Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 18 Sep 2015 22:47
1400 Position: 48 23.5 N 124 52.5 W
Course South West Speed 3 knots
Wind: South East, F4 moderate breeze
Sea: moderate Swell: West 1 meter
Weather: mostly cloudy, some showers
Days run: 68 nm

Yesterday evening the wind gradually freshened, predominantly from the south sou' west, and the tidal stream turned in our favour after 2000. It took a few tacks to work our way up to Race Rocks marking the southern most point of Vancouver Island, but as we approached them the origin of their name became pretty obvious. Despite the gentle breeze as we approached the point the seas picked up and the GPS showed that Sylph was doing eight to nine knots over the ground. Consequently it did not take long to get past Race Rocks but, once we were to the west of them the wind died and we were left drifting for a couple of hours. Fortunately, while we were not actually making much way through the water, the ebbing stream continued to carry us at a knot or so in the direction we wished to go, out towards the ocean.

A little after two a light breeze returned to which I set sail, and, come dawn, the wind gradually freshened from the east allowing us to run wing on wing before it, and which, again with the assistance of the ebbing stream, allowed us to make good a speed of six to seven knots. There were a number of large merchant ships coming in and out of the Strait, usng of the traffic separation scheme. When power driven vessels are using a traffic separation scheme, sailing vessels are supposed to stay out of their way, so, to this end, I stayed mainly in the centre of the two traffic lanes, a bit like walking down the median strip of a busy road.

At midday we were approaching Cape Flattery, which is the southern headland of the entrance to the Juan de Fuca Strait. As we got closer we fell into the Cape's wind shadow losing steerage way, but the strong ebb tide continued to carry us past the Cape and out to sea. I motored for a short bit to clear the wind shadow, and after only about fifteen minutes of motoring the south easterly breeze returned and quickly freshened to the extent of requiring reduced sail. And now we are punching to windward against a rather short and lumpy sea.

The forecast is for the headwinds to continue from the south and south-west until sometime Sunday, when they should swing into the north-west and then hopefully carry us rapidly and more comfortably towards our next port, and one of the world's most famous – San Francisco.

Meanwhile, RC has sought shelter under the covers of the settee bunk. It has been about twelve months since Sylph's crew has been offshore and done any real sea-time. Our only other offshore time this year was crossing of the Alaska Gulf, and that turned out to be very tame – but I am certainly not complaining. Consequently, we are now perhaps a bit soft after all our island hopping within the relatively sheltered waters of British Columbia. It feels good to be out on the ocean again, with Sylph rising, falling, and punching through the waves. Each time she meets a sea her spoon bow scoops some of it up and sends it streaming down her side decks, where it sluices overboard towards the stern.

It has thus far been mostly overcast with passing showers, but there have been breaks in the clouds with patches of blue peeking through, and when the sun does shine it is well in the south, the direction our bows are pointing. The waves shine and glisten ahead of us, and beckon us on towards the sun's southern warmth. Eighty miles down, with about six hundred and fifty to go. So far, so good.

All is well.