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Old 20-08-2010, 11:57   #16
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Just to offer some contrast, my single best day of sailing--ever--was last winter, solo, from Anacortes to Smith Island and back. Had 15 knots of beam wind once out of Quemes Channel. Tide was with me outbound, and then same time we both turned, and thus I had the current with me inbound too, i.e., no real waves all day. Sunny with no hint of clouds, and warm. Will burn in my memory forever.

Meaning: Timing is everything. Timing, timing, timing.
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Old 20-08-2010, 14:20   #17
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Tough call. Probably the worst part of your choice was to leave at night. You have a bit of a psychological advantage in daylight. I probably would have turned around but it's hard to say without being there. "That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger" someone once said.
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Old 20-08-2010, 14:30   #18
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The East entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca is in my back yard, so I can speak from experience on how conditions develop there.

We've crossed the Straits more times than I can count.

If you have a choice, try to time your trip when there is NOT a big tide change.

Standing waves can be horrible even without a lot of wind if the tidal heights are big.

The best time to hit Point Wilson is somewhat after slack tide.

Give the standing waves time to settle.

Most of our crossings have been with wind going all the way from a reef and even double reefed to cruising spinnaker on the same crossing.

Coming back from Barkley Sound and having traversed the length of the Straits in the middle of the night, I'd never do it again. There were poorly or unlit Indian fishing nets everywhere!
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Old 20-08-2010, 15:46   #19
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Coming back from Barkley Sound and having traversed the length of the Straits in the middle of the night, I'd never do it again. There were poorly or unlit Indian fishing nets everywhere!
Thank you. This is something I would have never thought about. Very valuable information.
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Old 20-08-2010, 15:55   #20
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One thing to do is to get the wind strength at Smith Island. (Sailflow.com if you have internet on your phone or laptop.) If it is 15 or over it will be very rough on the Straits. Actually too rough for me. Also the ebb off Point Wilson is not to be trifled with. If the ebb is strong (spring tide) then best bet is to go directly over to Whidbey, then east of Partridge and just west of Smith. The Straits remind me of climbing Mt. Rainier. Sometimes it is walk in the park--other times it is like the summit of Everest! In the conditions you describe I would probably chicken out and take the long way round through Saratoga, Swinomish, Anacortes, Guemes and Thatcher Pass. A bit longer, but lots less thrashing about.
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Old 20-08-2010, 16:09   #21
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Thank you very much for the encouragement and sound advice. I have looked at the "Long way" on the chart, but thought is was too shallow for my 6 foot draft. Or the bridges too low for my 55 foot mast...Hmmm.
Another part of the puzzle came together for me today- from my tidal charts book:
"Ebb and flow of a tidal river, esp away from the coast, does not correlate with high and low tides in a given area. The reversal of the tidal river may be hours behind the low tide."
You got that right!!!
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Old 20-08-2010, 17:54   #22
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Newt,
The best example of totally weird current is South of Cattle Pass.
When we sail to the SJ's in moderate conditions, we go way West with the ebb, then go North up Haro. Returning, reverse the above after the start of a flood.

Give the S.W. side of San Juan a huge wide berth. There's always a wind hole there.

If it's knarly, we sail behind Smith and duck into Hunter Bay in S.E. Lopez.
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Old 20-08-2010, 19:16   #23
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Thank you very much for the encouragement and sound advice. I have looked at the "Long way" on the chart, but thought is was too shallow for my 6 foot draft. Or the bridges too low for my 55 foot mast...Hmmm.
Another part of the puzzle came together for me today- from my tidal charts book:
"Ebb and flow of a tidal river, esp away from the coast, does not correlate with high and low tides in a given area. The reversal of the tidal river may be hours behind the low tide."
You got that right!!!
Newt... your mast height is no problem for Swinomish...Im 55 as well...your 6 foot draft could be an issue on a minus tide on the south end of the channel entering Skagit bay though....there is about 100 yards of shoaling at the mouth.
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Old 20-08-2010, 20:09   #24
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I know that trip well Newt. It can get dicey and decidedly bouncy. Been there, done that...
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Old 20-08-2010, 21:27   #25
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Makes sense Senor M, I am going back this Monday. Talk to you after the return trip! So if you timed it with a high tide Still- the backwater route would be good? How do you time your tides on the canal route? And what about Deception pass. Does anyone do that at slack tide?
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Old 20-08-2010, 21:33   #26
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How do you time your tides on the canal route?
To plan ahead.

http://www.mobilegeographics.com:81/locations/6290.html
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Old 20-08-2010, 21:37   #27
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Makes sense Senor M, I am going back this Monday. Talk to you after the return trip! So if you timed it with a high tide Still- the backwater route would be good? How do you time your tides on the canal route?
They seem to lag by up to 30 to 40 min..from Anacortes tides. ( At LaConner)

The shifts are weird some times comming from both directions at once if your center span.

La Conner being closer to the south will get a north flow on a flood and a south flow on a ebb...2 to 4 hours before the high or low depending on the tide....further toward Anacortes its reversed.
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Old 20-08-2010, 21:40   #28
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You've already found part of the problem. High tide or low tide does NOT equate to slack current. You MUST have current tables for this area! Also, off Port Townsend the change in current direction is noticably different in timing (by up to several hours) and speed depending on which side of Admiralty Inlet you come in (i.e. Port Townsend side or Whidbey side)

Night makes everything worse.

The inside route is far preferable when the weather is honking out in the Strait.

Bridge heights, currents, weather reports for the whole trip are essential and minimum things to know and understand for cruising these parts. Get the guide books, tables, coast pilot for whatever area you plan to operate in.

I'm speaking (writing) fairly adamantly here. Not so much to chastise but to emphasize that having this readily available information at hand and learning how to use it will save you not only from danger but, as you have learned, from a lot of discomfort.

Ultimately, this is true no matter where anyone sails but here, it's decidedly more important.
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Old 20-08-2010, 22:22   #29
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I just want to add Newt...your a better sailor/boater then I am...I see no need to make way at night around here. There are to many nice anchorages and besides....my BBQ and fore arm mussels need exercised as well...

FWIW...THe channel is no fun in the dark either...the cans arnt lit.....BTDT
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Old 21-08-2010, 12:03   #30
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If you don't have em Washburne tables are very helpful. Updates every year.

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