Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Sailing the San Juans Day 6

Day 6:  San Juan Island, Friday Harbor

No wind! But a deck shower and crab omelets for breakfast made a great start for the morning.

Even without wind, the morning just got better.  A transient pod of orcas showed up!  We spent about ½ hour watching the whales feed.  The orcas were playing with their food, a seal that was not quite quick enough. The seal feeding distinguished this pod from the resident pods that only feed on salmon (primarily chinook, fattier than the other types).  The resident pods of orcas are threatened by a combination of reduced salmon numbers, noise pollution in the water from increased boat traffic, sonar, etc., and poisoning from PCB’s and other carcinogens in the environment.  

Wind speed finally came up above 6kts and we put up sail for a little while until it dropped back down below 4.  If we kept at this, we wouldn’t make Friday Harbor by nightfall, so we furled sail and motored the rest of the way.  Friday Harbor on San Juan Island is the largest port in the San Juans and home to a slew of enormous yachts.  We went ashore to check out the town of Friday Harbor, and spent about an hour at the Whale Museum and then went for ice cream (as if we didn’t have enough food). We found this great ice cream place that had some exotic flavors including Kentucky bourbon that had real bourbon and required ID.  It paired nicely with apple pie ice cream.  I was thinking about going back before we left port tomorrow morning after breakfast. 

Sailing the San Juans Day 5

Day 5: Roche Harbor and Stuart Island

We weighed anchor after breakfast for a short trip to nearby Roche Harbor.  Sailing this morning was not an option due to a distinct lack of wind (3-4 kts), so we journeyed on under steam.  Roche Harbor is a bustling yacht harbor nestled in a protected cove on San Juan Island, and when I say yachts, I mean YACHTS!  There were many power and sail boats in the 110’ range.

The marina also had showers which we all took advantage of. Jon and Jette discouraged the use of the on-board showers which left us all pretty stanky after 3 days.  Once we cleaned up, we strolled through the harbor town to check out a famous local mausoleum.  The town was first settled as a lime stone plant with two large kilns dominating the area near the water.   The owner of the company, McMillin, had 5 children one of which he disowned because he left the Methodist church.  He built a mausoleum for the family and had 6 stone seats at a table in the middle. The eighth seat is missing (for the disowned son).  There is an intentionally unfinished column that represents man dies before his work is completed. The mausoleum cost $30,000 but they ran out of money for the $20,000 brass dome that was never delivered.  Each of the children and McMillin and his wife’s ashes are buried under each of the 6 chairs.  There have been sightings of McMillin’s secretary’s ghost who after committing suicide was buried in the mausoleum as well. We had a little séance around the table, but, alas, no spirits.  
Roche Harbor also had very bizarre sculpture garden.  We did get a few ideas for our garden.
After lunch, we moved the boat to Stuart Island, Prevost Harbor.  Stuart Island has a light house on the opposite side of the island and we took a nice hike to the Turn Point Light Station which is now a museum.  
After returning to the boat, we broke out the kayaks.  It was quite a process getting them rigged and off the deck.  We used the main halyard as a hoist to move the double kayak into the water.  Getting into the boats required dipping our toes in the 50-degree water.  Toby missed a step and got to experience a little bit more of Prevost Harbor.  Fortunately, she was fine, just a little wet.

Dinner tonight was our (Dave’s) proceeds from crabbing last night.  Jette cooked them perfectly and Jon gave us a quick course in the fine art of crab eating.  What a mess, but delish!  Since Jette was concerned with Marty going into anaphylactic shock if he was forced to eat crab, she made his favorite dinner, steak and baked potato with all the fixings. 

He was in 7thheaven.  Coconut cake with butter cream coconut frosting covered with toasted coconut made a great dessert (for us coconut lovers).  Jeri (not a coconut lover) enjoyed the remains of last night’s pecan cheese cake.  She did get her glass of skim milk that Jette forgot at breakfast (about which she was mortified).  Not sure why, but I was exhausted (probably from removing all that crabmeat) and fell asleep at the table.  

Hoping for wind tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Sailing the San Juans Day 1-4

Day 1:  Arrival in Seattle

As the saying goes, “Timing is everything”.  After a completely perfect flight, direct from Boston to Seattle, including a 45-minute early arrival, we had about a 20-minute wait for our luggage.  What we didn’t know at the time was that about the time we were getting impatient, an airport worker was climbing into the cockpit of an Alaska Airlines plane to take it for a joy ride over Seattle.  2 fighters were scrambled from nearby Air Force bases and, eventually, the plane thief wound up fatally crashing the plane on a sparsely populated island.  So, just as we got our luggage, SEA-TAC was shut down for several hours.  Close call! 
 Our hotel was very nearby, and since we were exhausted, we went straight off to bed.

Day 2:  North to Bellingham

After breakfast, I headed to the airport to pick up the rental, back to the hotel to get Jeri and the luggage, and then back to the airport to collect the first wave, Dave and Molly.  Toby and Marty got to the airport only to find out their original flight was cancelled, but they were able to get on another flight about 2 hours later.  
Our Nissan minivan was a bit tight for 6 adults with luggage for 10.  Disembarking was reminiscent of a clown car.  The 2-hour drive to Bellingham turned into a 3 ½ hour epic due to multiple accidents (thanks to crazy Washington drivers).  We finally arrived early evening and fortunately found a great Italian restaurant (D’Anna’s) to have dinner.  

Tomorrow, our sailing adventure begins.

Day 3: Boarding Northwind

This morning we had some housekeeping to do; checkout, shop for boat booze and ginger (for seasickness, return the car to the airport, back to the hotel to pick up everyone and our luggage, and find our boat.  The hotel was great giving us rides both from the airport and to the dock.  

Finally arrived at Northwind and got to meet Jon, Jette, and Taylor (check out the doggie boat shoes!). The boat was exquisite, a 2009 Jenneau 55’ that was meticulously maintained by our crew.  The original owner was, no lie, John Travolta, and Jette and Jon purchased it from Burt Jabins Marina in Annapolis, the same marina that stored our boat when it was there.  While John and Jette finished getting the boat ready for us, we grabbed a bite to eat at a restaurant at the marina.  Dave took a run to the other side of the marina before lunch to get a crabbing license for tomorrow’s attempt at hunting for dinner.

We finally got to board Northwind and were shortly underway on a heading for Echo Bay on Sucia Island. I have to say, sailing with a captain is a lot more relaxing than bareboating- I was able to do as much as I liked, without the responsibilities.  Kind of like what I imagine having grandchildren would be like. We anchored (I didn’t have to do anything!!!), and sat up on deck with cocktails and delicious crab-stuffed mushrooms. This was a good omen for food to come. Jette certainly did not disappoint. Dinner was a fantastic potato crusted halibut with orzo salad, asparagus, and kale salad with blood oranges.  Jette is an amazing chef and so sensitive to all of our myriad dietary requests.  We are definitely gaining weight this trip.  We will have to up our cycling mileage when we get home.

Day 4:  San Juan Island

This morning, after a fantastic breakfast, we took a short hike around the island to try to work off a few calories. 
The wind picked up to about 12kts and we were sailing nicely on a beam reach to our afternoon anchorage in Garrison Bay off of San Juan Island.  Along the route, we saw many beautiful homes,

including the home of the Cinnabon man that included a 9-hole golf course.

We also saw a fair amount of wildlife including seals, Guillemots (birds we saw in the Arctic), ospreys, herons, and geese.
After anchoring (again, I had nothing to do with this, yeah) it was time to hunt for crabs.  They are serious about crabbing here, a lot like lobstering in New England.  We got a one day license that allowed 5 crabs (males over 6.25 inches) and Jon had one for a total of 10.  If you even touch any crabbing equipment without a license, you can be subject to fine or imprisonment.  Consequently, Dave and Jon were the only ones that could work.  I went along to document the event.  The process involved putting the traps together, baiting the traps with a delicious mix of raw chicken salmon, and halibut, and then dropping them overboard.


 We planned to return after dinner to collect or catch.  
Before dinner, we took the inflatable over to the island for a hike.  The island has a population of about 7,000 (including a female WWF wrestler). The dock brought us to the English Fort, a national monument that has a fascinating history.  In 1860, the border between Canada (Britain at that time) and the US was under dispute in this area.  The British and US (under Pickett soon to be of Pickett’s charge) both had garrisons on San Juan Island.  A pig from the British side was eating the garden of a local American who shot it. Incensed, the British requested $800 compensation (about $8million today), and the ensuing dispute called the “Pig War” lasted until 1872.  Fortunately, not a shot was fired and the dispute was eventually mediated by Kaiser Wilhelm I.  Canadians are still unhappy about the outcome which gave the US the territory.  The British encampment is still present as a national monument.  We took a short hike here up to a viewpoint overlooking the island.  Smoke from fires in British Columbia and Oregon, sadly, somewhat obscured the view. 

Back to Northwind to drop off the crew, then on to the crab pots to check our progress.  There were plenty of crabs in the traps, but only 3 that passed muster for sex and size.

Dave and Jon were going to go back out after dinner to pull the traps and hopefully find more crabs for dinner tomorrow.
When we got back to the both, we found Jette in the galley which now looked like a trattoria.  Hand-made pasta for dinner!

Amazing sauce from fresh tomatoes and herbs from their garden topped with huge shrimp.  Dessert was a pecan cheesecake.  There is no hope for our waistlines.
The traps yielded another 4 crabs.  Marty has graciously bowed out from crabs for tomorrow-he’s hoping for a thick, juicy sirloin.