Sunday, February 20, 2011

Summer Trip Planning - Returning Home to Olympia

Unfortunately like the song says, "All good things must come to an end" and so must vacations.  All that we can plan for this year is three weeks, which is good but also short.  Now I am estimating that we will be staying Saturday night in Kingston and cruising home on Sunday.  For us there is a significant amount of tradition of being in Kingston the last night of our big summer cruise. When I check the log book, we've been doing this tradition for over 20 years! One of our significant traditions is pizza at Kingston's Bella Luna Restaurant.  And, we always order the same pizza, "The Morgan's Special" which is loaded with sausage, black olives, pepperoni, onions, peppers, and jalapenos.  It's always great and we never leave disappointed.  Now that it just the two of us, we commonly get a box for the left-overs and have cold pizza for breakfast while crusing S.  Oh, and there's a bakery where you can get incredible cupcakes too - but that's another story.

Back to trip planning... This year Sunday, August 8th shows that there is a flood tide that will start about 7:45 AM off of President Point just S of Kingston.  My aim though, is to take advantage of the flood going through the Tacoma Narrows which peaks at 9:36 AM (3.34 knots).  I also want to take advantage of the flood to push me all the way down through Balch Passage (by Eagle Is.) and Dana Passage.  The ebb starts at Dana Passage at 1:55 PM, with a max ebb of 1.16 knots at 4:27 PM.  Remember I want to take advantage of the currents to maximize my time and fuel costs.  Going "uphill" or against the current wastes time and money. 

The distance from Kingston to Olympia is about 58 nautical miles.  My average speed is about 6.5 knots (I'd go a bit faster if I wasn't towing a 19' Zodiac), so it should take me about 9 hours to travel from Kingston to Olympia.  So if I were to leave Kingston at 5:00 AM I should make it Olympia about 2:00 PM.  Only in a perfect world.  Remember, earlier I said that flood would start at 7:45 AM, if I were to leave at 5 AM means I'm going to fight some current for almost 3 hours and not make 6.5 knots but less.  The current at President Point at 5:00 AM is 0.6 knots ebb.  And most importantly, I have to figure that I will be fighting the current all the way through Colvos Passage.  Remember, the current in Colvos Passage always flows N.

From Ocean 442 course paper from UW
I have found that I can apply the same "back eddy" trick I use for traveling Canadian passages against the current for Colvos Passage - well almost.  I'll approach Colvos Passage from the N near Pt. Vashon and then travel down the E side of Colvos Passage, hugging the Vashon Island shore until I get to Point Sandford. Unlike in Canada, the shore along Vashon Island is much more shoal, and so I will have to watch my depth sounder and work to follow a minimum 40' depth contour.  If all goes well, I should be making 6+ knots or more cruising down Colvos Passage.  At Point Sandford I'll give up this "shore hugging back eddy trick" and aim for Point Defiance since there are no more back eddies.

So, what's my plan?  Sunrise on August 7th is at 5:54 AM.  My plan is to leave at 6:00 AM (no cupcakes, but I'll have pizza) and get to Restoration Point at about 8:30 AM.  I'll ride a bit of the flood to arrive near Pt. Vashon at about 9:00 AM.  Then using my "back eddy trick" I'll work my way down Colvos Passage to make Point Sandford at about 10:10 AM.  From there, I'll try to make Point Defiance at about 11:05 AM and finally get to ride the last of the flood into South Sound.  Weeooo! I'll get 2 knots of flood current to push me up to 8+ knots through the Tacoma Narrows and I should be by Eagle Island in Balch Passage by around 1:00 PM. Hopefully I'll make Dana Passage just as it turns to ebb around 2 PM and I should be back in my slip by 3:30 PM.

I very much enjoy this part of cruising, although I am not actually cruising, but cruise planning.  What makes it most rewarding is when it all comes together and works.  "Now if I go to the bakery to get those delicious cupcakes that will have us leaving at..."

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