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Old 04-03-2016, 15:46   #1
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Sailing in the San Jaun Islands

Just starting to plan a week long trip to the San Jaun Islands. Would like to make a loop or circle and not back track. Any suggestions? Will be taking my smaller boat, its a Paceship PY23. Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-03-2016, 06:38   #2
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Re: Sailing in the San Jaun Islands

From where are you departing?
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Old 05-03-2016, 07:13   #3
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Re: Sailing in the San Jaun Islands

Jackdale, I was thinking of possibly Anacortes, but I am very early in the planning process and looking for suggestions. I would like to see a few harbors or small towns as well as enjoy some time in the wilderness on the hook. Thanks.
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Old 05-03-2016, 08:04   #4
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Re: Sailing in the San Jaun Islands

Edit . Just re read your post and saw that you are bringing a boat. Ignore the first few lines.

Ok I'm going to assume you are chartering as you show your location in CA and thats just a long haul for a week. If thats the case you may want to look at departing out of Vancouver BC. The dollar exchange will be in your favour. That being said here's my suggested loop: free advice take it for what its worth

Anacortes to Watmough Bay on Lopez Island
Watmough around to Fisherman Bay also on Lopez
Fisherman to Roche Harbor or Garrison Bay on San Juan Island - provision or lunch stop at Friday harbour if you want
Roche to Reid or Prevost on Stuart island
Prevost to Sucia Island
Sucia to Anacortes

Gives the opportunity for a couple marinas and a couple nights at anchor. I'm sure others will chime in

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Old 05-03-2016, 08:47   #5
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Re: Sailing in the San Jaun Islands

If you're chartering, the charter companies have excellent charts and guides for you or they will help you decide where to go. Another thing they can help with is telling where not to go during low or changing tides. I worked a season for Anacortes Yacht Charters and they were very good about this.

If you're not chartering, (you may have already done this), Google "san juan islands sailing guide" and you'll get a ton of great info and youtube videos.

You're going to have a great time.

Cheers.
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Old 05-03-2016, 09:31   #6
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Re: Sailing in the San Jaun Islands

DRS had a reasonable trip laid out for the San Juans (not Jaun fyi).

Don't forget to consider tides and currents in your trip planning. It can literally add hours to your passages. You don't want to fight currents when you don't have to. And plan on motoring as much or more than you sail as winds can be very fluky and light many times. Sometimes you get lucky and have great sailing but there are lots of twists and turns and the islands will channel the wind in various directions.

Pay attention to your charts and use careful navigation. There are shoals and rocks and a few tricky passages - like going in to Fisherman Bay. Lovely to go in there but kind of freaky as you have to make some sharp turns in a narrow channel. Fun to go there though, just take your time and plan your moves, and watch the markers. There are numerous ferries to be alert about. They do watch for recreational boats but you don't want to put them in a bad situation. They will alter their courses to help out if they can but not when approaching their docks.

Also fog is common in the summer, especially later in the summer. If you don't have radar and are experienced in using it, and a good chartplotter and know how to use that, don't go out in the fog. It will often lift and you can get on your way a bit later.

Have fun - the San Juans are wonderful.
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Old 05-03-2016, 09:44   #7
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Re: Sailing in the San Jaun Islands

East Sound of Orcas...Rosario Resort and great spot for daysailing.
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Old 05-03-2016, 09:53   #8
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Re: Sailing in the San Jaun Islands

A very important planning item (probably the MOST Important) is the tide chart.

The route proposed by DRS is a logical one but you need to know you are passing thru many channels with extreme tidal currents, eddys, and standing waves.

Let's assume you leave Cap Sante (Anacortes) on July 19. Her are the passes/straits you navigate and the rough estimates of the tidal flows

Day 1 Guemes and Rosario 0.5 to 2.2 knots
Day 2 San Juan Channel / Cattle Pass 2.8 knots out to 3.4 knots in
Day 3 San Juan Channel 1.7 to 2.1 knots
Day 4 Speiden Pass or Turn Point 1.7 to 2.0 knots
Day 5 Boundry or Presidents Channel 2.7 knots
Day 6 Rosario Channel (wide variation) but 1.6 to 1.8 knots

The other important consideration is the serious lack of wind during the summer months. I've been sailing the San Juans since 1972 in many different boats, from heavy cruiser to light and fast San Juan 24 or Hobie 33, and know that your sailing winds will occur less than 50% of the time.

And, this is a very special "feature" of the islands, the wind will always blow from the direction of the adverse tidal flow which is almost always the direction you want to go.

My advice is to get familiar with all the anchorages you might want to visit and then select the days destination and route to get there based on the wind forecast and tidal flows for that day. Take the trip one day at a time and just go with the flow.

I've spent months at a time sailing the islands and probably over a thousand nights anchored there. I never plan more than one day ahead.

If you provide a little more detail about what kind of anchorage you want to spend time in I can offer more ideas.
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Old 05-03-2016, 09:58   #9
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Re: Sailing in the San Jaun Islands

Quote:
Originally Posted by senormechanico View Post
East Sound of Orcas...Rosario Resort and great spot for daysailing.
A great place to "treat" yourself.

a free download to help with planning

Download the 2016 Waggoner Cruising Guide - Waggoner Cruising Guide

For currents

get one of these



and one of these

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Old 05-03-2016, 10:06   #10
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Re: Sailing in the San Jaun Islands

I've been sailing in the San Juan Islands and beyond sine the early 1960s. It is a magical place. I now live part time in Friday Harbor. While everyone above have given good advice may I suggest get the following cruising guide. While expensive it is the best one on the market and you can enjoy you trip for the rest of the year re-reading it.

Get: http://www.amazon.com/San-Juan-Islan...%27s+Guidebook

It also has suggested itineraries.

Welcome to my world, I hope you have fun and enjoy yourself.
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Old 05-03-2016, 12:31   #11
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Re: Sailing in the San Jaun Islands

It all depends where you want to out in at or start from. you can start from Anacortes, Bellingham or Blaine and make the loop, with only a minimum of back tracking. you do not have a copy of Waggoners I would suggest you get one as it could help your planning. Good Luck and enjoy yourself
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Old 05-03-2016, 12:46   #12
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Re: Sailing in the San Jaun Islands

In a 23 foot boat, don't plan on too long a day's travel. Take your time and just enjoy. 1 week is not much so:
Anacortes- Spencer Spit ...or James Island (Mooring not anchor at James as it's rock bottom)
Spencer to Friday Harbor (have a night on the town) or Eastsound
Maybe Sucia or Stuart Isl next... you have to go to one of these... wild and great.
Then think about returning via a stop at East Sound/Friday Harbor etc
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Old 05-03-2016, 12:55   #13
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Re: Sailing in the San Jaun Islands

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....
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Old 05-03-2016, 13:27   #14
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Re: Sailing in the San Jaun Islands

Glad you have an adventurous spirit..I live in Friday Harbor and ll the ideas have been good there are many good cruising books out buy one..with the boat you have I would suggest that you use anacortes as the facilities are excellent..There is a good launching ramp with parking at Washington Park on fidalgo island apx 5 miles from marina in anacortes.At least and hour closer to the islands and costs less.."have a good outboard as you will use it a lot" Spencer spit is close to launch area and is good place to anchor or pick up buoy. Easy to go ashore and take showers and walk on spit as well as crab on south side of spit..Head towards Deer harbor between Shaw and Orcas deer harbor is great for water shower easy to anchor and good cafe on the dock..Don't miss going to Sucia is. Shallow bay is the best for small boat with water and toilets on shore..Shallow is more protected and cozy not so noisy..From there I would not miss Reed harbor on Stewart is Water hikes head etc..A very picturesque Roche is just across the channel and fun for a night or at least a visit...Friday Harbor is the most popular harbor with the only town at the docks and ferry service..Most likely you will find that enough..this is only a highlight of what is there.Ask other cruisers where they love to go, there is no shortage of places. There is little need to worry about navigation and other things I have found the navigation instrument I have is common sense and my eyes...have fun
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Old 05-03-2016, 13:51   #15
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Re: Sailing in the San Jaun Islands

Thread drift: The morning Mt. St Helens blew up (1980?) I was sitting at the dock at James Island on my 21 ft trailer boat with my two young girls, frying bacon. It was so loud it shook the boat. Everyone thought they were blasting on the island next door. We were probably 150-175 miles from St Helens. Evidently the shock wave bounced off the atmosphere layer and was more percussive that far away then like in Seattle.
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