I had timed my launch for the afternoon slack tide; it was a late start, but at midday the ebb pouring through Rosario Strait would have been running against me at close to 3 knots. There were 18 miles to go to reach Matia, Sucia, and Patos, three small islands that crown Washington state's San Juan archipelago, but I’d make good speed with the flood in my favor and my 2.5-hp, four-stroke outboard pushing HESPERIA, a 17′ camp cruiser I'd designed and built. My course paralleled the undulations of Cypress Island’s west shore up to the cusp at Tide Point and there I began a diagonal crossing of the strait to Orcas Island. In the open water the tide was with me but the wind was not and as light as it was, it still made a mess of the water.  All around the buoy at Buckeye Shoal the waves were as ragged as rasp teeth. It wasn’t the kind of water that agrees with HESPERIA’s pram bow and shallow-V forward sections. At first I took just a bit of spray over the bow so I just partially unfolded FAERIE—my 4′8″ collapsible, coracle-like tender—like a dodger to keep myself dry. I soon retreated through the cabin to get my weight out of the bow and steered standing in the open hatch. It was still an uncomfortable ride so I veered west toward a bit of flat water on the downstream side of North Peapod, the largest of a cluster of rocks a half mile out from Orcas. I considered abandoning my plan and seeking the more sheltered waters between Orcas, Blakely, Lopez and Shaw Islands but just north of Lawrence Point there was an end to the chop.Basic RGBPassing within 75 yards of Little Sister, a ragged islet bare but for a few patches of wind-shorn scrub, I steered between mushrooming boils and dimpled eddies toward Barnes Island. Beyond Barnes, the four-mile crossing to Matia offered smoother waters that slipped docilely under the bow. I didn’t turn on my GPS to check my speed; the overlapping hills of Orcas Island showed HESPERIA was making progress and that was enough: There was plenty of daylight left, I was where I wanted to be, and it didn’t matter how fast I was going. Matia and Sucia were drawing near while behind me the Cascade mountain range, a dusty blue deckle edge spanning the eastern horizon, was flattened and faded by distance.

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