July 6 – At Montague Harbour

Montague calm morning

It was glassy calm and sunny at Montague in the morning.

Montague Marina calm

From where we were anchored, the marina and other nearby boats presented us with wonderful reflections in the glassy calm water.

Since our focus on this short-distance cruise is on relaxation and enjoying some time out on the boat we decided to spend a second night at Montague. This morning was calm and sunny, and it stayed nice most of the day…except for a moderate southerly breeze that filled in during the afternoon, but laid down by nightfall.

It was a good morning to take care of some small projects on the boat. In the early afternoon, we launched the dinghy (still enjoying the ease of that operation with the new electric winch!), and motored over to the dinghy dock at Montague Harbour Provincial Park (http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/montague/). We were anchored at the south end of the anchorage, and the park with its mooring buoys is located at the north end.

Montague Park Dock

We tied up our dinghy among other dinghies at the Montague Park dock. From the dock, it’s a short walk to the park trails.

Montague Park beach low tide

Looking back from the start of the beach trail at Montague Harbour Park, lots of the beach is visible at low tide. Notice several empty mooring buoys.

We found the moorage rates were unchanged from last year, and the trail still looks good. However, after our experience with all the mud at Reid Harbor, we decided to forgo the Montague hike today, and instead walked over to the north-facing beach of the park, and walked along the beach at low tide.

Montague North Beach

Exposed rock at low tide on the north beach at Montague Harbour Park. This is looking north on Trincomali Channel.

alice and jim north beach montague

The crew of Phoenix enjoys a short walk at Montague. Lots of rock showing at low tide on the north beach.

Then we motored over to the Montague Harbour Marina to visit the small store. Had a very difficult time finding a dinghy dock, but finally found a dinghy dock posted for use by visitors to the store. It was along the side of the dock-side end of the ramp, on the south side.

The store and modest restaurant haven’t changed much. They offer a minimum amount of supplies, but still have a very good selection of local B.C. books. We found two Dreamspeaker guides (http://www.dreamspeakerguides.com/) to add to our collection. While we were in the Broughton Archipelago last year, we met some fellow cruisers who had the Dreamspeaker guide for the Broughtons, and it looked like a good addition to our boating library. We have since acquired more of their guides, and enjoy having the additional references along.

While we were at the store, we noticed a sign for ice cream cones…so we treated ourselves to hard ice cream in waffle cones. Very tasty!

We barbecued chicken and had chicken Caesar salads for dinner, enjoying the typical rosy sunset at Montague.

Montague sunset 07_06_12

The sun sets at Montague Harbor, Galiano Island, B. C.

July 5 – Reid Harbor to Montague Harbour

Reid Harbor Sunrise July 5

The sun rises on a gorgeous morning in Reid Harbor.

The morning at Reid Harbor was wonderful…calm and sunny…even though it was a little cool with temps in the 50s. We have to be back in Anacortes in 4 days, so we pondered where to go. We thought about going to Sucia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sucia_Island), but had concerns about the anchorage being crowded since this is the Fourth of July week, and we were looking for a quiet place where we could continue our relaxing.

Rosie at Reid Harbor

Rosie looks out at today’s sunny morning in Reid Harbor.

Nothing in the San Juans seemed right, so we finally decided to head into Canada, and go to Montague Harbour. Montague is one of our favorite anchorages in the Gulf Islands, particularly because it offers a very large anchoring area as well as some enjoyable hiking and a small store at the Montague Harbour Marina (http://www.montagueharbour.com). With our Nexus passes, we can clear Canadian Customs by cell phone in Boundary Pass and arrange to stop in Montague for a customs inspection, if they want to board us. They did not.

Turn Point Lighthouse Haro Strait

We passed the Turn Point Lighthouse as we navigated from Haro Strait to Boundary Pass.

We hadn’t planned on going to Canada, so needed to check what liquor and food we had on board. Only had some beer and a few half full bottles of booze, so we were within the limit for alcohol. However, we did have potatoes on board. Potatoes are not allowed to be brought into Canada. So, when we called Customs for our clearance, we disclosed the potatoes. The customs agent suggested we peel the potatoes and put them in the freezer…so that’s what we did! Used them later to make potato salad.

BE Ferries in Swanson Channel

Two of the BC ferries we encountered in Swanson Channel…one headed for Active Pass and one that just came through the pass.

This week had spring tides, and we encountered strong currents in Haro Strait and Swanson Channel…lots of whirlpools and some tide races. Even though there wasn’t a lot of wind, we bounced around quite a bit. We also encountered 5 or 6 ferries as we crossed Swanson Channel near Active Pass, and their wakes added to the bouncing.

The trip from Reid Harbor to Montague took about 3 hours. We motored slowly so that we didn’t get to Montague too far ahead of the time we told Customs we would arrive. The knot meter is still not working, and AIS is also not working. Later, we found that the data rate between AIS and Nobeltec was incorrectly set, which explains the AIS problem, but we still don’t have a clue about what’s wrong with the knot meter.

Montague Harbour

There weren’t as many boats anchored in Montague Harbour as we expected.

Montague Harbour Marina

Montague Harbour Marina has a small store and a modest restaurant. Moorage and fuel is available.

There were not as many boats in Montague as we expected, and it was sunny, warm, and fairly calm with a gentle breeze in the anchorage. A great afternoon to sit on the flybridge and catch up on more reading! Due to the high tides this week, we noticed a lot of floating debris that came through the anchorage from time to time. Even some big logs. Good thing the tide doesn’t push that stuff very fast…

Jim reading on flybridge

Jim enjoys some relaxing time for reading on the flybridge while we were anchored in Montague Harbour.

Kitties at Montague

The kitties enjoyed some relaxing time too. Rosie curled up on the left and Mickey REALLY relaxing on the right.

July 4 – At Reid Harbor

We woke to a rosy sunrise and cold morning (45 degrees). Clouds filled in later, but cleared by midday and it was quite pleasant. A great day to try out our new Superwinch to launch the dinghy and take a hike!

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The new winch works GREAT! It’s wonderful to be able to push a button and hoist the dinghy. Not too noisy either. We are quite pleased with our new arrangement.

The hike from the State Park (link: Stuart Island Marine Park) at the head of Reid Harbor to the Turn Point Lighthouse is abut 4.5 miles round trip. This is one of our favorite boating hikes, and we’ve been doing it since the late 1970s when we first started boating in the San Juan Islands. Much of the hike is on the main county road on Stuart Island. It’s usually dry and dusty, but after the past couple of rainy days, we encountered several places where we had to get around gooey mud and mud puddles. Plus, the county had recently put down large chunks of crushed rock, which was good for the ATVs that use the road, but not so good for hiking!

We found some familiar things as we reached the top of the hill: Stuart Island’s school, the Stuart Island museum (formerly their one-room school house), and the Boundary Pass Trader’s Treasure Chest with lots of souvenir clothing that they sell on the I.O.U. system. We found a couple of shirts to buy.

We also found a wonderful display of finely made wooden bowls, being sold by Alex Olson of Stuart Island Woodworking. Alex lives and goes to school in Seattle, but spends summers with his family on Stuart Island. He uses mostly native wood found on Stuart Island, and his work looks great. He plans to display his bowls for sale in this location through the middle of August. Alex said he can create custom bowls by request. If you’re interested, please leave a comment in the “Leave A Reply” box below, and we will send you his contact information.

Once we reached the Turn Point Lighthouse, we discovered a new addition. The Turn Point Lighthouse Preservation Society (http://www.tplps.org) has restored one of the buildings on the site and has opened an historical museum there. It’s a great museum with a very thorough display of historical events about the lighthouse and the lightkeepers, and we enjoyed browsing through all the artifacts that are on display. While we were there, a host was available to answer questions.

Back at Phoenix, we enjoyed being able to hoist our dinghy back to the boat deck easily with our new electric winch, and settled in for a quiet evening.

Anacortes Thunderstorm

Anacortes thunderstorm 01

During a break from the rain, I took some photos of the angry sky. This is looking northwest from our foredeck.

Anacortes thunderstorm 02

This is a view looking north. Notice the rain cells in the distance.

Anacortes thunderstorm 03

Above the boathouses, the sky to the west was an angry deep red, intensified by the setting sun.

Anacortes thunderstorm 04

Another view to the north. Some of the boats at Cap Sante Boat Haven are visible through the opening of our marina’s north bulkhead, near the center of the photo.

Wow! What a night we had in Anacortes last evening. There were lots of thunderstorms throughout the entire Puget Sound most of the day yesterday, with most of the rain to the south of us. Anacortes was dry until the evening, when we definitely got our taste of the storm.

Between 6 and 7 PM, heavy rain started to come down like rain we’ve seen in Ketchikan or the tropics. Just a downpour. This was followed shortly by almost continuous lightning and thunder. The first boomers were a ways away, but by 8 PM we were seeing lightning strikes all around us, and the boomers were so strong that they occasionally rattled the boat. It was definitely close to us!

This storm didn’t want to leave us, and the lightning and thunder and on-and-off rain continued for almost 3 hours. Our kitties were definitely not happy campers. Gratefully, most of the lightning and loud thunder was over before bedtime.

During one of the breaks in the rain just before sunset, I managed to snap a few quick pictures from the foredeck…didn’t really want to venture too far away from the safety of the boat, but wanted to try to capture the intense red sky. It was so very ominous looking.

We are grateful that this morning was calm and foggy…even though unsettled weather is still in the forecast for the next day or two.

July 3 – At Reid Harbor

Reid Harbor in the morning

By late morning, the sun had come out and many boats had left the anchorage.

Kayaks in Reid Harbor

Four of the many kayaks we watched come and go in Reid Harbor.

Schooner in Reid Harbor

It was fun to watch the schooner “Odyessy” come into the harbor.

Aft deck of schooner in Reid Harbor

A closer view of the aft deck and cockpit of the schooner “Odyssey.”

Reid Harbor sunset

By the time the sun set in Reid Harbor, the winds had died and it became a wonderfully calm and quiet evening.

Moon at Reid Harbor

What can be more beautiful than a full moon shining over the water in a calm anchorage…it was gorgeous!

Heavy rain all night and into the morning made this a good day for lounging and reading. Cool and windy too, with temps only in the 50s.

We were anchored on the south side of the harbor, a bit away from the head of the bay…so we were able to enjoy watching boats come and go. There is also a lot of kayak activity here, as the beach at the head of the bay is sandy and offers an easy place for getting in and out of kayaks. Also, the Washington State Park here offers a great place for camping, and many of the guide companies bring groups here.

As we crossed San Juan Channel yesterday, I received a message on my iPhone from Verizon Wireless that my phone had been picked up by a Canadian cell tower. I had forgotten that as soon as we reach the northern part of the San Juans…even if we’re not in Canadian waters…we can get either a U. S or Canadian cell connection…so it is a good idea either to get a Canadian roaming plan or turn off data. Since we don’t plan to be cruising in Canada, we didn’t get a roaming plan, and I decided to turn off the data on my phone and go without the Internet and email. The roaming rates while in Canada are pretty steep. In addition, we get only a marginal 3G signal here in Reid Harbor.

The sky cleared later in the day, and we enjoyed sun for the rest of the afternoon and had a clear evening. When the tide changed, our boat turned to face the setting sun, and we got blasted by the bright sun. We covered the windshield with our winter Sunbrella cover to avoid being blinded.

It was the perfect night for an easy dinner of vegie burgers and mandarin oranges.

July 2 – Anacortes to Reid Harbor

Guemes Channel

Heading west in Guemes Channel, we caught the outbound current.

Rosie underway

Rosie curled up on the dashboard…she frequently sleeps while we’re underway.

Mickey underway

Mickey likes to crawl under our foot stool while we’re underway…a nice secure place for him.

Double Island anchorage

Looking into West Sound from our anchorage behind Double Island, where we stopped for a couple of hours to wait for the Speiden Channel current to change.

Mickey relaxing at Double Island

After we got settled at Double Island, Mickey came out from under the stool and showed us one of his best relaxation poses.

Navionics on iPad next to Raymarine Chart Plotter

The navigation display on the left is on the iPad using the Navionics app “Marine & Lakes U.S. and Canada,” and on the right as it looks on our Raymarine Chart Plotter.

Navigation display on the iPad

A closer look at the iPad navigation display. Notice the red line that continuously updates while we are underway to show where we are headed. What a great tool!

Whale watching boat

We passed this whale watching boat as we crossed San Juan Channel on our way to Reid Harbor.

Container ship in Haro Strait

As we approached Reid Harbor, we spotted this container ship in Haro Strait, headed for Boundary Pass.

Entrance to Reid Harbor

Approaching the entrance to Reid Harbor on Stuart Island, one of our favorite anchorages in the San Juans.

Reid Harbor anchorage

In Reid Harbor, Stuart Island, looking toward the head of the anchorage.

First, a note. We are now back in Anacortes after a one-week cruise from July 2nd to the 8th…but we did not have access to the Internet while we were out, so publishing the posts from our cruise has been delayed. This is the first post from our cruise…more to come soon!

The weather conditions in Anacortes looked good this morning…grey and overcast, but no strong wind and no rain. This was a good morning for us to head out for our first cruise of 2012.

We caught the outbound current in Guemes Channel, and crossed Rosario Strait near the slack. We found lots of boat traffic in Harney Channel this morning, including several ferries. One of the ferries came up behind us as we motored west in the narrowing channel by Shaw Island…we got caught between the oncoming ferry and a large power boat with an enormous wake next to us paralleling our course, so ended up turning toward the beach and slowing almost to a stop, then going in a circle so that we could cross behind all of them. Harney Channel can get really crowded in July and August!

This was our first opportunity to use the Navionics iPad app “Marine & Lakes U.S. and Canada” for navigation. What a neat tool! It has an outstanding display, fast seamless operation, and runs from the iPad’s GPS without the need of a cell connection. The GPS does use a lot of battery, so we discovered it was best to have it hooked up to a power source. We set up the iPad alongside our 10-year-old Raymarine chart plotter and found there was no comparison…the iPad was much better! In addition to following our course, the app also provides a great tool for looking up the tide and current information for any given location.

First time out every year we get to see if things work. Most things were okay, except… The AIS wasn’t working, but that turned out to be a loose wire. And the knot meter didn’t work, and we thought that might be due to something being stuck in the paddle wheel…but no matter how much maneuvering we did, the knot meter still didn’t work. We’ll need to do more investigating to find the problem.

We turned into West Sound and found the anchorage behind Double Island empty so decided to anchor there for a few hours to wait for the current in Speiden Channel to change. We were heading on to Reid Harbor, and wanted to avoid the strong adverse current along Speiden Island. Waiting until later in the day would give the current time to moderate and reverse.

We left Double Island around 1500 and found much less boat traffic than we experienced this morning. And more favorable current! However, the clouds thickened and we had light rain most of the way. Even though we waited for more favorable current in Speiden Channel, we still encountered a strong tide race with lots of whirlpools near Limestone Point.

We found lots of boats in Reid Harbor, but there was still plenty of room to anchor. It turned into a cold, rainy night. But the heavier rain held off until later in the night, so we were able to barbecue salmon for dinner, along with steamed green beans. Felt nice to be out on the anchor again.