Trip Report    

Sail - Esther, Port of Edmonds Marina

Sunshine, porpoises, orcas, and good times! A great overnighter raft-up with four vessels in Manzanita Bay.

  • Sat, Jul 28, 2018 — Sun, Jul 29, 2018
  • Sail - Esther, Port of Edmonds Marina
  • Esther, Port of Edmonds Marina
  • Sailing
  • Successful
  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Almost perfect, except a few times when the wind dropped, and dare I say a little more sunshine than some of us needed?  But gorgeous skies, great water, and favorable currents.

For a couple years Committee Chair Alan, or more correctly we should address him as Commodore Alan, had suggested an overnighter raft-up with the various vessels.  Somewhere snug to anchor out and sleep aboard, with requite socializing and pot-lucking.  Well, if we were going to pull it off this year, it was time to bait or cut fish.  Alan and I talked on the phone, and a little less than a month ago found the 28th-29th was our best option.  We'd throw our hats in the ring, and if any other skippers could make it, so much the better.  I posted the sails shortly after, and had two adventurous folks sign up, Anda and Barbara. 

The Esther Crew, Anda, Barbara, and Capt. Carl

Now, they were both recent graduates of the Crew Class, but neither had sailed on Esther before.  Note she  is the smallest boat in the Seattle Mountaineer's fleet, but I figured we could squeeze three aboard overnight even if it rained. Though it would be snug up forward for two. But it seems the weather gods smiled upon us, as the date approached and the hottest weeks of the summer so far came bearing down.  We met up on Saturday at Esther's home port. I'd hopped to be down early, but a long week at the office meant I only showed up about 20 minutes before meet time, and Anda was already there.  Barbara arrived shortly after.  And we loaded up.  Possibly a little overloaded on my part.  But we were prepared!  Prepared for storms, pirates, icebergs, whatever the sea threw at us.  Especially sunscreen, which we needed in abundance.  Though even without much leadership by your skipper truly, the crew provisioned some excellent vittles for our trip, too.  I'll have to work on my planning that way, but it worked out great.  We soon got things stowed and headed out.  Just outside the marina the biggest disaster of the weekend struck.  Your beloved skipper, while stowing the fenders in the cockpit lazarette, jammed his thumbnail on the edge of the opening.  It seemed this might doom our trip, but upon closer inspection, and a high pain tolerance, it seemed there were no fiberglass splinters embedded, so we staunched the bleeding, iced the wound, and carried on.  The current was favorable, but as usual the destination was upwind.  We got on a pretty good course, running down the East side of the Sound, out of the VTS lanes.  About the latitude of Jefferson Head, to the West, we were treated to a deep "hissss" and saw AN ORCA!  Probably a male by the height of it's dorsal fin.  He(?) was heading North, maybe looking for some early salmon. It's been a few years since I'd seen one while underway, so maybe the jammed fingernail was worth it?  After a while the wind died away, leaving us bobbing at about the latitude of Port Madison.  Well, time to fire up Iron Jenny and burn some dinosaurs.  We motored across big Port Madison to Agate Pass.  The current was flooding and pushed us along, probably adding a know or two to our SOG (speed over ground). Anda took this time to snooze a little, as she'd spent two hours up in the middle of the night Friday from a fire alarm at her condo residence.  Never did find if there was an actual fire or hopefully just a false alarm.  We motored under the bridge and could really see the swift current at the buoys and the bridge abutment.  It was like a river.  Glad to have a few knots in our favor rather than fighting them.  Alan and I had never discussed the currents, though maybe he thought about them before choosing Manzanita, but it was a great weekend for our plans, as there was a big flood Saturday afternoon, and a big ebb Sunday morning.  Passing the large casino at Suquamish, the wind returned, this time from the North.  Though light, we hoisted sails and went coasting into Manzanita Bay. Hillary, aloft on a 70 foot mast, caught us coming in.

Esther entering Manzaniata Bay

Spectacular shot or what? Anyway, I digress.  We looped back around and rafted up to Rhythm, with Blue Fin on the other side.  Later Grace Elaine came in and rafted to Blue Fin.  Good thing the wind never came up hard, we’d have been a little unbalanced, and a few tons of fiberglass and lead for one anchor.

Loading for the dingy excursion.

Socializing, swimming (with a couple friendly harbor seals nearby watching), refreshments, and then dinner soon passed.  Alan had arranged a tour at the Battle Point Observatory through his star gazing contacts.  Alas, there wasn’t public access to land from most of Manzanita Bay, which lead to a few back-and-forths, furious Google Mapping, and a run around the point trying to find a landing after dark.  My crew and I were on Ken’s dingy, and after a run down the West side of the point, and seeing Alan’s crew searching in vain for a West side landing, headed back. On the way we were treated to some fireworks of an unknown origin on toward Suquamish, though not at the casino.  After that fun we retired to the raft up and wound down.  Alan and crew persisted and were able to secure a ride from a landing point on the East side of Manzanita and did make it to the observatory, so the lesson there is persistence pays off.  Being warm and dry, my crew decided to sleep on the cockpit benches, and I image a few other folks did too around the raft up.  I bunked in the main salon.  A V-berth would probably have been too hot for anyone. In the early morning I awoke a bit and the full moon was over head.  It was almost like daylight it was so bright it washed away all the stars. 

Socializing on Blue Fin.

Morning came, and there were terrific breakfasts all around.  So much so that I skipped making my French toast, and just shared in with the others. And still there were left overs. A few took morning dips to wake up and refresh. But by 11:00 AM it was time to break up the raft and head for the barn.  Decks were cleared for action, lines cast off, the anchor hoisted (thanks Bill and crew!), and we headed for home.  On the way back on our boat we saw numerous porpoises around from Port Madison to Edmonds, and even saw one do a full breach.  I’ve never seen that before on the Sound!  The wind was Northerly, and reasonably brisk.  We put a reef in the main and furled some headsail to keep Esther on her feet.  I recall the previous Wednesday nigh race where we buried the rail so far water flooded over the cockpit combing.  And that was with all rail-meat™ on the windward rail.  No need to push it twice in a week, right? We sailed smooth in the glorious summer breeze and made it home safely.  A clean up, scrub, and good-bye hugs ended a great weekend.  If we could only do it every day.  Someday, maybe?

Thanks very much to my most excellent crew Anda and Barbara, to Alan for inspiring, to Bill and Ken for joining in, and everyone for making it a fun weekend.