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Cruising Bootcamp. Part One.

The past three days have truly been a visit to cruising bootcamp. We’ve had it all: pea soup fog, dodging ships, calms, sun, clouds, breezy conditions, tricky navigation in narrow shallow channels, dicey anchorages, nearly fouling our anchor, salt water drenching, beating against wind and seas, anchoring in the dark, goodbyes to old friends and hellos to new ones.

After our quick visit to Blakely Harbor (and of course Blakely Rock), we had a quick easy sail over to Shilshole. Our friends from Lea Scotia (www.leascotia.com) met us there and kindly taxied us all over town for a few items we needed to get at Fisheries, West Marine and Fred Meyer. We enjoyed one last fish & chips dinner at the Lockspot then spent the evening aboard Wondertime going over our Vancouver Island charts with our friends, as they have circled the island multiple times previously.

The next day we were off to Kingston where we enjoyed a fantastic fireworks show from Grandpa’s back deck. It was a bittersweet visit, a difficult see-you-later to him and other family members who live in that area.

Wednesday morning we woke early, poked our heads out the hatch and were none too thrilled to discover a thick white fog had blanketed the sound overnight. Not to be deterred, we decided it was a good chance to test out our AIS system and new (to us) radar. Oh boy, is AIS a treat! We easily tracked the few ships that were in the lanes and crossed the sound without trouble.

Except for the open porthole above Holly’s bunk. After a 900 foot long cargo ship had passed, we started crossing the now open shipping lanes. We bounced over the ship’s huge wake and a wave of water was thrown into the anchor well. “You’d better go check the girls’ cabin!” Michael exclaimed. “I think their portholes are open!” When I got to their cabin, I found Holly sitting up in bed with water dripping down her hair. Seawater was still pouring in the little open porthole above her bunk and I quickly shut it and ran for some towels to dry her, her bed and her stuffed animals off. What a way to wake up!

The rest of the trip up to the Swinomish channel was fairly uneventful thankfully. We had a chance to sail a bit while we made our way up Saratoga passage between Camano and Whidbey Islands. The wind was extremely shifty so it was frustrating sailing but we did get to try out multiple sail combinations.

It was fairly low tide once we reached the Swinomish; Michael was white-knuckling the wheel as we entered the narrow, super shallow channel. With only 8 feet of water under the keel we were sweating keeping the boat right in the middle. Of course about a half-mile in we saw a tug ahead pulling a load of logs; we were able to sneak by on his port side and continue on to La Conner without incident.

We tied up to the guest dock at this adorable waterfront town and were greeted right away by our new friends Steven K. Roberts and Kirsten Hansen (www.microship.com). We’d met Steve last year at the Swantown boatyard when he had his beautiful Amazon 44, Nomadness, hauled out and kept in touch via Facebook. It was so wonderful to get to know this fascinating couple in person again. Steve is the first true technomad: he biked across the U.S. back in the late 80s on a fully computerized, HAM equipped recumbent bicycle he built and has launched countless technomadic engineering projects since. We spent a special evening getting to know these two new friends, sharing our similar philosophies and learning about all the entrepreneurial ventures they have underway. Very inspiring!

“You can have freedom, or you can have security but you can’t have both.” -Steven K. Roberts

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