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Walt Drechsler

Reid Harbor – Friday Harbor – Port Ludlow – Home

Oh the pressure of making decisions! After a very blustery and rainy night we again woke to sunshine only to have the clouds move in along with a little drizzle.

During our stay at Reid Harbor we had nixed the cell phones as we were not sure if our plan covered Canada and being on a retirement budget, the extra $5.00 charge could be the difference between getting a bag of Ruffles or not. Naturally I was pushing for the chips! That being said, the weather had been a bit unsettled and with no communication for the last few days we did not want anyone to worry. This was our first trip out and most of our friends and family are not used this no contact thing. It was time to head South anyway.

We had never been to Jones Island. We heard many great reviews of the hikes, animals, solitude, and overall beauty of the Island and were looking forward to exploring it.

On the other hand, we had been on the hook since Sunday afternoon and this being Wednesday, the allure of a dock was pulling hard. We would see how the day progressed and make that call when the time came…..

Dropping the bouy we motored out of Reid Harbor. During the night the wind had clocked and was now coming out of the SW. Rumors surrounding Gossip Island told of winds building into the afternoon and clocking to the SE. Taking these to heart, we rolled the sails out and made for Spieden Channel. We did not want to get caught in the lee of the Island where the wind was blocked.

Wind began pretty light to start but seemed to build as we got closer to San Juan Channel. Seas got very sloppy at the SE end of Spieden where the currents from Presidents Channel, Spieden Channel and San Juan Channel all converge. The apparent wind had picked up by this time reading 18 – 22 knts with gusts higher than that at times. Did I mention it had begun to rain…. a lot!

As we approached our point of decision between Jones and Friday Harbor it was becoming apparent this crew needed a little pampering! Friday Harbor style. New destination, the docks of Friday Harbor. We made three long tacks coming down San Juan Channel. Our last tack put us right into the entrance of Friday Harbor. Trying not boast but we looked good coming into the harbor! We even had to slow down to allow the San Juan ferry / barge to continue on his course.

We secured Pellucidar inside the breakwater, checked in at the port office, then treated ourselves to a late lunch at The Blue Water Bar & Grill. Later we strolled to Kings Market to replace some provisions and spent a very quiet night on the dock. I’m not used to doing the grocery shopping. Let me tell you this is coming as quite a shock to me. I wanted a bag of ruffles cause we all know their the best chips but I’m not paying 5 bucks a bag. I’ll eat cup a noodles first. (That is if a I don’t get caught!)

Thursday we awoke to an alarm clock! It shocked us too! Playing the tides in the San Juan’s is always a game of chess and our opening move needed to be the right one. With replenished provisions, full water tanks and charged batteries, we motored out of San Juan Channel then turned South through Cattle Pass. The winds were light coming out but soon started to build so out came the sails. What I thought was going to be a sail to windward transitioning to a broad reach heading directly for Deception Pass was not materializing. Deception Pass slack was at 1400 so we had plenty of time but the wind and current was either forcing us into Mackaye Harbor or out to the middle of the Strait……

After a deep discussion over two carrots and a celery, we determined Port Ludlow is lovely this time of year and we have friends that live there. We don’t have a set schedule so change in plans was in order. We contacted our friends and they would be home. We had a dinner date!

Wind continued to build and we had a great sail across the strait. 12 – 15 knt apparent wind and the boat was averaging 4 to 6 knots with occasional bursts to 8. Weather was overcast but seas were reasonable.

Current was not our friend that day. About 1/2 way across the ebb was really starting to catch hold. We tried to point up but got to the “no fly zone”. A heading that once promised to just clear Point Wilson had us heading for Protection Island. We held out as long as we could then tacked. With the current increasing and wind doing just the opposite we were heading back to Deception Pass. We’d been beaten this day if we ever wanted to anchor for the night so in went the sails and we fired up the Iron Jenny. We pushed current the rest of the afternoon but dropped the hook in Port Ludlow around 1800 hours.

Our friends picked us up at the dock and whisked us away for salmon burgers and great conversation. We had not seen them for some time so was really fun to get caught up. Just as the sun was setting over the hill they dropped us off and we took a slow dingy ride back to the boat under slightly overcast sky’s but overall a very nice evening on the water.

We were in one of those tide cycles where you just can’t win if you want to sail in the daylight. Heading home the next morning we knew we would be pushing current and the wind prediction was very light. No use in rushing! We finished breakfast, hoisted the anchor and pointed our bow towards home. It was pretty uneventful with the exception of two very fast powered catamarans that I showed on AIS doing about 38knts. These guys were flying and they were not little by any means.

We arrived at Port of Everett around 1500 hours. We had a great 10 days roaming around the San Juan’s. The boat performed well, we did well, and we got a chance to spend time with friends and family. We also had the time to do some hikes and see some parts of the islands we’ve never seen before.

Sorry this post has limited pictures. We will do better in the future!

All in all, round 1 of our retirement adventures was listed as a success. On to round two

Keep your fork!

Walt, Linda and G-2

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