Desolation Sound Flotilla: Day 13 – Chemainus to Friday Harbor | NW Explorations


Desolation Sound Flotilla: Day 13 – Chemainus to Friday Harbor

The sun was barely over the trees that outline the ridges on the island in front of our marina when I heard two engines roar to life. Anacaram was departing early this morning, Jack was at the helm with his crew Frank and Jean. They extended their charter a few days to visit Victoria, BC. We waved them farewell from the docks and wish them calm seas.

The other boats started to get ready as we prepared to toss dock lines and start our day heading south to clear customs in the San Juans. Coffee cups were filled, muffins had been passed out aboard Deception, and we began to cast off the boats, one by one like little goslings. Deception is the last boat to untie before we were off, out of the harbor cruising towards our first obstacle, Satellite Pass.

As we begin our approach to the tight entrance of Satellite Pass, we had a lot of ferry traffic. The big BC Ferry from Tsawwassen had split the flotilla as we motored passed Schwartz Point, leaving Patos a mile or more behind us. Once the ferry was docked, Patos finally caught up with the flotilla so we all could go through the narrow rapids together. The current wasn’t particularly strong like Gabriola Pass, but the shoals were tightly spaced and land felt close as we squeezed through the bottle-neck section.

Once through, Colin aboard Eldean, radioed saying he was having some boat trouble. Captain Jordan instructed Eldean to come to a full stop while we transfer our mechanic Brian aboard with his tool bag. Deception pivoted on a dime as Captain Jordan worked the controls to bring the two Grand Banks alongside each other safely. Within moments, Brian was aboard Eldean, down in the engine room investigating a solution to the problem at hand. It’s peace of mind knowing that when you cruise with one of the NW Explorations flotillas, there’s help when you need it most. Twenty minutes passed and the problem was fixed and we were heading to Roche Harbor to clear customs.

Conditions were glass today. The wind had eased to a variable 5 knots and the San Juans looked magnificent in the early afternoon sun. A pod of harbor porpoises greeted the flotilla outside of Roche Harbor. They escorted us all the way into the protected waters of the bay. One after another, boats docked and cleared customs as fast as possible. Grand Adventure decided to stay for lunch, so they took up a guest slip for few hours to grab a bite in town. They skipped Friday Harbor and headed to Sucia for the last day of their cruise. Randy, Jack, and Robert are all veteran hikers and plan on a company cruise next season. They wanted to go to Sucia to scout the island out for a company trip and explore the many trails the island has to offer.

After an hour, the remaining three boats berthed on the inside of the break-water at Friday Harbor. There was a lot of traffic once we arrived. The two big ferries, sea planes, pleasure crafts, fishing boats, and all sorts of others were trying to arrive at the same time. However, once we found a spot to tie up at the docks it was easy-going and even entertaining to watch everyone come and go. Tomorrow’s forecast looks a little less sunny and possibly rain, so the group grabbed dinner in town and called it an early night. There was a feeling, or a mood lingering around the boats. It was our last day in the islands and no one wanted the trip to end. We played cribbage and talked among ourselves between the boats before settling into bed. The trip has been amazing and we all feel fortunate for the great weather we have had cruising Desolation Sound this time of year.

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