Sunday, January 9, 2011

Back to La Conner

In November when we left La Conner after buying Gray Hawk we could hardly contain our excitement knowing that the next time we were in town we’d be on Gray Hawk. We cheated that just a little when we drove through La Conner on our way to pick up Chuck but today we got to go under the bridge that we departed over in November.

The Swinomish Channel is challenging. There’s mud flats on either side of both the north and south ends. At the south end the channel had been silting in and needs to be dredged so it has some really skinny spots. I’d have turned around if it wasn’t for Chuck’s encouragement. We missed the high tide but we weren’t anywhere near low tide either and I still saw 3 feet on the depth sounder briefly at one point. Typically we ran in under 8 feet of water as we entered the channel.

Once we got closer to town things got easier and we had arrived at a time of relatively slack current so we didn’t have that to deal with. The currents through the channel are so difficult to predict that most charting software simply omits them or says “contact locals for information”. The fuel dock had a movable arrow posted to show the direction of the current and it happened to be pointing our way as we went past but I don’t think there was much movement in either direction.

About halfway through town I recognized the familiar shape of Maximo, Steve and Kim Oberto’s Leclerq side tied to the public wharf. I checked with Chuck and he said it was OK to toot the horn so I gave them three quick blasts but Kim had already spotted us and they were slipping their mooring ropes. They floated out behind us as we continued through town and then passed us in the channel just north of La Conner. I checked with them on the FM radio and told them that I would just follow along in the hole they left in the water. With an 8 foot draft I figured following them was as good a navigatory strategy as I was likely to come up with. About 3/4 of an hour later we pulled into Cap Sante Boat Haven in Anacortes.

Maximo is riding a little high by the stern right now. She holds 5000 gallons of diesel fuel with a lot of that in the lazarette but right now apparently she’s pretty well empty.

Chuck's wife Gail was waiting on our pier in Anacortes to catch our lines and then we all reconvened in Maximo's huge salon where the two other couples regaled us with tales of Alaska. Kim fed us seafood appies - a LOT of seafood appies - made from crab and salmon they bring back from Alaska. It was a very good day.

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