Lessons learned from the weekend trip to Orcas

I went to Orcas this weekend to pick up my drive unit for my autopilot, and it was a bit of a comedy of errors.

The first thing that happened was I cycled my bilge pump and got my feet covered in… foam? (the output leads into the cockpit). Rushing down to figure out what was going on,  I slipped on a patch of washing up liquid (dish soap) and went flying across the cabin, arse over tit. Picking myself up I’d found that the washing up liquid bottle had fallen over and leaked all over the floor, and hence into the bilge. Meaning that my pump was mixing up quite the foam when it was pumping out. At least the bilge is clean!

Lesson 1: Double check you have secured everything before heading out. Also, don’t rush into the cabin

Once I crossed the border into the US, I called as usual to clear, and got told to head to the nearest port of entry. Uh oh. Turns out that the rules for entry had changed in 2016, and now I needed a ‘cruising permit’! My brand new customs decal was also apparently no longer needed, which is $40 I won’t get back. Sigh. Even more annoying, it took almost two hours to get the customs permit as the CBO people weren’t sure how to process it, meaning I missed out on a trip to the hot tubs when I finally got to Orcas Island :(.

Lesson 2: Double check entry requirements, especially at the start of a new year

When I finally arrived at Orcas I did my usual trick of lassoing the mooring buoy so I could hold it still while I attached the proper pendant. However this time, I used the temporary lasso to move the buoy to the front of the boat for some reason, instead of just attaching the pendant at the stern. This meant I had to yank a bunch on the lasso, meaning it cinched tight around the chain on the bottom of the buoy and got stuck. When I left, I had to cut the loop of the rope off.

Lesson 3: Don’t pull the temporary lasso tight on a mooring buoy!


On the plus side, I got to pick up my drive unit and the weather was extremely nice. Managed to sail 1/2 the way there and back, in 10-15 knot winds – about perfect! And you don’t learn anything if it all goes perfectly, right?

Leaving early Saturday morning


Sailing into the wind


Mount Baker


Boat near Gudgeon (I want a ketch so bad)



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