Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A lifetime ago…

Hi folks.

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…


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How many lines does it take to tie up a dinghy??

Well, I've just finished "knitting" the dinghy to the foredeck.. Who knew you could cross over so many times and the d__n thing could still move?? Oh well, I'll tidy 'er up tomorra... Tomorra in Neah Bay that is.

Aah.. just cracked a beer... so I can tell you this tale in a good sailoree fashion. We left the fine RVYC early on Monday (having waited out the winds as Kathy mentioned).. and motor-sailed in confused seas, mist, fog, a wee bit o'wind, and rain... to Port Angeles. Not bad for a first leg... (I know, a bit short... but for us... the first leg, none-the-less). We've been in waters as yet untravelled by us (Shannon of course would have been here before on her way to Maui in 1978) since we left Van Isle Marina and headed to the RVYC. We got to practice with our Radar (Kathy's much better than CJ at deciphering real things from "a bunch of black stuff") and our new rain suits and the confused seas were even helpful at pointing out that CJ has yet to conquer that dratted leak in one of the inspection ports on the port-side water tank. Did I mention short legs to get started? Now you know why; think of them as stops to repair things and put yet more things away.

There's a photo that shows what one of our couches looked like when we left. It's hard to believe we actually have found room for most of the stuff.

Port Angeles: A bit of detail here.. for those sailors following soon. We saw very few ships as we crossed Juan de Fuca but there were quite a few small fishing dinghies (I think the pinks were running). The Coho ferry, out of Victoria, made regular runs to Port Angeles and, in the mist, she looked very much like a grey ghost ship from the Bermuda Triangle. The spit running out from Port Angeles runs a very long way out and, in the fog, it can be confusing. We had called Customs before we left and, as instructed, called again when we were approx. 1 hour out. They took all of our information over the phone (and it did help that we both had NEXUS... seemed to lighten things up a little) and said they'd meet us at the customs dock when we arrived. I told the officer I had purchased a CBP Decal and I knew I needed a Cruising Permit and he said he'd waive the $19 fee as I'd already paid $27.50 (for the decal)... so that was nice. Anyway, the Customs dock is really the guest dock for the marina, immediately to the left as you enter the Port Angeles Boat Haven. We tied up, the officer came down and was very nice. Took our information, issued the Cruising Permit and didn't inspect us or the boat (I think the NEXUS really helped). So now, we know we are to report in to every port we stop in, but there shouldn't be any more paper work or inspection required. We did some research (asked the Customs officer :-) about restaurants and, on her recommendation, had dinner at the CornerHouse ... a few blocks walk from the marina on the main drag. The meal was great (shrimp salad, clam chowder, garlic bread) but we were so tired we couldn't even finish it .. and so we crawled home to bed. Oh yes, we also purchased a 'pay as you go' cell phone, from Radio Shack at The Plaza, so we can keep in touch with family.

Yet more chores: We spent today (our planned day in Port Angeles) shopping and doing chores. We walked to the local Safeway..a very large one.. and filled up our shopping cart with a ton of food. We don't really know whether we're going to actually harbour hop (stop every night and take a very long time to get to SF as well as having to cross river bars and navigate tricky channels, etc.) or... if the weather is suitable, just keep on going as long as we're comfortable and having a good time (we'll come in if/when the weather starts to turn or we need a better rest). So, we provisioned the boat as if we're heading out a bit and then heading down without stopping unless we choose to. That way, we always have options.

When we got back Kathy started the onerous task of finding places for everything.. at this point she's the only one who knows were stuff is.. a very valuable position on ship's crew!

CJ got back into the other stuff that still needed doing. We now have our anchor locker security bar in place (nothin's going to pop that locker open), the dinghy lifting harness designed and created and the dinghy (as mentioned) knitted into place on the foredeck, some leaky bits on our cockpit locker lids have been sealed properly now, the leaky water tank inspection port will wait until we can actually pinpoint which part of the port is leaking (and hopefully by then CJ will have found the dap gun so as to use the wonderful tubes of silicone she purchased...), new motorcycle cargo nets are now secured to the cabin roof and providing a home for the ditch bag, grab & go (first aid) bag, and one of the flare guns (the other flare gun is now secured below one of the cockpit locker lids)... and the EPIRB now rests, mounted correctly, on a bulkhead just inside the companionway.

That's probably enough for now. We've had our dinner and are off to bed a bit early. Our plan is to slip at 0400 hrs. tomorrow morning and head to Neah Bay. The tides are negligible and the wind is predicted to be light, becoming westerly in the afternoon. We hope to be in Neah Bay by mid-afternoon... we shall see. We'll wait there until we're satisfied there's a suitable weather window for us to head out and around Cape Flattery. So, good friends, adieu... talk to you later.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

More photos - Mast & Rigging work, November 2010

Jerry Can RailsShipsCrew - Sophie with her new hoodieNice New MastheadNew Sleeve Welded onto Base of MastTension bar (from inside mast) partially sawed through by old wire halyardNew mast head with anchor light and VHF antennae...all new
Dubloon or a 2010 quarter, Olympic Loonie, and a peso... all bases covered!Masthead end of solent stay and halyardNew fordeck light and loudhailerNew mast and rigging...all installedMasthead, solent stay, steps, rigging....New rigging AND new lifelines and rails
Shannon @ Sidney for Mast & Rigging work, November 2010

At long last, some photos - April, 2011 Preparations

Shannon at the Maple Bay Shipyard in AprilNote Hole in Rudder for Emergency SteeringBottom Paint finished!Security NettingMidship CleatNew Cabin Floor (Before)
New Cabin Floor InstallationNew Cabin Floor (After)Katadyn PowerSurvivor 40e WatermakerBilge Pump Switch & Backup AlarmLiferaft CradleOld Portlights Removed
Scary!Newfound Metals TriMatrix PortlightsKathy and Larry H. - April work partiesNice Shiny HullShannon - Ready to Go Back in the Water
Shannon @ Maple Bay Shipyard for the month of April

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Almost gone...

We're in Cadboro Bay at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club docks.  The bay is beautiful and we've enjoyed watching the Junior students of the Sailing School skulling their little dinghies past our boat (while standing guard to make sure they don't 'prang' into our own hull).

We had planned to cross over to Port Angeles tomorrow morning, but will stay one day to wait out a gale (as we don't fancy starting out in 35+ knots). 

This is ok with us as we're still looking for places to stow things. After a day working onboard, we are definately making some progress!  All the better that we get to reward ourselves with Blue Buck Ale on tap and the most amazing fresh Caesar Salad and Steak Sandwich "Black and Blue" in the Yacht Club's lounge.

We've actually uncovered the V-Berth (the comfy bunk) and so are looking forward to a good night's sleep tonight.