Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day 3 - Prevost Harbor, Stuart Island

Saturday, July 16, 2011
Woke rain and fog, and no wind.  It was so quiet that you could hear water drops hitting the deck as they collected enough mass to make a drip.  A nearby eagle was making a racket which would temporarily break the silence.  You could see Kiket Island which we were anchored nearby, but you could not see Hope Island which was about a half mile south.  Everything was enveloped in fog and silence.

Deception Pass looking W.
At 0840 I started the engine and raised the anchor which completely woke up our world around us to the sound of the diesel and the chain rattling coming aboard - silence was gone.  It was time to continue our trip.  Slack at Deception Pass wasn't for another couple of hours and an ebb current would be running strong so I took my time.  I treat the tidal rapids at Deception Pass with considerable respect.  During this time I turned on the radar and adjusted it for maximum sensitivity since it looked like crossing Rosario Strait would require it.  We motored under slow bell to Hoypus Point just northeast of Cornet Bay and then resumed cruising speed.  We ran with a good ebb current - about 3 knots - through Deception Pass and out into foggy Rosario Strait.  The Strait was very foggy with 1/4 mile visibility or less, so we had to use the radar and GPS to navigate across.  I set a course for Lopez Pass put the radar on 2 mile and proceeded.  The current in Rosario Strait was running at 2+ knots to the south, so I didn't have to worry about getting pushed into Bird Rocks.  At first nothing appeared on the radar but as we worked our way across the Strait the "blips" of other boats began to appear on the radar screen.  Visibility was 1/4 mile or less.  Fortunately the seas were calm, except for an occasional ripple here and there.  We met a couple of boats who to me seemed lost.  I would turn to avoid them, but they would correspondingly turn to present a collision course with me.  Perhaps they thought I was a buoy?  It made for some tension and it was frustrating.  One boat appeared out of the fog from the south, headed right at my port beam and blew his horn at me.  He quickly came to a dead stop when he saw me.  What he didn't realize was that I had him on radar and I had the right of way.  I could tell he was startled and angry.  Another boat, some time later, materialized out of the fog and after he saw us turned a different direction and once again disappeared into the fog.  The thick fog stayed with us all the way until the entrance to Lopez Pass - which we found via the GPS and radar.  Once past Lopez Pass and into Lopez Sound the fog lifted and was probably behind us. I was glad to be done with that.

Up Lopez Sound we cruised going past the narrow end of Spencer Spit and making way towards Upright Head where we had late breakfast.  From Upright Head we crossed over to enter Harney Channel which was full with many cruising boats and a ferry too to make it interesting.  We navigated through narrow Pole Pass and into President Channel.  We turned to port going down San Juan Channel with Jones Island to the north of us.  We gazed at Deer Harbor which seemed crowded with many boats.  We considered stopping at Jones Island - there were mooring buoys available, but went on to our planned anchorage at Prevost Harbor, Stuart Island.  We turned to cruise past Flattop Island to our starboard, and along the Johns Island, Stuart Island, and Satellite Island shores to our port.  Until we came to Johns and Stuart Islands we were enjoying good following currents which eased us along at well over 6 knots, but then we hit a stiff flood which slowed us down to less than 5 knots. The clouds were lifting and starting make for a nice day as we rounded Satellite Island and into Prevost Harbor.  The farther we ventured into Prevost Harbor we saw more and more boats - Prevost Harbor was full of boats - boats at anchor, boats at the state park dock, and boats moored at the funky mooring ropes.  As we motored in to the bay, lo and behold we saw that a mooring buoy was open and so we took it.  We tied up at 1430.

After tying up and getting things settled, we decided to stretch our legs and hike to the Stuart Island school.  Instead of taking the "official" trail to the county road - which leads you down a steep staircase to the beach over at Reid Harbor and then back up the hill to the school - we took the "illegal trail" which crosses private land to the school.  This route is considerably shorter and much less tiring - not as much up and down. The dogs loved running through the woods, salal and grasses. I saw my first large ravens of the trip as they flew through the trees.  I very much enjoy all the various calls they make.

After the hike we returned to the boat to grill some fancy Wisconsin gourmet brats and coleslaw.  A quick rain shower moved through followed by some sun - it made for a beautiful and scenic evening.  As I sat down and wrote the day's log I realized we are now a full day ahead of schedule.
Evening after a rain shower in Prevost Harbor, Stuart Is.

Stats: Ending engine hours: 6112.1, elapsed engine hours: 6.5, 34.3 nm, average speed 5.8 knots, 5:56 hrs. motoring

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