Last Ocean Leg of Our Journey
29 August 2019 | Astoria, Oregon
While 'Julia Max' was in Friday Harbor and the San Juan Islands of Washington, we commuted by car back and forth from our Cannery Village Condo to our home in Portland several times. Also we enjoyed our grand-daughter Ashley's presence on a week's trip to Spencer Spit on Lopez Island, Sucia Island, up to Canada, Ganges, Sidney Spit, then back to Washington's Roche Harbor, before returning to Friday Harbor. Catching 5 keeper dungeness crab was a definite highlight! Finally it was time to finish the last leg of our two year journey, returning home to Portland. With a forecast of a few days of sunshine, we left Friday Harbor for Astoria on August 26th. We decided to break up the trip with anchoring overnight in Neah Bay, WA at the northwest tip of Washington State. The twelve hour trip from Friday Harbor to Neah Bay requires a tidal (and current shift) in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. But the day was sunny, and light wind required motoring. On the 27th, we headed out at first light to make our way around Cape Flattery. While leaving Neah Bay, we passed a USCG buoy tender coming in with a red buoy lifted on board by its crane for maintenance purposes. When we were rounding Cape Flattery, we noticed the chartered buoy was missing! Aha! The morning was benign, light wind and sunny. Just before dinner the 15 knot winds predicted by the grib files came up. We set a double-reefed jib, turned the motor off and started a sail. The seas were behind us making us yaw back and forth enough to be uncomfortable. But we persevered. Bird sightings on the ocean included a surprise visitor. From our log: "1030 While working with the whisker pole we heard the distinct call of a nuthatch. Soon we saw it on the main mast spreaders, hopping from vertical shrouds to spreaders, and even a foot away from (Sue's) hand holding a line for the pole. After a few more flights around the boat it flew off. Cute little thing with a yellow breast." We were a few miles offshore at the time. Other sightings included a Bald Eagle, a couple dozen Wilson's Phalaropes, 200 Common Murres, gulls (Western, Glaucous- winged,Herring, Heerman), Pink-footed Shearwaters, Jaegers, one Tufted Puffin, Double-Crested and Pelagic Cormorants, and Brown Pelicans. Mammals included California Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, and Harbor Porpoises. No whales or orcas however. A surprise VHF radio contact was received from sv Jugo, a new Portland YC member boat that was being delivered from Seattle by 5 members including our friend and past commodore John Colby. Timing the crossing of the Columbia River Bar a couple hours after flood tide begins usually guarantees a flatter bar crossing. While 8-10 miles away from the river mouth, and still in the ebb current cycle, we encountered 2-3 knot out-flowing currents. The resulting seas were confused, and potentially dangerous if we lost power and broached. So we were extra attentive through this section. We crossed the bar (Buoy 10) at 0900, an hour and a half after Slack Before Flood. Lots of recreational fishing boats were in the river from Buoy 10 on in to Astoria. We arrived at West Basin Yacht Harbor in Astoria at 1015, after a close encounter with sv Jugo at the visually obsured harbor entrance where they had refueled. No harm, no foul. It was good to be off the ocean. After a couple days in Astoria we will head up river to Portland.