San Juan Islands 2016

We added two new anchorages to our island experiences, Deer Harbor and Judd Cove, both on Orcas Island. Also, a first for us, Cathleen flew home on a sea plane mid-trip for a few days due to prior obligations, then flew back and we finished the trip together.

As usual, our first stop was at Point Hudson Marina in Port Townsend. The weather forecast accurately predicted calm weather for crossing the strait the next morning. We ducked into Lopez Pass and motored up to our destination for the next two nights at Deer Harbor on Orcas Island. This is the week before Labor Day and we expected to see more boats. We anchored in the harbor across from Deer Harbor Marina with plenty of room. After a short nap, we dinghied to the marina docks, got some ice cream, and walked up the hill to the restaurant that is supposed to be really good. We were still full from ice cream when we got to the restaurant and decided not to eat there. Back at the marina, we dinghied around Crane and Fawn Islands and Deer Harbor. It is a very pretty place.

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Calm conditions crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
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Anchored in Deer Harbor.
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Deer Harbor Marina

The second day at Deer Harbor we worked on various projects and enjoyed the peace.

Next we moved to Reid Harbor on Stuart Island to do some crabbing. This bay was not crowded either. We caught 5, cooked, and cleaned them. That is actually a fairly long process from the time the pots are dropped to making crab cakes. I would say it generally takes around 4 hours from start to finish, depending on the number of crabs involved. We have a large crab cooking pot and a heavy duty propane stove for when we are on a dock. It is too hot to use near fiberglass so we don’t use it on the boat.

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Sunset at Reid Harbor
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Crab cooker

The next morning we moved to Garrison Bay on San Juan Island. This bay is just around the corner from Roche Harbor, from where Cathleen will be departing tomorrow on a sea plane. Garrison Bay was about as crowded as expected, as we get closer to the holiday weekend. We found a spot in the middle and anchored.

The next day we dinghied to Roche Harbor to have some lunch and catch the plane. After Cathleen took off I picked up a few groceries and a bait basket and dinghied back to the boat. I lost the crab bait basket yesterday at Reid Harbor. The weather was supposed to deteriorate, so I motored back over to Reid Harbor which is very protected. The wind blew pretty hard but I had a good set and plenty of chain out.

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An aerial photo from the sea plane.  The marina on the point is Point Hudson Marina in Port Townsend.

I spent another day at Reid Harbor crabbing. I caught 10 more, but I also dropped my iPhone in a very small puddle of water in the engine room and it killed it. Now I was without any way to stay in touch with Cathleen. I didn’t want her to think I sunk the boat and drowned after not hearing from me. So I dinghied to the sailboat anchored nearby and asked to use their phone and left her a message. The next day I went back to Deer Harbor where they have reliable internet and got back in touch with Cathleen. Running low on water and clean clothes, I got a slip at Deer Harbor Marina for a night. I filled the water tank, did some laundry, and got some gas for the dinghy. The next day I went back to Garrison Bay and hiked around English Camp, getting soaked in the rain. Cathleen returns tomorrow (Thursday)!

We stayed at Garrison Bay Thursday and Friday, mostly kayaking around Garrison and Westcott Bays and out to Mosquito Pass where we watched seals play on the rocks. Saturday we left for East Sound on Orcas Island, but before heading in that direction we ventured out to the west side of San Juan Island where orcas whales are usually hanging out. Sure enough, we quickly spotted the whale watching boats and other boats in a cluster watching the whales. They were heading our direction so we basically waited for them to get to us. Then we followed along with everyone else.

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Orcas!

Our last two nights were spent anchored at Judd Cove on Orcas Island, near the town of East Sound and in the body of water called East Sound. There are not many protected areas to anchor in East Sound as the wind frequently blows there. But we found a fairly well protected anchorage in Judd Cove behind a little outcropping that protected it from the frequent southerly winds. One other boat followed us in and anchored too.

We kayaked to shore, which turned out didn’t allow any craft to land on it. We saw the sign too late, so since we were already there, we went for a hike. We then kayaked to the public dock at East Sound (the town) and walked the short distance to town and visited the museum of old cabins, had lunch, ice cream, and got a pound of ground coffee. That night was expected to have fairly strong southerly winds so we would get to test the protection of this spot. While we were somewhat protected from the worst of the winds, the waves that it caused rocked us all night and kept the boat moving around, not fun at all.

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Our overnight track on a very windy and wavy night.

At daybreak, we pulled anchor and cruised all of the way back home.  Except for the last night, it was a very nice trip.

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