Voyages North

May 31, 2019. Mats Mats Bay to Bedwell Harbour.

07 June 2019 | Posted at Port McNeill
Elsie Hulsizer
Photo: Crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Jack hiding behind my camera.

5:30 am. I looked out Osprey's cabin window but saw nothing but a white wall of fog. No boats, shore, houses or docks. My heart sank. Our choices were to go out in the fog or stay in the bay, trapped as the tide dropped.

Half an hour later, after breakfast, ghostly boats, houses and docks were appearing out of the mists. "Let's get going," said Steve. "We've sailed in thicker fog than this. And we have radar."

As Steve finished raising anchor, I put the engine in gear and inched forward toward the channel. Was that the beacon? Beyond it, everything was dark. But the channel was narrow and soon we could see both sides.

Exiting the channel, I looked for Klas Rock whose beacon appeared then disappeared like an apparition. We headed toward the open Sound, leaving Marrowstone Island to port but not seeing it.

It was cold in the fog. I went below for another jacket and when I came back up on deck, I could see the grey form of Marrowstone Island, and in the distance, an even greyer Whidbey Island. Perhaps our crossing of the Strait of Juan de Fuca wouldn't be so bad after all.

We motored into headwinds and tiderips. At 7:35 we passed Admiralty Island, at 8:15 Pt Partridge was just ahead and to starboard. Waves washed the deck. The wind shifted to just ahead of the beam and we rolled out the jib, increasing our speed from 6 knots to 7.5 knots. Ocean swells sent Osprey rolling. Jack, our cat, who had been sleeping behind the chart plotter, ran out and squeezed into a tiny spot between the dodger and my camera bag. If you had asked me before if he could fit there, I would have said no.

The Wagonner Cruising Guide talks about the northwest being divided up into cruising areas, each one separated from the next by what the guide calls, "gates," a hazardous body of water or condition that a boat must pass through to the next cruising area. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is the gate for the San Juans and Gulf Islands. Georgia Strait is the gate for Desolation Sound, Seymour Narrows and Johnstone Straits are gates for the Broughton Islands. We had successfully passed through our first gate.

At 1035 the sun came out revealing Cattle Pass and San Juan Island ahead. I thought of lunch in Friday Harbor or maybe a visit to Griffin Bay Books. But Steve had other ideas. "Let's go on," he said. We can make Bedwell easy. The currents will be with us all the way. I had to admit, it made sense.

At 2:50 we tied up at the Bedwell Customs dock in Canada. Half an hour later we let down the anchor. "The 'gate' of the Strait of Juan de Fuca was behind us.
Vessel Name: Osprey
Vessel Make/Model: Annapolis 44 sloop
Hailing Port: Seattle
Crew: Steve and Elsie Hulsizer (author of Glaciers, Bears and Totems and Voyages to Windward)
Elsie and Steve Hulsizer have sailed northwest waters since arriving in Seattle via sailboat from Boston in 1979. [...]
2017: local cruising including South Puget Sound and San Juan Islands 2016:north up West Coast VI, across QC Sound to central BC coast 2015: trip to SE Alaska 2014: Seymour and Belize Inlets through Nakwakto Rapids 2013: SE Alaska and back. 2012: from Seattle up the west coast of Vancouver [...]
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