R 22

Rhodes 22


Sailing Trip to San Juan Islands,
Part 1

A few folks have requested descriptions of Rhodes sailing trips so here is Part 1 of our contribution to the effort. Our vacation this year was a two week sail in the San Juan Islands, WA (SJI) with the side trip to Victoria BC. We had thought about chartering but decided to save the $1000.00 plus per week to spend on some up-grades to our sailing stuff and enjoy the experience of taking our very own boat out in new territory. We have sailed chartered boats in the SJI but nothing as small as our 22-foot boat and we hadn't ventured into Canadian territory yet.

Pre-trip Planning

We visited the local sailing stores, Stockdale Marine and West Marine, for charts and books on the Canadian Gulf Islands. We have most of the US SJI charts and several books such as Gunkholing in the San Juan Islands, San Juans Afoot and Afloat, and Cruising the San Juans. These islands are so popular that much has been written about them in magazines and books; there is no shortage of information. As it turns out there are also many Gulf Island (GI) Cruising type books as well. All of these publications can give you ideas about the harbors and parks you might want to visit and sights to see.

We also spent time surfing the web. Amazon.com has many sailing guides. Several marinas have web sites and give info on location and fees. Both US and Canadian Customs offices have web sites that tell you what procedures you must follow for checking in and out of both countries. Our governments do try to accommodate the heavy inter-country recreational boat traffic between the SJI and GI. The Canadian government now has a Canpass program that allows you to just phone in from designated harbors to customs and give them your Canpass number. If you plan to "touch" (anchor, go ashore or board another boat) foreign territory you must clear customs or have the Canpass to check in. The Canpass takes about 2-3 weeks to obtain. We didn't plan much back and forth travel, so we just cleared customs at the approved ports in Canada and the US.

The biggest planning aspects for sailing in SJI and GI for us are the currents and tides. Tidal currents can move at over 6 knots in many places in the islands during max ebb and flood and since we move a max of 5 to 6 knots with our 8 horse Honda or under sail, it truly makes a difference if you are with the current or against it. Intersections of channels, rip currents, debris, and sea mammals add to the fun. Also wind moving opposite of the current can make big waves for a 22 foot boat. Ocean going ships going to Vancouver and Bellingham move about 20 knots and make big wakes. There are tugs pulling barges and with current offsets, these can take up a lot of water and don't have much maneuvering room. All of this is much different from our usual inland lake sailing and makes us nervous enough to pay very close attention (especially us nervous first-mate types). Several companies produce tide and current charts for the SJI and GI. To determine the direction and velocity of the current you look at the tables (updated yearly) and pick the time and numbered chart for the day, hour, and location you're interested in. Then the chart will show the current direction and the velocity. We ended up buying our guide at the Anacortes, WA WestMarine when we got there. The tide range is typically 5 to 8 feet and you can end up on the bottom if you don't pay attention while anchoring.

Spending Money and Time

As always there are things to do and this trip it was the trailer that needed work. Our 1995 trailer master cylinder was so corroded that the cap wouldn't come off the reservoir. Most of our trips are fresh water but there have been three salt- water trips and we have really done nothing to maintain this system- benign neglect. When Jay finally cut the cap off, the reservoir had no brake fluid, badly rusted, and he had to pull out the whole cylinder and replace it. We found that the local RV stores were very knowledgeable about the parts and accessories. The parts were not very expensive but a pain to replace. That task, and replacing the starter in the trusty tow vehicle, our 87 Bronco, took two weekends.

We had already replaced the sink drain line (cracked and leaked at the hull fitting this year), rebuilt the head (not flushing dry and taking a lot of water to flush, still a problem), added insulation to the ice box, waxed the sides, made an anchor chain (we carry 30 feet of chain and 200 feet of rope) and rode bag to replace the tray (we get better ventilation without the tray and you don't have to stuff rope and chain down a small hole), scrubbed the cockpit cushions, added a battery charger to supplement the solar panel, replaced the battery, and cleaned up the boat. The 8 hp Honda has a fitting for charging the battery and Jay added the wiring for this. The battery charger, Honda charging, and solar may seem like power overkill but we had spent two rainy weeks on our boat during our last fall trip and drew the battery down to the point we were running out of reading light by the end of the trip. Our only charging option on that trip was the single solar panel on the starboard side of the cabin deck. We wanted to have more options for charging on this trip if the weather was overcast.

While Jay was wrestling with the hardware, I worked on the software. We wanted more clothes and bedding storage for this trip and so I went into canvas storage pocket production. Our `95 Rhodes has heavy duty peg board in the V- berth (does everyone's?). I thought I would make 11 by 18 inches-long by 4 inches-deep canvas pockets that attached to the pegboard with "Lift the Dots". Our clothes and bunk sheets could then go into these pockets and we wouldn't have to bring duffel bags that had to be shifted back and forth in the V berth every time we needed something. I bought a book on sewing projects for boats (The Big Book of Boat Canvas) and bought supplies at a local upholstery shop. I pressed plastic sheet rock anchors into the pegboard holes and then screwed in the pin base for the "Lift the Dots", one for each pocket corner. The "Lift the Dots" are crimped into the back of the pocket. The canvas pockets have a flap that closes the pocket and is kept shut with velcro. The pegboard is 11inches high and by making each pocket the same height as the pegboard and 18 inches long, 4 would fit on each side. I ran out of energy and my old sewing machine engine was smoking by the time I finished 6 pockets, so Jay and I each got three for clothes. These held most of our stuff except for raincoats and pants and some pile jackets. I also made a 2 wine bottle storage pocket for the medicinal supply.

Since our sleeping bags take up a lot of space, I made fitted sheets for the main bunk and bought a fiber fill twin comforter to replace the sleeping bags. The sheets fit easily into a pillowcase and we roll up the blanket and secure it with a strap. We brought a lighter-weight back up blanket in case of cool weather. The pockets and bedding took up much less space than the two duffels and two sleeping bags we had last trip. One person could lay down in the v-berth and read this trip.

We replaced our 8-foot WestMarine inflatable dingy with the wooden floorboards with a 10-foot Zodiac with an inflatable floor. The Zodiac weighs less than the old 8-footer and is fast and easy to inflate and deflate. We purchased this through the Web and got a much better price then any of the local stores. Many of the marine parks and anchorages in the SJI don't have docks and the rocks and pebble beaches make beaching hard on the hull. Outside of the park areas the beaches are private property. For going ashore and exploring, a dingy is a must. We have 3 hp Yamaha to power the dingy. The Zodiac could handle the 8 horse Honda but we just don't have a way to get it off the Rhodes and onto the dingy when the boats in the water. I also have a Feathercraft kayak with a break down aluminum frame. This fits into a backpack that fits into the lazarette. This floats in three inches of water and is very quiet. We have found that marine mammals are not as concerned about a kayak and will not spook when one approaches. This also makes a good back up for going ashore and exploring.

One of the best gift/purchases we made was a padded seat call a "Sport-a-Seat". We saw them at the Jack London Boat Show in Oakland Ca in April and bought one. Elton was kind enough to give us another in exchange for using our boat for trial sails at the boat show. They are a combined seat and backrest that adjust to different reclining angles, allowing you to sit at the tiller with back support without running into the traveler. Plus they are much softer then the closed cell foam cushions.

We also bring a second anchor (Fortress) and rode, a gas BBQ, a second ice chest which makes a good galley seat for cooking and added refreshment storage, 2 blue Rubbermaid bins for dry food storage under the seats, 12 gallon gas tank, a second small gas can for the dingy, snorkel gear for emergency keel inspection, cruising guides, all the charts, books, books, books, fishing gear, two compasses, GPS, water proof chart cover, walkie-talkies for communication between the dingy and boat, life jackets, binoculars, cameras, tool kit, emergency hand pump to empty the holding tank if we can't get to a pump out, home made cockpit awning made of rip stop nylon, extra pins, rings, tape, fittings etc etc. etc. We're loaded down.

We pulled the boat out of our home slip at Folsom Lake, Sacramento on August 22, cleaned it up, loaded up, and hit the road for Anacortes WA on August 23, 1998.

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