Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
Day 1, 18 July We all met at the marina in Anacortes, Washington, by three in the afternoon. Crewmembers included John Myer, Steven Potts, Erik Grau, and my brother, George McClure. We learned that John is a vegetarian, Steven is a casual smoker and Erik just wanted to go sailing. After a brief hello, we got busy learning the boat. The marina representative checked us out on all the through hulls and the basic boat operation. We, the crew, then did a survey of the boat, noting very few problems. There were a few small wear holes in the headsail and we applied sail tape to prevent any further chafing. We ate ashore and settled in for the night.
Day 2, 19 July We began the day with breakfast ashore and then a sit down discussion of the class objectives and sailing agenda. Watches were assigned and gear was stowed. While the crew practiced reefing and further familiarized themselves with the boat, John and I went to town to buy provisions. Fully loaded, we were underway by 1530, and headed for Blind Bay on Shaw Island. The cruising guide says it is a difficult entrance, but compared to the Chesapeake, it was a piece of cake. You must be aware of the tides as they produce a lot of current, but the depths are very deep and the channels are wide enough to pass a ferry boat. We had a dinner of roast chicken and salt potatoes, with a garden salad and canned peaches for desert. After a discussion of the day's activities, we settled in for a good night's sleep in a really lovely harbor.
Day 3, 20 July The morning was cool (60 f) and there was a sky full of clouds. To me, it looked like rain from the east, but George assured us it would all burn off by noon. It did. We decided to go on to Canada and get our overnight behind us, so we sailed out of Shaw, south of Orca Island and then up the San Juan Channel to Bidwell Harbour on South Pender Island where we cleared Canadian customs. Here we found that we had to surrender all the beautiful fruit we had bought in Anacortes. One of our questions on the exam says we should fly the Canadian flag from the stern and the American flag from the spreader. I cannot figure out where that came from. Canadian customs demands a Q flag from the spreader to be replaced with a Canadian courtesy flag when cleared and the US flag on our stern. We dumped our trash and pumped out (Cost 5 dollars), had lunch ashore and departed for Montague Bay on Galiano Island. We took a slip here as there was no room left to anchor.
Day 4, 21 July After leaving Montague Bay, went through Active Pass and out into the Straights of Georgia. This is the primary shipping route into Vancouver and up and down the West Coast of Canada. Lots of traffic, good winds (on the nose), deep water (600 ft plus), and plenty of sunshine made for a great sail. For awhile in the afternoon, the winds died but then as night fell they picked up and increased as lightening and storms passed to our south. Then the winds went light again.
Day 5, 22 July By 0400, the winds were rapidly the building and the barometer was
dropping. We reefed and then double reefed. The winds increased to over 32 knots and the seas were building as daylight broke through the heavy clouds and rain. By noon, the winds were a steady gale force and, at 1400, we hove to. We rode out the storm under a double reefed main with the wheel hard to windward moving about 1.2 knots. It was really quite comfortable. We were now headed back and, by 1600, were once again sailing. We made it back to Silva Bay on Gabriola Island and tied up at Page's Marina in heavy rain.
Day 6, 23 July The barometer was up and the sun breaking through as we left Gabriola Island at 1815. The wind was light so we motored sailed down the coast past islands covered with seals basking in the sun. Three times we spotted the spouting of whales but were not able to get near enough to actually see them. Then, as we came around the south corner of Susha Island, we saw otters playing near the shore. More seals and a sea lion came to visit the boat while we were anchored overnight inside the harbor on Susha Island.
Day 7, 24 July We spent the morning reviewing what we had learned and some of the objectives of the course. We looked for the customs dock as we entered Roche Harbor. After we tied up, we all started into the office when the customs officer angrily made us get back aboard. I explained it was a class and that everyone wanted to see the procedures. He told me to go in and he would talk to the crew. Inside I discovered that since this is a commercial venture, I should have cleared out before leaving and that I needed to fill out an official passenger list and a vessel entrance statement. You also need to have exactly $9.00 both times, as the customs people do not make change. All in all, it went well and we cleared and were underway to Garrison Bay. We anchored in the bay and went ashore to dig clams. We had only dug a couple dozen clams when one of the guys discovered a sign that said we had to have a license. Upon checking with the ranger at English Harbor, we found that an out of state license costs $23.00. We put the clams back and had a meal of Dinty Moore stew over rice. A sea lion approached the boat and we offered him some meat from the stew but he was not interested; he wanted clams.
Day 8, 25 July From Garrison Bay, we had a good downwind sail and then a motored up to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. After lunch, we visited the whaling museum and discovered that we were among the very few crews who had spotted even the water spout of a whale that week. Leaving Friday Harbor, we had a really great sail to Lopez Island where we beat the rain into Hunter Bay by minutes.
Day 9, 26 July From Hunter Bay to Flounder Bay in Anacortes took only a few hours. We cleaned the boat and were seated on the patio at the restaurant taking our tests by noon. When the tests were over, good-byes were said and everyone headed home. All agreed it was a great week spent on the water.
Captain Bill McClure