Below is a map of all of our stops we made along the way this year.
(The blue marks for the stops may not show up in Internet Explorer, try another browser like Firefox or Chrome)
View 2011 Alaska Cruise in a larger map
To close out our 2011 cruise on the morning of September 17 we headed south down Rosario Strait, along the west shore of Whidbey Island and into Admiralty Inlet. There is lots of commercial traffic in that area, so you venture into the vessel traffic lanes with a keen eye on the AIS in order to make sure you aren’t going to run over by a freighter moving at 20 knots. We will able to successfully cross without any major issue.
On account of the timing of the currents and the shorter days, we knew we needed an intermediate stop for the night between Anacortes and Winslow (Bainbridge Island). We decided to try the inner harbor in Port Ludlow. While the entrance is a bit shallow (~15 feet), it was short and straight with no current. Additionally, it was very protected from winds, a important consideration given the forecasted high winds for the next day. To top it off, the anchorage was remarkably scenic. While there were many homes along the shore, they were landscaped nicely and not closely packed.
The next morning, September 18, we elected to take a rest day and not move. The weather wasn’t terrible but docking with significant winds (15-25 kts) is not my favorite thing. The winds the next day were forecasted as light.
The early start on September 19 put us at the Queen City Yacht Club docks in Winslow before noon. We used the afternoon to start the boat cleaning process. Marcia working the interior while I tackled the exterior.
On September 20, the weather remained lovely for the final miles across Puget Sound, through the Ballard Locks and along the Lake Washington Ship Canal to our winter moorage in Lake Union. When transiting the locks we do our best to select a less busy day and time and calm winds. With just the two of us on board, we want to stack the odds in favor of an uneventful “lock-thru” and everything went smoothly. The time from Winslow to Lake Union, three draw bridges that had to open and one lock-thru was less than three hours.
The distance on this leg was 85.7 miles bringing the total trip distance to 3465.3 nautical miles. Total engine hours were 577.4 which works out to 6 miles per hour of engine time. Our actual speed is a bit faster since the engine hours include the time from when we weigh anchor or unmoor at the beginning of the day to the time when we are secured at anchor or dock at the end.
The winds that blew us onto the dock in Ganges quieted down overnight and our departure on the morning of September 13 was very uneventful. We motored down Saanich Inlet and entered the calm protected waters of Tod Inlet.
After lunch we paddled our kayaks the 200 yards to shore and walked 10 minutes to the Butchart Gardens. The amount of work and care that goes into providing blossoming and colorful plants the year round is impressive.
As we paddled back to the boat from shore, another kayak was paddling along the shore. As he got closer, he asked whether I was “Kurt Hanson.” I was a bit taken back but he introduced himself as Brian McCutcheon a friend of John Douglas owner of Laysan, a sister ship to ours. John is preparing to bring his boat back from Subic Bay in the Philippines to Hawaii where John lives. He asked Brian to intercept us in Tod Inlet and find out how things have been working in the long term on our boat.
It was a great visit and we wish John a safe and speedy journey across the Pacific.
The next morning, September 14, we headed across Haro Strait and reentered US waters. We’ve signed up through the NEXUS program with the Customs and Border Patrol and were able to clear over the telephone. We proceeded directly to Echo Bay on Sucia Island where we dropped the anchor.
The entire island is a Washington State Park and it has some very pleasant trails to walk. We elected to spend two nights so that we could cover them all.
An early start the morning of September 16 got us to the fuel dock in Anacortes at 10:30 AM. The only fuel we had taken on since last September was 200 gallons in Juneau. We weren’t surprised it took 1090 gallons to fill all our tanks. The 1290 gallons since last year has cover 580 engine hours, 30 genset hours and lots of furnace operation. We were in our assigned slip in Cap Sante Marina by noon.
From here we will head south to Seattle. We will probably swing by our yacht club’s (Queen City YC) outstation in Winslow for a night or two prior to transiting the locks into Lake Union. Hopefully home next Tuesday, 9/20.
Distance covered this leg is 83.3 for a total of 3379.6 nautical miles.
Boy, a little blue sky, warm sun and calm winds can really improve a cruiser’s disposition. This leg has had some of the most relaxing cruising we’ve ever done.
When we left Pierre’s at Echo Bay on September 4, we weren’t done with the Broughtons. We decided to put in two grueling 8 mile days and visit anchorages we’ve not used before. The first was Sea Breeze Cove. It is tucked in amongst some islands which offered some fun exploring opportunities in our kayaks.
The next day’s anchorage, Mound Island, was not as intimate but it too offered some kayaking opportunities and an island on which to explore.
On September 6 we positioned ourselves to transit the narrows that divide the waters of the northern section of the inside passage from the southern. A number of boats had similar ideas so there were a half dozen other boats in Port Neville that night. It is a large anchorage so no one should have felt crowded.
The sunrise on September 7, was spectacular and we made good time down Johnstone Strait riding the flood south. Rather than use Seymour Narrows as we did on the way north, we took Okisollo Channel and spent the night in Octopus Island Marine Park. We did this same path last year on the southbound leg of our trip.
An early start the morning of September 8, got us through Hole-in-the-Wall Rapids on the slack before the flood. By lunch we were anchored in Prideaux Haven in Desolation Sound.
Some might consider the area’s name to be an oxymoron since in the main cruising season it is anything but desolate but when the temperatures are in the upper 70’s, the sun is shining and the wind isn’t blowing, we become very tolerant of the 20+ boats with whom we are sharing the anchorage. The conditions on this visit were very similar to our first trip to Desolation Sound in our two person kayak during September nearly 20 years ago.
Since the weather was so nice, we decided to spend two nights at anchor in Prideaux Haven.
On September 10, we started the trip down the Straits of Georgia (part of the Salish Sea) and anchored in Ballet Bay. Our last visit here was in 2007 during a 7-week trip on our first boat. There has been quite a bit of development on the land surrounding this protected anchorage since then.
In the morning of September 11, we crossed the Straits of Georgia from the mainland side to the Vancouver Island side. We experienced the joys of the strong westerly winds that funnel across the Qualicum gap of Vancouver Island and hit you broad side as you angle across the strait. We took a 3-hour lunch break in Silva Bay while waiting for the current in Gabriola Pass to slacken.
After restarting, we anchored for the evening in Clam Bay on Thetis Island. Many other boaters were enjoying some of the last summer weather in Clam Bay. The nearly full moon put on a stunning show for the nearly 20+ other boaters in the anchorage.
We left Clam Bay and traveled the relatively short distance to Salt Spring Marina to catch on the basics (laundry, wine and produce). From here the plan is to spend a night or two at Tod Inlet near the Butchart Gardens and then to cross back into the San Juans.
Distance covered this leg was 239.9 raising the total to 3296.3 nautical miles.
The Broughtons are a popular cruising area east of Port McNeill at the junction of Johnstone Strait and Queen Charlotte Strait. It has many protected channels, bays, coves and small marinas. On account of it being north of Seymour Narrows and its cousins (e.g., Yuculta, Dent, Surge) getting here takes a bit of effort so it is less crowded than Desolation Sound or the Canadian Gulf Islands.
We left Port McNeill on September 1 and traveled to Laura Cove. The descriptions of the anchorage in the guides are glowing and describe it well. Its only drawback for us was the very hard bottom which made hooking the anchor difficult. Fortunately the winds were light so we never tested it.
Before we left Port McNeill, Marcia made reservations for moorage and attendance at the very popular pig roast at the Pierre’s in Echo Bay. It was only a short distance from our anchorage so when we left the next morning, September 2, we took a sightseeing detour into Simoom Sound to check out other anchorages in the area before tying up here.
There are about a half-dozen small marinas that operate in the Broughtons. They cater to cruisers and sport fisherman visiting the area during the short summer season. They operate off the grid but usually provide all of the services that folks are looking for. At Pierre’s, the Saturday pig roasts have helped it attract cruisers.
The event is very social and the conviviality was aided but the sunny and warm (by coastal standards) temperature. People compare notes on destinations and talk boats. There is ample food (potluck side dishes) and ample pork.
From here we’ll continue the slow southbound journey, stopping in Desolation Sound for a day or two. The next likely marina stop will be somewhere in the Canadian Gulf Islands.
Distance covered this leg was 47.5 nautical miles (told you we’d slow down) bringing the total to 3056.4.