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Old 21-12-2017, 09:51   #1
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Location: Bainbridge Island, WA
Boat: Gulf 32-Aeolus
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Winter trip to Portland Island

I've always thought this category is way too inclusive, considering the PNW from Olympia to Alaska is one of the greatest cruising grounds in the world. And although so many of the awesome posts here are of long voyages on blue water, there are countless wonderful shorter trips here in the Salish Sea that lay at the feet of millions. And yet, these waters are largely empty in the winter.

We go year round, and love the winter for the beauty and solitude. There is nothing like being on Stuart Island or Jones Island, or Tumbo Island or for this trip, Portland Island, and having the entire island to yourself. It is a perfect get away.

You just have to be extra sure of your equipment and anchoring, and willing to be bundled up! My boys and I just got back from a four day trip up into BC and Portland Island and had a wonderful time. Both nights we had stiff winds right into our anchorage, and on the first night and morning we had a blizzard! Yet we were snug as bugs and on our return trip had dazzling sunlight and snow capped islands for views.

For a few photos and more you can see my blog, which I have never monetized: https://gulf32aeolus.blogspot.com/20...nd-joy-at.html

The marinas here in the PNW are crammed with boats all winter long, and yet we did not see a single, not a SINGLE, other personal boat on the water all the way from Friday Harbor to Portland Island and back. And we never sailed in winds above 15 knots.

It was perfect.
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Old 23-12-2017, 10:51   #2
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Re: Winter trip to Portland Island

Thanks for that post. We're planning a trip to the San Juan's after the holidays and wondered if we were nuts. If we are I'm glad to see we're not the only ones. Your pictures have inspired us to make it so!
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Old 23-12-2017, 11:29   #3
rbk
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Re: Winter trip to Portland Island

Last year we moved our boat from Washington up to the Sunshine Coast in January. It was blowing good when we left but soon turned to sunshine and light winds. Pulled into False Creek in Vancouver and took in the boat show. I highly recommend hitting up the show just call ahead to reserve a spot and you’ll be able to walk to Granville and tour the new boats, then hop a free water taxi over to the venues. We had a great time staying there when everyone else had to go home or back to their hotels we got to have dinner and drinks and walk ‘home’. When the wind came up it came up with a vengeance but we made excellent time and we had Madeira park all to ourselves. Highly recommend a good mid winter cruise. With all due respect that ‘winter’ cruise was much warmer than most early April outings in Alaska.
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Old 23-12-2017, 13:00   #4
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Re: Winter trip to Portland Island

I'm glad you found inspiration and that is the first hurdle. We have a million voices in our heads that say "not today" and "I'm too busy" and "I'm too inexperienced" and even worse are the quiet voices that don't quite articulate anything yet linger menacingly in our fears.

It's really all about comfort and safety. Comfort is just a question of warm clothes and cabin heaters, both for motoring, and at anchor. Safety is no different than a summer cruise, with anchoring technique.

I've had way worse storms in the Straits of Georgia and northern San Juans in summer than I ever had in winter. 45-50 knots SE and driving rain.

We like warmth as much as the next people, but our reality is that we have as much need and desire to go in winter as we do in summer, and the anchorages are empty. Like the post above, we can't complain too much about our weather here.

If you read some history on my Gulf 32 blog, you can find stories on countless winter trips all over the Salish Sea in all conditions. Most of the time, benign. Never once dangerous to any well found boat and crew. Always delightful!
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