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Showing posts with label biking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label biking. Show all posts


Take What you Have and -- GO

      As the primary irritant and contributor to this website, I am drawn back to promoting boating and the San Juans.

        How many times have you heard  (or said yourself)  "I can't because...."   -- finish the statement with any handy excuse for not making that long talked about trip.  In many cases, the excuses I use are bogus or easily overcome.

For instance:

  • The no money excuse:
    • If you are dead broke, I suggest that you forge ahead and make plans anyway, things have a way of working out.
    • Reduce the budget some,  try dialing back what you really need to get going to the San Juans.  
      • New radar - NO, new motor - NO - how about used? New plotter - NO.  You may be  hopeless if you need all the newest toys to vacation or go on a boat ride.

  • The no boat excuse:
    • Take what you have, or consider renting or buying a used runabout or skiff.
      • One time we came across a couple (a well seasoned couple I might add) at Pelican Beach.  They arrived in an 8' plywood sailing pram (with oars and no motor) and they had towed another 8' pram with  camping gear.  They told us they had put in at Anacortes and were spending a week as they had done for many years.  I was  impressed and somewhat embarrassed for my boat full of goodies, and creature comforts.
                Let's expand on the idea of buying a used boat.  Once a few years back, I sold our primary boat just a few weeks before a planned trip to the San Juans.   Now boat-less, except for my beloved 9' dinghy, I was faced with canceling my family vacation. Instead, I decided to buy an inexpensive boat, and use it once for our  San Juan trip and then sell it upon our return.  I bought a small well known   readily available sailboat and trailer.  We boat camped for ten days, and then  I sold the temporary boat for 100% what I paid for it. 
          The overall cost for that trip was just the cost of fuel and provisioning.  I know, some people will criticize the wisdom of taking an unknown boat, breakdowns, blah blah blah. Thats OK, I agree what we did is not for everyone, but it worked well for us, and besides, I brought my dinghy and trusted 5hp Honda as back up.

  • The no time excuse:
    • Baloney - If you really want to go you will make the time, so go mark your calendar right now!

  • One last thought; life happens, when everything in life gangs up on you conspiring to stop your boating trip, don't give up.  Instead, postpone the boat part and go in your car. Camping or resorting around the San Juans is almost as good as boating around the San Juans.

Take what you have and -- GO!
San Juan Islansd Ferry with Mt Baker

     My new travel guide may be just what you need.  That's right, I am shamelessly promoting my 2017 "San Juan Islands Travel Guide" -- It is a Land and Sea Guidebook, so whether you are a boater, biker, or car camper, it has what you want.   CLICK HERE   or search Amazon Books - "San Juan Islands Travel Guide"
Thanks - John


Bicycling Shaw Island in the San Juans

       Even though I espouse, "Just Get Going" type San Juan trips, I still do a little research from time to time.

bicycle Shaw Island in the San Juan's

         A few years back I stopped at Shaw Landing. (Thats the little float and seasonal market next to the Shaw ferry landing at the entrance to Blind Bay)  We got some snacks and while there inquired about coming back in a day or two and leaving the boat at the dock while we explored the island on our bicycles. 

     We were not told straight out yes or no, they said something about docks being for paid overnighter's and to check back later.       I decided not to come back and we went to Lopez.  There's more  >>>    


To help or not to help? - boaters assisting other boaters - basic docking tips are common sense

        In the San Juan's, you will either  #1, already be at the dock with your boat, or  #2, coming at the dock with your boat.  All the other skippers are in the same situation.

        The runabout or daysailer or forty footer all have windage and current issues, and when it is crunch time, things happen fast.

        The driver of the smallest vessel may have decades of experience, and the person with the largest yacht may be a newbie over his head in bells and whistles.   In all cases the considerate proper boater will get out there and be helpful when a fellow boater is coming in.

Here are some basic tips some of us use when docking:

  1. Explain to your crew ahead of time exactly what you are doing, and what you expect them to do.
  2. Prepare your fenders, dock lines, and boat hook ahead of time.
  3. Sometimes it is wise to drive up and make a full stop out a ways to judge the wind and current.
  4. Put on pfd's - at the dock is where most drownings occur.
  5. Having a plan, also includes an abort action should things go awry.
  6. If someone is on the dock offering to help --- hand them a rope.
  7. When the next boat arrives, get out there and be helpful.

boating assist at the dock

       helping other cruisers

Nice boat gramps, need a hand?


Seven People - Seven Bicycles - One little boat for our 4th of July at Roche Harbor

Seven People - Seven Bicycles - Two Kayaks - One  Dinghy,
and it was raining lightly.
True our 26 foot trawler is bigger than a 16 foot ski boat but 7 bikes and riders filled us to the top.

kraken at Orcas Landing with a full load of bicycles and people

       We just returned from a week long Canada cruise where we tied two bikes on the roof.  With only two of us on board, the bikes never got in the way.  Next we added two more bikes, two kayaks, and two more people for a Lopez and San Juan ride. We still managed to all find seats, but the bikes ended up on the front deck, and we looked through  handlebars and seats to steer. 
(the above pic is a coffee pit stop at Orcas Landing with everyone and everything and its raining)

dinghy dock at roche Harbor

         At Roche we add three more.  We have seven bikes now (four out front and three in the cockpit) For seating, we break out two folding chairs and fill the dinette.  Kraken seemed to list a little to starboard (the dinette side) but what the heck.  
This pic is at the end of the long dinghy dock at Roche Harbor.

Bicycling the San Juans by boat is alive and well.
  • two crossed from  Spencer Spit to Lopez Village
  • two pedaled from Roche Harbor to Lime Kiln and back
  • three pedaled from Odlin Park, around Lopez and took a ferry ride back to Friday Harbor
  • three pedaled from Smallpox Bay around San Juan Island
  • thankfully, other than the skipper and mate, all slept on shore in campgrounds
Does anyone know an easy way to get off black tire marks?


What Does Stuart Island Have to Offer the Boating Traveler?

If you can find the time to visit Roche Harbor then you can certainly pop over to Stuart.

  1. bicycle Stuart
  2. camp on shore
  3. camp, anchor or tie to dock at Reid Harbor
  4. camp, anchor or tie to dock at Prevost Harbor
  5. use the county dock
  6. hike to Turn Point Lighthouse and visit the museum
  7. visit two pioneer school houses
  8. buy Boundary Pass Traders T-shirts
  9. orca watch

Click on the link below then scroll  way, way - way, way, down to Stuart Island for details, chart and photos of Stuart Island

Take this link to the parks page


Things to do - Get off the boat -There are places to go - Bring Bicycles on your next Cruise to the San Juan Islands

       Bicycling the San Juans, may not describe our cruise last month, but we did bring three bicycles, and we did knock off about forty miles on San Juan Island.

At Friday Harbor with three bicycles, and yes the jib sheets caught on the handlebars on every tack.

      Last January I posted a short blog laying out a possible bike/hike/cruise scenario/itinerary that you could use as a planning building block for your own cruise. Bikes in the San Juans  Below is a quick summation of what we actually ended up doing.

      Our San Juan Island trip started at Shelter Bay LaConner on the Swinomish Channel.  We had just returned from a week long cruise into Hood Canal and after one night in our slip we cast off again at 5:30 am trying to beat the falling tide which would leave us trapped at the dock. With just inches or less to spare we sneaked across our shallow entrance shoal and slid into Swinomish Channel, and rode the remaining outgoing current all the way into Padilla Bay.  After a day of on and off winds and then really great afternoon sailing winds we arrived at 5pm and hailed the Friday Harbor Harbor Master staking claim to a slip for the next two nights.  A casual stroll around town, and live local music drifting down from the city's seawall  gathering esplanade contributed to a very relaxing evening on board. Not having tides or currents dictating our bicycling schedule allowed us to sleep in the next morning. Finally with hot coffee in hand, (okay, in the cup) I wandered up to Kings Market and purchased hash browns, eggs and some yummy impulse items to bring back to the boat for a late breakfast.

      Definitely before noon, (but not much) we walked our bikes off the floats and headed uphill, of course it's always going to be uphill when you start at sea level. We used a folded and wadded up, photocopied not to scale scrap of map for guidance and headed for Cattle Point. The roads were without bike lanes, but drivers were respectful and we had an easy ride to American Camp and then on to Cattle Point Lighthouse.  Fortunately the weather was clear and with no fog we had  views all the way to Vancouver Island and across the strait of Juan De Fuca. The Olympic mountains hung in the distance completing our postcard views.  Viewing Cattle Pass from up high was a thrill and brought into perspective what was previously a cockpit level chart image.  It was easy to see why the Americans chose this location to set up their cannons. From our vantage point we could scan the water route all the way back to Turn Island where our boat lay just around the corner.

      We brought cookies and water for lunch, and learned next time to bring lots more water and less cookies.

      There is no road right along the coast so we rode part way back to Friday Harbor before turning towards Lime Kiln Park. We encountered a few long steep grades which required walking for some of us. The cliff side views are stunning and it is somewhat difficult to ride safely while scanning the waters for Killer Whales.  I learned right away to stop if I wanted to really take in the sights. We followed a circle route taking us by the Lavender Gardens and back to town on a different road.

      I forgot and left my camera on  the boat so no pictures, sorry.  The next day we were fortunate to not have any soreness brought on by being out of shape and suddenly biking like we were still children. On the way back to La Conner we stopped by Spencer Spit for an afternoon hike, and then anchored at James Island. We hung around in the morning waiting for the rising  tide which we rode almost all the way to Shelter Bay.

      This cruise, in spite of motor problems (our diesel quit and forced us to use our 7.5 kicker for the entire trip) turned out to be one of our best, longest and most enjoyable.  I highly recommend planning a bicycle/cruise to any of the San Juan Islands.


Mooring Buoys in Parks are for you to use but watch out!

Not much needed here, except a few comments.

Of course  buoys  are first come first served and you are not allowed to tie your dinghy to one as a way to reserve or save it. But what are you going to do if you find one with a dinghy tied to it? Set it free! No of course not.

Which brings up road rage or should we coin a new term? how about -water rage- or -cruiser rage- boat rage- island rage-   For the most part, boaters seem to leave their rage on shore, but if you pay much attention to the vhf you may think otherwise.

Back to buoys, mooring buoys are supposed to have a blue stripe, and most of the parks are close enough, putting a stripe on an old tire is a little tough.
mooring buoy's in the San Juan Island's

Around the populated areas you may find lots of buoys, most are likely to be private, none are OK to use without permission.

A word to the wise, don't trust buoys any further than you can tow them.
Some are not maintained and break loose when you are asleep or ashore.
Some may be in shallow water, or even be on the ground at low tide (check your depth) or have lots of rope, and flotsam dangling from them.  (yes, park buoys)

I think when you hook onto a buoy where you plan to leave valuable property tied up,  you should back down as if you were setting your anchor, but that's just me.  >> read this post  Anchor Buoy breaks free at Jones Island
Some other time we can talk about cleats and rotten old floats.


How to Bicycle Between San Juan Island, Lopez Island, Shaw and Orcas Island Without a Car

Bicycling the San Juan Islands
  For most people, bicycling the San Juan's means arriving with your bike and gear in a car on a Ferry.

But it doesn't have to be this way. Savvy cyclists leave their cars in Anacortes and ride the ferry to the San Juan Islands.  Once in the islands bicycle travel is the way to go.

First let's explore a likely scenario for those without a boat, bear with me, this will get a little wordy:

      You drive to Anacortes and find a place to park for free for a week, maybe more. Or park at the ferry terminal long term parking lot for about $40 per week. Next, jump on the ferry paying a small nominal fee for one passenger and bicycle for a lift to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, or Orcas, or Lopez, or Shaw.  FYI: foot passengers and bicyclists never need reservations or need to wait in line like car travelers.
So far so good!

      The day is still early, start touring (ride your bike). At the end of the day you will end up in a motel, B&B, campground, or any number of resorts.  You probably will be well advised to have some reservations lined up in advance. Oh, and bring a pocket full of cash because restaurants and beds aren't free. The next day tour around some more then jump on the free for foot passengers Ferry to other Islands and repeat. Eventually you will end up back in Anacortes where your car is waiting for the drive home.

      This is a great plan if you are into minimalist and don't have a boat, but there are a few weaknesses; number one, where is all my extra gear that I take when I travel, oh yeah its back in the car parked in Anacortes while I'm gallivanting around on an island with nothing but my pocket full of cash and what fits in my bike bags. (not good for some of us) Excellent plan if your a hard core bicyclist. Number two doesn't matter, I'm still back on number one.

Ok, here's the boating/bicycling scenario:  


Rosario Rendezvous on Orcas Island results in Mt Constitution Thrill Ride

Rosario Rendezvous 2010
        The best cruise yet!  I'm sitting in my home gazing out the window at my land locked nautical variation of a  RV camper, (my boat on a trailer) I drift off and begin day dreaming again.  This must be the 100th time since New Years that I have imagined our upcoming summer cruise.  The trip is planned for July right after the fourth and we are going to cruise the Washington San Juan Islands again. This trip our focus will be whale watching, (the last trip was whale watching too), but we were sidetracked meeting up with our daughter at Rosario Resort on Orcas Island.  As I remember we supplied the trailerable yacht, cheese and wine, she supplied the car that seats four, and two friends. It turns out we had no cell phone service so we were glad we had earlier made plans to meet this afternoon. The weather was pleasant, and balmy with hardly a breeze in the air.  It’s just about sundown when they wave to us from the parking lot at Rosario.

Boat camping at Jones Island Marine Park in the San Juan Islands

Rosario marina and gas dock - anchor area to right out of picture
           We leave “Sunshine” our  25 foot sailboat, tied to an anchor buoy.  The three of us  quickly paddle the dinghy ashore.  Soon we are six in a Subaru that seats four.  I’m a happy camper I get a front seat, we are heading for the top of Mt Constitution, the highest point in the San Juan Islands. At about 2400 feet I expect to have a fantastic view and see a gorgeous sunset.  But, like whale watching, it was not meant to be. When we arrive at the summit, the sun has been blocked and was settling into a thick blanket of fog that seemed to cover the western half of the world, the temperature felt like it had dropped to minus 50 and the wind was a howling gale the likes of which only arctic explorers are capable of surviving.  I was glad we didn’t walk from the boat as I had once planned, if the seven miles of winding uphill switchbacks didn’t kill me, I’m sure the elements would’ve done me in just the same. We quickly scan the fog free remaining eastern views to spot Anacortes, Bellingham, Mt Baker, and  Lummi Island.  Ocean freighters and Ferries far below look like toys. The swirling currents of Rosario Strait are clearly visible.  South of us we can see the Strait of Juan De Fuca and one edge of the fog bank. The frigid cold wind is biting into us. It had never occurred to me to bring a coat. We soon leave Mt Constitution to the only other people around, two lonely cold but hardy tourists.  Climbing back into the Subaru is the beginning of a fast and scary bobsled ride back to sea level. Coming down I don’t remember near so many switchbacks or how steep the road is.  In minutes we are back at Rosario.  I invite everyone out to the boat for wine and snacks.  It takes three dinghy trips to get the six of us on board, and it’s just about dark when we hang a dim flashlight from the backstay and break out a cheese and cracker assortment, along with a 1.5 liter bottle of fine (read cheap) Merlot.   Before long, we are lost in conversation and story telling. Jaiden enjoys being Sunshine’s wine and cracker steward.  A second bottle of something just as red but decidedly different appears and the night is fast upon us.  The darkness is almost total without the moon. even though the dock is only a short distance away, it can’t be seen, nor can the half dozen or so other boats anchored nearby. Eventually our daughter and her friends decide it’s time to leave and that our dinghy for three can take four of them in one trip. After all, the water is flat calm and its not far to the dock, even if you can’t see it. Why not give it a try.

Dinghy ride at Rosario resort
Freeboard is a relative term.

           They carefully cast off and paddle in the direction of the dock; the silence is complete as we listen for problems.  A few minutes later, our son reappears without his passengers.  Linda and I are both relieved, even though we know they are quite capable, it’s still unnerving having your children paddle off into the darkness in a boat overloaded and only a few inches above the water.  That night I slept very well indeed, I always do on board. . In the morning we go ashore to stretch our legs and check out the new sites.  In earlier years we have toured Rosario, so we skipped the mansion tour, didn’t play outdoor shuffle board, skipped the swimming pool, ignored the gardens where they hold weddings, but we did read the new CafĂ©'s menu and decided we couldn’t afford to eat out.  In the little store, we noted the inflated price for a bottle of propane and felt we shouldn’t be cooking either.  In the tourist souvenir section I try really hard to find something I want enough to be willing to pay a premium for it, and finally settle on some post cards. Post cards are a good way of assuring I get  quality pictures.  In good time we step back into the warm morning sunshine and stroll the manicured Rosario lawns just in time to watch Jaiden petting a deer and scratch its head. After awhile I’m sure I must have said “it’s time to go” but it really wasn’t, it was time to stay.