Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Planning my first SJI cruise

  1. #1
    Contributing Partner Sati's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    131

    Planning my first SJI cruise

    Hi folks,

    I'm planning my first long cruise over 4th of July week (I know, it's going to be busy). I'm consulting my IRL friends as well, but y'all are as experienced and salty as anyone I know in "real life", so I value your inputs as well I've only ever done bicycle tours of the San Juans before, so my experience is limited to San Juan, Orcas, and Lopez islands, and only via land. I've also not sailed farther north than Everett yet, so passagemaking through the Whidbey Island area is unfamiliar to me.

    My current loose itinerary, just winging it looking at Navionics, is like this:

    6/30 - Elliot Bay to Everett
    7/1 - Everett to....Anacortes via the Swinomish passage? Alternately I could go the long way around Whidbey and end up at the south end of Lopez.
    -----Question: what is sailing through Deception Pass like? I've only heard that it's crazy currents and such, but not from many actual sailors.
    7/2 - 7/4- San Juans noodling around. Could use recommendations on route and places to see here. I'd like to hit Friday Harbor earlier in the week for provisioning, and make it to Sucia Island. Heard good things about that one.
    -----Question: What are the other good islands besides SJI/Orcas/Lopez that would be worth checking out?
    -----Question: Am I already too late to make reservations at the marinas?
    7/5 - SJI's to Everett
    7/6 - Everett to Elliot Bay

    Besides just recommendations on how to cruise / what to cruise in the SJI's, I could also use any general guidance you have for longer cruises. I'm thinking of inviting 5-6 people, so 6-7 would come along in total. I've not practiced anchoring yet, but will do so this spring and summer in preparation. Ideally we get to sail a bunch, but summer in Puget Sound is famously unreliable for winds (at least down by Seattle) so I'll expect to motor a fair amount.

    What tips/advice would you give you a new sailor about to undertake his first week-long cruise?
    Geoff W.
    s/v "Delightful"
    1987 E32-3
    Hull #712

  2. #2
    1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada on Vancouver Island
    Posts
    1,857
    Hi Geoff,

    Local folks will have more up to date and better information about cruising the San Juans. But we sailed those islands several times in recent years, so have a bit of experience there. We transited Deception Pass, and yes, it can be strong currents of about 9 knots or more with eddies as well, but if you time it so you transit at slack, it's no big deal at all. So don't let that stop you. The Swinomish Channel is shallow, at times only a foot below our 6 foot keel, and the sand shifts so one never knows what the actual depth is. They do dredge it at times, but it's an area to be careful. As well, it's narrow, so no sailing is likely along that stretch and it's a long way by motor. But La Conner, the town along the way, is a pretty, quaint little place and worth spending a few hours at.

    Although Friday Harbour is large and busy, the town is also kind of fun, so worth staying there for that. Deer Harbour has been renovated in the last years and is also a quaint, pleasant marina. Rosario is an impressive marina with beautiful grounds, a swimming pool, large mansion, etc. and is worth a visit, though it's a bit more expensive than most for moorage. Roche Harbour was too ostentatious for our liking, though they have a nice pub and some shops near the marina.

    Just a few extra thoughts: ensure you have good charts, and check currents so you are going with them, not fighting them all the way. You mention having 6 - 7 people aboard, and while your boat is a bit larger than our E30+, that's a lot of people to have aboard. We have had 5 adults on our boat for up to a week, but they were family so we didn't mind squeezing past each other or working around each other. We had 7 adults aboard for a day sail, and it felt crowded, though was manageable with some sitting up on the cabin roof, others in the cockpit, some below. For me, a max of four adults, two couples, is comfortable and works well. As well, I find that while I value the companionship of others aboard, I also get a little more tense because of the additional responsibility of ensuring everyone is safe and comfortable. So you may want to think about who/how many people you have aboard.

    It will be interesting to see what others advise....
    Frank
    Last edited by Frank Langer; 01-09-2019 at 11:55 AM.

  3. #3
    Principal Partner footrope's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Gig Harbor, WA
    Posts
    1,274
    Blog Entries
    11
    Check the cruising guidebooks for Puget Sound. Lots of good info.

    Kingston usually has the cheapest fuel.

    Deception Pass is no problem as long as you go through at close to slack current. No depth problems even at low tide. People kayak through there in good weather at slack. We've done it with no problems, but time your arrival if you can. Otherwise plan to loiter until close to slack. Long day from Everett, but Mud Bay, Hunter Bay and Watmough Bay are good anchoring stops on Lopez when you get through.

    Swinomish Channel - good choice if winds are high in Straits. Shallow in places, but well marked, with some current as you'd expect. Long day from Everett to Anacortes but July has plenty of daylight. We've done this several times.

    At Everett use the North Docks guest dock. It gets you out of the river current, which is quite fast inside the jetty. In the Central and South guest docks, the current is very tough when going into the slips. The North Dock is next to the big boat launch and has a couple restaurants and a large chandlery. The Port Of Everett website has a great map.

    In addition to the Sucia Islands which is great, Stuart Island is well worth a visit. Reid Harbor is largest anchorage and has the most uniform, comfortable anchoring depths. Hike to Turn Point light is fun, a couple miles or so with some hills. Tours of the Keepers house are available in summer. The two Treasure Chests along the trail sell Stuart Island shirts, hats, etc. Honor system payment by mail and the only way to get them.

    Not too late for reservations at Friday Harbor, which is where it is easiest to find room. First-come-first-serve along the breakwater. Arrive around check out time, which I think was 11 am. For holiday slip reservations, I'd call soon and find out how far ahead they schedule. Fun place, very busy, lots to see.

    Agree with Frank on crew size. We prefer 4 people total for overnights. We've had 11+ aboard the 38 for daysails. Still crowded, but doable.
    Craig Davis & Ellen Le Vita

    1980 E38 "Pilot Project"
    Hull #20, Universal Diesel 5432
    Gig Harbor, WA


    In Puget Sound there are only two directions to go - North and South. That applies to the boat and the wind.

  4. #4
    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    3,585
    Blog Entries
    77
    Yeah, four. Five max unless these are little kids.

    It all depends, of course....but people bring stuff, and there's no room for that, either.
    Thelonious II, E381 hull 513 (1984) Universal 5432
    Table of Contents for Thelonious Blog here
    Videos: http://www.youtube.com/c/ChristianWilliamsYachting

  5. #5
    Contributing Partner Teranodon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    San Juan Island, Washington State
    Posts
    124
    Going through Deception Pass at slack water is safe, but not as much fun as racing in/out with the tide. If you have some experience, I recommend it. Quite a ride!

    Our currents are strong, and summer winds can be fickle. Make sure your engine is reliable.

    If you see orcas, please turn off your depth sounder. Apparently, they hate it.

    Beware of logs. They are everywhere.

    Watch out for the ferries. They move at around 20 knots. I love sailing through the Wasp Passage, but I always get into a ferry situation there. It's unavoidable.

    If you venture into the Haro Strait, or anywhere near Turn Point on Stuart, keep a very sharp eye out for freighters.

    You have already received good advice concerning anchorages (including for consulting some of the great cruising guides). Alas, anchorages will all be very crowded in mid-summer. Even though it's tedious, try to arrive when others are leaving.

    Here's a bit more anchoring advice, from me:

    Both anchorages on Stuart are wonderful. Take your pick.

    Sucia, of course. There are a couple of moorings at Patos, but they will be taken. The spot is stunning, and you can't beat the walk to the lighthouse. I spent a night on the hook there once, and it was not safe.

    I like Blind Bay on Shaw. Lots of room. Also Indian Cove, but it isn't very sheltered (I've done it, no problem).

    Don't even think about docking on Waldron. The natives are not friendly. No safe anchoring in Cowlitz Bay, either. Unless you are absolutely sure that there will be no wind.

    Parks Bay (Shaw) is nice, but you can't go on shore.

    There are moorings (and a dock) on both sides of Jones. Wonderful hiking.

    Mackay Harbor on Lopez, kind of a "secret spot". Roomy and sheltered, but watch the chart/depth (and the giant patch of kelp) when going in. One of my favorites. I always go through Cattle Pass at max current if I can. There are usually sea lions on the rocks just south of it. Watch that chart, of course. Zoom!

    You really have to do Fisherman Bay on Lopez. It's big, and you can walk to the charming village, which has a supermarket and some of the best ice cream anywhere. But read all about the tricky nerve-wracking entrance and, of course, watch your depth. The whole place is very shallow. Every year, they have the most amazing July 4 fireworks, right at the edge of the water.

    Swank Roche Harbor, and mellow Garrison Bay nearby (dinghy in to the famous English Camp)

    Friday Harbor has everything, including space to anchor.


    I know you will love our beautiful islands.
    Last edited by Teranodon; 01-10-2019 at 07:44 AM.
    Stefan Michalowski
    Friday Harbor, WA
    1988 Ericson 34 "Talpa"

  6. #6
    Contributing Partner Sati's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    131
    This is all absolutely fantastic, thanks so much. I plan to consult the cruising guides for passage and marina info, but sometimes everything being rated 4-5 stars doesn't help much for planning

    I'll take the advice to limit attendance. Me and three others are confirmed with one other couple pending. If they can't go, I might invite someone willing to be a 5th wheel... Else the Q-berth is good storage

    I guess once you've been on some 33 foot boats carrying 20+ people at Duck Dodge on Tuesdays, your sense of boat capacity gets skewed.
    Geoff W.
    s/v "Delightful"
    1987 E32-3
    Hull #712

  7. #7
    Contributing Partner Teranodon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    San Juan Island, Washington State
    Posts
    124
    I forgot: there are a couple of moorings off Turn Island (SJI). It's only a mile or so from my slip, so I never tried them, but it's a great spot.

    Holding is pretty good just about everywhere, in mud. But don't skip setting the anchor. It's surprising how often it needs to be repeated, usually because of stuff growing on the bottom (I have a claw).
    Last edited by Teranodon; 01-10-2019 at 10:12 AM.
    Stefan Michalowski
    Friday Harbor, WA
    1988 Ericson 34 "Talpa"

Similar Threads

  1. 2016 Rendezvous Planning starts
    By Loren Beach in forum Ericsons Northwest & British Columbia
    Replies: 28
    Last Post: 02-15-2016, 06:39 PM
  2. New Sails Planning - Mack?
    By RKCRWLR in forum Maintenance & Mechanical
    Replies: 20
    Last Post: 01-04-2012, 02:50 PM
  3. 2009 Rendezvous Planning
    By wurzner in forum Ericsons Northwest & British Columbia
    Replies: 35
    Last Post: 03-27-2009, 05:45 PM
  4. Planning to sail north
    By saltbox in forum Cruising & Racing
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 04-02-2008, 09:19 PM
  5. Kokomo Crew is planning a get together
    By Galley_Slave in forum Ericsons Mid-Atlantic & Chesapeake
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 01-12-2007, 01:51 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •