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Patos Island Lighthouse, in service since 1983

Patos Island Lighthouse, in service since 1983

Patos Island, in Washington State, hosts a 207 acre marine park and a lighthouse that marks the northern entrance to Boundary Pass between Canada and the United States. The lighthouse has been in service since 1893 and the island itself is the most remote island in the San Juan islands.

Active Cove, which is named for the tidal currents that race between Patos and Little Patos islands contains two mooring buoys and a few camp sites which are managed by Washington State Parks. The island itself is Federal land, managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The small cove is open to the West, which can subject boats to rollers from passing ships and waves from the Straits of Georgia.

Acitve Cove on Patos Island

Acitve Cove on Patos Island

Catching a mooring ball in Active Cove requires a bit of luck, since there are only two, along with the right timing. Once secured to a buoy, you will often see boats cruising by, taking a peek to see if there is room in the cove. It is possible to anchor in the cove, but it is shallow and very tight, making it far more suitable for a day stop than overnight.

If you do get the chance to visit Patos Island, you definitely should. It is stunningly beautiful and about as remote as you can get. Yes Please arrived early, dropped her hook for a few hours until a mooring ball was free, then moved to the ball for a worry free overnight stay.

Yes Please at Patos Island

Yes Please at Patos Island

We hiked around the island and out to the magnificent lighthouse on Alden Point. With only two boats in the cove, you really do feel like you are all alone on a beautiful, deserted island. I have definitely found my new favorite place to visit in the San Juan Island’s! I highly encourage boaters to take the time to check out Patos Island. You will not be disappointed!

Jim Wester's beautiful, hand built boat.

Jim Wester’s beautiful, hand built boat.

Early in the evening, as the wind was picking up and the weather deteriorating, we saw a very old row boat shoot through the tiny gap on the East Side of Little Patos. I was amazed that anyone would row to Patos, especially given the sea state and wind, so went ashore to congratulate them with a frosty cold beer. It turns out that Tate Wester and his girlfriend had rowed over from Waldron Island (where he grew up) in a beautiful wood boat that was hand built by his father (blacksmith Jim Wester, North Bay Forge) twenty years before. Check out the photo of the boat. Is is incredibly well built, tight as a drum without a drop of water inside, despite a three foot chop and a 7 mile journey from Waldron.

The kids appreciated my last cold beer and spent a wet night ashore, with plans to row over the Sucia Island the next day (a three mile journey). We wished them well in the morning after offering to tow then, but they declined the offer and we headed south into building seas for another adventure.

Grand Banks Eastbay 39, Yes Please moored in Active Cove.

Grand Banks Eastbay 39, Yes Please moored in Active Cove.

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Empty mooring buoys in Fossil Bay

Empty mooring buoys in Fossil Bay

Sucia Island State Park sits right on the border between Washington State and British Columbia at the south end of Georgia Straight. It was purchased by the local Yacht Clubs (Grand 14) and donated to Washington State to be used as a boat-only Marine Park. It is a very popular destination for boaters and is one of my favorite places in the entire world.

We head up to Sucia at least once a year and this was the first trip for Yes Please. Since we arrived before the peak season traffic and the weather was a little on the iffy side, we found Fossil Bay to be nearly deserted. We grabbed a buoy that should be protected from the predicted SW winds by the cliffs on the south side of the bay.

Yes Please on the State Park Dock at Fossil Bay

Yes Please on the State Park Dock at Fossil Bay

It turns out the forecast was wrong about the wind direction and we had very strong southeasters that made for a bumpy night spent on the buoy. In the morning, we moved to the dock and tied up for a better night’s sleep and to make taking the dog in much easier.

There are several excellent hikes on Sucia Island and we set out to conquer each and every one of them. Yankee thought it was great fun at first, but by the end of the day he was one pooped puppy dog!!

Grand Banks Eastbay 39, Yes Please at Fossil Bay

Grand Banks Eastbay 39, Yes Please at Fossil Bay

On our return to Fossil Bay after Independence Day, we found it to be very busy with all of the moorings taken. Fortunately, good timing meant some boats were leaving as we arrived and we grabbed a mooring ball and enjoyed the calm, tranquil waters. The boats on the docks were rafted up three deep and were partying into the wee hours of the night. When I took the dog ashore early the next morning, the dock looked pretty bad (beer cans, bottles, clothing, etc. strewn everywhere). I was glad we were parked far enough away.

Kayaking in Fossil Bay, Sucia Island

Kayaking in Fossil Bay, Sucia Island

A bounding puppy equals pure joy on the beach of Spencer Spit!

A bounding puppy equals pure joy on the beach of Spencer Spit!

After the 120 nautical mile run up to the San Juan Islands, I thought our puppy deserved a break where he could run on the beach freely, so we stopped at Spencer Spit State Park (Lopez Island). We arrived to find no boats on any of the park’s buoys, so snagged one along the south side of the spit. Usually the park is a bit too busy for my taste, but we were early and the dog had behaved so well on our long trip up, that I thought it was worth stopping.

Yes Please on a parks buoy at Spencer Spit State Park.

Yes Please on a parks buoy at Spencer Spit State Park.

We dropped the dinghy in the water and ferried Yankee ashore. I don’t think I have ever seen such a happy puppy in my entire life. He was racing up and down the beach along the spit, retrieving sticks and bounding into the water with pure joy. Definitely the right spot to take a puppy full of energy. It did my heart good to see such a happy dog.

Eventually, we brought the dirty, wet dog back to the boat and he collapsed on a towel, drifting off to sleep. He’d ingested a bit of salt water, so we made sure he drank lots of fresh water. I could tell it wasn’t bothering him as any time either Sherri or I stood up and moved aft, Yankee would race past us and jump into the dinghy. There was no need to ask him if it was time to go “potty”.

Stick? Stick? Stick?!

Stick? Stick? Stick?!

In the evening, a large family of otters came by, while we watched the deer along the beach. As the wind died down, the stench from the marsh in the middle of the spit would waft our way. It’s a bit stinky (rotten egg smell), but it was worth it for such a happy dog.

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Yankee digs the real grass dog potty out on the breakwater at Oak Harbor Marina

Yankee digs the real grass dog potty out on the breakwater at Oak Harbor Marina

Oak Harbor Marina, on Whidbey Island, really goes out of their way to help visiting boaters. We stopped by on our long run up to the San Juan Islands and it was like hitting the proverbial “Easy Button”, the second we arrived.

The price of diesel at the fuel dock was about as inexpensive as it gets and they offer a $0.20 per gallon discount if you are mooring overnight! Marina staff checked on reciprocal moorage for us, then took care everything to get us checked in to guest moorage out on the inside of the breakwater.

It’s a long walk from guest moorage to shore, so Oak Harbor Marina has placed a floating restroom out on the breakwater as well as real grass for dogs to potty on. That’s what I call excellent service and we will definitely be back on our next trip north.

Yes Please tied up at Oak Harbor Marina.

Yes Please tied up at Oak Harbor Marina.

We’d run the 130 mile trip from Olympia to Oak Harbor in about 5 hours, which included a quick touch and go potty stop for the dog at Manchester. It was windy and very shallow when we arrived, but there is plenty of water and navigation into the marina is pretty straight forward.

The walk to town is just less than a mile, but feels good after a long day and there are plenty of food and shopping choices.

Anchor Rollers were disassembled, cleaned and greased.

Anchor Rollers were disassembled, cleaned and greased.

I spent most of the weekend prepping the boat for multi-week trips to the San Juan’s and Gulf Islands this summer. I changed the oil and filters in the main engines, then removed both of the Anchor Rollers so I could clean up and grease the shafts. The aft roller was squeaking and the forward roller was frozen. After a little elbow grease followed by some real grease, they are rolling smooth as silk and silently.

Marking the Anchor Chain for depth.

Marking the Anchor Chain for depth.

Once the rollers were working, I flaked most of the anchor chain out onto the deck to inspect and mark it for length/depth. We have always used Red, White and Blue paint and chain markers every 50′. It’s very easy to remember the red, white and blue color scheme. I also found some old yellow paint every 25′, so have intermediate lengths marked as well.

I replaced the start battery for the generator, even though it appeared to be functioning perfectly. The date code indicates that the battery is 11 years old (as are the house and start batteries) and I wanted to be sure we were able to start the generator in case we needed to charge the other batteries. The generator battery was the hardest one to get to, requiring a painful crawl forward and around the outside of the port engine, all the way aft to where the battery is hidden away next to the tail shaft. The positive terminal stud was very loose and was growing green corrosion, indicating it had been a long, long time since the battery had been serviced.

Replacing the Generator Start Battery.  Notice the date code from 2005!

Replacing the Generator Start Battery. Notice the date code from 2005!

I understand why, recalling that Matt (surveyor) had been unable to physically get to the battery or the Fireboy extinguisher during the survey. Fortunately, I’m shorter than he is so managed to worm my way back and get er done!

Boats rafted up at McMicken Island State Park

Boats rafted up at McMicken Island State Park

McMicken Island is a Marine State Park that is popular with boaters in Southern Puget Sound. On three day weekends, the anchorage fills up with large rafts of boats that party hard into the night. The rest of the year, the 11.5 acre park is quiet and peaceful, a great place to take the family. There is a sand bar that appears at low tides which connects McMicken to Harstine Island.

On Memorial Day weekend, we decided the join the crowds and headed up to McMicken to catch up with old friends. We weren’t disappointed, arriving midday, we discovered nine boats full of our closest friends rafted up. We tied up next to Serenity and Sea Ya so that Lauren could visit with Chloe and it didn’t take long before the two of them were off exploring the sand bar in the kayaks.

Sea Ya, Serenity and Yes Please rafted together

Sea Ya, Serenity and Yes Please rafted together

Meanwhile, after catching up with several families we hadn’t seen since last summer in the San Juan Islands, Captain Boyd took the dog ashore for his very first potty stop via the dinghy! Yankee wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but figured it out very quickly and by evening would hop in the dinghy as soon as we put his life jacket on him. Now we know that he is good to go for multi-week trips this summer.

Mike and Glen slow cooked a big slab of Halibut on the grille which melted in your mouth and made for an excellent dinner. The wind kicked up and swung to the north, which makes this anchorage very uncomfortable (no protection) and forced the large raft of boats to untie and reset anchors. Fortunately, it calmed down at dusk and everyone slept like babies after a great day on the water.

The girls love exploring in the kayaks

The girls love exploring in the kayaks

I normally steer clear of crowded anchorages, but had a blast at McMicken Island and may make Memorial Day an annual even there, like so many of my friends do.

Freshly varnished name boards looking sharp!

Freshly varnished name boards looking sharp!

Life has been keeping us pretty busy lately, but I still find time to run down to the boat during my lunch hour and get a little work done. Those short breaks were perfect for sanding down the old name boards and putting on several fresh coats of varnish. Each coat takes 24 hours to dry, so after about a week and seven coats, I was finally able to put the new Vinyl on the name boards.

Fusion BB-100 control

Fusion BB-100 control

Another, bigger project was to install a new Fusion BB-100 (black box) stereo system in the Stateroom. I installed the “black box” under one of the steps, then mounted the small controller/blue tooth transmitter in the side of the port drawers. Full range speakers were hung and the stereo sounds magnificent. It is easily controlled via Bluetooth and the FusionLink Iphone app, so we don’t even have to get out of bed at night to enjoy our music.

Another, easier project was to replace the Raymarine Depth Sounder Module (DSM-300). As mentioned in a previous post, the old one dropped out and alarmed constantly, which made it useless and extremely annoying. The refurbished unit dropped right into place and works like a champ, as seen in the screen shot below showing Yes Please passing over a wrecked concrete sailboat.

Sonar is now working thanks to a new DSM.

Sonar is now working thanks to a new DSM.

New full range speakers sound awesome!

New full range speakers sound awesome!

Our Goldendoodle Puppy loves being on the boat.

Our Goldendoodle Puppy loves being on the boat.

Over the last month, we have taken our eight month old puppy out on the boat, overnight, nine times. We are training him to be a good boat dog, in anticipation of multi-week trips this summer, and I am amazed at how easily he has adapted to life on the water. From his first day aboard, he has never given us any trouble and seems to be a magnet for making new friends on the docks wherever we go.

Yankee's first time in the Dinghy.  Can you tell he's petrified?

Yankee’s first time in the Dinghy. Can you tell he’s petrified?

He sleeps through the night without any fuss and will even sleep with Yes Please cruising at 16+ knots, while rocking and rolling to the waves. He has only fallen in the water one time, on his very first day, but quickly learned to be a little more careful and now routinely boards and disembarks with sure-footed grace.

This weekend, while docked at Island Home, all the boaters on our dock kept asking if Yankee could come out and play.

Yes Please parked in her new Boathouse.

Yes Please parked in her new Boathouse.

Yes Please moved into her new boathouse this past weekend. It was a very tight fit, with the anchor only six inches from tagging the plate glass window, but she fits like a glove.

One of the big factors in deciding to purchase the boat was the availability of boat houses in Olympia. I did not want a boat that had so much beautiful teak on the outside without the benefit of covered storage. Parking her in a house means that she will stay clean when washed and means the varnish on the teak should last about three years rather than being an annual battle.

The anchor is mere inches from tagging the glass window to the boathouse.

The anchor is mere inches from tagging the glass window to the boathouse.

Another big benefit, given the rainy weather here in the Pacific Northwest, is that the boathouse makes winter boat work possible and so much easier. It also gave us a good place to store the kayaks!

All of my trucks have always parked out in the rain, but the boat gets her own garage! I must have my priorities straight!

😉

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Yes Please and her fleet of kayaks.

Yes Please and her fleet of kayaks.

Our April Showers abated for most of Spring Break and we were able to spend five days out on Yes Please with some stellar weather. We loaded up all three kayaks and headed back to Jarrell’s Cove for some exploration and vacation! We had two days of 80° sunshine and almost no wind. Can you say heavenly?

Two additional boats showed up at the State Park Dock with friendly dogs about the same age as our puppy. We thoroughly enjoyed sitting around the fire on the docks in the evening while the three puppies wore themselves out playing with each other. I think Yankee slept better than we did!

Yes Please arrived at Island Home, just as the sun was setting.

Yes Please arrived at Island Home, just as the sun was setting.

We ran Lauren back to Olympia, then headed back out to Island Home, the Olympia Yacht Club outstation. It is a beautiful, peaceful and very relaxing marina at the South end of Pickering Passage. After spending a couple of nights at the dock with all of the amenities of home, we did NOT want to head back to civilization and work.