Voyages of SV Ponderosa

12 October 2012 | Shilshole Bay Marina
10 September 2012 | Port Ludlow
13 August 2012 | Roche Harbor
09 August 2012 | Puget Sound
06 August 2012 | Newport OR
20 July 2012 | Bodega Bay
16 July 2012 | Port San Luis
15 July 2012 | Santa Barbara
12 July 2012 | Ventura
09 July 2012 | Marina del Rey
07 July 2012 | Mission Bay, Oceanside, Newport Beach
01 July 2012 | San Diego
18 June 2012 | San Diego
16 June 2012 | Turtle Bay to San Diego
12 June 2012 | Turtle Bay
12 June 2012 | Bahia Asuncion'
12 June 2012 | Santa Maria to Abreojos
07 June 2012 | Magdalena Bay to Bahia Santa Maria
03 June 2012 | Cabo San Lucas to Magdalene Bay

The Final Chapter

12 October 2012 | Shilshole Bay Marina
Sherry/Overcast & Windy
October 1, 2012: HOME AT LAST!!! I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz saying – “there’s no place like home”. For me, it is very true. I did miss the Pacific Northwest very much. However, the journey to Mexico was challenging, interesting and adventuress. Bob & I both learned a lot, met wonderful people both cruisers and locals and came home with a sense of appreciation for the bountiful lives we live here in the states.

It would do some people good to experience what little 3rd world country citizens have to live on. Yet the majority of the locals we encountered were very courteous, kind and helpful. I can’t honestly say that about my fellow Americans. One can hope …

So we are back and ready to make another life style change. There are many more travel adventure years ahead of us. Ponderosa cruised 11,924 nautical miles between April 20, 2010 and October 1, 2012. I am guessing by the time we throw in our first trip to Alaska, our trips around Vancouver Island and all the other Puget Sound and British Columbia travels we have tallied up about 23-25,000 nautical miles. Not bad for two Montana dirt dwellers in their 40’s & 50’s who never sailed before. I am glad we took the plunge to enjoy life on the sea.

We will now turn our sights to buying car, relocating to a home and selling the boat. Once settled, then our focus will be land cruising to visit state and national parks. It should be fun! This was our original “retirement dream” until we got sidetracked sailing. Stay tuned for the rest of the story …

September 30, 2012: Our last stop on the Puget Sound tour was Blakely Harbor. The view of the city from here is without doubt one of the most impressive sights especially with clear skies and a full moon to fill in the landscape. We shared some wine with Lani on Balance who was and will be our neighbor back on E-dock. It’s so good to meet up with dockmates we have shared many adventures with in years past. The weather is still holding. I can’t believe our good luck getting to enjoy sunny dry days for the past 7 weeks. It’s almost too good to be true if I wasn’t here experiencing it firsthand.

Blakely Harbor 47°35.721N 122°30.604W

September 27 – 29, 2012: After working up enough energy to leave the dock, we meandered down to Gig Harbor, another favorite spot of ours to enjoy free moorage at the city dock, fish & chips at the Tide’s Tavern and one heck of a good pizza at Spiro’s. You would think we were hungry for all American food by what we ate. The homes around this bay are unbelievably huge and expensive but very attractive. Downtown seemed to be doing okay as far as business was concerned; far more vibrant than Bremerton.

Gig Harbor 47°19.905N 122°34.845W

September 23 – 26, 2012: Next stop was Bremerton, a relatively new marina that was virtually 85 - 90% empty. It was quite sad to see especially since the city has been working hard to revitalize the downtown corridor. We touched base with old friends, enjoyed a long dinghy ride thru Dyes Inlet and both managed to come down with a cold. Welcome home to coughs and runny noses.

Bremerton 47°33.753N 122°37.244W

September 15 – 22, 2012: Ya sure you betcha … we are in Poulsbo. Yup that’s an “UFF DA”. I just love this small community. We hunkered in for 8 days strolling thru the shops, dining out and simply enjoying the downtown. Of course, small shops have come and gone over the last couple of years but the basic charm of Poulsbo still exists. We especially enjoyed the bakery and all its goodies, JJ’s Fish House and the ever present Italian restaurant. Oh yeah, don’t forget the ice cream treats.

Poulsbo 47°43.741N 122°38.963W

September 9 – 14, 2012: We got back to the boat Sunday afternoon after another round at the Wooden Boat Festival to find Ponderosa was doing a walkabout … well a small minor dragging incident so we opted to haul anchor and head out to Port Ludlow. The wind and water chop was living up to its reputation and with all the boats anchored around us there was no need for us to take chances. We didn’t travel all this distance to get home and find ourselves in a pickle.

We spent the next 5 nights tied up to the dock in Pt Ludlow doing our favorite boat chores … okay I am lying. Bob worked on sanding and adding a couple more coats of varnish to the toe rail. And I did a bunch of my womanly chores. Yes I know they are pink jobs.

Port Ludlow 47°55.286N 122°41.349W

The travels continue ...

10 September 2012 | Port Ludlow
Sherry (it rained today!)
A recap of our travels …

August 12 – 17, 2012: Time to move onto Roche Harbor for some downtime. It’s hard to say “downtime” when this resort area turns into looney tunes with all the tourists. We anchored as far away as we could to minimize the racing dinghies and float planes arriving several times a day.

Back on the 10th I celebrated my 30th anniversary of my 29th birthday. My indulging treat was an hour long massage at the “After Glow” spa. Gosh did that feel good … I don’t think I realized the amount of tension we were under while working our way north.

We, of course, enjoyed all the amenities of the resort including lunch, dinner and a substantial quantity of ice cream. One day we ventured into Friday Harbor to meet up with Mike & Nita from Odessa for lunch and gossip.

Roche Harbor 48° 36.478N 123°10.390W

August 18 - 19, 2012: These two days we spent hunkered down at Spencer Spit. This place has fond memories for us both. Over the years we took the grandkids, their friends and other family members here to play in the sand and water.

Spencer Spit 48°31.995N 122°51.358W

August 20 – 22, 2012: Our next stop was on the east side of Orcas Island tied up to a mooring buoy belonging to friends Tom & Barbara on “Hooligan”. We met Tom & Barbara while cruising in Mexico so it was a real treat to see their home and share their company once again. We were completely spoiled with great steaks, fresh crab and salmon, a tour of the island and incredible view of Mt Baker from their front yard. It was really quite special!

“Hooligan B&B” 48°36.821N 122°48.361W

August 23 – 28, 2012: Sucia Island is probably my all time favorite island in the San Juans. We spent a week here enjoying the wildlife (humans included), dinghy rides and hikes. It was fun to see people we knew and reacquaint ourselves with their lives … Alan & Wendy on Blue Fin … Dan & Billie on Dark Star.

The anchorages would ebb and flow with boats coming and going so the neighborhood was always changing. The nice weather was still holding …

Sucia Island 48°45.748N 122°54.299W

August 29 – Sept 2, 2012: Time to torture ourselves and head to Friday Harbor to hang out thru the Labor Day weekend. I am sure the locals were happy this was the last big weekend to deal with masses of people. We did the usual activities of dining, pigging out on ice cream, laundry and grocery shopping. Our biggest entertainment was people watching with a dinghy cruise thrown in for good measure.

The nice thing about retirement is not being in a rush. It felt like everyone was working hard to relax and jammed as many activities they could in a day. Heck, we are lucky to work in one chore a day!

Friday Harbor 48°32.221N 123°00.572W

September 3 – 5, 2012: We moved to an anchorage at the south end of San Juan Island near the site of the American Camp. The English occupied a camp near Roche Harbor back in late 1800’s when the San Juan Islands were caught in a territory claim between Canada & the USA. Not sure of my dates but none the less there is some great history on this island.

Another friend, Sandy Kyle, joined us here for a couple of nights. Sandy loves to dive so he swapped out our zincs and checked out the boat’s bottom and thru-holes for us. This anchorage was so quiet and peaceful compared to Friday Harbor. We loved it along with the sunshine and flat water (no ferry boat wakes).

S. End of San Juan Island 48°27.972N 122°59.127W

September 6 – 9, 2012: Port Townsend, home of the 36th annual Wooden Boat Festival, was our next port. We arrived Thursday and the anchorage was already packed. Friday thru Sunday the place was packed with people all ages and colorful characters. It had been awhile since we attended this gathering and it was a lot of fun.

In fact, last time we attended the festival we had quite the adventure with Larry and Karen on Panta Rhei. We left on a Friday night and encountered heavy rain storms and 40-45 knot winds. Fortunately the anchorage behind the Twin Islands in Port Ludlow was calm and secure so we anchored for the night. Arriving in Pt Townsend on Saturday we found out the winds hit 50-55 knots and a couple of boats landed on shore.

Late Saturday night we found ourselves along with Larry and Karen rescuing two fishermen that fell in the water as they were trying to climb aboard their sailboat from the dinghy. Too many drinks caused a potentially deadly ending to this story. One survived thanks to Larry finding him the dark as he was floating away into the bay. The other guy was rescued by a Frenchman who managed to hoist him out of the water and into the sailboat. We helped this 2nd guy while others helped Larry get his now sober fisherman into Panta Rhei, stripped and into a warm shower.

Both survived although their egos were bruised. They were from the east coast and commercial fishermen who knew the folks lost at sea in the story “Perfect Storm”. Anyway the most interesting item to pass on was that one of the guys quite yelling help every 15 seconds or so. That’s what woke me up and I could tell someone was in trouble. He said nothing else but “help” and said it consistently. In the end about 5-6 people responded to this call of help.

Fortunately this year was sunny and warm but the winds did pick up in the afternoon causing boats to drag, ourselves included. We did have wonderful evening with Steve & Elsie on Osprey. Another surprise was seeing Robert & Virginia from Harmony who were speakers at the festival featuring their new book “Harmony on the High Seas, When your Mate becomes your Matey”.
Seeing folks on a one to one basis has been a nice way to ease back into our Seattle life.

Port Townsend 47°55.286N 122°41.349W

Some final thoughts ...

13 August 2012 | Roche Harbor
August 11, 2012: Well we rested enough to make the final push to Port Angeles today. I was hoping for clear skies or at least a high cloud ceiling so we could enjoy the views of the mountains on both side of the border. But no such luck, we had heavy fog the entire way except the last hour when we were treated to a fantastic view of the Olympics tipped with a scattering of the remaining snow fields. It was a nice welcome home sight and we both felt the tension of the long journey begin to ease from our bodies and minds.

We have some final thoughts on our trip up the west coast which we feel made our travel successful.

 Traveled only when winds were “predicted” to be 10 knots or less out of the north to northwest
 Stayed only 2-3 miles offshore, the size of the swells tended to be more nominal & we had a nice half knot to knot current push northbound
 Studied 4-5 weather internet sites each day while we waited
 If the conditions were very good we by-passed our original destination and kept going overnight (this was really key to our progress)
 Absolutely no schedule or deadline to meet
 Didn’t fuss about trying to sail … we motorsailed the entire way
 Stayed focused on the task of getting home … too easy to get lulled into staying tied to the dock

Well anyway enough of this … thanks for all your welcome home emails.

“There is no place like home.”

Ponderosa is home!

09 August 2012 | Puget Sound
August 7 - 9, 2012: Wow, what a nice day in the neighborhood! The sea and wind conditions were uncommonly flat and benign. You would think we were cruising around Puget Sound. It was actually warm enough to go without coats and we had partly sunny skies with high cloud ceiling so we had a view of the coastline. We were both floored that the weather report was accurate and that we had a favorable one knot current too. With those kinds of conditions we skipped Gray's Harbor and continued north to Neah Bay arriving Wednesday night about 9:30 pm.

The view of Tatoosh Island was striking and made the rounding of Cape Flattery that much more appealing and a rewarding end to a long trip. We both sighed a big relief ... me, I could have cried I was so happy to be home.

It took us 35.5 hours to travel 243 nautical miles and our average speed was 6.85 knots. Not bad considering we worried about this last leg of the journey. We had visions of bashing into head winds and large swells. The key to our successful northbound travel was having no schedule to meet and only travelling with winds less than 10 knots. Yeah, we had to motorsail the entire way but it sure beats getting our butts kicked.

So far we have travelled 1,212 nm up the west coast from San Diego. We will add another couple hundred more by the time we reach Seattle after fooling around in the San Juan Islands for a month or so. Personally, I am tired of moving and want to hunker in for awhile.

Bob & I are both glad to have this portion of our journey behind us. As to the future, well that is yet to be determined. Thank you all for sharing in our sailing adventure and your words of encouragement. More blogs will follow but for now I am closing the book on this portion of our journeys.

Neah Bay 48° 22.520N 124° 36.477W

Close Encounters of the Whale Kind

06 August 2012 | Newport OR
August 4 – 6, 2012: So much for a restful night’s sleep, the rocking from the swell kept both of us semi-awake most of the evening. I was happy just to start moving again. The weather report promised calm winds and seas … not! But at least the wind was coming out of the south (forecasted 10 kts, it really was 20 kts) and we booked on north. We decided conditions were okay enough to keep on going and skip trying to cross bars and settle at a dock for each night. By continuing thru the night cut off 3 days of daily transit; a little pain and being tired brought us a 225 mile passage to Newport, OR.

Our biggest scare was our close encounter to a humpback whale that surfaced right in front of our bow, dove and then re-surfaced off our port side only 50 ft away. We only saw the swirl of water in front of us and knew we just missed hitting a whale … then we worried about where it was around the boat. Well his sonar must have been working and we dodged a bullet.

Monday we have been resting up and sharing our Mexican travels with several vessels traveling south. It’s been nice to pass the knowledge forward especially with all the help we had gotten two years ago and our own firsthand experience.

Tomorrow we move north to Gray’s Harbor … then wait out the weather once again.

Newport, OR 44° 37.439N 124° 03.159W

August 3, 2012: Looks like our weather window is upon us so we decided on a short trip to Trinity Bay a mere 24 miles north of Eureka. We definitely had some residual wind and swell due to the high winds of the previous week. This area is very picturesque but filled with mooring buoys for the small sport fishing boats. We finally found a spot a bit out of the protection of Trinity Head but it worked out okay knowing we were just there overnight.

Trinity Bay 41° 03.092N 124° 08.444W

July 28 – Aug 2, 2012: After a great family visit and some couch time watching the Olympics we traveled back to Eureka on Hwy 101 with a side trip thru the “Avenue of the Giants”. It was a nice road trip thru scenic vineyards and the redwoods. Once back we made use of the rental car and stocked up groceries from Costco and grocery store plus topped off the propane tank. Sorry, but there is not much else to report.

Ponderosa in Eureka, her crew in San Francisco

28 July 2012 | Eureka, CA
July 27, 2012: We decided to spend at least a week here and took the opportunity to rent a car and drive back down to San Francisco to visit family. The other lure was to watch the beginning of the Olympics and for me some couch potato time. I am tired and I need a break. Heaven forbid, if Bob was willing to admit he needs a break but he sure jumped on the idea of a road trip. He didn't blink at the cost of the only vehicle left to rent ... an SUV. The rental car companies love to charge a high rate for these cars. Oh well, its only money Bob stated. I think he has been on the water too long.

San Francisco

July 26, 2012: Our next hurdle is Cape Mendocino. Two years ago going southbound the Cape was a non-issue. Today I wasn't quite as confident. So far it was a good stomach morning so that helps along with sneaking back to bed for a couple hours after we leave the anchorage. "LeRoy" starts driving and Bob is on watch.

I took over and Bob went below to rest. He must have been tired since he slept thru rounding the Cape. Not sure why he didn't get bucked out of bed since it was quite rough. I finally relieved "LeRoy" and started hand steering as it was easier to navigate thru the waves and swell. The unruly seas only lasted for a short period and then it was back to manageable conditions.

We arrived in Eureka late afternoon riding the flood tide into the bay; a little early for high water slack but close enough. It was nice to be tied up in flat calm water. Eureka is known for being foggy and today was no exception; but at least it was a high ceiling and we had good visibility.

Eureka 40° 48.434N 124° 09.822W

July 25, 2012: Cruiser bedtime last night was 8:30 pm for me. I was thrashed and we had to get up early again today. At least the sea state was better and I made it thru the day queasy but under control. It was only a 50 mile day (geez!) as we made our way to Shelter Cove. We have been making good time with a SW to SE winds and no adverse current. The fishermen were out in force as dodged around them trying to figure out the path and logic to fishing.

Shelter Cove 47° 01.380N 124° 03.647W

July 24, 2012: Our window wasn't great but we could drag our feet forever and get stuck here even longer. It wasn't a good stomach morning for me and I paid for it all day long. I really hate being sea sick. It totally destroys the journey and I start hoping for the destination. I managed to pull myself together as we got closer to our anchor site just to be very nervous about the kelp, surf and rocks. The folks walking the beach sure were entertained (or thought we were nuts) as we slowly pulled into the sheltered cove for the evening. It was a very long 12 hour day!

Little River 39° 16.350N 123° 473W

July 21 - 23, 2012: Our whole focus here in Bodega Bay has been watching the weather. We have about 4 weather sites we check on a consistent basis as we try to analyze each step of our passage. Other than weather watching we have not accomplished much else but laundry. Hey unless you are a commercial or sports fisherman there is nothing else to do here. We did buy a fresh 8 lb king salmon and boy was it good.
Vessel Name: PONDEROSA
Vessel Make/Model: Valiant
Hailing Port: Issaquah, WA
Crew: Bob Custer & Sherry Heen
Home Page:

Ponderosa Voyages

Who: Bob Custer & Sherry Heen
Port: Issaquah, WA