A Travellerspoint blog

Will These People Never Learn???

We sold the boat in November, 2013, going on five years now. Last June, we got to complete the missing leg of our cruise to New England: Maine in Penobscot Bay and the area around Acadia National Park. And, it was good.

Carol's sister, Joan, had given us a book some years back about the 50 best places to visit on a cruising boat, one of which was the San Juan Islands, north of Seattle, WA. This, of course, got me thinking about and researching the Salish Sea, the waters between the western side of British Columbia and Vancouver Island to the west. The Salish Sea is about 130 nm long but not much more than 20nm wide in most places. The San Juan Islands are part of this geography.

Drilling down in Google I came across a reference to a Marine Park in British Columbia. So, I decided to use that as a search criteria and voilĂ  ... it turns out that pretty much both the east and west coasts of the Salish Sea covered with National Marine Parks, the equivalent of our Yellowstone or Smoky Mountain national parks. This pretty much sealed the deal. We were not quite done with our watery ways.

Finding a boat was easy enough. Timing was a little tougher. The better and warmer the weather, the higher the charter rates. I opted for mid-June, just before the prices jump. We will get off the boat on June 19th; the rates go up on June 20th. The trade off is that the wind will be better when we are there than later in the season. It will also be cooler, much cooler, and rainier, much rainier, and the thing that makes this trip possible is that the boat we chartered has a diesel heater which will, I hope, keep my narrow body comfortable, or, at least, not freezing.

Carol and I divided the travel responsibilities in two: I did on the water planning and she did on the land planning, flights, hotels, etc. My part was different from anything which I had previously done. The charts we will be using are from the Canadian Hydrographic Office. In all the pages of charts there is not a single way point or located navigation marker. Big Change! Way points are useful to safe navigation; the premise is that if you travel the straight line between the two points there will not be any safety hazards: reefs, sandbars, obstructions, etc. From the charts. it looks like the water is sooooo deep, hundreds of feet, that the only way to cause a problem is to drive the boat onto the beach. Being a creature of habit, I spent a few hours on Google Earth making my own way points. This will make daily planning and route travelling much better.

The other new(ish) thing is anchoring. We have anchored a boat hundreds of times; not a big deal. We carried 200-ft. of anchor chain and in all those years we only anchored in water deeper that about 20-ft. once: Block Island. This boat carries 300-ft. of chain (see previous statement: the water is sooooo deep). The deal seems to be that there is not much in the way of flat bottoms in these places; the ground slopes very steeply away from the shore. So the trick is to run a line from the boat's stern to the shore and secure it there. Then, when the boat tries to move it will force the anchor to "drag" uphill making it unlikely to pull free. The first couple of times we try to do this we will probably look like clowns but we will not be as bad as when on our first trip south we tried to put out a stern anchor in Awenda Creek, SC. The other caution will be not to foul the propeller, something which I have done on several occasions. Nothing good ever has come from that, ever; the only issue is how bad!!!


The boat we have chartered is called Cecelia, cue Paul Simon: Cecelia, you're braking my heart, you're shaking my confidence daily. It is a 34-ft. Tartan, Tartan's having a reputation as good boats under sail. That is 2-ft. shorter than our boat, but for 2 1/2 weeks, not a problem. Our boat had a main sail that furled into the mast; there were many practical reasons for having selected that set up. But, after having sailed with a fully battened main sail in Maine, last year, we will always sail this rig which Cecelia has.

We will be spending about 2/3's of the trip in Canada, probably having to clear customs on the first or second day out. Ironically, our old passports expired right in the middle of the trip so, we had to get new ones. This will be my 4th or 5th one, having gotten my first one at 17 right after graduation from high school.

We will depart Bellingham, WA on June 2d or 3d, depending on how long it takes us to provision and load our stuff onto the boat. We will be travelling in the couple of weeks prior to the summer Solstice and, being that far north, daylight will be about 17 hours long leaving plenty of time for longer days of travel. The farthest north we have ever been on the boat was Maine, about 44o north. On a car trip to the Canadian Maritime Islands we went to the north end of Prince Edward Island, about 47o north. We intend to get to 50o north which would put us on a parallel with Newfoundland. That's north enough.

This is something to which we look forward but not without concerns. Boating, and particularly boat handling, is not like riding a bicycle and it doesn't automatically all come back. The bigger concern is with the boat. What happens if there is a problem when we are way north. Probably no cell coverage and no way to communicate using VHF. I don't know the boat and I don't have a good tool set even if I could isolate the problem. We have sailed out of one disaster and I'm sure we could do it again but I not really looking for another merit badge. One is enough; actually one is one too many.

A nice lady we know is going to stay in the house while we are away. While we were having dinner and discussing things she said that one compatibility test for couples is to spend two weeks on a sailboat. Carol and I have passed all the previous tests; here's hoping that we can do it again.

Posted by sailziveli 09:35 Archived in USA

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

Comment with:

Comments left using a name and email address are moderated by the blog owner before showing.

Not published. Required
Leave this field empty

Characters remaining: