Over Memorial Day Weekend, I was privileged to be a part of the 2012 Pacific Challenge Longboat meet as one of the event organizers and judges of the competitions. These longboats are replicas of the sort of ship's longboat that were used by Captains Gray and Vancouver to explore the area back in the 1790's. They are crewed by youth sailing programs, and while there are adults along to keep an eye on things, all the work is done by the teens in the crews. Rather than ride in a longboat or on the Committee Boat myself, I chose to shadow the fleet in my own sail and oar boat so I could flit around and take pictures and stuff.
The first day was bright and clear, and the crews were delivered their sealed orders to navigate by a set of lat/long coordinates from Cap Sante in Anacortes around the back side of Hat Island to an otherwise undisclosed location. But since I knew where they were headed, I was able to row straight there the short way, and was comfortably settled in my chair on the beach with coffee thermos in hand to welcome the contestants as they completed the first leg of the challenge.
It was almost all rowing that first day, and we all were ready for a good dinner and a good night's sleep after setting up camp at the North Beach on Guemes Island. But there was definitely a change in the weather coming. We assigned a watchlist amongst the crews--and it turned out to be more than a formality as the wind piped up to 25 kts overnight, and that was on the lee side of the island!
But that also meant we had sailing weather for the next day. Yes!
Here are Elizabeth Bonaventure of Anacortes and Hewitt R. Jackson of Hoquiam, easing their way around the tip of Guemes to see what Bellingham Channel had in store for us.
And this is Bear from Port Townsend. This crew slept on board at anchor through the tumultuous night, some of them on the floorboards, with a second layer sleeping above them on the oars spread across the thwarts.