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2015 San Juans Sailing Saga - Part 3

Cattle Pass. For two years just the name has sent a frisson of terror down my spine. And with good cause.

Cattle Pass is a half mile gap between the south end of San Juan Island and Lopez Island. It can be a very nasty area of water especially with tide and wind opposed and the tide is going out, big tide rips are created. There are rocks on each side.

As we approached the pass we could see standing waves and other boats being tossed around. To put it mildly. But through the middle didn’t look too bad, so in we went.

About the time the standing waves were hitting the boat from each side and tossing us around like a cork, I realized our life jackets would be useless if either of us went over – we should have been tethered to the boat.

I sat in the cockpit holding on for dear life and staring straight ahead as the mast was knocked parallel to the waves, terrified to look behind me in case Daz had been thrown overboard. I knew I had to be quiet to let him get us through the pass, he kept calling out “five more minutes, that’s all and we’re through!” We could see calmer water ahead but just couldn’t seem to get there.

Such an amazing captain!

(Such an amazing captain!)

After what seemed like hours, we were finally through. The first thing Daz said was “We’ll sell the boat in Friday Harbor. I’ll put you on a plane to get you home”. I told him to stop talking and to just get me to a bar.

We finally arrived in Friday Harbor marina where we tied up the boat and promptly went to the Cask and Schooner where we got pleasantly sloshed before we went back to the boat and slept like logs.

It turns out that we had been looking at the wrong tide station for Cattle Pass and we went through at the wrong time. I’m so thankful though that Darrin kept his head and got us through it. I was a bit of a mess to put it mildly.

Frankly I’m pretty surprised I continued with sailing after that, as previously noted I’m afraid of absolutely everything, so I’m astounded that I’m actually continuing with it. I think Daz is pretty gobsmacked about it too – he thought Cattle Pass was the end of our sailing life – admittedly I wasn’t very enthusiastic for a day or two.

Sorry for the lack of pictures - we were holding on for grim death and didn't take any!

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