----- Sailing with Joe - May 1998 -----

Six Islands, and 188 miles in 7 days is what the log shows. My brother-in-law Joe visiting from Cape Cod, MA and I headed out in Corleto early Sunday, May 11th, 1998 to Victoria, B.C.

Sea lions dozed on the channel markers. We had gotten a late start on the ebb tide and found ourselves bucking the beginning of the flood tide rounding Point Wilson.

Each hour we checked the GPS. At one point we were motoring at 6 knots and only progressed 1 mile closer to Victoria, but the wind finally came, and we were able to sail on a port tack to Brodie Rocks, just east of Trial Island, and two more short tacks put us at the breakwater outside Victoria Harbor. Streaks of foam were in the water, the waves were 6 feet and breaking, so hand steering was required to prevent the boat from slamming. Fifty six miles, our longest day. The head winds in the strait were 25 knots, so Joe got a good introduction to sailing. After checking in with Canadian customs we just made it to the Cheese Cake Cafe for dinner after a late arrival.

The next morning after a bacon and egg breakfast at "Smitty's", we sailed up to Roche Harbor, San Juan Island, WA. Joe got pictures of orca whales along the way and we wound our way through Mosquito Pass. After checking through US customs and a walking tour of Roach Harbor, we motored to Stuart Island and walked trails until dark.

Corleto looked pretty small from up on the trail. The next morning we hiked the remaining trails until 1 PM, when we caught the flood tide to Patos Island. We dropped the sails just west of the Island but had to motor at full throttle to keep the strong current from sweeping us past the entrance. We secured Corleto to the east buoy, inflated the kayak, paddled to shore and walked the whole Island before dark.

Joe and I paddled the inflatable kayak against the current, but made it to shore. Corleto is the smaller boat off to the left of Joe. The other boat left before we returned so we had the whole bay to ourselves.

The limestone erosion forms some interesting patterns.

Returning to the kayak, we caught the slack tide back to Corleto and had pasta with clam sauce for dinner.

We also enjoyed a beautiful sunset over Vancouver Island.

The morning found the mooring line wrapped half a dozen times around the buoy from the current/wind activity during the night. These rocks are only visible from the water, going through the narrow passage.

We explored Shallow and Fox Bays at Sucia Island before landing at Fossil Bay, and then hiked all the trails. Corleto stayed here at the float.

In the PM, we headed over to Matia Island where we tied to the dock and walked the entire island. The guide book had mentioned the hermit cabin ruins at the far end of the island, so we went back a second time and found them after some poking around in the brush and climbing the high bluffs looking toward Orcas Island. The wind howled in the rigging all night, and the fenders slammed against the hull as the boat rocked at the dock.

Thursday morning, the weather forecasts were for gale warnings in both straits, so it was anybodys guess what it was like outside our little bay. At 7 AM, after donning our foul weather gear, we motored out and once out of the lee of Matia, we hit southeasterly winds so strong, that Corleto was heeled 20 degrees with bare poles and I had to jibe downwind as the engine was not strong enough to turn the bow into the wind. We motored back to the bay, and while Joe kept us off the rocks, I hanked on the storm jib and reefed the mainsail. The next time out was with the sails up and we were ready, with the plan that if it was too strong we would return to the lee of Matia and the harbor to wait it out.

The first tack had us heeled 30 degrees in 30 to 40 knots of wind. The waves were breaking and there was a lot of saltwater in the air and the surface all foamy. The seas were mostly only 2-4 feet, as we were somewhat in the lee of Orcas but occasional waves of 6-8 feet would suddenly appear. The helm was very well balanced and steered quite easily with the new sails and we were making 6-7 knots! Every so often, I would glance back to Matia to assure myself we were really moving against this monster. We were. This went well until the first tack and then several things happened. The first was that the bowline had shaken loose on the lazy sheet, so when I tacked, it pulled loose. An instant later, the now free sheet that was attached at the clew, pulled out through the block and became a socker ball sized rats nest on the lee shroud, threatening to shake the boat apart as the storm jib flogged. Joe held the course, sailing with the reefed main, making 4 to 5 knots water speed, while I lowered the jib, undid the rats nest, and reattached the loose sheet. By this time we were nearly to Clark Island, so we tacked again. In all the confusion, I had failed to run the sheet back through the lead, so it was running straight from the winch to the clew. In the minute or so that it took to cleat it off and get the free end through the block and then release the center part from the cleat and winch and then get it sheeted back and cleated down, the sail flogged badly. The sheet hit against the dodger, which shattered all the plastic on the starboard side of the dodger like so much glass, stinging Joe and I with the the flying pieces.

After that, it was pretty smooth going again, and our next tack was uneventful. Corleto steered through the waves, making 6-7 knots close hauled, falling off at times to keep from slamming if two of the large waves came close together, and pinching up through breaking waves to reduce the spray. We continued, clearing Clark Island on our forth tack and on some 4 miles to Lummi Island where we started our last tack, 17 miles, clear into Friday Harbor through Peavine Pass. By now, we were in the slot between Cypress and Blakely Islands and the waves had 30 miles of fetch so the 8 footers were more common. Until Peavine Pass there was also much spray in the air and I found I couldn't see with my glasses on, so the only way I could see was squinting through one eye at a time. When one eye got so full of saltwater I couldn't see, I would squint through the other eye. The last half of that tack we were on a close reach, and were quite often surfing at 8 knots and occasionally hitting 9 knots. Arriving at Friday Harbor at 1:15 PM, (27 miles in 6 hrs, 15 minutes!) it was raining, but it seemed pretty civilized compared to our route.
After showers and shaves, we walked around town, had fish and chips, phoned our wives, and turned in early.

Friday was an easy day to Port Townsend, sailing most of the way and Joe got to see the self steering doing its job as we wove our way with shifting wind across the strait. We walked through town and had dinner at The El Serape.

Saturday was a spectacular run. We left Port Townsend at 7:10 and arrived in Kingston at 12:50, for an average of over 4 knots despite bucking a 3.3 knot ebb current from 9 AM on. We had about 25 knots of tail wind all the way from Marrowstone point on and Corleto was surfing about a third of the time for most of the trip. Annamarie was alerted by cell phone and waved to us from the deck as we went by. She had Alaska King Crab legs all ready for us when by the time we returned home. We enjoyed a delicious lunch on the deck.

The log shows 140 miles sailing, 48 miles motoring, which is the highest percentage sailing I'd ever done on an inland cruise.And this was Joe's first long sailing trip.

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