It has been one year since we unloaded Jupiter from the Star Lofoten on arrival in the Pacific Northwest. It is hard to fathom that our documented adventures fit into scarcely twelve months, and there is comfort in beginning a second round of nature’s great cycle. We have a finer grasp of the challenges, opportunities, and vast scale of the domain we have chosen to explore. We are re-committed to keeping our guests, ourselves and our boat safe, whilst navigating this fractious edge of the Pacific Ocean.
Bright spring sunshine drenched our departure from the boat’s Bellingham moorage, and Jupiter popped out of her snug slip like a cork pried loose from a bottle’s neck.
We navigated out one entrance of vast Squalicum Harbor and into another to reach the fuel dock. Alongside a fausty finger pier we tied up in spite of the sullen attendant wearing the attitude and attire of a defeated combatant at the Battle of Stalingrad.
An hour later we departed, rich in diesel and buoyant with the providential tide of weather and cruising fineness promised by the week ahead.
Destination Echo Bay, occupying the claw-crotch of Sucia Island, is a popular anchorage 20nm from Bellingham via shallow bars and shoals which amplify waves spawned by wind against current. Sucia, named in 1791 by Spanish Explorer Francisco de Eliza translates as foul, referring to dangerous rocky redoubts that surround the island.
With a stunning back drop of Mount Baker, it is home to haul-outs of seals and sea lions, and serves as staging haven for small Alaska-bound cruise ships. We shared the anchorage with National Geographic Venture which kept us entertained surveying its numerous Zodiacs ferrying passengers and kayaks back and forth from ship to craggy shore.
Upon arrival at Roche Harbor, on San Juan Island, we were ushered into our assigned slip by proficient and pleasant dockhands stowing all seventy of the arriving boats for the annual rendezvous of the Puget Sound Grand Banks Owners Association.
During the following days we were engaged by experts on salient topics that broached every nautical element from bilge to bridge, together with a tightly spliced group of owner-operators. The boats, all built by Grand Banks, ranged in length from thirty to sixty feet, and in age from five to fifty years; their hulls built initially of wood, later fiberglass. The devotion to these vessels, no longer produced, was evident in every varnished rail and proud name-board.
Evenings were replete with pot-lucks, dock-walks, toasting, feasting and dancing, and we departed with new friends and bolstered ties to the family formed around these stout, sea-worthy vessels. It served as another fueling up of sorts, in preparation for the solitude that lies to the north.
“There is no vehicle more generous than a Grand Banks trawler with which to explore the Inside Passage.”Lazlo Hollyfeld – Cascadian Craft & Cruisers, 1989