Made It Safe and Sound
03 June 2014 | Deer Harbor, Orcas Island, Washington
We set out from St. Helens, Oregon, on Wednesday, 28 May at 6 am. We had strong currents downstream most of the way, so that we were making over 7 knots. Things slowed up substantially the last few hours when the tide had turned. We got into the slip at Astoria, West Basin at about 3:30 pm, and had dinner ashore.
We started our first leg of the trip with Dar, Jack, Kathleen and myself as crew. Dar jumped off in Astoria. Adam, another friend, and our mechanic (wink wink) joined us that evening.
We departed at 11 am Thursday morning, and made our way to the notorious Columbia River Bar. The USCG reports were good, so we scooted across with the afternoon high tide. While it was a little choppy, it wasn't a threatening situation.
Things changed however, once we got out into the Pacific. They named it Pacific because that means peaceful. Nuts! We soon started facing 6 foot swells with wind waves and 20 knot winds right on our bow. We had already anticipated motorsailing the entire way north, but this really slowed us down.
This took a toll on the crew, and a couple of us suffered from sea sickness. It was difficult to cook, and we didn't eat much. Kathleen was in great form. Just like her father who'd been in the USN, she wasn't troubled by sea sickness at all.
She helped a lot with getting us some food.
The weather was consistent the entire trip. While on watch at night, particularly on the second night out, it got really cold. Adam had an excellent idea, and filled plastic water bottles with hot water which we put under our sleeping bags. This helped a lot.
We motorsailed into our second night, and as we got close to Cape Flattery, the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, we were taking the swells nearly on our beam as we turned the corner. That didn't help the sleepers below.
We finally made it into the channel, and immediately ducked into Neah Bay and dropped the hook at 4 am; that's 41 hours after our start in Astoria.
Later that morning, Jack fixed a killer breakfast. It was the first hot food in two days, and was it fantastic. We pulled up the anchor and headed to Port Angeles where Adam would disembark. It was great to see his wife Ann and brother Troy waiting for us on the dock. We cracked a bottle of champagne on the dock, gave Neptune a devotional swig, and toasted our safe arrival. Adam had to go back to work in Portland, and we still had 35 miles to our ultimate destination in Orcas.
Sunday morning, we refueled (55 gals.) and motored our way east and north. We were trying to avoid the strongest currents running against us. Weather was sunny and winds very light. A nice calm day in the Strait. We were over halfway across when "Yammy," our little 3-cylinder Yanmar, slowly but surely ground to a halt. After quickly looking things over, it figured to be a fuel filter problem. We were pretty close to the shipping lanes, and had no wind at the moment, though we'd put up sails immediately upon losing power. The fuel filter was black with goop. We did have cell phone service, and our beloved Adam provided some helpful coaching. We replaced the Racor filter and and bled the fuel lines. We got it started. It ran a while, then quit. I bled the lines again. It started! It ran for a while, then quit. Bled the lines again. It started ... And this time, Yammy seemed to have gotten the bugs out of her throat for good.
I was a little weary as we went through Cattle Pass between San Juan and Lopez Islands an hour and a half later, as the currents are swift here. Would the engine quit again?
Phew, we made it just fine. We pulled into Fisherman Bay on Lopez Island, and tied up at the resort's marina. Had dinner and later, Jack kicked my butt at pool (ask him to play "Golf" with you).
Monday, we made the short trip up San Juan Channel to Deer Harbor. We sailed for a while, but as the winds softened, and the currents built (so typical of San Juan sailing?), we doused the sails, and motored in. Troy, an old family friend who now lives on the Island, came down to the marina and met us, and then took us to his beautiful little home in the woods, and treated us to gourmet hamburgers.
Thanks to all our crew - Adam, Jack and Dar, and especially my wife Kathleen who's now made her first ocean passage. She was a trooper all the way. It took everyone's efforts to make this dream come true. This is the first significant journey in Wilparina, and she performed excellently. What a solid boat. What comes next? We shall see.
Jack and Kathleen left this morning via float plane, to Seattle where they'll catch the Amtrak to Portland. Yoga Jim and his nephew are coming up now for a few days. And Kathleen will be back in a few weeks.
Meanwhile, I've got new lists to make, and chores to do.