Friday, December 22, 2006

August 2006 Trip

Here's the start of the log from my August 2006 trip to the San Juans, Victoria, and back. I'm going to post it in several parts.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Standing in Scamper's cockpit in the warm evening the upcoming vacation seemed to stretch out forever. Three weeks in the San Juans with just a few days in the middle for work. Life is going to be good.

I hit the starter button just after 6 pm, the little Yanmar happily clattered to life, and I motored out into Commencement Bay. Rounding Brown's Point and turning north it was obvious I was looking at a pretty vigorous beat into a building northwest wind. It was a pleasant enough sail at 15 knots but by the time it started gusting over 20 is was sorry I put off reefing - especially since daylight was rapidly slipping away. It was a bit exhilarating but I got the second reef tucked in and the genoa rolled up and things quieted down nicely.

It was a rough beat for a good three hours. The conditions kept my hands full with boat handling but there was also quite a little bit of commercial traffic. A southbound tug towing a barge gave me quite a thrill at Point Robinson.

As the tug was rounding the point I checked bearings and made sure I would pass astern of him. Within seconds the windblown barge swung broadside to the tug on the side away from where I was. To keep the barge behind him the tug's skipper had to alter course directly toward me. Now the tug was nearly dead ahead if I stayed on port tack and Vashon Island was dead ahead if I crash-tacked over to starboard. Both were way too close for comfort so I turned downwind and ran out of the way at close to eight knots. I lost a bit of very hard-fought distance to windward but it was certainly better than a collision.

The wind finally died around midnight, in anticipation of a shift to the south, and I motored the last 30 minutes to Blake Island and took a buoy on the southwest side. The buoy was hard to find in the darkness but the GPS was surprisingly helpful - the buoys were on the chart-chip and the old-tech Garmin was accurate enough to put me within yards. The Johnson "Grab-n-Go" hook also worked very well and made picking up the buoy pretty easy, even short-handed.