Greatest hits tour – Sailing the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands on a 38 foot catamaran

Lying on the bow net during the height of the Perseid meteor shower, I was thrilled our greatest hits tour came together. It had been years since we sailed my Catana 431 in Europe and the Caribbean. My wife, Celine, just finished her crew/skipper course at the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, and Spencer was also able to join us for the adventure.

We chartered MokiMak, a 38 foot Seawind 1160 from San Juan Sailing in Bellingham, Washington for a week-long tour of the Canadian Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands. We are planning a sailing trip around Bora Bora and wanted to refresh our skills before finalizing the trip.

Overhead view of the islands we traveled

Checked into Canada at Bedwell Harbor on South Pender Island then traveled to Montague Harbor on Galliano

Our first day would be the longest – we wanted to get to Montague Harbor on Canada’s Galiano Island in one big push, then work our way slowly back to Bellingham over the course of the week. We normally take two weeks for the trip so we have plenty of time for sailing, swimming, kayaking and hiking, but the boat we wanted was already taken for the second week.

As we pulled out of the marina, the wind started to build – we were seeing gusts up to 18 knots. I spent a few minutes getting familiar with the engine controls, maneuvering the catamaran forwards, backwards and sideways, plus spinning it in its own length. Catamarans have remarkable maneuverability – you can even move them sideways into the wind with the right synchronization of port and starboard engine controls.

We put the first reef into the main and rolled out the self-tacking jib. Having never sailed the boat before, we were not certain how to set the cars on the jib, or the ideal traveler position. Both halyards were soft so we eased the sheets and trimmed the halyards. The sail shape improved and we started towards the south end of Lummi Island and Hale passage.

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