August in the San Juan Islands brings warm weather, light winds and opportunity for enjoying the best of boat types. Our style is a North Pacific 39 pilot house trawler. Speeds to 9.5 knots but cruise at 8 allows needing just an hour or two to reach most destinations and up to 4 hours for longer trips. Many enjoy high speed cruisers that run in the teens and near 20kts. But they can leave huge wakes and cause problems for shorelines and other boaters.
Anchorages are protected and beautiful in the San Juan’s. Plenty of room for lots of boats of every description. The beautiful area compliments some lovely boats as well.
In these COVID19 days people are friendly and mutually respectful wearing masks when gathered on trails or small stores for supplies.
Shaw Island General Store has a long history and is the center of traffic on and off the island with a Washington state ferry terminal adjacent to the store.
Local Dungeness crab is a delicacy alone or added to any meal. Crab is readily caught with traps and requires little cleaning before being prepared for dining.
Choosing the right anchorage is critical to a good night’s rest when winds in the nearby Strait of Juan de Fuca can reach 30 knots overnight usually WSW but can become southerly and spread among the islands. Steep chop spaced close together can challenge any boat design at rest or underway.
Having boated in the Pacific Northwest for over 30 years on 4 boats we owned and others we chartered has lead to an appreciation for many boat types and concerns about others.
Early mornings frequently are accompanied by ribbons of fog. As the sun rises it burns off and is replaced by warm sun and modest breezes.
The forecast is for rain and wind late tonight. So boats have gathered in Parks Bay to gain protection from expected strong Southerly and South westerly winds. The bay is open to the North but tall trees and rising hillside provide protection.
The south end of the bay shallows slowly after much of the bay is 45 feet deep. At the head of the bay a UW Research dock is graced by an older trawler that likely transports staff to and from nearby Friday Harbor where a large research facility is installed.
The head of the bay shallows to a more useful 20 to 25ft for anchoring.
High thin clouds and a steeply dropping barometer portends change is coming. In 72 hours the calm should return.
Sunset with gathering clouds was followed by a wonderful peaceful night with no wind in the bay despite a strong WSW wind blowing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca just a few miles south.
Early morning brought steady cool rain that ended just before departure at 9 AM for Island Marine Center in Fishermen’s Bay just 7 Nmi to the SE.
Our trip to Fisherman’s Bay on Lopez Island with a squall arriving was complicated by shoal draft of barely 5 ft at low tide in the serpentine entrance channel to the bay. Clearly we needed to plan for tide and wind conditions when choosing a departure time. We consulted our subscription to PredictWind weather service to note that winds would be lighter before 10 AM and that tides provided by Navionics charts confirmed a 10 AM arrival would be safest to navigate the entrance channel.
Planning was important because those 7 miles cross San Juan channel and are open to the wind from the adjacent Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Our planning proved accurate as winds were modest and depth in the approach channel was excellent. Shortly after our arrival winds increased dramatically and have been blowing well over 20 and gusting 28.
Mostly clear blue skies accompanied the wind all day
Friday promises calm winds and a chance to explore nearby anchorages.