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.

Cape Caution

Cape Caution-Hecate Strait-DixonEntrance

This map from Wikipedia shows the locations of Cape Caution in Queen Charlotte Sound and Dixon Entrance to the north.

You’re probably wondering why I’m writing about Cape Caution, considering that we are tied up in our slip in Anacortes Marina with no plans of cruising that far north this season.

Rounding Cape Caution is a major event for any cruiser going north in the Inside Passage to cruise in Northern B.C. or on to Alaska. Most of the Inside Passage is protected from ocean swells by outlying islands. However, there are two areas of travel that are open to the ocean…Cape Caution in Queen Charlotte Sound and Dixon Entrance further north.

Rounding Cape Caution can be a harrowing experience and is not to be taken lightly.

Queen Charlotte Strait

Cruising north in Queen Charlotte Strait toward Cape Caution

Today I was reviewing the Waggoner Cruising Guide online, www.waggonerguide.com. Waggoner Cruising Guide is one of the area cruising guidebooks that has been a favorite of ours over the years. Last year, the original publisher and founder of the publication, Bob Hale, retired and sold the guidebook to Mark Bunzel, who is continuing the publication and website. I was interested in what might have changed and whether there was a new look. There is a new look, but most of the same good stuff is there. Go to the website and/or buy the 2012 book to check it out yourself.

However, what caught my eye today was a section of the website called “Cruising Reports.” In that section, I noticed that Bob Hale’s cruise reports from 2011 are still available for viewing. We’ve always enjoyed his reviews and opinions, whether reading them from a publication or talking with him at a cruising get-together. Bob’s cruising suggestions are based on his own experiences over many, many years of cruising Pacific Northwest waters.

Cape Caution

Cape Caution is marked by a light for navigation.

As I was reading Bob’s report about his two roundings of Cape Caution in 2011, I noticed that he had included an updated checklist of suggestions for transiting Cape Caution, and I thought we should pay attention. He says,

“Our plan for rounding Cape Caution in what passes for comfort has four components. First, we go on a flood tide only. The flood lengthens the distance between the incoming ocean swells, in effect smoothing them. Further, on an ebb an enormous amount of water flows out of Rivers Inlet, heaping the seas. If we’re crossing from the mainland side, the ebb out of Slingsby Channel can be brutal, even dangerous. We don’t want an ebb.

“Second, the lighthouse reports from Scarlett Point, Pine Island and Egg Island need to be for light winds, maximum 2-foot chop, low swell. Fifteen knots of wind and 3-foot moderate usually isn’t moderate enough for us.

“Third, the West Sea Otter buoy report needs to be seas 1.3 meters or less, preferably less.

“Last, even if points one through three above are in line, if an afternoon westerly is predicted or apt to develop, we want to wait for another day. The westerly can change everything but the tide.”

The link to Bob’s complete cruise report can be viewed at http://waggonerguide.com/content/2011-report-3-cape-caution-tale-two-roundings. More information about rounding Cape Caution is also available in the 2012 Waggoner Cruising Guide.

Thanks, Bob. We will remember your good advice for our future cruises. Wish we had all this information when we rounded Cape Caution in 2003, when the Slingsby Channel ebb got us!

The sea is always unpredictable, of course, but any tips that help keep us safe are worth remembering and sharing!

Allison Harbour

Before we rounded Cape Caution, we anchored for the night in Allison Harbour, an inlet on the B.C. mainland just SE of the Cape.

Fury Cove

After rounding Cape Caution, our first anchorage was Fury Cove on Penrose Island, a protective bay with white shell beaches.

New bottom paint

Under the swim step, Diver's Dream zinc on the right

Under the swim step, Diver’s Dream zinc on the right (before new paint)

Starboard bow with tube opening for thruster

Starboard bow, showing the tube opening for the bow thruster (before new paint)

Phoenix in boat yard after new bottom paint

Phoenix in boat yard after new bottom paint and zincs

Port bow, after painting

Port bow, after painting

Side view, after new bottom paint

Port side view, after new bottom paint

Marine Servicenter picked up Phoenix last Saturday and took her to their boatyard to haul her out for a fresh coat of bottom paint and new zincs. Good weather helped get the job done. They told us that the bottom paint from three years ago has held up well, with only a few areas where the paint came off during the pressure washing. Having a diver come each year to scrub down the bottom definitely helped preserve the paint. Now Phoenix is back in our slip and ready for us when we arrive next week.

We’ve arranged for Dana Bower to wash the decks and house early next week so that Phoenix will be cleaned up when we arrive. Dana operates Dana’s Boat Detailing in Anacortes, and we’re very fortunate to have her wash our boat each month when we can’t be there to do it ourselves, which really helps during the winter months!

Superwinch arrives!

Jim unpacking the Superwinch and battery charger

Jim unpacking the Superwinch and battery charger

We now have gathered all the piece parts for replacing our manual dinghy-lifting winch with a new electric version. The Superwinch and battery charger that we ordered from Amazon arrived this week, and Jim bought the Optima battery at a local Bend auto supply store.

Superwinch package

Superwinch package

We hooked up everything in our garage in a test mode to check that it works. It does! Now we can pack it up to take it to the boat next week when we head up to Anacortes. After we get settled on the boat, we will tackle the actual project of installing the new winch system.

Superwinch and charger

Superwinch and charger

Testing the Superwinch, battery, and battery charger

Testing the Superwinch, battery, and battery charger