Bellingham to Active Cove, Patos Island, USA

As expected, we awoke to cloudy skies and rain showers. Those rain showers that only start when you leave the boat and promptly stop when you back inside. The first mission of the day was to return the rental car. Chara, from our charter company, Northwest Explorations arrived promptly at the designed time. That was 8AM, which meant Karen was still asleep. I felt guilty that Chara was being so kind as to follow me to the airport and give me a ride back to the marina on her “day off”.  My guilt was mitigated when she told me there were two of us utilizing her taxi service. Our departure from Bellingham was uneventful; always nice when you’re on a new boat. Although very similar to Discovery, which we have spent the last two seasons chartering, our boat this year, Arctic Star is nonetheless different. It’s a much newer version of a Grand Banks 46. Having spent the first part of its life “down south” things like an air conditioner and tinted windows signal there will be a transition period for this boat to the waters of the Pacific Northwest. Some of the transition has begun with the installation of diesel hot water heat. A must have in these climes.

I think the biggest change for this boat will be going from private ownership to life in a charter fleet. The owner did a shakedown cruise and some items have been addressed and some deferred and some yet undiscovered. Coming from Discovery, which has many years in a charter fleet and had evolved into the consummate charter vessel, Arctic Star still has some metamorphosis to do.

Not all mechanical issues have yet surfaced. We discovered that the forward bilge pump wants to run continuously when left to its own devices. The port stabilizers fin is content to do nothing, leaving its brethren on the starboard side to do all the work. While problems like those may sound major to the uninitiated, they are not unexpected on a “real world” shakedown cruise. Other items that seem trivial can have a great impact on life aboard. For example, this boat must have thirty occasional throw pillows; leaving very little room for the crew and their gear. We have exiled most of ne’er-do-well soft stowaways to the forward berth. Since Karen and I are the only crew, that will do for a two week solution. If we have another couple on board we will all be rearranging the pillows constantly looking for a place to sit or sleep.

So it goes in the life of a charter. We’re making a list for the new owners of things that don’t work and things that will make the stay aboard more pleasant for future charters, of which we count ourselves.

Back to our journey. As we progress out of Bellingham Bay the once foreboding clouds retreated giving way to a glorious day of sun. With unexpected but welcomed weather, we leisurely made our way to Patos Island. A small distinctly shaped island near the U.S. and Canadian border. Karen was worried that we would find the only two mooring balls in Active Cove taken, given that it was the beginning of the weekend. While there were two boats in the Cove when we arrived, neither had opted for either of the mooring balls. So we took the one in deeper water given that a minus two foot tide was predicted for today.

20080607active_cove_panorama_small Active Cove, panorama view

After hooking up and settling in, we launched the dinghy and went exploring on the island.

20080607_rem1011edit Pebble beach at the end of Active Cove

Our goal was to visit the historic lighthouse at the north end of the island. It was an easy hike with wide and flat trails and the last 600 yards on a paved sidewalk, a remnant of the days when the station was manned by the Coast Guard.

20080607_rem0990edit Lighthouse on Patos Island

20080607_rem1020edit Karen stands at the northern most part of the U.S. in the San Juan islands

20080607_rem1024edit2 Survey marker from the Boundry Commission, the U.S.-Canadian border is just north of here in the water

Dinner was simple and after sunset, around 9:15, we fell into bed for a well deserved rest.