We left Reid Harbor on Stuart Island 4 days ago and made our way to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. The long range weather forecasts were predicting a series of lows marching through the area, higher winds and choppy waters in the Strait of Juan De Fuca… so we thought it was time to start heading back to our home port.
Friday Harbor Marina was quiet and in recovery mode from the usual frenetic pace it experiences during the summer months. Even with Sars-Cov-2 prowling amongst the humans who came into port there, it was a busy summer.
Our berth just inside the breakwater was a bit interesting in that it was exactly the same slip we had last year and experiences the same ferry wash we did back then. Not a problem though… just a reminder of what time it was, particularly in the morning when the first commute boarded and took off for parts East.
We stayed in Port for several days enjoying the ease of walking to a well stocked grocery and other stores without having to lower the dinghy, motor over to the public dock, find a place to tie it off etc. etc. We had a decent meal at Vinnie’s, an upscale Italian restaurant. Les’s meal… cheese ravioli / mushroom risotto slathered with a garlic, cream sauce with capers for flair, with blackened chicken served on the side was… excellent. I prepared the same meal for the two of us the following night on the boat and it has now replaced the Pollo Affumicato con orichetti that used to be her favorite. I had shrimp sauteed in garlic butter over capellini in a garlic cream sauce. The shrimp were excellent, perfectly seasoned and cooked nicely. The sauce was a bust, watery and fairly tasteless… which means the cook spooned the capellini on the plate directly from the boiling pot without letting it strain a bit to reducer the water content, then poured on the garlic cream sauce that was then diluted. Bad form. I should have sent it back, but ate it none the less. I hate sending things back. You never know what a disgruntled chef (certainly a cook in this case) might do to a plate of food that a customer has had the temerity to question and send back… If we ever go there again I will be more careful and order something that is easier for a cook to consistently get right. Nuf said.
As I said earlier, the weather was changing so we decided to leave the islands and make our way to the other side of the Strait. It was a good decision… which I’ll explain later. Our passage was picture perfect. We left Friday Harbor and exited San Juan Island at Catteman’s Point. We had a 3 knot push provided by the current going in our direction. A consistent push from various currents continued over the next 18 miles across the strait where we had a current push of between 1 to 2.5 knots.
There were many logs and bits of wood strewn across the Strait. Pigeon guillemots, gulls, terns and cormorants perched on the logs waiting for bait fish to surface.
Three miles to go to get across the Strait. The land to the left is Whidby Island. To the right is Point Wilson. The water in the middle is Admiralty Inlet, the major entrance to Puget Sound and parts South. Port Townsend shelters behind Point Wilson. At this point we started to feel an opposing current, and started to slow down below 7 knots. So… we sashayed over to the right, close in to Point Wilson and rode a counter rotating eddy into and past Port Townsend. We discovered this tactic last year and it has been very consistent. We went from 7 knots to 8.9 and passed Point Wilson going 9.5 knots without touching the throttles. Kewl…
We made our way past Port Townsend, the Navy Munitions Dock on Indian Island, Port Hadlock and then had the privilege of passing again through the Port Townsend Canal and under the infamous Canal Bridge…
The current was still with us and by the time it spit us out of the canal into Oak Bay we were going 10.5 knots… again without touching the throttles.
We anchored in Port Ludlow for the night in one of our favorite locations. In the morning we called and talked to Kori, the Marina Dockmaster to see if we could come into the marina and start our fall and winter moorage before October first. Yes was the perfect answer. So we made our way over to the inside of the transient dock, tied up, hooked up to the 50 amp electricity, adjusted our wifi antenna to the marina’s free wifi… and that is where we now sit… in the first real rain of the year, cozy in our little traveling island.
This following wind chart tells the story of why we wanted to get back to Port Ludlow, and in particular back to the inside of the transient dock which provides a reasonable barrier against the wind chop caused by Southeasterly wind.
Last night the winds veered South as predicted and we were snugly tied up to the dock. This is the first of a series of weather systems that will march across the Strait over the next week…
This National Marine Weather Service synopsis covers the near term and later term reasons why it would not be good to be out on the Strait today. SE winds of 25 to 35 knots churning up the seas to 4 to 6 feet. Add an incoming current to those wind driven seas and they get much bigger and more dangerous. No thanks! Les and I are quite conservative when planning our anchoring / docking locations and passages. Unlike sailors (that we used to be) we no longer go where the wind blows. We watch the weather closely and plan accordingly.
So here we are in Port Ludlow for the fall / winter season. Of course we will be going out on short soirees to various Puget Sound cruising locations and perhaps to the Islands in settled weather.
For now… “baby it’s cold outside”. It is raining. It is windy.
I just baked blueberry, sourdough biscuits. We ate all of them warm out of the oven slathered in butter.
That is all… Now… it’s naptime…