The Summer just past witnessed my most ambitious cruising experience: Seattle to the northern reaches of the Inside Passage (and back!). I had hoped to blog my trip, day by day, but that didn't work, for a variety of reasons, though I was able to post pictures on Facebook.
The trip was an epic journey, and I shall try to capture some of the lessons and stories after the fact. The upshot is that I travelled 3,050 nMiles in 88 days with 5 crew members (one at a time). Cruising for such a distance aboard a 26 foot boat in the company of each of my sons and three life-long friends stands among the great passages of my life.
The people met (and re-met), the places visited, the wildlife, the waters, the difficulties (mostly self-inflicted), and challenges of weather and sea have taught me great lessons and made me a better mariner than I was. And whetted my appetite for more.
My beloved Ripple failed me on a single occasion: a 20 year old electrical connection failed due to metal fatigue (a heavy ground wire to the most vibration-prone point in the electrical system, the alternator). She is the smallest boat I encountered on the trip (though I heard of a couple of others), and almost certainly the slowest at 4.5 knots. But this wonderful vessel (lovely, sound, slow, and yes, cramped as she was) met every challenge and kept her crew safe.
This is not to say the trip was trouble-free -- just that pretty much all of them were due to imprudent behavior on the part of the skipper. Inexperience, lack of diligence, complacency, and errors of judgment rippled through the trip. Each crisis taught its own lesson, and assigned reward in proportion to its nature. After a while, I even started to make some good decisions!
Anticipating that the voyage might lead to some "interesting" experiences, I submitted a presentation proposal to the organizers of the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival: Imprudent Behavior: the preparation of a 26 foot wooden boat and an inexperienced skipper for the Inside Passage. I had plenty of fodder for the talk, and it was well attended -- who doesn't love to hear stories of the other guy's screw-ups?