In 1792, HMS Discovery's Ship's Master, Joseph Whidbey accompanied Lieutenant Peter Puget in small boats to explore what was later named Puget Sound. On June 2, the team discovered Deception Pass, establishing the insularity of the Sound's largest island which Vancouver named Whidbey Island.
My solo Whidbey Island circumnavigation came about because of the TSCA messabout at Hope Island near the northeast end of it's much larger neighbor, not far from Deception Pass.
This voyage began in Mystery Bay. The weather prediction was perfect for it, a convergence zone was due over the area, with southerlies on the Friday of departure, developing into northerlies for the rest of a week. I could ride the cool, rainy front north, expecting warmer, sunny weather to bring me back.
It sounds simple. Unfortunately for Doryman, the cool front moved through a full day early. Belle Starr was anxious to go, regardless. We headed south from Port Townsend with the developing high pressure behind us. All the way, through the "Cut" at the south end of Port Townsend Bay and across Admiralty Inlet, to the south end of Whidbey, it was downwind or a broad reach, with a push from a flood tide. Very pleasant. The wind shifted with us as we traveled west until the setting sun brought on a chill.
In a fit of complacency, I hoped the westerly would continue on the lee side of the island as we rounded north at Possession Point. To make this a comfortable three day trip, as planned, we still had at least ten miles to go. Twenty miles to a recognized anchorage. None of this was to be. The wind we found was directly on the nose of my worthy vessel, which was not up to the task of making much headway against a northeasterly growing in force. In the gloaming, two successive gusts struck Belle Starr to starboard, hard enough to bring waves over the cockpit coaming.
This had never happened to me before in my experience with the Stone Horse - Belle Starr being a very dry boat. She was floundering under the added weight, with scuppers underwater and no momentum or steerage. Flustered and tired, it took a few seconds to recognize the water was not draining and there was little else to do but try and bring the boat upright and disperse the intruding water. Most of the water escaped, but enough remained to dampen my enthusiasm. The last two paragraphs comprise four hours of man and boat against the sea, so exhausted and despite an exposed lee shore, we tacked in and set anchor for a restless night. The pile of wet gear in the cockpit would have to wait.
One lazarette had filled completely (something to put on the list...leaky lazarettes have sunk many boats.), thoroughly soaking sets of off-shore rain gear and boots. Although none of it absorbed water, anyone familiar with the Northwest climate will understand it took most of the next day, sailing with gear spread all over the cockpit, to dry everything enough to re-stow.
Well, sailing... figuratively. Saturday, with about fifty miles to reach Hope Island, the wind, still directly ahead, died to a whisper. I disdain the use of motors, as a principle and when I succumb to a rational argument with myself, it is with regret. Crank up the outboard and head for Oak Harbor to buy fuel, a great sin in the world of Doryman.
Hitch hikers to nowhere.
Aboard Night Bird.
Raft-up at twilight.
Clover in early morning repose.
Looking west through Deception Pass. You can see how it got it's name.
A lot of water funnels through that little opening.
Running free. The old girl could use a new mainsail...
Point Wilson, Port Townsend Bay at the end of the day.
Whidbey Island, by Ron Kerrigan.