Friday, May 24, 2019

A Tall Ship in the San Juans

I had the delight of renewing my acquaintance with one of the most beautiful areas of my state recently: the San Juan Islands. My husband and I honeymooned and spent our fifth wedding anniversary there, and I have camped on one of the islands several times in college and during my early career days. But it had been a long time. The verdant green islands rising from a sapphire sea I expected. What I didn’t expect was to combine the visit with one of my true loves: tall ships.

My friends and I were staying in Friday Harbor, the largest city in the archipelago, on San Juan Island. After a sumptuous dinner overlooking the harbor, we strolled the docks looking at the marvelous crafts riding at anchor. (One is even a bed and breakfast—new bucket list item!) I kept seeing these tall cedar masts rising above everything else. We finally found her: the Spike Africa.

Isn’t she lovely? I envied the owners and crew. Then my wonderful critique partner, Kristy J. Manhattan, discovered that the ship was available to take visitors out on the water during the tourist season. She contacted the owner, who agreed to start his season a week early so we could sail Saturday evening.

Oh, what a lovely sail!

The Spike Africa is a two-masted gaff-rigged schooner. She was originally built in 1977 to designs reminiscent of 18th century coasting schooners. She takes her name from a famous West Coast sailor. She has won racing trophies, served as a support boat for other races, and been featured in a number of films (such as Joe Vs. the Volcano) and television shows. Can you imagine standing on her deck in a gentle breeze?

Olympic Mountains beyond the islands, anyone?

Perhaps another ship passing?

As many of you know, this is the third tall ship I’ve had the privilege of sailing on. She did not have all her sails up at the time of our passage, and one of the crew told us that she was fighting the tide, so the pace was more leisurely than on my previous jaunts. But the view and her sleek movement through the water was nothing less than spectacular.

If you are ever in the San Juans, I highly recommend a sail. You can find out more information at My thanks to the owner and Captain Kenny for allowing me to post pictures.

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