Kerri and I have left the boat behind in Washington and jumped in the van for the winter. We will be back to sailing in March of 2020. If you wish to follow our time in the van, you may do so at van-tramp.com or on the facebook page.
Well, we did it. We went from a being land based nomads to sea-based, learned to sail, and finished off our first full sailing season… all in a single year. Not that we intended to rush it at all, but looking back at where we were and what was in our minds just 14 months ago, it’s pretty crazy where we are today – which is Bellingham, Washington by the way. We returned to where the boat was purchased because our broker has a slip for Meriwether for the winter, and it also happens to be where the van is stored. Double bonus!
T’was a truly angry looking wind that would be arriving from the south by Saturday morning and we had no protection from the south at Doe Bay. With land directly to our north nothing would be less comfortable than spending a night or two with heavy winds pushing us towards shore with no idea how well maintained the moorings are here. On Friday, we chose to tuck tail and run back to Peavine Pass where the small Blakely Island Marina would protect us from the winds.
One of the few places on our list in the San Juan’s that we had not yet visited was Doe Bay. We were told months ago about the resort here, with a great restaurant and hot springs to die for. Since we had recently decided to end our 2019 sailing season the following week, we didn’t want to head further away from Bellingham (where Meriwether will spend the winter) and when we were about to leave Fisherman’s Bay with no other place to go, we finally put Doe Bay in the game.
We couldn’t decide where to go after English Camp, ending up choosing a return to Friday Harbor to restock the fridge and firewood. The route would consist of a few miles backtrack and more motoring than sailing. We did get an hour or so of sailing in that day… close hauled, and tacking, of course – but eventually the wind would calm and we finished our voyage by motor. It does signify the only time we have sailed since leaving Bellingham, weeks ago. The wind is too fickle this time of year – it is depressing.
Ever since our visit to English Camp in the van – a part of the San Juan Island National Historic Park – I have wanted to return in our boat. I can’t explain why, but I did. Heck, I wasn’t even sure the cove outside of English Camp could even accommodate Meriwether’s draft (it did), but I wanted to anchor there anyway. Eventually it became part of the float plan for our final twirl around the San Juan’s before heading out in the van for the winter. It sure beat sitting in a marina.
It was a 15 mile travel day, with no wind to speak of… once again. We knew all week that there would be no wind for the weekend, when we could travel. Unless we wanted to stay on Patos Island another week – with no guarantee of wind the following seven days either – we were going to be motoring anyway. And motoring we did, for more than three hours, on our way to Roche Harbor, where we had yet to visit, even by land.
Patos Island is only a few miles away from our last stop. Barely enough time to raise the sails. Not that we had any wind anyway, so the decision was already made for us to motor over. At least the alternator will charge our house battery during the two hours (we cruised it, nice and slow). We even took the long way around the island to avoid some heavier current flows on the other side. We had time, so why not. It wasn’t very exciting – motoring never is – but we made the best of it. Finally, just as we started around the final corner to turn into our cove, something to our starboard caught my eye…
Approaching Halloween in the San Juan Islands means solitude and open waters. During the work week we spent at Sucia (now our third time visiting this island) we did see a couple other boats anchor in Echo Bay, about a kilometer away. No boats joined us in Ewing Cove with it’s mooring balls placed in a narrow body of water embraced by Sucia Island, Ewing Island, and Cluster Islands on three sides. A small quiet beach was less than a quarter mile away for Moose to run a few times a day.
Returning from the BVI trip took more than 36 hours of ferries, taxis, planes, and airports. We were already exhausted from the week at play, but after the travel back we were just zombies. I knew I would need multiple days to recover, mentally and physically, but life would put me right back to work once we arrived back in Washington; from the daily chores of normal life (laundry, groceries, etc) to having to bring the van back to storage (involving a 30 minute Lyft ride), to making the time for some fixes on the boat that were put off ’till we were in port. We only had a four day window before we were to get back out on the water. I wasn’t alone in the pain and suffering. Kerri went straight back to long days behind the laptop to catch up on work after her first week off in… well, ever.