Rickey Point Sail Club 29th Regatta

Northern Lake Roosevelt – Rickey Point Sail Club 29th

Crossing the starting line…

Boats! Crews! Two kegs of Northern Ales… Alas, almost no wind. Still these hardy captains and crews pushed on and managed to have a good time doing so. The light air was, unfortunately, the norm for the 29th R.P.S.C. Regatta as the fleet uses all their ‘sweet-spot’ tricks to ghost the vessels around the triangle course. Pelican boat builder, Lou Brochetti was on hand using his newest design, a mini-trawler, KINGFISHER as our committee boat – as seen in the 2nd image.

Catherine at AQUILA’s helm…

Catherine at the helm, in image three, sailing her ‘loose & sweet’ as the competition struggles to cross the starting line.


Joel, Deborah and Don have dialed it in and are about to ‘steal our air’ as GATCHUTCHA, a Rhodes Swiftsure 33, slips near silently through the calm waters in the 4th image.

Rounding the mark with a slight ripple in the water is left to right: SEASPIRIT (Ranger 26), WREN (Tanzer 22) and BLUEHERON (Kent Ranger 26). While the winds were light the competition wasn’t.

Rounding the mark…









A wreck on the regatta race course?

Intoxicated sailors scrambling to untangle vessels?

Nope. Just a unique way for a larger vessel and crew (S-2, 9.2CAQUILA) to assist a smaller vessel (Holder 20) in retrieving a wayward fractional halyard pre-race at the 29th Rickey Point Regatta. When Olaf asked if I had a bos’n chair on board I answered I did. But suggested there might be an easier and quicker method of retrieving the halyard. Chaotic as it may look – it worked. And provided much questionable gossip until the awards banquet.

Intoxicated sailors scrambling to untangle vessels?

A wreck on the regatta race course?



Catherine visiting Lou Brochetti, boat builder and designer, who was a guest of Rickey Point Sail Club during our 29th Regatta. Lou volunteered his custom built mini-trawler KINGFISHER as committee boat for both days of races.



Saturday was the triangle races, followed by Sunday’s around French Rock windward leeward 8 mile race. Sunday’s banquet at Barney’s Junction across the Columbia Riverbridge from KettleFallswas well attended. And thus ended the 29th annual Rickey Point Sail Club Regatta. Join us the 2nd weekend of July, 2013 for the 30th R.P.S.C. Regatta!

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AQUILA’S 2011 Inland Cruise…

If you’ve an interest in NW sailing on a slightly different tack climb aboard the S/V AQUILA for a September Cruise on Lake Roosevelt…

 Our vessel, AQUILA, is an S2 – 9.2C, center cockpit, sloop. 10,000 displacement with 10 feet beam. When not moored on her buoy at Rickey Point Sail Club we keep ‘her’ on a custom trailer and occasionally haul ‘her’ over to the saltchuck for late season cruises.

This year we cruised the freshwater and were glad we did. So, lets haul up the anchor and get underway.

The crew consists of my lady Catherine, AQUILA’S 1st mate, and the best sailing partner a guy could ever hope for. She’s not only beautiful, but intelligent as well, which makes up for my two biggest shortfalls.
And Catherine’s daughter Clementine, who would celebrate her 19th birthday onboard hours after getting underway.
I mentioned this cruise was a good one; the first ten days underway saw temperatures in the low 90’s. Sweet!
And the wind…
For the most part we could say “favorable, frequent and warm.”
 Here the s/v AQUILA , seen under Catherine’s command, on a beam reach while the afternoon temperature climbs over the 90* mark.
Of the 240 miles we logged this trip nearly 70 miles were under sail and never a hard beat to windward!

Early in the journey we anchored in a cove near Castle Rock (pictured here with the cleft in it’s south side from waterline to summit). The rock is approximately 300 vertical feet tall and has another 100’ of water depth immediately at it’s base. Located north of the junction between the Spokane and Columbia Rivers, Castle Rock is a prominent landmark on Lake Roosevelt. Catherine deep in the rock cleft in the dinghy during one of our evening wine tour explorations.

After the Labor Day Holiday Lake Roosevelt is quiet. In fact I doubt we saw more than half a dozen boats each day (occasionally less). We spotted this ODay 17 and it’s beach camp around the point from where we fetched Sunday Cove. During another of our evening wine tours Catherine and I invited Frank and Mary for sundowners. Here they are motoring around the point to join us with their faithful lookout Buster standing bow-watch.

As planned we rendezvoused with another of our sail club member boats, Jay and Janice on BLUE HERON, a Kent Ranger 26. Here we are looking down from the basalt cave which Basalt Cave Cove (where the vessels are anchored and rafted) is named for. The main body of Lake Roosevelt is to the west (right of the image) with the foreground waters being part of Hawk Creek Arm.

The basalt cave above the anchorage of Basalt Cave Cove. A good hike with all of the crew carrying walking sticks (otherwise known as rattlesnake sticks). Told you this journey would be a different tack than most Pacific NW cruises.

To the far east of Hawk Creek Arm is the fjord of Lake Roosevelt. A deep water passage winding between lichen covered basalt cliffs. In this image by Catherine our friends from BLUE HERON are enjoying a kayak paddle through the Hawk Creek fjord.
Through the fjord Hawk Creek finally terminates with a spillpool at the foot of a waterfall dropping into the shoreline just feet from the edge of the lake. It was a refreshing 60* plunge on what was thankfully another very warm, late summer afternoon.
Another day, another short passage. This time back to the main body of the lake and around the Big Bend of Lake Roosevelt. From the 150 mile marker in the north to the forty mile marker near Hawk Creek the lake runs predominately north/south. From the forty mile point to the Grand Coulee Dam the lake changes both in direction and appearance. Much more arid and sparse of vegetation. We call it “Little Baja”.
Like many sailors we delight in our occasional views of wildlife. A few years ago on Patos, in the company of an encampment of Orcas Island firefighters, we were fortunate to see a super pod of orca swim within a ¼ mile of shore. Of course, there is not much marine wildlife sightings on an inland lake but the event pictured here of Jay sitting on the cabin top of BLUE HERON and watching the big horn sheep perched on nearby cliff and watching us is pretty classic (double click the image for a better view).
That’s Clementine standing on the foredeck of the Washington State Ferry, The Martha S. sailing across Lake Roosevelt. The Martha S. links Hwy 21 from the south to north shore of the lake. It was fun to be under all full sail and moving briskly along as we crossed the ferry wake bidding farewell to our crew and her grandmother chauffeur. The ferry operates in the same area as the Keller Marina, one of three marinas to be found on the 150 mile long stretch of inland water. This also marked our turn-around point. We had 85 miles to sail home to our club’s buoy field near Kettle Falls. 


Here Catherine has AQUILA tuned in just right to the ‘uplake’ wind as we sail past what we had thought to be our evenings anchorage. As sailors I’m certain you understand that there are times when the breeze is just right and the boat is sailing so sweetly, and the sun shining that it makes no sense to stop. We knew there were other anchorages within reach before twilight turned to dark.
And speaking of other anchorages, here is a landscape shot of AQUILA beach anchored in Big Horn Beach.
This is one of the ‘fair weather’ spots we stayed. With the settled weather we felt it safe enough to take advantage of a few more scenic locations. So we let out the extra scope, tied off tight to shorelines and enjoyed the beaches (which is directly astern of the boat but can’t be seen in this shot).
Fortune continued to smile upon us providing a five hour, 25 mile run while flying the kite. Definitely a sailing highlight of the cruise.
Like every cruise there was more…
So much more. The evening wine tour/explorations were rewarding.  A Scrabble game almost every morning. Fantastic meals; other friends met and new friends made. One afternoon late in the trip we sailed reefed and sleigh-riding downwind in gusts up to 30 knots.
A bit later I’ll upload a more extended posting of this cruise on my sailing blog at: http://fosterfanningaquila.blogspot.com/
But for now Catherine and I would like to thank you for taking the time to join in for the highlights of our 2011 September Cruise…
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An Amateur Anthropological View of Sailing…

Us and water…
As a sailor I’m given to occasionally ponder the realms of early homo sapiens and our dependant relationship to water. It is not hard to picture a shoreside village under an overhanging escarpment carved out by vanished glaciers. A wisp of smoke drifting idly out from the shadows under the cliff face, it’s source the fire that is never allowed to go out. People working hides, sharpening stones, and hanging fish to dry in the hot sun. Children splashing in the nearby water. Some of the older kids playing stand-on-the-log.  Of course these are only imaginings, the ancient record is incomplete – full of deep, dark mysteries and unanswered questions. One point of consideration, I’m certain you are aware of, is most species of mammals can swim – generally from birth. Even if they don’t like being in the water there’s very little sputtering. Very little fuss. Were we like that once? Automatic survival swimmers? Are the children mentioned above?

Current research shows that human babies have both a ‘Swim Reflex’ and a ‘Dive Reflex’.
The dive reflex
This reflex, also called the bradycardic response, causes babies to hold their breath and open their eyes when submerged, says Jeffrey Wagener, a pediatric pulmonologist in Denver. The response weakens as a baby gets older.
The swimming reflex
Until around 6 months, babies placed in water tummy-side down will move their arms and legs in a swimming motion. When the swimming reflex and the dive reflex are both engaged, a baby can look like a natural swimmer.
The above is not to say that babies are natural survival swimmers. They are not, but the traits are present at a very early age and remain until we grow older and un-learn them.
So what does this have to do with the history of sailing? In my mind a lot! It bespeaks our ancient and intuitive relationship with water.
Beside the need for water itself, an abundance of food for the hunter / gather culture was one of the primary attractions of life along the shoreline. Fishing, hunting, protection, and along some sea coast areas – warmth are just some of the advantages provided by shoreside encampment.  In our long, lost history of shoreside habitation there is little doubt that homo sapiens spent a great amount of time in, on and under the water. Our early ancestors certainly knew the value of logs, gourds and skin-bladders in aiding floatation and there is no doubt that a primitive person attempting to cross a body of water on a tree trunk or some other means of artificial buoyancy was set to by the changing winds and ended up landing elsewhere than their destination. Such an event most likely was accompanied by a great deal of struggle, much consternation and no little concern. But the wind would have it’s way. And the first windward journeyer would never know they were so..

As people began to save favorite logs for specific crossings or even to fasten wood, vines, thatches, and grasses into the first high tech water transports (what we today would call primitive vessels) they would have studied the situation enough to know there were better means of propulsion than hands and feet (especially in varmint infested waters). It is no great stretch of the imagination to go from those unwanted windward travels as mentioned above to picking a course with favorable wind and propelling the vessel with greater ease.

Primitive transport raft carrying gourds and cut willow branches. The “mast” allows for sail material to be raised in a favorable wind. The paddle serves as a rudder.

 I can picture those early humans, the inquisitive, survival orientated minds with furrowed brows placing a curled dry leaf in the water along side a small stick and watching the relative passage of the two. I can imagine the sounds of stone adzes working thick logs. The shavings of cedar scattered about the work area. The smell of fires as those same logs were burned hollow.

Picking a course with favorable wind and propelling the vessel with greater ease…

Archeology tells us that logboats excavated from bogs and lakes of northern Europe are over 9,000 years old. Although researchers are still debating the capabilities of the first human voyagers, who traveled the waters of Southeast Asia at least 45,000 years ago. The point being that ancient humans and their ability to travel on and across water has a deep and well hidden history. Anthropologists tell us there were generation, upon generation of technological advances starting from the hollowed log or lashed reeds, which over time and through careful engineering, evolved into more advanced mode of water travel.

Graffiti boat found on Malta ca. 1600 B.C and from Cyprus, 1200 100 BC

It strikes me that the prow of the vessel above was probably not by chance. Consider a human paddling this craft across a body of water. In windless conditions the high prow would be of little consequence except for the extra weight, but in favorable wind conditions the effort expended by the pilot / paddler would be greatly reduced. Unfortunately like all sailors our primitive paddler is faced with the difficulty of adverse winds. On one hand it’s good to know this is a problem over 45,000 years old…
Prehistoric Egyptian ship drawings
When we look back 5,000 years in the archaeological record the first remnants of Egyptian sailing ships appear. The size of these vessels, complete with an oar deck and a sail flown between two large logs fastened to form a large V, allow us to ascertain these remnants from 2900 B.C. were not the proto-type of their times. So what were the ancient designs that led from boats to ships? A hard question to answer in that all the materials commonly used in ancient vessel construction was soft, porous and could not withstand the ravages of time. But that doesn’t limit our imaginations from filling in the gaps using what little info does exist from archeology and anthropology.
Take that high prow paddling vessel above, sharpen the stem, add the technology of braided line, and evolve the mathematical equations of triangles. Combine advanced weaving with new  bundling techniques. Apply that weaving to wind-catching mats (sails) and change the paddling / steering process through generations of trail and error. Soon water travel opens the gateway to human curiosity and the exploration of the near horizon. 
Ancient Egyptian Vessel

When we reflect upon sailing history it is easy to think on the large ventures, the big names ~ the movers and shakers of written record, but in my mind it is the dim areas, the unknowns, the early human watching leaf and stick move across the water’s surface, which holds the key to the intrigue, mystery, and imagination of how sailing developed. When laying on my vessel’s deck under a clear and moon-less night sky I look to the prominent stars and know they are the same points of light that the earilest of sailors and navigators fixed their sights upon and crossed  into the great unknowns…
Single pilot / navigator sailing vessel – early Mesopotamia carving
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Looking back: One need not run aground to find the muck of life…

I once read, “There are two types of sailors ~ those who have run aground and those who are going to”…

To join the first group of sailors mentioned above one need not always to ‘run aground’ sometimes the ground finds you. Such was the case on the first night of an early spring cruise with my good friend Esther back in the mid 90’s. We were aboard Panda Rand, her Cal 25 and I had agreed to sign up as skipper for a week long cruise together. Esther had recently purchased the vessel and, although an experienced offshore sailor (crew), she was uncertain about her piloting skills. At the time she kept Panda Rand berthed in the Port of Everett Marina in Possession Sound. Our rough plan was to work the vessel up Saratoga Passage and out either Deception Pass or the Swinomish Channel for a jaunt through the San Juan Islands. A decision that would be made in the following morning based on tides and weather. With me throwing my duffle aboard near the noon hour and the last minute details of prepping for a week long cruise, our first day out we were a tad bit slow getting off the docks, starting out late in the day.

Early spring in the Pacific NW gives rise to occasions where the Cascade Mountain snow pack becomes inundated with heavy, rainfalls. This precipitation can cause rapid snow melt. The quick release of water causes flooding in the steep rivers falling off the mountains and into the Salish Sea. The result, at tide level, can be a massive influx of forest debris carried by the rivers into the saltchuck. Branches, treetops, limbs, logs, in some cases full trees with huge rootwads afloat. Add the effect of the tides and an unusual occurrence of compressed, floating log jams of woody debris stretching like thick flotsam belts appear on the waters surface. We found ourselves on a near windless day occasionally having to idle forward using the boathook like a pike pole and pushing logs aside to make our way thru a series of these 20 yard thick, mile long debris choked tidebelts. All told our first day drew to a close far too early leaving. The debris chocked waters restricting our ability to travel at night, we chose to anchor out. With a gentle norwesterly forecast the nearby south facing Elger Bay inside of Lowell Point on Camano Island looked provide a good overnight anchorage.

Of gear and used boats; while I had brought my Marine Atlas, a small nav-kit, and a handheld GPS there wasn’t much navigation gear on Esther’s new boat. In fact what little there was appears to have been brought aboard when the vessel was first commissioned in the mid 1970’s, including a fathometer manufactured in Britain of which I had seen the likes but never used. I clearly recall the mimeographed manual booklet instructing the would-be used (me) to dial in the bottom until the signal showed a bit “wooley”. I interpreted this to mean the bank of red lights circling the face of the instrument would somewhat flutter rather than sequentially illuminate as it was tending to do. Needless to say as the twilight turned to dark and I circled the vessel in a likely place to drop anchor Esther and I were busily scanning manual and trying to dial in the fathometer to get soundings over our chosen spot. Fortunately the chart showed a sand and mud bottom throughout most of the bay and an apparent good depth of water below our keel. Finally I committed to dropping the hook and managed to set the anchor quite well in what was a high tide, playing out plenty of scope in case of a wind change. Using the chart and the archaic depth sounder I reckoned we were sitting in fair depths for the night. Esther agreed. And so we settled into the cozy cabin below decks to share a meal, listen to the radio and settle in for a night on the hook. Hind-sight tells me I should have rigged a lead-line to check the depth. Sleeping arrangements put me in the V-berth while Esther took the quarter berth. Just before tucking in I stepped above decks about 2200:hours to check our anchorage. The light wind out of the norwest, the lights from homes surrounding the bay shimmering across the water and a general feeling of ‘alls well’ to end the day on.

Having been up many hours, rising well before dawn, driven 300 miles across the Cascades, boarded the vessel, done a cursory inspection of her systems, and piloted us out of Everett and through the tidal log-jams and ready for sleep. And deep I fell as the wavelets whispered down the hull, the vessel kindly rocked and a cool air came in thru the partially open hatch. Deep it was until later I heard a strange sound accompanied by a strange feeling. As synapses returned to my muscles I involuntarily rolled to port. “What the…?” I started to ask when another sound from the galley caught my attention – dinnerware was rattling against itself.
“Something’s wrong,” I heard Esther say as I arose.
“Were aground,” I called out, kneeling up and opening the hatch above my head. “Hard aground from the feel of it.” I continued, the vessel not responding to the movement of my 250 pounds.
Indeed the light breeze had veered around to the souwest and blown us a bit toward the shore. That combined with my misread on the old fathometer had allowed our keel to settle into the mud bottom of Elger Bay as the tide dropped. A few moments later found me fully dressed, and on deck with a flashlight. Panda Rand was still buoyant but heeling at a 20 degree angle, her keel firmly in the rich mud bottom. There was around four feet of water surrounding us and no sign of rocks anywhere.
“Check the tide table again and confirm the time of low water,” I called down to Esther who had done a quick inspection of the engine compartment and bilge to assure we were not taking on water.
“0400:” she called back to me as I finished my rock inspection.
I climbed the tilted companionway down into the cabin and pulled the hatch shut behind me. “Over two hours away,” I said. “This isn’t going to be pretty.”
Esther looked me with a smile and said, “Well, it’s going to be a first.”
“Good,” I replied, “under my 1st command of your vessel I’m going to provide you with a unique nautical experience.”
“Well, it could be worse,” she said, “we could be on a rock.” That was Esther. Unfazed that we were sitting here in the middle of the night solidly aground with the only option to sit it out and await the incoming side to float us off again.
We quickly developed a list of chores to be managed before the vessel angle of heel worsened.
  • Check the battery straps and assure they’d stay in place
  • Close all the petcocks
  • Stow all the loose gear
  • Move loose Starboard books to the Portside bookshelf
I went on deck several times but there was nothing new and nothing to be done. In the end we both gathered up sleeping bags and sat on the main cabin sole between the settees. Kind of like sitting in the cockpit of a very over canvassed vessel beating to windward, although there was no beating involved only a steep angle of heel slowly getting steeper. I was still a bit grumbly at myself for getting us into this and wasn’t very talkative. Esther and I were sitting in the near dark, snuggled down in individual bags, shoulder to shoulder, feet braced against the opposing settee to hold ourselves in place as Panda Rand heeled over 50 degrees. The silence had held for quite sometime when she said in a rather sober voice, “I feel like an astronaut awaiting countdown.”
I tried to hold on to my gruff mood but my sailing companions comment broke up me.
“Oh, thats great,” I said attempting to maintain the sour demeanor but failing. Then we both burst out laughing. That was right about the time the tide turned, although it took another two hours to ‘float the boat’ so to speak. The water had dropped to less then three feet of depth surrounding Panda Rand. Thankfully enough to prevent the hull from settling into the muck and creating a suction to hold us there. By the time Panda Rand’s mast was pointing skyward again daylight was a hint in the morning sky and I was in nothing short of a hurry to have the boat back on her feet, complete a safety check and have her underway once again. For some reason I really wasn’t into facing that halfmoon bay full of houses awakening and looking down at a vessel laying partially on it’s side in the growing light. An hour later we were ‘all systems go’ and had the diesel running as I hauled up the chain and hook in the dawning of a clear spring morning.
As we began our departure from Elger Bay with morning light filling the shadows I looked to the east and could see the top of a big, barnacle encrusted rock the size of a Volkswagen and knew Esther had been right ~ it could have been worse… 
S/V Panda Rand off Portland Island, Canadian Gulf Islands, about a week after her Elger Bay grounding. Photo J. Foster Fanning
“Only two sailors, in my experience, never ran aground. One never left port and the other was an atrocious liar.”
– Don Bamford
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Ships are the nearest things to dreams…

About ten years ago, maybe ’99 or ’00 I captured this image of this tall ship crossing Haro Strait  on a near windless day. With the autumn mists just rising and the ghost-like quality of the light it was a fine sighting. I was heading into Canada and she appeared to be on re-entry into the States. This was in pre-digital days for me and recently found and scanned the slide. Would be nice to add her name to the image and if the owning group was interested I’d send them a copy as well. I know there are a lot of knowledgeable maritime buffs on Three Sheets NW and thought maybe one of the group could help identify her.

“Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made.”
– Robert N. Rose
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Land Locked Sailors Head West…

This is a long winter in the Pacific NW. Especially here, in NE Washington, it feels even longer than many other areas as we still have several inches of concrete-like snow in the mountain valley’s. So it was with pleasant anticipation we recently packed our bags for a westbound trip over the Cascade Mountains and onto the snowless, coastal plains to visit the village of Seattle. Okay, I’ll concede that for the most part Seattle, with over 582,000 folks, passed the village mark sometime ago. Still there are village like qualities to Washington’s most populace city.

This is a rendered image from two of my photographs. The foreground is a portion of one of two cedar totem poles, designed by Victor Steinbrueck and carved by James Bender in 1984.

While we may think of the founding of Seattle as the arrival of the Denny Party in 1851 the area has been inhabited since the end of the last glacial period approximately 8,000 years ago. When nautical explorers first arrived the indigenous peoples, now called the Duwamish Tribe, were living in several villages scattered over the coastal plains where Seattle is located. My partner Catherine and I appreciate the very active native culture within the current mosaic of peoples in the greater Seattle area.

One of the things making this trip to the coast special is that a friend arranged for our party to spend our week in residence in a downtown condo located on Alaskan Way overlooking Elliott Bay. As sailors this was a near perfect match of shore-side accommodations with fantastic access to the waterfront.

A view from the Alaskan Way condo looking into Bell Harbor Marina
– photo J. Foster Fanning

While our arrival was marked with a big late winter thunder front, complete with heavy winds, driving rain and pockets of hail, it was only a matter of hours before the late afternoon sun made an appearance and coaxed us into an evening walk up to the Pike Place Market.

Seattle is a unique community. Here are some interesting facts about the Emerald City…

Seattle is ranked the most literate city by Central Conn. State Univ. Everybody reads here. The Seattle Public Library system has the highest percentage of library card-holders per capita in the country.

Seattle was the first American city to put police on bicycles. Seattle has the highest percentage of people riding bikes to work compared to other US cities its size.

In 1961, the restaurant atop the Space Needle became the country’s first revolving eatery.

Seattle’s total land area? 53,718 acres of which 6,189 acres are parks and open areas. That’s 11.52%! The parks in Seattle rock. The Port of Seattle parks in town are hidden gems awaiting discovery.

And last but not least…

The Farmer’s Market at Pike Place Market is the longest continuously operating farmer’s market in the US (1907). So speaking of the Pike Place Market…

Pike Place Market with a partial view of downtown Seattle skyline.
Photo J. Foster Fanning

 My first visit to the market was in 1969, not long after my arrival in Washington State. What a delightful experience the Market was then and remains so now. The market is a destination unto itself. And our temporary abode was just four flights of outdoor stairs below the market. It was a fun experience hiking up to this unique landmark each day.

Pike Place Market overlooks the waterfront in downtown Seattle. Its a place of business for many small farmers, merchants, craft folks, street musicians and peddlers. Also known as the Public Market it remains one of Seattle’s most popular destinations and sees 10 million visitors annually.

Built on the edge of a steep hill the Market consists of multiple levels located below the main street entrance. Each layer features a variety of unique shops and stalls. Antique dealers, family-owned cafes, pubs, restaurants and vendors of the unusual and sometimes arcane give a somewhat third world feel to this unique market.

A tidy looking pilothouse seen at the Bell Harbor Marina.
Photo J. Foster Fanning

Our lodging is on the fourth floor over-looking the Bell Harbor Marina, which bills itself as “Seattle’s only downtown recreational marina.” Situated at Bell Street Pier #66, boaters can tie up amid Seattle’s main waterfront that includes easy access to Pike Place Market, Seattle Center The Space Needle, and Aquarium. The marina offers accommodations for approximately 70 boats, 30 to 150 feet. Guest moorage is available year-round.

Pier 66, Bell Harbor Marina and the waterfront condos.
Photo J. Foster Fanning

Later during one second day on the Elliott Bay waterfront the HMCS ALGONQUIN (DDG 283) a Canadian air defence destroyer arrived on Pier 66. A bit of on-line research revealed this ship was built in the 1970s, early in the 1990s it was extensively converted and refitted with sophisticated anti-air weapons systems, an improved propulsion plant, and advanced weapons and communications systems. The advanced communications capability combined with extra accommodations make ALGONQUIN sophisticated command and control platform. In peacetime, ALGONQUIN can employ its high-tech systems for a variety of missions, from search and rescue to fisheries and sovereignty patrols. The vessel’s homeport is Esquimalt, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island.

HMCS ALGONQUIN approaching Pier 66. Photo J. Foster Fanning

Above I mentioned the influence of our native population on the Seattle area but the influence extends across the much greater geo-political area of the Pacific Northwest. The name ALGONQUIN means “At the place of spearing fish and eels” . Its name was connected to a First Nations People who ranged throughout a territory from Georgian Bay in the West, to the St. Maurice River in the East and who made their living by hunting and fishing.

M/V WENATCHEE on an evening sail approaching Seattle waterfront.
Photo J. Foster fanning

Third day, whilst Catherine, Clementine and Lacey worked with the Burke Museum, I met a friend who purchased a home near Port Madison a few years back and invited me out for a tour. We boarded the WA State ferry, M/V Wenatchee, for a short cruise to Bainbridge Island. “Wenatchee” is derived from the Yakima word wenatchi for “river flowing from canyon.” In their journal Lewis and Clark mentioned the word “Wenatchee” during their travels through the Columbia River valley in 1803-1805. In our case the M/V Wenatchee is a Jumbo Mark II, 460′ 2″ Auto/Passenger Ferry with a 90’ beam, 16,000 hp engines that can push the vessel along at 18 knots. The draft is 17’3” and it carries a maximum of 2,500 passengers, 202 vehicles. Not only was it a sunny crossing but we fetched along side a regatta rounding a small islet south of the entrance to Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island.

Regatta rounding the mark off Bainbridge Island March 5th, 2011. Photo by J. Foster Fanning

Sunday morning found our party at the doors of the Seattle Aquarium, as soon-to-be-members of this fine establishment. The next few hours were spent touring the 7th largest Aquarium in the U.S. by attendance (Puget Sound region’s 3rd largest paid visitor attraction). The Aquarium opened it’s doors in 1977 and has expanded ever since hosting over 20 million visitors since it’s grand opening.

Tide pool, Seattle Aquarium. Photo J. Foster Fanning

The invitation from a couple of other sailors led us to the Palisades inside the break-waters of Elliot Bay Marina on Sunday afternoon. And what a fine afternoon it was starting out in the sunshine on the southern deck of the establishment with a good glass of wine and a perfect view overlooking several hundred moored vessels. Soon our hosts arrived from an overnighter on their beautiful 38’ vessel and we joined them aboard for refreshments and conversation of the boating lifestyle.

Elliott Bay Marina from the deck of the Palisades.
Photo by J. Foster Faining

While we may not have trimmed a sail or set a course, or even traveled across the water, except for a ferry ride, a visit to Seattle’s waterfront goes a long way toward sating that dreaded ‘cabin fever’ and giving us hope that the winter tarps will soon be off our vessel and we will be under way again. See you out there…

Our hosts ~ Deborah and Marty aboard THREE SHEETS NW. Photo J. Foster Fanning
“Not all who wander are lost.” JRR Tolkien
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“Then the glory of sail will return”

When steamships took over the world’s long distance routes nearly 150 years ago, nobody could have imagined that we would ever return to the age of sailing ships. But the latest development in international shipping is – believe it or not – ships that sail…

“I can’t wait for the oil wells to run dry, for the last gob of black, sticky muck to come oozing out of some remote well. Then the glory of sail will return.”  -Tristan Jones

Sometimes I’m just simply amazed…

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In our wake – a look back to Jetty Island…

2005 Spring Cruise ~ Jetty Island, Port of Everett
The year was ’05, early in the spring. April as I recall. Catherine and I had hauled our 27’ Lyle Hess designed sailing vessel, Osprey, over the Cascade Mountain Range from eastern Washington to Everett, a coastal town on Possession Sound on the eastern edge of the Salish Sea. The plan was to rendezvous with our good friends Richard and Liza on their custom 30’ motor/sailor Chak Chak and spend a few days cruising Puget Sound. Life made other plans for our friends and they were delayed for a couple of days. No problem – the weather was fair and it felt good to my mate and I to simply have our vessel back in the water after a frozen winter dry storage period. Of course in early April the waterfront is rather quiet, especially when compared with the bustling warmer months, thus for the most part we had the launch ramp and guest dock much to ourselves.

The Port of Everett Marina and launch ramps are built in the tide zone of the mouth of the Snohomish River. Directly across from the port is Jetty Island, owned by the Port of Everett. Jetty Island, a narrow, 2-mile long man-made island, known for it’s large sandy beaches and relatively warm water. In the early 1900s the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to attempted to create a freshwater harbor west of downtown Everett. Now a day-use park with no facilities other than a limited space dock. Jetty Island days are celebrated by the City of Everett Parks and Recreation Department during the summer. The park also provides free ferry service to the island from the 10th Street Boat Launch from June through the Labor Day holiday weekend. The wide flat beaches and strong winds make the island a popular destination for kiteboarding and these unique nautical athletes feature prominently later in this story.

Lyle Hess designed Balboa 27 ~ Osprey. We have since upgraded to a larger vessel but still fondly recall the many of thousands of miles we cruised in comfort and safety in this good old boat. Photo by J. Foster Fanning
During the 1st day after our launch Catherine and I kept Osprey berthed to the main guest docks at the Port of Everett. There was the usual need for access to marine stores and services (the endless checklists). Osprey had undergone some extensive upgrades during the winter and there were still a few loose ends to tie up. But as the lists shortened through out the bustle of one afternoon and another morning we found ourselves eyeing the empty docks of Jetty Island just a half mile upriver from our current location. I spoke with the harbor master and discovered those docks were property of the port and we were welcome to use them for the same fee as we were paying for the guest moorage (even with less amenities). Still the lure of a small island and unpopulated docks called to us and it was later on the second day after launch we finished the last of the ‘need-to-do’ items on the checklist. While motoring up the river with the Jetty Island docks in our sights I noted how strong the current is when the tide is out and the river in free flow. We took that current into account and secured the boat accordingly. That was on a sunny April, Friday afternoon and we did note a bit of what appeared to be small craft, day-use traffic around the dock. We were soon to discover one of Jetty’s best kept secrets – it’s shallow western shore with a long sandy beach is a top-notch kiteboarder recreation area.  Neither Catherine or I knew much about kiteboarding but we were interested and a walk thru the salal bush across the narrow island opened onto a wide expanse of beach with numerous colored kite-like sails and a diverse variety of wet-suit clad persons, a few romping dogs and a great feeling of fun. We found ourselves a couple of comfortable driftwood log perches, facing the spring sun and settled in to watch and learn a bit about kiteboarding.
These kite-sailors are getting ready for lift-off. Photo by J. Foster Fanning
Essentially kiteboarding, from this layman’s understanding, is a sport where a board rider is pulled through, across or just above the water on a large, controllable kite. The kite is attached via a harness to the rider who stands on the board. There were a number of differing kites and boards on the scene, representative of the wide spread in proficiency in the riders we witnessed. We had a fine afternoon watching a dozen of more kiteboarders, each with large colorful kites flying across, hovering in place or laying on the beach. Of course there was a dog or two in the mix, chasing and barking at it’s owner as kite and rider sped off harnessing the power of the wind in a manner somewhat the similar but at the same time so different than we normally do. Both Catherine and I were attracted to this sport and given the chance would have gladly tried our hands at it. As we drifted off with the riders toward the Jetty Island docks I knew we’d be back out on the morrow if the weather held and the kiteboarders returned.
That evening aboard Osprey we finally felt settled in. Most everything had been stowed, as mentioned earlier – the ever present checklist was down to a bare minimum and one our of the upgrades that I had finally finished installing after finding the correct parts was our new propane stove oven (an up-grade from a two burner stove). Catherine baked a sumptuous meal filling the vessel with wonderful smells of a fresh baked dinner and adding additional warmth to the already cozy to the cabin. Our small catalytic heater and a few well placed oil lamps augmenting our electrical lights really gave a pleasant air to the vessel and it was nice to be able to open the hatch, even on a rather cool early spring night and still be entirely comfortable below while early spring stars twinkled in. 
We slept in the next morning and were in the middle of an early Scrabble game when the first kiteboarders began arriving from the launch area in small powerboats. While our morning was given over to leisurely endeavors on Osprey, we noted more and more folks arriving on the dock and heading off toward the beach. Jetty Island is busy on sunny weekends. It was well after lunch by the time we wandered out to the beach. The docks surrounding Osprey were packed with small skiffs, open powerboats, a couple of jet-skis and a kayak or two. We had witnessed one fellow, desperate to reach his kiteboarding grounds and no one making the crossing to the island to hitch a ride with, dive in the water in his wet suit with his kite-pack held over his head and swim across to the island. Glad the river / tide wasn’t running.
This Saturday afternoon the western beach had easily twice as many kiteboarders as the previous afternoon. Plus the accompanying entourage equaled the number of active riders. Even the canine population had doubled. Once again we settled onto comfortable driftwood log seats and watched. There were a few instruction groups occurring. Some one-on-one lessons underway as well. There were free-lancers trying it out on their own (often eating a little sand in the process) and quite a number of mid-level skill riders. But there were a few, three or four, experienced riders and it was thrilling to watch them loft their kite, catch a good wind and take off. If the run lined up right they would soon go into freestyle lift-off, leaving the beach entirely and flying through the air for fifty to a hundred feet before touching down again. “Wow!” Pretty cool. We hung on the beach all through the afternoon wandering around talking with some of the folks there, most young adults. Through our dialog with some of the riders we gathered there are different techniques (as a 30 year skier I understand this aspect). The styles include waveriding, freestyle, freeride, jumping, and cruising. I was curious about the safety of the sport as we had seen a few crashes that in the ski world would have been termed “yardsales”, where gear and participant are scattered across the slope, or in this case the beach. The riders we spoke with told us about the improving systems in kite design, safety release systems, and instructions. However we were given to understand there was still the potential for injury or death due to body drag on land and water, hitting obstacles on land or water, and or getting entangled in the lines. As in any sport it pays to start basic and have some form of instruction to get started. 
The beach had started clearing off as the sun lowered in the April sky and the inevitable temperature change occurred. We drifted back to our vessel and once aboard, in her cozy cabin realized how chill it had gotten outside. Catherine soon had the oven going and was whipping something up while I went on deck to see to a few chores. The last straggler of kite-riders were a few of the young folks we had talked with on the beach. They paused to check out Osprey and say goodbye. I’ll tell you truly Catherine was quite the hit when she stepped topsides with a tray full of hot chocolate chip cookies and passed them around to our new acquaintances. There were smiles on faces all around in the growing twilight. The next day we did rendezvous with our buddy boat and have a great Puget Sound April cruise – but that’s another story. As it worked out our couple of down-time days on Jetty Island were quite pleasant indeed…

” A tourist remains an outsider throughout his visit; but a sailor is part of the local scene from the monent he arrives.” – Anne Davison
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