Under cloudy skies and cooler temperatures that are appropriate for this season in the Pacific Northwest, the lines were cast at 1100 hours and the slip in Everett was left. The slip was sublet to nice couple that kept their boat at the dry-land marina up the Snohomish River and they already know many of the boats around us. Leaving was uneventful. Gretchen stood out on her cockpit and waved good-bye. Clarice is going to watch the mail and the Prius and Travis has the truck. Our paid work required few hours to finish the last project and this could happen at our island cabin on Hat Island.
The first stop was Hat Island to spend the Memorial Day Weekend with family and friends. There were a few items to store at the island cabin, some items and tools to get, a few summer maintenance items to do at the cabin and a small project to add a shelf to Tribute’s freezer was on the list.
The weather for the next three days was breezy, cloudy and with periods of rain. This was not the ideal travel weather and being at Hat Island was a perfect start.
Sunday, May 29 - Hat Island
Every time we begin a big trip there is some anxiety because there are always a hundred or so reasons not to go and that list weighs heavier as the starting day gets nearer: meetings, concerts, and events that will be missed, friends who are sick and need support, projects that will not be worked on, and desires that will be delayed. Then there are the doubts, those thoughts that keep you awake at night and can be seen in the faces of those who question the wisdom the trip: Are you really prepared? Do you have the skills and abilities? Do you have the right information? Is the boat really ready and are you ready for a mechanical breakdown? It would be easier, to stay; to not go and be comfortable with what you have and what you are.
The talk is only about the plan for the next day because it is easier than always living in the big picture. Tribute needs to fuel up with about 450 gallons. Everett’s price was $2.61 a gallon, Anacortes was the likely destination and has a price of $2.47 but Brad, a longtime friend who is usually seen at the island on the holiday weekends, spoke about Oak Harbor and their low price. An Internet check showed that Oak Harbor Marina’s price was under $2 a gallon.
Monday, May 30 - To Shaw Island, San Juan Islands
A fresh breeze blew out the clouds, drizzle and brought in the warm sunshine. Good-byes were shared with the family and friends at Hat Island and Tribute glided out of the small and tight marina at 1100 hours. We turned west and headed up Saratoga Passage that is between Whidbey and Camano Islands with the trawler finding its sweet spot of 8 knots at 1900 RPMs. The water was nearly dead flat with only the slightest breeze coming from the west.
The ride was only occasionally disturbed by the boats returning to their homeport. The destination was Oak Harbor Marina as the diesel price $1.93 a gallon with the possibility of other discounts was confirmed. Why the low price? The marina boldly advertises that they want boaters to come and the fuel price is one of the enticements. We were happy to support it.
The fuel dock is at the base of the marina and is a tight fit for a 40-foot trawler but with no wind and no current, backing into a starboard tie was easy. Tribute took 442 gallons. The trawler has a capacity of 670 gallons and filling the two tanks would probably last about a 1/3 of the trip.
The low flow pump could push 12 gallons a minute and we wanted to make the slack current at Deception Pass that was predicted to occur at 5 PM. The employee suggested that two hoses be used, one for each tank. This was a first for us but it worked nicely. Tribute does not have a fuel gauge in the pilothouse, rather there are sight glasses outside each of the stainless steel tanks that accurately shows the fuel level. Laurie watched the sight glasses for the final gallons.
Shopping for price saved over $300 from getting fuel in Everett; competition pays off for everyone.
Tribute was about 15 minutes late to the slack before the flood at Deception Pass. Meaning, that after 5 PM, we should be fighting the incoming current that would accelerate and be more and more powerful. However, the water was still ebbing at about a half a knot and with the flat wind, the afternoon passage and crossing Rosario Strait was easy and uneventful. Perhaps, we place too much value into predictions, those mathematical formulas using the best data and models possible. Maybe it is global warming, or maybe King Neptune decided to just mess with the published predications; but they were wrong.
One of the boating axioms in the Pacific Northwest is "power-boating in the morning and sailing in the afternoon" because the wind reliable picks up in the afternoon. But not today, 6 PM and Tribute is enjoying the long spring day where the sun is high in the sky and the Strait of Juan de Fuca is completely flat.
Laurie typically picks three destinations, close, far and in-between and we choose based on the sea conditions, weather, ease of approach and fatigue. Today, Spencer Spit State Park on the eastern shore of Lopez Island was too close, Fisherman’s Bay on the western side of Lopez Island was considered until the tide was not just high enough for this curvy and shallow channel. Parks Bay is on Shaw Island and is just north of Friday Harbor and was chosen. There was no reason to go to a marina and Parks Bay was new us.
The anchor was dropped in 15 feet of water near the head of the bay with seven boats around us. The cell phone service was fine as we talked with Travis and Laurie created a splendid simple dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches, soup and sliced tomatoes. The evening was closed with a hand of gin rummy and music on the Sirius XM radio. Tribute had traveled 61 miles.