Langley to Anacortes Via the Swinomish Canal; A Mid-Winter Cruise Part II; 1/24/21

We departed Langley at 0800 bound for Anacortes. It was a drizzly morning. While we were out to pick up our pizza yesterday evening in Langley, several boats came into the transient dock and parked right behind us. They obviously had bow and stern thrusters and shoehorned themselves into place at the dock leaving very little room for me to escape. Great Northern only has a bow thruster, but with two engines, artful application of the bow thruster, patience and perseverance, I maneuvered off of the dock, past them and wormed my way backwards out of the marina. Once past the other boats at the transient dock, a wooden breakwater was to port, and an old steel barge was to starboard. A 20 foot aluminum fishing boat was occupying a buoy to my stern. Yikes I say! Les as usual stationed at the aft of GN guided me out via headset commands. I maneuvered slowly… even when she yelled “more starboard reverse now and thruster to starboard!”, I was thinking about the first rule of docking: never approach the dock any faster than you’re willing to hit it. The second rule: never maneuver through a congested marina any faster than you are willing to hit another boat. I made that one up on the spur of the moment as I was maneuvering backwards between the breakwater, the barge and fishing boat and paying close attention to what Les was saying to me via headset. There is of course a rule number three: Pay attention to your co-pilot. If all fails, refer to rule number one. Amongst all that interior conversation echoing through the canons of my mind, I modified her commands by briefly placing the port engine in forward and applying a blip of power, then applied her starboard reverse and thruster commands which essentially kicked the starboard quarter away from the hard, steel barnacle encrusted barge and into safety… at a slow pace. Thank dog she knows how to drive a boat!

We made our way along the Western shore of Camano Island which lies East of Whidby. There were logs everywhere, so for the most part I was standing at the helm hand steering with brief periods of autopilot. The visibility was not bad, but it did continue to drizzle with sporadic periods of light rain. The further North we traveled, the more crab pots were in the water. By the time we reached the North end of Camano, there were pots everywhere and crabbers zinging back and forth harvesting crabs.

We veered Northeast past Utsalady Point and made our way past Strawberry Point keeping within 300 yards of the Whidby shore. All the while the crabbers were crabbing like bees visiting plants with life giving nectar. Frenetic it was… Past Strawberry the dredged channel narrowed. It was certainly deep enough but quite narrow. By this point we had a 3 knot current pushing us along.

Quite soon, that helpful 3 knot diesel saving current would change its mood… Well it’s mood didn’t change, being a current at all… It was just going about its business doing current things, but my “mood” certainly did…

Now this is where it got a bit tricky… As we turned East to enter the Swinomish channel, the 3 knot current that was happily pushing us along was now right on our beam. It may look like there is land on either side of the channel, but it is nothing but very shallow water with a fierce current trying to push us out of the channel and into the shallows. So… with at least 10 degrees of rudder we crabbed up to Goat Island which temporarily blocked the current…

After the challenge of the cross current, we found that the current was decidedly lower once past Goat Island. Our next move would be to turn North just before McGinn Island and make our way up to La Conner:

North at McGinn Island. Continuing up to and past La Conner

We had planned earlier on this trip to stop in La Conner, but decided against it for now, and slowly motored past…

A view of Mount Baker taken near the docks of North Harbor Diesel, where we were to be hauled out shortly…

The saga of our haulout was covered in the blog: “About Our 2020 Holiday Season… (12/24/20)” I may cobble together a report back about Anacortes and environs and include the last passage home back to Port Ludlow. For now we are back in Port Ludlow and enjoying a place we call home…

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