A Travellerspoint blog

Sucia Island

semi-overcast 63 °F

Thursday and Friday, June 14 - 15, 2018


Carol remarked that it was unusual for us to be the fourth boat out, our days underway usually starting before zero dark thirty. We didn’t leave the dock until 0915, leisurely, time for reading the WSJ, unhurried disconnecting power lines, dock lines, unhurried everything. A nice morning. We had chosen as our next destination Sucia Island, rated as one of the two best places for cruisers to visit mainly because there are so many good coves and bays in which to anchor. Actually it's sort of a colony of islands, each having a separate name.

There is a navigational aid for this area of water that I have never seen or even heard of before. It is a chart kit, about 90 different charts, one of which plots the current flow for every hour of every day of the year; that is 61,320 hours per year. This matters because these islands are at the southern end and very close to the open waters of the Pacific. Huge, strong tidal flows constricted by all these islands.

The point of all this is that despite having used the book several times so for, I completely ignored it this particular morning. And it didn’t really seem to matter very much until we cleared the harbor entrance and headed down the channel. The water was turbulent and roiling. Bow on to the current our speed kept dropping: 5 knots, 4 knots, 1 knot. The chart book had indicated that there would be a current of N>2.5 knots flowing against us. In fact it was almost certainly greater than 5.0 knots because at one point we were making 0.5 knots of headway, basically standing still. We were in the deepest part of the channel, more or less trying to go up a funnel against the flow. Bad plan.

After a while, having accomplished nothing, I decided to try a Gulf Stream tactic: get close(r) to shore in shallower water and the current will be less strong. We moved from over 600 feet deep to about 150. This worked OK; we got up to about 3 knots.

I’m standing there thinking about Sylla and Charybdis, purported to be in the Straits of Messina, through which I have been, and the boat does a spurt, 7 knots. It was pretty clear that this was a back current and, sure enough, we passed by a large eddy/whirlpool and I’m trying to remember what Odysseus did. As if I needed it, this was another demonstration about the power nature, weather, gravity when they influence water.
When we exited the lee of the island we were back to standing still. However, we now had wind. So, out go the sails, no problems again, and with the sails and the motor we were able to make decent progress. After about three hours the tide started to turn and things were better.

Currents notwithstanding, it was one of the nicest days we have had. Sunny, pretty warm, a little wind. A good day to be on a sailboat and we were.
We had about 12 - 15 nm to travel; it should have taken about two and a half hours, or so. Actual time was closer to five hours. But, there was a secure mooring ball at the end of the trip, pretty scenery. When we entered the mooring field that afternoon there were less than a dozen boats. By sunset that number were more twenty.

I got the dinghy going, first time, and tried to find the park ranger station to pay our fee. We didn’t have the secret decoder ring and I never found it. The park ranger lady came by later to get our money.

It looks like we’re in for a run of good weather for the few days that we have left. We decided to stay two nights here, Sucia Island, no special reasoning for that. It's just a pleasant and safe place to stay. By about noon, most of the boats that were here last night have moved on. But by dusk there will be a new flotilla arriving just because it's a pleasant and safe place to stay.

Since we have no boat maintenance to do, days like this are leisurely and lazy. The phones and Kindles are in constant use, batteries draining, connections being maintained. As we were struggling against the current yesterday, I got to thinking about how boating today is different from years ago. I don’t think that we, or many of the folks with whom we share and have shared these and other waters, could do so without GPS and chart plotters. The GPS satellites, built and launched for the military, have democratized boating among other activities. Some of my earliest, strongest and best memories involve the beach, ocean and boats. The ocean has always had a fascination for me and I have had the opportunity to pursue that just because we wanted to be better at making war. An ill wind that blew some good.

Posted by sailziveli 12:52 Archived in USA Tagged boats sailing boating sails sailboats

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