San Juan Islands Sailing

First of all, I have to tell you guys this has been the most epic summer of my entire life. Better than slip ‘n slides and blackberry picking at eight, better than Latin American living at 16, better than hostel jumping at 20, and (maybe) even better than New York City last year. If you’ve been following this summer, you know that I spent most of my time leading a youth conservation corp team here in Hawaii and camping in some of the most remote places on the Big Island. To top it all off, I spent the last week of summer break sailing in the San Juan Islands in Washington state.

Some of you may know that we plan to drop everything in the very near future in favor of living on a sail boat. We will probably begin our adventures in the Pacific Northwest so we found a charter boat company that offered a “learn and cruise” trip to get some hands-on sailing experience. Through San Juan Sailing we sailed and lived aboard for a week with another couple and a captain who taught us to sail along the way. I am proud to say I am now a legit sailor. LEGIT. And I didn’t even get sick once. For the girl who gets nauseous on a playground swing this is big news.

The sailing course included three written exams and a series of practical “tests” that we practiced at sea. Once you pass all three courses you can charter a boat from San Juan Sailing all on your own.

Most nights we anchored in a sheltered bay of one of the small islands where we could row on shore for a little hiking and beach combing. The water was stand-still calm. The other couple cruising with us got their crabbing license so we were lucky enough to have fresh crab on board a couple times. Meals were cooked and eaten family style and luckily all of us got along very well.

We also spent a night at the marina in Friday Harbor, an adorable little port town with scads of art galleries and teeny cafes. We pounded some oysters and sipped on local beer and just about died when the moon rose out of the purple sunset glow. The water is so clear around there, you can see starfish and all sorts of creatures everywhere.

Every morning we would get geared up and sail to a new anchorage. Being out on the water sailing was two parts challenging and two parts fun. I liked learning about navigation and charting and feeling pretty confident that with some practice I’ll get the whole sail trimming thing down, too.

Mainly, I’m looking forward to eating fresh crab, fish, clams and mussels often and with gusto.

I spent a lot of time before this trip worrying about being a total sailor failure and letting my husband down. If it weren’t for the confidence boost from leading a group of teenagers through a summer of the hardest physical labor ever, well let’s just say that boost was needed.

This vacation will sustain me for a good long while.

I can still taste the oysters.

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4 thoughts on “San Juan Islands Sailing

  1. You are killing me! I wish I would have known you were heading up that way. My grandparents lived in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island and my family still owns a condo there w/ a boat dock!Would have loved to have you at least try and get a picture of it since I haven’t seen it in about 15 years!

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