- Capt. Eric
Neah Bay to Stuart Island
We set off for Stuart Island with a sense that we were finally getting to the San Juan Islands today.
I choose Stuart Island as our first destination because it is one of the furthest Northern Islands, so from then on we'd only get closer to Anacortes where I'll leave for my medical checkup soon. More importantly I chose it because I had found it stunningly beautiful when I visited it on my own 3 years ago, the last stop before exiting Washington State due to their tax exemption rules. Di hadn't seen it and I was keen to show this incredible spot to her.
The passage was fairly uneventful: We saw a submarine and some grey funnel ship (Navy) before encountering messy seas against current for a while at the junction of 2 narrows. I opened up the engine a bit, giving it a good cleaning, and within 30 minutes we were out of the mess. It's nice to have the option. We rarely run Enfin at WOT (Wide Open Throttle) but the boat is designed to be run hard if we want: The engine is rated for continuous duty, which means it can run like a commercial engine, at full WOT all day long. We usually prefer much slower and tamer speeds, saving fuel and making for a very pleasant experience.
Stuart Island did not disappoint. Di was soon "oohing and aaaahing" at the sheer beauty of the State Park. Princess was back in her element, eagerly sniffing everything and alerting us of the wild life.
Using the tender to go ashore we spent our days walking the trails, resting on the boat, and enjoying the peaceful experience. We had arrived just before the week-end, so we had a "crowd" of about 6 boats in the bay for a couple of days until they all left and we found ourselves once again all alone.
Di ran the tender most of the time. It'd been a while since she was in charge of it, so it's good for her to get back in that groove.
The State Park has a number of buoys as well as a couple of docks, one on each side of the land, in Reid Harbor and Prevost Harbor. For us this is the perfect setup as we can grab a buoy where I don't have to worry about the anchor dragging, and we can step ashore easily with Princess at the dock. It is much easier than having to beach the tender.
Without crowds, we extended our stay longer than we could in season. We'd probably have wanted to stay longer but on the 3rd day I found out the heater circulating pump's brushes had reached their end of life, so we had to do without furnace for a while and run the generator and A/C heat sporadically to reheat the boat.
A simple and easy problem to solve, and the silly part is that my computer maintenance program had alerted me I needed to check the brushes just as they failed! I had guesstimated their lifespan rather well, and I adjusted the checking interval for the next time so I get the alert a little sooner.
I ordered 2 pairs of brushes for prompt delivery in Anacortes, and we'll be off to pick them up there soon.
Despite this minor problem the boat is running great and we simply loved our time in Stuart Island. I was so happy to show Di, and told her this is one of the best parks around, so I might not be able to find anything better for a while.