Departure Port: Victoria; Departure Time: 8am; Destination: Roche Harbor; Arrival Time: 1pm; Distance Cruised Today: 23 miles; Total Distance for the Trip: 1030 miles; Conditions: Clear sky, smooth seas, favorable current most of the way, 82 degree air; 55 degree water
We’re ready to go by 7:30am but we delay until 8, since my current almanac shows that we’ll have more favorable currents if we go a bit later. We take an inside route through the little rocks and islands just east of Victoria harbour. We see a long fog bank out over the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but our route is completely clear of fog. Once we’re clear of islands and kelp beds we set a course for the San Juan Island side of Haro Strait. About 2/3’s of the way across we reenter US waters. I take down the Canadian courtesy flag and raise our yellow “Q” flag in its place. We’ll fly it until we clear customs in Roche Harbor. We’re on the lookout for orcas, and we do hear some radio chatter from boats which are reporting sightings, however, they’re where near us and we fail to sight any. We enter Mosquito Pass and take a slight detour into Garrison Bay, for a “drive by” look at English Camp, which was occuppied by British troops from 1858 until 1872, when the disputed ownership of San Juan Island was decided in favor of the US. At least 20 boats are anchored in Garrison Bay.
We pop back out and head up the channel toward Roche Harbor. As we draw near, the boat traffic steadily increases and once we round a point and can see into the harbor, we find boats everywhere. This is a very busy place in summer, and we simply add to the total. I weave my way in to the Customs dock and manage to tie up right in front of the Customs office. I grab our 2 passports and my boat registration and walk over to the office. I’m surprised to hear that I’m next in line, so the wait is very brief. The Customs officer is very pleasant and efficient, and we have only one gliche clearing in. Our last 2 mandarin oranges, which we’d planned on eating with lunch, are confiscated. Darn, should have eaten them sooner. Once we’re clear of the customs dock we head into the harbor, bound for the fuel dock. It’s very crowded and we have to wait our turn. Once in it takes very little time to fill our port side gas tank. We head back out, into the boat traffic. I radio and get instructions for our reserved slip, and get tied up with help from the staff. It’s great to be here.
After lunch we walk over to the pool for a refreshing dip, amongst the dozens and dozens of little kids. An ice cream cone just about finishes off the afternoon. Back on the boat we get acquainted with the couple on the 28 foot Bayliner which is moored in the neighboring slip. Walt is a warm, congenial guy from Texas, recently retired, and we enjoy swapping boating and hunting stories. It turns out he’s been very successful with his crabbing efforts. We mention our hard luck with the trap out on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, thanks in large part to the thriving sea otter population. Around 4:30pm he starts setting up his propane burner. He hauls a 5 gallon bucket up out of the water. It has holes in the bottom, and it’s just chuck full of live dungeness crab. I hear them scratching around in the bucket. He dumps a bunch out onto the dock, flips them onto their backs, and then skewers them with a big carving knife. They go instantly limp. He cracks the leg/claw/body meat sections from the top shell and starts tossing them into the boiling pot. He leans over toward us and says “Would you eat a couple of crabs if I boiled them up for you?” I reply “Does the sun shine in July?” Of course we would. Serendipidy has just struck again. I make a quick trip up the dock to the store, return with a tub of potato salad and a pack of beer, and the dinner menu is complete. Melt some butter on the stove, grab the cocktail sauce, paper plates, forks and crab crackers and we’re set. Greg keeps on chuckling in disbelief and saying “Um, is this good.”
Moored a couple of slips over I notice another MacGregor 26X just like ours. It’s from BC and just before dinner I chat briefly with the couple on her. It turns out they’re friends of our boat dealer, and were at the last Blue Water Yachts rendezvous a few years back. I’d done a slide show and they remember me from that. They’re very active in the BC MacGregor club. I’m hoping to visit more with them before we leave tomorrow. This evening we plan on walking up to the flag pole area to watch the retiring of the colors. This ceremony is done each evening here at Roche Harbor and is a lot of fun to watch.