pain and pleasure
Helluva first post…
I can already hear the incredulous chuckling when I say that I don’t set out to get punished. Everyone who’s sailed with me knows my dedication to safety and the level’s to which I prepare for the worst. But trouble follows me. If there’s a gale out there anywhere I’ll find it and if there’s not, one will come up just for my benefit.
Sure I’ve been known to set out with the intent of getting into bad weather, but it doesn’t happen that way every time. This particular trip I’d intended to be a relaxing non committal trip. My wife Ying was looking to break free of the daily routine and I was anxious to see something other than a world of artificial crises.
We weren’t looking for an adventure nor expecting one. The forecast for Christmas weekend 2011 was 15 to 25 knots winds rising to 20-30 on Christmas day, then easing offto 5 – 15 knots for Monday. It looked like a perfect forecast for a four day trip in the San Juans.
Friday started things off with a casual sail leaving Skyline Marina in Anacortes in our 36 foot sloop Korrigan heading out into Rosario Strait with views South to the Olympic Mountains and some sun breaks. I waxed poetic about how beautiful winter sailing was in this area and how people who only ‘sailed’ these waters in summer missed out on a lot of good times. We meandered out to Watmough Head at the tip of Lopez Island then turned back in the fading breeze for the little piece of mind called James Island.
Saturday we left James Island in a dreary rain and sailed slowly under jib alone in through Thatcher pass, Upright Channel and out to San Juan Channel. We chased a sun break out to Cattle Pass and were treated to a clearing sky, brilliant views, and pleasant casual afternoon sail back to Friday Harbor.
I didn’t have a plan for Christmas day. In the back of my mind Sucia Island was going to be the days destination but getting out into the straights of Juan De Fuca was my real desire. I don’t start to relax until out into the bigger spaces where a lee shore is far away and shelter lies in every direction.
We got started at a casual 9AM and lollygagged our way down to Turn Rock. The wind quickly built and the double reef quickly went in. The wind built some more and the jib was rolled up a bit. Since we had no commitment or plan it didn’t occur to me to listen to the weather radio, regardless we were going out to somewhere.
Out into San Juan Channel proper it was blowing a solid 30 knots or more. Since my wind instrument gave up on life about a year ago I can only judge based on experience. And based on previous experiences, even though it wasn’t particularly rough in San Juan Channel, the building breeze, the ebb tide, and the lack of necessity quickly led me to abandon my desire to go out through Cattle Pass. Something about not having to sail to windward in rough weather tends to lead me to not want to. Go figure? Read on.