A. J. Wanderlust departs Shilshole Bay on March 6, 2009 at 10:31 am.She is buffeted by light northerly winds and surrounded by calm, barely rippled seas.Denny, Jackson and I spend our first couple of hours almost adrift, with A. J. Wanderlust proceeding at less than 2 knots.I attempt to rig and run the spinnaker, but the wind is even too light to fill this tissue thin sail.I personally do not mind the slow pace, for this is a beautiful March day.The sun is warm on my face.
Puget Sound bustles with activity this morning.Shipping traffic in the form of ferries, tugs and tows, solitary tugboats, sailboats and coastguard ribbys dart about to and fro at different speeds and on various courses forming a chaotic symphony of movement.The background to all this activity is spectacular vistas to the skyline of downtown Seattle.Mount Rainer to the south and Mount Baker to the north are in full and glorious view, their snow capped peaks etches distinctly against the blue sky.
Denny and I lower the sails to enter Blake Island.I have never visited this Washington State Park, but plan to spend a weekend soon.I think Jackson would love the tree lined trails and sandy beach.Denny warns the entrance is tricky and we make a trail run through the harbor to acquaint me with its characteristics in case I come during the week when Denny is working.Predominantly, I notice a strong current runs through the harbor that will have to be carefully managed if docking alone. Brief introductory tour complete, I steer A. J. Wanderlust out of the tiny harbor.
The wind begins to freshen and by 2:14 pm rises to south-south east 10 knots as A. J. Wanderlust again hoists canvas and sails a beat down Colvis Passage.Seas are mild at one foot or less.By 3:15 pm, the wind is down to only 7 knots from the south.We are still sailing but most of A. J. Wanderlust’s progress can be attributed to the favorable current in Colvis Passage.Denny and I tack and tack A. J. Wanderlust repeatedly.
It is only March in the Pacific Northwest and sunset comes early and so we fire up A. J. Wanderlust’s engine at 5 pm to reach the narrow entrance to Gig Harbor before dark.The day has been blessed with a high barometer and stable sunny weather.I maneuver A. J. Wanderlust onto the City dock at 7 pm.Jackson knows the movements and sounds of docking; it is time for a walk and he immediately proceeds to the boarding gate.By the time we take A. J. Wanderlust out to anchor at 9 pm, the temperature is plummeting and the night feels intensely cold.
March 7th is a leisurely day, spent exploring Gig Harbor’s surrounds and having a long lunch at Tide’s Tavern.Denny, Jackson and I walk to the far end of the harbor and view the many boats docked at various small marinas.Some are extravagant and others decrepit.All have their stories, if only they could talk of their seafaring adventures.Jackson pokes along and window shops the small Gig Harbor downtown, with special attention to the nautical shop that fascinates Denny and me.Returning the Bernese to the boat to snooze, Denny and I head to Tide’s Tavern for pomegranate margaritas and appetizers, sitting by a window to watch boat traffic move in and out of the harbor.The late afternoon is made complete with a dinghy ride about Gig Harbor; Jackson takes up the bow watch and lifts his nose to sniff in the fresh air and new smells.
Denny and I hoisted the dinghy aboard last night, and thus move A. J. Wanderlust to the City Dock for Jackson’s morning walk on March 8th.I make it a quick one, in order to allow plenty of time for slow sailing back to Shilshloe Bay in Seattle.I need peace, I need solitude, I need to sail A. J. Wanderlust and not listed to the constant hum of the engine.By 9:22 am, A. J. Wanderlust motors away from the dock, bound for home.
After more than two years and many exotic ports, I am having trouble accustoming myself to this new lifestyle, one in which A. J. Wanderlust is home ported out of Seattle and only makes weekend trips.I yearn for more adventure; I desire for the challenge of entering new harbors.But I know distant travels, at least for now, must be postponed.I have a boat with serious maintenance requirements.I have a brother with cancer and family responsibilities.I need to return to a career and fill my bank account.I wrestle with the question, am I happier living on A. J. Wanderlust and sailing short distances or would I be better off away from the water all together?My sabbatical has not cured my wanderlust but instead it has made it even more insatiable.
The wind is variable and light, only 5 knots from the northwest and the seas are barely rippled. Denny and I attempt to sail, but A. J. Wanderlust can only achieve a speed of 2.5 knots in the light winds.Reluctantly and at Denny’s persuasion, we start the engine and motor out Colvis Passage.A. J. Wanderlust is chased by a large, black rain cloud.Just before noon, we cut the engine and A. J. Wanderlust drifts along with big floppy sails, no wind to fill them. We hope for wind near Alki Point, but it never materializes near.A. J. Wanderlust drifts silently for a couple of hours before we again restart the engine at 2:30 pm.
I would be happy, drifting aimlessly about, but it is Sunday night and that means the tradition of happy hour at Ray’s.Denny is eager for us to arrive to attend.In honesty, I enjoy the Sunday night happy hours, as they seem to provide some degree of stability in a tumultuous time as I decide what direction to take post cruise.Too much contemplation is thwarted, as my eyes focus on the horizon.I count fourteen sailboats in Puget Sound, just enjoying the sunny day.Brilliant rays of sunshine part the clouds.
I have wished too hard for the wind and as A. J. Wanderlust enters Shilshole at 3:30 pm, a south wind blows.The wretched south wind acts against A. J. Wanderlust’s bow and I twice attempt to dock A. J. Wanderlust before turning the controls over to Denny in frustration; the bow keeps being blown down.My slip in Shilshole is tight, only a fender and a few inches between me and the powerboat docked alongside.Denny gives A. J. Wanderlust more throttle and with a valiant fend off from me on the port side, A. J. Wanderlust is soon nestled into her slip on J dock.