Sill in Port Angeles
18 May 2010 | Port Angeles
Who was that guy at the helm in our last posting? My Dad, Dale. He joined us in Port Townsend last Thursday. He'll make the passage to Hilo with us if he doesn't jump ship before we depart. He's very patient and easy going, but the kids have been putting that and all of us to the test. They miss the routine and predictability of school. They miss playing with their friends. However, I think we've found the magic formula for this leg of our journey: Grandpa tells stories. He has a handful of stories about my brother Jon and all his antics when he was little (overflowing toilets, beebee guns, neighborhood ruffians, stolen bikes, a popped water bed, a forgotten bathtub drawing water for hours.) He also tells stories about his grandfathers and his own high school English teaching days (streakers, our house getting teepee'd, senior pranks, administrative officials.) The kids are enthralled. As soon as he finishes one story, they beg to hear it again. Freya is now his sidekick and fills in critical pieces of dialog.
Our most recent lesson (we've known but have had to live it to recall) is that once you consult with the experts -- people who done this before, professional weather routers, authors who've made a living planning routes - ultimately you have to make your own journey. There is no exact way, just as there is no perfect boat. There are trade-offs and unknowns. Our latest news from the weather router is that there continue to be a series of lows offshore and the weather won't be clear for sailing for a few more days. We can wait in Port Angeles another week and maybe sail out and on to Hilo in one shot, or we can leave in a few days and motor sail down the coast until we reach the trades. If we wait, we make no progress at all. If we decide to motor down the coast (300-400miles), we'll have to pull in somewhere and refuel, paying close attention to bar conditions. When the rivers meet the sea there are sand bars that extend well beyond the coast. Seas sometimes break across the bars and the conditions are untenable, even for larger craft. We'll also have to contend with the fishing traffic, freighters, and choppy seas on the continental shelf. None of that sounds good to me and yet it lies directly in the path of my ultimate barefoot, sun-filled idyll.
We have a lifejacket policy on board: below decks no one needs to wear one, above decks everyone wears one. When underway, the kids also wear harnesses, clipped to the boat with a 6 foot tether. When underway at sea, even the adults wear harnesses, and clip in. A couple times they've attempted to go topsides without their lifejackets - just testing to see if our rules still hold. They do! Finn can tell his life jacket from the others once he finds the blood stains. Back in Port Townsend he was jumping in and out of the dinghy and knocked his nose on the oar. We look like a bunch of sea-hardies already. Our personal grooming standards have taken a bit of a turn. So tomorrow our "to do" list looks like this: Take showers, kids have school, make some phone calls that we forgot to make before leaving Seattle, buy detailed charts of the coastal route we hadn't intended to take, walk a mile or so to the grocery store for some bread and lunch meat, get the kids to the park.