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:
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…

About J. Foster Fanning

Photographer, Fire Chief, Commodore of RPSC Sail Club, Skier, Biker, Hiker, Wanna'be beach bum, Writer, Father, Grandfather and a bit more... 1st mate Catherine Brown & I spend about 70 days a year board, which includes one month long cruise annually. Our vessel is transportable and while we maintain a permanent buoy on Lake Roosevelt, near Kettle Falls extended cruises on the Salish Sea are part of our cruising grounds.
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