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Author Topic:   San Juan Island Tour
lloyd13 posted 10-01-2004 05:02 PM ET (US)   Profile for lloyd13   Send Email to lloyd13  
It was suggested I post a narrative of a recent trip I took in my 1987 15' sport. I recently purchased this boat, as my third whaler, from a continuous wave member, skookumpoint. The motor was a new Johnson 50 with about 20 hours on it. I launched Sept. 11th. at Kingston, a small port just west of Seattle Washington. We ran northwest up admiralty inlet to Port Ludlow, a small resort south of Port Townsend, to top off the 12 gallon tank. It was about an hour run. We then proceeded north, past Port Townsend and out into the Straits of Juan De Fuca. I have sailed across the Straits many times to Victoria and points north and it is notorious for getting rough in the afternoons but my fiancee was eager to get to the San Juans so we went, even though it was about 4 pm. Theoretically the trip from seattle to San Juan Island is about 2.5 hours at around 24 MPH. At a conservative 3 gallons per hour I should have made the trip on 7 to 8 gallons of the 12 in the tank. Didn't account for rough seas. Amazingly, the roughest and shallowest water is about 10 fathoms right out in the middle. That is where the plan just about fell apart. The fiancee is new to boating, and somewhat new to me and I didn't know how she was going to react to being in a small boat all the way out there. But she did great, she even enjoyed the action. And it was no picnic. The boat was loaded with a weeks worth of tents and gear and ice chests, plus the platic privvy back in the stern. So we had to drop off plane in the middle of the straits and start picking our way through the big ones. Ate lots of fuel at 10 knots. By the time we arrive at San Juan Island about 7 we were beat, and the tank was almost empty, with about 20 miles to go. But we made it to Roche Harbor at 7:30. Fuel docks closed, no where to pitch the tent. Hotel de Haro worked great. Next day we went north to Stuart Island/Reid Harbor to a state marine park and pitched the tent. It was a beautiful day. Went back to the Straits after breakfast and got into the Orcas and had a great time. Spent the rest of the week touring the islands, Johns, Patos, Matia, Lopez, San Juan, Orcas, Speiden, and some others I have forgotten. Had one good day of weather, monday, and the rest was cloudy, cool, and drizzly. Not what we expected. We returned on saturday, Sept. 18th, and camped that night at Blake Island, and returned to Kingston on sunday morning.

Lessons learned: Really need a canvas set for rough water use. Sitting down in a small boat for long periods is not the best thing for one's back. A 12 gallon fuel tank is only half enough for a venture like this. Won't do that again. The new Johnson gave me the best fuel economy at 4000 rpm, in a slight rippled surface at 24 knots. Anything under or over and it gobbles fuel. I would guess you could burn 4.5 gallons an hour pretty easily. Although the ride isn't too much better than my 13' sport, it is considerably drier. That I really appreciate. Skookumpoint, the former owner in salt lake city had the boat set up perfectly, everything worked, and almost nothing came loose. Now I can venture anywhere I normally would without having any real trepidation. The boat was perfect for this trip. Next time I will have a bimini and forward shelter, which will make it even better. Feels so good to own an American product that is totally reliable, and nearly perfect.

LHG posted 10-01-2004 05:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
I've always thought the best way up to the San Juans is to follow the protected waters of the eastern shore to Anacortes, then across to the islands.
lloyd13 posted 10-01-2004 05:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for lloyd13  Send Email to lloyd13     
I agree, but the other crew member wanted to see the straits, and increase her chances of seeing the orcas and other marine life. I did take saratoga passage back and it was better, but it can blow in there as well. The advantage of that route is more fuel sources available, the disadvantage is deception pass and the occasional tree or refrigerator that comes whirling up out of the depths. But on this trip it was just choppy.
CFCAJUN posted 10-01-2004 10:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for CFCAJUN  Send Email to CFCAJUN     
I am way down here in Louisiana, but have relatives in the tri-cities area in the Southeast Corner (Richland / Kennewick/Pasco) of Wa.

Anyway, I think your trip sounds amazing! That is the kind of trip I would like to go up there and do one day. My parents just returned from an Alaskan cruise and that part of the country in general, from Wa up to Ak is just amazing.

Thanks for the details, and I hope to plot a course on your chart one day.

skookum point posted 10-03-2004 01:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for skookum point  Send Email to skookum point     
Lloyd, I'm really pleased to read your report and hear that the boat lived up to expectations. The Port Townsend to San Juan Island run makes me nervous even in a much larger boat - it's amazing to me that you did it in a 15 footer. Sounds like you had a great time even though the weather in the NW was not as good as usual for September.

John Anderson

Matthew posted 10-03-2004 03:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Matthew  Send Email to Matthew     
Nice narrative. I saw that boat at Blake Island a couple of years ago and was very impressed.
I was fishing at Seiku that weekend and remember the first big low of the season that moved through. Gale winds were predicted Friday night 9/10. I don't know that they ever materialized, but it was windy with a pretty good swell on Saturday the 11th, especially in the morning. I don't have much experience with the water conditions on the Strait, but people that did thought it was on the snotty side.
Taylor posted 10-04-2004 02:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for Taylor  Send Email to Taylor     
Larry - its considerably shorter and quite tempting to head up the Sound in the protected water to Port Townsand and then head north north west across the Strait...but you sort of have to pick your days when doing that. If conditions are bad, sometimes you can be far enough out that its seems easier to just go on. Sounds like this is what happened with Lloyd.

Lloyd - thanks for posting - Nothing wrong with going the way you did - I've done it in a Montauk - but its nice to have two tanks and be able to stand up and use some canvas to catch the spray.

The fiancee? She's a keeper.

lloyd13 posted 10-04-2004 03:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for lloyd13  Send Email to lloyd13     
Everyone, thanks for the input. The trip was great, lots of lessons learned, confidence built, and a return of a sense of adventure. I took my 13 by trailer this year up the east coast of vancouver island then across the island to the west coast and launched near Bamfield. Then toured the islands and fished for a week. Incredible country, and whalers are so well matched for that type of use. You are out in the open, close to the water, and have incredible maneuverability. Next year I plan on going up the inside passage, hit Princess Louisa, then continue on to Johnstone Straits to Telegraph Cove. And this time I will be better prepared, more fuel, better shelter, maybe different seating. And the fiancee, a definite keeper, even Hooter would approve.

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