Memorial Day Weekend – Day 1

Thursday 21 May 2020 – Shilshole Marina to Cornet Bay, Whidbey Island unnamed bay WNW of Hope Island
wx – small craft advisory for the Strait of Juan de Fuca with W/SW winds 30-35kt

Memorial Day weekend started early as Geri woke up on Thursday morning with a sore throat and runny nose. After running errands, shopping, and getting her tested for C-19, we were able to set off around 5pm.

Geri getting us to Hope Island

Geri took the helm for the majority of this run and headed for the east side of Whidbey Island as it would provide good shelter from the weather from the west. This was largely successful and we were only exposed to the winds for a short distance, from Onamac Point on Camano Island until we made our turn east just south of Polnell Pt, Whidbey Island. On that stretch though, the wind was a steady 25kt gusting to 35kt with 2’-3’ wind waves and we took a considerable amount of spray on the windshields and port side. Geri identified that we really should have intermittent windshield wipers as there wasn’t always enough spray to justify keeping them on but there was definitely enough to have intermittent which resulted in her reaching over to turn them on and off and on and off….

The only mishap we experienced was shortly after I took the helm just before our turn east, south of Polnell Pt. As the wind and wind waves had become particularly strong, I pushed the throttles up to make the turn with a bit more speed. Just after I started the turn, with the engines turning 2400RPM, we heard a loud crash from the galley. Geri investigated and found that the refrigerator door had opened allowing several bottles of beer, a can of Coke, and a White Claw to escape onto the floor. The Coke and White Claw cans are nigh indestructible but 3 of the beers managed to commit suicide, one of them decapitating itself. She cleaned up the beer mess and broken glass while I kept us in the channel with the wind and waves now at our stern. The push was nice and for a brief time we were making 18-20 effortless knots.

We intended to spend the night in Cornet Bay at the north end of Whidbey Island until we spotted another boat anchored just south of Hoypus Pt, along the northeast coast of Whidbey, just northwest of Hope Island. A shallow cove combined with the elevation of the island here provided great shelter from west/southwest winds. This would also be our first night on our new anchor, an 85# Mantus M2. Overnight winds peaked at 28kt and the easily set anchor held fast. Retrieval required me to drive over it as it was set deep but it wasn’t a problem.

Friday, 22 May 2020 – Hope Island to Blind Bay, Lopez Island Echo Bay, Sucia Island
We had a pretty leisurely morning as we were shooting for the slack after ebb in Deception Pass at a little after 10:00. I got in touch with the Frances (Our Lady), as Dominique had posted on Facebook they were at Saddlebag Island on Thursday, to see if they planned to head further out over the weekend. They were making for Echo Bay on Sucia island after a couple morning conference calls. After discussing, Geri and I decided to make for Echo Bay as well and meet up with them. We had the anchor up and were underway by 09:30 which put us at Deception pass a bit earlier than planned. We watched the commercial clamming boat “Clam Digger” go through the pass about 20 minutes before slack and I decided we would be safe taking it early as well. Once we exited Deception Pass, we turned north inside Deception Island to follow our route up Rosario Strait and around Lawrence Pt. to Sucia Island.

Enroute we came across commercial/tribal buoys crossing our route past Williamson Rocks and detoured east to once again follow Clam Digger for a while. From there, it was just pushing hard into the current of Rosario Strait while we transited to Sucia

We chatted with Our Lady a couple times while enroute and learned their preferred mooring were the balls in the cove just west of west of Ewing Island. In reviewing the Active Captain notes on the chart plotter, we learned that entering from the east was necessary as there is a submerged rock coming in from Echo Bay. Unfortunately, my misperception of cardinals at Sucia caused us to enter through the north channel. We had arrived at low tide and the channel is very shallow. We didn’t ground or bump but we may have had less than 2 feet of water under the rudders. I later learned that the east entrance is not through the channel but rather parallels Echo Bay. Unfortunately, it was all for naught as the buoys were all taken so we made for the head of Echo Bay and dropped anchor in 30 feet of water.

The anchor didn’t set on the first attempt so we brought it up and tried again a little further from other boats and it set perfectly. The rest of the day involved lounging, eating, napping, a dinghy ride and a hike on shore with all the Frances – Noah, Dominique, Michael, Annabell, Francine, and Rielly the furry family member. Anchoring Lil Circus on shore requires specialized equipment and planning. An Anchor Buddy (a bungee anchor line) and a long line ashore allow Lil Circus to be anchored off the beach without requiring a swim, usually. If you anchor at low tide and set the anchor well away from shore and don’t have a long enough shore line and return after the tide has come in significantly… well, you may end up swimming anyway. We didn’t yet have our dinghy anchor or anchor buddy so we tied to Our Lady’s dinghy and let Noah set the anchor. Upon our return, the shore line was nowhere to be seen and the dinghies were well off shore in deep water. Noah did the cold work and ended up wading up to his lower ribs before he was able to locate the line with his toes. Lesson learned for us, dinghy beach anchoring system ordered from Amazon and will be onboard before our next cruise.

Dinner and drinks with the Frances ended a wonderful day on the water and set us up for a good night’s sleep.

  • shawn.hammer

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