Away to the Islands…

Last weekend my wife and I passed our ASA Bareboat certification from San Juan Sailing ( in Bellingham, Washington. We had a great time, and the certification means that we can charter sailboats around the world.

It was a two-day course that involved a cruise from Bellingham Bay to the Sucia Islands in the San Juans. We used a 2004 Catalina 350.

The confidence of our excellent instructor was really evident when the weather became rough. We overpowered the boat right off the bat and had to reef as the rain came down. Then things cleared and the rest of the trip to Sucia was perfectly manageable even if overcast and cool.

The next morning, there was a strong blow coming into the day, with 3 foot chop. The boat was bucking at the mooring, and the thought of taking the hour-long written test below decks was not comforting. We motored into a more protected part of the bay and anchored, but still my wife and I were getting green halfway through the test and moved up and down between cabin and cockpit as we completed the pages.

Sailing WifeSailing back to Bellingham, we had some fairly heavy conditions (for us, at least). There were strong gusts, four foot swells, and we used only a reefed foresail. Still, we buried the rail more than once, rolling to 25 degrees or more. It was pretty exciting, and my wife did a great job at the wheel and the winches (which were under major strain and a bit touchy when releasing).

We had enough wind to sail all the way back down Hale Passage, which I understand is somewhat rare, and we used the GPS/chart plotter to get the maximum distance out of our tacks. We used the engine very little during the entire trip– pretty cool.

So, a wonderful experience, and we’re looking forward to our week-long charter of an Islander 28 in the San Juans this summer (last week of July) with our kids.

I’ve posted some pictures from our Bareboat course here:

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