Sunday, September 23, 2012

Day 100-Conover Cove to Sylvan Cove

After breakfast I headed out from Wallace Island with no particular destination in mind.  Based on the guidebook I though Rum Island might be a nice place to stay, so I figured I’d check it out and if it didn’t work out I’d be just a few miles from Roche Harbor and the US customs dock.

There were a ton of boats out as I made my way through the Gulf Islands.  Big boats going fast, big wakes, strange, zig zagging courses…all reminders that I was getting back towards cruising areas that are often frequented by less experienced weekend boaters, or at least boaters who don’t display the same courtesy that the people further north seem to.  I’m sure the beautiful September weekend brought out additional crowds, too.

I got to Rum Island in just a couple of hours and poked around.  Two sailboats were already anchored and I confess the crowded waterways experienced on the trip down from Wallace Island made me frustrated.  The best anchoring spots were taken Roche Harbor was 30 minutes away, and then our cabin on Decatur Island (with a shower and a hot tub…pretty nice after 100 days on the boat!).  I promptly throttled up and set the course for Roche Harbor.
Spieden Island, visible from Rum Island
Roche Harbor was chaotic.  Lots of boats coming and going, boat owners (typically with 24-28 foot express cruisers) driving around the harbor too fast (not on plane, not off plane, just digging a big hole in the water and throwing out a big wake), sea planes taking off and landing, etc.  A massive yacht was taking up the entirety of the customs dock when I arrived, and I tied up right in front of it.  I grabbed my passport, boat registration, and Canadian clearance number and begun waiting in line to get checked in. 

10 minutes later it was my turn and I handed over the documents.  Officer Holmes then asked which boat was mine.  I pointed it out, and he promptly yelled at me that I was not docked within the designated customs dock area and needed to move the boat and wait in the line again.  It didn’t seem to matter that the behemoth that had been tied up before had totally obscured the signs marking the area of the customs dock.  So I moved the boat to another spot maybe 50 feet away and waited in line for another 20 minutes.

Finally officer Holmes had time for me again, and his thorough unpleasantness continued.  I’ve gone through customs many times in a couple dozen countries and never dealt with an officer as unpleasant as officer Holmes.  Thankfully he didn’t find anything wrong with my story or anything I was carrying (I was in total compliance) and let me back into the country.

From Roche Harbor it was about an hour and a half through the San Juans to Sylvan Cove on Decatur Island.  The trip was easy and familiar and traffic was surprisingly light.  After all these miles, all these stunningly beautiful places, the sight of glacier-covered Mt. Baker rising above the San Juan’s hadn’t lost its magic.
Mt. Baker is still spectacular
As I approached Sylvan Cove, I could tell the dock was mostly empty.  I tied up in front of the other boat and walked around on shore a bit.  The rest of the day was spent lounging in the sun, sitting in the hot tub, and enjoying a hot shower without feeding quarters/loonies into the machine.
Retriever secure in Sylvan Cove
43.1 nm today and 3,200.6 total

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