Roche Harbor to Fisherman Bay –
This hazy, smoky morning began with a shower at the marina, a quick coffee for all of us and a stop by our friend’s boat to pick up our battery before departing on our longest sail of the trip so far. My wife had visited Lopez Village about five years ago for a brief afternoon and had fallen in love with the cute little town and laid back setting. She was really wanting to go spend a bit more time there and show her friend Jen around, so Fisherman bay was to be revisited. We motored out of Roche harbor in no wind at all, but after about three miles, a nice breeze from the north filled in so we killed the motor, hoisted sail and had a wonderful downwind ride for the remaining 11 miles to fisherman bay. On two occasions much larger sail boats clearly changed course to come sail by us, say hello and comment on what a cute little boat we had. Clearly I am biased, but Sweet Potato does have some striking lines. Jerry Montgomery knows a thing or two about drawing a nice looking boat!
We dropped anchor in Fisherman bay once again and, since it was such a quiet and peaceful setting, decided that we would spend the rest of the evening cooking a feast on the boat, watching the sunset, and listening to an audio book. The cockpit was a bit crowded with three of us while trying to prepare and cook a meal, so I was ordered to the foredeck with a cold beverage. A short while later I was handed a delightful plate full of food and a refill of my beverage. We all enjoyed our meal as the sun set, and spent the next few hour telling stories and sharing laughs. Days don’t get a whole lot better than this one as far as I can tell.
Cody spends the day in Roche Harbor exploring and seeing the sights –
The wind forecast or the day had called for a sustained breeze of about 17 knots from the north. This, I figured, was probably not the best type of day for us to make our longest jump from Roche Harbor, all the way back to Fisherman Bay on Lopez Island, so we made the decision to stay put for the day. Roche Harbor is a beautiful resort town on the northwest tip of San Juan Island. The marina is full of numerous multi-million dollar yachts and the resort is quite an upscale place. It is all built around an old lime and concrete quarry operation which operated in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We had ice cream, browsed the few shops there, and hiked to an eerie old mausoleum secluded in a forest which more closely resembles a site for ceremonies than any other mausoleum I’ve ever seen. Although slightly creepy, it is a beautiful setting and structure and I would happily recommend the hike to go see it.
We made it back into Roche Harbor from our hike just in time to watch their nightly “colors” ceremony where the entire place comes to a standstill as the flags are lowered to their various anthems. I nearly had a cardiac event when they set off a small cannon just before lowing the old stars and stripes. It seemed that only the three of us from our boat were startled by it, so I’m guessing we were some of the only first timers there.
Earlier in the day I had bumped into one of the old sailors I’ve known and raced against back in southeast Washington. He and his wife had brought their Seaward 26 up to the islands for a few weeks, a trip which they make nearly every summer. They showed us great hospitality and invited us to enjoy a ginger beer aboard their lovely boat. Another great help they offered us was to leave our portable phone charging power bank to charge on their shore power overnight. This was our only means of electrical power and I would hook it up to a 15w solar panel during the day to charge and then we would all charge our phones off of the battery at night. This worked well when I was alone, but you can imagine how much cell phone usage (and associated charging needed) happens when you have two young women in their late 20’s and early 30’s on vacation together sailing through and exploring beautiful islands. Needless to say, our battery bank was nearly depleted and the overnight charge was much appreciated!
We were all exhausted again from the sun and busy day, so we went back out to the boat and watched an episode of Friends on Netflix while laying in bed. Not a single one of us was awake to see the end of that 20 minute episode.
We will be in our usual location of land sites 80 & 81 at the Annapolis Sailboat Show 5-9 October ’17. Come and see a SageCat and Sage 17!
Following the show a SageCat will be available for demonstration sailing the 10th and 11th of October 2017. Please call, 800-621-1065, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment.
SageCat Sweet Potato goes from Jones Island to the famous destination of Roche Harbor –
We paddled ashore in the morning with our breakfast supplies and cooked a mountain of a meal. Eggs, hash browns, warmed tortilla shells, coffee and some bananas really started the day off on the right foot. After cleaning up and taking our cooking gear back to the boat, we set off to hike around Jones Island. There is a nice path around the perimeter of the island which is about four miles long and provides some wonderful views of the surrounding islands and waters. After our hike, we were all rather over heated so we paddled back to the boat, changed into swimsuits and went for a (rather short) swim! The water in the islands hovers in the mid to low 50s year round and so you don’t see many swimmers in them and when you do, they tend not to linger too long.
After cooling off, we stowed whatever gear we had out, weighed anchor, and headed off to our next stop, Roche Harbor, about six miles west and slightly north of our anchorage at Jones Island. We again were treated to light breeze and calm seas for our day’s sail. As we cruised along we listened to an audio book and enjoyed the sun and cool breeze. We were able to sail the entire way to Roche Harbor, only dropping sail as we entered the crowded and bustling bay. After a few minutes of motoring around and looking at my charts, struggling to find a spot suitable to anchor, I finally selected a spot to drop the hook very close to a beach and not too far from the full-to-the-brim guest dock. After checking our depth and the tide charts, I decided that it would be most prudent to anchor off the bow with our primary anchor and off the stern with our secondary anchor to prevent us from swinging during the very low tide in the middle of the night toward the beach, which could possibly have left us with our keel resting on the bottom. Stern anchor set, we inflated the SUP and headed into Roche Harbor for a couple hours of sight seeing before the sun set.
It was during this evening that we noticed some very beautiful colors in the sunset, which alerted us to a thickening smoke in the air. The previous day we had thought the air looked a bit hazy, but hadn’t thought much of it. This evening was a different story. As the sun sank low on the horizon, you could easily look straight at the dull orange ball. Our air quality and crystal clear skies would not be nearly as pristine for the remainder of our cruise. As it grew dark, we made our way back out to the boat and slept deeply as we were all exhausted from a long day of hiking, swimming, lounging during a sunny sail and exploring a new town. A day well spent.
Cody and crew go from Friday Harbor to Jones Island –
After a nice breakfast in town, we stowed the gear on the boat and set out for our next destination, Jones Island, about five and a half miles to the north of Friday Harbor. The breeze was a very steady seven knots or so and also coming from the north, but the skies were clear and the seas were flat, so we enjoyed a few hours of leisurely tacking back and forth across the channel working our way up to our desired destination. The wind was forecasted to increase in strength through the night and continue blowing from the north, so we chose to anchor in the small bay on the south side of Jones. When we arrived we found that there were four mooring buoys, all of which were occupied by large yachts. Not to worry as we were again able to sneak between them and the shore line with plenty of extra depth and swinging room for our tiny boat. The water in this bay was exceptionally clear and we could easily see every detail of the bottom and were able to inspect the set of the anchor as well as the daily habits of several little crabs meandering around the bay.
Jones Island is a state park and the only permanent structures on it are a few very nice outhouses (if an outhouse can ever be described as being nice). We spent our last few hours of daylight after our arrival on the island cooking another delicious pasta dish and had some fine garlic bread to go with it. A group of teenagers and their guides arrived by kayak as we were cooking and as they set up camp ashore, came into contact with a creature which would torment them for the next 12 hours. The fearsome Jones Island raccoon! Apparently living on such a small island with very few predators and not a huge food supply leads to some very bold raccoon behavior. As we ate, we watched a raccoon continually raid their picnic table, tent and food bins despite several angry, shout filled chasing back over to the bushes. We again witnessed this several times during the night as I was awoken by a bright light shining through the port aboard Sweet Potato. I sat up alarmed the first time this happened, only to discover that it was these campers, shining their high powered flashlights through the bushes and trees, trying to spot this raccoon and his/her buddies as their continued raids on their supplies were keeping them up in the campground. I was very happy to be safe and snug in our cozy little cabin as I rolled over and went back to sleep.
Cody is now in Friday Harbor and his crew arrives –
The arrival of the ferry on Sunday afternoon was a spectacle to behold. The cars lining up to board the ferry were jockeying for position and more than once the woman directing cars had to yell at drivers who had an agenda of their own. Stressed looking parents were trying to keep track of their small tribes among the throngs of people as I sat in a coffee shop overlooking the ferry landing, feeling quite carefree. My only concern was about how well three adults and a small dog could exist in peace and harmony on a 15 foot boat. Would we all hate each other after the first few days? Would the boat’s performance suffer so badly from the weight that we would make painfully slow progress when traveling? I had sailed on the Columbia River with three adults aboard and the boat had performed well, but now I had her loaded with a significant amount of cruising gear. I decided we would be best to spend the first afternoon and night on the boat in Friday Harbor so we could get an idea of how we all would manage the tight quarters before sailing anywhere.
After a fun day in Friday Harbor and a tasty dinner at a fish and chips place, we all made our way out to the boat for the evening. From this point on, I would shuttle each of the girls out to the boat from the dock on the SUP. The board seemed to do fine and was rather stable with two people on it so long as we were both kneeling. I’m happy to report that after the entire 10 day trip not a single person or item took a fall off the SUP! I had planned to have the girls sleep in the v berth and I would sleep on a cockpit seat, but after all laying across the v berth to watch a Netflix show on my phone, we discovered that all three of us could lie flat on our backs, shoulder to shoulder. Granted, our feet were somewhat crowded together, but being that we were each in a sleeping bag it didn’t seem to bother anyone and we all slept soundly. Even our dog, Occy, slept well in the cabin on a blanket we put on one of the cabin seats.
After having some Strawberry Rhubarb “hand pie” Cody travels from Lopez to Friday Harbor –
The alarm on my phone awakened me at 6:15 so as to get a good start on arriving at Holly B’s Bakery somewhere near their 7 o’clock opening time. I dressed for the day and paddled across the bay under yet another crystal clear sky and steady breezes. The bakery already had a crowd when I arrived only a few minutes after opening, but I soon understood the reason for said crowd. The pastries available were many and all appeared (and smelled) quite divine! I ended up settling on a house made Strawberry Rhubarb “hand pie” and it exceeded my expectations! I can wholeheartedly recommend Holly B’s bakery on Lopez Island to anyone who happens to be traveling through this quaint and spirited little village.
After breakfast and a quick walk around Lopez Village, I made my way back to the marina, paddled back to the boat and stowed the SUP for the day’s sail. I was scheduled to meet my wife, one of her best girlfriends Jen and our dog Occy in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island Sunday morning where they would be arriving by ferry. The breeze was blowing about 8 knots and was forecasted to continue to do so all day, the sky was completely clear and the sail would only be a bit over five miles. I checked the currents and they were going to be moving at just under a knot during the time of this trip, I I set out for what I hoped would be a short and pleasant sail.
The first three miles went very smoothly (apart from very heavy powerboat traffic from all directions which made large wakes converging from every direction nearly the entire time) but as I approached San Juan Island, large gusts of wind began sweeping across the water. I quickly tucked in the first reef and felt under control again but the gusts continued to strengthen. Soon the second reef was snugged down and only then were the gusts more manageable. The sailing conditions were tricky as the wind would go from 10 knots to 25 knots and then back to 10 knots within the span of about 30 seconds. To complicate matters, the heavy traffic coming into and out of Friday Harbor made for some extra maneuvering in tighter quarters than I would have preferred. Upon arrival at Friday Harbor I dropped sail, motored into a shallow and secluded corner of the harbor and dropped anchor, a bit frazzled by the hectic last two miles of the trip.
Upon arrival I learned via a text from my wife that she would be arriving on an afternoon ferry instead of a morning ferry the following morning, so I spent the evening walking around Friday Harbor and getting a few needed groceries at the local market. Friday Harbor is a bustling little town on a summer weekend and it was a fun change to take in the local sights and night life.