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Old 05-28-2021, 04:29 PM   #1
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Deception Pass to Victoria

I tried to do a search and couldn't find anything (surprising), so asking in this forum topic.

My wife and I have an accepted offer in on a house in Oak Harbor, WA, which is on Whidbey Island. The house is about 7 nm from Deception Pass on the east side of the island (Skagit Bay). I'm working a deal with my cousin to acquire a boat (alas not a trawler, but it's a place to start), a 24' with a little cuddy cabin of sorts, twin Volvo Pentas, and... and I don't know much else about it. At any rate, a seaworthy boat for fishing, crabbing, and general boating.

My plan is to spend quite a bit of time getting a feel for the ocean by sticking to Skagit Bay before adventuring out. I've spent quite a bit of time around boats, but I have a lot to learn about their proper operation and general seamanship. I plan to take a class, and will move cautiously through various levels of capability.

Having said all that, I'm interested to know about how to take a boat like that through Deception Pass and over to Victoria. Elsewhere I've learned that the Haro Straits need good planning and careful navigation to avoid getting crosswise of shipping traffic. I have quite some time (maybe as much as a year) before I will probably attempt such a crossing, part of which time will be waiting for the border to open. But also I won't go until I feel comfortable that I can do it safely.

Tips or things to pay attention to, or any other advice, greatly appreciated here.

Cheers.

JD
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Old 05-28-2021, 05:08 PM   #2
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Hi JD. A place in oak harbor sets you up well for access to some amazing boating.

Regarding deception pass, time it for slack. Boats will typically gather up around Hope Island and all go through at slack. The currents and eddyís in between slack are impressive and not something to challenge.

Getting from the there to Victoria can be done a few ways. In your size boat you may consider using the San Juan Channel to get over to Roche Harbor and then shoot across to Sidney Island then down and around to Victoria.

They gives you the most options to duck in if the waves become uncomfortable and minimizes your exposure in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
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Old 05-28-2021, 06:55 PM   #3
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The distance from the Deception Pass bridge to the Victoria entrance is about 29 miles, direct. Many days, especially during summer, are pretty benign weather-wise. But that stretch of water has the potential to be very rough going. Many scenarios are possible. A strong south wind coming up out of Admiralty Inlet meeting an ebb current south-bound down Haro and Rosario straits. Or a strong Westerly in Juan de Fuca, typical in high-pressure summer weather, meeting a strong ebb. Or a easterly wind in Juan de Fuca against a flood current. Watch the weather closely, especially during wind events and big tides. And monitor the weather observations for Smith Island and the east end of Juan de Fuca.
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Old 05-28-2021, 07:12 PM   #4
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So what Iím hearing is a passage would probably be fine, particularly in a boat that can do upwards of 20 kts, given that I choose a time to make the run where all the particular conditions line up to be accessible. Also, take safety equipment. 😬
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Old 05-28-2021, 07:14 PM   #5
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Sounds like speed will be your friend which will make picking a weather window easier. You'll need to learn the weather patterns in the strait. When there is a high pressure system off the coast the wind usually comes ripping down the strait. There can be 35 knots of wind on a nice summer day and mix in some currents against the wind for an ugly experience. It's pretty easy to find 4-6 foot waves on a windy day.

As for the pass slack is nice but you should have enough speed to deal with 3 knots of current on your nose once you get some experience. Once you get comfortable with the pass that will expand your departures and returns.

As for the strait there are many days when it's flat calm. I've crossed many times in my sailboat motoring along with a double reef in the main to minimize the roll because of a lack of wind. If you have a decent weather window I'd just shoot straight across however know your bailout points and get an understanding of the shipping lanes. I'd also visit some bailout points like Barlow Bay on the west side of Lopez and Oak Bay on the Canadian side.

You'll be in a great place for exploring. Did someone give you the 411 on the navy jets that practice outside of Oak Harbor? The jets can really make some noise if you are along their flight path.
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Old 05-28-2021, 07:21 PM   #6
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We had to sign something when we made the offer that says we understand about the noise. And yes, we basically overlook the approach path for Ault Field. It will be fine, though. I used to be in the USAF and crewed C-130s. My wife may object, but I’ll just point to the beautiful sunrise and it will be fine. ��
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Old 05-28-2021, 07:21 PM   #7
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JD, yes with your boat it is maybe a 2 hour trip and the weather can be seen that far in advance to decided go/no go. Deception pass is another that in time with experience you will go through it whenever you decide regardless of the current and direction. It will be a fun ride, when you have the experience and local knowledge. An 8 knot current with an 8 knot boat is impossible.
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Old 05-28-2021, 08:37 PM   #8
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If you’re set on Victoria Deception Pass is the most direct way. However, the Swinomish Channel provides an alternate that is much more protected and much less current-dependant. While you are getting used to the area and the boat, LaConner is a delightful lunch destination with several public docks right below the restaurants, and lots of transient moorage at the marina. Anacortes, Chuckanut Bay, Bellingham, and the islands are all easy to get to without facing the big ebb / opposing wind problems.
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Old 05-28-2021, 10:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JD Ray View Post
I tried to do a search and couldn't find anything (surprising), so asking in this forum topic.

My wife and I have an accepted offer in on a house in Oak Harbor, WA, which is on Whidbey Island. The house is about 7 nm from Deception Pass on the east side of the island (Skagit Bay). I'm working a deal with my cousin to acquire a boat (alas not a trawler, but it's a place to start), a 24' with a little cuddy cabin of sorts, twin Volvo Pentas, and... and I don't know much else about it. At any rate, a seaworthy boat for fishing, crabbing, and general boating.

My plan is to spend quite a bit of time getting a feel for the ocean by sticking to Skagit Bay before adventuring out. I've spent quite a bit of time around boats, but I have a lot to learn about their proper operation and general seamanship. I plan to take a class, and will move cautiously through various levels of capability.

Having said all that, I'm interested to know about how to take a boat like that through Deception Pass and over to Victoria. Elsewhere I've learned that the Haro Straits need good planning and careful navigation to avoid getting crosswise of shipping traffic. I have quite some time (maybe as much as a year) before I will probably attempt such a crossing, part of which time will be waiting for the border to open. But also I won't go until I feel comfortable that I can do it safely.

Tips or things to pay attention to, or any other advice, greatly appreciated here.

Cheers.

JD
Congratulations on your new home and welcome to the boating neighborhood.
I am an admitted pleasure boater so you might have a bigger appetite than me on this, but here is my view on that stretch from Deception into the east entrance to the SJDF and across to Victoria. That is pretty big water on many days for a 24 footer, even a fast one.
I would buy an upgraded version of the apps called PredictWind and Windy and get acclimated to the time lapse forecasts. Pretty handy.
Also, get a good tide and current app and become good as using it.
When the wind arrows and the current arrows are in opposition, beware. It is really impressive how a little bit of wind opposing a little bit of current in the three inlets to the strait will take the pleasure out of boating in anything under 50 feet long and unstabilized.
My guess is that for a person like me that boats for pleasure, in a 24 footer that trip your are considering is going to be a no go 80% of the time. Especially if you need to return on any kind of schedule.
Now then, the good news is, from your home base, there will almost always be somewhere interesting to go, almost no matter the weather.

Have fun out there,
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Old 05-28-2021, 10:12 PM   #10
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I find PredictWind very accurate for determining wind conditions in Juan de Fuca. The straight line from Deception to Victoria takes you through some nasty stretches when the winds and tides are not cooperating. Deception to Sydney is almost always do able except for those known bad days. Not sure if Sydney is the same as Victoria for you.

Not knowing your wind and tides before head out could get you in trouble.
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Old 05-29-2021, 01:18 AM   #11
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Spent many years in a 23 foot boat out of Everett mostly and we almost always cruised up through Deception. In a boat that size, or really any size, you need to know well the routes that you take when the bigger water is simply out of the question. So the first thing you should learn is up the swinomish channel past LaConner and up to Anacortes. Lots of protected water and a much more consistent route up through the San Juan Islands. You can then pop a short distance across Haro to Sydney and a short, mostly protected trip down to Victoria. It will only take about 10 years to explore all the sights, towns and anchorages in that vicinity and the another ten before you start to tire of them if you are not a hard core boater.

Now once generally familiar with the boat, Deception is actually not that bad. I wouldnít introduce you to those whirlpools while getting used to the boat, but honestly itís a rare day that I would not run through Deception at most any part of the tide. Yes, Iíve been through there a crazy amount of times and yes, you should start at slack, then within 30 minutes of slack and learn how to read the water slowly and only as your comfort grows. In a 20 knot boat, there are lots of paths that take you predictably around the whirlpools.

What you should fear much more than Deception Pass is what is called the South Rosario rip. It only goes off for a short period of time during large tidal exchanges, not all the time. Itís where one large body of water (Rosario) meets another (Straight of Juan De Fuca, which BTW is NOT the ocean, connected to it yes, but not the Ocean). Those two bodies of water donít always agree on the direction they each want to go. In some circumstances, you will find literally a standing wave that at its worse will stretch nearly all the way from Deception to Lopez. That standing wave can be large, nasty and unforgiving. Iíve seen 50 foot boats try to slowly cross get the snot kicked out of them when itís actually worse than it looks. When itís otherwise calm out, itís easy to spot. Though it can tease you. It appears, and is , fairly stationary but if you get too close you may find it sending harder to spot sneakers at you, like 6 foot sneakers that all of the sudden grab you on your beam as you try to run parallel to it. If the weather is nasty, or there are small rollers coming down Juan De Fuca, the south Rosario rip can be harder to see coming, but I can attest that suddenly finding yourself in fully breaking 7 foot waves in a small boat can put the fear in you and they have enough energy in them to threaten to broach you. They are tall, powerful and extremely short scope. Your boat will nearly fall out from under you as they roll under and the jarring blow has made permanently wobbly the flybridge on at least one boat Iíve known. So never take that patch of water between Deception and the southern tip of Lopez for granted. If you spot this condition going off, just head north from Deception and cross over to Lopez Pass, the rip is easily bypassed if you know to look and spot it.

There are more patches of water to learn than is possible to enumerate. Most you can blissfully be unaware of when the weather is nice, but do plan to learn the waters slowly or only venture out when the weather is stable. The straight of Juan De Fuca can dish out plenty if you let it, so donít let your guard down. The really bad days are few and far between, but itís not a linear scale. Bad can be really bad when the moderate height strikingly short period conditions get set up.

It may sound scary, but the vast majority of the time there are so many protected routes to choose from, we can actually turn even moderately ugly weather into safe boating trips. Iíve had many a trip straight from Deception to Victoria that was like a lake without so much as a ripple the whole way. Just donít take it for granted, thatís all. Summers are usually stable and gorgeous and there is plenty to play with up the east side of Whidbey which is usually pretty well protected at most times.
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Old 05-29-2021, 10:29 AM   #12
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All 24 foot cuddies are not created equal and I might be inclined to rethink that one, unless your intent is to trailer it. If the plan is to share it with your cousin, that might tire quickly. Even two more feet, with a decent head and no cave like accommodations will seem like another world. Like this: https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/200...er-26-3838542/

Also, be sure to explore both sides of Volvo.
https://www.trawlerforum.com/forums/s6/volvo-57793.html

As for Deception Pass, for an experienced skipper, it should not be an issue at any time. In this instance, a full summer around the San Juans, will give you that experience and confidence, with THAT boat.

As noted, knowing wind, tides and a well-planned return, will be the trick to learn for Victoria trips. Talk to seasoned locals and line up alternate crossings.

You are in for a spectacular boating future in that location.
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Housekeeping for ghost and tiltrider1; you spend too much time reading BruceK; it’s Sidney, not Sydney. That mistake tyres me.
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Old 05-29-2021, 11:35 AM   #13
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Not mentioned yet: You will need to clear Customs both on Vancouver Island and in Washington. Sometimes it takes mere moments, other times you will have a long wait, especially at Roche Harbor. Have all appropriate documentation for the boat, yourself, and passengers.
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Old 05-29-2021, 12:04 PM   #14
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Not mentioned yet: You will need to clear Customs both on Vancouver Island and in Washington. Sometimes it takes mere moments, other times you will have a long wait, especially at Roche Harbor. Have all appropriate documentation for the boat, yourself, and passengers.
Look into Nexus. When border is open you clear over the cell phone having been pre cleared by both countries as a safe traveler.
Note: all onboard must have Nexus
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Old 05-29-2021, 12:10 PM   #15
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We had to sign something when we made the offer that says we understand about the noise. And yes, we basically overlook the approach path for Ault Field. It will be fine, though. I used to be in the USAF and crewed C-130s. My wife may object, but Iíll just point to the beautiful sunrise and it will be fine. ��
I have lived near airports and air fields all my life, including a SAC base with B52s, and always enjoyed looking at the planes take off and land. Planes, and especially copters fly over us constantly, even though we are in a rural area, and I will run outside to watch them. Very Pavlovian it is.

But I have never lived under an approach and I don't think I would want too.

We were in Anacortes in 2014 and I heard a VERY loud plane overhead. Never heard anything like it before. Turned out to be a a F 18 Growler which are based at Ault. Those planes were to have been based here eastern NC but because of noise and bird issues they went to Ault. I know some of the locals on Whidbey did not want the planes either.

Hopefully, you have heard the Growlers take off, well, maybe more importantly, your wife has heard them.

Later,
Dan
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Old 05-29-2021, 04:41 PM   #16
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In addition, purchase the cruising guide Waggoner's at your local chandlery, it's invaluable and will advise you as to handle the hard bits.
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Old 05-29-2021, 10:01 PM   #17
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All 24 foot cuddies are not created equal and I might be inclined to rethink that one, unless your intent is to trailer it. If the plan is to share it with your cousin, that might tire quickly. Even two more feet, with a decent head and no cave like accommodations will seem like another world. Like this: https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/200...er-26-3838542/

Also, be sure to explore both sides of Volvo.
https://www.trawlerforum.com/forums/s6/volvo-57793.html

As for Deception Pass, for an experienced skipper, it should not be an issue at any time. In this instance, a full summer around the San Juans, will give you that experience and confidence, with THAT boat.

As noted, knowing wind, tides and a well-planned return, will be the trick to learn for Victoria trips. Talk to seasoned locals and line up alternate crossings.

You are in for a spectacular boating future in that location.
ÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖ..
Housekeeping for ghost and tiltrider1; you spend too much time reading BruceK; itís Sidney, not Sydney. That mistake tyres me.


Itís been so long since Iíve been able to go there Iím starting to forget.
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Old 06-04-2021, 12:44 PM   #18
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We have a 42' Nordic Tug and while it can 'handle' the Straits or Deception Pass, it's just not fun when it's even a little windy with waves coming abeam. 9/10 times, we opt to travel via the Swinomish Channel, then it's a quick trip across Rosario Straits into the protected waters of the SJI. I would not be interested in traveling to Victoria via the Straits of the Juan de Fuca due to the often very rough water!

The Swinomish is long and narrow, but as someone above mentioned, it's pretty charming. It's important to pay very close attention to the channel markers and your charts as it can get very shallow when the tide is low. A heads up that the channel markers switch halfway through the channel.
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Old 06-04-2021, 01:06 PM   #19
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Boating course

Strongly recommend a boating class, there are several depending on your skill level, Offered by Americaís boating Club, U.S. Power Squadrons. Thereís a Skagit Bay Squadron you can look up. Great for general and local knowledge.
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Old 06-04-2021, 01:39 PM   #20
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We've zipped through Deception Pass many times in our Boston Whaler 17. Guess it's considerably more "seaworthy" than a lot of boats...
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