by Les and Arlyn Kerr*
In late September, 2000, we chartered Chug,
a 26-foot Nordic Tug from Anacortes. We’d
fallen in love with this type of boat after
seeing a pair of them during a kayaking trip
on Vancouver Island a few years ago.
this was our first powerboat experience, we
had twice chartered a similar size sailboat,
the Kofu Maru, in 1987. So Les felt
fairly ready, but, to gain confidence, he
practiced docking maneuvers on Chug in
were aware of all the ferry routes, but, as we
set off between Guemes Island and Cypress
Island, we had a surprise encounter with a
huge cruise ship.
speed was about 7 knots, so it took a few
hours to reach Sucia Island, our first night’s
destination. Since it was the off-season, we
easily found a mooring buoy.
group of kayakers reminded us of the way we
usually explore the San Juan Islands. We
envied the way they were more a part of the
environment, closer to the water and the
shore, than we were in Chug.
sunset we had the thrill of watching three
river otters feeding next to our boat. The
days were short (sundowns at 7 PM).
We enjoyed viewing each day’s photos on
We went to bed every night listening to a
bedtime story: a library cassette tape of A
Walk in the Woods, read by author Bill
Bryson, about his experience hiking the
next morning we were greeted by another
fabulous day. In fact, considering that we had
to commit to the date in March when we
reserved Chug, we were very lucky to
get four days of fantastic weather. (The day
after our trip, the rains started.)
the galley was small, we had no trouble making
tasty and nourishing meals. We
started each morning with Arlyn’s homemade
muesli, fruit, and soymilk.
breakfast, we circumnavigated Sucia with its
many bays and inlets. We
admired the sandstone sculptures, the rock
formations, and a long line of rhinoceros
auklets drifting along.
headed for Deer Harbor on Orcas Island, where
we learned how to use the pumpout station to
empty the holding tank.
on to Jones Island, where it was again easy to
snag a mooring buoy.
tried out the dinghy, rowing to shore for a
hike around the island. The stars were
wonderful that evening, and we had fun with
the bioluminescence, throwing handfuls of
fresh water into the bay to watch the
explosion of colorful patterns.
As we set off the next day we saw a lot of
ancient murrelets, another bird we’re not
headed to Friday Harbor, with the quest of
finding a good bakery. We succeeded, and
bought a “mystery bag” of day-old goods,
which kept us in fine snacking for the rest of
the trip. A “big brother” of Chug
happened to tie up behind us at the marina.
Turn Island, Les practiced setting the anchor.
We spent an hour relaxing in the sun on the
small afterdeck, while listening to the next
installment about the Appalachian Trail.
spent the last night at James Island. The one
mooring buoy was taken, so we tied up at the
dock. Our neighbors on the dock were
live-aboards from Texas. We were treated
to a lovely sunset.
The next day we had to head back. We
waited for 20 minutes before crossing the main
shipping channel, so that an oil tanker with
tugboat escorts on their way to the oil
refinery could pass by.
We poked in at Skyline Marina, then
returned to Anacortes, where we learned how to
re-fuel (we got about 5 miles to the gallon of
diesel), and then checked in little Chug.
Both “Skippy” and “Matey” agreed that
the trip was as much fun as we had
*Note: you can enlarge the
small photos by clicking on them.