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Thread: Planning my first SJI cruise

  1. #31
    Principal Partner
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    Sep 2013
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    Port Angeles, WA
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    Sailing out of Port Angeles, The two normal routes for me are Haro Straights (the long way) and Cattle Pass (the short way). If heading out to the Gulf Islands, Haro Straights is the way of choice. To the San Juan's, Cattle Pass is the way of choice. I would not run Cattle Pass against the tide (although I have). Takes an overly long time and you get bounced around a lot. When going with the tide, the ride can be exciting. Not recommended for the first timer. If coming up from Deception Pass, I would recommend going through one of the passes west of Anacortes. It saves the long sometimes hard beat up the Straights. Going from Cattle Pass to Port Townsend can be a fun, full blast reach. While you can hug the shore if you are a good navigator, it's not recommended. I did that bounce off a rock thing once and I don't recommend it although it turns you into a much better chart reader.

    All this area has its tidal challenges. Off Victoria, the tide zooms around the island making for square top waves and the dodging of many rocks can be challenging. Swinging over the top of SJ Island can leave you almost dead stopped at full throttle when the tide is against you.

    None of this is meant to scare anyone. The islands are beautiful and the currents lazy around them. All of the passes into the islands have their challenges but are interesting. The cruising guides cover them well and are worth having aboard. I use the Canadian tide guide and the Waggoner's tables. I like having something paper to hang onto.

    Remember, your boat can handle anything that the area can dish out. The limiting factor is the crew. If you feel comfortable handling your boat, you won't have problems. Have fun.
    Bob Morrison
    1987 E-34 Hull #15
    "Terra Nova"

  2. #32
    Contributing Partner Teranodon's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
    Location
    San Juan Island, Washington State
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    139
    Since this thread is becoming a mini cruising guide to the San Juans, here are two random entries:

    When coming in to Friday Harbor via the southern entrance, beware of the reef ("Dumbshit Rock") off Brown Island. Just stay in the middle. I race there every Friday, and it's amazing how many visiting boats whack the thing. Incidentally, everyone is welcome to race, no signup needed. No handicaps, no protests, Start at 1600 between the day marker off Brown Island and the nearest white mooring buoy. First boat around Reed Rock (any direction) and back wins. Very competitive, great fun, and an excellent introduction to the San Juan Channel "river".

    The Canadian tables/charts don't really have the resolution needed for navigating the complicated current patterns in the islands. I use the free DeepZoom site.
    Stefan Michalowski
    San Juan Island, WA
    1988 Ericson 34 "Talpa"

  3. #33
    Contributing Partner
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    Dec 2000
    Location
    Port Townsend WA
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    166
    Hey Geoff,

    Bucking the current through Cattle pass is no joke. At it's peak it can bring you to a standstill or even make you go backwards.

    As an alternative, why don't you leave SJI a bit earlier and have a short day? Get through Cattle pass then do some dinking around and exploring the rocks on the south end of Lopez (With very good charts and depthsounder please). Some striking scenery there. Then pull into Mackaye harbor or Aleck bay and drop anchor for the night to wait for the tide to Port Townsend. It's a quick 3.5 to 4 hours run from either of these two spots to PT if you have the water going with you.

    Also you don't need to hit the last 2 hours of flood going past Pt. Wilson, just avoid the first two hours of it. That's when things stack up. If needed you can stay closer to Whidbey and pass closer to Pt. Partridge to miss the majority of the lumps until you get closer to Admiralty head. Then cut across to PT, same as the ferry does.

    Enjoy your trip.

    Kevin Wright
    E35 Hydro Therapy

  4. #34
    Contributing Partner Teranodon's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
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    San Juan Island, Washington State
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    139
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin A Wright View Post
    Hey Geoff,

    ... Then pull into Mackaye harbor or Aleck bay and drop anchor for the night to wait for the tide to Port Townsend. It's a quick 3.5 to 4 hours run from either of these two spots to PT if you have the water going with you.
    Here's another reason for spending the night at Mackaye. There's a public dinghy dock. From there, a 10-min walk takes you to the Southend Cafe. It serves good food (including dinner) and there is a small store as well. Nice people. Call ahead to be sure they are open *(360) 468-2315.

    The docks at the south end of the bay are off limits. Some of them are left over from the time when this was a thriving fishing port.
    Last edited by Teranodon; 05-21-2019 at 10:07 AM.
    Stefan Michalowski
    San Juan Island, WA
    1988 Ericson 34 "Talpa"

  5. #35
    Advanced Beginner bgary's Avatar
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    Aug 2015
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    Everett, WA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff W. View Post
    Do you have moorage reservations or anything?
    Quick update - I just got a call that I've been cleared off the wait-list for a slip at the Islands Marine Center in Fisherman's, July 4th and 5th (they have a 2-night minimum).

    I only really planned to stay one night, so if you want to sneak into my slip for the night of the 5th, we should talk about that. They probably wouldn't notice the difference between your 32-III and mine.

    Alternatively... it looks like they're actively working through their wait list, so might be worth giving Tina a call to see what the options are.

    Bruce
    "Makana" (ex-Thelonious)
    1985 Ericson 32-III #604
    Makana blog: here

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