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Showing posts with label camping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label camping. Show all posts

1/15/2017

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


11/14/2016

San Juan Islands Kayak Campsites and Launch Points - GPS

 Campsites and Launch places for kayakers

kayak launch and campgrounds in the san juan's, marine trail

Below and on map are campgrounds for kayakers
San Juan area kayak launching and campground list cascadia marine trail
 Black labels below and on MAP - are kayak launch sites - most with parking


5/29/2015

Fast Track to the San Juan's and Patos Island State Park

In keeping with this sites purpose to help newcomers get to the San Juan's, you will find listed below selected posts and links.

These posts are the bare essentials needed to get you off on that trip to the San Juan's, the rest is up to you. (click on the links)

  1. Where to launch your boat and park your rig!
    • Where to Launch your boat and park your rig
      • First choice = Bellingham - (Squalicum Harbor)
      • Close runner up = Deception Pass State Park (Cornet Bay)
      • La Conner city ramp (Swinomish Channel)
      • Washington Park - Anacortes
      • Cap Sante - Anacortes (sling only)
  2. Suggested Itinerary!
  3. All the Parks with complete descriptions and chart snips!
  4. Rent if you don't have a boat!
  5. 12 fuel docks- marinas - resorts - you should know about before you take off into the unknown!

Is this all you need?
Of course not, but if you are a competent boater, the above posts will answer many questions you want answered.


Anchor at Patos Island State Park
Patos Island Anchorage


Did you know you can ask silly questions? Use the e-mail box on the left side somewhere.

5/12/2015

Waterfront San Juan County Parks for Camping


San Juan County parks are pretty much ignored by the boating crowd, could it be that the lack of overnight floats keeps them away?

Anchor and paddle to shore at  Small Pox Bay on Haro strait in the San Juan Islands
SJ County Park is an easy dinghy ride from anchor in Small Pox Bay.  This popular campground is great for  kayakers heading out to Haro Strait for Orca watching.
Shaw Island Campground
Shaw County Park Campground picnic shelter
     On Lopez Island is Odlin County Park, the only county park  with a dock.  You can load and unload but the sign says to limit your tie up to two hours.  Out in the bay are a handful of buoys and decent anchoring, but expect swells from passing traffic. This park would make an excellent rendezvous spot with friends arriving by ferry, or in twenty minutes you can ride your bike to Lopez Village for snacks or provisions.  Beachfront camping rounds out a really nice place.

     Shaw Island, boasts Shaw County Park in Indian Cove. (off Upright Channel across from Odlin county park) While offering a protected bay for anchoring, the beach is somewhat  flat making dinghy landing a chore and wet feet likely. The campground is cliff front in the trees requiring using a stairway to access from shore.  A wooden boat ramp gets your vehicle across the sand but leaves a lot to be desired at anything but high tide.

     San Juan Island County Park is located at Small Pox Bay on Haro Strait.  The road from Roche to Lime Kiln Park (Whale Watch Park) provides vehicle access.  The quite small rock free bay is easy to drive into from Haro Strait offering room to anchor one or two boats front and center in front of the ranger station. The beach is dinghy friendly and has a boat launch ramp provided your skiff is an easy launch and your car is four wheel drive.  This park is a favorite for orca watchers that crowd the point jutting from shore offering elevated unobstructed viewing equal to that at Lime Kiln Park.

 (FYI, you can make reservations up to 90 days in advance at all three San Juan county parks at https://secure.itinio.com/sanjuan/  or google San Juan County Parks) All the parks offer bike and hiker sections.
Odlin park county dock on Lopez Island
Odlin Park on Lopez island has a two hour dock limit -
find Odlin across from Indian Cove and  Canoe Island on Upright channel.

Shaw Island County Park
The house on right side marks the edge of public beach at Shaw Island County Park. Up in the trees are campsites, grassy fields, restrooms and a picnic shelter. This park is very hard to spot, none of the facilities are visible from the water.



2/28/2015

Good News & Bad News - boat camping fees in Washington's San Juan Islands

     Who can resist a headline stating "Good News" or is it the bad part that draws us in?
No matter. The good news is that anchoring is still free, the other news is that Washington State Park fees for boaters have gone up.

      The reported new fee for using park buoys is $15 per night.  Staying at the float has been increased to 70 cents per foot.  So your 30' mega yacht is now $21 per night.

      On this subject, you may remember an old post where I pondered float etiquette -  Case #1 - a 30' boat hogs the middle of a 50' float leaving no room for other boats, should he pay for 50' or 30'?  Case #2 - the same 30' boat scoots way down and hangs over the end leaving room for more boats, should he be rewarded and only pay for the 20' he uses?  Case #3 - and we all no the answer to this one - do you include the bowsprit, swim step and dinghy davits or go with the much smaller boat length stated by the boat builder, come on be honest, no one is watching.

      Other thoughts on fees:  Park fees are a very small part of our overall boating experience, and yet provide us tremendous benefit. The Washington marine parks are top notch, why wouldn't you want to support them?
Washington camping fees for boats

11/28/2014

Pictures by Land and Sea Around Matia Island in the San Juan's



      A few years back, I  hiked the trail from Pelican Beach to the top of Eagle Bluff on Cypress Island, taking pictures every few minutes along the way.  The resulting pictorial is a pretty good synopsis for those that can't make the journey themselves. See the Eagle Bluff Pictorial hike here.  I decided to do the same thing on Matia, but with a little change up. First I hiked the trail snapping away with wild abandon, then I jumped in the dinghy and hugged the shore continuing taking pictures while I circled the island. Then I deleted most of what I had. The results are  below, you decide if it was worthwhile.
Matia Island picture
The blue marker on the far left marks Rolfe cove, and where we  begin our visit to Matia

First off, exit the dock!
The little four boat float, may be full, but there are two buoys and room for a few boats to anchor.  In a pinch you can anchor in the much larger cove at the other end of the island and do this hike/dinghy tour in reverse.


Hiking boating Matia Island
Boater park fees are  a great deal for what we get in return.


Matia Island in the San Juans
The trail starts at the top of ramp beyond the small picnic campground area.  Matia is unique in that fires are not allowed anywhere, and pets are restricted from trail system.
click where it says read more for the rest of the picture tour!

9/02/2014

At Last Pictures of Bimini in a Bag are posted

     Not all of us can just go out and order a $5000 bimini and have it magically appear installed on our boat. So the mother of invention leads us once again down the path of necessity and creates a "Bimini in a Bag"

Do it your self bimini top #1
"Bimini in two bags"
fits under the v-berth

Do it your self bimini top #2
Organized chaos
is the secret behind many good things.


Do it your self bimini top #3
Rainy day at Roche Harbor and the new bimini was priceless


Read the full description and many more pictures in the long posting titled  "Doing it yourself page" over on the right side menu bar or just click here  >>   doing it yourself ideas



7/24/2014

Boating Time and SEAL Pup Time Everywhere in the San Juan Islands

        You have probably noticed that new pups are out with their moms on all the rocks and reefs.

If you get too close they slip into the water so there is no doubt they prefer we keep our distance.

         Of note though, we have on two occasions this summer come across lost or abandoned pups.  At Inati Bay a pup spent much of the evening and next morning crying.  It swam to each arriving boat and then attempted to suckle the hull circling the boat all the while crying and trying to nurse.  Apparently from under water bottom paints may be confused for moms.

          At Matia, we noticed a pup doing the same thing.  As each new boat came to the dock or anchored out, the pup swam to it.  We dinghied around the island and saw hundreds of moms with pups in the water and hauled up on rocks.  When we returned  to Rolfe Cove the pup came to our dinghy and suckled the fiberglass hull, it was really sad looking up at us with big watery eyes while making sucking sounds on the boat and then on the wood oar.

         That evening as the sun went down we saw the pup work its way up onto the beach beneath the gangplank.  It was there in the morning, still by itself..  We called the marine mammal stranding hotline to report it, but who knows what happened.

        We talked to the volunteer on the phone and they said sometimes people getting too close will cause pups and moms to separate and then become lost.

lost seal pup begging
We didn't attempt to touch this little guy, but it sure seemed like he wanted to be cuddled

Seal pup looking for its mother
The sucking sounds were unmistakable as he worked his way around the boats again and again.

Seal pup left on beach without mother
Settling in for the night as the sun set.

7/10/2014

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?

9/26/2013

This sites purpose

sailingthesanjuans


Before ever going boating in the San Juans, I thought about it a lot.
 What's the right boat? Where will we put in, and park the car? Where will we go, spend the night, get gas. What about the horrible currents, Scary Deception Pass and whirlpools. Was it foolish, reckless, or endangering my family. 
The list of questions was endless and it was frightening making that first big step.

7/11/2013

Anchoring at Roche Harbor for the Fourth of July



     Our plan was to leave La Conner the morning of the fourth, then stop for kayaking at Deception Pass, next grab a quick walk around town and ice cream at Friday Harbor, and make it to Roche about five o'clock.


Arriving at Roche we were not shocked or surprised that the place was really crowded.  Being a believer that you can always find room for one more boat, we took a quick tour of the rafting lines and decided to find a place to squeeze in out in the bay. After anchoring and checking out our swing and the swing of those around us I upped anchor and chose another nearby spot, this time very close to shore, but also with a better view. I set two hooks side by side to keep us off the near by rocks should the wind come up. One anchor would have been fine but I slept better for the extra five minutes work.

The fireworks, as promised were very well done, the wind conveniently spun us around so that our cockpit faced the show and the smoke blew away from us.   All in all no complaints.
Sunset at roche harbor
This pic although lacking something, does convey it was sunset.

Roche Harbor dinghy dock is overrun
Our dinghy is the odd one with the cool wood seat and centerboard trunk.

One of many artworks and sculptures at Roche Harbor
Roche sculpture along foot path by county dock

Crowded 4th of July at Roche Harbor
More sculpture

No rust, must be stainless steel.



Seeing a price tag with a sculpture brings out the art critic and connoisseur, feel free to purchase.


We finished the cruise with a stop over and hike at Stuart followed by a hot dog roast and  windy night anchored at Jones. The next day we ran over to hike and sail Sucia where we spent a  rather noisy evening at the dock on Fossil Bay. The fourth day, after a quick hike on Matia, and a drive by of the salmon pens at Deepwater Bay (Cypress), we were back at our slip in La Conner.

This was a pleasant, low key enjoyable little trip of about 110 miles.
(I really like my new laptop gps)  read about laptop gps here

BTW, the news Wed. night (three days after arriving back home) was that one of the 85 foot for sale yachts we were all ogling on the fourth burned and sunk at the dock at Roche.  It's really shocking (a little scary too) to see news pictures of a yacht you had just admired, and now sunk with just its charred stern above water next to the dock.

5/30/2013

Does the law require non-swimmers to wear life jackets (pfd) in the San Juan's - No it does not, but some folks on some boats must wear pfd's.

Oh boy, let's argue.
                  Seriously, you should be conversant with and follow pfd rules, they make sense and save lives.  This article is a semi-non serious look at the actual usage on board cruiser vessels.

        First of all I'm not trying to make an argument but make a point of different thinking. (just for fun)
Here goes -
        If, and I mean if only one life jacket is worn on board, most would say it should be worn by a clumsy non swimmer because they will most likely need it. In this intellectually challenged exercise I suggest that the one and only life jacket should be worn by the most capable person because no one else on board is likely to be able to save him.
       
             The most capable person will have to save himself when no one else is able, hence he should wear the life jacket.  Because >> When the most capable person is gone the rest may perish, when the most capable person needs help, who will help him. So with this way of thinking we must preserve the most capable so that the less capable may then be helped.

       Was that clear? OK try this scenario  -- The skipper gets knocked overboard (crazy crew screws up) and is unconscious in the water without a pfd.  By the time the clueless crew can recover (if ever) him/her, its too late.    Now the remaining persons on board are at greater risk without the numero uno.

        Next scenario  --The clumsy helpless crewman trips and goes in the drink without a pfd. The immensely capable skipper springs into action, rescues the klutz in minutes and saves the day.

        My backwards conclusion is that in the first scenario the skipper may have survived had he been wearing the only pfd, but the klumsy klutz crew probably would have survived without a pfd due to the skill of the skipper.

        What! What is he suggesting, that the skipper gets the only pfd? Outrageous! Blasphemy! What about the Master's responsibility to ship, crew and passengers - Keel haul the laggardly sot.

      On a serious note:
        Look around the docks where all the boats are coming and going and you invariably see the women and children  (even pooches) bundled up in the latest good looking approved flotation apparel. Makes sense, right? - save the hapless and helpless from succumbing to a maritime accident lurking around the next slip or piling. Look closely and many times you see the person stepping (we never jump do we) from boat to dock or dock to boat, handling lines, pushing off, keeping track of passengers, other boats, etc, etc, is not wearing a pfd. All the passengers that are seated and doing nothing are properly belted in, but the one person really in harm's way, the one person all others depend on, the one person the others may not be able to save - is not wearing a pfd at all.

       I need to end this tirade by saying that simply having pfd's on board may keep the regulators happy but won't help the unfortunate skipper over the side, while his helpless family watches him struggle.

        There are certain times (docking-working on deck) when all crew and skipper should be wearing safety gear - and that is just good seamanship.

Sobering thought!
discussion for wearing pfd's



5/27/2013

How many Anchors do you need for cruising in the San Juan Islands when Visiting the Marine Parks

One anchor!
Two!
More?
      The quick and easy answer is, "you need the same amount anywhere you go"
No help so far, Okay lets talk a scenario that could be any of us.

You arrive at your first nights anchorage, a quiet little protected bay with a rocky bottom.
What a great vacation, hot dogs over a campfire onshore, some wine or beer, a really restful nights sleep, rich coffee in the morning, and then when you try to raise the anchor your hooked to the biggest rock in the world. after hours of pulling from all directions you finally give up and cut the line, ouch, 250 bucks worth of anchor and rode, gone.  Oh well, your not going to let a lost anchor spoil a perfect vacation and off you go to the next idyllic spot in the San Juan's.

Now it really hits home, the dock is full, no one offers to or wants to raft your boat.  So you think, that's okay, I'll just go ashore in  the dinghy find an anchor shaped rock, bring it back to the mother ship, and tie it to whats left of the cut rode. Except the rode is too short, and you need to stay on board to keep circling in the boat because no one in your crew (wife and children) is qualified to run the boat while your rock hunting.  So your current ex-spouse rows to shore, and .... see where this is going?

What should happen is you break out a spare anchor and rode that's stored and ready to deploy once you tie off the bitter end.  Your admiring first spouse and children think you're a hero.

OK, dinghy scenario.  Your youngest children that have just mastered rowing are off somewhere nearby while you snooze or read a book.  Little do you know but they just lost both oars and the wind is quickly
Click below to read more

10/27/2012

VHF Marine Radio Etiquette Rules to follow and how to entertain other boaters

We talked about radio use before, but lets do it again because some of us need to lighten up.

Marine radio rules and regs for us to follow

Some of us when calling (hailing) our good buddy's say the boat name they are calling (usually some descriptive name like "barfing good times for all" or "I think I heard enough already" or this true one "om pa pa - om pa pa" try listening to that three times ) three or four times in a row, and if that's not tedious enough they say it clearly, plainly, slowly, enounciatingly, pronounciatingly, excruciatingly perfect. Enough already again, just say it once, normally -- are you in love with saying the boats name or something? Besides you just talked to them five minutes ago, why should all of us have to listen to your ten minute hailing speech again. And then, all you have to say is something like, "Hey Joe, do you want french or thousand Island dressing?"


Now I know its proper to repeat three times when hailing -- but give it a break.

Here are some pet peeves and tongue in cheek ideas:
  • Is your radio set on low power when you call Joe, no one in the next state wants to hear you.
  • How about staying on 68 or 69, 71,72, if you're going to keep calling every five minutes.
  • If they don't respond, wait awhile longer than thirty seconds before trying again, unless the world is ending it wont matter.
  • Try using your cell phone.
  • If your making us all listen to your party plans, how about an open invitation.
  • Sticky mikes happen a lot,  check yours if your not hearing anything. The easiest way is with another radio. (call for a radio check)
  • Just say the name once--pleeease, unless it really does sound  better to repeat repeat
Okay, I've cooled off some, ranting can be therapy, let's continue.
  • Transmit on low power unless, a mayday call (radios have a high/low switch).
  • Hail on channel 16 and then agree to switch to 68,69 or others for chit chat.
  • Keep your chit chat short, others are waiting and we only have a few channels for recreational use.
  • Btw, radio use (all channels) is supposed to be for operational purposes not chit chat and exchanging dinner recipes. This rule is widely ignored,
  • Btw, did you know your required to monitor 16 if you have a radio?
  • Be polite and concise, then get off. 
  • Hold the mike close but don't yell.
  • You can say over but you dont need to, most know when its over.
  • Over.
  • Roger.
  • Roger dodger.
  • Standing by on 16, 69, pins and needles.
I'm good, I'm done.


Another radio post here >>marine-radios-do-you-need-one?


9/09/2012

Here is my proof "paying it forward" pays off

A while back I wrote about helping others when boating,  (click here to read that post) and someday you might need a little help out yourself, well last month I got help in a very big way, reinforcing my conviction about paying it forward.

Here in a nutshell is what happened. We found ourselves a 100 miles or so and a week into our cruise when the diesel engine quit.  To continue on our way we had our 7.5 hp kicker and 3 gallons of gas which was not enough gas to make it to the nearest gas dock let alone on to the San Juans. After some cell phone calls to my son at home, (he was at a computer online) I decided to run about five miles to a nearby shutdown marina, anchor the boat and take the dinghy to shore and a road where I would call a taxi from a neighboring town 15 miles away (or hitch hike) to take me to somewhere to buy four five gallon fuel containers and bring them back to the dinghy full of gas. Sounds like a miserable way to finish a cruise but a workable plan never the less.
But it turned out great, while paddling my dinghy to shore I started talking with two fisherman in their dinghy, that were just finishing up crabbing for the day.  They offered me a ride, they took me into town, waited while I bought four new gas jugs, took me to a gas station and brought me back to the dinghy.  All this in less than an hour, heck we spend more time watching eagles than this little emergency excursion took. When I fished out a twenty and offered to pay for their time or at least the fuel cost they politely refused.  My response to their generosity was to promise to help someone in need and keep it going.

So "paying it forward" is very much alive and well, and apparently I still have credits in my account.


proof paying it forward works

8/12/2012

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.
John



8/01/2012

How many hp does it take to battle the current getting to the San Juans?

We are tied up in slip F23 at Friday Harbor for our second night and since we have free wifi I thought I would let you know what is going on right now.

Rosey in her slip at Friday Harbor marina
Guest slip at Friday Harbor



I can proclaim Rosey has made it to the San Juans, but the story is far from told.
As you know we started in La Conner and made a 160 mile detour into Hood canal.
At our farthest turn around point Roseys old engine chose to quit and we were forced to return to LaConner using our 7.5 hp Honda dinghy motor. After some discussion and a good nights sleep in our rented slip we decided to push on to San Juan Island at a maximum 4 mph and hope the wind would help out. The trip to Friday Harbor took about eleven hours overall. We had some following wind boost in Lopez sound, but when we turned the corner into Upright Channel things came to life and we had fantastic sailing right to the marina breakwater, at times our gps showed us 7.1 mph. Every tack required un-hooking jib sheets from handle bars, next time I load bikes I will try to improve the system.

Yesterday we rode our bicycles to Cattle Pass Point Lighthouse and then over to Lime Kiln Park, a distance of about 35 miles.  We had to walk up some of the hills and several jerks honked at us. None us of were really in shape, but today we feel good with no soreness so it worked out fine

Today we plan to head back with a stop at Spencer Spit and then spend the night at James Island while we wait for flood tide tommorrow morning, hopefully the current will  whisk us all the way to LaConner because our 4 mph speed is stopped dead by an opposing wind and current.

Spencer Spit on Lopez Island in the San Juan's
Spencer Spit
Rosey anchored at James island in the San Juan's
Anchored at James Island


So the answer to the "how many horsepower" question is 7.5 hp, but were not back to La Conner yet.
John
(for anyone that is curious - I switched to a 15 hp Honda and gained one mph in top speed and one mph in cruising speed - imho 15 hp is the correct outboard auxiliary power for a boat like Windrose (seven ton +-)

one week later from home:

OK, update time, first off, the four boat dock at James Island was full so we had to anchor out and dinghy to shore at the kayak campground for our campfire to cook hot dog and s'mores. Anchoring was a real chore, we tried setting the hook three times in two locations before I felt good enough to sleep through a tide change. We ended up with a Bahamian set using our grapple anchor for number two. Plus at Linda's urging I set Roseys antique sounder alarm at two fathoms, I slept like a rock until daylight. We waited for the current change and upped anchor around noon, as soon as we came around the end of James the kicker quit. For a moment I considered raising sail but decided trying to claw off a lee shore was a bad move. We had about a thousand feet before we would be in trouble, and knowing we could quickly drop three hooks I concentrated on fixing the kicker problem asap. Turned out the primer bulb was sucking air because the hose barb was broken halfway through, with a little realigning of the hose it started up and never quit again, but the problem obviously needs attention before we depend on it again. Once clear of James with the wind still on our beam we loosened both sails and made quick work of Rosario Strait. The wind held steady and the helping current up Guemes channel boosted us along at over 5mph right into Swinomish channel where the wind quit, but the current and kicker carried us up to LaConner in short order. With only one half mile left to reach Shelter Bay the current did an about face. Under Rainbow bridge I let the motor idle in neutral so I could measure the current with the gps, astonishingly we were already being swept back at 2 mph and losing fast. We quickly spun around and ran at wot to regain our lost ground and make it into the protected channel leading to our moorage. Luckily we gave our selves just enough time to make it, an hour or so later would have been a nightmare current possibly forcing us to anchor in the channel somewhere waiting for the current change.

Sunrise in saratoga passage sailing the san juan's
Sunrise from shore from Langley on Whidbey Island in Saratoga Passage

All systems running before engine gave up
see the old spinning flashing light depth sounder? (very nostalgic)

navy blockade off Hood canal for submarine
Stopped by Navy for submarine while crossing to Port Ludlow

Lonely Rosey is only guest at Pleasant Harbor on Hood Canal, btw hot showers, wifi come with slip fee

Camp Parson Boy Scout Camp at Jackson Cove on Dabob Bay (Hood Canal)
 We anchored at Camp Parsons and went ashore for the Campfire on Jaidens last night of summer camp. Our primary reason for making trip up Hood Canal was to pick up Jaiden  and then head north to our planned bicycle trip around San Juan Island. In the morning after all the scouts had departed in their many cars we discovered Rosey's engine had given up for good. With only our 7.5 kicker and three gallons of gas our options were limited.  With the help of Quintin in Portland via cell phone, google maps, and an upcoming beer festival for incentive. We were directed five miles to Seabeck where I anchored and took the dinghy to shore.  I then hitched a ride with some local fisherman to Home Depot, purchased four five gallon gas cans and returned with enough fuel to complete our journey.


Our first trip with Rosey is behind us now, we spent twelve days, covered over two hundred sea miles, 35+ bicycle miles, got held up by a nuclear sub, what a great time.


   Here is a follow up about Roseys not starting that morning.  It turned out the shut down lever was still pulled out due to a weak spring or whatever, and after an aggravating but sorta adventurous ordeal I discovered the  issue, pushed the lever, and she started up and has ran fine ever since. So operator error or something like that hits again.   


5/16/2012

Best Dinghy Beaches (and worst) in the San Juan Islands

     What makes a good dinghy beach? Scroll to the bottom for my number one and number two choices when sailing the San Juan Islands

        At first I was just going to list some features good dinghy beaches share, then I realized San Juan newcomers  may need or want a warning to help in trip planning. So lets be clear, just because a beach is considered a good dinghy beach does not mean it is worthy of a visit and conversely, if someone says the beach is no good for dinghy's does not mean you should not plan a stop over. Forewarned is forearmed or something like that.

       In my opinion a good dinghy beach allows you to get to shore and back to the boat with a minimum of fuss and bother.
In no particular order, lets make a list of likes and dislikes.

  • not getting feet wet getting into and out of dinghy is really nice.
  • ditto for all tide levels, so the angle (slope) of the beach is crucial
  • gravel versus mud is a no brain-er 
  • sand is better than mud, but both track into dinghy and back to the boat (gravel doesn't track)
  • something nearby to tie the painter to, like a massive old log
  • a cool view of my boat when I turn around
  • a nearby restroom is handy
  • not smelling like dead seaweed is a plus
  • fires permitted and driftwood is always nice for evenings
  • nearby tide pools for exploring
  • security is something some spots lack (theft of dinghy or contents)
  • free roaming dogs! or other wildlife
  • how about a lack of bugs and bird droppings
  • what about western view of the setting sun
  • protection from weather driven waves
click on -read more- to find my two best dinghy beach choices

4/09/2012

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.

Navigation Aids (buoys and markers) red/green lights

    In keeping with this sites mission, I thought just a few (all I know) bits of information are in order.
If you're an old salt, skip right past this post, but first timers or part-time first mates may find something useful.

      Aids to navigation are the road signs of  our waterways, and just like driving a car down the highway you wouldn't think of not knowing or understanding some basic safety rules. Consider a three year old driving toward you on the road,  he can't reach the brakes, he can't read the stop sign, he doesn't know which side of the road to drive on.  Now picture yourself driving your shiny new boat in a busy waterway or dangerous channel.  No brakes, check!, confusing striped buoys, check!, parallel park a boat, oops, check!.  You owe it to other boaters to understand a few rules,or at the very least have lots of liability insurance. Speaking of insurance, does your insurance cover damage to your boat and passengers and the mega monster and passengers that you hit?


     The three R's (3 aaarrr's) rrr. is a  nautical mnemonic you should memorize  "Red, Right, Returning" That's it, everyone knows it, everyone uses it, so should you.
Another cool nautical mnemonic for you is, "a good red wine is port" which will remind you that all boats running lights will have a red on the port side bow, which leaves green for the starboard side bow

    3R's "red, right, returning" means to me, keep the red buoys on my right when returning from sea. So this means keep the green ones on your left. Returning from sea would also be heading up river.  As a practical usage, one would approach and enter a strange marina keeping the red markers on his right. See, already you're keeping off the rocks.  Of course there are a few places where local conditions dictate other rules.  For example, Swinomish Channel has red buoys on the right at both ends of the passage.

    What good is knowing which side of a boat (or big ship) the red and green lights are on?  I'll tell you why but first you need to turn off the sun and go boating at night, next when you see a red light coming at you adjust your course so you don't collide. OK, now what if its a green light is coming towards you? OK, now what if the green light changes to red and then back to green? What if the light is both green and red? I'm just a little confused and so are others. Out on the water these are the signals that boaters use to tell others what their intentions are, and there is no confusion if you remember a few rules.
Remember this  "a good red wine is port"   It means the red light is on the left side (port) of the boat.  Following normal rules of the road you would meet other boats keeping to the right, just like on the highway, so you pass each other red to red (port to port).  OK when you see a red, then green, then red changing again, and again, it means they are turning back and forth. A steady red/green at the same time means the other vessel is more or less pointed at you. OK, now when you wander back and forth steering your boat like a drunken... you can imagine what message your lights are sending out over the dark waters. 

      Some wisdom learned the hard way:
 When navigating in darkness and the lights you are watching go out (as in you can't see them suddenly) it may mean something is in the water between you and the lights, let's see what could be blocking the view. A headland, another boat, a reef or rock, a piling, your crews head. What it means is you better stop or slow down and figure out immediately why the lights are blinking.

Just for fun I looked up some other sayings:

When all three lights I see ahead,
I turn to Starboard and show my Red:
Green to Green, Red to Red,
Perfect Safety -- Go Ahead.

Red over Red The Captain Is Dead
Vessel not under command



Danger Signal: Blast quick five To stay alive
This is the danger signal, to be given if you think there is confusion or imminent danger of a collision.
It's also the signal the ferry boat will blast at you if you're being stupid.

"I wonder if there's any red port wine left," OK, I got it now, red on left and port means left.


Below are  a few buoys that need to be understood
navigation buoys aids and what they mean


The top band marks the preferred channel



navigation buoys aids and what they mean

Safe water, the above buoys  may be passed on either side

navigation buoys aids and what they mean
Stay away, these buoy mark rocks and bad things.
(check your chart)


The below buoys are your sign posts,
 odd numbers on green, even on red, 
the same numbers are on your chart.
Red Right Returning  3rrr's
navigation buoys aids and what they mean in the san juan's
The above striped marker demands your attention, slow down or stop
 until you figure out where you are.

Many times individuals will make a buoy/marker out of a jug or old fender.
Do yourself a favor and use caution, there is a reason for the marker, and watch out for a trailing line if its floating free, you don't need something wrapped around your propeller.


If you had a chart, you would be able to spot nav. aids on chart
 and figure out where you are and what to do.
I use NOAA chart number 18421, it has an 80,000 scale. I prefer this chart because it shows most of the area I like to cruise on one chart. You may wish to have a larger scale and more charts
here is the url for noaa chart 18421  http://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineViewer/18421.shtml
here is the noaa index for other charts in the Pacific Coast area http://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineViewer/PacificCoastViewerTable.shtml


By the way, if you're using your chart for trip planning purposes you may like non navigation charts/maps better.  We find a fish-n-map chart inexpensive and very useful.
Our favorite for planning is a full color waterproof laminated tourist map with topo lines, but does not show depth or rocks.


A warning some boaters don't heed,

Please don't take off anywhere with just your chart plotter or portable gps, iphone, or whatever gadget is popular today. You really need to have a hard copy chart or map. (and a compass too)  If it just sits rolled up in the corner that's fine. You probably don't use your whistle, flares, pfd's, or any number of emergency items either, but you still carry them.