Alas, all good things must come to an end, although I don't think that should apply to vacations.
Darrin had to get back to work though, so after a lovely few days at Rosario we did some trip planning to make our way home again.
We checked the winds, the forecast, tides and currents then chose to go back through Cattle Pass rather than via Rosario Straight or the Swinomish Channel. We didn't feel we were brave enough for Deception Pass yet either - the timing needs to be perfect and with only a 20 minute window to make it through at slack tide, that would mean we'd be going through at 2 in the morning - not ideal so we decided to give that one a miss. We'd been through the Swinomish Channel on our previous trip. It can be very shallow and again, tides are incredibly important, especially if the actual channel hasn't been dredged in a while. So going back the way we came was our choice as the tides and currents would be in our favor. Unfortunately later that night we heard our dock neighbours from Rosario calling the Coast Guard for help - they left the day before us to go through Swinomish Channel in their Hunter 36 but ran aground in the channel. We don't know if they were able to float off or had to be towed, but either way isn't cool.
Our route of choice would take us from Rosario to American Camp at the south end of San Juan Island to anchor for the night so we could get through Cattle Pass early in the morning. Based on forecasts it would be a smooth ride for most of the way over the Strait until Admiralty Inlet, when we'd have the dreaded wind against current issue for a little while.
We sailed all the way to American Camp, it was a lovely day on the water and we had no real time constraints until the next day. The anchorage at American Camp is very exposed, particularly from the north but the forecast was for a small craft advisory in the Strait with winds from the south west. We thought we'd have plenty of protection but the wind really blew up and over the land, so it turned out to be very rocky indeed. We dropped anchor though and decided to see what happened. We had plenty of time to go back to Friday Harbor for the night if we felt it was too crazy but we need to be salty sailors and not run for a marina all the time! We stuck it out and after a while the wind died down and it turned out to be very nice.
Next morning bright and early we weighed anchor and headed through Cattle Pass. Again, lovely and smooth, barely a ripple on the water. As we were planning on making it all the way back to Shilshole and not stop overnight anywhere, and there was no wind (although a gale advisory was issued for the afternoon) we motored across the Strait making a beeline for Admiralty Inlet. We wanted to be in the Sound before the gale blew up.
For the next few hours we practiced finding boats on our AIS and radar as we motored along. The seas started to get a little rougher the closer to Admiralty Inlet we got. By this time the wind had started to blow, the tide was going into the Inlet, the wind was blowing out and so it was rough and choppy. No problem though, we have a 40HP engine that was pushing us along nicely and we were almost through the entrance. And then the engine died. Of course it did. It wouldn't be a Howell sailing trip without something unexpected to deal with.
Well. This was a bit of a pickle. Probably more so for me than for Darrin, because I'm yelling 'OMGTHEENGINEDIEDWHATWILLWEDONOWOMGWE'REGOINGTOSINKANDDIEOMG"
Darrin, calm and cool of course, says "It's a sailboat Linda. We put up the sails and we're fine."
Well ok then, we put up the sails and Darrin went below to check out the engine. He thought that with the washing machine effect of the water, water backed up into the engine. Nice. We'd have to wait until the sea state calmed down to see if it would start again. In the meantime we were moving very slowly towards the inlet. We decided if worst came to worst, we'd call for a tow into Port Townsend and stay there the night while we did repairs (if it wasn't the fuel filter as suspected.)
This is one of those times that explains why I call Darrin "Always". Because yes, he was right. We got out of the choppy water and the engine started just fine. We continued on our way home to Shilshole with no further ado.
Fours hours later we were docked and tied up and ready for a steak at the Keg. There was much discussion about changing oil and fuel filters before we take the boat out again.
Should I confess here that despite all good intentions and parts purchased for the project, it still hasn't been done?