Checking in this afternoon from Blakely Island Marina Store. Last night at Roche Harbor we were docked at the farthest dock from the resort and the wireless signal was really poor. So, to get you up to date:
After our wet ride to Port Sydney on Wed, we spent the day exploring the town. Sydney is a delight and a spot that Jo and I surely want to return to. Larry showed me a "Boater’s Exchange" store just up from the marina that was like diving into a treasure chest of used sailboat parts. This place had everything—if you had the patience to look for it. Inside it was like one of those giant mining dump trucks ( you know, the ones that can hold 30 cars?) dumped its load of used boat parts on a store the size of your local Circle K. It was fun to rummage around in.
A Dog’s Life Aboard!
Gary H. had his favorite Greek restaurant that we all trekked uptown to for dinner. Mmmmmm. It was a good call. We even found out that there is a difference between baked and steamed spaghetti.
The plan for yesterday was an early departure to cross the Haro Straight with light currents to get to Roche Harbor and check into customs. Overnight, I was awakened numerous times by downpours on the deck and we awoke to stormy looking skies and an ominous forecast. The Haro Straight has a reputation of being exceptionally nasty when the winds oppose the currents. That’s exactly what it looked like might be setting up. If we were going to make a run for it we needed to do it pronto before the ebb tide really got going. As a group we pored over the tide/current data, weather reports and charts and evaluated how much of a rough ride we were willing to deal with. Eventually, we decided to wait until the tides and currents turned, around 1pm, and make a run for it when the wind and currents were running the same general direction. Depending on what forecast you listened to, winds were forecast to be 10-20, and possibly more.
The later departure gave crews a few more hours to enjoy Sydney and skippers a few more hours to fret about the upcoming crossing. Knowing that we could turn back if we needed to I went ahead with preparations. One thing I decided to do was to eliminate our dinghy as a potential problem. Our previous encounter in the Haro Straight last week had the dinghy surfing up to and crashing into the back of the boat, turning sideways and making me worry that we might flip it. This time, we packed the dinghy up and brought it aboard . Problem solved! Many crews pre-tied in reefs in the main and secured everything for a potential rough crossing.
1 pm arrived and the fleet, like clockwork, cast off dock lines and headed out. As if we were being watched over and the weather Gods felt repentant for the wet ride the day before, a blue hole opened up over top of us. The sun’s warmth felt awesome. We wouldn’t be able to see the conditions in the Haro until we sailed a few miles, around Sydney Spit, and stuck our noses out into it. Right off the bat conditions were good. We were sailing a reach over to Sydney Spit with a full main and a blade jib making around 5-6 knots. Seas here were no problem but we were protected by Sydney Island and still the question remained, how would the Straight be?
As we rounded the Spit the wind freshened and we busted through a few tide rips, but the seas were pretty mellow and the boatspeed just kept on increasing. Although the currents should have been pushing us north, it seemed that they were from our stern adding to our speed. Crews were shaking out reefs right and left and hauling up headsails.
The Fleet Crossing Haro Straight at 7+ knots and more!
The sailing was great as the boat was 100% powered up but fully controllable and the knot meter was going off the scale. All the boats reported that they were holding speeds in the 7+ knot range, with long bouts in the 8+ knot region and surges over 9! On Dauntless, we peaked out at 9.2 knots. It was great! All that worrying and it turned out that the sailing was great. We covered the 11.5 miles in an hour and 45 minutes. That included getting in and out of port! Everyone agreed that it was one of the best sails they have ever had. Jo and I sailed all the way into Roche Harbor.
Everyone tied up safe at Roche
Roche Harbor, if you haven’t been there, is the playground of the rich. I am not exaggerating. As you walk the docks there are new yachts for sale tied up like an auto dealership on the water. What do the window stickers on them say? Well, we briefly looked at the four tied up by the head of the dock and they were $890,000.00…2,800,000.00 and 3.8 million. The harbor is full of these kind of boats. Amazing. I don’t know what all these people do, but they must do it well!
Yeah, our boats are down there…but you’ll never find ’em!
We cleared U.S. Customs at Roche as we were now back in U.S. Waters. Two of the 8 boats were searched and I’m happy to report that they were clean! The difference between dealing with U.S. Customs vs dealing with Canadian Customs was huge. I’ll only speak for myself , but suffice it to say that it seemed the Canadians were a lot happier to have us around.
Everyone milled around , watched the Lowering of the Colors Ceremony and then ended up back at the boats. Out came cans of crackers, cheese, wine, soda, pretzels, peanuts, etc. and we had our own little dock party sitting Indian style on the dock as the millionaires watched from the decks of their superyachts. Unbeknownst to them, we were the richest people in the world enjoying our special friendships for the 13th evening in a row. Life is good.
This morning was an early 7:30am cast off from Roche for Blakely Island Marina. Blakely is a special place. We love it here. It’s tiny and beautiful. It was a clear windless morning.
Tom, Della, and Booji motoring to Roche
We motored in a group. Jo and I took a side trip to Shaw Island and visited the small market on the island that has been operational since the beginning of the century along the way. Arriving at Peavine Pass we had to negotiate about a 3 knot current into the entrance to Blakely. One by one the Montys arrived. This will be our last full day together. Most crews are relaxing today. Some are starting getting things ready to transfer from "boatlife" back to "landlife". Laundry, cleaning up and preparations to get the boats hoisted out.
Jim on Grace relaxin’ at Blakely
Fred shows us how it’s done at Blakely’s Ice Cream Parlor
Crews relax together at Blakely
Tomorrow we close the loop. Anacortes. The beginning and the end. Honestly, it’s a bittersweet day. Yes, I know that this life is not reality for me. It’s an escape from daily life. It’s a time to make new, and strengthen old friendships. It’s been a time to reflect about what’s important, and what’s not. In some ways the two weeks has flown by and in others it seems like we’ve been on the boat for an eternity. Even though this trip pales in comparison to many journeys that sailors around the world have taken, it is still a feeling of accomplishment to complete it. But, that feeling of accomplishment comes with the realization that it is almost over for now. The now 7 boats remaining of the original 16 that started the trip will end their journey tomorrow. Once we hit Anacortes everyone will be busy getting ready to hit the road to get back to their respective homes. Jo and I are going to try to get to Anacortes, get the boat loaded, and be on the road by evening for the 1500 mile trip home. Probably won’t be time to post. We’ll check in from somewhere along the road home with a final report.
Bosun says…"that’s enough bloggin’ dad. Time for a walk"
Sean, Jo, and Bosun, and the Montgomery Group