Sailing With My Brother

Brian Sailing

Brian sailing the boat up to Jones Island.

I had anticipated crossing the border last weekend, but three weeks ago my brother accepted the invitation to join me on the boat. This is the same brother I took a journey to Alaska with and had some great adventures in Alaska with. Since I was already in Friday Harbor doing last minute provisioning, I took the ferry back to Anacortes to pick him up.

We walked back onto the ferry with about 400 kids heading to the islands for an organized spring break camping trip. We took refuge on a cold, outdoor bench to get away from the crowd. Looking out over all those children was like a “Where’s Waldo?” puzzle come to life – a mass of animated caricatures. It was quite entertaining.

A few minutes after hitting the dock, we were back on the water again. The wind was light, but at our backs, so I threw up the Genoa jib for a while and sailed toward Jones Island. Half way, the wind died down and we fired up the motor. Just south of Jones Island was a shoal marked on the charts. We fished the shoal for twenty minutes before I brought up a nice Greenling. We grabbed the newly installed dock on the north end of Jones and had fish fillets for dinner. I rubbed the translucent meat down with wild mint I had picked on Saturna Island last summer and added a garnish of oyster mushrooms I picked last spring on Cypress Island.

Building a Fire

Building a fire on Stuart Island.

Both nights this weekend found him, me, and Jim Beam around a fire, talking about life, and fixing the world’s problems. We are both beginning significant, new chapters in our life, and I think we’ve always appreciated one anothers guidance. No one can quite understand you like a sibling, having that intimate knowledge of what made your younger self tick.

Saturday was eerily calm, even more so because NOAA was predicting big winds. We geared up, ready for anything, but ultimately rode a placid current along the west shore of Spieden Island, watching the varied wildlife around it. There was barely enough wind to steer the boat with the main sheet only. With the hope of seeing whales, we motored around Stuart Island, skirting the Canadian border and finally taking shelter in Prevost Harbor.

Spieden Sheep

Big horn sheep on Spieden Island

The next day though promised heavy winds. We waited for the ebb tide that would carry us back to Friday Harbor. Most of the way was characterized by a steady 20 mph wind with gusts around 40 or 50 mph. We floated in the tide with a loose, single-reefed mainsail in order to keep the boat level and cook breakfast burritos. Breakfast and dishes done, boat stowed, we firmed up the main and raised the 55% storm jib. We averaged about 6.5 mph (almost hull speed) and made it back to Friday Harbor in only a few hours. The whole time the boat was barely heeled over, nice and comfortable, and I never had to tack. The sun beamed down on us, a perfect day.

After a couple celebratory beers, he caught the ferry back to the mainland. We probably won’t see each other for six months. I know the memory of this weekend will sparkle like a jewel in both our minds, for the rest of our lives, and give us something to hold onto until we see each other again.

4 Responses to “Sailing With My Brother”
  1. That all sounds like a great way to kick off the adventure. It’s special that you guys have the connection that you do. I’m writing this from echo bay, heading to Stuart today,. I’ll be looking for you out on the water!


    • Chris says:

      Whoa, I’m sorry I missed you! I anchored for the night at Roche Harbor and then crossed the next day. I’ll catch you guys on the way down hopefully.

      What boat were you in? I know you didn’t sail your sailing dingy to Stuart all the way from Bellingham.

  2. Chris,
    I hope you were kidding!! :). Could you imagine seeing us in the 10 ft dinghy sailing to Stuart!! No, I’m on a SJS boar, working. In Roche now, looks like we are just a few days behind ya! Stay safe out there!


  3. Aunt Kim says:

    You are brilliant Chris. Was that Brian ? I’m getting more blind by the minute. At first I thought it was Brad ! Heck, I’m still not sure, but that story was so sweet, I was all teared up by the end ! I’m so Proud of all of our kids & sure would Love a huge Campout with All of Us together ! That would just be the most Fantastic thing I could imagine. You take care Honey !

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