2004 Seattle Reports

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Course Advanced Coastal Cruising; Canadian Gulf Islands
Date July 30 - August 6, 2004
Students: Craig Ambler, Mike Collora, Kathy Gilchrist, Raleigh Griffith, Christine Zellers
Captain: Bill McClure

29 July 2004
It promised to be another memorable sailing class in what must be the most beautiful sailing area in North America. I arrived at the Marina in Skyline (Anacortes) early in the morning (9:00 am). At 10:00 Kathy arrived and at noon Craig joined us. We opened up the boat, stored our gear and at three walked the half mile to the "Old Salts Deli " to have some lunch. We spent the rest of the afternoon discussing various sailing venues. That evening we hiked two miles to the ferry landing for a meal. Kathy and Craig returned to the boat and I waited at the Deli until Christine and Raleigh arrived at 23:00.

30 July 2004
After an early rising, showers and breakfast at the Deli, Michael joined us. We introduced ourselves all around and began the process of sorting out what each one expected from this course After discussing a brief set of objectives for the course and we got busy learning the boat. We began by learning all the through hulls and the location of all the safety equipment. The crew then did a survey of the boat, noting very few problems. The boat had all new canvas so we took extra care putting things away. We left Skyline and sailed to Anacortes to provision. After provisioning we motorsailed for three hours with snow covered Mount Baker in the background, to anchor for the night in Shoal Bay on Lopez Island. Dinner, lessons and some sea stories and it was time for a good nights rest.

31 July 2004
The day broke early with sunshine, a clear sky and cool in the mid 60ís. After breakfast followed by lessons, safety issues were discussed again and we reviewed the various systems on the boat, what could go wrong and how to fix them. We followed with practice reefing and further familiarization with the boat. By 10:00 the students were getting anxious to get underway so the assigned Navigator "Raleigh" laid out a course to Victoria on Vancouver Island. By 14:00 we had gotten to the southern passage between San Juan Island and Lopez Island. The tide was running against us at 5 knots and we were surrounded by whirlpools that made the steering difficult. There were several boats trying to get through the passage but ours was the only one with sails up and slowly we left them all behind as we finally passed Salmon Bank, only to see fog in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We detoured north and spent an hour off the west side of San Juan Island watching Orca whales while the fog cleared, and were in Victoria at the customs dock at 7:35 in the evening.

1 August 2004
The morning was cool (60 F) and not a cloud in the sky. Tugboats were moving a large barge into position behind us to be used as a concert stage starting at noon. We had to be out of there before we were penned in, so our navigator for the day "Craig" laid out a course to the Strait of Georgia, and our Captain "Mike" got us underway. We sailed out of Victoria around Trial Point and north to Active Pass. It was a delightful sail with snow covered Mt. Baker in the background and another show by the Orcas off San Juan Island. Arriving at Active Pass about 20:30 with the current against us at about 4.5 knots, we discovered why it was so called. Huge British Columbia ferries came through the curvy canyon-like pass one after another, going both ways. With the current and staying out of the way of the ferries it took over a half hour before we were clear of the pass. We sailed north in a light wind which got lighter as the night went on. At sunrise we were still in the Strait of Georgia. We had made only about 20 miles all night. On the other hand, there was plenty to do as the commercial traffic was quite heavy, and the constantly changing current a challenge to our navigation. By 7:00 am, we were tied up in Silva Bay having a delicious home made apple pie for breakfast.

2 August 2004
For the rest of the morning we practiced coming alongside in a confined space. After everyone had made a number of successful landings we bought food and were underway. Departing the dock we practiced maneuvering under power and man overboard drills before leaving the bay.

The barometer was up and the sun bright as we left Gabriola Island at 13:30. The wind was light but increasing, Unfortunately it was right on the nose so we made some hour long tacks down the coast. With Kathy as our Captain , our navigator Christine had plotted a course to Susha Island. As the tide changed and the current started to move against us it became apparent to Kathy that we would never get to Susha so she consulted with the crew and decided to shorten the trip and go into Montague Harbour for the night. We started the engine and motorsailed through the Canadian Gulf Islands to Montague, which was a challenge to anchor at because, not only was it very protected, it was very deep and very crowded. In 50 ft of water with only 250 ft of chain we used snubbers to make certain our ratio and our swing were safe. We also posted an anchor watch through the night.

3 August 2004
While hauling the anchor we noticed that the wash down pump continued to run even when the hose was shut off. Investigating the problem, we found that the closed lockers had a lot of water and we found a leak in the hose leading from the pump to the deck faucet. Raleigh scooped 20 gals of water from the locker and repaired the visible leak. We tried it again and could hear that there were yet more leaks in the hose, so we shut down the thru hull and the pump and left a note for the owner. We pumped another 20 gals out of the lockers when we finally left the boat.

Raleigh was our Captain today and Mike our navigator as we made our way to Customs at Roche Harbor and then anchored for the night in Garrison Bay, site of the locally famous "Pig War" between England and the USA.

4 August 2004
Two hours of lecture (rules of the road), the wind was up and sailing was in order. We sailed all day, in clear skies and 8 to 12 knots of wind, with and against currents, it was the best sailing day so far and we made it a full day, arriving at Friday Harbor at 18:33. Our docking practice proved to be very valuable as we squeezed into a space only 5 ft longer than the boat with an off the dock wind and a current flow. I was very proud as I watched the crew make a flawless landing. 

5 August 2004
We spent the morning reviewing what we had learned and some objectives of the courses. We planned to return to Skyline today as Michael had an 8:30 reservation on the shuttle. Raleigh and Christine went in search of fresh seafood to cook for dinner. They found what they wanted and we were underway to Lopez Bay. We had another great day of sail with moderate winds and spectacular views. We anchored in Reed Bay and visited with a local while an early supper was being prepared. Visit over, we had dinner, and a last review before sailing the last 6 miles to Skyline Marina. Michael finished his test while underway and we arrived too late to pump out and fuel up.

6 August 2004
We took our final tests, and intended to fuel up and pump out but it was pouring rain. I agreed to handle the pump out and fueling myself after they were gone, so tests over, good-byes said, everyone was headed home. All agreed it was a great week spent on the water.

Captain Bill McClure
Skyline Marina, Anacortes, WA
August 7, 2004

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