Summer Adventures



It’s taken the weather a little while to sort itself out, but summer is finally in full swing. The San Juan Islands are abuzz with boaters, and adventure lurks behind every corner.

For the fourth of July, I babysat a friend’s boat in Fisherman’s Bay off Lopez Island. I spent three nights rafted to the side of Tuwamish, staying handy to fend off any emergencies while she swung at anchor, awaiting her family. As usual, Lopez did not disappoint with their stunning firework display.

Eager to get to Decatur and weed-eat my new property, I left early the morning of the fifth. It just happened to be the lowest point in an unusual -2.4 foot tide. Despite being perfectly in the middle of the channel, I ran aground and skidded to a halt. I felt pretty foolish at first, but not nearly as foolish after watching four sailboat captains, with boats much bigger than mine, try to go around me and also ground to a halt as well.

hard aground

Me and two other sailboats hard aground just outside Fisherman’s Bay.

If I had seen a sailboat grounded in the middle of the channel, I would have thrown my little boat into hard reverse and dropped the hook to wait. I couldn’t believe that not one, but four, boats tried to go around me. I was the smallest boat by a significant amount, and therefore was most likely to draw the least amount of water. With no other options, we awaited the tide, all lined up in a row, blocking the entrance to Fisherman’s Bay.

There were lots of sail bloggers in Fisherman’s Bay that weekend, but the wind blew uncomfortably the entire time. That bay has no protection from the stiff southwest wind, and going out into a dingy was a consistently soggy adventure. The result was that I didn’t try too hard to meet new boaters. I did spot Satori there though.


The sailboat Satori.

After about an hour, the tide had come in enough that I was able to make it out. I motored to Decatur with enough daylight to clear the property from the encroaching forest and bring the cleared area to a semblance of its former glory. The next day the winds were light, but I was able to sail half way across Rosario Strait on a sweet downwind run before they died completely.

I returned to Anacortes to get in as many work hours as I could before my family showed up for opening day of crabbing season. I was walking the docks, taking a break from programming, when I spotted Sherlene and Kevin from Wings of the Morning. Kevin and I had been commenting on one another’s blogs for over a year, and had made more than one vow to share a drink when once our paths crossed. We shared much more than one, and we both woke up the next morning with fuzzy noggins.

They had been cruising for three months and had planned to be out three more. But the islands were starting to all blend together and they were starting to feel a little trapped in paradise. I knew what they were going through as I had gone through the same feelings on my cruise last year. It’s difficult for naturally productive people to enjoy idleness. I didn’t have a cure, but I grabbed their charts and a pencil and began to quiz them about the anchorages they’d been to. I started circling the ones they hadn’t been to yet and making notes on the chart about what they could look forward to at each one. They have my first book, but there were a couple spots they had yet to visit.

I then started to expand my notes into Canada. They had never taken their boat across the border, but they had their passports in hand and had entertained the idea. I told them about the check-in procedure at Bedwell Harbor on South Pender Island. I told them about Portland and Sidney Islands. The next day I dug two out-of-print guidebooks I used last year and passed them along. I love sharing knowledge and seeing new sailors push themselves into new territory. Only time will tell where they end up.

Between two-hour coding sessions, I attended to the never ending list of boat projects. I got in as many work hours as I could until my family arrived a few days later. I set out for Lopez Island where we all planned to rendezvous. While there I will attend the wedding of my sailing buddy, Adam. And of course, my family and I are going to crab as much as possible. I’ve got five gallons of home-made hard apple cider strapped under the v-berth and I’m ready for another adventure!

Related posts:

A Hiking Trail Map of Cypress Head
Ahhh... Summer
Sailing the Gulf Islands, Part 6
2 Responses to “Summer Adventures”
  1. Hi Chris –

    I’ve just discovered your blog and really enjoy your writing. Thanks.
    I just downloaded Gunkholing… Book 1 and will be enjoying it soon.

    I am a SCAMP sailor (11′-11″ John Welsford design) and am just now getting out into the San Juan area doing a bit of voyaging.

    So far I’ve done Saddlebag Island, Sucia, Matia & Patos, as well as the crossing to Victoria twice in the Race to Alaska, Stage-1. More cruising to come as time allows. I’m trailer sailing out of Port Ludlow/Port Townsend. Now that I know of you and your lovely Solace I’ll be keeping a eye out for a meet up.

    Cheers, and stay safe

    • Chris says:

      Cheers Simeon! Thanks for the support and congrats on getting out on the water. If you find yourself in the Lopez Sound area on the east side of Lopez Island, drop me a line. I’m hanging out a lot on my new property on Decatur.

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