Tuesday, June 2, 2009
First day: After another delay, we sailed out of Port Townsend on a steady breeze into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, anchoring for the night just inshore (in 75 feet of water) of where Vancouver anchored in May 1792. Sockdolager and Discovery are separated by a mere 217 years. To commemorate our departure, his arrival, and the wild beauty of this place he named, we read his exact words from his journal, looking around and matching scenery to description. We marveled at snowy mountains, including a volcano, found features he named in Discovery Bay, and watched Protection Island’s huge cliffs stuffed with birds come alive. A gift bottle of sparkling brut didn’t hurt matters, either. The birds of Protection Island raise a din unmolested by humans, Heumanns or Sullivans; none of the latter are allowed ashore at this national wildlife refuge, where tufted puffins and rhinoceros auklets nest. If I come back as a bird I want to be called a rhinoceros. But the closing of the refuge to the public gives us another gift: birdlife and its sounds as sailors may have witnessed 217 years ago. The anchorage was calm, sunny, and we had it all to ourselves.
Second day, flat calm, and another national wildlife refuge: Dungeness Spit. We anchored near the historic lighthouse, rowed ashore and were treated to a tour by the lighthouse keepers. Vancouver’s descriptions of this wild place showed it hasn’t changed much.
Third day, it was sail all the way, including weighing anchor and coming into Port Angeles under sail, which is indescribably fun after a sparkling day in the Strait under main, genoa and staysail. An air inversion created weird mirages and effects, such as a distant boat splitting into three parallel images, distant points of land hanging out over the water, and the ability to hear very clearly, VHF radio calls from Point Roberts to Bellingham to Oak Harbor.
This morning we arose at 3:15 to catch a speedy ebb tide, and although there was again no wind and we had to motor, it was a watercolor morning and we are now in Neah Bay positioned to catch a favorable forecast wind to take us to Barkley Sound on Vancouver Island. We’ve only just started, but already it’s hard to beat.