22 September 2013
Joan-Marie aka Cricket
I can be reflective at times. I grew up living in the past and so far into the future that I never just lived in the present. The concept didn’t really start until I hit about 40. I had to teach myself how. More so now, I tend to stop during the day and take in what is happening at that very moment.
After hemming and hawing about where we were headed next, we left Port Townsend. It wasn’t until we turned the corner, a left in this case, to head towards Port Angeles that it hit me. It was September 1st, clear, sunny, and beautiful at 0730. We were leaving and not coming back.
Through the years, I, Ron, we had visited the Pacific Northwest at various times either by boat or by car. Ron had made a comment that we probably wouldn’t see mountains like these in Mexico; that being the Olympics, until we got to Chile. My only response was that Mexico had mountains—they probably won’t have snow on their peaks in September, but then again, I don’t know that for sure.
Call it my Sunday morning religion, since it was Sunday morning. I spent the next couple hours drinking in the surrounding vistas from the water. We have no permanent future plans of where or when we will be. We know we are heading south and expect to be entering into Mexico sometime in November. Beyond that we tend to take things in bits and pieces. Realistically, we won’t be coming back here anytime soon and most likely not with Mystic. She’s a southern girl and already has made the trip to Mexico from the US. She’s got us beat on that one.
Our decision to head to Port Angeles and start the trek down the coast came about because of the weather. We were done with the last of the engine repairs and the oil and transmission fluids changed. The new bobstay was installed and a couple of other minor ‘to dos’ were done. I made the list for the galley and we provisioned for two weeks.
We had tossed around the idea of heading back up into the San Juan Islands for a few days and then heading to Port Angeles. We started studying the online weather charts and the night before decided that we wanted to head west. Our only plan at the moment was to be in Newport, Oregon no later than the 15th of September. We had family to visit and there we would take care of any odds and ends before setting our course further south. We had decided some time back not to cross the bar into Astoria. Timing takes planning to get in and out and we didn’t want to get stuck.
So, we arrived in Port Angeles nearly two months after we had arrived there. We started our prep work for going off-shore. We talked about the legs we wanted to cover and how we wanted to go about getting down the coast. We decided that the first leg would be Port Angeles, Washington to Newport, Oregon; a 50ish hour and 199 nautical mile journey that would encompass two overnighters.
Overnighters mean just that, overnight. We sail around the clock and there is always someone at the helm. Granted there is not always that much to see at night. It is basically dark out there on the open ocean. If the weather cooperates and there is no cloud cover, you can throw the moon in there –according to the time of the month—and the stars. That can make for a very fun night time watch, even at 2 am!
Most people would think sailors are totally wacked or have been wacked by perhaps a two by four across the side of the head. Being out on the ocean is a very peaceful feeling as the waves slosh on the hull and, hopefully, the wind is powering the boat and not the engine.
Our first leg started from the dock at 0530 hrs on Thursday, September 5th. We made our way heading west out the Strait of San Juan de Fuca for the last time. How appropriate a sunrise would be for the first passage, but it was raining at times and it was cloudy. For some reason, we were making great time. Of course, we weren’t actually sailing, nooooo, motor sailing. The wind was on our nose, but not too bad and the current was in our favor most of the day.
As it neared mid afternoon we made our way past the entrance to Neah Bay. Although we had planned accordingly so that we could pull in there if we needed, we decided to pass. We also built in a possible stop at Grey’s Harbor mid-way down the Washington coast.
We passed Grey’s Harbor too in our quest to make Newport. Our bodies got through the first night as we worked with the watch schedule. It was actually quite busy during the night, actually both nights. Even though you can’t necessarily see things that you might see during the day, i.e. land or other boats, you do see lights and those generally belong to fishing boats out of the various ports working throughout the night into the wee hours of the morning. Our AIS and our radar help us to keep track of those lights that we saw out there. We like to stay well out of their way as not to interfere with their work. The VHF radio kept me going during the wee hours of the first morning as I listened to a fishing vessel that had grounded on its way back In across the Columbia Bar. It was and is amazing to listen to the US Coast Guard on the radio as they run through their protocol in assuring that the mariners are safe and not in immediate danger. I can’t honestly say how that one turned out since it continued on into the morning. All crew was safe aboard when I was listening which was the most important factor.
I wish I could say that it was a clear beautiful night and the stars were out, but nope. It was cloudy and we should have been able to see land the next morning, but it wasn’t meant to be. I had hoped to see the shoreline from mouth of Columbia River down through Cannon Beach and Manzanita. That wouldn’t happen either.
As we completed our second night, we were coming into Newport at an early hour on Saturday, the 9th. In our planning we had checked the tide at the entrance of the bar in Newport. We needed to be in by 9 am if we were to catch the flood tide current.
Now on the second morning you would think that there would be a nice sunny sunrise, noooo again. It was cloudy as first light came about and suddenly we found ourselves in some pretty thick fog. And, we kept seeing all these boats shooting out of the Newport harbor at full speed on the radar. It turns out it was the height of fishing season in Newport. Since it was open on Thrusday, Friday, and Saturday s only until the limit was caught, everyone must have been coming out that morning. Ron was calling out what he saw on the radar screen and I kept a sharp look out as we made our way through the fog. As we neared the jetty entrance, the fog backed off and visibility came up to ¾ of a mile until it continued to clear off. We were the only sailboat; let alone the only boat going in and not coming out. It was pretty funny as we would have four or five small boats shooting out around us. We held our ground and our side of the channel as we made our way into the harbor and the marina.
We sighed. We were out of Washington and half way down the coast of Oregon. The first leg completed and now weather to check before leaving for our next run. By the way, the above photo was the following seas somewhere off the Oregon coast on the second day.