the Inside Passage the San Juan Islands

West Sound, Orcas Island

Thursday, November 01, 2012S.V. CAMBRIA

Cambria tied to the dock in West Sound, Orcas Island.

The warming trend finally arrived on Sunday, just in time for our passage to Orcas Island to visit our friends, Bill and Sylvia. 

Over the course of four days, we wined and dined while we caught up on the news of the summer and discussed what next season might hold.  We’re both considering circumnavigating Vancouver Island and would like to do the trip together, though I suspect David would jump at the chance to spend more time along the Central Coast as well.  We also had the opportunity to meet the newest member of their family – Skookum, a three month-old Boxer puppy.  But as wonderful as it was to see them again, the season has taken a toll on us and we’re ready to move on.

The forecast has kept us guessing and changes nearly every day but, with the current in our favour, we decided to slip our lines and see what today held rather than risk waiting until Monday when they’re calling for favourable winds out of the northwest.  As predicted, the wind was from the southeast (right on our nose) blowing 20 knots at times but, despite the fact that it was wind against tide, the sea was flat and we had a comfortable ride.

Our goal was the marina in Port Ludlow, approximately 30 nautical miles north of Poulsbo.  But the thought of doing another passage, even one that was only five hours long, was too much for either one of us to consider so we kept going.  The decision meant moving in the dark, something we rarely do here because of the debris in the water – logs, kelp or anything else that might damage a prop … or worse, put a hole in the boat.  But season-fatigue won out in the end.

Sailing at night on the open ocean is a magical experience:  It can be so peaceful as you ghost along the water under a canopy of stars that span from horizon to horizon.  There’s nothing else like it.  Not in my experience, anyway.  But sailing at night in populated areas is adifferent story.  The lights from shore create a confusing background and it’s easy to become disorientated.  The task is made simpler with the help of modern equipment – everything from radar to chart plotters – but that doesn’t mean it’s not stressful.  It is.  But it was worth the extra effort and energy because we’re safely back in Poulsbo – some 12 hours and 72 nm later – and are tied to the dock for the winter. 

We can now say the cruising season is officially over and, for once, are happy to do so.

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