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.
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…
After making it through Deception Pass with our lives intact we completed the day of sailing (of mostly motoring) to get up to Shaw Island in the center of the San Juan National Monument. Our target was Blind Bay – on the north side of Shaw Island – where we arrived just fine. We poked around looking for a spot that called out to us, but nothing did. We ended up taking a mooring ball on a small island at the mouth of the bay – Blind Island State Marine Park.
Ah, how the weather has changed. Just two weeks ago the summer season was still alive and kicking. In Everett we hunkered down to avoid a big one-day storm which brought thunder and lightning. It sprinkled the entire sail up to Oak Harbor. In Oak Harbor we hunkered down to avoid a day of 30+ knot winds – which we both feel we are not wanting just yet. And now, on the weekend we leave Oak Harbor to return back to the San Juan Islands, the weather wasn’t going to play nice either. Rain and moderate winds were the forecast. At least with our new foul weather gear we are prepared to head out in some mild rain.
After the nine hour day of sailing to get here there was only one thing left to do… nothing. Well, first Moose had to go ashore, then to the nothing. We didn’t even prepare any substantial meal, just poured a tall glass of Saki (who am I kidding, we drank the whole damn bottle) and sat out in the cockpit to enjoy the sunset together. Then off to bed for some much needed rest. The waves and wind didn’t even matter, we slept hard.
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.
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.
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.