This is the ninth year in a row that ASA has sponsored a flotilla in the Pacific Northwest, and these cruises have become very popular. We had 12 boats and 46 sailors on this flotilla, which was completely booked up 6 months in advance. Fully half our skippers were veterans of previous ASA Pacific Northwest flotillas. The boats are provided by San Juan Sailing who hosted this event. SJS is one of the top-rated charter companies in the world, and has provided us with superb boats and great service over the last nine years. Private boats can also join the flotilla.
Here’s a report from Captain Roger Philips who was the Flotilla Leader on a recent trip through the waters of Victoria and San Juan Islands, Washington, USA
The cruise was one of the best ever. Weather was nearly perfect – sunny every day, good winds and calm seas. We had three days of 15+ knot winds nearly all day, and folks had a great time sailing. Other days the winds were variable, with some sailing, some motoring, some motorsailing.
Every year ASA organizes flotilla cruises around the world. In 2011 alone we’ve been to the Bahamas, Greece, Croatia, and the Pacific Northwest, among other wonderful destinations. Still to come this year are cruises in Southern California, Florida’s Pine Island Sound, and Tahiti.
We’re hitting the ground running in 2012, too. Here are the flotillas scheduled so far:
St. Martin and the Leeward Antilles, April 20-28, 2012. With visits to French St. Martin, Dutch Sint Maarten, British Anguilla, and other stops along the way, this cruise will be a mix of European sophistication, with fine shopping and eating, and relaxed West Indian vibes. Not to mention great Caribbean sailing!
Victoria and San Juan Islands Flotilla, June 15-22, 2012. This flotilla will visit the Canadian city of Victoria, which boasts a spectacular harbor. Other stops on Vancouver Island include the vibrant seaside town of Sidney and tiny, laid back Genoa Bay. We will also be sailing the beautiful San Juan Islands of northwest Washington. Wildlife abounds in these areas and includes bald eagles and orca whales.
For more information on these flotillas and how to register, click here.
Three weeks from today I’ll be touching my toes in the Adriatic, commencing ASA’s first-ever Croatia flotilla!
Jimmy Tanaka, an ASA Instructor, just returned from his own sailing trip in Croatia, and shared this video with me of his HD photos from the trip. Talk about heart-racing anticipation!
I also wanted to announce that ASA’s 2011 flotillas are now officially posted. In addition to the perennially popular San Juan and Gulf Islands flotillas, we’ll be repeating this year’s new Exuma Islands flotilla, as well as adding a new destination–Tahiti! (Which, by the way, is a KILLER deal.) I know you’re not all going to sign up just yet, but keep these dates in mind as you’re thinking about next year’s vacation plans. Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of the summer sailing season!
I wasn’t aboard for this June’s San Juan Islands flotilla, but seeing the photos folks brought home, I wish I had been! The San Juans flotilla this year was unique in that we had a couple of “celebrities” along: Cindy and Lenny Shabes, ASA’s President and Founder/Chairman of the Board couple, as well as Yoh Aoki, who as a young man circumnavigated the world solo at the age of 22 (breaking the world record at the time) in a 21-foot boat he built in his backyard! Now Yoh runs his own ASA school in Osaka, Japan. What started out as a vacation for Yoh and his wife quickly developed into a school sailing trip–nine of his students flew with Yoh all the way to the Puget Sound for the San Juan Islands flotilla!
The confluence of cultures for the San Juan Islands flotilla made for a lively adventure for all, complete with a Japanese-American campfire sing-off and a Japanese leg Sumo wrestling match between Yoh’s wife Misako and our own Cindy Shabes! From the very first night, as flotilla leader Roger Philips describes, the 2010 San Juan Islands flotilla shaped up to be a beautiful, unforgettable experience:
On Tuesday we departed Friday Harbor, crossing San Juan Channel and entering Upright Channel between Lopez and Shaw Islands. We had a nice following breeze and most of the fleet sailed wing-and-wing. Passing close to Frost Island, we swung around to starboard for a striking view of Spencer Spit. This long sand spit juts out from forested Lopez Island, nearly touching Frost. The spit and surrounding area comprise Spencer Spit State Park. It being early evening, the park was nearly deserted.
Our boats found moorings or anchored just off the spit and dinghied to shore to explore. As the sun began to set behind distant Orcas Island, the sky turned all shades of pink, red and orange. Many of our party had barbecued dinner on the beach and were now busily building a bonfire using the plentiful driftwood. The flames leapt up, and we all sat around the fire chatting about the day’s adventures.
Someone started singing, and soon the whole group joined in. We had two crews from Osaka, Japan, in the fleet, so after each American song, the Japanese sailors belted out one of their local favorites. Everyone applauded each others’ musical offerings as the long sunset finally yielded to darkness.
Conversations with new friends continued until the flames died down and people began heading back to their boats for much needed rest before the next day’s cruise to Orcas Island.
Yoh recalls of that unforgettable first night, “Everybody looked like kids again–beyond nations and generations.”
An ASA flotilla is so much more than a gathering of boats sailing the same itinerary at the same time. When Yoh’s engine overheated on the way into anchorage at Sucia Island, Roger and Charles hopped over from another boat, replaced the impeller, and tightened the exhaust hose, fixing the problem for him in less than 30 minutes. A flotilla is a place where there are many helping hands at the ready, and boatloads of unique perspectives share common experiences together. As even this record-breaking solo circumnavigator will attest, there’s something for everyone, no matter how experienced, to discover.
Next year’s San Juan Islands Flotilla will take place June 24-July 1, 2011. Book a long vacation, culminating in the Fourth of July holiday weekend in the beautiful San Juans! Contact Brenda at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details and pricing information.
More photos from the 2010 San Juan Islands Flotilla Photo Album