We were about halfway across a gray, windless Strait of Juan de Fuca when a westerly breeze filled in and the sun broke through the various levels of clouds above the Olympic Mountains. For the past few days we’d been monitoring the movements of rain and wind brought on by a Pineapple Express that was sweeping through the area. The forecasts had painted a bleak picture of what to expect, so we waited in Friday Harbor to watch it all unfold before making our calculated move south to Bainbridge Island and Seattle where we’ll be hauling Yahtzee out for a fresh coat of paint.
Fortunately, we have grown well aware that in times like these we just need to practice patience and let the plan unfold with what the weather and sometimes unpredictable forecasts give us. Overnight, the strong southerly winds that had been buffeting the region for several days had abated and I thought we would have close to 12 hours before it picked back up again. Waiting to leave was the right call and our window had opened just enough for us to slip out and move south.
That westerly breeze was unexpected and had us rollicking southbound on a reach faster than our engine would have carried us. Our destination was Port Townsend — at the southeastern corner of the Strait — but we made it there faster than anticipated. This enabled us to keep making progress south and the next logical stop became the quaint village of Port Ludlow, only 12 miles away.
Just a few miles before arriving in Port Ludlow, though, our window was slammed shut. The wind switched to the south and steadily increased — 10, 15, 20 knots, with gusts in the upper 20s to low 30s. The wind waves rolling up Hood Canal grew steep and we had no choice but head straight into them for a short time before turning west into the harbor. Not unsafe, just unpleasant. Porter completed his afternoon nap through the brief raucous, and Magnus was as content as ever.
That next shot of wind, followed shortly by rain, continued throughout the night but Sunday arrived warm with a clearing sky. Again not in a hurry, we took our time with breakfast and coffee before setting off on foot to find the waterfalls near the village. All the rain we’d had over the previous few days had whipped the falls into a torrent that was fast-moving and fun to watch.
A few hours later, mountains seemed to fill every horizon as we pointed Yahtzee’s bow out of Port Ludlow and then southward to catch the flood tide down Puget Sound. Seattle soon loomed on the horizon and we stayed towards the western edge of the Sound to let ships pass well to port and to give us a better angle to the northern edge of Bainbridge Island where we’d hang out, kayak and watch the wildlife for a few days before moving the boat over to Seattle for the haul out.
More than anything, trips like these reinforce the value of patience in our planning. If we take things slow, the moments we share together will pay off in the end. And things aboard always seem to work better that way.