Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sucia Island Rendezvous 2017

Just back from the Sucia Island group, in the northern San Juan Islands. This was the sixteenth annual gathering in Fossil Bay on one of the northern most islands in the western contiguous US.
A great time on the water, shared with some very talented sailors, on beautiful small craft.

Photo of Doryman in Saga, by Joe Fernandez

People we meet are often fascinated with the attractive boats all gathered in one spot, but mostly amazed that small boats like ours can be safe and seaworthy. Make no mistake, there are decades, nay centuries, of cumulative experience anchored in the shallow end of the bay this weekend, every year. Stories abound, of trials and daring-do. Places visited and the pleasure (and effort) of getting there and back.

Hot on Joe's tail.
Thanks for the photo, Joe Fernandez.

This year was one for the books. Though the weather was brilliantly sunny and warm, the breezes and tidal currents were fierce. Sailors from all points of the compass had tales of battles with the elements - what one might expect during a full moon with dramatic diurnal tides. In the San Juan Islands, the currents don't always follow intuitively with the tides.

Photo of Kees Prins in Dunlin. by Marty Loken

The prudent mariner will consult current charts, yet expect the unpredictable. In a narrow channel four miles wide, the current may run up to three knots and believe me, if the wind opposes such a flow, the result will challenge even the most experienced, in a small, low-power sailing vessel.

Dale and Chris' Scamp, from Canada, photo by Marty Loken.

This year, Doryman sailed his well-founded 18' faering Valgerda, designed by John Atkin. This open design was fashioned after the Viking faerings of old and for it's size is an exceptional sea boat. The first challenge came within moments of departure. Crossing the east end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, from Port Townsend to the Islands always has something new to offer. A glassy sea twenty nautical miles across can turn fierce within minutes.

 Soon after departure, rounding Wilson Point into the commercial shipping lane, one of the all-too-frequent container ships showed up on the horizon. These behemoths clock fifteen knots or more, of speed, and are just plain scary. A breeze had just come up from the west, which opposing the tidal current created an instant boil. After the ship had passed, at close quarters, I swear it's wake kicked the wave action to a frenzy. Soon we were engulfed in standing waves well over our heads, with breaking tops and spumes of spray flying.

Kleppers and folding boats at play in the Bay.

Worthy Saga rode the maelstrom with dedication. For the next two challenging hours, only one small wave found it's way over the coaming, but unfortunately most of three gallons of seawater shot straight up and landed directly in Doryman's lap.

Photo of Bob Miller at the helm of his Drascome Longboat, Sally Forth. by Marty Loken.

Fortunately the day was warm, though, as many of you know - saltwater is very slow to dry. Despite being uncomfortably wet for awhile, the rest of the day was glorious, running north in Rosario Strait with a strong flood tide current running in our direction and a breeze on the beam.

Joe Fernandez brought his popular Cape Dory 22, Philly Girl, all the way from Texas.
Marty Loken photo.

Many mariners in attendance at Sucia had similar tales to tell. Great weather, yet challenging conditions, sometimes in your favor, others not so much. Welcome to small boat cruising in one of the premiere inland waters of the world.

Full moon over Kirk Gresham's Flicka, Koan

Even a long weekend, in such august company, is never enough. Many thanks to all my good friends, old and new, for a memorable time in such a beautiful spot. Already looking forward to next year - this gathering gets continually better and better, like fine whiskey in a barrel.

Joel Bergen's Navigator, Ellie drying out on the beach.

 Martin Schneider's Allegra 24, Clover.

 Paul Miller's Friendship.
Photo by Marty Loken.

One of my favorites. Janet and Bruce Ward's Clarity.
A Montgomery 23, from the British Canadian interior.

 Jamie Orr's new (old) Atkin schooner, Orkney Lass.

There's more, much more...
For the diehard, more photos can be found on Doryman's Flickr site.  Some photos courtesy of Marty Loken. Thank you, Marty!

And yet more photos, courtesy of Dale Simonson, the first Scamp to join us in Fossil Bay. Thank you, Dale, it was a pleasure to meet you.


Bruce Gregor said...

Thanks for sharing the experience and pics of such a beautiful collection of boats.

doryman said...

Wish you could have been there, Bruce. Long trip for you though, eh?

bonnie said...

Ah, summer!

doryman said...

Don't despair! It's not over yet.