Category Archives: trips

Taking off for a month on the Vancouver Island coast

Tomorrow we take off for the west coast of Vancouver Island. I had my last day of work on Wednesday until August!  It’s a little weird since I’ve never taken this much time off, ever. We have a pretty great adventure planned and will be going out the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the rugged, remote Vancouver Island coast along the Pacific Ocean.

This is sort of a test – a test to see if we like real cruising. Not vacation cruising where you hurriedly jump from one destination to another, but cruising in the true meaning of the word – where you go at a sustainable pace living a mostly normal life, just one spent on the water.


Our itinerary (tentative, since the goal is to remain flexible) looks roughly like:

  • July 4-6 – Seattle – Sequim bay – Neah Bay – Ucluelet
  • July 7-8 – Barkley Sound
  • July 9-10 – Tofino and Matilda Inlet
  • July 11 – Hot Springs Cove
  • July 12-14 – Hesquiat Harbour and to Nookta Sound
  • July 15-19 – Return south to Tofino (includes buffer days)
  • July 19 – Meet crew while Natalie flies back to work for the week, cruise Barkley Sound.
  • July 23-24 – Bamfield – Port Renfrew – Victoria
  • July 25 – Victoria rest day
  • July 26 – July 30 – Gulf Islands and maybe the last day or two in the San Juans
  • July 31 – Aug 1 – Return to Seattle via Port Townsend

We’ll probably try to post some updates of our progress as we make our way along.


Passage from Canada to Seattle

After our mishaps in Customs, we took off from Point Roberts as soon as possible (about 11:15am, right after the Customs officer released us) so we’d have time to make Friday Harbor comfortably before dark. There was a fairly strong 15-20 knot north wind, so that would make for some fun sailing.

As soon as we got out of the marina, the waters were pretty rough – there were 2-3 foot waves, with kind of two wave trains converging – mostly NW but some NE. This made motoring pretty uncomfortable – the boat was rolling whenever the stern quarter got hit by a larger wave. So we worked on getting the sails up asap – but this was our first time sailing the boat together, and we had forgotten to prep the deck before leaving dock.

Lone Star has an inner forestay, two aft checkstays, and several halyards that need to be moved out of the way of the sails. Natalie and Jeremy had to do this while the boat rolled as I steered, trying to keep us from being knocked about too much. Compared to the J/35c’s I’m used to, the LF38 seemed to roll more, but pitch less. Once we had the sails up, things were much calmer.

Passing south into the San Juans, the waters looked like a dream.

Passing south into the San Juans, the waters looked like a vision out of a dream.

We literally couldn’t have asked for a better weekend. It was sunny every day, and we had north winds following us for parts of every day. Temperatures were in the 50’s during the day, and the sun meant we weren’t cold even though it’s February.


The boat was super fun to sail. Easy to get moving in light wind, and easily handled in a variety of wind conditions. We were really happy that this trip confirmed we had made the right choice.

In Friday Harbor on Saturday (Valentine’s Day), we had dinner and drinks at Haley’s Bait Shop, which was slammed due to the holiday weekend and nice weather, but had Bale Breaker IPA on tap.


Sunset at Port Ludlow marina.


Happy hour on the boat at Port Ludlow.

The first (and only) problem of the trip came in Port Ludlow, in the morning of the last day when we were about to depart the marina. Upon starting the engine, the exhaust wasn’t spitting out any water – which could cause the engine to overheat and us to be stuck in Port Ludlow if we couldn’t fix it.

So we checked the raw water filter. Sure enough, it had a fair amount of grass and gunk in it, along with what looked like a green paint ball the size of a grape! I don’t know what a clump of green paint was doing in the marina, but it probably blocked the intake enough (from within the strainer basket) that water couldn’t get through.

Going through the Ballard Locks.

Going through the Ballard Locks.

The last day (Monday) we managed to sail all the way back to Seattle with almost no engine use (just to leave the marina, and for a few minutes when we got stuck in the calm south of Whidbey Island).

We made it through the Ballard Locks without issue, and excitedly motored into Seattle, docking the boat at her new home in Fisherman’s Terminal.

Sunset at Fisherman's Terminal.

Sunset at Fisherman’s Terminal.