Thursday, August 19, 2010

The San Juans featuring Ki & Orcas Island Aug. 2007

"Ki" our chartered 42' Tayana Center Cockpit Cutter

This is Sucia Island, Echo Bay, our first nights ancorage, the pic was taken from the top of Orcas Island.
Deer Harbor with the San Juan Channel in the background
Lia and Russell relaxing after anchoring in Echo Bay


Liaand Russell relaxing for after dinner drinks aboard Ki.

Dingy exploration of Deer Harbor where we encountered harbor seals. PFD are necessary as the water temp is in the 50's.

Our favorite Harbor seal.
My Birthday sail in the San Juan Channel with all the sails out on this cutter rig...Pure heaven!

Lia Navigating with the Garmin, Russell at the helm.

The little Marina at Rosario in the East Sound.

A top view of Rosario Resort and the Marina

The deer are friendly at Rosario.

The Inn at Ship's Bay, the wedding destination.

Lynn at the top of Orca's Island.

A shot of Peavine currants through here.

Our approach to Peavine Pass.

Sailing Rosario Strait.

Russell's sharp eyes easily found all the wildlife, porpoise and eagles
This is the first charter where Lynn & I planned & prepared for the entire charter on our own. On all other trips we had 2-3 very experienced couples with us who shared the planning and duties aboard. To prepare for this trip we took an online Navigation course together. We knew it would be different from any other charter we had done due to the complexity of the tides and currents. You have to prepare for 8-12 foot tides and currents up to 4 knots in the passes and channels. Lynn insisted on buying a portable chart plotter to make sure we had a back up to our chart based dead reckoning navigation course. I easily complied to that request. Our daughter Lia and her fiance Russell who were living in Seattle would join us as crew, this would be their first sailing charter and we wanted to make sure they had a great experience. We chose the Tayana 42 since it was one of the boats we were very interested in on our list of cruising boats. We were not disappointed, this boat exceeded any of our expectations in both comfort and exciting to sail.
In the 1st week of August 2007, we had highs of 72-81 and lows of 52-56 during this trip with a full week of sun, no AC or heat needed. Incredible vistas and wildlife everywhere you looked. The Pacific Northwest is boat heaven, every imaginable cruiser power and sail can be seen in the marinas and not one boat is sitting neglected in a slip deteriorating. Since you are in the US waters there are none of the worries of being in a foreign destination which simplified a lot of details. You can easily slip into Canadian waters and we brought along passports just in case the opportunity presented itself, but not on this trip.

We chartered a 2001 Tayana 42 cutter rig from Bellhaven Yacht Charters.
Our Itinerary was:
Day 1: Bellingham to Sucia Island Echo Bay anchorage. We got off late from our checkout at Bellingham and motored the 4+ hours to Sucia. The anchorage was full and we had to anchor near the back of the fleet in 40 feet of water at high tide. We motored in near the stern of a cruiser causing a bit of concern on their part but I had done my homework. 280' of chain later and we were ready for our happy hour to start, soaking in the beauty of this incredible place. We struck up the grill and enjoyed some local Salmon for the first meal. Since this was my first responsibility I set my back up hand help Garmin for anchor watch. The alarm never sounded but I automatically awoke 3 times during the night to check our position. I now regret not waking all the others as each time I sprang up on deck there was a new incredible scene, with all kinds of sea life popping about. I would sit 5-10 minutes enjoying and then go right back to sleep. Coffee was great the next morning as Lia and Russel share my enjoyment for good stong coffee. The Bay was heavily fogged in that morning and it gave me a bit of concern as I did not have experience with radar, so we waited till close to 10 am, the fog was burning off and most had departed in front of us. with the Admirals approval we set sail for Deer Harbor.

Day 2: Sucia Island to Orcas Deer harbor Marina. Well this would be a great place to just live and moor your boat. The Harbor Masters make it easy for you to come into their marinas in the San Juans. They communicate continuously through VHF with you till they meet you at the slip and help you with your dock lines. Very Nice! That evening we walked up the hill a bit and had a great dinner, it was so good we would return the next night for another. Our daughter was searching for a place to have her upcoming wedding so she spent the day contacting possibilities. We got the dingy out and explored nearby coves and wondered at the harbor seals.

Day 3: Day sail in the San Juan Channel return to Deer Harbor Marina.
This was my birthday & Lia helped a lot by suggesting we go for a sail in the San Juan Channel. So we did. I was eager to get out all the sails on this Tayana cutter.The winds were 15 gusting to 20 and after we put up the main and Genoa, it was time to see what the staysail would do. It was on a self tacking Hoyt boom so it would be easy for us manage. We were charging across the Channel with the rail near the water, this is how these boats are made to sail. Lia asked me how happy I was at the moment on a scale of 1 to 10....I replied "about a hundred". Russell was at the helm as I ran about trimming sails, I did not warn them as I tightened up the mainsheet and the boat dipped the rail in the water....I got a few comments but I just wanted to see this boat sail and it was fantastic! We returned to Deer Harbor and the experienced crew put the boat to rest with ease.

Day 4: Deer Harbor Marina to Rosario Resort in East Sound Orcas Island (read Hot tub). We had to time our departure from Deer Harbor with the tides/currents since we would be travel through Harvey Channel to the East Sound. Not a good idea to go against the currents especially where you have some narrow passes, with plenty of marine traffic in a sailboat. We did select this boat for one other of it's characteristics though just in case, it had a 75 hp Yanmar, plenty to do the job if called on. If you have a woman on board you do not want to miss this destination. After getting tied up at the little marina at Rosario we rented a car for Lia and Russell to go and scout out a couple of possible wedding spots. We enjoyed Rosario Resort. There are several relaxing water choices for the marina tenants and we made sure to enjoy them all. The Harbor Master lived aboard his Catalina 400, with his daughter who also worked at the marina and assist others in and out of their slips. He had made more than one trip up and down the west coast so he was great to talk west coast sailing stories.

Day 5: Explore Orcas Island We took advantage of the car and toured Orcas village at the North end of the East Sound. Then we found The Inn at Ships Bay which overlooked the East Sound. We had a 5 Star dinner there that night and the setting and service convinced Lia and Russell this would be their wedding destination. This adventure was turning out to be one we would never forget.

Day 6: Rosario Resort to Chuchanut Bay It was time to head back toward the mainland. It would be another adventure through Peavine Pass and through Rosario Strait. Everyone on their navigation toes, we were moving with the current and hitting 10 knots through the pass. Once through we raised the sails and enjoyed the Strait. We soon discovered that our course would require sailing into the wind so we motored sailed the rest of the way to Chuchanut Bay. Again after a successful anchoring we got the dingy out to explore the bay, there was a small foot bridge we dingied under just for fun, that next morning at low tide it was just a bridge over the rocks several feet above the water line. another dinner aboard and an almost to leisurely breakfast the next morning.

Day 7: Chuchanut Bay to Saqualicum Marina at Bellingham to return the boat. Since we needed to get back to the marina by noon, we motored dead down wind, the autopilot was working hard so Russell took the helm as the rest of us was down below getting things ready to depart. As we arrived at the marina there was a long line of boats jocking for position to get to the fuel docks. This is where I learned how to maneuver a large 42' boat in position in wind and currant for over an hour waiting for our turn. Finally our turn, thank goodness there were two dock hands at the fuel dock since the winds had picked up a bit and was not favorable for coming along side.

Lia is a free lance writer who has a few steady gigs with some very different publications. One of those at the time was the Seattle Metropolitan Magazine which I would equate to our Texas Monthly here in Texas. This trip inspired her to do an article for the Travel and Outdoor section of the magazine, you can see it at
We were very lucky to have our future son in law and daughter aboard and especially fortunate to be involve in the hunt for their wedding destination. They are now married and living in their Condo in downtown Seattle where the views of South Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier are huge. She continues to write, now a steady gig for the Standford Medical Branch and Russell works for


  1. no need to ask how fun was that~awesome stuff for sure! love the san juans, melissa

  2. So add the San Juans to my list of places to go... Thanks for the insight. Would love to discuss this further with you.

  3. We would love spending time talking with you and Bruce about the San Juans!