Cruising The Great Pacific Northwest
Written by Cathy Siegismund
As natives, we are openly biased about cruising the Northwest. With that
stated, the cruising is fantastic and must be one of the best training grounds
for those looking to go offshore. A testament to this is the number of boats we
see cruising from Washington and British Columbia.
Those of us who cruise the Northwest are subjected to large tidal ranges,
strong currents, strong winds, no wind, large shipping traffic, fog and frigid
water. However, we are rewarded with spectacular vistas of soaring mountains,
miles of wilderness, fjords with 5,000' waterfalls, thousands of anchorage,
bustling small port towns, and abundant wildlife.
As Seattleites, from birth we are in Gortex and Polartec, but this does allow
us to tolerate the rain and dampness to enjoy our beautiful region all year.
Seattle is at approximately 47 degrees Latitude; however, despite how far north
we are, our weather is relatively mild, wet, but mild. The lakes and Sound never
freeze, and we can go for years without having any snow expect in the mountain
passes. Unlike boat owners in the Northeast or Great Lakes, we can leave our
boats in the water and enjoy them all year as long as you've got a good set of
foul weather gear.
In Seattle, July, August, and September are considered the cruising season,
as that's when the days are wonderfully long and we're as likely as anytime in
the year to have good weather. However, this also usually means there is very
light or no wind.
We bought Felicity in November of 98 and come Christmas we couldn't wait to
go out and sail our boat. We took our Christmas vacation on Felicity and went
out for a weeks cruise around Puget Sound.
Cath Winter Sailing
Ken Winter Sailing
Despite the many layers, our first cruise on Felicity was everything we'd
hoped, and the following spring and summer every chance we had we'd go sailing.
Ken Sailing in Puget Sound
Cath is always on the lookout for wild life
Whale! spotted off Bainbridge Island on a day sail out of
Downtown Seattle and Elliott Bay
Summer Cruise with Peggy and Ann, 1999
Summer of 1999, we took Ken's Mom and a friend for a 4 day sail out of
Seattle. They wanted to see wildlife. We explained to them that we often do, but
we can't promise it. In four days we were treated to bald eagles, sea otters,
sea lions and harbor seals, a pod of white sided dolphin playing with the boat
and a pod of Orcas. We felt like we were at Sea World!
Ken and Mom
Peggy at the Helm Ann in the Cockpit
Ferry at Port Townsend
Sunset at Port Townsend
Crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic
Cath at the helm
Desolation Sound, 1999
In the summer of 99, we also took 3 weeks and sailed to Desolation Sound.
Desolation Sound is about half way up the inside passage between Vancouver
Island and the British Columbia mainland. We went in June, which was early and
we had quite a bit of rain but we did have good sailing weather. We did miss all
the crowds and often shared bays with only a few other boats or occasionally
were the only boat in the harbor.
As it is a long way up to Desolation sound from Seattle. We worked the boat
up the two weekends prior to the start of our vacation. The first weekend making
it to Friday Harbor, in the San Juan Islands, and the second weekend making it
to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. We then started our cruise in Nanaimo. We sailed
up through Desolation Sound, and returned via the Canadian Gulf Islands, the San
Juan islands, Deception Pass to Seattle.
Felicity anchored off a bay on Vancouver Island
Not enough wind to sail, but beautiful nonetheless
One of many calm and protected anchorages
Lund, typical small town in Desolation Sound
Cath enjoying Felicity's warm interior on one of our rainy
Felicity is the only boat in this secluded bay
One of our favorite houses overlooking one of the straits in
the San Juans
Orca off our bow near San Juan Island
Main pier at the Friday Harbor Marina
Return trip through the Whidbey Island's tricky Deception
Like many of the passes in the Northwest this isn't one to be trifled with.
You need to hit this pass at slack water or the current turns the narrow opening
between the mainland and the island into rapids