Vacation after Adventure; Sailing the Portland Pudgy

1-SEP-2017, Matia Island, WA – Yesterday morning we motored just after sunlight from Port Roberts to Matia Island in the San Juans.

We had spent two nights in Vancouver’s False Creek, where, as we have whenever we are anchored there, we dragged.

The dragging isn’t serious. The bottom is sand. When the tide changes the anchor takes twenty or thirty feet to reset. But, it is tight anchoring and I suspect everyone is as fluid as we are. We powered up the first morning and reset. The second morning, we just raised anchor and left.

We didn’t wander around Vancover, visit museums, or even visit the community centers to shower (we have very good internet onboard, so we don’t need to go ashore for internet).

What we did do, and the sole reason we stayed a second day was to visit Trudi Diening’s sister, Ankie, and her mother, Bep.

Ankie and I figure that we last saw each other before 1970… ’68 or ’69 is most likely.

It was wonderful to see Ankie and Mrs. Diening and meet Ankie’s husband of 45 years, Jim.

We met at the restaurant closest to where we anchored, which also happened to have a dinghy dock.

After lunch, which lasted a few hours, Hilary, Jennifer and I walked to the closest Sav-On in downtown Vancouver. Generally, we have been buying groceries at Urban Fare, which is a Whole Foods-style supermarket with prices to match.

Sailing has been good: We sailed to Vancouver, all the way into English Bay, and then sailed from Vancouver to within ten miles of Point Roberts. But by then the wind had died and we were in the middle of the north bound shipping lane staring down a car carrier.

Point Roberts is an isolated gum drop of the US that sticks into the Strait of Georgia. Unless travel is by water, you must go into Canada to get anywhere else in the US. The school kids cross the boarder to and from school each day.

The harbor is tightly packed with docks with unnumbered slips. If you don’t look at a map before you set out, there is no way to figure out which slip is which. They also gave us a gate key that opened the dock gate next to ours, but not ours. Fortunately, security is not too tough and I was able to climb over the gate to get back to our dock. Previous footprints and a bent electrical box told us were not the first to enter this way.

The bright sunlight and pleasant sailing have been taking the edge off and have started to make Jennifer and I relax. After leaving Point Roberts at day break to catch a southward current (and absolutely still air), we motored to Matia Island where we are now.

We arrived before noon, so we would be certain to get a space on the dock. The surprise came when we learned that this is Labor Day weekend. Dropping out for this long means that dates lose their meaning. The days of the week haven’t meant much in quite a while, though the date (day, month and year) and time are of critical importance because of the importance of tide and current.

Yesterday at Matia was one of those magical confluences of people where there are common interests and immediate connections.

Once we docked, Jennifer and I walked up the ramp from the floating dock to shore. After routinely working around twenty-foot tides, the six-foot tide here (it is a neaps tide) is relaxing all by itself. Looking up through the slats of boards were two startling light blue eyes of a woman in a hammock under the boardwalk. I said, ‘‘Good Morning,’’ which was similarly returned and told her I would try not to drop dirt on her. She told me not to worry about it.

On the dock was a San Juan 21 sailboat, with no outboard, that makes our old T-Bird look like a yacht, and no other boat.

We started speaking with Jessi in the hammock and asked her over to the dock to share the startling number of Blackberries that Jennifer had picked at Point Roberts. Jessi had said she was being lazy and should have left already, but it was much more than an hour before she made her way over. By then we had met Julia and Scot onboard the San Juan 21.

One of Scot’s first utterances was that this was the largest boat he had ever owned, which only becomes remarkable when you learn that he and Julia have been sailing all over the San Juan Islands.

Jessi trumped us all when she told us she is, over time, circumnavigating by kayak each individual island, all 123 of them. She had completed 89 already.

Jessi is a bartender working weekends. Her husband and she are rock climbers, but she kayaks alone.
As the day moved on, Bob arrived on a thirty-something Catalina. Though Bob spoke with Jennifer, he generally stayed apart from the growing crowd when Lorna, Sierra and Darren arrived in their MacGregor 26. Sierra is fifteen, but can pass for twenty; Lorna and Darren are her parents.


Shoes laced by Hilary

A MacGregor is a controversial sailboat: a rethinking really. With water ballast and a smaller-than-normal sailing rig, the boat will take a 90+ hp outboard. With the 90 that Lorna and Darren have, they can motor at 22 knots with ballast and cruising load, or 30 knots, no ballast or cruising load.

Scott, Julia, Jennifer, Hilary and I shared dinner together eating at the dock. Scot made beans and brown rice, I made a few small pizzas using whatever was on the boat.

Scot lives in Twisp WA, in the mountains. Julia lives in New Hampshire. Scot’s boat has no auxillary, but does have 9-foot oars and a sliding seat. He can move the boat at 2.5 knots. His previous boat could be rowed as fast as a kayak: 4 knots.

When things gel, it’s difficult to describe what you spoke about, nothing really, but lots of things, and, as is the case these days, no politics.

Jessi had taken off shortly after the eating some blackberries and bringing us a gift of applesauce in individual-serving plastic containers with twist off tops that she highly recommends.

Jennifer had met two kayakers camped on the island, so we invited everyone to gather the next morning for muffins – baked goods are what I can offer very small boat sailors and kayakers.

Bob left about 6.30 the next morning, but everyone else showed. It’s enjoyable to have people gather.

We’ve decided to stay three nights here. It is sunny warm and everywhere nearby will be crowded. The dock is currently filled with power boaters. Two of the other three boats are traveling with friends and other boats, so they won’t reach out to us. The third boat is a family. They have been wonderfully friendly, but it is a family and a closed unit in a boat big enough that there is no need to leave the boat.

The big news today is that we assembled the Portland Pudgy sailing rig. It still surprises me how many people know exactly what it is.

In the hull was a sea anchor with handwritten patent, model and serial numbers and a very long very stiff line.

We pulled out the sail bag that contains the sail, spars and lines. The rig is intended to be stored partially assembled, so Jennifer and I did the ‘‘preassembly’’ on the dock, then I finished the final assembly on the beach. For the brief few moments there was the slightest of breezes the boat sailed well, though I could not actually feel the breeze. I disassembled the rig, stored it, as we’ll try again tomorrow.

Tonight, it will just be the three of us for dinner. The bread dough is in its second rise. We’ll have grilled cheese sandwiches with caramelized onions and green peppers inside, napped with a tomato sauce from the pizzas yesterday. Jennifer and I plan to finish watching the Alamo, with a cast of John Wayne, Richard Boone, Richard Widmark and others. The temperature drops quickly as darkness approaches, so we won’t sit out.

The leaves are falling from the trees already.

Read the following post, written from Port Townsend, for what happened next.

Author: johnjuliano

One-third owner of Caro Babbo, co-captain and in command whenever Caro Babbo is under sail.

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