We pick our way through the Gulf Islands and back down into the USA!


We departed right on time at 8:20a this morning and made quick work of the 7 nm trip to Dodds Narrows - faster than expected with a 2 knt current - and we ended up having to wait for about 20 min before we felt comfortable running through the narrows with the current (~30 min before slack). As we were waiting, we saw some sea lions playing in the middle of the rapids. Seeing sea lions right on either side of the rapids has become a common occurance for us, they must be using the current to catch fish. It was only a few more hours from there to Ovens island and we had a bright beautiful day to do it in - and for a short while some wind to sail!

The trip was a little under 30 nm but we had a pretty strong current in our favor so we ende dup getting in fairly early - around 1p.


When we got to Ovens Island, there were only a few boats at the doc but quite a few more arrived over the course of the evening. After Jilly D got anchored, they came ashore and we had a lunch picnic on the other side of the island before doing some tidepooling and dropping the kayak for some kayak exploration. We also went swimming! It was quite warm/refreshing compared to Meyers Chuck - even though it was only 69/70 deg.

We had taco dinner on the picnic table on the dock and had a nice cozy evening.


From ovens, it was only a quick 17 nm push to Ganges. We considered skipping this one, but Salt Spring island is fun and we were planning to enter the USA (!!) the following day, so best not to make this one a big day. Because it was such a quick trip, we ended up getting in just after noon and had plenty of time to explore.


We headed off to a cheese farm - called “Saltspring Island Cheese”. We had some very delicious cheese and various treats/pizza made from said cheese. Unfortunately, it was goat cheese and they had the goats right there to pet. I very much dislike goats, but Sara seemed to have a great time with them - so I got over it.

After some drama with the Taxi, we made it back to the marina and did some walking around/shopping. Sara got a new book about animals and I managed to find a hardware store that had a new dog bowl for Oakley (the old one came apart) and some hardware for mounting the head down (although I still need to trim back the block so I can’t actually remount it until Seattle).

When we got back to the dock, I saw a romp (group of otters - look it up!) of river otters right on the dock, looked like about 7 of them. There was another boat on the dock that was giving away plums, so I grabbed a few for the boat - to, you know, keep things regular.

We had dinner at the Tree House again and I spent about an hour trying to get CBP roam to work. It was very reminicint of the last time we were at the Tree House Cafe where I spent an hour trying to get our Verizon cell service to work. Dinner was, as last time, delicious even though I was a bit distracted. I did end up getting CBP roam to work when we got back to the boat, but it turns out that unlike entering Alaska you can only submit your arrival once you have crossed into US waters. So, nothing more to do tonight - off to bed!


We left pretty early the next morning - eager to continue on our journey. We had about 10 nm to go before crossing into US waters - a much anticipated moment, it felt like we were really home now! I took a picture of the US (Stuart island) from Canada - somewhat anti-climactic.


I fired off the CBP roam arrival request - after about 15 min of waiting, we were on a video call with a customs officer in Friday harbor. After about 5 min of some basic questions and a quick chat with everyone on board, we got our clearance numbers. Not quite as simple as entering Alaska, but pretty close. Another 13 nm and we had arrived at Henry island (near Roche Harbor). This felt like a big moment to us - we still have a ways to go before we get home, but being back in our home state felt like we were there!


There were a few boats there when we arrived, most of whom we had met as they were headed south on the same schedule as us. We got to chatting with a couple on a boat called Over Easy during dinner and we told them of our trip up to Alaska - turns out that they run/coordinate the pizza and charts thing at the SYC and asked if we would do a session on our trip. There are lots of people that head up to Alaska regularly, but I’ve always thought our story was still unique and magical. It was kind of a good feeling to have others respond to this trip in the same way - I write this blog primarily to capture my memories so that I can remember them later - I don’t expect many people read it outside of my parents, but I’m so glad that others also think it is interesting and worthy of sharing.

Dinner involved burgers and grilled apples - pulled off the nearby tree. We weren’t the only ones who liked the apples - a fox and several dear came through during the evening to eat some of the apples that had fallen on the ground.

We got back to the boat and I went about connecting up shore power - I had forgotten to do it earlier. I heard the couple from Over Easy out on the dock a few slips down trying to shine a light for a boat coming in - apparently, he had miss-judged how long it would take him to sail around one of the nearby islands. I grabbed by big light and headed over to help him tie up lines. Pretty uneventful, except his engine would not turn off. This had happened to a friend of mine and, after trying to cut the fuel off in several different ways, he had eventually just put his hand over the intake to close off the air. We tried that here, but it didn’t quite work - the intake was more complicated than mine and we weren’t able to seal off the air completely. Eventually we just shut off the fuel at the tank - took about 5 min to drain the fuel from the lines before the engine died. Another technique to add to my toolkit in case this happens to me or someone else in the future - everyday is learning!


Rest day at Henry Island today - we played on the playground, did some reading, pickleball, etc. I decided to make a small apple breakfast dish - kinda like an apple cobbler - with the ingredients on hand. A mix of pancake batter, some apples picked from the tree, sugar, water, and almond extract. It was quite the hit with the family.


I decided to take Oakley on a walk just before noon over to the Henry Island nature preserve. We hiked over to the Isthmus and across to the other half of Henry Island - called Little Henry. There was an overlook with views of Westcot bay and the Isthmus - fun little hike.

It was about 4 miles in total and there were lots of different hikes you could take off of the main hike if you were so inclined - lots to explore when we come back here!

Henry Island Hike

We headed over to Roche Harbor for lunch. The town is a great refit spot - with a fun little grocery store, pumpouts, fuel, and several restaurants. The pumpout company is very creative…

Phecal Phreak

We had been here years ago, but I didn’t remember much and we had a very different point of view on what made a harbor great before we had a boat. We ate at the Lime Kiln Cafe and then Scott/I headed over to the San Juan Island Distillery to do some tastings and pickup some bottles - both for ourselves and for some friends back in Seattle who love the place.


One of the bottles we picked up was the Navy Strong gin - which comes with a cannon fire when purchased…

We wraped up the night with dinner on Jilly D and some cribbage - a game which Angela and I are learning. Tomorrow we make way for Friday harbor and then on to the Puget Sound!

Gratia Boat