Left Newport, Oregon at :1200 heading south again. Trying to stay ahead of a low coming in and down on us. It is expected to cover the Queen Charlottes all the way down through Washington, Oregon and into California. It's pretty clear at this point that we can out run it. It is expected to hit Saturday night. We will get as far south as we can and then find a hidey hole until it is safe to venture out again.
Still motor-sailing. Little wind. The seas are down to 10 feet. Running at about 6 knt or 120 nm a day. Shooting for Eureka, CA but will probably duck in at Brookings or Crescent City. Everyone is settling in to the routine of 24/7. We run 4 hour shifts at night 8-12; 12-4 and then share the day every couple of hours. The Autopilot does most of the work. Solar panels are working great. Hydrogenerator (prop in the water) will handle everything, but don't run it with engine on--the Balmar alternator produces enough. It's a treat not to have to worry about power at all.
Always some glitches, the SSB for offshore communications isn't operating properly. The computer crashed and dumped the program. I had reloaded it again and worked with it with Bob (fellow cruiser in Neah Bay) but still not up to snuff. Can really deal with it with the engine and systems running due to interference. Right now I'll put aside the frustration and just relax and count whales.
Updates when wi-fi is available right now (when we come into a port and are able to hook up. Sometimes the phones work for email, but those buttons are a challenge with a rolling boat.
Passed Coos Bay during the night. Fishing boats out all over. Huge lights. Most don't have AIS or apparently good radar reflectors. Easy to see them but hard to place their location. 1mile, 3 miles, 10 miles. Navigating by instruments at night is a challenge. We are grateful and surprised that we haven't had any fog.
Just rounded Cape Blanco this am. Pillars of stone sticking out of the water off shore. We have moved in from 90 miles out to 7-10 miles off the coast. Doesn't seem to make a difference in the ride anymore.
Heading south through the day and night. Very flat and clear. A little disconcerting because we know the west coast gale is going to catch tomorrow. We had a big discussion as to whether to drive south around Cape Mendicino and then to Budago Bay or to whole up in Eureka and wait 8 hours for the storm to hit. We were conservative and elected Eureka in Humboldt County. We arrived outside the bar at about 2 am and waited for daylight to enter at 7am.
All went well at the crossing. Got fuel. Still motorsailing due to lack of wind. Staying at Woodley Island in the bay. Had showers and nice dinner. Early to bed to catch up on sleep.
Bought breakfast this am. Ciro and I headed into town to watch the Seahawks. Great result; ugly game at least for the second half that we saw. We will wait until tomorrow to leave again and drive south to SF. The weather is just a little north of us, but the big swell (up to 20 feet) will run out for 24 - 36 hours after the storm and the wind will be coming at us from the south. Where are the normal northerlies when you need them.
Dawn. Waves have settled down to 12-15 feet. Just large confuse swells now. We are 90 miles off the coast now and well off the continental shelf in what looks like 1-3000 feet of water. Stomachs are now OK, "knock on fiberglass". The SSB isn't working properly. We'll take that up in San Francisco or San Diego. We were able to get weather on VHF up to 50 miles off shore. And we are still operating on the forecast from Neah. It seems to be very accurate. We are glad that we left on Monday. We feel like we have a one day buffer on the next front as we race, or crawl south. No communications off shore at the moment. With the engine running, there would be too much interference.
Second night complete. A routine is developing. Wendy made some great meals in Neah Bay as we were docked waiting to leave. Now the meals are a bit simpler, but we are all eating. Moved from dehydrated soups to French toast and bacon this am. Still lumpy outside. Porpoises join up occasionally and Ciro saw some whales blow about 100 yds behind us. Moving from squall to squall. Sometime the rain gets so heaving that we can see vessel traffic at all but the AIS (system of broadcasting your id and receiving theirs) works through this issue just fine. Chartplotter, Radar and AIS are all working together fine. The gps on the Ipad doesn't seem to be agreeing with the chartplotter at present. I'll take a look at that when we have a known location.
Heading into Coos Bay today for diesel. Will be down to 3/4 of a tank, carry 75 gallons. Crossed the latitude for the Columbia River and into Oregon. Hoping those who left on Tuesday are doing ok.
As we turned the corner, things quickly heated up. We exited Neah with a 57' custom Perry design with the South African sailors out of Seattle. Waves are more like 16' with sufficiently long period to make them swells with some breaking wind waves. But the wind changes all around in the troughs and there just isn't enough of it. 10-15 knots and all over the place, though mostly SW. Not helpful. So the motor is on and mainsail is up to steady the boat. We are getting knocked around quite a bit. A free rollercoaster ride moving in any direction at any given time. They say "one hand for you and one for the boat" our rule has become two hands and a hip for the boat.
We had a great breakfast before left. Ciro and I have been kind enough to share it with the fishes now and are feeling much better for the kind gesture. Hal who used to run 10,000 miles a year running a private 80 foot in the atlantic and grew up near the Cape of Good Hope in S. Africa doesn't seem much fazed. Wendy hasn't been seen lately; she holed up in the bow.
We doing 4-5 kts; a little concerned about getting south before the next big low due in Sat/Sun which may cover the whole coast of Washington/Oregon.
We are moving SW and out. 40 miles off the coast now and heading south. Rough; great effort to write legibly in the log. Sometimes we skip an hour. Running shifts: Ciro and I have 2000-2400; Hal and Wendy have 0000-0400. I pick up at 0400--get to see the dawn.
Recalculated our plans. We can't make Coos Bay until just about dark. Not a good time to enter a strange harbor. We are heading for Newport now. Hoping the bar (that's sand bar at entrance is open). Hope to hit it at slack tide.
Arriving now: Coast Guard is saying 4-6 ft breaking waves at entrance. Geared up for the worst. PDFs on everyone. All locked down.
Turned out that things were much better than we had thought. In the harbor now. Can't find any place open for diesel. 6pm. So stuck for the night. Our son is able to track us on AIS on the internet. Don't know how but since we can't communicate offshore right now, I hope he is passing information on to others when we are out. I can update from port to port.
We will be getting fuel and leaving again shortly for San Francisco. Hoping that the wind will pick up. Wave jumble should calm down allowing some more peaceful sailing.
Newport yacht club was very friendly; good dinner and calm sleep at dock. I can hear the waves at the bar crashing now--secretly hoping that it's heavy equipment. more in a few days.
09/22/2013, Neah Bay
We have waited a week in Neah Bay waiting for the gale to clear the area. Winds were reported to be at hurricane levels off Vancouver Isl. Now the reports are 80 mph at peak. It's hard to believe as we sit in a quiet fishing harbor well protected inside Cape Flattery and the open Pacific. Getting a little frustrated. Several other "cruisers" with us doing the same. Lovely small town and very nice people (Makah reservation) but getting antsy.
It's this afternoon or tomorrow morning for departure. We have decided to go out and "take a look" if its crazy we'll come back. The low has stalled just off the coast. We can see another is going to build which is much larger at the end of the week. We don't want to get stuck for another week, but it will be dicey sneaking out under the first and clearing south far enough to miss the big second.
:1300 leaving Neah Bay--a 30 ft gray covered with barnacles is swimming alongside of use as we turn the corner for the buoy off the Cape. It doesn't look bad. The waves are the main concern pushed ahead of the front. They are reported at up to 19 feet with 11-15 second periods. This translates to 1/3 of the waves will be no more than 19 feet but 10 % may theoretically be twice that height. Comforting. More later.
09/21/2013, Neah Bay
Still waiting out the approaching gale from the NW... Frustrating.
But the winds would be coming on our nose (straight at us) and the storm would catch us with 50 knt wind significant wave height, so we are being conservative and letting it blow thru.
Using the time to repack the boat. Lost Ben back to Seattle. Just to much lost vacation time. But we still have Hal Thesen our cruising Wikipedia and Ciro Paolillo just back from Afganistan (sp?) and looking for another adventure.
Doing a lot of work familiarizing ourselves with the communication systems, very complicated right now.