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Roche Harbor Hill Climb

3/7/2020 -3/8/2020 🍒


What strange times. I am writing this while trying to do the right thing for the world to put the Covid-19 pandemic behind us all. I am thinking about when we last spent time with Cerise. We spent a weekend at Roche Harbor. The weather was forecast to be pleasant for late February. The Covid-19 social distancing had not spun out of control yet, and we wanted some boat time!


Another Family Trip
Hi Roche Harbor!

Some of Tracy's family had returned home to Taiwan. Her brother, Arthur and niece Angela were still visiting and they had never been to Roche Harbor. Decision made. We would take Cerise to Roche and rent one of the Roche Harbor cabins for the weekend. We stopped at the fuel dock as we left La Conner and filled the tank before the 35-mile trip to Roche in the sunshine. We took the typical route north out the Swinomish Channel, past Anacortes and Rosario Straight through Thatcher pass and up San Juan Channel to Roche Harbor. As advertised, the weather and the seas were less than a foot or so nearly the whole way. It was a very nice 3-hour cruise. We all laughed and chatted. Tracy and Arthur drank a little wine while Angela played games and watched for whales (we didn’t see any). I was visiting and drinking soda, for now. 


Off Season At Roche

I radioed the marina for a slip for 2 nights and they said that they had plenty on the guest dock and to pick any one I liked and then once we were all settled, we could come check in at the office. I had never been into Roche in the off season. Wow, it is very different. For example, there were a lot of available slips. The customs dock is moved closer to the shore. A few of the other outer docks are moved closer to shore as well. This protects them for the winter storms. In the summer, the docks have several dock hands to help boaters get tied up, and checked in. Since I had never been here in the winter, I did not even know where the Marina office was located! It wasn’t much of a walk to find it on the docks. As always, the people at the marina were great. Very friendly and knowledgeable enough to know I would need a 50amp to 30amp power adapter. That saved me a second walk back to the office. Once Cerise was checked in, we went to the hotel office to check in to our cabin. We were given the keys and directions to the “Birdwatch Cottage.”


What A Hike !

I have never been one afraid to state the obvious. When you travel by boat, you spend a lot of time at sea level. Thusly, any walk beyond the dock has some vertical component to it. Often, this isn’t much of an issue. At Roche Harbor, it can be an issue. The Birdwatch cabin was at the very top of the hill, and then up another hill. It was only about a 300-yard walk, but it was up a steep hill all the way. We laughed about it on the way the first time we walked up to the cabin. We dropped off a few things we carried up, then the four of us went back down to the boat to get the groceries and suitcases-and a dock cart to haul everything back up what became known as the “Roche Harbor Hill Climb.”  Arthur and I took turns pushing the cart up the hill.


Nice Cabin - Birdwatch

In front of the Birdwatch Cottage

Birdwatch Cottage was a very nice cabin. It had 2 bedrooms downstairs, and a full kitchen and living area with a deck upstairs. It was very comfortable. A nice little gas fireplace for heat, a full-size dining table and TV. We made lunch and drank wine while Angela did her online school. A little more wine and a lot more visiting until dinner and bedtime. After a great breakfast, we went for a walk around the docks and shops at the bottom of the hill. It was a very sunny, brisk morning to go for a walk. We went down toward the boat launch and looked out at the sun glistening off the water. We looked at the old lime kilns built into the hillside and we saw the old diesel generators that were used when this resort was a lime producing business. As we made our way toward the docks, it became obvious why Roche Harbor is known for being the home of many large yachts. Winter is no different. There were many large boats tied up in the slips that day.


Dinghy Ride Request :-)

Casting off dinghy ride

About this time Angela told me she wanted to go for a ride in the dinghy. So, we continued our walk down the dock. We made our way to Cerise. I had a dinghy ride to give. The forward chamber on my dinghy has a slow leak. I think it got a small puncture on an oyster at Desolation sound last year. I planned to repair it, but now I need to wait until the weather gets a little warmer. Another boat project, there are no end to them. So, I grabbed the pump from the starboard locker and filled the chamber with air. Then I lowered it into the water and put the engine on. The engine took a few pulls as it had been about 6 months since it was started. It did finally start and Angela an I made our way into the wild sea within the Roche Harbor Marina. She took several pictures and video and she asked me to take pictures of her. She wanted to try the oars. Well, I didn’t know this so I didn’t put the seat in the dinghy. She looked really silly trying to paddle while standing up. She did get the hang of it though. She learned how to steer and see where she was going while looking backward. With the seat, the dinghy rows pretty well, not so good standing up. Either way, I prefer the engine. I belong to the church of internal combustion.


Enjoy the dinghy ride

After the dinghy ride, it was a bout time for lunch. The plan was to go to one of the three restaurants in town. Unfortunately, one was closed for the winter. The Lime Kiln Cafe was only open until 3:00, and it is now 2:55, and Melville’s opens at 4:00. We were hungry enough to climb back up to the cabin and make our own lunch. That is all good…..the more we eat the less we need to pack down the hill tomorrow. Angela had another online class this afternoon, so that means more time to drink wine!


The great wine - Arthur!

The wine - Arthur

We spent the rest of the day mostly at home. Except for the two walks down to the store for more to carry up the hill. Dinner was great. The next morning after breakfast we prepared to leave. With no dock cart to help us. We managed to carry everything down in on trip! The bags and the food and the extra wine that Arthur bought, because the wine was named “Arthur.” It was a very nice chardonnay from Oregon. We all enjoy it very much.


The trip home was beautiful. The weather was forecast to be perfect. Flat water and favorable tide times, so we decide to go the southern route home. Another route I had never taken. We went out through Mosquito Pass. Tuned left into Haro Strait, and skirted the west side of San Juan Island. We passed the Lime Kiln Point lighthouse and the Cattle Point lighthouse on our way to Deception Pass and home. We transited Deception Pass with about a 3-knot push through the pass. A few minutes later we entered the south end of the Swinomish Channel and were back in the slip in La Conner.

We had a great few days on the boat and in Birdwatch cabin. Arthur and Angela enjoyed the entire time. Nice boat rides, nice resort town, off season and we all enjoyed the company (and the wine).




More pictures from this trip...









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