Sailing to Sucia – a Visit from the Deep

I am so lucky that my boyfriend has a sailboat! We love going out for a few days to “get away from it all.” This summer we are taking some time to explore the San Juan Islands in the Northwestern part of Washington State. Washington is called the Evergreen State mostly because it rains most of the time! We also have lots of Pine trees, snow-capped mountains and the Pacific Ocean! I grew up in Washington but I am able to explore this state in a whole new way from the decks of a sailboat!


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I imagine that when I tell people I’m going sailing for a few days they may conjure an image that is quite different from my sailing reality. I think they imagine me in a bikini, sitting in a lounge chair, hair flowing gently in the wind, skin bronzed, being served by a tan 20-something GQ model while our boat (hear Yacht) cruises gently through the islands.

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My reality is definitely NOT that! No bikini – I mean jeez, we live in the Pacific Northwest and there isn’t enough sun to get me to reveal my white belly for anything! There are no lounge chairs unless you count the few moments when I allow myself to rest on the Jib. Hair – that’s a whole story unto itself. My hair is long and when you are out on the water long hair is in the way ALL the time! So it’s usually pulled back quickly into a pony tail that gets whipped and twirled until it takes about an hour of combing to coax out all the knots! My skin does get bronzed or I guess you could call it wind chafed! And I much prefer a tanned 50-something Paul Newmanesque gentleman to share a drink with. 🙂

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We sail a 27 foot trimaran. It has a small berth (sleeping area for you land lubbers) which is only big enough for two people who REALLY like each other AND they have to be very good at Synchronized Spooning! There is a small head (bathroom for boaty people) with a porta potty but you have to be bent over 90 degrees just to get to it. The shower is a lovely black bag hung up by a hailyard on the outside of the boat above the nets. (yes, you read that right, outside) Hopefully there is enough sun to warm the water before you want a shower. 🙂 Cooking is done with a handy-dandy camping jet boil!

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So now that you have a little clearer idea of what it’s like being on our boat, let me tell you about our latest exploration to Sucia Island. Sucia is one of the northernmost islands in the San Juans. It is shaped very similar to a hand print with the fingers facing to the south-east taking in the startling view of Mount Baker. On a boat you can wander in between each of the fingers or even go up and around to the base of the palm to Shallow Bay – a perfect little crescent with three different beaches and a perfect view of the sunset!

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Sucia is a fun place to visit for many reasons, It has many shallow bays to explore, it has miles of hiking trails and fossils to search for, it has great views from every side. It is covered in Madrona and Pine trees, there are beautiful sandy beaches, cozy camping spaces, and the most gorgeous sandstone surrounding most of the island. These undulating, curving, rhythmic looking walls remind me very much of the slot canyons outside of Kanab Utah that we visiting this past Christmas. The colors here a little less orange but stunning still the same.

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One of the best things about Sailing and being on an island is the ability to disconnect from every day life, worrying, job stress and the inundation of the “shoulds.” “I should be cleaning my house. I should be earning more money. I should be doing a better job at (fill in the blank). I should be skinnier, nicer, happier!” We all spend so much time being hard on ourselves. We expect perfection and tear ourselves apart when we can’t achieve it. Sailing is one of the few times I have found that it is possible for me to just BE.

We enjoyed our time on Sucia with sightings of Bald Eagles, Harbor Seals, Anemones and River Otters playing in the Bays and even one very spiky and hairy caterpillar that caught our attention. But little did we know that our biggest sighting was still to come!

There is always a little let down when you have to untie your mooring and head for home. So we were quiet and contemplative as we headed out of Shallow Bay and headed back to Anacortes.  My boyfriend was steering the boat and watching the horizon as he noticed a big puff of breath rise up from the water. He waited until he saw it a few times before calling down to me in the cabin. “Honey, there is something really BIG out here! I came up on deck and joined him in looking out at the water and there he was! A big huge Orca whale! His tall black fin breaking the water just after each exhale from his blow-hole.

Seeing an Orca in the wild for the first time is an exhilarating experience! Your breath catches, you hold it hoping that he’ll come back, swim along next to your boat, look you in the eye and give you a message from under the sea. My boyfriend said he was worried about me staying on the boat!

He stayed safely away from our boat and we didn’t try to follow or chase him. But we did stare out at the water watching for him for a very long time. It was like the universe was gifting us with his visit from the deep. As though our admiration of and love for the sea deserved a thank you. That our weekend needed a little something to cap it off. A message that we are on the right path, that we belong.

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It was pretty much a perfect trip. We love our boat (even with its limitations). We love living here – for now. And we love being out on the water, living one adventure after another and sharing our adventures with you!  Namaste y’all.

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