Summarizing our 2020 sailing season

Well, we successfully sailed another season without sinking or being attacked by killer whales, as much as my mother feared it might happen. Although COVID19 utterly destroyed our plans to sail north into BC and Alaska, we still got a lot of sailing in and saw many new places. Though we never planned to sail the South Puget Sound, we did it this year in search of the new adventures. COVID was not the only twist thrown at us this year. West Coast forest fires caused weeks of heavy smoke that blocked visibility of anything more than a quarter mile out. Meriwether also tried to sink twice (in the same week), and we spent two weeks on the hard doing a bottom paint and many other upgrades to the under water parts of the boat.

Since our return to the boat back in February, after a winter in the van, we have been out on 64 separate voyages for a total of 803 nautical miles, adding more than 190 hours of boating travel to our resume. This year’s longest voyage was 36.6 nautical miles, almost beating our record of 37 from 2019. We did achieve a few sails in the dark, as well as fly our spinnaker for the first time – both were goals of mine for the year. Unfortunately, the wind stayed unreliable – predictably unpredictable – here in the sound, forcing us to motor for more than half of all the hours/miles we were in transit. It is frustrating to own a sailboat and not have the wind to sail… a frustration that is a daily part of our lives.

With the 2020 upgrades on the boat (composting toilet, water maker, freezer, more solar, etc) we really stretched our days at anchor this year, from 50 nights in 2019 to 123 nights in 2020. Last year we anchored only 15 times, but in 2020 we did so 41 times including some nights in 40+ knots winds, which we will be happy not to do again. All that anchoring saved a whole lot of marina costs – which means the upgrades (quite costly ones at that) will pay for themselves in a few short years.

We have decided to make our way to Alaska in 2021 no matter what. Even though Canada has border restrictions, sailors are allowed to sail *through* their waters, even with necessary stops for rest, fuel, etc. While we would not be able to sight see as we would want, we can do that on the way back down the following year – COVID permitting, of course. We are even considering a full on week-long passage on the west side of Vancouver Island to just jump to Alaska in a single hop so we can enjoy more time exploring during the season. Not 100% sure yet, just spit balling the coolest way to do it.

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4 Responses

  1. Rob says:

    Having a plan is the first step! The open ocean west of Vancouver Island looks like you’d save some time bypassing the inland passage but you’d miss that scenery…. decisions decisions. But that’s next year.

    Merry Christmas folks!

    • Tim says:

      There are pros and cons to the outside vs inside passage routes. The pros of going outside is that we can actually sail, and do so 24 hours a day for the 5-8 days straight it takes to make it up there. Inside passage is weeks of motoring, with little opportunity to sail. And with Canada’s closure, we figure that we would not be able to get off the boat to enjoy any of that scenery. But, we can always take the inside passage on the way back down the following year!

  2. Do you have destinations around Alaska in mind? Toasting some scotch with genuine glacier ice must be on the bucket list I imagine! I am real happy to have discovered this blog and will follow your progress with keen interest. Stay safe and take care you two

    • Tim says:

      Tristian, my friend. How are you? I hear some lucky girl put a ring on your finger.

      We are looking to make it up to the Glacier Bay and Juneau areas before the end of our sailing year in 2021, which should be do-able if we leave Washington by May… June 1st at the latest.

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