It seems like a lifetime ago that I had a chance to check in. I can’t even remember where I left off with you and, as we don’t have internet here..where I’m writing this.. I can’t check. So… here goes.
I’m pretty sure we talked about sneaking out of Port Angeles in the dark… at 0415 hrs., and about working our way around and about a large ship with pilot boats leaving… And, did we tell you about the beautiful motor-boat ride from Port Angeles to Neah Bay.. on calm water with a fabulous sun-rise.. and about the rainbow that not only showed up on both sides of the boat but actually encircled us? Well, it all happened. It was quite amazing. There was one other sailboat out there during that trip and they blew by us about half way to Neah Bay. At the appropriate time we arrived at Neah Bay and there checked in to the Makah Marina, a very interesting place. The folks were all very friendly and quick to point out the one pizza place, the one restaurant and the one grocery/hardware/anythingyouneed store.. in town. The fellow on the fishing boat beside us (we were moored in a long line of fishing boats) was also friendly… and so were the many hard working, fishing/workmen kind of guys and young folks who were working on the boats. In any event, by the end of the first day we’d kind of seen what could be seen and, as we didn’t have time to stay for the Makah Festival occurring the following weekend (the weather gods were calling) we headed out the next day for our next port of call.
Our intention was to go to Grays Harbour. Little did we know as we headed out, just how long we would be staying out… and if not for the heart of the faithful crew…. Well you know the song… Anyway, the winds being what they were…and the waves becoming what they did… we did not arrive off of Grays Harbour in time to take advantage of their hospitality. Instead, we were forced (or chose) to continue on towards Newport, Oregon. Three and a half days (and 300 odd miles) later we arrived… quite exhausted, but safe and more experienced than when we’d left. Here is a glimpse of those days.
Our memories include…
- never ever quite getting the watch system right… either one or the other of us was awake when they should have been sleeping (it was all so very exciting);
- CJ’s choice of clothing, which unfortunately included a very slippery pair of pants… she’d be tying a not on the port side of the boat and then find herself finishing it on the starboard side, having slid gracefully across the lazarette lockertop… (NB: we’re looking for some non-skid for her butt);
- the wonderful taste of a few Dad’s cookies with a hot cup of coffee in the middle of the night…;
- the quick flash of dolphin’ alongside... somewhere between where we’d been and where we ended up;
- the washing-machine effect of the waters off of the Columbia River (for hours and hours) and then later off of Newport… to such an extent that one wave would pick the boat up and, just as you’d established the course, a nother wave would turn you around and head you back from whence you’d come… quite frustrating really… ;
- the long-liner fisherman who, 25 miles off of Grays Harbour, hailed us just to say “howdy”…. and after a very pleasant chat.. . headed on his way to tend his crab pots.
- Then there was the radio officer on the MV Sea Princess who turned out to be (the ship, not the officer) a cruise ship travelling (as it turned out) parallel to our course. However... in the middle of the night, after hours with no sleep, and the Christmas-tree effect of a ship with so many lights. when CJ ( in all innocence) hailed the Sea Princess to ask if they had us on their screen…. The ‘ever so efficient’ radio officer said, with her very haughty accent… “yes madame, we do have you… and you are miles to our port…. at least 9”. And so, to maintain face, CJ handily replied… “ I see that now, thanks so much for confirming that, have a nice night.”
There were some even more special moments… like the time I woke up and looked out the companion-way to see Kathy, all decked out in her sailin’ gear, both hands on the wheel, rolling with the seas, steering Shannon as she charged up and down some pretty big seas… and all this.. with a smile on her face and the confident look of someone who was ‘enjoying the ride’. In fact, at one point, she called out… “this is really quite exhilarating” and we both had a good laugh.
There was also the time when we were surrounded by a number of whales while we made our approach to Newport, Oregon. Not sure what kind or how many, but they were there and, at one point, we could look in several directions and see the evidence of their presence (tails, backs, spouts, etc.).
And, I expect one of the most memorable events was the visit of a small friend. A very quiet, calm, small bird (she may have been a wren, but in any event not what you’d expect to see twelve miles out to sea) came to call. She glided quietly in from out of nowhere and joined us as we motor/sailed towards Newport. She tried various places on the boat, including the swinging lines of the preventers, the Dodger top, the halyards and the lifelines. She came to sit on the cockpit rails about a foot from CJ and seemed to listen as we each spoke quietly to her. She even went to check out the cabin, flying in through the companionway and, when CJ followed her in to explain she couldn’t stay, she quietly flew out and rested again on another part of the boat. This wonderful little creature stayed with us for about half an hour, checking out us and the boat very carefully. Finally a better offer, in the form of a long-liner fishing boat, went by and she very quietly left us. It felt like we’d passed muster.
So, with all those memories (and many more) and the numbness that comes with long periods of hard work without sleep… we headed in across our first river bar to Newport and to the Newport Marina where, among other things, we met up with Aaron and Nicole (the folks who were in the beautiful boat that ‘blew by us’ between Port Angeles and Neah Bay). We've discovered that it's a very small world out here and you tend to meet up with folks ‘goin’ your way’ very quickly. We’re here at the Newport Marina. We’ve already discovered a good seafood restaurant and a brew pub nearby… and there’s a neat aquarium and science centre within walking distance. We’re going to be here for a few days, catching up on our rest and working on the boat and touring Newport. There’s a bit of wind (more than we fancy) coming our way in the next few days and we’re quite happy to be here until it’s done. If all goes well, we hope to head out on Sunday or Monday and continue our journey south… perhaps to Coos Bay… or Port Orford.
Before I go I want to tell you a bit about this wonderful little ship. Even tho’ we never quite finished packing the good ship Shannon… and, even though we never quite finished setting up all the systems we’d hoped to before we left… this little boat just kept on going. She was really amazing. I think perhaps the most memorable part is how she would pick up her petty-coats and let the big waves just pass beneath her… it was like magic I think. Even during the bigger winds (we saw 25) and the larger, confused seas (they seemed quite huge at times) she just stayed on top and let them slide under her keel as she rolled along. If a boat can be ‘happy’, the good ship Shannon was reveling in the fun… you could just feel it. This is a very special little ship and we’re honoured to be part of her crew.
If I had but one thought to share with you at this point… it is that we are both feeling quite… well, it’s like it’s hard to believe we’re actually finally here… actually finally doing this… actually finally on our boat and heading towards unknown adventures and experiences.. the stuff that stories will come from. It’s like it’s almost not true… yet, here we are. I t’s really quite delightful. We miss our friends and we miss our families – but we’re so very excited to finally be heading out on this great adventure. Thank you again for all your support.
Until we chat again… take good care… and thanks for listening…. Over and out, for now…