Tag Archives: Sailing

Crossing the Strait of Georgia in a Southerly

As the waves settled out a bit from their previous roar, we said (for the fourth time), “Things are looking better now.” No sooner had we said that than another series of rollers came along. The boat rolled from toerail to toerail. We could hear the wave coming by the roar of the breaker. Breaking waves don’t normally happen outside the ocean, but minor ones do happen when you have 3-4 foot waves at 3 seconds.

Each time bigger waves hit our stern quarter, the wave crest would push the boat’s stern, causing us to start to round up – in 20 knot winds. So I have to anticipate every wave and react quickly and forcefully with steering. As a wave lifts us up, the boat surfs and we drive down it. We’re doing 7 knots at times, under a single reefed main and no foresail.

We were in the Strait of Georgia – a seemingly routine waterway east of Nanaimo – heading from Porlier Pass in the Gulf Islands to Pender Harbor, on Tuesday. We knew we’d have a flood current with a southerly wind – two good things, since you want wind following current, and the wind here is usually not southerly, but southerly allows us to sail downwind which is much easier than upwind in choppy waves. We expected a downwind sleigh ride. But it wasn’t working out as well as hoped – high wind is manageable, but the short steep swell was an issue.

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Easy sailing – We began the crossing with 10 kts, on a broad reach

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A Cruise to Gig Harbor

At last freed from the clutches of the boatyard, this was our first weekend cruise in a month or two. And we were lucky to have fantastic conditions!

Friday evening we took off early because I knew the sunny skies with 15-20 knot north wind couldn’t be passed up. We wanted to head south, so this wind was perfect to give our sail from Shilshole a jump start. When we left the marina around 5pm, the forecasted 15 knots had picked up to 20-22, so instead of raising a double reefed main and genoa we decided to simply unfurl the full 135% genoa. This worked great, keeping our boat speed around 6 knots. The C&C Landfall 38’s masthead rig likes a big foresail.

A beautiful sunset from our anchorage at Blake Island the first night

A beautiful sunset from our anchorage at Blake Island the first night

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Off-season Cruising: Great Sailing with a Chance of Gales

Seattle is currently in a 2-week string of low pressure fronts bringing rain and gale force winds. While waiting out these storms is tough, we did the Elliott Bay Rum Run today with the sun out (for the first time in quite a while), and a couple weeks ago got in an overnight cruise to Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island.

We’ve been finding one nice thing about off-season cruising – there’s wind! We sailed from the marina breakwater into Eagle Harbor right up to the ferry dock area. The next day we sailed off anchor in a 2 knot breeze and slowly jibed our way out of the harbor, with a few tricky wind shifts and several course changes due to shallow areas and buoys.

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As we rounded the Eagle Harbor buoy and headed up onto a port close haul, the wind picked up to a perfect 8-12 knots. As we crossed the Sound though, the wind built – until south of the Discovery Park area the seas were kicking up white caps on top of 2-3 foot waves. Our boat under full sail beating upwind was heeling the rail into the water with almost a half turn of weather helm. Gusts were making the wheel hard to control and rounding us up.

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Sailing to Vashon Island

This past weekend we sailed to Vashon Island and anchored in Quartermaster Harbor. It was the perfect weekend – sunny, warm and a steady 15 knots of wind both days. We flew the spinnaker for the first time on Saturday and the ATN sock was fantastic – made hoisting and dousing so much easier.

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We also had lots of other “firsts” – first time using a whisker pole (ever! None of the club boats we’ve sailed had them), first time going south of West Seattle, and first time sailing upwind for over 8 hours. A whisker pole by the way for non-sailor readers, is a pole that holds out the foresail (genoa) when sailing downwind – to help catch more wind and make the sail easier to manage.

The Ballard Locks continues to be the most challenging part of our trips, but we’re getting better each time. The Locks seem like they’d be about as easy as docking, but I think that’s a deception – I’d take docking over the locks any day. The Locks are like docking would be if 5 other boats were trying to simultaneously dock next to you, the entire marina was watching, your target slip could be randomly changed at the last minute, and there was a 1-2 knot current or forward/aft breeze in the marina.

Going to windward like a champ

Going to windward like a champ

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Cleaning Nearing Completion

In other news, we’re almost finished up with all the cleaning projects! Cleaning an old boat is a lot of work (there are lots of nooks and crannies!) and we’re perfectionists so want to do it right once and not have to worry about a deep clean for a while.

A toothbrush really is your best friend for a lot of boat cleaning jobs. I always thought scrubbing floors with a toothbrush was a joke or something only prison convicts do. But actually it’s the best way to get into small nooks, and the hundreds of bristles on it scrub off dirt quite quickly – I guess that’s why they work so well on our teeth.

Before cleaning

Before cleaning

During cleaning with a toothbrush + water

During cleaning with a toothbrush + water

After cleaning!

After cleaning!

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.

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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.

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Sunset at Port Ludlow marina.

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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.

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