I started trailer sailing up there in the 70s on a Windrose 18 (5 seasons), then did decades more on a Catalina
25. I almost always was lifted in at Cap Sante in Anacortes. Trailer launching is tough on trailers in the salt
. I won't tell you where to go, but can make a few suggestions. In a PaceShip 23, I'd likely NOT do a circum of the whole island group. You might luck out and get great weather
, but the Strait of Juan de Fuca can get a bit nasty for a smaller boat, and Cattle Pass is no fun unless you are REALLY careful about currents. It can get pretty lumpy, though I've done it.... Any whale looking should be done along the W side of San Juan Island, or N. to Turn Point on Stuart. Might get lucky, but they like this area. I'd go out from Mosquito Pass, down to Lime Kiln Point, or further if weather
is good, then back, not around through Cattle Pass.
I totally second the copy of the Washbourne's current
guide. It can really be your friend in planning. You DON'T want to fight current
much at all. I've seen current running faster than your boat can power, so watch out and go with it, or avoid the strongest tidal action altogether. I like Friday Harbor for 'civilization' and getting supplies, but personally hate Roche Harbor because it seems to be too popular with the billionaire set who likes it to show off the helicopters on the landing pads of their mega yachts! I might buy supplies for fuel
there, but then motor
down Mosquito pass to Garrison Bay. It's a 'hurricane hole' with great anchorage. Speaking of anchoring
, spend some dollars and get a good Bruce, or plow type anchor and plenty of chain and rode
. A Danforth type anchor is often nearly useless up there in eel grass and weeds. You'll sleep a whole lot better with a Bruce, or similar. I would NOT anchor in Rolf Cove on Matia, no matter what, nor near Clark Island, but both are great destinations away from too many folks, usually, but DON'T anchor at either place, imho... Take a bouy or dock
at Rolf, if you can get it. Anchoring
at Sucia is usually fine. I would not miss it. I also like Stuart Island, just North of Roche Harbor on San Juan. Both Reid Harbor and Prevost Harbor have bouys, docks, floats, and have good holding, in my experience. Great walks out to the lighthouse at Turn Point.
You may be amazed at just how SMALL the area is, when you get there. I have motored back to Anacortes from Stuart Island in a longish day, so just about anything is in reach. I say 'motored' because you'll likely do more of that than sailing, depending on your luck and time of year. A good auxiliary and plenty of fuel
are MUSTS, imho, though I always sail when I can......
I have been sailing a 30' Yankee for 8 or 9 years now, and my cruising up there has been more limited since I must sail up the WA coast to get there in the 30. I've done it numerous times (racing up in the Oregon Offshore
, staying for Swiftsure Race
out of Victoria, B.C.) then cruising up there, but the trailerable sure had its advantages! I've just downsized to a 26' Albin sailboat with diesel
aux. and a double axle trailer. Hope to get up there again this spring from the Portland
, OR. area.....
Enjoy! And be careful and prudent....