Oak Harbor On Whidbey Island in northwest Washington state is shallow and much of it goes dry on a low tide. The only way out for boaters is a narrow, but well-marked channel that leads into saratoga Passage.
Usually, there’s no problem in safely following the channel to deep water. But on a recent outing aboard a new north Pacific 39, a brisk southeast wind was jamming against an ebb current and generating a continuous rank of hard-spanking seas. I feared we were in for a bad time because turning away from the wind would put us in shallow water and holding to our course would bring a bashing.
Before we passed the outermost red marker, the Noth Pacific had shown she wasn't the least bit intimidated by 2- and 3-foot seas; it seemed almost like fun as we ran bow-on into sharply breaking waves that were challenging, but well short of being dangerous. The worst part, truly, was a near-tropical downpour that fogged the view ahead.
The gently flared bow turned away most of the seas, but occasionally one broke high and sailed overhead on the wind, drenching the boat from bow to stern. The 39 took them neatly, without pounding or laboring. The boat was light on fuel and had no ballast in the bilge, but she handled as if she were both heavier and deeper.