09 March 2012 | Orcas to Port Townsend and back
Last weekend Cathy and I decided to take At Last from Orcas Island across to Port Townsend. We motored the entire trip over, and unfortunately, back. Port Townsend is a cool town and has lots of interesting things to see within walking distance. We walked and walked and walked... When we wanted to leave they bumped the wind forecast up from 25 to 30 knots up to a gale. Out of the West, which gives it about a 90 mile run of open water, all the way out the Straits of Juan de Fuca to the open Pacific. We had ocean swells as well as the regular wind waves. On Monday, when we were going to leave, we got into the open and watched the wind clock up to 46 knots. We decided since we were only making 3.4 knots against it, with a following tide, we would turn around and try the next day. After we turned we were pulling along at 7 knots against a current with no sail up. At Last was on a full trot back to the stable. Gotta love a cozy, secure marina... We headed out again the next day in 30 knots of wind. The forecast was benign and showed winds reducing, so we went for it. We got a rude surprise. We still had the ocean swells and fetch from the winds out of the West. They built and stacked on us quite unpleasantly. We estimated the wave heights at between 10 and 15 feet, breaking, and only spaced about 5 seconds apart. As the bow would plunge into the wave in front of us I would take water in through the walk through transom. I was steering into the waves while standing ankle deep in water, with waves breaking over the bow of the boat and running off the sidedecks, usually overboard, but sometimes, depending on the angle of the wave, they would dump onto my feet in the cockpit. After 1.5 hours of that joy of sailing, we broke free into 5 foot swells that felt as though the water was flat calm. The good news is it removed whatever crud was keeping my knot meter from working! Would have been interesting to have a photo of the bottom of the boat prior to the ride and then again after. It was very unpleasant, but we have additional experience now and greatly enhanced confidence in our boat now that she had roles reversed and she had to take care of us.