After Ravenswing’s mast came down, Jim and I sat at the kitchen table that night lamenting that cruising to Mexico was shot for 2017. We’ve said it before, “there’s always next year”, but everyone’s getting older and the time is now. So how about a September trip to Washington’s San Juan Islands, and maybe a bit of British Colombia, aboard F27 Origami? Jim went back to Oregon and got his boat ready for the road, and we met up again at his place on Sept. 15 to start a 9 day trip north. (Should have borrowed Dad’s new self-driving Acura, last seen on Tiburon Blvd!)
Origami tows well behind Jim’s big pickup, but we did need to replace some rotting trailer tires in Salem, OR. Amazingly we pulled in to a new tire shop that fit us in immediately with all four tires removed, new ones mounted, balanced and installed in 20 minutes. And on we drove to the Washington Park boat ramp in Anacortes, gateway to the San Juans. We were greeted with that northwest liquid sunshine. Once “at sea”, the first stop was Friday Harbor, docking just in time to take cover from a windy rain front.
The only other sailboat to visit that day was another F27! We met Jan from Wyoming who had bought his boat in San Diego three weeks earlier. His hull number was up near 450, one of the very last F27s built. We buddy boated on Monday out to Fishermans Cove on Lopez, then parted ways as Origami anchored in Blind Bay on Shaw Is.
Don’t the steaks taste better when they’re cooked outside?
Across the channel lies Orcas Island, with a great little grocery store of quality foods. We got distracted and missed the opportunity for good looking deviled eggs (hold that thought).
Around the corner from the ferry landing, up the West Sound, is the home port for the F36 that kept us alive in our build shop on many long winter nights. On Farrier’s website you’ll see MaxQ built and owned by the Websters. Mr. Webster apparently didn’t use the boat very much (just 150 hours on the engine!!!) and it was finally sold to John on Orcas. He recently married Melanie, and this charming couple was at the very end of refitting the boat for extended world cruising. They welcomed us to their dock for a look around, and John was a great sport about handing over a couple of must-get-done projects to us. There’s something about this very small community of F36/39 builder-owners; complete strangers feel perfectly ok trusting each other with these boats. For me it’s easy – if this other person was nuts enough to spend thousands of hours building it or hundreds of thousands $ choosing/buying it, you know they are “invested” and caring. Thank you John and Melanie for allowing two sailors to descend on your boat moments before your voyage began, and we will see you out there.
Before we departed Orcas, John had us aboard while a professional navigation instruments caretaker inspected the boat’s primary manual compass. Cap’t Keith arrived by ferry, carrying this:
The compass was spot-on, but did need to go home with the Captain for some physical smoothing of its rotation axis point. Jim and I just stood in amazement at the old-world maritime craftsmanship like this one can find throughout these islands. And as a bonus, John let me pilot his boat a bit to feel the steering and diesel-inboard performance. Interesting to feel the differences from Ravenswing’s smaller outboard and direct-steering tiller. John’s boat will behave much better around the crowded ports.
Just as we grew fairly sick of the rainy weather, the sun appeared at Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. Chris and Dad, I trust these cabins will bring back good memories from 35 years (?) ago!
We skipped the $58 overnight docking fee and anchored out in the quiet bay instead, but did spend the $1.50 on the nicest “boat showers” possible. Each one is a private suite – such luxury for a marina!
RickWS insisted we hike to the island benefactor’s mausoleum, which is an outdoor structure in which the man’s immediately family has their ashes interred in the cement seats at their round table. Quite striking.
We also strolled through the 20 acre sculpture garden, on the hunt for one of Rick’s installed pieces, and were successful in our search. Nice job, sir!
Thursday morning we got passports ready and (motor)sailed to Canada. Destination was the Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club, for that weekend’s CRASH Regatta. We heard about it from F-boat forum friends, and were enticed by the free entry for American boats. Their club is a pretty old building in a beautiful setting.
With only a small guest dock, the SNSYC hosts this regatta at the nearby large muni marina of Port Sidney. Origami enjoyed three nights at the docks and a very well run regatta (with excellent food, we might add!). Our first night arrival was just as the office closed, so they let us stay next to the event tent, effectively making us party-crashers for a wedding rehearsal dinner. Once we offered up Origami’s big moveable stereo speakers to their iPods, we found ourselves meeting the bride’s family, telling stories and drinking their margaritas. Not a bad evening. And we re-learned how to tie a halyard hitch from the bartender / boat rigger, as we had done an emergency purchase of Origami’s new main halyard just in time for race weekend.
The best part, though, was being in BC meant we were just close enough to attract brother-in-law Stephane to drive over from Revelstoke for his first sailboat race. He knows Origami from some fantastic 16knot spinnaker sailing on Tahoe, so he was excited…
Unfortunately that photo smacks of LIGHT wind, and on Saturday we had periods of 0.0 on the knot meter. In our multihull division of four, (2 F27’s, an F24 and an F25) we managed an uninspired last place, which we conveniently attributed to excess cruising cargo weight and our heavy air sails. The spinnaker was back at home, and the other boats had big light kites (and of course excellent light wind boat handling). To Tim, Eric and Greg, nice job guys and we loved hanging out with you at the parties. For the Sunday morning races, we saw more light forecast, so Origami retired as the reality of our long trip back to Anacortes sunk in. It was a fantastic 1.5 days with my favorite bro-in-law, and vows to get together again soon. And maybe next time he won’t have time in a sailboat race to actually fall asleep on the nets. 0.0 knots, geez.
We navigated this trip with a printed guide Jim’s daughter gave him 10+ years ago, and Navionics on the i-pad. It was fun to watch Jim fall-in with the new technology, especially since this will be used on Ravenswing as he co-pilots next year :). The ferries are frequent and fast, our primary watch-out through the islands.
The final night at sea was spent squeezed onto the float at James Island state park, just across the Rosario Straight from Anacortes. What a great little stop if you’re going up that way. Nice little challenging hiking trails with great views.
To get to James Island, we passed by Orcas again, which led to another stop at that market. Deviled eggs for pre-dinner that night!
Skipping the Sunday races meant we could afford a Monday evening in Gig Harbor to visit F39 Alice’s Restaurant. Builders Howard and Alice say this was the first F39 launched (story is on Farrier’s site). The boat is great, as is the F9a he built first and now owned by their son. These people are fantastic. Another F39’r welcoming perfect strangers aboard to compare notes. And then we spent a long evening eating their home cooked meal and polishing off way too much good scotch. Howard and Alice, you have impeccable taste! And great kids. We foolishly declined their gracious offer to stay in the bayside cottage, and instead pushed the lama and goats out of the way to park Origami in their pasture, as a rolling condo.
This is the view framed by the windows of their waterfront home; the three most recent boats Howard has built. Not bad.
Alice’s Restaurant is well documented on the Farrier site, so I’ll just add two shots of his great little boarding ladder, so i can remember to build one this winter.
And for those thinking about electric propulsion for your f-boat, wow does this boat have a prime setup. They’ve had quite the project going for a couple of years. We very much look forward to getting Ravenswing north to buddy-boat with these fine folks. PS – Garrett’s hunter green paint job on the F9 makes that boat look fantastic. I’m sure you PNW sailors see this one flying around.
We waved goodbye to our new Gig Harbor friends, and hit I-5 southbound. It was another excellent Fboat adventure, and we offer continued thanks to Mr. Farrier for designing these craft that continue to impact our lives so positively. Makes us even more anxious to get a new mast stepped and point Ravenswing’s bows out the gate soon.