Thursday, October 6, 2011

Catching Up

We have been enjoying the company of Chuck and Betty Pritchard for the past few days!

We were to meet them in Anacortes on Sunday morning about 10AM, so Saturday evening we set our alarms and went to bed.  We awoke to pea-soup fog.

We have been educated in many ways on how to deal with such a situation.  The first is through classes offered by the US Power Squadron.  I have taken Basic Boating, Seamanship, Piloting, and Advanced Piloting.  I even taught the Seamanship class two sessions.  Al has reached the milestone of having taken EVERY class offered, and has taught all levels.  We have run the radar for numerous hours during clear weather, so we have had lots of practice interpreting the screen images.  Sailing with the Christmas Ships also offered experience operating at nighttime or low-visibility situations.

So the expected hour and a half run from Cypress Head in to Anacortes went off without a hitch.  Well, AFTER Al had to make a repair on the horn's air supply hose, and then the main compressor over-heated and we had to use the secondary compressor.  When travelling in fog, you are to sound your horn at 2-minute intervals, and the compressor was getting a workout.

I had planned to be doing some general house-cleaning during our voyage, but conditions required that I also keep eyes and ears at attention.  Side doors were open slightly to catch any sounds.

How far ahead can YOU see? The chart plotter/AIS display is running on the screen at Al's head, the radar is on the left.
Al prepares to sound the horn (hands on the button, AND the ear closest to the horn).
-- Visability is about 75 yards at this point --
There was rather a bit of traffic out there.  AIS (Automatic Identification System) was also very useful.  We could 'see' most of the working boats out there.  We were just about to call the James T Quigg, when he called US  'Boat approaching the green can on Guemes Channel, this is the James T Quigg.'  He made sure to let us know he was a tug towing an oil barge, and we let him know our intentions to stay far to his starboard.

The James T Quigg and barge in tow emerge from the fog

Later we are able to call the Alyssa Ann, another tug and barge approaching Anacortes, and we coordinate our passage across the channel to the Cap Sante Marina.  We arrive right on time, safe and sound!

The weather forecast called for rougher weather than we wanted for showing off our favorite spots in the San Juans so we stayed in the marina to ride out the wind and waves.  We ate at Anthony's restaurant the first night to celebrate with our guests.  The next day they took us shopping and Al bought some new electronic devices, hoping to improve our phone and internet interactions (so far, so good!).  The day after that still looked pretty rough, so we took a BIG boat (the ferry) to Friday Harbor. We decided we like the town a whole lot more without the summer crowds.  We also took the inter-island ferry on a loop to sight-see and test our new communications.

Yesterday the conditions were very calm, so we took Viking Star out around Cypress Island, through Obstruction Pass, down Blakely Island to James Island.  Chuck, Betty and I hiked over the south portion of the island and surprised two young deer, a spike, and a forked-antler.  Al had a work phone call.  

Though the afternoon was rainy, we were warm and dry on the boat.  The pleasant evening was capped by turning off all the lights and pouring water into the sea to activate the bioluminescence.  Then, since the rain had stopped, we took a nighttime stroll across to see if the sailboat on the other side of the island was still there (yes).

This morning we dropped our guests off back at the Cap Sante Marina, and after fueling, we left down the Swinomish Channel and are moored at Hope Island.  We have Hope today!  In mid-July we had no Hope (All the mooring buoys were taken so we moved on to Cornet Bay state park).

Our final morning together, and I finally take a photo of Chuck and Betty

A favorite pose of cormorants, along the Swinomish Channel

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