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  #1  
Old 07-25-2020, 07:14 PM
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tcard tcard is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 312
Default Sailing the San Juan Islands - Transport via the RV Magic Carpet

The time finally came for our summer adventure. Our planned trip to the Bahamas with our friends Roy and Sandy was canceled due to Covid. After Oshkosh also hit the skids for the year, we started talking about a sailboat trip with them in the San Juan Islands. It had been on the radar since our trip down the island chains to Grenada, but it was destined to become a reality in 2020.

A couple weeks before the adventure was to commence, we noticed a crack in the side of our nose wheel tire. So, off to buy a new tire to replace it. A few days later, a new tire was on and 22C’s nose was sitting proud again. After closer inspection, we are very glad we didn’t launch cross-country with it as there was a little damage on the bottom as well. We got our money’s worth with the tread sneaking up on the wear markers.



Mother Nature always has her say, and this trip started out with her voice being heard loud and clear. As departure day grew near, a tropical depression formed in the gulf. A couple days later, it turned into a tropical storm named Hanna. On departure day, we made a beeline out of Austin as she turned into a hurricane. Once again, we were thankful for the IFR capability as Hanna’s outer bands covered Austin with solid overcast that persisted a good hour into the flight.



The first fuel stop for the day was Borger, TX, KBGD. A great little West Texas airport with jolly, helpful staff and superb fuel prices. Nobody can complain about $3.20 avgas.




The next leg was up to Cheyenne, WY. It was all happy at 10K with a full meal service. While you may not be able to rotate the CQ1 mic out of the way as you can with an over-ear headset, just a quick tug to the side keeps it out of the way since it stays exactly where you put it.



We were awfully close to joining the club of exploding chips in the cockpit. Scott’s bag was already in auto-open mode with the seal half torn. Another 1000 feet, and we would have experienced that terror first hand.



The easy flight time ended due east of Denver. That’s when the bumps started, and the happy campers started to turn grumpy. We descended into CYS for fuel, all the while watching the rain showers to our north and west. It wasn’t anything heavy, but with mountains all around, we were concerned the rain could push us a direction we didn’t particularly care to go. So, we filed another IFR flight plan to make sure we played nice with Mother Nature. It turned out that the rain dissipated and we had great visibility, but it sure made the leg less stressful.



We landed at Rawlins, WY. The FBO folks were great to work with. They offered up some hangar space in case the winds picked up. We were planning to leave before they opened and the forecast was good, so we declined. We picked the stop because it had a hotel within walking distance, about a 1/2 mile. We are trying to keep our people interactions to a minimum while still being able to enjoy our magic carpet. So, off to the hotel with frozen dinners in tow for our evening dining.

The airport is at 6800 feet, but it has a 7000 foot runway so no problem, or at least so I thought. A few days before the trip, we saw a new NOTAM that the 7000 foot runway was closed! The crossing runway is 4000 feet. While we hate to leave fuel on the ground, this was one of those times that being on the heavy end of the envelope with a forecast density altitude of 9,000 feet (even at 7am) didn’t seem wise.

Time to rest up for another 800+ day tomorrow.
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Last edited by tcard : 07-25-2020 at 07:23 PM.
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  #2  
Old 07-25-2020, 09:03 PM
jbDC9 jbDC9 is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Houston, TX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcard View Post
We landed at Rawlins, WY. The FBO folks were great to work with. They offered up some hangar space in case the winds picked up. We were planning to leave before they opened and the forecast was good, so we declined. We picked the stop because it had a hotel within walking distance, about a 1/2 mile. We are trying to keep our people interactions to a minimum while still being able to enjoy our magic carpet. So, off to the hotel with frozen dinners in tow for our evening dining.
Sounds like a cool trip!

Just a few days ago I finished my solo “social distanced” trip from Houston to the PNW, which included buzzing around the San Juan Islands and some of the Oregon coast. My trip planning sounds similar to yours; on my 7 day trip I didn’t use any courtesy cars or Ubers, just did some research to find hotels close enough to walk from an airport. Nope, I don’t camp... and the Hampton Inn there at RWL was on my list.

One good surprise I found in Seattle was at Auburn, S50; at the far S end is the transient ramp with a walk gate... there’s a Days Inn just outside the gate. It’s not the nicest hotel, but dang, it’s convenient! Also, if Montana is on the way back, check out Red Lodge, MT. Nice little mountain town with an airport on a bluff right on the west edge of town. There’s a trail down the hill, 15 min walk to nearest hotel.

Y’all have fun!
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  #3  
Old 07-25-2020, 10:13 PM
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jcarne jcarne is offline
 
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Location: Worland, Wyoming
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Originally Posted by jbDC9 View Post

Also, if Montana is on the way back, check out Red Lodge, MT. Nice little mountain town with an airport on a bluff right on the west edge of town. There’s a trail down the hill, 15 min walk to nearest hotel.

Y’all have fun!
Red Lodge is a great little town. I live only a couple hours drive away from there and fly there from time to time. Right at the base of the mountains. Expect a downdraft on approach for 34 if winds are from the north.
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  #4  
Old 07-27-2020, 07:12 PM
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tcard tcard is offline
 
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Default Red Lodge

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbDC9 View Post
Also, if Montana is on the way back, check out Red Lodge, MT. Nice little mountain town with an airport on a bluff right on the west edge of town. There’s a trail down the hill, 15 min walk to nearest hotel.

Y’all have fun!
We aren’t sure what the return plan is, but Red Lodge is now on the radar. We will certainly comply with the request to have fun!
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  #5  
Old 07-27-2020, 07:25 PM
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tcard tcard is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Austin, TX
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Default Travel Day 2

We had to break the seal on the hotel door to get in. Oh my, COVID strikes again.



After a low-key evening in Rawlins, we cranked the engine just before 7am. We know flying in the high desert is most enjoyable in the very, very, very early morning. We waved goodbye to a fellow, but unknown, RVer and headed west.



We had calm winds and departed on the short runway toward the mountains, which deceptively looked like a significant upslope that wasn’t, and made a circling turn to the right to right to avoid the rocks. We jogged due west for a while to catch a GPS T-route to give ourselves some warm-fuzzies that we’d be well clear of any terrain, and plugged KGNG in as our destination.



Gooding, ID turned into an amazing stop, with good fuel prices. We heard 4 RVs either in- or out-bound during our short stay, saw an RV in an open hangar as we taxied by, had a couple more GA aircraft in the patter, and a turbine helicopter and crop duster at work. Clearly, nobody expects any trouble, but this would be a place easy to find help even if it is technically unattended on the weekend, with a bonus of some floor space for a place to crash in a bind (or if an air mattress and sleeping bag were in the baggage compartment.). We packed a lunch of PB&J for our in-flight lunch service for this leg.



After a SMOOTH morning run, and full tanks, we turned our sights to our next stop in Washington. We flew by one of our favorite unplanned stops from a few years ago, Boise, ID. We watched the terrain rise, and then fall for thin final time on our outbound legs.

For us flatlanders, these big rocks are mesmerizing every time we see them. Over 100 miles out, we could spot several of the big boys in the distance.

Mt. Adams went by on the right.



Then Mt. St. Helen’s on the left.



A quick fuel stop, at KCLS, we headed off for the short flight to Orcas Island. We flew up the west side of Washington and enjoyed the green terrain on one side and blue water on the other.
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  #6  
Old 07-27-2020, 08:11 PM
scsmith scsmith is offline
 
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Your first fuel stop didn't even get you out of Texas

So, at Rawlins, with DA of 9K a 4000 ft runway, with less than full tanks, what was your required runway length afterall? Would it have been worrisome at gross weight?
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  #7  
Old 07-27-2020, 08:52 PM
scsmith scsmith is offline
 
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Default Orcas Island

I am really eager to hear all about your trip. Jenni and I have talked about making this our next RV adventure. Getting to close ferry distance of Victoria and Vancouver without having to cross the border is a plus.

Wish I could figure out the sailing thing, but as an old centerboard dinghy sailor, I'm not qualified (on paper) to charter a sailboat.
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  #8  
Old 07-28-2020, 09:08 AM
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rvator51 rvator51 is offline
 
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Bet you Will have a great time there. We have flown into Port Angeles several times and then spent a week island hopping. Steve, they have week long sailing courses there to get your ASA 101,103,204 ratings. Si also same as charting plus you learn to sail.
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  #9  
Old 07-28-2020, 11:41 AM
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tcard tcard is offline
 
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We arrived Sunday afternoon to a packed airport at Orcas Island. Out of about 50 or so tie-downs on the pavement, there were only two left. There was also grass parking available, so no concern there, but Roy said they’ve never seen things quite so busy. The winds weren’t all that strong, but it was a sporty landing for Scott as the terrain played with the wind on approach. Of course, he still greased it on.

After a long couple of days on the road, we enjoyed a quick stop at the local brew pub before heading to the marina.



We arrived to finally meet Tranquility.



We have heard about her stellar service for years. She is a 36-foot Catalina with everything needed for a comfy trip. Captain Sandy promptly gave us permission to board, and it was time to get the tour and safety briefing. We also got the skinny on how to sneak away on Peace, the trusty tender.

Scott and I owned a 34-foot Hunter sailboat for a few years, so we were excited to get back out and under sail. Captain Sandy was happy to take us out for a quick afternoon jaunt and we did have enough wind to move us around, albeit slowly. That didn’t matter, though. It’s all about using the experience and tools to get every ounce of performance out of he two vertical wings hanging on the rigging.

The quick afternoon sail had a secondary objective...Roy needed to collect his crab pots. It’s crab season, and oh, I do like crab! The fisherman caught two that day to add to the collection. He cooked up a few crab for the next couple of days, and I got my lesson on how to clean them. I must admit, not all of the deliciousness made it to the fridge.



We stayed at dock Sunday evening and wandered over to the local pizza joint for dinner, Island Pie. They had an amazing seasonal squash pizza that I wish I could get at home. Dinner had a view overlooking the marina.



Time for a nap, and then off to explore an island or two.
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  #10  
Old 07-28-2020, 11:45 AM
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Mike S Mike S is offline
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Nice write-up, reminds me of our trip a few years ago.

Hi to Roy and Sandy for us. You and Scott too.
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