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Old 18-05-2010, 00:11   #1
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Seattle to San Juan Islands

Hi folks. I was hoping someone could provide a bit of guidance on time it will take to sail (or perhaps more likely, motor) from Seattle to the San Juan islands. Following are the pertinent details:

Relevant trip knowledge: Sailed the San Juans twice before on charter monos. Have sailed my cat from Seattle to Port Townsend over a leisurely two days and sailed from Port Townsend back to Seattle in a single day.
Boat: 1996 Gemini 105M
Home Port: Elliott Bay Marina
Timing: Depart 5/27/10. Return date is flexible.
Route: Considering overnight 1st night @ Cornet Bay near Deception Pass, so we can easily catch slack tide the next morning. We have a dinghy, so shore access won't be a problem
Destination next day: Likely, we'll aim for an island w/ good scenery and decent room to swing, as it'll be crowded during the holidays. Thinking Stuart might be a good start. Jones is a decent alternative.

Thanks in advance for sharing any thoughts.

Rob
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Old 18-05-2010, 01:30   #2
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We usually estimate 11 - 12 hours from Seattle to Roche Harbor at a 6 kt average over water (when motoring or sailing relatively direct routes). Maybe a little more or less depending on tides, currents and weather in the Straits, so your results may vary. We've begun doing it in one jump to extend our weekend cruising grounds.

As another yardstick we estimate Seattle to PT as 5 hours at 5 kts. Again YRMV.
Enjoy your trip.

NS
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Old 18-05-2010, 01:44   #3
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That's a pretty long haul to Cornet Bay. Make sure you pay attention to tidal currents . I see the west point current ebbs until 11:25 so if you leave at 8:30 you have 3hrs to get to Posession Sound and Saratoga passage where you can catch the flood north all the way to somewhere around Skagit bay where the flood north becomes opposed by the flood in Deception pass going south. The tide switches to ebb at 4:30 in deception so if you are working your way down Skagit at that time it will then turn in your favor again ebbing north. Alternatively you could stay in oak harbor for the night and catch the ebb in the morning as the slack at deception is at 10:12. You will be going on an ebb to flood slack So when you get threw you will be going into a flood current heading north up Rosario. I think I got it right . It always poses an interesting navigational puzzle, the tides could not be lined up better for that run
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Old 18-05-2010, 08:08   #4
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What is your typical, more direct route? Do you head straight up, or go through Possession Sound? Thanks in advance for your help. My prior trip to Port Townsend was done at a leisurely pace (i.e.: we sailed, without worrying about a particular destination). This time, I really want to get up to the San Juans in a day, if possible, but we'll find a mid-way anchorage if the trip isn't realistic. 12 hours sounds manageable though, particularly with a pay-off of one more day in the islands.

As for the tides, I agree, I need to study them closely. Maggie-K, Oak Harbor may be a good idea if 1 day up turns out to be more than we can manage and we do the Possession Sound route. I'll look into further-- thanks.

Rob
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Old 18-05-2010, 10:17   #5
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We're located a few miles North of Bush Point and typically make it to Lopez in about 5 hours.
If you're going up Admiralty, try Watmough Bay. If you had a mono, it might be a little rolly at times but with a multi you're in good shape. It's also never crowded. Anchor all the way in just off the beach in 15' and you'll wonder why it's not crowded.
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Old 18-05-2010, 11:01   #6
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When I bought Beth in Seattle I took the outgoing tide past Port Townsend, then the incoming tide through the San Juans to Bellingham. Made it with 2 hours of daylight to spare. Had to motor a bit off Whitby, but otherwise used the current and the wind.
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Old 18-05-2010, 12:48   #7
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The main thing is try to go with the tides and if you have to go against the tide stick close to shore unless it's rounding an island. The south end of Whidbey and inlet by Port Townsend have the worse currents getting out of the lower Sound and into the Strait of Juan De Fuca.

Up in the San Juans the San Juan Channel and Spieder Channel by Roche Harbor also have some fast moving currents..............._/)
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Old 18-05-2010, 20:42   #8
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Rob , I usually take the route with the most favorable winds and current . The tides just line up so nice for the Possession route why not do it just because you can and just to see it.
Get a copy of the current atlas from starpath
Tidal Currents of Puget Sound (includes Current Charts and Tide Prints)
And the Canadian one as well which covers Roserio and the San Juans
Canadian Current Atlas
I think Fisheries carries them
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Old 18-05-2010, 21:02   #9
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It doesn't matter if there's wind or not, just don't hit the intersection between Pt. Townsend and the Straits at max huge ebb. It's knarly almost to Smith Island under those conditions.

I once helped a friend deliver his boat to Anacortes. I couldn't convince him to go earlier or later. We found ourselves motorsailing on a broad reach in light wind with 10' steep short seas.

My friend puked his way into semi consciousness, took a wave trying to pee over the side, wouldn't change clothes because it wasn't macho, and finally got cold enough that he went below to sleep.

I finished the delivery. The wind never exceeded ten knots, and the temp was in the mid '50's.

A few hours one way or the other would have made a huge difference in water conditions.
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Old 18-05-2010, 21:23   #10
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Try that same trip in 40 knots of breeze from Roche to PT against a strong ebb. Not for the faint of heart... Every time I've ever sailed to PT I ran into a storm or gale.
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Old 18-05-2010, 21:58   #11
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If you leave early on the ebb and the wind is from the south you can do it in 6 to 8 hours. If the wind is northerly be prepared to stop short. If you choose to use the straits make sure you are aware of the forecast wind and sea state for later in the day. Anything more than 15kts reported at Smith Island warrants caution and perhaps a trip up the east side of Whidby. Enjoy-- I have to work.
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Old 19-05-2010, 07:51   #12
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10-12 hours, with good possibilities to cut that or add a lot depending on wind, wave, and current (and your boat is probably faster than mine.)

But remember, this is a pleasure trip. Have a few options in mind in case things aren't working quite as you'd prefer. The canal into PT Bay is a way to add some time to your trip with a side venture if the wind is on the nose with a favourable current (so steep and uncomfortable waves.) If it's blowing a strong gale in the JdF and not expected to drop for a week, see how close you can get to Seabeck Pizza, or test your motoring up the east of Whidbey and through that canal. Don't get hung up on a single destination/goal.
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Old 19-05-2010, 08:17   #13
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My vote would be for the Saratoga Passage route- although Amgine is right you will be motoring at least part of the way, especially in the morning and between Utsalady Bay and Deception Pass. With so many places to stop you can just go as far as you want, anchor out for the night, and plan a civil departure the next morning based on slack through Deception Pass. And if you've never gone through Deception Pass- it is a "must-do"!
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Old 19-05-2010, 08:36   #14
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Thanks for all the advice. Given tides, the Possession Sound/Saratoga Passage route seems to make the most sense. I'm thinking Oak Harbor might be a good stopping point day one, unless we make good time. If that's the case, then we'll definitely stay closer to Deception Pass, probably around Cornet Bay, as it appears to be the most protected anchorage nearly and a short hop to the Pass when tides slack.

Does anyone have any other recommendations for possible overnight location between Oak Harbor and Cornet Bay? So far, we've only made it up to Everett, Hat and Gedny on the "inside route".

Rob
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Old 19-05-2010, 09:20   #15
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The problem with Saratoga pass is the wind comes straight down thru there if from the north and it tends to get pretty choppy, especially in the afternoons. A lot of tacking involved if heading into the wind. If the wind is out of the south it's a smooth ride but not likely.
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