Exploring Friday Harbor. San Juan Sailing Trip – August 17, 2018

I have not been to Friday Harbor, Alix has not been for some time. We spent today roaming through this quaint little town exploring what it has to offer us mainlanders. I am becoming more convinced that we need to live somewhere in the islands.

First stop was the Whale Museum. It was spendy to get in but highly informative. We enjoyed learning about the whales in Puget Sound. The Whale Museum has been operating here for decades. They maintain the main board for whale siting and are the first point of contact when a distressed whale is found.

Alix adopted L-119, Joy. Yep, that is right, we are foster parents to an Orca Whale. She is excited about it. We went to a bookstore and got books on Orcas after the museum.

Here is a photo of Joy

After a lovely lavender latte at Bean Cafe we headed back to the San Juan Island Brewery to sample those last five beers. Delicious.

We wandered around town more, saw some sights, had a good time. Mostly I am tired of writing so I will end with more photos.

Heading to Friday Harbor! San Juan Sailing Trip – August 16, 2018

This morning was off to a foggy start. Really foggy, in fact we could not see across to the other side of the marina! I was up at 0700, our departure was timed for 0930. That did not happen!

Instead I spent the time scrubbing the deck, covered in poo from the hundreds of seagulls infesting the area. Their poop had turned the deck purple! Then I walked around and talked to other boaters. All were eager to get leaving.

Finally around 1030 we could see houses along the hill outside the marina. I decided that would have to be good enough. We had to time the currents properly for the 33NM sail to take advantage of the tide or it would take far to long to reach Friday Harbor. I wanted to arrive with plenty of daylight to spare.

We shimmied over to the pump out dock and did a quick turn around to the marina exit. Several other boats watched us and decided to head out too. A few went south towards Seattle, however two sailboats followed us, sticking close behind. About a mile offshore the fog thickened again, enough that we started using the fog horn.

Billabong does not have radar, nor any advanced electronics at all. She has boat speed (paddlewheel), depth, autopilot. We were using our straining eyes, ears, a chart plotter on my tablet, and the MarineTraffic app on my phone for AIS. The big commercial boats all broadcast AIS, which was a lifesaver. We knew exactly where the tankers and cargo ships were in relation to us, even though we could see only a half mile at most.

Ironically the other two sailboats were still following us! One was a new Jeanneau that had radar, the other an old Erickson 41. We passed a tug. The Jeanneau was falling behind. Here came the big cargo vessel. We passed it no problem. We could barely see it astern in the fog. The Jeanneau cleared it as well, though the cargo ship gave a toot on its horn. Right after the cargo ship passed the Jeanneau turned and headed back for Port Townsend.

About a half hour later the fog lifted and we could see for 20+ miles, making out the outline of San Juan. The wind piped up a bit and we were able to toss up some sail. Life was getting better. The Erickson put up sail also and slowly pulled away, not much though. For you racers out there we would have corrected over them in PHRF at Cattle Pass.

After Smith Island the fog seemed to be settling again. Sure enough, by the time we reached Cattle Pass, the entrance to the islands, the fog completely obscured Smith Island. Halfway from the pass to Friday Harbor the fog descended so thickly and quickly that the fishing vessel traveling one hundred feet of our starboard side disappeared! A call to Friday Harbor the day before revealed the marina being full. I was not looking forward to anchoring in a thick fog, not knowing where other boats may be anchored in relation.

As luck had it, we rounded the green buoy and pointed towards Brown Island and the fog magically went away! Clear blue skies ahead. Even the smoke haze was low.

We stopped at the fuel dock for a quick top off. With no fuel gauge on the boat, I wanted to know what our consumption rate was to better estimate our range and remaining fuel. 5.2 gallon of diesel to fill the tank. Running the motor at cruising speed for 10 hours, with a couple hours of diesel heater as well. That averaged to 0.5 gallons per hour. Pretty low! I wish my car was that efficient!

As luck had it there was a single spot on the first-come-first-serve pier of about 39 feet. All side tie. Non-boaters, imagine parallel parking on the street. We smoothly slid all 36 feet of Billabong in place, first shot, no questions asked.

About 1700, time to find some brew and grub, off to the San Juan Island Brewery we went! The beer there was great. We had a flight of five with a promise to be back the next day to finish the rest of the menu off.

By the time we got back to Billabong I was ready to collapse. Alix wanted to watch a movie. I have not remembrance of what it was about ;).

What a great day to be on the water!

San Juan Sailing Trip – August 15, 2018

Today we stayed put in Point Hudson and explored the town of Port Townsend. Alix had not been here before so we spent the entire day walking around town. The weather had cooled off, which made it pleasurable to be out and about. Unfortunately the smokey haze lingered. In the morning we could not see across the water to any land, by the afternoon the land was slightly discernible.

The morning started off with breakfast burritos on the boat and then a saunter down to Better Living Through Coffee. An excellent coffee shop to hang out at. It overlooks the water and boat anchorage area. If you are anchored out front you can easily come in by dinghy to the beach or the small dock nearby.

After sauntering in and out of the various shops nearby we had lunch at The Old Whiskey Meal. The burgers there are huge! I was not able to finish mine. 

Our post lunch activity was a trip to the breweries! Port Townsend sports Propolis and Port Townsend breweries. The Port Townsend brewery is a great place. The tasting room is small but fills with locals from the boatyard. Propolis brewery has the most enjoyable atmosphere of any brewery I have been to. Their saisons are fabulous. Alix is not typically a beer drinker but she enjoyed all their drinks. We spent over two hours hanging out at Propolis, chatting with the owner, and playing a memory matching card game about bugs.

Maintenance today was:

  • Clamp off a water hose in the engine compartment that was leaking tons of water.
  • Put new weather stripping on the windows to stop the water coming in.

Tomorrow we are heading to Friday Harbor!