Words by Les and Kel Rohlf
Photos by Kel Rohlf (unless otherwise indicated)
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Lund to Pilot Bay
We left Lund late this morning after adding some fuel and spending the last of our Canadian cash at the store. I added enough gas to get to Friday Harbor; I’ll add enough cheaper gas there to finish the final 70 or so miles to Everett.
Having heard about the nice sandy beaches at Savary Island just a few miles southeast of Lund, we motored around it on our way out. We decided not to stop after rounding the western-most end of the island, seeing only rocky shoreline on the south side, and realizing we had passed the sandy beaches on the island’s north.
We continued on to Tribune Bay at the south end of Hornby Island. There’s a nice sandy beach and park that are quite popular. A number of boats were anchored in the bay. I had thought about anchoring in Tribune Bay for the night until the latest forecast indicated winds would shift to the southeast overnight. We anchored for an hour to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather (75 degrees F) then continued southeast in amazingly calm seas.
My latest plan for the day was to spend the night at Northwest Bay. With the calm seas this afternoon and brisk winds forecast for early tomorrow, we decided to keep going. Waves became bigger and messier the closer we got to Nanaimo, forcing us to slow down. We made it to Pilot Bay at the north end of Gabriola Island at 6:30 pm, as we had missed the window late this afternoon at Dodd Narrows. This anchorage puts us just a few miles from Dodd Narrows and limits our open-water exposure should winds be strong in the morning.
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Pilot Bay to James Bay
Pilot Bay was pretty bouncy all night. It’s a nice bay with cute homes and cottages lining the shore and a park at its head. It’s open to the east and not very long, so swells from Strait of Georgia and wakes from the BC Ferries and tows that use the nearby channel can reach the bay. The wind held the bow to the south, with the swells entering from the east and hitting us on the beam. It was rolly enough that we didn’t try to cook breakfast, but relaxed and took care of a few other chores.
After I disengaged a small crab who had attached himself to the chain, we pulled the anchor and started toward Dodd Narrows shortly after 10:00 am, with a slack and turn to flood forecast for 11:42 am. We had rain showers overnight, but the skies began to clear as we were leaving. By the time we approached the narrows at 11:15am, there was a train of ten boats starting the southbound passage. It was very orderly; the largest cruiser started through, and everyone else followed expeditiously, so that all the southbound boats had passed through during the last of the ebb flow several minutes before the flood started. Another half dozen or so boats were waiting to pass north as we finished the passage, which was still flowing south with force, but without a lot of turbulence.
Initially the water was smooth as we headed south, but became choppy after several miles. There was plenty of fetch for the breezy southeast winds today, so we paced ourselves and bounced through at 7 mph. There were five tankers anchored in or along Trincomali Channel, and we saw one more enter the channel via Active Pass late in the afternoon. Is this standard or is there more to the story?
Latest mechanical issue – our freshwater pump ceased to function yesterday. It had intermittently not turned on when needed, leading me to suspect a wiring connection rather than the pump itself. I carry a spare pump, so can replace it if necessary. The pump is located in the compartment covered up with my cockpit storage box, so I’m waiting until we arrive in Friday Harbor tomorrow where I’ll have a little dock space to work with.
Thursday, September 9, 2021
James Bay to Friday Harbor
Everything was calm when we awoke this morning and turned south out of James Bay at 7:00 am. The busiest part of our morning was Captain Passage to Swanson Channel, where we had to dodge three separate ferries running across that channel between North Pender and Prevost Islands. In general, it seems as if the boat traffic in the Channel Islands is higher than during our transit in June.
Not much else exciting to report, as we had smooth seas for the run to Friday Harbor. I submitted our entry report via the CBP ROAM app just after we crossed the border. The customs officer in Friday Harbor initiated a video call, reviewed our information, and welcomed us back to the U.S. – very efficient and convenient.
After stopping at the fuel dock for enough gas to get to Everett tomorrow, we pulled into our slip and finished a couple tasks/repairs. I replaced the inoperative water pump with my spare and put a new rechargeable battery into the day/night solar fan in the head.
It’s good to be back in the U.S. and hard to believe we’re only a day away from Everett, where we started three months ago. We’re planning to transit Deception Pass at the 1:00 pm slack and make it to Everett later in the afternoon.
Friday, September 10, 2021
Friday Harbor to Everett
Total Miles (on the sea portion of this trip): 3237
Total Hours running the motor on this trip: 1275.5
The U.S. Navy greeted our arrival at Everett this afternoon with a destroyer escort. Actually, the USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114) was SLOWLY approaching the Navy Base as we arrived from the south, and we didn’t feel it would be appropriate for us to blast past the ship and her escorts into the narrow channel.
The rest of our trip from Friday Harbor today was fairly uneventful. I would not have minded spending an extra day in Friday Harbor, but the weather for the next couple days looked less agreeable than today’s. We left the marina at 9:00 am for the 25-mile run to Deception Pass and a 1:00 pm slack. I wasn’t sure what to expect as the ebb tide flushed us through Cattle Pass at the south end of San Juan Island into the westerly winds on Strait of Juan de Fuca. The waves were not too high, but were confused as we made the transition. It would definitely be challenging with a stronger ebb and/or higher winds.
We kept a fairly slow pace since we had plenty of time, arriving at Deception pass about 30 minutes early. A sailboat went through the pass first, and a train of five other boats formed up behind her about 15 minutes ahead of slack. The sportiest aspect of this passage involved avoiding the dozen or so small fishing boats all congregated below the bridge. We had smooth water on the east side of Whidbey Island for the rest of the way into Everett. There was no large commercial traffic to contend with on today’s route.
We’re thankful to have returned to Everett without injury to ourselves or Intuition. We’ll spend the next few days here cleaning up, loading the truck, and preparing for the drive back to St. Louis via our son’s home near Davis, California. At this point any descriptions of our experience feel like understatements – this has definitely been a “First in a lifetime” trip for us. Thank you all so much for your prior accounts, recommendations, and encouragement throughout this adventure.
A good ending leaves you wanting for more. As we tied off to slip 3 at Port of Everett marina, my emotions were varied. My niece asked how I felt, and I replied happy, sad and accomplished. I haven’t cried yet, but when I do it will be a mixture of happy sadness. Les kindly reminded me there are more adventures ahead.
A good story leaves you with a desire to know more, to wonder how do the characters go on after the conclusion. Just like a great novel, my mind will return to scenes, nuances, particular details and memorable characters and poignant moments along the way.
Just as the waves are confused as tides and winds transition, I’m certain when I wake up at home I’ll be a little disoriented. Wondering why the bed’s not swaying or why the shower doesn’t take quarters or why there’s not a raven or eagle greeting me each day.
I don’t like endings. I work through transitions. I look forward to more adventures. I still wonder what’s in God’s vast pocket.
On your feet now—applaud God!
Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into his presence.
For God is sheer beauty,
all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever.
Psalm 100: 1, 4 (The Message)