27 September - 4 October 2014
 
Last time I was on Bainbridge Island I went sailing 5-6 times with Sandy on her friend Mark's boat. On my way back to Seattle from Alaska I received an invitation to join the Boyz Cruise 2014 - a 9 days sailing trip to San Juan Islands on the border to Canada. And since I love sailing and the timing was perfect I gladly accepted the offer. Besides Mark and his boat Split Arrow we would have company by Rumbera with skipper Scott and Terry - both veteran sailors and many times visiting the San Juan Islands.
 
Instead of commenting everything on the trip in timely order I have written some relevant topics – the pictures shown are in line with the trip timeline.
 
Itinerary
After biking down from Vancouver I had a couple of days for practicalities before we were heading out Saturday morning at 5am from home base Eagle Harbour. Finding it more convenient to sleep on the boat than getting there very early morning, Mark and I met at the boat at 10pm the evening before. Below is our overall itinerary depicted day by day:
 
1) Eagle Harbour on Bainbridge Island via Port Townsend to Bowman Bay by Deception Pass on Whidbey Island
2) Bowman Bay to Patos Island
3) Patos Island via Bedwell Harbour (Canadian immigration and customs) to Port Browning on South Pender Island
4) Port Browning via Saturna Island (hike to peak) to Cabbage Island going west of Saturna Island
5) Cabbage Island back to Bedwell Harbour going east of Saturna Island 
6) Bedwell Harbour via to Friday Harbour on San Juan Island (US immigration and customs) to Spencer Spit on Lopez Island 
7) Spencer Spit via Watmough Bay to Port Townsend
8) Port Townsend to Eagle Harbour on Bainbridge Island
 
All-in-all about 400k (250 miles). The preliminary itinerary had looked somewhat different but one of the things I learned was how much things change along the way (especially because of the weather) and how important it is to always keep several options open.
 
Weather
The first couple of days we had dense fog most of the days. Very interesting sailing with a visibility down to only 30-50 metres (100-150 feet) where anything can pop out of the fog any minute (and you can't hear it because of the motor). Fortunately we didn't encounter big container ships or the like but once a speed boat passed close in front of Rumbera creating a bit of anxiety. One of the few upsides with the fog was a number of fogbows - a phenomenon I had never experienced before… Both days the weather improved late afternoon. Most of the remaining days we had good weather meaning a 50/50 split between sun and overcast and never rain during the day (only one night). When overcast it was around 10-15C (50-60F) and when sunny around pleasant 10C (18F) more….
 
I didn't have high expectations but still the lack of wind came as a surprise. During the 8 days we only sailed around 2 hours accumulated - incredible that a great body of water can be so calm for so many days.
 
Nature and wildlife
The San Juan Islands is allegedly the best area for sailing in the US because of the many islands. The islands looked much alike but I liked the area for the mix of open water and narrow channels. Obviously we spent most of the time on the boats but the trip was nicely planned to visit small islands where we would go ashore to explore a little and if there were picnic tables have dinner. We also went ashore on Saturna Island doing a short hike up to Mt. Warburton Pike which at 397 metres (1,303 feet) is the highest point in San Juan Islands. The others insisted it was a mountain though at that height it seemed more like a hill to me. Afterwards I took a refreshing swim from the boat - I assess the temperature was around 5-10C (40-50F).
 
The lack of wind made it fairly easy to spot wildlife on the surface. Along the way we encountered a couple of spraying humpback whale, sea lions and countless seals and dolphins. We also saw a lot of birds amongst other turkey vultures, ospreys, herons and cormorants. When having dinner on Cabbage Island we saw a deer and several raccoons being very interested in our food. 
 
Learnings and people
As a kid I sailed a number of times with some neighbours but if was always so cold that I lost interest. Later - while traveling especially the Caribbean and South Pacific islands - I've gained an interest in sailing often going to the marinas to hang out with sailors. It seems to be a community of easy-going and interesting people and the opportunity of going where few people (can) go fascinates me. Consequently, I've long been toying with the idea of sailing around the world at some point. Of course it's very different being close to shore and even going ashore daily but still this trip was a good chance to get a feeling of life on a sailboat.  
 
Besides the experience of being on a boat I got a feeling of the dynamics of sailing; what to bring and how to store it, what to consider when there is a destinations (contrary to a day trip out of the harbour) and especially all the ongoing planning based on tides, wind, etc.
 
For a trip like this I could not have asked for better company. As expected I had a great time with skipper Mark and despite the many hours we never ran out of topics to talk about. I didn't know Scott and Terry before but they turned out to be equally interesting both with a great sense of humour. What surprised me a little was the limited interaction with other sailors when we docked for the night in a harbour - not that there were many other people at this time of year but most interaction were greetings and pleasantries. I guess one reason was arriving late and leaving early but more importantly it was rare opportunity for the 3 friends to hang out together. For me it was great because it meant time to get to know Scott and Terry and for everybody to get to know me.
 
Food and sleeping
Mark had provisioned for what he thought was for both of us for the whole trip, so he was shocked when I showed up with a big food box - most of it leftovers from my bike trip. He started questioning me about the individual items but quickly gave up so we brought everything. It turned out to be a good decision as little was left when we returned 8 days later - and we had even stocked up a little along the way. 
 
The others preferred staying in harbours whenever possible with the opportunity of taking a shower, eating in a restaurant, etc. I settled for camping showers (washing by the sink) and a few restaurant meals to be social. However, most of the meals were cooked on the boat or ashore because I had brought my camping stove. There are many beds on Split Arrow but none of them allowed my almost 2 meters ("6'6") so I slept on my air mattress on the floor.
Sailing trip to san juan islands
It was a great trip wi...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
We were to head out at...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Some hours later we go...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
We encountered lots of...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
During the morning the...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
We had to get fuel in ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Mark was a bit concern...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
A view of the Olympic ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Skipper Mark at the he...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
A big paper mill just ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Approaching cosy-looki...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
After getting fuel we ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
I never happened so we...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
A great fogbow - a phe...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Late afternoon we fina...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Approaching the first ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Deception Bridge on Wh...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Very cosy - a floating...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
While Mark and I had m...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Geotagging
A cosy evening and a b...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
The next day we headed...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
This was about as much...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Mid afternoon when we ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Another beautiful fogb...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
And soon it cleared co...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Mark's boat Split Arro...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Late afternoon the wea...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
The small beach with o...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Skipper Mark and I wit...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
In the distance Mt. Ba...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
The other members of t...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Absolutely gorgeous lo...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Cocktails and dinner a...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
... and another beauti...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
The next morning we ha...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Geotagging
After half an hour we ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Geotagging
Always a spectacular e...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
After clearing Canadia...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Fall has definitely ar...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
The restaurant is famo...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Early morning at the h...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Contrary to Mark and I...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Ready for departure - ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
We left at 10am on ano...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Lots of curious seals ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Geotagging
A short rowing trip to...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
We were going to hike ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
We passed a lot of vin...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
After a flat stretch t...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Scott had been here on...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
However, on a short hi...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
After "botanizing" 15 ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Geotagging
Sailing trip to san juan islands
After about an hour we...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Geotagging
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Back at the boats I to...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
A harbour seal relaxin...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Islands everywhere so ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
One of several hoverin...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Lots of seals relaxing...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Geotagging
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Geotagging
Approaching the small ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Early evening we went ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
We were not alone on t...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
As always they were ce...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Morning....
Sailing trip to san juan islands
We had to wait for the...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
A bit of wildlife but ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
After evaluating the c...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
After a relaxing after...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Another beautiful morn...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Mark at the bow....
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Another day with count...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Geotagging
... and many seals...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Geotagging
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Geotagging
Incredible that a grea...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Geotagging
Sailing trip to san juan islands
After 3 1/2 hours we a...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
The harbour is pretty ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
...but also float plan...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
After getting fuel...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
... we rafted and went...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Playful harbour seals....
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
After shopping we left...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Another view of Mt. Ba...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Once again we had dinn...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Besides the beautiful ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
... we had front row s...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
The next morning we le...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
A bunch of cormorants ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
A last view of Mt. Bak...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
The initial plan had b...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Stunning clouds and li...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
We arrived at Port Tow...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
In the evening we walk...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
We left Port Townsend ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Again lots of dolphins...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
... and a sea lion tha...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
Approching Seattle.......
Sailing trip to san juan islands
... and shortly after ...
Sailing trip to san juan islands
We cleaned up the boat...
 
 
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