Posted by: yachtanomaly | August 22, 2016

August 21st- A Wild Ride Home

Partly cloudy, Windy, nasty wind shifts up to 45 knots

The boat was rocking early on and I was ready to blame inconsiderate neighbors until Jon said an East wind was up considerably. Further inspection revealed that many of the motor yachts were rolling from gunnel* to gunnel. Many had moved to the more sheltered side of the harbour. It turned into our roughest anchorage of the trip.

Of course, wind is welcomed by a true sailor like Jon. He had the sails up at anchor, 2 reefs in, and we were sailing as soon as the anchor was stowed. Weighing anchor, it was my job to alternate between idle and forward which I really dread, not being able to tell which “clicks” put us in which gear, but we got away safely.

Then the gusts started to hit.

The wind gusts were incredibly strong. They were also from all different directions, not entirely surprising inside an anchorage with cliffs on all sides, but the wide variation continued as we crossed the open area between Sucia and Orcas Island. Also, contrary to the forecast, we were running with the tide but against the wind which resulted in bashing waves that threw spray over the dodger.

One second we were sailing slightly healed, the next I was hanging on standing on the opposite bench and staring down at the water. The wind whipped the foam up into the air and carried it across the water in moving walls. The VHF radio crackled with calls from distressed kayakers in the water. A helicopter circled just off Sucia. It was really scary for awhile.

I kept yelling that we had too much sail and Jon finally conceded as we ran for cover and dropped the mainsail in the lee of Orcas. There were already two distressed sailboats there- one with a capsized dinghy, another with a ripped jib tangled and flapping. We motored briefly but a HIGH ENGINE TEMPERATURE warning sounded almost right away. He had to shut the engine down, fortunately still having the mizzen to maneuver with.

Thankfully, the engine problem was just due to a stuck exhaust flapper blocking the cooling water, so Jon was able to get that working again. After a few more checks, we continued on motor sailing with the mizzen to steady us. But the experience gave us new respect for the dreaded “wind against tide” conditions. We could not put the mainsail up again because Jon has not solved the 3rd reef arrangement.

Later approaching Guimes Island, we were able to raise the double reefed main again and had a nice sail back to Cap Sante in Anacortes. I even took the helm for a short time. We just had a few uneasy moments as a sailboat had dragged and partially blocked the narrow channel in. Too windy to rig outside, it was difficult to maneuver with several other boats in the narrow marina, but finally we got the lines and fenders on and were safely docked by 2:20PM.

The last leg of our circumnavigation of Vancouver Island is complete.
*1. gunnel – wale at the top of the side of boat; topmost planking of a wooden vessel.

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