Circumnavigating Fidalgo Island Cruise Report

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Circumnavigating Fidalgo Island Cruise Report

Postby jeffd » Mon Sep 26, 2011 3:44 pm

(Note: Cruise was done on April 8, 2011, on one of the nice and sunny days in April.)

I’ve been wanting to cruise around Fidalgo Island for some time, and with sun, and a bit of wind, well, today’s the day! For planning, I needed to make sure I’d get to Deception pass around slack, and it would be nice to go with the current as much as possible through Guemes Channel and the Swinomish Channel. And of course, it would be nice to be able to sail as much as possible. And to top it off, I’m trying to do this all in one day! Well, for me, all of this came together, more or less, on April 8, 2011. I would launch at the Swinomish boat ramp under Highway 20 just outside of Anacortes about 9am, ride the ~2 knot Guemes Channel flood tide past Anacortes, then catch the Deception Pass slack at 12:47pm, and finally, make my way up the Swinomish Channel, back up to the boat ramp. Here is my route map:

CircumnavFidalgoMap.jpg (96.04 KiB) Viewed 439 times

When I left the dock at the Swinomish boat ramp, the current was heading northbound. I motored north toward Skagit Bay at 7 kts –the motor just above idle - quite a current! The skies were clear, a few clouds along the horizon, high 40’s to low 50’s. It was cool, but sunny – a jacket was OK. I forgot to bring my D-SLR, so I’m relying on iPhone photos. It is flat calm, motoring toward Padilla Bay. I entered Guemes Channel, about 10:30am, going 7.8 kts, the motor still loafing. At 10:45 am, I am approaching Anacortes Ferry Dock. There’s wind! I put up the sails, and with a northerly wind, was still making 6.8 kts – under sail! Still quite a current, and it is very nice that I am going the same direction. Past the ferry dock, the wind died, so back to motoring. Still the GPS is indicating 9 kts! So there is still quite a current. I passed the Washington Park boat ramp at 11:15am. After rounding Fidalgo Head and approaching Flounder bay, I decided to sail in the light winds. A very nice day for spring- sunny, and clear. Sailing in Burrows Bay, now I get the head-currents. It took a while to sail past Biz Pt, with light westerly winds. Ended up having to motor through Northwest Pass toward Deception Pass. At first, the current was against me, but then, I caught the flood. Slack was at 12:47, so I was in the flood. Winds were from the west, so I decided to sail! Sailed under the Deception Pass bridge, about 1:45pm with the flood tide, making 4.6 kts max, running wing on wing under the bridge. Quite a current, and swirls too. There were some kind of exciting spots where aggressive hand steering was necessary.

Deception_Pass.jpg (56.41 KiB) Viewed 439 times

Sailing under the Deception Pass Bridge - Both the wind AND the current going my way! How often does that happen?

I had to gybe a couple of times. Later, I looked up the current predictions and it was running 3-4 knots! While I was going through, I thought about deploying the spinnaker (much cooler photos!), but then, I was by myself, and with the current and swells, I decided to play it safe - I didn't want to have to have something embarrassing happen, like falling overboard and seeing the boat sail away at 5 knots. The autopilot was having trouble steering a straight course anyway, and I ended up hand steering a lot. I passed by Cornet Bay about 2:10 pm. Speed was down to 3 kts. 2:20 pm, off Hoypus Point. I spotted a sea lion. Still sailing wing-on-wing, at about 4.5 kts – still quite a current. 2:45 pm, passed Hope Island, and into Skagit Bay, riding the flood. At times, up to 5-6 kts. Then, the wind died so back to motoring. At 3pm, I passed Seal Rocks, still flooding a bit – 5.0 kts motoring. I entered the channel that leads to the Swinomish channel about 4pm, and passed Goat Island, and the log booming areas. There are some shallow spots! I touched the mud a few times in the 4’ shallows – even in the center of the channel. Later, past Goat Island -how embarrassing! I let the autopilot steer, went below for a moment, and hit the mud – the autopilot steered me south. So I had to put the motor in neutral, run below, pull out the keel bolt out, crank the keel up a bit and motor out of the mud. Of course, it was the one time when two powerboats went by – didn’t meet any boats all day, until La Conner. After getting free, I was a bit more careful keeping an eye on the depth sounder. I passed McGinn Island about 4pm, and turned north through Hole in the Wall (not nearly as impressive as the Hole In the Wall in BC, between Maurelle and Sonora Islands), and into the Swinomish Channel. Nice scenery through here. I passed under the La Conner Rainbow Bridge a bit after 4pm, still making 4 kts – but I think now I am fighting a current.

Rainbow_Bridge.jpg (47.48 KiB) Viewed 439 times

Approaching La Conner's Rainbow Bridge

I motored on through La Conner. Gee, some big buck$ here – quite a few large boats here in La Conner. Now, I’m fighting a current – 4.5 kts motoring at about half throttle. Along the canal, there are a few scenic spots, but most of the canal has houses along it. No more motoring along the pastures and cows – the waterfront has been lined with houses. Still, it was pleasant. I make it back to the Swinomish boat ramp dock a bit after 5pm, but I misjudged the heavy southbound current. No coasting into the dock – I had to turn and point north, then let the boat drift into the dock, and quickly jump off. I was glad and lucky that I had the whole dock to myself. There was quite a strong current. I pulled the boat out, unrigged, and headed home. I got home about 8:30pm. It was a very nice trip and a very nice day, and I even got some good sailing in. The GPS logged the total distance at 31 NM, and I used about 2 gallons of gas, motoring 5 hours. The total cruise was 7 hrs 40 minutes. Chart Used: NOAA #18423.
Last edited by jeffd on Tue Nov 03, 2015 11:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Circumnavigating Fidalgo Island Cruise Report

Postby cklamp » Mon Sep 26, 2011 8:53 pm

Jeff, another great write up... thanks again, keep them coming:) The camera photos are fine too:)

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