A Glutton For Punishment

My second attempt (actually my third, but #2 was un-noteworthy due to early becalming and retreat) to circumnavigate Indian and Marrowstone Islands entirely under sail with Sampaguita, my Pacific Seacraft 1985 Flicka 20, was a success. 

I departed at 1100 hours, raising the jib as I passed by Boat Haven Fuel Dock. With a full WNW wind and a flooding tide, I sailed down Admiralty Inlet under full sail, making great time. Rounding the southern tip of Marrowstone Island, I tacked up to the entrance of the Port Townsend Ship Canal. 

Marrowstone Point Lighthouse
Full Sail
Wing and Wing

My timing was off, which really meant my departure was a bit too late, and I missed the tidal window by just a few minutes. I was stopped in my tracks halfway through the canal when the current reversed to flood. In combination with a headwind on the nose, it was too much for my full keeled cruiser. With the nature of the local hydraulics, the Admiralty Inlet and Port Townsend Ship Canal currents are not in synchronization, one of the dynamics which makes the trip exclusively under sail challenging. 

Rather than give up and engage the motor, I retreated, dropped the anchor, ate dinner, read a few chapters from Ginnah Howard’s book, Doing Time Outside, and snoozed. I just had to wait it out.

At Anchor
At Anchor

With the evening getting on, I pulled up the anchor and tacked back and forth at the entrance of the Port Townsend Ship Canal. I challenged the current, waiting for it to wane just enough to allow me in. With less than three hundred feet of width in the canal, tacking was early and often. I could hold my own, and even make a bit of headway with the sails powered up. But each time I tacked, the current would sweep me back.


Approaching Port Townsend Ship Canal

Around 2100 hours, I was able to make my move. Avoiding the riprap, the shallow edges, the bridge pilings, and the day markers, I short tacked my way through the canal around slack water. 

A gusting wind on the north side asked for a reef in the main, but the direction was nearly optimal. Only two tacks were required to make a beeline for Boat Haven and avoid the flashing blue lights of the Indian Island Navy Patrol Boats.

With fading twilight and a last-minute second reef as I close-hauled up the breakwater, I closed the circle at the entrance of Boat Haven. I dropped the sails and pulled into the slip as the Port Townsend bell tower struck the 11th hour. 

I was pleased to succeed but would have preferred to have had better timing and a faster journey. I suppose I’ll have to give it another go.

Trip Odometer – 29.31 NM, Max. Speed – 6.2 kts., Moving Ave. – 3.1 kts, Moving Time – 9 hours, 20 minutes, Total Time – 12 hours

10 Comments on “A Glutton For Punishment

  1. Dear Josh,

    You write wonderfully! I enjoyed your account and wish you the best on your next trip.




  2. Ha! I just stumbled across your website, really enjoy it! I, too, lived on a Columbia 24 before moving aboard my Flicka (PSC#5)and have some similar experiences. Looking forward to reading more of your adventures!


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