End of Summer Cruise

End of Summer Cruise

October 10th, 2010  |  by Marilyn  |  Published in Ship's Log

This cruise was special, not only because it was the end of summer cruise with great fall weather, but because it was the first trip of our new sails – yes, that’s right. Rainshadow has a new set of skirts! We bought a  radial cut genoa, main with 2 full and 2 partial battens, and mizzen with 3 partial battens – all Dacron made by North Sails. And we added a Harken MKIV Unit 1 roller furler along with a new forestay. Van’s sad to see the hank-on sails go, but I appreciate the furling approach.

I’ll write a separate post about our experiences with purchasing sails from Angus Brackett at the North Sails Seattle loft. But one thing I do want to say about our new sails, the Mizzen is the best of the three. Perhaps it’s blessed because our kind friends, Jonathan and Lianne, bought that sail for us in appreciation for hosting their recent summer holiday. They didn’t seem to understand that the choice of spending their holiday time with us was more than enough. Definitely “mizzen u”, Jon  & Lianne. 8~)

For this trip, we left home Tuesday Sept 28th under grey skies and light wind. By afternoon, the sun broke through and we had a nice sailing wind north of Point Wilson. We made good time, and eventually ended up on the east side of James Island. There was a nice symmetry to that; in that our first trip of the summer started on the same mooring buoy at James Island. But this time we added a stern line to shore to keep us pointed into the wakes of passing ferries, and it was much nicer. We were the only boat there.

Next day we set off for Sucia, where we got a buoy at Ewing Cove. It’s certainly nice to be out later in the season when there are less boats about and you can get into these small nice spots. Van went up the mast while there to check the problems with our new genoa (we had a halyard wrap in Rosario on our way there – more on that in my Sail report).

Third day, we went around the south side of Sucia, north of Waldron, across Boundary Pass, and into the Canadian waters of Plumper Sound. Though Boundary Pass had essentially no wind, Plumper Sound funneled the light wind to created a nice sailing breeze, and we ended the day with a lovely sail. We awaited customs at Port Browning on North Pender island. Then we went on the hook in the bay, which is the first time we used our new Manson Supreme 35 lb anchor, instead of the usual 45 lb CQR. We held well, but it was certainly not a challenging night at anchor because it was so calm.

Fourth day we went for a joy sail up Plumper Sound, and then turned around when we again found no wind in the open waters of Boundary Pass. It was another gorgeous sunny day, which generally means light wind. We ended at Winter Cove at Saturna Island, again on the hook. This was a better test of the Manson Supreme anchor, because of the currents that race through that cove – reversing in the middle of the night. We held well again.

Fifth day, we decided to head back to US waters. There was NO wind. We motored the whole way to Roche Harbor, not even raising our sails once. We did see several Orcas in Haro Strait on the journey, surrounded by boats per usual. After clearing customs, we anchored in a bight off Henry Island.

Sixth day, we had a lovely all day sail up Spieden channel, down San Juan channel and finally into Griffin Bay. We motored very little that day, it was a delight after the long noisy day before. The first attempt at deploying our Manson Supreme anchor failed because we dropped it too close to a ledge, which from the sound of the anchor drag was a rocky ledge. So we hauled her up, moved closer in to the flat area above the ledge, and tried again. This time the anchor held well. Good thing, because just like the other times we’ve anchored at Griffin Bay, when night fell the wind came up and we laid awake for hours listening to the wind howl through our shrouds.  We didn’t get much sleep, but the anchor held.

Seventh day, we had planned to head for home. There were small craft advisories forecast in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but the following day was supposed to have no wind, and we hate to motor. When we awoke by alarm at 6AM, the wind was strong and we chickened out – the warmth of the bed and promise of more sleep overcame our preference for sailing rather than motoring. When we awoke again at 7:15AM, the wind had died down. We decided to make a run for it.

As we snuck out of Cattle Pass around 8AM, the wind was gusty and the seas were choppy. Van had the jack lines out, but he wanted to wait until we cleared the current swirls and rocks of Cattle Pass before we raised sail. Eventually, he headed on deck to raise the sails – but by then the winds were too weak for the rough seas. We had to keep motoring. So much for the small craft advisory winds! We did sail some south of Smith Island, but the going was slow. At least it was a lovely day. We made Port Wilson around 2pm just before the currents changed direction, and so there was no way the currents would help us the rest the way home. We headed for Fort Flagler to spend the late afternoon and night.

That evening, we took videos of our prop using our underwater camera strapped to the boat hook. Something is going thump-thump-thump when sailing if we exceed about 3 knots. You can stop the slowly spinning prop by grasping the shaft with your hand, and the thumping stops. So it seems there must be something wrapped around the prop, but we couldn’t see anything clearly in the videos. We crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. The prop under motor seems fine, though maybe we’ve lost some speed (or maybe or knotmeter is dodgy).

Eighth day, we set sail in a reasonable wind. We only had to motor through the tide rip at North Marrowstone point, because the wind was too weak to deal with those waves comfortably. After that, we ghosted on a run down Admiralty inlet with the current doing more than the wind. But finally, south of Marrowstone, the wind improved marginally. Van dropped the main and mizzen, and hoisted the old genoa as a second head sail, set flying on the spinnaker halyard. This actually worked quite well. We poled out the new genoa to compensate for its smaller area and more difficulty in keeping it full, in contrast to the soft old genoa. This double headsail trick added about 2 knots to our slow sailing crawl (had been just 1 knot, the winds were so light, so we were thankful for the 2-3 knot current pushing us along).

By the time we got to Hood Canal, there was a lovely NW sailing breeze, so we stayed out sailing in our home waters for another 1.5 hours – we just weren’t ready for the last trip of the summer to end. It was a gorgeous day and the best wind of the week. We eventually decided to sail into our slip, the winds were so nice. We took the precaution of starting the motor just in case, but we traversed the channel and executed the docking completely under sail. It went well, and was a good confidence booster, because someday, something like that thump-thump-thump we continue to hear from the prop may well mean that its fouled so bad we cannot motor in. Looks like we’re going to need to dive on the prop to find the problem.

So – great weather (though as always we wished for more wind) and a very nice trip to the San Juans and abroad to the Canadian Gulf islands.  So far, Fall has been nicer than our summer.

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