Ice cream in Langley

by Chuck August 30, 2002

The kids keep saying that "we never go anywhere" when we're sailing. They're right, we just go 'round and 'round, usually getting around Hat Island is a good day trip for us. But Odyssey isn't a fast boat, and there aren't any short jaunts from the Everett boat launch.

When we go out with Ron and Sue on Salty Lady we sometimes head over to Langley, a "cute town" on Whidbey Island. It's about 7 nautical miles straight line from the mouth of the river to Langley, with a little jog around Hat Island. Not a bad little trip in a boat that does 15 knots like the Lady, but I wasn't sure we could make the trip in a reasonable amount of time on Odyssey.

I checked the forecast (winds southwest 10-15) and the tides (reasonable) and spent some time with the chart and figured that Langley was about 4 hours each way from Everett. With the promise of ice cream in front of them, the kids were eager to go, so we loaded up and headed for the boat launch.

Everything went great until we hoisted the sails. We left the house at 11:00, left the dock at 12:30, and hoisted the sails at 12:45. And then -- nothing. The wind, forecast 10-15 knots, never showed up. We ghosted along for about a mile and when I looked at my watch I realized I was never going to make it to Langley at this rate.

Ah, but you see I'd planned for this. I realized we might need to motor more than usual, so I'd filled up the gas tank on the way to the boat launch, and what's more, I'd brought along an extra 3 gallons of gas in a spare tank. We struck the genoa, left the main up as a riding sail, fired up the outboard and headed off northwest.

It was a lovely trip across. Joey sat on the foredeck. "I'm the lookout," he said, and look out he did, though with the water flat calm and few boats out with us there wasn't much to look out for. Katie flitted from the foredeck to the cabin to the cockpit, took a trick or two on the tiller when I needed her, and generally played about the boat. Dana took the radio with the Cougar football game into the cabin and took a nap. I just drove, watched the scenery go by, and enjoyed a beautiful day on the water.

As we got closer to Langley we were passed by a double-ended motor lifeboat, a cabin cruiser, two runabouts, and a 36-foot sailboat motoring. I bring this up because the next part of the trip was somewhat frustrating. When we got to Langley all of those boats got slips, but there wasn't anything left for me. The dockmaster helped us find a bouy to tie up to and ferried us to the dock. Success. And it was only 4:00 p.m.

We spent about an hour in Langley. The kids got their ice cream, Dana got to look in a few cute shops, and I got to transfer gas from the backup tank to the primary. Actually, that's not fair. Katie transferred a lot of the gas while I ate a sandwich and drank a Pepsi.

The trip home took about 2 hours dock to dock because we didn't even pretend to sail. I fired up the outboard, took a heading on the compass, and held it. Joe was lookout again, Katie took a nap, and Dana and I talked.

Not a lot of sailing, but it was a great day on the water. And that's one of the things I like about a sailboat. If we need it, Odyssey can be a motor boat, but unlike Salty Lady, she doesn't have to be.



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