Adventures Aboard Osprey

18 August 2015 | Seattle, WA
16 August 2015 | Port Ludlow, WA
15 August 2015 | Blind Bay, Shaw Is, WA
14 August 2015 | Montague Harbour, BC
13 August 2015 | Newcastle Island, Nanaimo, BC
12 August 2015 | Garden Bay in Pender Harbour, BC
11 August 2015 | Squirrel Cove, BC
10 August 2015 | Octopus Islands, BC
09 August 2015 | Thurston Bay, BC
07 August 2015 | Port Harvey, BC
07 August 2015 | Port Harvey, BC
07 August 2015 | Port Harvey, BC
06 August 2015 | Joe Cove, BC
05 August 2015 | Blunden Harbour, BC
04 August 2015 | Fury Cove, BC
03 August 2015 | Fancy Cove, BC
03 August 2015 | Bottleneck Inlet, BC
01 August 2015 | Coglan Anchorage, BC
30 July 2015 | Prince Rupert, AK
27 July 2015 | Prince Rupert, AK

Trip Summary

18 August 2015 | Seattle, WA
At 2pm yesterday I easily guided Osprey into her slip at Shilshole Marina, which I'd left 75 days earlier. Thus ended my mostly solo sailboat trip from Seattle to Juneau, Alaska, and back.

After docking, I collected my several piles of less-than-clean clothes into a single bag (my last laundromat visit was in Petersburg, AK), did a bit of cleaning (I'm actually pretty good I keeping up with domestic chores, so the cleaning didn't take too long), and was visited by friends Julia and Matt, along with Shawn and Eric. I saw no point in rushing to the house, so I stayed aboard Osprey last night. This morning after breakfast I walked the 7 1/2 miles from the marina to my was a nice morning and I wanted the exercise, so I decided against taking the bus or accepting offers of a car ride. The house appeared in good shape, apart from some overgrown shrubbery that I'll start tackling tomorrow. The car started up without a problem, but was dusty enough that my first stop was the car wash. Then I drove to the boat, collected my dirty clothes, and took them back to the house to wash. Tonight will be my last on the boat, so tomorrow the food and the rest of my clothes will be getting a car ride to the house.

I traveled 2147 nautical miles in 76 days. I traveled on 53 of those days and remained in port for 23 days, usually to wait for better weather.

Of those 2147 miles, I motored 2061 miles and sailed 86 miles, or 4 percent of the distance.

I ran the engine for a total of 361.4 hours and burned 315 gallons of diesel fuel, or .87 gallons per hour.

This was a great trip, and I'm really happy that I did it. The high point for me was approaching the glaciers in Tracy Arm, with Eric and Shawn pushing chunks of ice out of the way so we could get a closer look.

On the other hand, I don't think I'll do the trip again in the same way. Mainly, I don't think a 35-foot sailboat is the best choice for an Alaskan cruise. Traveling the great distances involved at sailboat speeds makes for a lot of long days, many of them in chilly, rain-in-your- face weather. Some sailboat owners in this region have entirely surrounded their cockpits with canvas enclosures, going far beyond the dodger and bimini that I have on Osprey.

While that is one solution to keeping the helmsperson warmer and dry, it seems to me that one might as well move to a power boat with well-constructed, enclosed helm station. Given the small percentage of time that a sailboat can actually sail on this trip, the point of having a mast and sails is almost entirely lost. So when I go to Alaska again, it will be in a power boat.

I'm hardly the first person to come to this conclusion. Lots of former sailors have moved to power boats when deciding they'd like to explore Alaska. One sees fewer and fewer sailboats, compared to the number of power boats, the further north one goes beyond Desolation Sound, which is midway up the coast of Vancouver Island.

On the other hand, I have no interest in the unnecessarily massive 50, 60, 70-foot and larger motor yachts that constitute a large percentage of the boats cruising Alaskan waters, frequently crewed by only a retired couple. Alaskan cruising can easily and comfortably be done in much smaller boats. My requirements for an Alaskan cruiser would be a boat that motors economically at displacement speeds, has dependable cabin heat, a galley with propane oven, has comfortable (not opulent or house-sized) sleeping accommodations for 4 people, is easily handled for docking and anchoring, and has limited electrical systems that do not require frequent running of a generator.

In conclusion, this was a great trip that, next time, I'll do a bit differently. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the waters of Washington State and British Columbia.

Almost Home

16 August 2015 | Port Ludlow, WA
Docile weather and good timing around tidal currents made today's 46-mile passage easy. The wind was mostly under 6 knots. I was able to time my exit from the San Juan Islands with the south-flowing ebb through Cattle Pass, then cross Juan De Fuca Strait to Admiralty Inlet and Puget Sound in time for the south-flowing flood tide, providing current-assisted boat speeds of 7 to 9 knots, occasionally higher.

Tomorrow I'll return to my slip at Shilshole Marina. I'll post a summary of the trip soon thereafter.

Back in the USA

15 August 2015 | Blind Bay, Shaw Is, WA
With a new moon only a couple of days ago, the tidal currents were running strongly today and, unfortunately, mostly against me, which added an extra hour to the time it took me to get from Montague Harbour in BC to Friday Harbor in Washington. At Friday Harbor I tied up to the Customs dock to report my arrival, then left for the anchorage at Blind Bay on Shaw Island.

I untied my dock lines to leave the customs dock just as a 120-foot yacht began maneuvering into the dock, using bow and stern thrusters to slide sideways toward a space that was just about large enough to fit. It wasn't until I'd untied two of Osprey's three dock lines that I realized the megayacht was already quite close, leaving me little maneuvering room. But I saw that several bow and stern deck hands were watching me, and it seemed that they'd have more room if I left first.

So I yelled to two deck hands on the stern, "Which way would you like me to go?" as I pointed to their bow and their stern. In response, one pointed to toward the stern and the other pointed toward the bow. Not much help.

But then someone, probably the captain, stepped out of the bridge deck and offered, "Go around the bow." I could see from the thruster turbulence that someone in the bridge was maneuvering the bow away enough to give me plenty of passage room.

"Sorry, but I thought you'd want the extra space, I called out to the captain.

He smiled and replied, "No problem." As I passed the tall bow, I offered another "sorry" to the tanned deck hand who was standing there, and received another smiling "no problem" in return.

My plan is to enter Puget Sound tomorrow, stopping in Port Ludlow for the night, then finished the trip with my return to Seattle on Monday. Currents are running too strongly, and the timing is off, for a comfortable run all the way from here to Seattle in one day.

Back in Montague Harbour

14 August 2015 | Montague Harbour, BC
This morning I left Nanaimo at 9:30 so that I'd arrive at Dodd Narrows around the time of the 10:40 slack current. Lots of boats had the same plan, so there were lines of boats traveling in both directions. A half dozen or so boats would pass in one direction, typically with a VHF channel 16 announcement from one or more of them to alert boats at the other end. Then a group of boats would pass through in the other direction. Mostly it was orderly, but sometimes I'd hear someone get on the radio to scold a boater who'd been deemed to be too impatient, jumping a turn or running too fast.

As I expected from the weather forecast, southeast headwinds built as I traveled south. I'm anchored in Montague Harbour, where I stopped on the way north, and it's breezy in the anchorage with winds to 25 knots forecast for the evening. The wind is supposed to lighten mid-day tomorrow, so I may delay my start to let the headwinds die. My intention is to cross the US border, stop at the customs dock at Friday Harbor, then move to a nearby anchorage for the night.

An easy crossing

13 August 2015 | Newcastle Island, Nanaimo, BC
Unlike my crossing of the Strait of Georgia on my way north in June, which was windy and bouncy, this morning the water was flat and the wind, for the first half of the passage, was one knot or less. As I approached Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, the wind slowly built, as it always does when nearing the island from the north, but to only 8 to 10 knots today. I sailed for just under an hour.

When I was headed north in June I docked at the Port of Nanaimo's marina, but today I chose to pick up a mooring across the harbour (when I'm in Canada I spell it "harbour", and when in the USA I type "harbor") at Newcastle Island, which has nice hiking trails. This afternoon I walked the 7.5-kilometer perimeter of the island (when I'm in the USA, I use miles; when I'm anywhere else on the planet, I use kilometers). Then I rewarded myself with an unnecessary ice cream cone.

Good Progress South

12 August 2015 | Garden Bay in Pender Harbour, BC
Forty nine miles today, from Squirrel Cove to Pender Harbour. It was a beautiful day, with a nice tailwind that enabled me to sail some of the way. I decided to go into Pender Harbour because I hadn't been here in a long time, and I wanted a change from my usual stop at Ballet Bay, which is in a convenient location but is small and somewhat exposed to the stronger northwesterlies that were initially forecast for tonight.

Pender Harbour is actually a large bay with several coves indented into the sides. It is road-accessible and thus has houses and businesses along the waterfront, including several small marinas. I chose to anchor in Garden Bay, where I've anchored before. It's busy but not too crowded. There's a park and walking path at the shore, with a small dock. I thought I'd remembered a longer hiking trail but was mistaken. The park is small and the trail leads in a short circle, but also takes you to the road, which I followed first one way and then the other to get some exercise.

Tomorrow I'll cross the Strait of Georgia to Nanaimo, which is often a nice sail, but the latest forecast is for light wind so it'll probably be another day of mostly motoring. Currently, I'm thinking I'll get back to Seattle on Monday.
Vessel Name: Osprey
Vessel Make/Model: Island Packet 350
Hailing Port: Seattle
Crew: Richard
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