So it has long been said that the Pacific Northwest lacks sun, warmth, and friendliness (see Seattle Freeze). I’ve lived here all my life, and there are some things I simply cannot admit to when speaking of my lovely region. It is perfect for a guy like myself, an extrovert, who is always looking for valuable friendships and beauty. For those of you who crave the comforts of home, you can always find something to look forward to while visiting, especially if you’re on a sailboat.
Now, of course, many of you are thinking I am pushing the boundaries of reality. I know there are a lot of people out there that believe you have to own a sailboat, or know someone that does to be able to enjoy the breathtaking experience of gliding on the water during a beautiful PNW sunset. I want to squash that idea right now.
If you check out my first Oh Hey World welcome kit geared at sailers living or visiting Seattle, you will see that there are many destinations, options, and possibilities for sailing in this part of the country. Whether you know the intricacies of a J/105, or have only dreamed of floating on the water, racing, or catching the gorgeous geographical scenery we have to offer, living out that experience is made to be very simple in the PNW. You will find that sailing is more about the people you are with, and where you are heading, not about what you do for a living, or where you’re from. The PNW has some of the most beautiful sailing canvas in the entire world, and just to paint the picture for you, here’s an email I received from a veteran seaman, owner of Delirium, and one of the first people to welcome me on board, captain Jerry Dierks.
The sailboat racing crew of Delirium out of Seattle, WA, or at least the more seasoned of the crew, finally booked a cruising vacation where making a sailboat go fast was NOT the priority. We arrived in Bellingham Friday afternoon to check out our charter boat at San Juan Sailing. We received a terrific briefing from the staff that was entertaining and informative about the boat, the area and what would make for a fun and safe experience in the beautiful San Juan Islands. (EG we learned that there are bunchers and there are folders. Yes we are talking about toilet paper and folders are much more welcome on sailboats that have delicate head systems I.e. toilets.)
San Juan Sailing (http://www.sanjuansailing.com/) has to be one of the top 3 charter companies in the world in terms of the quality of boats they charter, the maintenance and cleanliness of those boats and their helpful staff. They are in the hospitality industry and they know it and they do it extremely well.
On Saturday morning, we left Bellingham Bay and sailed across Rosario Straight, through Obstruction Pass, below East Sound and into Blind Bay where we set anchor for our first night. Sunday we sailed West and North and around Stuart Island and into Prevost Harbor where we set the hook and rode out a mild gale from the west. We t under “Suicide Cliff.” It was a remarkable site watching mother and baby swim deep into the cold depths off the bluff as their white spots grew green until they vanished and the next pair breached and repeated the process.
On Monday, we reconnected with civilization when we moored at the beautiful Roche Harbor Marina. Tuesday morning we were treated to fresh donuts from the bakery/coffee shop at the head of the dock. Hot donuts and coffee on a chilly morning….. It can’t be beat. After enjoying a hot donut and a hot shower, we sailed North to the serene and secluded Sucia Island. We circumnavigated the whole island all of which is a Washington State Marine Park with great trails and several beautiful anchorages. The weather allowed us to anchor in the Western facing Shallow Bay so we could watch the sunsets as we played bridge and drank rum.
Our anchorage was so perfect, we decided to spend a second night here which meant sailing back toward Bellingham Bay through Hale Passage on Thursday. We decided to take advantage of the light and sailed into Chuckanut Bay and anchored in the North end of the bay. Friday meant time to return the boat, or maybe just sailing away to the North and hope they couldn’t find us. We couldn’t bare the bad karma of depriving the next group the charter of our floating hotel. So, we sailed back into Bellingham harbor, fueled up and cleaned the boat so the next group could have as much fun as we did.
What made the trip such a success? Great planning by the crew, great preparation by San Juan Sailing and some terrific luck to find lovely weather, a bunch of whales and a fantastic time among extraordinary friends.