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.
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.