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After a calm night at anchor in Port Browning, we woke this morning to another wonderful sunrise. We decided it would be a good day to return to the U.S., and spend a couple more days in the San Juans before we had to be back in Anacortes.
We’re back on the water for part 2 of our 2012 cruising! We’re having a very nice sunny and dry stretch of weather…but a little on the cool side. There’s definitely a nip of fall in the air.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!
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.
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.