Saturday, August 10, 2019

A One Day Getaway to Whidby Island

A One Day Getaway to Whidby Island

There are a few islands in Puget Sound that are just an hour or so drive from Seattle and a ferry ride such at Bainbridge, Vashon, and Whidby islands. All of them are a great day trip. The Admiral and I both wanted to re-visit Whidby. We are nearing the time when we will be able to get away long enough to visit the San Juan's and there are two routes a vessel can take to get North of the Strait of Juan De Fuca.

As You can see the San Juan Islands are in the Far Northwest Corner of the U.S. The white line is the border with Canada. in the lower left hand corner (SE) of the picture is the North end of Whidby Island and Deception Pass. That is the eastern end of Strait of Juan De Fuca just South of the San Juans with Vancouver Island BC Canada to the West of the San Juans.

Whidby Island is the largest island in Puget Sound. Puget Sound ends at the North end of Whidby and at the Strait of Juan De Fuca, Some consider the San Juan's part of Puget Sound but they are not, they are part of the Salish Sea however. So as you can see from this Google map image there are two routes from the South Sound. On the West side of Whidby is Admiralty Inlet so Vessels choosing this route must cross the Strait of Juan De Fuca, which on many days can be a challenge due to wind, waves, and/or difficult weather. Or You can choose to navigate northward on the East Side of Whidby through Possession Sound and Saratoga Passage. If you choose this route then you have to go through Deception Pass which has it's own set of challenges.

Deception Pass with Whidby Island to the South and Fidalgo Island to the North. By using this pass you can avoid whatever conditions happen to be out in the Strait of Juan De Fuca whether your destination is North or South.  Shortly after emerging from the pass you are in the extreme Northeastern end of the Strait but it is a relatively short sail to get into the more protected waters of the San Juan's

So rather than take the Mulkilteo Ferry over to Whidby we drove about 2 hours to the North end of Whidby where you can take the Deception Pass Bridge onto the Island I knew about Deception Pass Marina on the East side of the pass where transiting boats overnight or hang out while waiting for a favorable tide to  navigate the pass. As you can tell from the pictures it was low tide when we arrived. It is ALWAYS good to check out a marina or anchorage at low tide, many hidden dangers are exposed and you can gain lots of local knowledge. I spoke with a person at the Marina and explained that we might be headed up here and inquired about waiting out the tide at the marina. She said Not For sailboats, the entrance  channel to the marina is to shallow. 

So she pointed me to a state park marina right next door that can accommodate sailboats or deeper draft vessels. 

Just watched as a sailboat raised their anchor and headed for the Pass.

There is one long dock and then there are some smaller floating docks that you can tie up to about 50 yards off, or you can just anchor. The park has rest rooms, and showers but no power on the docks.

So I checked my Tides app and as you can see is is just at the end of Ebb, A great time to navigate Deception Pass.

The Trawler on the left was the next vessel to depart and then we watched as several boats of all  sizes emerged out of Skagit Bay just to the East to transit the pass.

Looking West from the East side of the Pass That is Strawberry Island right/center

WE hiked down a paved lane in the state park to get a good look at the entrance from Skagit Bay, that is Skagit Island on the right and you can see there is not much water between the point and the island at low tide, this is why you Never cut corners when passing a point, they are almost always very shallow very far out. Often very large rocks are exposed and we saw a few along the shore here that would be completely covered by water at high tides just waiting for some vessel to take a short cut.

Then we drove over to the West side of the pass, you drive by Cranberry Lake to get to the beach.

That is Deception Island on the left, I see a sailboat that appears to be sailing between Deception Island and Fidalgo. I have read that it is best to navigate the South side of Deception Island so I am Keenly watching to see if he makes it through there. Looking at the charts there is plenty of depth there, perhaps it is a current issue?

There is a gull out there standing on a rock. You could see the rock when we drove over here but the tide is flooding so you can no longer see the rock, another reason you do not cut corners in any of these waters.

The view West with Deception Island on the right and the Southern end of the San Juan's in the background

Looking East, The pass narrows right at the bridge where you navigate Pass Island to the North. The Currents can easily run up to 8-9 knots or more. Only fast boats can chance navigating the pass with those currents, and you better know what your doing if so since there are lots of eddies spinning all along the pass and if you get turned broadside to the current by the swirling water then you have a big problem to solve. Since fast power boats are using lots of power to navigate the pass they are also throwing their own huge wakes so any boat transiting the opposite direction has that to deal with as well. 

The water at the entrance during flood tide is impossible to get a picture of but check out this video. See:

For some reason this vessel elected to transit the pass after Flood tide had started, perhaps he was late getting to the pass and went for it anyway?  There are some places where you stay closer to shore to avoid the heavier current but this IS NOT the place to do that due to all the rocks and the eddies swirling about. He was to close to the shore as far as I was concerned and he was barely making any way (progress). Then he was driven broadside to the currant and he quickly lost control. He was able to reverse his engine and move away from shore, then he got his bow pointed properly and he was basically just going nowhere and moving slightly backwards. Finally he was able to overcome the current and moves ever so slowly forward. I do want to check this off the list but I will not enter this pass against the current at all. You have four chances everyday at slack tide so it is much better to just wait it out. Timing is everything here. Check out these YouTube videos:
I am sure there are several more!!

The small power boat turned around when he saw the wake from the larger vessel coming at him. HE waited for the waters to calm and then navigated with the flood safely.

A great Hike on the West side of Whidby with awesome views.

Looking South, this is Admiralty Inlet, so if you choose this route the the Strait of Juan De Fuca is upo  here waiting on you

About a 4 hour crossing of the Straight in a sailboat, about 25 miles across so you want to have favorable conditions.

That is Protection Island

Just across Admiralty Inlet from Whidby is Port Townsend. It is a great place to overnight or hang out while waiting for favorable conditions for crossing the Straight of Juan De Fuca.

So this is what a 40' Sailboat looks like crossing the Straight of Juan De Fuca...Lots of WATER!

So after Deception Pass State Park and Ebys Landing we drove South to the Earth Sanctuary. All of these islands are Spiritual places and taking time to enjoy that side is another reason we like these day trips to PNW islands. So next is the Earth Sanctuary and Nature Reserve See:

We are at the center of the Labyrinth

There is a small creek running here so you can sit in this chair and enjoy the sounds of the forest.

Ong Namo Guru Dav Namo

Prayer Wheel

Glacial Eractic Boulder see:

Departing Whidby at the Clinton Ferry, looking back at Whidby looks like several islands due to its many bays and ever changing shoreline. Whidby is so long ( 37 miles) that is has three separate micro climates. I have been told by a meteorologist that there are eleven different micro climates in the Sound.
Every island in the Pacific Northwest seems to have its own culture and unique personality. seems everyone has their favorite, not sure what ours is yet. 

Sunday, August 4, 2019

San Juan - A Island Far From Texas

San Juan - A Island Far From Texas

It is not unusual to have life long friends, but other circumstances might be seen as a coincidence.

About to eat some fine Dungeness Crab

Martti and I have been friends since Jr. High School in Ft. Worth, TX. There were lots of other things going on in those days of the late 60's,  Martti and I seemed to be involved in a lot of it together. We , had the same part time jobs,  hung out together several days a week, and sometimes every day of the week. Later my girlfriend and now my Admiral joined our small circle of close friends. Several of that small circle of friends all went to University of Texas at Arlington after graduating our West Ft. Worth High School. The circle of friends were simply extended family as we found ourselves supporting each other as we navigated the early days of adulthood and increasing responsibilities mixed in with Woodstock, the Vietnam War, incredible racial tensions throughout the U.S., Women's Lib, Kennedy, Johnson, then Nixon.
Martti married Cookie and they raised a family where Martti's interest landed him in the center of Dallas, TX, We threw the anchor out in the center of Austin, TX, where we raised our family. Our time together with Martti's family evolved to a few times a year then once every few years. and then only meeting on social media.
Much later when we were out cruising on Wand'rin Star I saw that Martti & Cookie took a vacation to the San Juan Islands. We knew nothing about the San Juan's then, our eyes were on the Caribbean. The Pacific Northwest just was not on our radar. Later I remembered Martti was born in the Seattle area and grew up there before his family moved to Ft. Worth where his dad took a engineering job with General Dynamics building the F-111 jets. I also new and loved Martti's mother who was of Finnish decent and since moving to Seattle we have discovered a huge Scandinavian community that settled here over the course of the last 200 years since their skill set matched the Puget Sound region of shipping, forestry, and fishing. The area is part of Martti's DNA for sure.
Just Two years ago Martti's family were again vacationing in the San Juan's. We met with them as they past through Seattle on the way to the Islands. I ask him when he planned to retire, he pretty much indicated Never! Well I guess Never meant in about three more years. Perhaps building a home in of of the most incredible spots on San Juan Island tipped the scale. They found a place with a small cove just off the water on the East side of the island where there was some protection for small boats. and an incredible view looking Northward straight down Presidents Channel with Orcas Island to the South and Waldron Island to the North

You step into the San Juan's the moment you step on to the Anacortes ferry. This was July 4th weekend so we elected to walk onto the Ferry rather than take our car on a very busy weekend.

About 1500 walk on passengers, we walked off at Friday Harbor with the Hords.

We met Martti & Cookie a short walk from the Ferry dock at the Ice Cream Shop and A very pleasant drive from Friday Harbor, Here entering the driveway to there just finished Island home.

Well it certainly helps to be an Architect, while his main line of work is downtown Dallas (and other metropolis) skyscraper interiors, it is evident all his time vacationing on this particular island has him completely honed in on the environment.

His Scandinavian ancestry prevails.

While every view point in the San Juan's are spectacular, this one can't be beat.

There are very few coves along the shoreline that can support moorings in these islands, very fortunate to have one at your doorstep.

The foot print is minimum, you can see how the home blends in to the hillside unlike the home on the right. 

The next day we went for a hike on the Southeast shore.
Looking West towards the inlet from the Pacific.

Looking South East with the Olympic Penisula across the Straight of Juan De Fuca...A LOT of Water!

Millennials take Great Pics!

That point is the SouthEastern edge of San Juan Island, One of the best spots for Whale Watching from shore. And a great spot so see the start of the  second leg of the Race to Alaska!

This trail offers the best of San Juan Island

Hum, we met this guys cousin on Blake Island on Halloween weekend.

Roche Harbor, a international destination for vessels of all sizes. A coustoms office is on the docks!

So I took a three pics off the internet to show Marrti & Cookie's new water ride, a 22.5 Robalo with a 250 HP Yahmaha. We were to busy just preparing to depart Roche Harbor to take the boat to its new home mooring and did not take time for pics.

The boat has a cozy Cabin that two can overnight in comfort. Makes a great fishing, crabbing, shrimping boat for these waters.

The Admiral got this shot of us departing Roche Harbor, See this video after we make the turn for the San Juan Channel heading South for their home mooring:
The Admiral got this video of us arriving at their home Mooring Ball, the one on the right.
See video:

Martti is maneuvering the boat so that I can lasso the mooring bouy.

Safely moored, you can see from the pull of the mooring line there is a bit of wind and current going on.

Cookie rows out in the dingy navigating the wind and current to pick us up

Cookie's first time navigating these kind of conditions, She did great!
A juvenile Harbor Seal Enjoys the SUP

Cookie is Strong!

Low tide means a steep incline to get the dingy to safe ground.

The next morning Cookie and I enjoyed a fog blowing ashore creating a Mystical Forest. You could feel the fine mist surround you.

The remarkable concurrence of events leading this life long friendship to reconnect in the Pacific Northwest is not without apparent causal connection. We are all somehow universally connected and even the idea of "coincidence" is likely never at play.