We make our way through the San Juans, pass through Deception Pass into the Puget Sound, and then home!


We had only a short move today - 11 nm from Henry island to Friday Harbor. We ended up getting in pretty early and found the place much less crowded than last time - only 3 boats vs 12 boats when we were heading north.

Friday Harbor

Amazingly, one of the first people we ran into was at Friday Harbor when we came through on the way North - a boat called Nisku. Apparently there was quite the stir when we mentioned our plans here 4 months ago and Nisku had been following this blog ever sense - with a particular interest in all of our mechanical challenges (and successes!). I had always assumed that the only people reading this blog were my family and maybe a few close friends - I’m going to have to watch what I write now… :)

After getting situated, we walked into town to meet up with Sara and Grammy/Pappa - stopping off at the book store and coffee shop along the way. We spent the rest of the afternoon drifting through Friday Harbor before having dinner on the Jilly D.


We had a long day ahead of us - almost 50 nm - and we departed fairly early to avoid a late day. The plan was to depart the San Juan Islands via Thatcher pass and cross Rosario Strait over to Deception Pass. We had planned it so that the current was with us most of the way - and we mostly realized that vision, with the exception of the first 3-4 nm coming out of Friday Harbor before making our way around Upright Head rock and into Lopez Sound. It was fairly smooth sailing out Thatcher Pass and across Rosario Strait - the forecast called for 25-30 knt winds in the strait of Juan de Fuca and Rosario offered a spectacular alterative with only 10-15 knt winds and 3-4 foot seas. We arrived about an hour early to deception pass (as anticipated) and we stopped off in Bowman Bay at a public float to eat lunch. After lunch, it was time for the pass…

We made quick work of Deception Pass - we went through about 15 min after slack and the current was already flowing about 2 knts. There are a series of constrictions after Deception Pass and each of them gave us a nice push as the current continued to build all afternoon. We even got a little sailing in as we entered Saratoga Pass and continued on into Penn Cove.

Penn Cove

We anchored out in Penn Cove and discovered that the Captain Whidbey Inn has a new dock that looked like it could fit our boat. We inquired about it at the front desk and they said that it does in-fact accommodate larger boats so we took the dinghy back out and brought our boat into the dock. That made things much easier for us and a great tip for the next time we head this way!


We checked into our room - which was a cabin with an amazing view. We got unpacked for the next couple of days that we planned to spend here and enjoyed being on land for a little while.

We had a nice dinner at the Captain Whidbey - their food has gotten considerably better since the last time we were here. We were informed that it was the same chef as last year, but he has hired mostly new people running the kitchen. Sara and Papa shared a very ‘fancy’ ice cream dessert!



We decided to take a rest day today - Jillie D left in the morning, heading back to Everett. It was only about a 3 hour trip for them and they were eager to get some of the repair work underway.

jilly D departs

Sara and I headed off to the sauna after breakfast - Sara wasn’t very into the sauna, but she had a great time playing in the little athletic studio that they have setup. That occupied us richly for a couple of hours. After that, it was time to head over to the lagoon area where there is a huge web like trampoline to play with, a ladder golf set, and a fun hike around the lagoon. We continued our hike out to the road and hiked along Penn cove to get a view back at the Captain Whidbey and our boat - such a pretty place.

I tried my hand at a man bun before we headed off to dinner - I’m not quite there, but it has grown quite a bit on this trip. Angela did not approve, but Sara loved it!


The following morning, we were packing back up to get underway for Port Madison. It was low tide and the sun was hitting the water at just the right angle to see right down to the bottom off of the dock - There must have been a hundred sea stars in this little spot.


It was a beautiful morning although not a particularly blowy one. Penn Cove is not deep - it’s only about 50 feet deep in the entire bay. I think this is why the cove is so good for shellfish - Penn Cove oysters and mussels are well known. We saw lots of birds as well - I’m assuming it’s related to the shellfish.

We motored most of the way along Camano Island - and then we saw Orcas! We only saw 3-4, but they very close. They left quickly and I wasn’t able to get my DSLR out in time, but here are some pics from my phone.

We were about 5 miles from Hat Island when there was a snag thrown in our perfect day. The engine reved down and wouldn’t go above about 1000 RPM - no matter how much throttle you have it. We bled the fuel lines and replaced the secondary fuel filter - which only left the primary fuel filter as the culprit. Unfortunately, my stock of spares was running low and we didn’t have one… My plan was to pull the fuel filter and try to clean it enough that we could make it to Everett and buy a new one. They aren’t really designed to be cleaned, but I figured I could get enough off to make it. Instead, Jillie D to the rescue. Turns out that Scott was almost to the boat and was able to grab a spare fuel filter for me and they were able to hand deliver it to us. We turned off the engine and threw up the sails for about 2 hours while we waited - and actually made some great time in a 10(ish) knt wind. I was able to replace the filter with only a little bit of trouble and we were up and running again - thank goodness. And thank Jillie D!

Once we had the motor running well again, we were only about an hour behind our original schedule for getting to Port Madison - so we decided to keep to the plan. Not long after, we passed by Hat Island and Seattle was in view!


I texted with Diane as we got close to Blue Ridge and she got some shots of us coming in. Not only was Seattle in view, but we were in view of Seattle!


About 2 hours later, we pulled into Port Madison. We had been here before, but before we joined the SYC. It’s fairly remote (for Bainbridge) but the bay is well protected and there are lots of boats anchored and in the various marinas.

Port Madison

As compared to the other SYC outstations, this place was huge. We went and hung out in this big event space with a fire place and kitchen - we made some smores by the fire and Sara got to play dress-up with the toys/outfits left for kids to play with. They also had a playground, some grills, and a walking path that took you over to a small boats center with kayaks and paddleboards. It was quite the outstation…

We finished the evening back on the boat with some Ukelele - I downloaded a few new songs and played them while everyone sung along. We were singing along to “Leaving on a Jet plane” when Sara broke down in tears saying the song was too sad and it took her almost 20 min to fully recover. I would never want to make Sara sad, but I guess this does mean I’m getting pretty good at the Ukelele…



We woke around 7a and were on our way. We are all fairly tired of the breakfast food we have, so we wanted to get to Eagle Harbor in time for the earliest brunch we could muster. When we hoped out of the boat to get going, there were seals all over the dock - fun!


We pulled out of Port Madison to glassy seas and a beautiful morning. We had some exceptional views of Seattle from across the sound.

We made it to Eagle Harbor around 10:30a and had brunch at the Madison Diner - which was awesome. It will be a new go-to when we head to Bainbridge in the future. We wrapped everything up at 11:30a and decided to go to Mora for ice cream - but found out that they got sold, Mora is no more. Bummer! We did get ice cream at a different place, but it’s not the same. We headed back to the boat for the last 1 hour push to home. We all felt both excited and sad that this epic journey was coming to a close. And then before you knew it, we were home.


Later that evening, Sara got out her globe and asked me where we went on this trip. I showed her where we went to and she replied “so we just went to this little part, not like Real Alaska, right?” - Nothing like a 6 year old to make your accomplishments feel just a little small. :)