The flotilla was down to three boats, Deception, Eldean and Patos when we started our final cruise east to Bellingham. The morning sun was beautiful once we were in the channel outside of Friday Harbor. Fog could be seen rolling in from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, covering the water in a thick, white blanket of clouds. The sun illuminated the Olympic Peaks off in the distance and the weather was cold on the water.
Heading through Upright Channel, there was a good degree of flotsam and current. Crabbing season must be in full affect as we dodged dozens of buoys in between patches of seagrass and kelp floating along. The upwelling currents stir the sea floor and push the floating debris together into big rafts of organic matter and driftwood. Half the fun is steering through the patches of kelp and dodging ferries as they power down the center line of Upright Channel.
Up ahead, we see a wind line. We are passing the Lopez Island ferry landing to our starboard when we experience 20knots of wind. This is atypical for the islands. The conditions could be calm and windless, but certain sections throughout the islands have wind tunnels and gaps that can make things nasty for a few minutes. Just before Peavine Pass, we were experiencing one of these wind-tunnel effects off the East Sound of Orcas, by the resort. Next thing you know, it’s very choppy, windy, and a bit uncomfortable. But wait! Another few moments and everything died once inside the steep walls of Peavine. Now the current is pushing against us while the channel continues to bottle-neck. Sure enough, just on the other side of Peavine Pass is another wind-tunnel and we are blasted again by strong wind and waves. The day continues like this for some time.
They say the most chop you can experience is in Bellingham Bay. They were not wrong. With a long fetch of 6 miles, and the nature of the bay being relatively shallow generates square-stacked waves that can be very uncomfortable to motor through. Though, spirits were high since we were enjoying the last leg of our cruise. We have been spoiled by cloudless skies, sunny days, warm winds and glass-like conditions throughout the two-week cruise. It’s only fair now that the trip is coming to an end that we should get a little action from the weather gods.