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D & D Nagle aboard MV DavidEllis
Last Lap
photo courtesy Wade Biggs
09/28/2011, Spud Pt Marina, Bodega Bay CA

21 September Wed Well, in the last blog I wrote that we were going to leave Newport that afternoon, to try to stay in the benign weather bubble, ahead of really crappy weather coming in from north of us. We got underway about 1500 that afternoon; came out of the yacht harbor, under the bridge and turned the corner into the entrance channel, and there was a 16' breaking wave, with a nearly 100' steel fishboat surfing in on it and another wave, broken and reflected off the north jetty heading toward our starboard side about 10' - Yikes! Nothing to do but increase power and meet the waves. We got out OK, but I would not have wanted to come in under these same conditions. With the right kind of boat and enough power, one can come in through breaking waves, and our Diesel Duck is a great boat, but it's not that kind of boat. Offshore again we had fog, big swells and little wind; by midnight the fog had cleared somewhat, speed 7+ knots, 400 nm to Bodega Bay.

22 Sep Thurs harbors up and down the coast from Grey's Harbor (south of Juan de Fuca) to Noyo (Fort Bragg) are reporting closure or dangerous conditions. The big swells being experienced all down the coast are the fore-runners of the big storm out to the NW and coming down behind us. Our best choice seems to be to take a line offshore of Cape Mendocino and run for Bodega Bay.

I heard Coast Guard Humboldt Bay talking to S/V Wings of Dawn (Rob, a retired fireman from the Tacoma area we met on the dock in Tofino BC). It sounded like Rob was asking about entrance conditions.

Approximately 250nm to Bodega Bay, Wade suggested slowing the boat to save fuel and arrive in daylight. It made sense but after thinking about it for much of the day, I've defaulted to Don McIntyre's advice to not dawdle when there is an opportunity to make miles during an offshore crossing. Or in our case, on an exposed coast, where we cannot go to shelter (all closed or dangerous to enter) - it might as well be a blue-water crossing.

23 Sept Friday 0300hrs rounding Cape Mendocino; swells, wind out of north, not yet kicking up the surface, thin fog. Cape Mendocino > Pt Arena > Bodega Bay 157nm (23hrs @ 7 kts; 25hrs @ 6.5kts)

0400 dolphins on the bow - seen only by their outlines and trails in bioluminescence. Fog is thinning, can now see moon and stars.

Prior to dawn the north wind stiffened up, but once around to the south side of C. Mendocino slackened to about 10kts. Boat motion a bit crazy in the vicinity of C. Mendocino due to conflicting currents, swells and wind off the point, but moderated noticeably by 1000hrs - 157nm to Bodega Bay

During the afternoon, the wind picked up again; head sail up giving us 5-6kts at engine idle forward. Ever since dawn we've had periodic visits from groups of dolphin (12-20) surfing the leading edge of waves as the waves came from behind. I'd look out the open pilothouse door and there'd be a dozen happy faces just off the starboard side of the boat as they surfed by.

So many memories on this northern California coast:

Trinidad and Patricks Point camping with the kids, rock climbing and rescue classes; Arcata and Eureka POST training courses and some of the lunacy that occurred up there during a residential training week; Sinkyone "Lost Coast" and the Great Camping Extravaganza in '82 when brother John and I took my kids - Pat & Kate - and nephew Victor hiking and camping (which they remember as a major childhood trauma!); Shelter Cove, Bear Harbor, uncounted kayak trips to every bit of coast from that area south to San Francisco and beyond; surf fishing Alder Creek with Old Bob; Pt Arena where my old sergeant and mentor lives; Mendocino County coastal deputies I've known and respected; my years as a Sonoma County north coast resident deputy - Sea Ranch, Annapolis, Hollow Tree, Kashia, Stewarts Pt, Timber Cove, Sea View, Kruse Ranch, Tin Barn, King Ridge, Timber Hill, Fort Ross, Cazadero & Jenner, all the little coastal communities where I worked from land, sea and air; hundreds of rescues, dozens of resuscitations, auto accidents, heart attacks, suicides, murders and births - triumphs and tragedies, the ghosts of which remain with me today; the cabin on the ridge we sold to build DavidEllis where Dorothy and I spent many happy hours with friends and family and I spent many days recuperating from various job and sport-incurred injuries - it was our sanctuary; the people, officers and pilots I worked with along this coast from my first (1972) wet-suited ride-along in Angel 1, Sonoma County's first helicopter to my last marine patrols on the coast 33 years later: Corky RIP, Wayne, Ed RIP, Brent RIP, both Dennis', George RIP, Brad, Paul, Gary RIP, Keith RIP, Tom, Joe RIP, Erne and Bill; the Banzai Bozo kayakers - Jim, John, Rick, Mike, Larry & Kirk and our arch-rivals the Tsunami Rangers.

I started diving this coast in high school and hope to emulate my old friend and diving mentor Frank Carli, who continued to dive here until 88 years of age and died in his sleep - can it get better than that?

Jenner mouth of the Russian River where I've spent years of my life, Goat Rock (many rescues; many hundreds of hours kayaking), the many south Sonoma Coast beaches, Bodega Head, Bodega Rock "the dinner plate" where the Banzai Bozos surfed like maniacs along with the sea lions and the white sharks. So many memories...

24 Sept Saturday Sometime around midnight the auto-pilot gave it up - working too hard keeping us on course in big, following waves; we're lucky to have gotten almost 3000 hours out of it. So we hand-steered in a following sea, in the fog for most of the next four hours. 0430 hours we crept in alongside the RW buoy outside Bodega Bay past Bodega Rock and dropped the hook in the outer bay off Doran Beach (where Dorothy and I had our first date January 1, 1967). A couple hours sleep until the fog clears and we can find our way into the bay. We motored in about 0800, where Dorothy, Rusty & Rascal and my old partner Mike Ferguson waited on the float to take our ropes and tie-off.

Three years a-building (many years before that dreaming and planning), five years since taking delivery in Hong Kong, 19,000 nautical miles under our keel, more than a few new gray hairs, 7 countries, and many many new friends later - we're home...

09/28/2011 | Katie Nagle
That camping trip was traumatizing.......glad you made it this far... love the stories
Going Coastal (and catch-ups)
photo courtesy Wade Biggs
09/21/2011, Newport OR

Our 0000 19 Sep departure from Port Angeles was under a clear sky, and partial moon. Against approximately 2' chop in Juan de Fuca Strait, 9+ knots for the first couple hours (being carried by ebbing tide). Rounding Cape Flattery 0730hrs, in the fog - no vis of the cape or Tatoosh Island, beam swell, little wind, initially against flood tide (I assume) dragging the speed down to high 5 low 6. By mid-morning we had blue sky and sunshine, light to no wind, multi-direction swells, very confused, one fish in the water for a couple of hours to smooth out our ride a bit.

2300 hrs a rising half-moon over the coast is pumpkin orange. Even though we've moved to 25 miles offshore to attempt to avoid crabpot floats in the dark, I have five fishing boats working around me, visible with their high pressure sodium vapor lights.

20 Sep swells moderated overnight; 0830 we are 60 miles north of Newport OR; got a message out to Dorothy via SSB radio to meet us in Newport this afternoon. NOAA weather indicating more weather coming into OR coast - 30k winds tonight and big seas/swells. At the moment it's quite benign, 1-2m swell, a little wind ripple on the surface.

By afternoon, as we approach Newport, we can see the leading edge of the front coming in from offshore, high "marestail" clouds, darker clouds behind.

Tied up at the transient float in Newport yacht basin, just inside the bridge and to the right. Right in front of us a couple on a N40 (retired tanker captain) with two beautiful malemutes aboard. Dorothy and I, Wade and John (my crew) had dinner with Richard and Olive at the Rogue brewery (a great place). Interesting conversation - about boats of course.

This morning 21 Sep (Wednesday) bright and sunny. shows we are in a bubble of high pressure, which if we keep on down the coast, we should continue to avoid all the really ugly stuff happening north of us... and I vote for that. Laundry, boat chores and a little sight-seeing today; underway again later this afternoon / evening. Dorothy will continue to drive down the coast with Rusty and Rascal.

Here's a catch up back before the mad dash away from Port Angeles, down the coast:

15 September: underway from Tofino BC, 1215 in a spot of sunshine amongst big rain clouds. Tried a surprise man-overboard (MOB) drill on the crew and they did reasonably well. SE out from Tofino, down the Esowista Peninsula, then off Long Beach, then Ucluth Peninsula staying approximately 3 miles offshore. Wind out of the NW, 1-2 meter swell out of the W, one (para-vane) fish in the water.

Eventually we entered Barkley Sound, and into the Broken Group of Islands, anchoring in Effingham Bay. Stiff NW winds continued into the evening, but we had a good anchor set, so no problem.

16 September: We've decided to take a day off; been looking to do so for awhile. Dorothy did her knitting and such; Wade and I fiddled with the electrical system; we played cards and watched episodes of the 2nd season of Dexter ( a harmless addiction, I hope ).

Running the dogs this morning, we realized we were on the beach Dorothy and I, my brother John and his wife Bird and our friends Jim and Marcia camped on for a week 25 years ago: We all drove up to Washington, took the ferry across to Sydney on Vancouver Island, drove through Port Alberni to Toquart Bay. From there we paddled into the Broken Group and set up camp on this same beach. We paddled out to other beaches open to swell and brought back mounds of driftwood for the fire; buckets of white sand up from the beach to cover the campfire charcoal-blackened camp area and tied a tarp high up in the trees for a protected cooking area. I think we camped there for a week, paddling out on day trips to explore or fish from the kayaks with "buzz bombs". Unfortunately this beach is looking a little worse for wear these days: a couple big trees came down and broke apart on the beach blocking it and maybe discouraging users; the camp area has a thick layer of moss indicating it has not been used in some time.

17 Sep departure from Barkley Sound, 15hr run to Port Angeles across the Juan de Fuca Strait.

D, R & R Road Trip -- "the rest of the story"
Heceta Head, Oregon Coast
09/20/2011, Port Angeles to Bodega Bay, chasing the boys

As our heroes battle wind, wave, seas and swell -- you know whoever called them swells screwed-up; I think they should be called "awfuls"! but I digress -- our heroine, and her trusty canine pals (who each had his own reason for temporarily abandoning ship) motored down the coast, hoping at each port to meet her sailor (editor's note: this is not to suggest, I hope, that our heroine has a sailor in each and every port) again. But alas, she spends several nights alone (in quaint, tastefully decorated, coastal inns) accompanied only by her canine companions (editors note: this is what she claims).

But, oh joy, oh my heart be still, in Newport OR, there I stood upon the pier, waving my sunhat as my ship came in! Alas, this was to be the only port call on the west coast by MV DavidEllis, as weather closed harbor entrances up and down the coast.

Rusty, Rascal and I wended our way to Bodega Bay, again meeting DavidEllis a stone's throw from where our romance first blossomed, lo these 44 years, 9 months, 23 days and 12 hours. Reunited at last! And that dear reader, is what sea-sickness feels like...

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Who: Mike (Dave) and Dorothy Nagle
Port: Sebastopol, CA, USA
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