From the deck of the quay-side sailing vessel AQUILA, light of the newly risen moon reflects in the dark, twilight waters illuminating the sailing vessels moored nearby. Its hard to describe the feelings that occur when slipping the docklines of the waiting vessel; the diesel engine lowly idling far below decks, all systems 'GO', we climb aboard on a near silent night and ease ‘her’ away from the dock for an extended cruise. Oh so sweet! My partner, Catherine, and I couldn’t help but cast big smiles at each other in the dim, red light of the binnacle as
AQUILA slipped near silently through deepening purple waters. No one stirred on any of the other 25 buoyed sailboats forming our club field. It was the beginning of our month long September sail cruise and we had worked darned hard to get to this point. “Whew”…
|Moon light over Rickey Point Sail Club buoy field.|
Clearing our flashing buoy field marker light and rounding Rickey Point, the whisper of the bow wave and the quiet rumbling of the reliable old Yanmar were soul soothing music to our over-worked physics. No provision lists remained active. No piles of gear lay about to stow. No chores related to taking on water or pumping the head were pressing to be done. In the other world, the one we were leaving on land on the otherside of the dock, Catherine and I are both managers with intense jobs and multiple employees. It took a lot of work, but all of our support systems were in place allowing this extended leave. I piloted our 1988, S2, 9.2C vessel,
AQUILA toward the middle of the lake channel as we pointed the bow south into the glow of the moon on an otherwise dark night. Theres more than 600 miles of shoreline on Lake Roosevelt and we were heading out...
Deliberately we had no clear destination in mind. With extensive knowledge of these home waters we knew there were a dozen anchorages to serve our needs when the time came to shut ‘her’ down for the night. That time wouldn’t be for a few hours anyway as we were both stoked to finally be on the water, free of normal tethers. And so it was ~ the moon rose higher, the stars dimmed because of the moons brightness and the few shoreside lights of northern
We had considered hauling AQUILA over the Cascade Mountain Range and into our favorite launching port of Anacortes, indeed that had been the plan at the end of the 2010 Cruise. As it worked out time, money and events combined to block that option, thus it is on the plate for next year. Fortunately this turned out to be one of the best
cruises we ever had. And that’s saying a lot! Lake Roosevelt
|The sailing vessel AQUILA and yours truly, as skipper at the helm.|
Before we get too far along I’ll post a few pics introducing the vessel and crew…The vessel as I mentioned above is a 1988 S2 - 9.2C, center cockpit, sloop. Displacing 10,000 with a 10 foot beam. When not moored on her buoy at Rickey Point Sail Club we keep 'her' on a custom trailer and occasionally haul 'her' over to the saltchuck for our late season cruises.
|Catherine and ship's dog, Pinja...|
Pictured with Catherine is the newest addition to our crew, Pinja, the miniature pincher, Jack Russell terrier cross. Whilst I like dogs, and have raised and lived with a number of them, I'd never considered, nor allowed the canine species on my vessel's. I know there are many who do but it was (is?) a personal preference thing. Well, Catherine loves pets. Enough said. And actually she's come close to making a believer out of me. Cath had been grooming the puppy all summer by taking her out with us each weekend (except for our club regatta). And the pup had done well. A natural and strong swimmer and very adaptive at learning new environments. And we agreed on a specific rule; "Dog goes to beach - dog gets bath." Or at least a good rinse off. Fortunately this is a ten pound, short-haired canine, so that was an easy rule to live by (most of the time).
|Clementine at the helm just hours before her 19th birthday...|
Back to our first night out: it was just under a three hour run steaming south that fetched Chalk Bluff, illustrated in the rendered Google Earth image above. This is one of our favorite 'open' anchorages. Good holding, plenty of room for lots of scope, and no roads or homes easily visible. It is a quiet spot with empty beaches.
|Tis a tough life as skipper aboard a vessel with these beauties...|
I mentioned this cruise was one of the best - it wasn’t any single thing, but the amalgamation of a number of factors that came together in the right place / right time zone.
First the weather; the beginning ten days of the cruise had temperatures in the low 90’s. Sweet! Second was unusual occurrences; take for example my cousin Kathleen from
, whom we hadn’t seen in several years. It just so happened, on our 2nd day, we had cell service for a brief moment and received her message she was in the area (Kettle Falls). Logistically that worked out great as our plans for the day included an early stop at one of our favorite anchorages on the Colville Reservation directly across the lake from the National Park Service Hunter’s boat launch and campground. Kathleen drove the 30 miles south on State Highway 25 and we picked her up there just a couple hours after the surprise phone call and had a good afternoon visit aboard. One of our many chance encounters this trip. Westport
|Catherine enjoying a fine summer day and a good passage under sail...|
Another aspect that made this cruise notable was the wind, and for the most part we could say, favorable wind. Here the s/v
AQUILA is seen under Catherine’s command on a beam reach while the afternoon temperatures climb over the 90* mark. Of the 240 miles we logged this trip nearly 70 were under sail and never a hard beat to windward!
Nez Perce creek drains into
off Colville Tribe lands. The anchorage in a fair sized cove at the mouth of the drainage is one of our favorite for the 360* protection it offers and a fine, tall sandbar separating the cove from the main body of the lake. As seen in the image below. Lake Roosevelt
|Steep beach, clean sand, clear water...|
NEXT: Wilmont then Caves then Castle RockX