Heading to Friday Harbor! San Juan Sailing Trip – August 16, 2018

August 16, 2018

This morning was off to a foggy start. Really foggy, in fact we could not see across to the other side of the marina! I was up at 0700, our departure was timed for 0930. That did not happen!

Instead I spent the time scrubbing the deck, covered in poo from the hundreds of seagulls infesting the area. Their poop had turned the deck purple! Then I walked around and talked to other boaters. All were eager to get leaving.

Finally around 1030 we could see houses along the hill outside the marina. I decided that would have to be good enough. We had to time the currents properly for the 33NM sail to take advantage of the tide or it would take far to long to reach Friday Harbor. I wanted to arrive with plenty of daylight to spare.

We shimmied over to the pump out dock and did a quick turn around to the marina exit. Several other boats watched us and decided to head out too. A few went south towards Seattle, however two sailboats followed us, sticking close behind. About a mile offshore the fog thickened again, enough that we started using the fog horn.

Billabong does not have radar, nor any advanced electronics at all. She has boat speed (paddlewheel), depth, autopilot. We were using our straining eyes, ears, a chart plotter on my tablet, and the MarineTraffic app on my phone for AIS. The big commercial boats all broadcast AIS, which was a lifesaver. We knew exactly where the tankers and cargo ships were in relation to us, even though we could see only a half mile at most.

Ironically the other two sailboats were still following us! One was a new Jeanneau that had radar, the other an old Erickson 41. We passed a tug. The Jeanneau was falling behind. Here came the big cargo vessel. We passed it no problem. We could barely see it astern in the fog. The Jeanneau cleared it as well, though the cargo ship gave a toot on its horn. Right after the cargo ship passed the Jeanneau turned and headed back for Port Townsend.

About a half hour later the fog lifted and we could see for 20+ miles, making out the outline of San Juan. The wind piped up a bit and we were able to toss up some sail. Life was getting better. The Erickson put up sail also and slowly pulled away, not much though. For you racers out there we would have corrected over them in PHRF at Cattle Pass.

After Smith Island the fog seemed to be settling again. Sure enough, by the time we reached Cattle Pass, the entrance to the islands, the fog completely obscured Smith Island. Halfway from the pass to Friday Harbor the fog descended so thickly and quickly that the fishing vessel traveling one hundred feet of our starboard side disappeared! A call to Friday Harbor the day before revealed the marina being full. I was not looking forward to anchoring in a thick fog, not knowing where other boats may be anchored in relation.

As luck had it, we rounded the green buoy and pointed towards Brown Island and the fog magically went away! Clear blue skies ahead. Even the smoke haze was low.

We stopped at the fuel dock for a quick top off. With no fuel gauge on the boat, I wanted to know what our consumption rate was to better estimate our range and remaining fuel. 5.2 gallon of diesel to fill the tank. Running the motor at cruising speed for 10 hours, with a couple hours of diesel heater as well. That averaged to 0.5 gallons per hour. Pretty low! I wish my car was that efficient!

As luck had it there was a single spot on the first-come-first-serve pier of about 39 feet. All side tie. Non-boaters, imagine parallel parking on the street. We smoothly slid all 36 feet of Billabong in place, first shot, no questions asked.

About 1700, time to find some brew and grub, off to the San Juan Island Brewery we went! The beer there was great. We had a flight of five with a promise to be back the next day to finish the rest of the menu off.

By the time we got back to Billabong I was ready to collapse. Alix wanted to watch a movie. I have not remembrance of what it was about ;).

What a great day to be on the water!

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