no major system failures and many crab were consumed. My father even managed to out-fish my nephew and I, and we had fresh Greenling to compliment the crab one night.

September…. you’re next!

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One Response to “Crabbing with Family”
  1. Diane says:

    Nice!! Sure had a great time. I appreciate everything you taught me.
    Loved Parks Bay, beautiful spot
    September can’t come quick enough

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