Vancouver to San Diego Part 2

September 2

8:00 am Depart

We got up to a rainy morning and had coffee before it was time to go. Breakfast was toast (Donna has a toaster and isn’t afraid to use it!) and jam and, in Tim’s case, peanut butter, peanut butter and more peanut butter.

Jim and his crewman Mark had talked game about going for a run at 6 am, but apparently that was a fair weather plan as they didn’t emerge until close to departure time. We cast off from them and headed out of the bay. Northwest Passage turned to starboard and Sea Esta X turned to port to go around Sucia. We met up on the south side with us in the lead.

We spotted some sea lions cohabiting with seals on reef off Sucia. Apparently détente is possible.

The wind was 12-15 knots on nose and it was rainy and wet and cold the whole way. Most of the trip was using Auto with us huddled behind the dodger drinking tea and watching the U.S. go by.

Vendovi Island
48° 36.883′ N, 122° 36.741′ W

Our first destination was Vendovi Island, a nature conservancy whose caretakers were authors of some west coast cruising guides (Pacific Mexico and Sea of Cortes by Shawn Breeding and Heather Bansmer). They parked their boat, Om Shanti, at the dock there and lived in the caretaker’s house on this relatively untouched island…talk about a good gig.

After picking up the books and getting them signed, we all chatted for a while picking up hints from these 7-year veterans of the Mexican coast. Then we cast off and headed the shorter distance into Anacortes.

2:50 pm arrive at Cap Sante Marina, Anacortes
48° 30.8050′ N,122° 36.3141′ W

We followed the buoys down a dredged channel and behind a huge breakwater and pulled up to the fuel dock to top up. We put in 47 U.S. gallons of diesel and then filled the tanks now lashed to the rails with another 20 gallons. We should be good to go now if we get any wind.

We moved over to the Anacortes Yacht Club reciprocal docks but there was no room. Tim magically finessed us into a tight berth along side but it wasn’t actually available for us to use. A lovely fellow from Vancouver volunteered to give us his space and we moved over and snugged right up to the dock with Sea Esta X rafted to us.

I headed into town to check with customs on check-in numbers and buy some beer. Customs for some reason was closed. After exploring a bit I ran into Donna who’d found a buy 2, get 1 free deal and was loaded down with 36 cans of Bud. I offered to buy a case and helped her haul her loot back to the boat.

After that it was some more work on our boards, hacksawing the bolts flush. I also updated the android tablet with current charts for the west coast and Mexico. And then I hit the showers. Pro tip: if the showers are cheap and you are wearing quick dry synthetics, then why not start the shower wearing them and get some clothes washing done at the same time.

Back at the boat Nancy and Ken, who are Mexico cruisers and buddies of Tim and Donna were waiting for us so we could go out and grab a beer and a burger. We ended up at The Brown Lantern Ale House which is a lovely small town pub with friendly people and great service.

I chatted with Mark a bit—he’s the Bruce equivalent on Sea Esta. While he’s retired now, it turns out he was a Guinness comms and public relations guy and has lived all over the world. Talk about a sweet job. He is also on board until San Diego but he has a deadline since he’s got a flight to the UK to catch at the end of the month.
Back on board I did a bit of blogging and uploading with the marinas crappy free wifi and then hit the sack in anticipation of a 5:30 departure.

September 3

5:27 am depart

While Tim said I didn’t actually need to get up for our departure I woke up when the engine fired up and headed out on deck. I guess I got an extra half an hour sleep out of the deal.

Turns out the port running light was out. Luckily Tim had a LED patio light that had red as one of the options. He tied it to the port side of the cabin top and voila, problem solved. Later he discovered a bit of corrosion and managed to fix it properly.

Once again the magic coffee appeared and I sipped it as we made our way out the various passages in the dark on our way out to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I think the food service in this boat is one of its best features. Seriously, Donna takes great care of us.

7:30 am
48° 26.4301′ N,122° 46.8465′ W

Crossing below Lopez Island, motoring straight into 15 knots of wind.


After we passed the bottom of Lopez Island we rolled out the jib and sailed along quite pleasantly for a while. Eventually we had to raise a double-reefed main so we could point a bit higher but holy mackerel this Baltic goes faster on just the jib than my Hunter usually does with full sails out.


Raised main with 2nd reef. Spotted some orca near the bottom of San Juan Island. We head in a little closer and watched as we sailed by.


10-15 knot winds with a 2 knot push has us up to 9 knots over ground. We sail past Victoria and I said hello again old chum.


48° 20.8495′ N,123° 27.2491′ W

Wind died in the lee of Royal Rhodes since we couldn’t point high enough to clear it. So we rolled in the jib and fired up the engine to clear Race Rocks.

Eventually we killed the engines again and sailed through Race Passage noting that Tim’s Lowrance still has a problem with showing the islets around Race rocks at certain zoom levels. We didn’t quite hit that invisible island but…

3:05 pm
48° 18.3264′ N,123° 47.9652′ W

Engines on again and we spot two humpbacks off port side. 2 minutes later several orca appear off the starboard. It’s a whale-apolooza!

We also spotted 3 cruise ships in a row inbound to Victoria—gonna be hopping there tonight.

48° 17.3705′ N,124° 2.7739′ W

Dozens of humpbacks. Dozens! I wouldn’t have been surprised if there were as many as 50 out there but the buggers are hard to count. We are surrounded on all sides. Tim spotted some breaching but I only saw the humongous splashes. But there were some diving and some resting on the surface and some just swimming around in no particular hurry. Every time we passed some by we would see more in the distance and the show went on and on.
We finally lost sight of the last one at around 5:45. Absolutely incredible. I got some great video.

After that it was basically motoring into current and wind, making about 4 to 5 knots for hours. I went below around 6:30 to lie down and read for an hour or so. While I was gone the tide finally switched again and we ended the trip doing around 8 knots.

9:08 pm
48° 22.4064 N, 124° 37.1292 W
Neah Bay, Wa

We are rafted up to Sea Esta who made it in an hour ahead (they motored more) while it was still light. It’s dark but it looks to be a fairly vibrant fishing community.

We enjoyed a communal dinner aboard Sea Esta and cracked open a welcome beer and made plans before hitting the sack.  It was 11 hours motoring or motor sailing in a 15 hour-ish day, but at least it was good sailing while it lasted. Tomorrow is a short day but it will be our first in the mighty North Pacific Ocean.