Photo: Sailing north in a strong southerly.
All week I'd been watching the weather forecast with dread. It wasn't getting any better: a series of strong fronts bringing rain and southwesterly gales. Our weekend plans were to sail to Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island Saturday afternoon to attend the Puget Sound Cruising Club's potluck dinner at the Eagle Harbor Marina and sail back Sunday morning. Not very far from Shilshole, but still a miserable ride in that weather.
"If it's really bad," I suggested to Steve, "Let's just take the ferry. I'll bet everyone else will."
"Wimps," he said. "Wimps." I knew better than to argue. I also knew that although Steve likes to sail, when confronted with gales and rain, he sometimes changes his mind. I hoped this would be one of those times.
Friday night I tossed and turned with visions of mountainous seas, pouring rain and Captain Steve Bligh refusing to take the ferry. But in the morning, when I looked out our window at the Sound, I saw only quiet water beneath gray clouds and not a rain drop anywhere.
"Let's go," said Steve.
It was hard to fear the weather when it looked so benign and the morning weather report didn't call for strong winds until late afternoon. I threw the ingredients for a potluck dish into a bag and my clothes into a duffel and we were off. Soon we were motoring Osprey
on a glassy sea, the only waves from passing ships.
The rain started as we rounded the red buoy into Eagle Harbor. Our barometer was in free fall, but from past experience I knew that the wind would stay calm until the barometer bottomed out and turned up, and then it would really blow. That was exactly what happened. That evening boats rocked in the marina and rain streaked the clubhouse windows but we were warm and snug with a roaring fire, delicious food and good company. Everyone enjoyed themselves so much that we organized a potluck brunch for the next morning attended by a few hardy sailors and other PSCC members from Bainbridge Island.
Photo: Squalls over Puget Sound as seen from Eagle Harbor Sunday morning.
From the window of the clubhouse we watched squalls move up the Sound and waves crash on the spit at the harbor entrance. I contemplated suggesting another night in Eagle Harbor. But by noon, the rain stopped and the wind quieted. Once again, strong winds weren't forecast until late afternoon. I weighed the risk of a rough sail against the pleasure of going home to watch Downton Abbey and opted for home.
Out in the Sound, the wind blew 25 knots from the south. Osprey
barreled along at 6+ knots under a partially rolled jib. With the wind behind us sailing was easy and we were home in under two hours. It didn't even feel that cold.
Half an hour after we pulled into our slip at Shilshole, the temperature dropped, the rain drummed on the cabin roof and the wind shrieked through the rigging -- exactly the kind of weather I'd dreaded. We'd made it just in time. We'd had a good weekend, not because we'd gone despite the weather, but because we had timed our trips just right. Or maybe we were just lucky.