(Updated (2014) alternate itinerary with Echo Bay at Sucia Island as 1st stop)
click here Sucia Trip Intinerary
This article is designed to get you going on that first boating/sailing trip to the San Juan Islands in Washington State.
|Our Livingston dinghy is nine feet long and a tad bit overloaded|
|This inflatable was $69 and holds two people|
|This inflatable stows on deck, or deflated stows below and carries three people.|
|Windrose, aka "Rosey" has made it to the San Juans|
|In good company anchored at Jones Island|
|Olga public dock has room for about three boats on each side, all buoys are private.|
|The dinghy's at Olga belong to locals, there is no access to beach except, a nasty slippery, very steep, and thorny trail in brush under ramp.|
|The sign says it all|
On shore at the top of ramp is a flagpole, and a memorial bench. There are a couple blocks, if that, of roads to walk, some say private drive, keep out. There is no bathroom. The old store across the street was closed up many years ago, and the property is for sale, but the little post office is in business. Up a moderately steep hill about 1/4-1/3 mile is a restaurant on the main road. Some other boaters made the hike and reported good food. Other than private homes, most which look like second homes, there is no other business. That's it for Olga. I'm glad we finally stopped by Olga, but except for a nice dock to tie up to, and a pleasant little bay to paddle and dinghy sail, what can I say.
On a much more positive note, I rode my bicycle around a little, and after checking my maps I realized that Olga is the shortest and most convenient starting point for a grueling ride to the top of Mt Constitution. 7 miles versus 7.5 starting at Rosario. I did not make the ride due to being late in the day, but I plan to come back and give it a try.
Next time we are in the area and need a place to spend the night, I'm sure we will stop again.
Oh, and we saw a little baby deer on the beach, way to go Olga!
More than a decade ago I installed an outboard bracket to carry the dinghy motor on the back of my 40 year old Nordic Tug. The transom mounted bracket allows me to store the 5hp Honda and easily transfer it to and from the dinghy. Thinking way ahead, I mounted the bracket down low so that if I ever needed an emergency push or trolling kicker, I would lower the motor, connect the fuel line and away we'd go.
Well it finally happened. Last month, the tug made a strange sound so I shut off the motor and began drifting. Because I had forgotten how the mechanism worked and fiddling with it while hanging over the back end was a little uncomfortable, it took me a few minutes to get the prop in the water and the fuel line connected. After about ten pulls the motor came to life and we were ready to go.
Holding the cowling I pointed it at what I guessed was straight ahead. I shoved the gearshift into forward and twisted the tiller to a medium fast idle. At first we didn't move but then it was apparent our nearly ten thousand pounds was actually making headway. Because I was hanging over the back, I yelled to Linda, asking if we were pointed okay or should I try steering. Her answer was not helpful.
I made my way inside and determined we were indeed headed for a mud flat. I turned the wheel and observed an agonizing slow response. The gps showed we were making 4 mph but our smallish rudder is designed to have the force of the diesel engine pushing our 18" prop wash against it. The outboard is far over on one side and actually behind the rudder. Never the less we began turning away from the shallows.
So, the system worked. I can't say I am impressed with performance but it will beat using the canoe paddle that I keep on board. The two gallon fuel tank will be very limiting and I am aware that the outboard can't be lowered with the dinghy on its davits.
I know others have get home plans and motors, I thought some may benefit hearing my experience.
Oh, and the tug, as always, it was fine.
|The boardwalk quickly gives way to forested trail|
|See the ferry approaching the anchored sailboat?|
|Sailing in April rain with reefed main|
|Fourth of July celebration in the San Juan Islands at Roche Harbor Resort|
This is a short accounting of what we watched evolve on a balmy calm peaceful Sunday afternoon. The gentleman side tied behind us cast off, he said he was going to swing by the pumpout on the other dock and then head for home. I waved from our cockpit and dove back into my magazine. Suddenly my concentration is interrupted by a revving engine. "Somethings wrong," I said to Linda, "look over there." The boater that had just left had entered the next fairway, the current was dragging him towards the two foot high aluminum footbridge that connects the walkways. "He's in trouble," I said, "the currents too much and he can't complete the turn." Next, to my surprise he guns the engine of his thirty footer, full throttle, attempting to make a 180 degree turn before he strikes the walkway. His boat does indeed miss the footbridge and almost completes the turn but instead, he hits the dock next to the pumpout and with engines screaming, he drives the as yet undamaged boat three quarters of the way onto the dock. Not quite out of the water and at a steep angle he slams it into reverse. The boat instantly pulls off the dock, sliding back into the water. Now mostly turned around, the boat powers backwards towards the footbridge. The unmistakable sound of crunching fiberglass is heard a split second afterwards as the driver finally throttles back and then kills the engines.
The whole sad episode is over as fast as the engines could rev up. By the time I and some other onlookers get over there with our boat hooks the boat is back in the water floating peacefully next to the pumpout. What can you say to someone that has just trashed their boat in a frenzied show of dumb mistakes compounded by more dumb mistakes.
Speaking for myself and probably a few other skippers that have misjudged currents and our boats handling or lack of handling. I will say, I too have gunned the motor in a last ditch effort to clear an obstacle. I may even have bumped a few times. Luckily I have never done any real damage or I have suppressed the memory.
Experience teaches us lessons, sometimes expensive lessons. In this instance, one lesson learned is to not try to turn around upstream of anything you don't want to hit. In lieu of that, don't hit it at full throttle.
In this situation two alternative actions come to mind. #1 the driver could have turned his boat around outside the fairway and backed down to the pumpout, although he would still run the risk of crashing if he lost power or control in the strong current. #2 and a better choice, would be to choose another location or wait for a tide change. Sometimes it is best to not push your luck.