Distant Drummer anchored in Friday Harbour, San Juan Island

Last week we bade our goodbyes to the folks at Canoe Cove and finally departed bound for US territory – Friday Harbour on San Juan Island, to be specific (there’s a map at the bottom of the page!) Rebate claims for GST and PST for work done on the boat had to be sent from outside Canada so that was our first port of call. The day was overcast and patchy drizzly but it was only a four hour run and we needed to harden up a bit. We had become accustomed to the normalities of life ashore: heat, warm showers, internet – what luxuries!


Canada Geese on Sucia Island – yep the have them in the States as well!

Friday Harbour is protected by Brown Island so after completing Customs formalities we anchored behind the island. Unfortunately we were not as protected from the southeaster as we hoped and it blew 20+ knots for the next two days. We did get ashore on the third day and enjoyed a walk around town and then had supper at the San Juan Island Yacht Cub. We met Jim and Sue Corenman who are the creators of Sailmail, an indispensable piece of software for cruisers which allows us to get email and weather information while at sea. We had a very pleasurable meal chatting with them and hearing stories of their sailing adventures.


A calm and sunny Spring day at Echo Bay, Sucia Island

The San Juan Islands lie at the intersection of three wide waterways: the Haro Strait, the Juan de Fuca Strait and the Strait of Georgia. They have strong winds and strong currents and on a sunny Saturday morning when both were favourable we left Friday Harbour and sailed across to Jones Island (yes, they have a Smith Island too!) We spent a couple of nights anchored in the northern bay and had a walk around the island. We met a group of kayakers who were camping there and watched them the next day as they paddled out of the bay into a 25kt breeze, we admired their determination.


Neil loving the warmth of our driftwood fire on Sucia Island

Sucia Island is a strange horseshoe shaped island known for the Roger Dean style sandstone sculptures carved by the wind and the waves. It is made up of five or six (fluvial!) sandstone ridges which extend from the southeast shore as long fingers of rocky islands. We moored in Shallow Bay on the northwest side of the island, ostensibly protected from the SE wind. We went ashore and enjoyed a glass of wine in the warmth of a driftwood fire at one of the campsites.


Going for a bike ride requires launching the dinghy then ferrying them ashore before the ride even starts

For the next two days we couldn’t get ashore because of the strong winds but once the front had passed, the sun finally came out and the wind veered to a NW’erly. Once we had relocated to Echo Bay on the other side of the island we took the bikes ashore. It was superb riding the dirt trails in the dappled sunlight through the mossy silence of the forest. Wandering amongst these islands and seeing nature in the raw makes me wonder if the world with its GLBT toilets and 101 flavours of ice cream hasn’t become a little over-complicated.


Our Devon flag loud and proud below the US courtesy flag

The next day was an early start as we had 45NM to cover to reach Vancouver. Unfortunately the ebb tide was against us most of the way so we had planned for a long passage. We arrived at the First Narrows (the entrance to Vancouver Harbour) couple of hours before slack but decided not to wait around and passed under the Inner Narrows Bridge at 2kt pushing against the current. We tied up at the Vancouver Rowing Club in Coal Harbour in good time to welcome Heather (Neil’s sister) who arrived that afternoon.

We’re looking forward to spending a few days exploring Van City with Heather.