Half way down Hood Canal

It has become a normal thing for us to not figure out where we are going next week until the eleventh hour.  Following the rendezvous, there we were again, in the same situation. It wasn’t until the very night before our departure, after talking with some locals in the laundry, that the decision was made to go further south – down Hood Canal.

Hood Canal is a natural fjord running about 60 nautical miles, forming the western side of the greater Puget Sound, and nestled at the foot of the great Olympic National Park. We were told that very few boaters – in comparison – make their was down the canal, a good selling point if you ask me. The locals also pointed out a few nice places to anchor, eat, and play along the route. Kerri and I committed to the voyage, setting out at 11 am the following morning (Monday).

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Perry Rendezvous 2019

What happens when you find out that the legendary designer of your 40 year old boat is not only alive, but spends his time right down the road from you… and is having a meetup with dozens of other boat owners? You go to the party, right? Well yeah!

Some weeks back Kerri found a Bob Perry fan page on Facebook and joined. Not only is it an active discussion group, Bob himself is a daily partaker of the community. Also, there is an annual rendezvous (I really hate trying to spell that word) in Port Ludlow each year and we would be near enough to seriously consider dropping in. I think we both felt a little uncomfortable with the idea to begin with, as we are so new to this whole thing, but after meeting some other sailing couples recently we were desperate to go see other like-boats to get ideas and advice about our own.

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Beating to ludlow

We were off to Port Ludlow where we had a slip reserved and packages were already in route for a week of projects on Meriwether. The sail was pretty straight forward; loop around Marrowstone Island and head south to Ludlow. The tide/current would be in our favor – or so the information said – so the day would be smooth sailing with nature providing us a push from behind. The wind, however, wasn’t going to play nice that day – blowing pretty much exactly from the direction we needed to go, meaning we would spend the day close-hauled (1) – as usual.

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Already repeating

Normally Kerri and I go out of our way to avoid returning to the same place we have already been. In my experiences, a return trip is never as good as the first and – even worse – ruins the memory of the first. We make some exceptions, but by a general rule we try not to go back too often. After our day sail Kerri suggested we return to Flagler and Mystery for the work week. Our planned destination was no longer looking so great so we called an audible and returned. It was safe. It was easy. It was right there… literally we were right beside the entrance to the bay.

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Hobnobbing in Port Townsend

Not all of our time in Port Townsend was spent walking, drinking, or working. There was the occasional occasion to get Kerri off the boat for a smidgen of socializing. We are two months into the full time sailing life, yet we haven’t been doing a whole lot of talking to others (not that we did a whole lot of that before). Much of our time is spent at anchor or on a mooring ball, so the only time to run into someone is when I bring Moose to land for a run around, when Kerri often stays on the boat. That leaves only a few chances to talk to other like minded people.

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Where it all began

Leaving the sheltered waters of Mystery Bay we had only a few mile journey across the Port Townsend Bay to get to our next week’s destination. Everything went smoothly this time with calm seas and a mild breeze. A few minutes before arriving I called in on the VHF radio to verify our place was open. It was. With some trepidation we slipped through the break walls and successfully parked Meriwether on the first try with no issues at all. Yea, this is easy when there is little to no wind. We thanked the two gentlemen that helped us tie up and paused to take stock of where we were.

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Forts, Mystery, and a shipwreck

The big sail across Juan De Fuca Strait along with the ass kicking from the wind is a thing of the past. We made it across the strait and were still alive, so all was good. And that about sums up the bar of success on a sailboat, and even the veterans agree – if you arrive without killing someone or crashing, then it was a successful sail. So, success!

Since we had a week before our reservations in Port Townsend we chose to motor across the Port Townsend Bay and into Kilisut Harbor. Kilisut is a long, thin, leg of water between two long, skinny islands (one of which is a military base). There is actually somewhat of a maze through sand bars and a spit to enter the area, making it protected from all four sides.

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Learning more mistakes the hard way

The big day was finally here. We would have to cross the Strait of Juan De Fuca to get to our next area of destinations (we had a couple stops planned over there). In the week leading up to this day there had been a fair amount of concern about this sail. The strait can be bi-polar with heavy winds and crazy currents. It would also be the longest sail we would undertake, at over 30 miles. The weather forecast for the weekend showed a good opportunity to make the crossing without getting the worst of it. We would even have the current in our favor during our sail. Moons were aligned.

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Gettin crabby with James

Another short motor – not even an hour long – would get us around Decatur Island to the tiny Marine State Park of James Island. The primary reason we dropped in was for our impending crossing of the Strait of Juan De Fuca the following day – this would shave an hour off that long trip. James is a tiny speck in the greater San Juan Archipelago, not really known as a destination or of any real consequence. The west side looks back on to Decatur Island, while the east looks across the Rosario Strait towards Anacortes. We pulled into the east side of James and took up a mooring ball – which we are getting damn good at I must say. I recall, back in January during our lessons, just how daunting this simple task felt, but now it seems so mundane even in a fair amount of current like this day.

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He is from Canada

After a week spent in a marina we were both ready to get back out and away from everyone. Not that there is such a thing in July in the San Juan’s, but at least we could only have a dozen neighbors instead of a hundred. The destination for the work week was only a few nautical miles away, just on the other side of Lopez Island. As is usual for us, the wind would not bother to play nice on the day we left. We did get a small amount of sailing in early, but within a mile it had died off and we were the only boat on the water with sails up. So, the sails were lowered and the motor started for the final three quarters of the trip. Once we neared a half mile from our destination, the wind made sure to return in force just to spite us. What the hell wind… What. The. Hell?

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