Finally!!! After many, many long months of sole-focused boat research, boat work, late nights, stinky bilges, unexpected expenses (ouch $$), leaving employment, soul-searching and unexpected delays at Bellingham Marina we cast our lines! We both feel we had entered a sort of vortex black hole at Bellingham Marina with last minute unexpected projects, fixing a final few annoying leaks, provisioning the boat and a last-minute round-trip to Vancouver. The weather went grey for a few days and coupled with marina living it felt like we would never get out of there. But on sunny Sunday, June 7th we cast our lines for the grandest adventure of our lives.
The first destination was to be Victoria, BC to visit with Peter and Wendy, the previous owners, as well as pick up our friends Doug and Lindsay for a run North to a birthday celebration on Galiano Island. We had been so busy with last minute boat projects that we never even looked at how best to transit through the San Juan Islands. Day 1 of our cruising life may very well be the best day of our lives to date. No joke! We were able to cross off many items from our wish list on the inaugural day of our cruise. Porpoises? Check! Skinny dipping while becalmed! Check! Most peaceful anchorage all to ourselves? Check again! Perfect sunny weather without a single care in the world? You guessed it.. Check!!
We literally started sailing with no destination in mind other than wherever the wind would take us. Turns out that wasn’t very far, maybe only 6 miles out of Bellingham, but nonetheless a world away. The following day we sailed Leela hard and slow, encountering 25 knots of wind through the larger Strait of Georgia main channel and then becalmed a few minutes later at the mercy of surprisingly strong rip currents near Guemes Island. Inexperienced as we are we had not even timed our departure with the tides and somehow lucked out for the entire day with great currents at our back and fantastic sailing. Saxony enjoyed her finest sailing moment to date when she steered us down Rosario Strait at a whopping 8.6 knots with reefed mainsail! (PS if this video makes you laugh you would fit right in with our sense of humor 🙂
We sailed for almost 11 hours until we tucked in, utterly tired and sun and wind burnt into rolly Mackaye Harbor at the South end of Lopez Island. This big 30-mile push put us in a great position for an easier 20 mile run the next day to Victoria, BC.
Once again we awoke to sunny skies for the sail to Victoria. I had slept very poorly in the rolly anchorage still getting used to the cramped V-Berth and was very tired from the previous day. Our philosophy on this trip is to use the engine as little as possible preferring to rely on the vagaries of the wind and weather to set our timeline and pace. But on this day we had a meeting with Peter, Wendy, Doug and Lindsay so we had to make time and the wind failed to show up. Not necessarily a bad thing when transiting through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We motored most of the way while I took a nap in our cockpit. I was even asleep when we crossed the International Border into Canada! We were worried about the alcohol we were bringing across the border, even stuffing a few bottles in the Gennaker bag. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that our check-in with customs was as easy as a simple phone call and the lovely customs agent on the phone informed us that our booze was classified as “bar stock”. Good to know! We’ll make sure to have a very large “bar stock” next time we transit!