Day 10 of Cody’s San Juan Islands trip in a SageCat

Day 10 – Fisherman Bay to Anacortes –

I had shared my tales of Holly B’s bakery with the girls the previous evening, so we all got up early and made a pilgrimage to this baking holy site in the morning. After again being dazzled with their confectioner’s wizardry, we spent a few more hours exploring the village shops and getting a few things at the grocery store for our afternoon sail.

Our plan was to sail back around Lopez Island and spend a few hours enjoying the beaches and views at Spencer Spit state park and then making a short hop over to James Island, another state park, which would be a good jumping off point for crossing the Rosario strait on Saturday morning to get back to Anacortes, where our truck and trailer were parked. There was not a breath of wind when we got back to the boat at around noon, so we motored the roughly eight miles with a hefty current helping us for the first half of the trip to Spencer Spit. Upon arrival, we again anchored and paddled ashore where we had a few fun filled hours of beach combing and hiking. I even got in a quick nap on the warm sand. At about 5 o’clock we got back to the boat and again began motoring toward James Island which was about four miles away, where we planned to stay for the evening.

I had been a bit stressed about crossing the Rosario Strait with the girls aboard since I had experienced some rather rough conditions and unpredicted winds a week and a half ago. The winds were forecasted to be about 10 knots from the north, which should have been fine, but the slack tide window on Saturday morning was very short, with strong currents from the south before the slack and quickly turning to strong currents from the north. The late afternoon slack tide window on Saturday had much more moderate current velocities and a longer slack period so I knew I could always wait for that time, but still I was feeling uncertain about what the conditions would turn out to look like.

As we motored up to James Island on a completely glassy sea state, I was finally able to look across the Rosario Strait. It was as flat as a board. Not a ripple to be seen all the way across to Anacortes. I pulled out my current tables and we were perfectly timed to cross the strait in a large window of slack tide with very small currents predicted on either side of the slack. I made the decision that we would be wisest to cross while the conditions were perfect and find a place to anchor near Washington Park, where the trailer was located, and then simply pull the boat out of the water in the morning and get an earlier start home. The girls both seemed happy with this plan so we enjoyed a delightfully uneventful motor across the Rosario strait.

As we approached Washington Park, I had planned to anchor just off the beach as it was protected from the direction of the light winds predicted during the night. However, I also quickly noticed a huge sign on the beach, facing toward the water, reading “DROP NO ANCHOR. ELECTRICAL CABLES UNDER WATER”, or something to that effect. The sun was getting low on the horizon and there didn’t seem to be any quick protected anchorage to get to, so I tied up to the dock, raised the dagger board, backed the trailer in the water and hauled Sweet Potato up into the parking lot. We were all famished after a long day of hiking and motoring in the sun, so we left the boat on the trailer and drove into Anacortes for a meal. We ended up at a great little Mexican place called Real Tequila and we all ate until we were about to pop. The food was fantastic and the service was equally so. Back in the campground, now nearly dark, I reconnected the truck to the trailer and we all walked down to the beach to enjoy the final colors of the sunset and the lapping of the water on the pebble beach. Now that the boat was on the trailer and had the centerboard taking up one sleeping position, I was relegated to the bed of the truck since I had the warmest sleeping bag.

Day 9 of Cody’s San Juan Islands trip

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!  

bowl at Fishermans BayWe 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.

Day 3 of Cody’s SageCat cruise

Spencer SpitThe sun rose the next morning to a lighter breeze but still the same clear and cloudless skies.  After an eggs, toast and coffee breakfast, I set to work tensioning the rig.  It all went exactly as described by Dave and I was able to do it rather easily while swinging at anchor with the mast still standing.  Spencer Spit is a beautiful place and I would have happily spent a day there, but the tides and currents would be helping me along if I got an earlier start for my next hop over to Fisherman Bay on the opposite side of Lopez Island.  I cleaned up my breakfast, stowed some gear, pulled up the anchor and set sail.  The day was glorious and under full sail I coasted along at about 4.5 knots for the entire 8ish mile trip.  The first half of the sail was downwind and around the north end of the island followed by a very fun upwind leg traveling south down the west coast of Lopez island.  The rig now looked and behaved perfectly and I was able to really sail Sweet Potato as she was meant to be sailed.  

After motoring through the tight and winding channel channel entrance to Fisherman Bay, I was greeted to a large but completely protected bay with plenty of space to anchor.  I picked a nice and secluded spot with plenty of depth for my little craft and set about inflating my Standup Paddle Board (SUP).  I own an 8’ zodiac that I had used as a tender for my Cape Dory 25D, but it seemed rather large, bulky and heavy to carry on the much smaller Sagecat.  The SUP worked very well for me and, when rolled up, could either be stowed under the cockpit sole in the main cabin or, more commonly, under the tiller in the cockpit.  

I rowed to shore and was apparently just in time to catch the tail end of happy hour at the marina restaurant which overlooked Fisherman Bay.  Some other boaters told me about a bakery in Lopez Village (about a 10 minute walk down the road from the marina) that had a reputation for being in a league of its own but was know to sell out rather quickly, so I’d be well advised to get there shortly after their 7 o’clock opening time. I thanked them for the tip and as the sun was getting low in the sky, paddled back across the bay to the boat and enjoyed yet another marvelous sunset.  The temperature quickly dropped and the breeze was still present, so again I hopped in the cabin and settled into a few more chapters of the book before retiring for another pleasant sleep.