Amazing memories to treasure
Published on December 9th, 2020
While windward-leeward racing offers a tidy test of tactics and boat handling, the heightened intensity leaves little room for embracing the essence of sailing. And when your sailing is in the Pacific Northwest, adventure is the name of the game.
Anacortes Yacht Club hosts the Northern Century Race which offers 100 miles of awesome, and delivers the toughest race you’ll ever love. The course extends through/around (skipper’s choice) the San Juan Islands, and each year competitors are met with a unique set of challenges and some of the most beautiful conditions the Salish Sea has to offer.
Though a 50-mile option exists (for the sane people), the N100 course starts to the north in Fidalgo Bay off Anacrotes and heads further north to Point Roberts, then south any way you choose to Hein Bank, followed by a return finish at Anacortes.
The race starts on Friday evening, and nighttime spinnaker runs are the norm on the way up to the first mark of the course. Due to the time of year, meteor showers and phosphorescence that light up the night add to the excitement of the race.
Jennifer Hoag, a 20 year old skipper from Seattle, reflects on the summer event, sharing her story of doing the 2020 race on the 30-foot S2 9.1:
Woke up around 6am to meet my friends and head down to the boat for the delivery. It was a cold morning but calm and good tides. I had recruited my childhood best friend Jessie and neighbor Malia to accompany me on the 80 mile delivery from Des Moines to Anacortes. Both girls had some sailing experience but willing to learn or do anything.
Day 1 we made the long trek up to Oak Harbor and made great time to get there in 10 hours. I have been there countless times for Whidbey Island Race Week so I felt confident in that delivery. Saw lots of dolphins, played some ukulele music, ate good food and taught my friends how to tie good knots. We pulled into the marina and the owners of the boats on the dock were shocked to see three young girls pulling in on a sailboat.
After docking we met up with a family friend who took us out to dinner and enjoyed the sunset in Oak Harbor. After returning, our slip neighbor came over and said, “Do you know how rare it is to see three young girls pull into a marina slip alone? I think it’s awesome.” And he’s right it’s a rare sight but made me even prouder of our abilities as sailors.
As I left home I could tell people were worried about me, but my dad taught me well and instilled all the confidence in the world. But tomorrow was an anxious day as I needed to go through the Swinomish Channel and had never done anything like that before. Luckily I wasn’t alone and had asked everyone I knew for advice. Was able to get some sleep while the wind blew in Oak Harbor that night.
Woke up to a beautiful sunrise, and was feeling good about our next part of the delivery. Cooked up some oatmeal and had a nice breakfast as we waited for the perfect time to leave and hit the tides right. Departed at 9:30am and started the motor toward the Swinomish Channel. Beautiful scenes as we made our way north. As we approached the opening, the channel markers clearly told me where to be as well as the Navionics app on my phone.
I followed the GPS line exactly as we got rolled around by all the power boat wakes. I saw the first big yellow markers that I was supposed to line my stern up with and then made the 90 degree turn into the channel. I knew the markers were red right return until about the middle of the channel; I told myself just one marker at a time.
It was nerve racking seeing the line of rocks and shallow water on both sides, the depth sounder was hovering around 10ft but I knew I was on the right track. Beautiful views as the channel got narrower and narrower, big boats were passing me with large wakes which was annoying as a sailboat. The cliffs on either side were breathtaking and reminded me of a scene out of the Pirates of the Caribbean.
Made it to our first bridge, a little scary but I knew we would clear it just fine. The little marinas in the channel were cool to see. Passed by La Conner, depth was still pretty low, I once saw 6ft, crazy how a few feet right or left could be bad news. Then I saw a green channel marker on the right, I was pretty sure that is where they switched but not positive, I had Jessie go look at the chart below and confirm the line that we were on. Passed by those next few markers with no problems, we were halfway through!
The last half of the channel was easier, pretty much only one line through. As we exited I had to make sure I still followed the markers as people who try to cut the corner to Anacortes have run aground before. As the depth meter climbed I saw the Cap Sante marina where we were going to dock for the night. But it was only 1pm and there was a nice 10 knots coming out of the east! So we put the main up, and our big #1 and I taught the girls how to sail the boat.
I barely touched the tiller as my friends learned how to drive the boat with sails up. It was breathtaking and a refreshing change from having the loud diesel motor on for the past two days. We sailed up the Guemos Channel and waved hi to Malia’s grandparents who live on the hillside. We sailed with beautiful wind till about 5pm when I decided we better get into the marina and get docked.
As we pulled in there was another boat in my slip so I had to meander around the marina and a few of our friends who were already there were wondering what I was doing. Eventually got parked, a friend helped me dock in a tight spot but I parallel parked it perfectly and tied up for the night.
The girls and I walked into town, got some ice cream and pizza and took it to the park to eat. Then we walked the docks and looked at all the other boats that were racing. Had a fun night of singing and hanging out and then got some sleep before another big day!
It was now race day so I tried to sleep in to rack up on the rest since my dad and I would be pulling all-nighters for the next two. It was a beautiful morning though and we decided to go for a hike up the Cap Sante cliff next to the marina. Insanely beautiful views from the top and I could see the area where we would be starting the race.
My parents drove up and got to the boat around noon, we made the switch of gear as the girls unloaded their things and my dad moved in. My dad had a big electrical task to tackle as the wind instruments had not been reading correctly. As he worked on that, we arranged the food and went to the store to stock up on some fresh snacks. Also had to make a few trips to West Marine to get some supplies for the electrical project. I got to take a nice cold shower before we left since it would be a while before I got another one, and it was very hot outside.
The start of the race was scheduled for 7:30 pm so we had lots to do before then. We prepared the sails and lines we would need and unloaded all unnecessary weight from the boat to be as light as possible. We then said our goodbyes and started the motor out to the course, we left around 6:00 pm so we could get out, get the sails up and see how the boat felt.
As we left the marina we got lots of stares from the other boats, probably because we left our fenders out. As I ordered my dad around with lots of things to do, one of dad’s friends yelled to us as we motored by: “Is that the best crew you could find?” Little did he know how good of a team we are!
We made our way out and the wind was a nice westerly that we hoped would last through the night. The forecast for the weekend was not promising and many people were not hopeful that we would even make it half way. Sails went up and we got the boat dialed in sailing up the Guemos Channel. Based on the wind we decided that we wanted to go left off the start and go up the Guemos Channel. With 45 minutes until the start we turned around; it was cool sailing around with the TP52s and other huge boats as we all waited for the start.
I saw someone waving to us from shore and realized it was my friends and my mom! Our start was scheduled for 7:30 pm and supposedly there was going to be one start ahead of us for the big boats so we waited near the line as the first warning signal went off. Then we heard the radio come on announcing: “This is the start for the double handed 100.” Quickly my dad rushed to get the jib up and I started my watch trying to figure out how much time we had.
Luckily I was in a good position and I gybed over on a perfect starboard layline to the committee boat. We sailed on up to the line with a minute left and hit it almost perfect! Not a bad start for being surprised. We were cruising off the line, not a ton of wind but enough to be moving.
Lots of big boats were ahead of us and rolling us quickly, however we noticed that everyone was heading right and putting their spinnakers up! We decided this was a good decision too as the wind was holding and it would be less distance to sail. As we got rolled we debated putting the spinnaker up; had we had an asymmetrical we could have but we were a little too high to be able to hold ours.
As boats started going lower to hold their spinnakers we were able to climb up with our jib reaching towards the tip of Guemos Island. We were pacing with the big boats of our fleet and able to hold our ground pretty well. Then the TP52s caught up to us after their start, watching with awe as they rolled us and created a huge wind shadow as they went by. “It’ll only hurt for a minute,” my dad always says.
Some boats started creating short cuts through the little islands; we went to the right of them. It was fun watching the other boats in front of us and seeing which ways they would go. We sailed a beautiful close reach adjusting the sails lots and making good ground up to Lummi Island. Saw the most beautiful sunset around 8:30 pm as we cruised up the sound.
As the sun went down the wind stayed semi-consistent and shifted up to more of a close hauled course. We turned our navigation lights on and chased down the boats in front of us. Wind was about 10 knots or less throughout the night; boat speed ranged from 4-6 knots. We had some leftover pizza that we ate for dinner and some grapes and caffeine to get us through the night.
Beautiful stars started to poke their way through the dark and we put on some warm clothes to make it through the night. There was a meteor shower going on and we had the best view in Washington with no lights around at all. Every time I would look up to adjust the sails I would see a shooting star and it was incredible. We even saw a few with a full red fire tail that looked like something you see in a telescope. I had never sailed at night before and it was not only beautiful but also kind of eerie as I would hear things jumping in the water, not sure if it was a fish, a bird, a whale or a dolphin.
It was also a challenge knowing what the wind was doing because you could barely see the darker water. Luckily those wind instruments my dad spent hours fixing were a huge tool for us being able to see the direction and speed of the wind. We were able to set our sails in a close hauled position and sail for many hours, looking up occasionally with a flashlight to check our telltales. We tried to turn off all the lights and bright things so that our eyes would adjust to the night.
It was also kind of eerie to see the other boats in the night, not being able to pick out who it was or how big it was but just seeing their mast light; red if they had right of way and green if we did. We were blasting by Lummi Island hugging pretty close into shore because the wind was great and positive current as well. All through the night we were duking it out with a few boats, crossing in front on some tacks and behind on others. We were trying to figure out who the boats were, but we could tell they were big boats that theoretically should be a lot further in front of us, but we weren’t complaining.
At some point the wind we had kind of died and shifted, soon it was time to put the spinnaker up. This was even more of an adventure at night as my dad tried to get the halyards and pole attached without a light. But we got it up with no problems and continued to cruise up towards Point Roberts.
We had put our spinnaker up before some of the other boats so we began to walk away. The wind was sort of abeam of us at first but shifted further behind through the night. We were able to go a lot lower and faster because of how our boat is with the pole but lots of other boats were sailing higher with their asymmetrical spinnakers. We found a happy medium between low and slow but a better route and faster and higher but more distance.
As we got further north we had a little idea of where we were going but not super confident. Luckily our GPS took us in the general direction and told us how many miles we had left. We had looked at the charts before leaving and saw that there was a shallow area called Alden Bank that we needed to avoid so we did our best trying to look at the GPS and guess where it was.
The wind was not strong but we were making good time trying to stay in positive current. We saw a red blinking light and thought that was our Point Roberts buoy, but then had a slap of reality when the GPS said we were still 20 nm away and that red buoy was a marker of Alden Bank. At some point it became Saturday and we continued to make our way slowly up towards Point Roberts.
Early morning hours we broke out some popcorn, brain food to keep us sharp. The wind was not super consistent and sometimes would die down to 1 or 2 knots but we stayed moving. Those 20 nm to Point Roberts were the slowest and longest ones because we had some negative current fighting us and not enough wind to move us forward much faster.
The rest of that night/morning hours were kind of a blur to me, as some boats were close by and we had one boat that we were trading leads with for a long time. Still being entertained by the meteor shower we just pointed towards the direction of the mark and hoped the wind would get us there. Around 5:00 am the sky started to get lighter and we could see the wind better, and we could see the mark we needed to get around.
By now we had mastered our gybes, we would square back the pole, go dead downwind and I would hold the new sheet as my dad went up and transferred the pole and I turned the boat and threw the main over. I would try to keep the kite flying and once he hooked the other end of the pole into the mast I would sheet in and heat it up to get some speed. After many of these gybes we got the dance down but it was definitely a challenge. One final gybe toward the mark and we could see the red flashing light and hear the loud bell.
We rounded the mark at 5:26 am trying to figure out who the boats were in front and behind us. Saw the most beautiful sunrise as we turned the mark and headed south. We were able to keep our spinnaker up and head down to the short course finish line, the 48’ 48’ latitude line near Pedos Island. If we didn’t make the finish this is where they would score us so we recorded our time here at 7:59 am.
In front of us was a large boat “Kahuna” that my dad knew, so we chased them down that morning and behind of us was “Lodos” but a long ways behind, and neither of them were in our class. My dad went down for a little nap as I cruised on a reach with the spin up in about 3-5 knots. It was fun sheeting the spinnaker while driving and really feeling the boat as I was on my own. It was breathtakingly beautiful as well and I saw many dolphins swimming alongside me.
Unfortunately my dad didn’t get too long of a nap as the wind started to move more on the nose and I needed to get the jib up and spinnaker down. He came on deck and helped get the #1 up and I continued to cruise upwind towards Orcas Island. We had to be extra careful not to sail into the Canadian waters. At some point that morning the wind died again and we put the finger licker up, the bow was a bit of a mess with all the different sails we were using but my dad did a great job of managing the halyards and sails.
I heated us up some water on the little camp stove and we ate some oatmeal and bagels for breakfast. Soon after I went down for my nap and my dad had a blast with the finger licker up drifting south pretty quickly. While I was asleep I heard some loud noises up on deck and quickly sat up, my dad had left the tiller and was trying to set up the spinnaker.
With the wind filling in nicely and me still half asleep we put up our big yellow spinnaker! This was the first time we had put this newer spinnaker up for the race but it looked so good when we did. We continued to cruise down on a little bit of a reach and 4-8 knots of wind. Now we had a big decision to make on whether we wanted to go around Stuart Island and Turn Point, or cut through on the inside of San Juan Island. The “usual” route that most boats would take was to go around and out into the Straits where you’d get better wind so that was our tentative plan as well.
However, the closer we got the less wind we saw near Stuart Island. After taking a closer look at the old tide and current book, we saw that by going around the islands, we would have to fight some big currents and going inside the islands would be less. We mulled over the decision for a few minutes as we drifted towards Waldron Island and decided to chase the small amount of wind and better current in front of us rather than going around.
The boat Kahuna ahead of us decided to go around so we took note to see who would come out to Hein Bank first, although they did not look great over there so we liked our decision. We were feeling very good in fact until we reached Waldron Island. We saw a big blue line coming towards us on the water; it wasn’t wind but instead a huge tideline.
The boat came to a screeching halt and I began to get a little worried as we got closer and closer to the north end of Waldron Island, the GPS speed said 1.2 knots… but this was us going backwards. I had never seen anything like this, the water was swirling and pulling the rudder in weird ways.
My dad went down and pulled out the anchor, but just in that moment we put up our secret weapon, the finger licker, and the wind picked up just enough to get us around the tip of the island, though it took a solid hour or so. It felt good to get around the point and we made our way towards the land again hoping to get into a back eddy or better wind. But once again we came to a stop… 0.0 knots and another big tideline came running towards us.
At this point I got out some sandwiches and snacks – we just had to wait it out in “Cowlitz Bay” as we were stuck there for what felt like forever and honestly debated about whether we made the right decision to go this way. Then after being patient long enough, the wind started to climb, and I saw a few cruising boats in front of us with sails up going pretty fast so we were hopeful.
The trusty finger licker brought us to the wind line and we realized it was time to put the spinnaker up. We went with our old light weight white spinnaker which is so used it feels like a bed sheet, but we soon realized it was a good choice because there were a ton of power boat wakes and the kite would just absorb the bouncing up and down of the boat rather than crumpling.
We also had trouble with the foreguy on the spinnaker pole, as every time we would go over a big wake the cleat would release from the amount of load on it and the pole would sky. I tried to pull it back down one time with the tiller in between my knees but there was so much load I couldn’t get it.
We soon realized that this northerly wind was going to hold and got excited, it was building up from 10-15 knots. We flew down the next part of the sound and as the wind built more and more we realized we needed to get our heavier yellow spinnaker up. We were nearing Jones Island and the tip of Orcas when we made this decision, luckily the wind angle was perfect for us to sail right between this pretty narrow opening.
But then it picked up, shifted a little and we needed to get the yellow spinnaker up before it was too late. I was sailing really low but it was fast and we had the current running with us. Now a spinnaker change in 20 knots was a little nerve racking but after mulling over the decision for a few minutes and it picking up more we realized it was time.
We dropped the white spinnaker and I had to run forward to grab the halyard for the yellow spinnaker but as I did there was so much helm that the boat started to turn up. I soon looked forward and saw these large rocks in front of us right on the south end of Jones Island. I told my dad that we needed to gybe quick, but we couldn’t until the spinnaker was up.
In my mind I said if we get any closer I am turning the boat away from those rocks no matter what, but my dad miraculously got the spinnaker up and we gybed just in time. It was quite messy and the spinnaker tried to wrap around the forestay so I had to reach forward and grab the sheet to try and control it, but I didn’t have time to put a rap around the winch so all the sudden I found myself holding all the weight of the spinnaker in my hand while steering with my knees.
I yelled up to my dad, “Hey as soon as you’re done with that I need a hand” (literally) and he swiftly made his way back to grab the sheet and control the spinnaker. We both took a big deep breath after that fiasco and then looked ahead to see even more islands in front of us.. I guess it’s a good thing that we were moving so fast!
Now we knew we had made the right decision to come this way. I had my dad run down to check the chart and see if we had to go around the next little islands or if we could go through them. According to the chart it would get shallower and there were a few rocks on either side but we could probably make it through. Sailing around that island would have added another 10 or so minutes so we took a chance to go through the small opening.
Wind was still consistent and building to 20-25 knots; we were flying through the miles, honestly just a beautiful run all the way through the San Juan Channel, some of the most fun sailing of the trip. The yellow spinnaker was definitely worth the hassle with the building wind.
We made our way past Friday Harbor and up to Turn Island which is where we would make a big right hand turn towards Cattle Pass. Now I had looked at the chart and decided that we could go in between the island point and the rocks off a little ways in order to cut the corner so I headed that way. As we got closer I saw a big line in the water though, thought it might be another current line… it was actually a huge forest of kelp!
We did not want to sail through that as that would be a massive slow down. I was already sailing pretty low and fast but in order to avoid it I needed to go lower, yet we didn’t have room to gybe either. So we squared the pole way back and sailed by the lee, with my dad holding the main over in case it tried to gybe.
But with the wind building he couldn’t hold it against the wind so he had to let go, and as it flew across the mainsheet caught my neck and knocked me down. After a little shook up, I brushed it off and continued to try and navigate through the kelp forest. We made it through and I heated it back up a little as my dad went back to brush off the kelp we collected on the rudder with a boat hook. Then with another swift gybe we had a straight shot right out of Cattle Pass.
It was blowing 20-25 knots the entire time but unfortunately we were fighting a pretty big current so the waves were large and our boat speed wasn’t fantastic for the amount of wind we had. It was still beautiful though! We broke out some cookies and drinks while we bombed down the sound along Lopez Island.
My dad had told me about the infamous Cattle Pass which holds challenging current swirls and squirrely conditions as well as hundreds of pleasure cruising and whale watching boats. Well it did not disappoint, the 20 knots we had pretty much shut off as soon as we got to Cattle Pass and we just had to hold on for what it was going to throw at us.
This point of the race was frustrating as we began to see these big spinnakers behind us of people who were catching up as we drifted slowly. We eventually passed through Goose Island but realized that we did not want to stay close to Cattle Point as it was glass behind the point. As we slowly exited Cattle Pass, a light northwesterly filled in from the straits and with the spinnaker still up we sailed a tight reach across past Whale Rocks.
Once we saw that this wind was holding up the course we put up our light #1 and got lifted up north since we had to sail up a ways to Hein Bank. We could see boats ahead of us with the binoculars so we had a good idea of where we were going and our angle was pretty close to where we needed to go.
The GPS said we had 10 nautical miles or so but it seemed a lot longer than that. It was an enjoyable sail though probably 6-10 knots and beautiful weather. I got out some snacks for us as we cruised. A few boats that had caught up to us were trying to follow us, one boat in particular “Time Bandit” was closer than the rest but we were still ahead.
Luckily that hole that we got stuck in at Cattle Pass hit the rest of the boats as well. We had really consistent wind all the way up to the Hein Bank buoy but it sure felt like ages until we got there. We tried our best to call a layline but ended up over standing a little so we came flying in to the mark just like in buoy racing and needed to get the spinnaker up as soon as possible.
We rounded Hein Bank at 6:00 pm on the dot and super dad got the big yellow spinnaker up as we pointed back towards Anacortes. If this wind had held we would have made it to the finish line around 10:00 pm!
Unfortunately we knew this would not be the case but we rode this wind out as long as we could. It was a pretty light spinnaker run up to the bottom of Lopez Island as the sun set behind us. We were actually getting pretty close to the finish, but we had no idea what was about to hit us.
We were right behind Time Bandit now and followed them up past Colville Island and around Collville Point; supposedly they had some local knowledge being from around these parts so we wanted to follow them and avoid the bad currents. But local knowledge or not, all of a sudden the wind shut off and we got hit with another huge tide line.
Unfortunately, there was nothing we could do as a 3 knot current against us started pushing us backwards. We were so close, yet so far. This was super frustrating as we couldn’t figure out what to do. Soon all the boats that were behind us began to catch up but got stuck in the same flush. Some tried going really close to land in an attempt to get the back eddy or current relief but they ended up getting stuck as well.
We put up our trusty finger licker but even that didn’t help against the killer current. We tried everything, but with 0.0 knots there was nothing we could do so we waited. According to the tides it would switch around 10:00 pm but that meant we had another few hours of drifting backwards.
As it got darker a little puff came through and we crawled forward a bit. At this point I was so exhausted and frustrated I needed to take a nap. My dad took over for a bit and got us some ground. I woke up to us about 10 miles from the finish! There were a few boats around us but not moving well.
Around 11:00 pm a lot of boats quit and we saw them motor past us back up to Anacortes. Dad was determined to keep going, I was not necessarily but he convinced me. I took back the tiller and kept aiming for the big white strobe light that marked the finish. As the night continued on the breaths of wind would die and come back even lighter.
We had made our way almost to the bottom of Allan Island and things were looking okay, but then we heard a beeping noise from down below… the battery had dropped in voltage from the running lights, instruments, and large GPS we had running for the past 24 hours. Eventually everything just shut off, no lights, no instruments, it was strange.
We had to turn the motor on (not in gear) in order to charge the batteries but that wasn’t working because they had dropped so low. So we sailed “old school” with no instruments just based on feel and a little help from my phone navigation app. During this sail we heard this strange loud blowing noise, it sounded a little like a whale spouting. Soon we heard more and more of them getting closer, loud spouts and high pitched whistles, definitely orcas. Kind of eerie to hear them without seeing them but really amazing.
Soon my dad took a nap on deck while I tried to get any kind of wind in the finger licker. I just pointed the boat right towards the finish in case any wind picked up. We were now three nautical miles from the finish line… two other boats were around us but not moving either. It was so cold, I had put on my full foul weather gear and had a big blanket wrapped around me as I steered.
It was pretty miserable honestly as I watched the dark outlines of land moving forward indicating that we were drifting backwards again. I soon saw all the progress we had made forward disappear. These were the longest hours of the whole trip just sitting in the freezing cold drifting backwards to where we had started back at 8:00 pm.
As my dad woke up I told him what had happened and that I didn’t think we were going to be able to make it. There wasn’t a breath of wind but about 2 knots of current flushing us out. He was not as quick to lose hope though so I let him drive again as I tried to go below and get warm. Then around 4:00 am it started to get a little lighter and we saw that we were back below Colville Island.
According to the tides it would switch around 9:00 am but we had to finish before 12:00 pm and there was still no wind. We only saw one other boat still drifting with us at that point and they weren’t even in our class. My dad and I finally made the call that we would not be able to make it.
Exhausted and disappointed we turned on our motor and started making our way to Anacortes around 6:00 am, but we were still fighting so much current with the motor on that we were not going anywhere very fast. So I suggested why not just go home to Des Moines. We promptly spun around and were flying at 8 knots down with the current pushing us.
We were obviously very disappointed that we came so close to finishing and just kept getting pushed back, but we didn’t let it ruin the other 100+ miles of amazing times this race offered us. We took turns napping on the delivery home and made it back to Des Moines in record time, pulling in around 6:00 pm. Absolutely exhausted, my mom and family – Dean and Lucy- caught us on the dock and helped us fold our sails, as we had used every sail we own except for one. We unloaded our food and headed home to get some much needed sleep.
Looking back on this experience, I am so thankful that I got to do this with my dad. We truly make an amazing team and although it was frustrating at times we pushed through so many obstacles and made hard decisions together. We saw some of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen and sailed in some beautiful winds.
I learned so much as a young skipper; I’ve never sailed so many straight hours in my life and wanted to document it here so that I can remember this experience forever. Doublehanding a 30-foot boat was very challenging and we both worked our butts off the entire time. It really taught me what it takes to make a boat run and how to be reactive, urgent, and safe in tight situations. Our boat performed perfectly for what we needed and we held up against some of the big fully crewed boats of the regatta which felt amazing!
Despite all the drifting backwards and frustrating times we had way more laughs, good times, and amazing memories that I will treasure. It was also fun having all of our friends and family tracking us online throughout the race and cheering us along. We certainly were not alone in our journey and had so much support before and after as well.
For my first ever doublehanded race, first ever long distance race, and first time racing in the San Juan Islands, I would say it was the best experience I could have asked for and I can’t wait to do it again and get to the finish line next time!