To celebrate our seven year "civil" wedding anniversary, Rich and I spent three glorious day sailing in the south Puget Sound. Early Friday morning, we headed to Olympia and stopped at I-Hop for a yummy breakfast – eggs benedict for me and a veggie omelet for Rich. We then zipped to a Goodwill to buy a "bag of rags" for $4.99 in anticipation of having to dry off the boat.
For the past thirty days, Seattle didn’t have a drop of rain (it’s true). On Thursday night and Friday morning, however, the rain came down in sprinkles then buckets.
We arrived at Island Sailing around 9:00, somewhat eager to get on the boat, considering the drippy weather. After receiving an orientation of the areas and how to navigate out of the tricky marina, we headed down to the boat, a 30-foot Catalina. It took two trips to the car to gather up our two sleeping bags, a large duffle bag of clothes and foul weather gear (known as foulies), another duffle bag of sailing gear (vest, radio, GPS, binoculars, etc), an ice chest of food and ice (the boat had an insulated ice chest), and two plastic bins of non-perishable food, coffee, books, maps, plates, paper towels… and a luscious chocolate mocha cake with chocolate coffee beans. The latter is a must for a sailing trip!
Once everything was unpacked and put into its place, it was time to cast-off. And happily, by the time we left, the rain had ceased and the air had become muggy.
By the time, we reached open water, we needed to change into shorts and t-shirts because the gray skies had been cleared by a strong wind that was warmed by the sun. For the next few hours, we sailed at the warp speed of 4-6 knots.
Everything was perfect! Easy boat to sail. Incredible weather. Splendid wind. Little traffic and few crab pots to avoid. And glorious scenery.
Around 5 o’clock, we picked up a mooring ball by Stretch Island. After a quick dinner (ham, instant potatoes, and salad with lettuce from our garden), we took the dinghy ashore to gather seashells and rocks.
Across from where we moored was a upscale camp site owned by the Olympia Yacht Club (below). It has a large club house along with numerous tiki huts, one of which was an outdoor kitchen.
After a delightful night’s rest in the cozy v-berth, made more cozy with two huge flannel sleeping bags, we slipped on our lightweight clothing, thinking we were going to have another warm and windy day.
Nope. The gray skies had no intention of going away. In fact, they decided to spew water, forcing us to layer on the clothing and pull out our foulies. Here I am dressed from head-to-two in ghastly yellow, trying to be cheerful while my teeth chattered.
In spite of the weather, I managed to doze off while reading a magazine in the drizzle. When the rain increased, Rich suggested that I go below deck, where I could stay dry while he braved the elements and motored on to our next destination. It was impossible to sail with the rain and intermittent wind.
Happily, the rain eased as we approached McMicken Island, a state park that can only be reached by boat or walking across a sandbar that connects to Hartstene Island during low tide. Personally, I would never cross a sandbar in the Puget Sound where the water is a deadly 60 degrees and tides are 14 feet from high to low.
After gobbling some lunch, we jumped in our dinghy and rowed ashore. McMicken is 11.5 acres in size with several hiking trails and a very rocky shore that is evidentially teaming with shellfish from clams to oysters. You can explore the entire island except for a small fenced off area that used to belong to the original inhabitant who wanted to claim the island for the King of Sweden (at least that’s one of the stories about the island).
In the fenced off area, you can see several run down buildings along with a house that seems to be in pretty good shape with bookshelves still full of books. I was aching with curiosity to climb over the fence and peak in the house. Captain Rich, however, kept telling me it was PRIVATE PROPERTY. Drats!
After returning to our boat, we nibbled on crackers, cheese and smoked salmon the both conked out while reading. As it grew cold, Rich went below deck and I climbed into the v-berth to continue my late-day nap.
Dinner was next on the agenda, followed by more sleep. One of the best parts of being on the boat is being rocked to sleep and hearing the halyard rhythmically tapping against the mast!
The next morning brought sunshine with little wind, but many seals on a Sunday stroll (swim). The seals were a hoot to watch. Just as we were about ready to give up on the wind, it picked up, providing Rich with an opportunity to hang onto the wheel while I trimmed the sails as we tacked back-and-forth numerous times.
As we neared Olympia, we had a slight docking challenge when we went to top off diesel. Rich cut into the dock too late, leaving me with a foot or two of dock that I had to jump onto and quickly tie up the boat. If I had waited another moment to jump, I would have landed in the water!
At the pump-out (sewage) dock, a couple from another boat helped us dock. The wind was blowing us away from the dock, making it hard to get close enough to the dock for me to jump.
The opposite occurred when we pulled into the boat slip… the wind gently blew the boat towards the dock so I simply waited until the boat glide near the dock then jumped, tied off the stern then caught the line from Rich and tied off the bow. In non-sailing terms: Our third attempt to dock was perfectly executed!
Above is Rich making coffee in the boat’s galley. He’s more awake in the morning than I and much better at making coffee.
We talked to two couples on McMicken Island who live on their boats. One man, a pilot with two young children, waxed poetic about the virtues of living on a sailboat. For Rich and I, we had a splendid three days sailing, but were thrilled to get home to our full-size kitchen, bedrooms, living, dining and family rooms… along with toilets that aren’t a hassle to flush!