Tuesday June 29th
Happy Anniversary!! It was 3 years ago on a hot sunny day that Jim and I tied the knot at our favorite sailing destination, Roche Harbor on San Juan Island, Washington (not to be confused with the other San Juan!)
What a contrast to the wet rainy morning we woke up to. We were both tired as Jacintha had crept into our bed at 2am and coughed and wiggled and kicked all night long. The weather report said winds northeast 15-20 knots increasing to 20-25 in the afternoon, seas 5-10 feet increasing to 10-15 feet. Gale warning in effect for the Straits of Juan the Fuca – where it was all glassy 2 days ago! It meant a very bumpy ride as we had strong wind coming from the front of our boat and a long distance to cover – 65 miles. If we put up the sails we would have had to sail perpendicular to the wind increasing the distance we had to travel by tacking (zig-zagging) all the way up the coast.
We up-anchored in trepidation of the unknown and motored out of the sheltered harbour. Outside the wind was blowing 15-20 knots from straight ahead and the swell was 10 feet. We hoisted the sails, with the main sail reefed in (shortened to reduce the sail area for a windy day). It’s a good thing Jim placed the jack line on the boat yesterday, as it made me feel safer knowing that we would be tethered to the boat, when we left the relative safety of the cockpit to go to forward to the main mast! We had trouble with our reefing line which had to get retied which took some time. Then I let Jim steer the boat and went down below.
In the cabin, it was bucking around like a wild horse and the boat was also heeled over around 15-20 degrees. It made preparing our hot oatmeal for breakfast tricky! Jacintha’s eyes were glued to the DVD player which kept her quiet and safe. But it was miserable down below as there is no horizon to see and help with your vestibular system (your balance center) and the boat would move up then pound down on each wave. The waves were not very regular as well and they would come from in front then to the sounds making the boat wallow in the troughs a little. I started to feel nauseated and so did Jacintha and soon we were both heaving up our breakfasts! Jacintha than lay down and fell asleep.
I went up above to see the horizon and started to feel better. The wind had died down so we were going a lot slower (3 kts) but still tacking up the coast and we’d calculated that we needed to be traveling around 6 kts to make it to Ucluelet before sunset. The last thing we wanted to be doing was entering that unfamiliar, rocky inlet after dark as there were a lot of submerged rocks around the harbor entrance. So we turned on the iron sail (motor) and took the sails down and started to motor up the coast of Vancouver Island. That made the trip faster but made it even more miserable as now we were pounding onto the 10 foot waves with speed. Not having any sails up also created more rolling motion with the swells which were about 9 seconds apart.
I took a turn at the wheel which made me feel better while Jim went below to warm up. He soon started heaving up his dinner. He scooted back up the ladder into the cockpit and didnt want to go down below again! I went below and had a refreshing nap. Then I made cup noodles for us to eat as we needed to eat to keep our warmth and energy up. I couldn’t persuade Jacintha to eat the noodles even though they’re her favorite, a sign that she was not well at all!
Jim and I took frequent turns at the wheel and we spotted a lot of whale spouts and whales, some of them were traveling in the same direction as us! They were having a much better trip than we were and I wished that I were a whale so many times that day. After we’d left the traffic zone of the Straits we didn’t see anymore boats out there on the water. Were the smart ones staying in because if the weather? Jacintha joined us up in the cockpit at one stage, with life jacket on and harnessed to the boat. She laughed at the “giant waves” and tried looking for Moby Dick. Then she went down below and was miserable again.
We reached the southern end of Barkley Sound around 5 pm and we felt elated as we were nearly there. The lighthouse at Cape Beale appeared enticingly on the horizon and that last 17 miles we travelled were the longest and ever. I was having fun steering the boat up and down the waves but poor Jacintha was absolutely miserable down below. Jim wasn’t feeling any better. At one point, Jim went down below to take a nap and lay on the settee with his life jacket, coat and boots still on, something he would have griped about if he saw anyone doing it when he was well! He heaved again and then refused to go below anymore, so was more tired than I. I would take cat naps when I wasn’t steering the boat, something I got good at by taking night call! We inched our way slowly up the coast and it took us 2 more hours, with the seas (10-15 ft) and wind (15kts) building up.
We finally turned for Felice Channel which was sheltered by reefs and small islets so the wind and waves were much more bearable. Winding our way through the rocks and islets in the fading light was stressful, so we were relieved to see the public dock, where we had to report into customs.
Jim gathered all the paperwork and made the phone call to the customs but when they asked him how much alcohol and what fruits we were carrying he was a little vague and must have sounded drunk to the border patrol, so they sent out a customs officer to inspect our boat! He was nice about it but I think we looked a little worn out. He rummaged through our boat and pulled out all the almost empty bottles of alcohol that we’d forgotten about. We’re such alcoholics, I’d forgotten about the open bottle of baileys we had stashed away from our trip last year! And the half bottle of gin that’s been sitting in a cupboard for two years! Anyway, after a reminder to take an inventory before making the phone call he left. We didn’t have the energy to move the boat to anchor so we just stayed moored to that dock that night. Jacintha didn’t want to eat anything that night as she was afraid she would throw up again so I had to explain to her that she wasn’t I’ll just had seasickness. After that she ate a whole bag of popcorn that night for dinner, her other favorite food!!
Photo of Jim post crossing!