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Old 20-08-2014, 19:29   #1
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First trip to the San Juans

We are settled in on our boat and have spent the last year completing day sails and overnighters and are planning our first extended sail in the San Juan Islands. We have looked into a variety of itineraries but are looking for some input from others who have sailed the area. We have only 2 specific places we want to hit, those are Sucia Island and Stuart Island other than that we are flexible. We will be sailing in from Port Townsend so coming in from the south. Any suggestions? We have tentatively planned a clockwise route and a counterclockwise route but don't know which would be better.
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Old 20-08-2014, 19:50   #2
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Re: First trip to the San Juans

Definitely stop in fishermans bay on Lopez, good anchorage or nice small marina run by island marine center. Great little bakery in the village. Also around the other side of the island there are good anchorages at Spencer Spit and Mud Bay. If you have bicycles, Lopez and Shaw island are great cycling. No traffic, excellent roads. Also at Shaw Island anchor in Blind Bay. Or you can take the ferry from Orcas or,Friday Harbor, RT to cycle the other islands on day trips for no charge. Most any cove or bay has good anchorage and interesting beach combing if you have a dinghy of some sort to get ashore.


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Old 20-08-2014, 21:07   #3
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Re: First trip to the San Juans

I would add Roche Harbor and Rosario Resort for a treat. Deer Harbor might be worthwhile.

Matia Island has mooring buoys in Rolfe Cove, but I found a lot current going through there.
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Old 20-08-2014, 22:08   #4
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Re: First trip to the San Juans

There was a fire at the marina in Deer Harbor last year. When I was there in April, there were no showers or bathroom facilities at the dock. Construction was underway on the new building, I have no idea what progress has been made.
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Old 20-08-2014, 22:28   #5
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Re: First trip to the San Juans

How long a trip? Or did I miss that?
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Old 20-08-2014, 22:48   #6
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Re: First trip to the San Juans

What's the name of the private island just north of Roche Harbor that has all the African antelope? It's a great sail sail along the beach looking at the various herds of Emu and antelope!

With day trips one could easily spend two or three weeks seeing everything, not to mention going across the border to Vancouver island and Victoria...
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Old 20-08-2014, 23:20   #7
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Re: First trip to the San Juans

Glenn-you mean Speiden Island, north of Roche. It is a private island owned by James Jannard, the founder of Oakley, the sunglasses. It is now a private wildlife preserve and you cannot land there. You can, however, sail along the coast and it can be a spectacular little trip. As far as I know, there are no antelope/emus, but there are Asian and European deer and a European relative of our bghorn sheep. In the 70's it was a hunting preserve, but there were worried about bullets traveling to San Juan island so the preserve shut down. It is totally uninhabited now.
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Old 20-08-2014, 23:54   #8
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Re: First trip to the San Juans

Interesting about the animals. I picked up local stories about the various animal species on Speiden from another boater a gew years ago, had heard rhere were a few african herd animals, so just assume Emu and orher antelope. Certainly is a great afternoon sail to drift along the beach there...
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Old 21-08-2014, 02:34   #9
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Re: First trip to the San Juans

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Originally Posted by Glenn.Brooks View Post
Interesting about the animals. I picked up local stories about the various animal species on Speiden from another boater a gew years ago, had heard rhere were a few african herd animals, so just assume Emu and orher antelope. Certainly is a great afternoon sail to drift along the beach there...
Dunno about that place, but 'round here Emu ain't antelope! They be's BIRDS! Big birds. The Aussie equivalent of Ostrich.

One tried to rape me (seriously) on Middle Percy Island some years ago. Ann thought it was funny and took photos. I was worried about my virtue and ran around in circles. I guess I'm glad it wasn't an Antelope...

Cheers,

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Old 21-08-2014, 07:49   #10
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Re: First trip to the San Juans

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There was a fire at the marina in Deer Harbor last year. When I was there in April, there were no showers or bathroom facilities at the dock. Construction was underway on the new building, I have no idea what progress has been made.


We were there in June and the facilities are all up and running again. Very nice and clean, since they're new .. Also, probably the best place in the islands for Ice Cream, although there's also an awesome place for Gelato in East Sound.

If you like visiting the smaller islands, one of our favorites is James Island, on the west side of Rosario Strait. There are a few mooring buoys on the east side of the island, which are fine for stopping for a hike around the island, but they're not the best to spend the night on as you're very exposed to ferry wakes (and any other large ship wake using Rosario Strait). There's a small dock on the west side that's the best place to tie up.

I'll definitely +1 the suggestion for Roche Harbor. Take a walk out to see the mausoleum and the art park.

I don't think clockwise or counterclockwise really matters, the determining factor will probably be the tidal currents. Since you live here, I'm sure you're already aware of how swift they can be.. 2-3+ knot currents between the islands are not uncommon, and can definitely be a real bummer if you're fighting them.

I don't know if you want to go to Canada or not, but we really loved staying in the inner harbor at Victoria.

How long are you planning your trip to be?
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Old 21-08-2014, 09:54   #11
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Re: First trip to the San Juans

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Dunno about that place, but 'round here Emu ain't antelope! They be's BIRDS! Big birds. The Aussie equivalent of Ostrich.

One tried to rape me (seriously) on Middle Percy Island some years ago. Ann thought it was funny and took photos. I was worried about my virtue and ran around in circles. I guess I'm glad it wasn't an Antelope...

Cheers,

Jim
Ahaha, what was I thinking? Oryx, Eland, and Kudu came to mind but out came Emu. Oh well, I think I will be quite now...
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Old 21-08-2014, 10:20   #12
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Re: First trip to the San Juans

Just remember your tide and current tables and "go with the flow" whenever possible. That will make life easier.
Spieden island was originally populated with game as a private hunting preserve. I dint know there was much game left on it, but hope so!
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Old 21-08-2014, 12:00   #13
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Re: First trip to the San Juans

On Sucia I really like Ewing Cove on the north east side of the island. There are only four buoys there and not much room to anchor but I would check there to see if anything is available when you arrive, it's a really amazing spot.

Also, Prevost Harbor on Stewart seems to be a little less crowded than Reid. There's a short trail between the two so you can check out both.

I've only sailed by but Spencer Spit looks like a great place to stop. Fishermans Bay looks cool but I've never been in the area when the depth would work for me.

I would definitely make a stop at Rosario Resort. I believe you can use their pool if you are in the marina (maybe a fee) but it's worth it. You'll probably need a reservation to get in the marina.

Roche and Friday Harbors are the best places for provisioning if you need to but both are busy so if you're trying to 'get away' other options are probably better.

Like others have mentioned, check your tides and currents as well as the weather, they can make a huge difference in your travel time and safety. The wind/current pattern is really important crossing the strait (and that includes the south end of Rosario Strait) so make sure you cross when the weather is right. Cattle Pass also has a lot of current if you enter the San Juans there you need to time it reasonably well.

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Old 21-08-2014, 12:20   #14
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Re: First trip to the San Juans

Good suggestions above. I'll add a couple:

Jones Island, north bay. Mooring balls and good anchorage

Eagle Harbor on Cypress Island. Great moorage, decently protected, and miles of cool hiking trails

Vendovi island. This is a little known gem. It's owned by the Nature Concervancy or some such thing. There's a small dock in a little harbor. No overnighting there, but cool trails and history.

Regarding Rosario, the marina takes reservations but fills up fast. It's a little tough to dock gracefully there as the marina is tight and somewhat exposed. Kinda fun entertainment just watching all the charter newbies atempt it. There are also mooring balls and decent anchorage, and for a reasonable fee you can take advantage of the Rosario amenities.

Regarding Fishermans Bay on Lopez, REAL tough channel for a deep keel to get in and out of. Follow the buoys/charts religiously and don't do it at low tide.

I've done several week long trips through the San Juans, and by far the funnest are the trips with no itinerary or set schedule. We wake up in some perfect cove, decide how long we want to sail that day and wheter we want a marina or anchoring somewhere remote, consult the tide/current tables (important) to see what's possible, and go for it. The cool thing about the San Juans is everything is in day-sail proximity and there's so much variety that you can do such an unplanned trip.

Have fun! I'll be out there for a few days on Labor day weekend.
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Old 21-08-2014, 12:25   #15
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Re: First trip to the San Juans

We always enjoyed Spencer Spit on Lopez, and both sides of Stuart Is.
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