The taste of fall was in the air this morning as we made ready to depart. The morning was sunny, the air was crisp and a hum of excitement surrounded the harbor. We were preparing to depart on a two-week Flotilla to Desolation Sound, BC, but we were not the only ones making the most of the beautiful day. A sail regatta was also happening this weekend along with a seafood festival celebrating the working harbor with an expected 10,000 visitors!
We cast off our lines mid-morning, managing to sneak out before the crowds arrived. We cruised out into the sunshine and salty breeze of Bellingham Bay and began to wind our way into the San Juan Islands. We cruised past steep cliffs, rocky shores, tiny islands with harbor seals hauled out on them, forested hillsides, and beautiful waterfront homes. We spotted a few bald eagles, many cormorants, some harbor seals and even some of the exotic ungulates on Speiden Island.
Most of our crews have been planning this trip for close to a year. They are all from different parts of the country and are here for different reasons. The crew on Aquila live on Camano Island and are looking to explore past the familiar area of the San Juans. The Nauti Otter2 crew are sail boaters from the east coast, trying out a new style of cruising in a new area. The Australians on Bonum Vitae have been to Alaska with NWE in the past and are just looking for some quality time on the water. And last but not least Steve & Melissa on Grey Lady are branching out from the trawlers they have chartered in the past.
Once settled on the floating dock in Reid Harbor, many of us went to shore and took a walk up to the old school house. The recent rains added to the feeling of lushness in the forest. Sword ferns and Salal carpeted the ground and moss grew thick on the trunks of the Big Leaf Maples and cedars. The schoolhouse contains a museum dedicated to the history of Stuart Island and its early settlers. It provides a fascinating glimpse into life on the island and caused us to marvel at the changes of time.
Afterwards everyone joined us for a lively social hour on Deception. We had a lovely time getting to know one another and sharing some delicious food and drinks. Despite coming from such different backgrounds, our crews shared a lot in common starting with a passion for being on the water! We are all feeling glad that the trip is finally here and excited for what the next two weeks will bring.