Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March Sailing

After four weeks at home where we skied, hiked muddy trails with friends, and attended classes and field trips, we headed back out to Seattle and Marinero. We were happy to find her in a not-to-soggy state under her boat cover. While Jason spent the week working in the office, the boys and I hit our favorite parks, the aquarium, the new Ferris wheel, Pike Street with all of its treats, and got to spend time hanging out in Ballard. We met a family across the dock who invited us to sail to Blake Island with them, we accepted, and on a not-rainy Friday afternoon we set out together. I'm not sure if I have mentioned this, but Marinero is a fairly fast boat and, with feelings of much guilt, we left them far behind. We enjoy anchoring or mooring so we attempted to grab a mooring ball on the west side of the island. It didn't work out so well for us and, long story short, after stretching as far as I could and holding on as long as I could, I lost the boat hook along with the mooring ball. Oh well. After scratching our heads, I realized that we could just back up to the mooring ball and I could snag it off of the swim step. Success. Who needs a boat hook anyway? After a quick round of crackers and cheese we kayaked into shore on Blackberry and, our new kayak, Banana. We hiked the mile across the island to meet up with our new friends tied to the docks.

The following morning brought waves and wind making my morning kayak ride to shore with Pika much more exciting than either of us would have liked. I found enjoyment surfing the waves into shore but took a quick disliking to them when they beat against me as I tried to shove off from shore with a chihuahua tucked under my arm. After much struggle I managed to escape the shoreline as the waves and current pushed me further and further from the boat. Paddling from the back seat of Blackberry made it impossible for me to bring the weightless bow around to paddle into the waves and toward the sailboat so I paddled backwards for awhile as we got pounded and splashed. I was eventually able to swing the bow around and paddle towards Marinero. I was fairly tired and extremely wet (ditto for chihuahua) but finally arrived at our swim step which I couldn't grab due to the large waves and swift current that pulled me back when I took a hand off the paddle. After much yelling for an assist, Jason emerged from the belly of Marinero and grabbed my bow. Phew! Talk about a great, full-body workout! Isaac poked his head out to catch a glimpse of his dripping mom and soaked Pika standing on the bobbing swim step. Anyone up for a sail?

Our destination for the day was Gig Harbor which required us to head down the fairly narrow Colvos Passage. It is wide enough to comfortably sail down but requires a lot of tacking especially since we were heading south down it against a south wind and an always-north flowing current. As we entered the passage, we found ourselves in the middle of a sailboat race. We waited awhile before raising sail in hopes that maybe the race would pass us by or turn around. No such luck. When we did raise sail in the steady 20 knots of wind, we found that we kept up pretty well with the race boats. The conditions at the beginning of the day were pretty predictable and I was able to contain any moments of panic I had as we heeled this way and that, tacking back and forth to avoid other boats and the shore. But as the day wore on we passed through squall after squall with 30 knot winds hitting us from unexpected directions and throwing us on our side. We would brace ourselves as we watched the boats ahead of us get flattened and then watch the wind tear across the water to hit us next as the currents swirled unpredictably below. Now I can only handle watching the kayaks try to float off of our boat so many times before panic sets in and I succumb to a freak-out session. We heaved to (mostly on purpose) so I could regain my composure the best I could before turning back into the wind, this time with a much looser main sail to reduce our heeling. I lasted a bit longer and at long last, we finally dropped sail as our destination came into view. Under motor, we squeezed through a 200-yard-wide passage with just two feet of water under our keel into Gig Harbor. Once we were safely tied up to the dock, a crew member from one of the fastest race boats (a J160) came over and joked that he wanted to add kayaks to his race boat and complimented us on our speed. He was thoroughly impressed with Marinero and wanted one of his own. Too bad she is one-of-a-kind. After a more-exciting-than-I-had-hoped-for day, starved, jittery, and extremely-full-body tired, we beelined to a restaurant for dinner.

Click here for photos.


  1. Sounds like an exciting trip.
    Picture link did not work for me : (

  2. Picture link now working for me. Yea!