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The Voyage of Krogen 42 Sea Waltz: Waltzing Through The San Juan Islands
— Clara and Bill Blanding, Alexandria, VA • Photos by Robin Roberts

The tacos are ready
Our first day’s destination was an anchorage in Hunter Bay on Lopez Island where we were to meet Curtis and Chris Oswalt aboard their Krogen 42', Chug.  But first we had to cross the dreaded Strait of Juan de Fuca.  I was worried about the crossing because we would be near the end of its 80-mile fetch with exposure to the westerly winds and waves, and more importantly we were scheduled to arrive at the Strait in the afternoon. Its waters can be an easy ride, a tortuous slog, or down right dangerous depending on conditions. Even in good weather, most cruising boaters try to plan a swift crossing in the early morning when the waters are generally calmest.

Fortunately, the morning winds were predicted at 10-15 knots with one- to two-foot waves and, completely contrary to norm, easing in the afternoon. With that bit of good news my fear eased and we cruised past our bailout options. In the meantime, we settled into a routine as we watched the scenery and marveled at the rip tides, eddies and changing currents. Jim and I kept an eye on our course both electronically and with paper charts. I also performed engine room checks (a nice warm space compared to the 62 degrees outside, reminding us why we wanted a pilot house). In the meantime Clara and Robin made lunch–the first time we were ever able to cook on a moving boat–that was instantly consumed with exclamations of “good, good!”  Ah, the simple pleasures of cruising life!

After lunch we entered the Strait and made our 18NM passage across with light wind, barely one- to two-foot waves and a current mostly to our advantage. We finally entered Rosario Strait and made our way through Lopez Pass. In the San Juans numerous channels and passes surround the islands. These offer access to almost every island leading to coves and quiet bays for anchoring, or towns and settlements for shopping, dining, and entertainment. As we wove our way past the rocky entrance into Hunter Bay, we spotted Chug already anchored and made VHF contact.  To my total surprise I heard, “Sea Waltz, rig for starboard rafting.” Rafting! We’ve never rafted before, what do I do and how do I do it? Without a care or concern, Clara and Jim went off to lay out the fenders and ready the lines while Robin, sensing my panic, stayed with me in the pilothouse. As we slowly approached, Robin calmly leaned over and whispered, “Nothing to it, go very slow and be careful of her stern as she swings around the anchor.” I took a deep breath and created a visual plan in my mind of how to make it work. And work it did!  

We nestled effortlessly right alongside Chug and as lines were affixed I started breathing again. Almost 60NM and 9.5 hours later, our first day of trawler cruising was over. What a great start to our trip! It was made even better by Chris and Curtis who had their famous taco dinner waiting for us. We dined amid the beautiful sunset in Hunter Bay. We officially celebrated our first night on Sea Waltz, sharing a champagne toast and a short waltz on our foredeck amid the company of old and new friends.  A happy smile emerged as Clara and I drifted off to sleep.