M/V Cloud Nine

M/V Cloud Nine
A 1973 North Sea 38' pilothouse Trawler, made in Osaka, Japan by Kita Trading Co. Ltd.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

To Bellingham and the San Juans

Up the Swinomish Channel, north towards Anacortes, is a long, slow trip.  This is a "no wake" zone, and the officials in this area mean no wake.  So at about 4 knots, we made the slow trip north up the channel, following a fishing vessel.  It's approximately an hour-and-a-half trip, again in a very narrow channel, and great attention must be paid to stay in the center of the channel, unless meeting a vessel coming the other direction.  Here's a photo nearing the north end of the channel, going under Highway 20 bridge and approaching the floating railroad bridge. 
 This bridge activates each day at 4:00 p.m. to allow a train across, but closes the channel to boat traffic, so boats must be past before this time or a long wait is in store.

Clearing the last buoy out of the channel, we headed north up to Bellingham.  After tying up at the guest dock in Bellingham, we showered and met up with friends, Ed & Lois, for dinner at Anthony's.  We did laundry and worked on the boat the next day, having dinner again with our friends.  Ed & Lois were the highlights of our Bellingham visit.  We enjoy their company so much and it was great to see them.  

We don't have much to say about the marina at Bellingham.  They don't seem that accommodating for guests.  They place their guest boats at the outer part of the marina that gets the most wave action from wind and boats going in and out of the marina.  There are pay stations at different gates, but no information about what is available in the immediate area.  But, on the other hand, our moorage was only $30/night and so you can't really complain.  We just thought we'd eventually see someone from the Marina Office, but not to be.  We hear from other boaters that each marina handles guests differently, and so when you do come across one that is gracious and welcoming with a bag of information as to what's in the area, and maybe even discount coupons, they tell us that is a marina you'll be happy you chose.  We had a wonderful experience at Edmonds last fall, greeted with a bag of goodies and discount coupons.  We'll have to see as we get more experience which we prefer.  

After two nights in Bellingham being blown around at the dock, we awakened to calmness and sunshine and headed for the San Juan Islands.  Before leaving Bellingham Bay, we were met with one of the Alaska State Ferries that runs between Bellingham and Alaska and can be taken by anyone, either as a walk-on, or with a car.  

We headed north between the mainland and Lummi Island.  A small ferry was running between the island and the mainland taking folks into work.  A lot of lovely homes lined the shore of Lummi Island.  As we turned westward toward the San Juan Islands of Matia and Sucia, we turned to see Mount Baker and the Cascades behind us.

Across the shipping lanes, watching a tug pulling a barge far behind him northward, we came across the small island east of Matia Island.  Our plan was to go to the west side of Sucia Island (west of Matia) where there were a couple of different bays to anchor in, but we explored the east side of the island first and entered Echo Bay.

Echo Bay had numerous empty anchoring buoys and was quite beautiful, but the kicker was when we turned eastward and looked at the view of Mount Baker and the Cascades from this Bay.  It was breathtaking.  So, we attempted our first mooring to a buoy.  We missed the first pass, but got it at the second pass.  We had thought that you had to catch the ring on top of the buoy at the water level, so tried to catch the ring from the swim step, but later in the evening had a good laugh when we watched a sailboat lift the ring upwards while the people slipped their line through the ring from midships!  What you can learn from folks by watching!!!  We put the dinghy in the water, took photos of Cloud Nine, and went to register for the night.  

Private Island off Sucia Island with house in trees!
This was our first use of the Washington State Marine Park system.  It was amazing to realize this entire island was a State Park, specifically for boaters.  Pit toilets, camp sites, picnic tables, and hiking trails throughout the island, along with the mooring buoys, linear mooring lines, and at another part of the island, a floating dock.  You can certainly see the benefit of tax dollars here in this beautiful area.  Our fee to use the buoy was $12/night, although we can get a yearly pass for about $160 for our boat.  (You can see a linear mooring line at the right side of photo.)   By nightfall, we counted 18 boats in Echo Bay, most of them sailboats.  We rocked quite a bit at this anchorage due to the wakes from large ships in the north/south shipping lanes.  We would choose to anchor elsewhere next time.

We awoke to rain and left Sucia Island heading south for Deer Harbor on the southwest part of Orcas Island.  With a storm coming, we wanted to head for shelter for a couple of days.

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