Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cornet Bay to Aborted Deception Pass Attempt

The landmass lost in the lowering clouds is Fidelgo Island. A pair of bridges connects the island to Whidbey Island and to the mainland on the east. This bay approaches the narrow passage between Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands. It's a treacherous bit of water. The currents run so fast through this passage that we've seen boats with their engines wide open, still being pushed backward by the current.

This photo to the right offers a glimpse of the bridge. It's the smudge showing just above the low-lying islet in the middle. We have to time our attempt through the passage. We'll wait for slack and make our run. The state has parks on either side of the passage with dock space for those of us who prefer to tie up and wait for the current to die down. The danger of running the passage at peak current is that once the water is running past your rudders faster than you're going, you've lost steerage. A narrow passage lined with granite isn't a spot where you want to have no control over where you go.

As you can see, our copilot is gravely concerned.

Oh, wait. So's the captain and his cohort. I took us up the inside of Whidbey Island into Cornet Bay, the state park just inside Deception Pass. Keith comforted Autolycus. Or was that the other way around? Hard to tell at the point of this photo. We planned to spend the night tied up to a float in the state park (floats mean no power, no water, but they also mean no anchor dragging). Turned out, we got to the park and tied up just in time. It was the opening weekend of boating season and an entire fleet of racing boats came in to tie up. It was the 'Round Whidbey Island Race. These folks rafted boats four deep. They grilled burgers and hotdogs in the rain, then got up the next morning early to make their run through Deception Pass so they could raise sails and finish the race around the outside of Whidbey.

Autolycus, before the docks filled up with boats, enjoying a little shore leave.

Madam Erie, inspecting the docks. She was not impressed. The wood seemed to confuse her.

Note about Cornet Bay: bouncy. The state park has boat ramps right beside the docks with no break water between. Fishing boats launch from those ramps and go screaming off in search of whichever seafood suits them. It made for pretty uncomfortable moorage. Especially at the prices the park charged for mooring up to a float with no amenities. We're pretty much crossing this stop off our list.

Deception Pass: We got up with early and made to get underway before breakfast, intent on making our run through the pass at slack. Two things happened. The cabin heater gave out again. And as I was on deck casting us off, one of the lines caught on my PFD. I yanked on the line to free it. It had wrapped around the "Jerk to Inflate" tab on my life vest. The CO2 canister fired. PIFF. Good news: The life jacket works and no sea water was involved in finding that out. The bad news: Useless once inflated. We had to find a re-arming kit at a marine store to make it usable once more. More bad news: I couldn't breathe with it inflated. I have the vest adjusted for comfort while it wasn't inflated, which meant that once it blew up like a balloon, it was way too tight. I couldn't get out of it. Keith had to help me escape the neon yellow monster. A quick consultation later, we diverted to Anacortes - back the way we'd come, into the La Connor cut and into Padilla Bay, then into Anacortes. Naturally, the West Marine in Anacortes didn't have the parts we needed to repair my PFD. Since, with my lower center of gravity, I do all the deck work, I have to have an autoinflating PFD while outside the cockpit. Keith gave me his. He wore one of the bulky, orange life jackets whenever he had to be on deck, too.

PS: Restaurant tip in Anacortes: Adrift - seafood/burger restaurant. Excellent food. Keith had the crab au gratin. I had coconut green curry catfish. Sounds weird, I know, but the flavors were subtle and fabulous. Key Lime (the real thing) tart for dessert. Mmmm. We're going back.

Next up: San Juans, the PFD fix, Rosario Resort and wildlife!


  1. It might not always be great fun to experience, but this makes for excellent reading!

    ~doodles pic of Marcella suffocating in enormous puffy yellow vest~

  2. I'm so glad you are able to update your blog and FB, Marcella! It's almost like you're not really gone, and I get to read your adventures, so double the fun! Safe sailing!

  3. Loving the photos and tales of adventure. Cats seem to be doing well! Glad you are such good sailors! Did I ever tell you that I was a Mariner Girl Scout? It's true!!! And got sea sick on my only fishing trip on the Atlantic...!!!

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