Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Getting ready to go

It looks like we'll have a weather window open up this Monday to get around the corner so we're going to leave Port Angeles tomorrow, Thursday, and go to Neah Bay. We'll get fuel at the Makah Indian fuel dock, recent price of $3.75 gal vs $4.50 in Port Townsend. The reason fuel is so cheap in Neah Bay is that the Makah's don't pay state tax so we'll save nearly $400 getting enough fuel to take us all the way to Mexico and then some.

On Monday, friends of ours that are on their boat Nirvana here in Port Angeles are heading out to go to their home in Portland so we're going to follow them around Cape Flattery Monday and go non-stop to Ilwaco, WA. For those of you following our route on Google Earth that's from waypoint WA175 to WA512 without the stops in between. We're a little nervous about having our first ocean passage being an overnighter but it's easier this way than trying to time the tides for entering and departing La Push and Grays Harbor. We were looking at the tides trying to calculate what times to leave La Push or Grays Harbor on a flood in order to arrive at the next port on a flood and it just doesn't work out so going straight to Ilwaco will eliminate that problem. The weather looks good with sea swells under 5' so we should have a good passage

The Oregon coast has more ports that we can stop at than Washington so it will be an easier and more interesting trip after this first leg.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Waiting in Port Angeles

Date: 8/25/2008
Location: Port Angeles
Lat/Lon: 48°07.498'N 123°27.068'W
Weather: Cool 58 F

We arrived here two days ago and will stay until Tuesday morning when we leave for Neah Bay. The weather in the Straits of Juan de Fuca are moderate but on the coast it's still blowing with 8-10' swells. Before we head around the corner we would like the swells to be lower than 5'. The 7 day forecast has the seas laying down next Sunday the 31st so we're going to wait in Neah Bay for a few days but be ready in case the seas improve before Sunday. If you look at a chart of the winds vs. the sea heights they do not move in sync, the winds can decrease without a corresponding decrease in the sea heights which can be affected by storms far out in the Pacific. It's the 'butterfly in China flaps it's wings and causes a hurricane in Florida' concept. Look at and go to the Buoyweather Regions>United States>Washington and click on a red buoy dot off the Washington coast. That's what we're watching trying to determine when it's the right time to head out. We're getting anxious to get out on the ocean and start down the coast but we don't want to do anything foolish, we're going to be patient and wait for good weather. Too many people get into trouble or have an unnecessarily rough trip because they got tired of waiting and headed out before they should have. On the other hand, you don't want to be too cautious and miss a good weather window. So here we sit, hoping we're doing the right thing.

Port Angeles marina is a rather small but clean and well kept boat haven that, despite it's size, has quite a few mega yachts stopping over here. The reason some stop here is that Westport Yachts, a major yacht builder, is located here and Westport yachts will stop here for warranty work and repairs. As you can see from the photo, there are two large yachts moored just in front of us, the boat directly in front of us is 130' Westport, Miss Sydney. We feel like a pygmy in the land of giants.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Port Townsend

Date: 8/21/2008
Location: Port Townsend
Weather: Periods of rain and wind and sunny and calm. A little bit of everything.

We've spent 5 nights in Port Townsend working out some problems with the water maker, getting supplies and spare parts, and spending a nice evening with Linda's cousin Jill who was nice enough to take us out to dinner and show us her new house in Port Ludlow. The weather out on the coast is predicted to blow a little the first part of next week so we're in no hurry to get out to Neah Bay and sit for 4 or 5 days waiting for the seas to calm down. Better to sit here and Port Angeles before heading out to the coast. We plan on leaving Friday for Port Angeles and spend a couple of days there before heading to Neah Bay.

The photo is of us, on the left, in our slip with a very nicely converted fishing boat next to us. This is the 'commercial' section of the marina although there were just as many pleasure boats, mostly sail boats, as there were commercial fishing boats.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Coastal Itinerary & Routes

Date: 8/13/2008
Location: Friday Harbor
Lat/Lon: 48°32.480'N 123°00.780'W
Weather:Sunny and warm

We've added a new link with our planned coastal itinerary and a download of our routes in Google Earth format. In Google Earth, if you don't have it you can get it at, you can see our navigation route with waypoints down the coast. A waypoint is a location you aim for in your route, each one labeled with a unique name. In our future logs we will refer to specific waypoints so you know exactly where we are. Right now the route only extends through Oregon, we will post the complete route when we're finished entering it in the computer. In case your wondering, we didn't just make up these routes and waypoints, they're from the book Exploring the Pacific Coast by Don Douglass & Reanne Hemmingway-Douglass, the bible for making this trip.
The planned route is a list of towns we plan to visit with the distance between them. The 'hours' is approximately how long it will take us to travel between them at 6.5 kts per hour, about 8 MPH. There are obliviously more places along the coast but these are the best places to stop if you're not planning any overnight passages.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Moment of doubt

As we headed south with the market falling like a stone and fuel prices rising without end we began to think that perhaps it would be prudent to delay our trip to Mexico for a year and hope for better financial times to come. In fact that is what we decided to do. We announced our change of plans to our family and friends and made plans to winter over in Friday Harbor. We would need to buy a car and we'd want some sort of TV to while away the long, cold, windy winter nights but it was not difficult to stay and dream of leaving next year. While making these plans we discovered a kind of glum had come over us, it was like we were giving up on our dream. We told ourselves it was only a delay of one year but what would happen if next year the market was still down and fuel prices high? Would we wait another year, and another until the dream had passed and we started talking about moving ashore?

No! Now is the time! The boat is ready and we're ready, the market will rise or fall wherever we are so we might as well be in Mexico spending our last dime on tequila in a bar on the beach than sitting in the rain and cold of the PNW waiting for just that right moment to leave. So we're heading south, now is the time. If the finances don't work out than so be it, but we have a felling they will. Better to live the dream than regret you didn't try. We had our moment of doubt but found the strength, or foolishness, to take the riskier course. We'll see how it ends.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

Monday, August 4, 2008

Back in the San Juan Islands

We're back in the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest. I haven't kept up on posting our progress so I'll try to list some of our favorite places along the way.

Note: We added a link, to the right, for our 'Alaska 2008 Trip Summary'. This is a day by day listing of each place we visited during our 103 day trip to Alaska.

See our Web Photo Album under 'British Columbia Southbound' for more pictures of these locations.

Tuesday June 24, 2008
Location: Nettle Basin, Lowe Inlet off of Grenville Channel
This is a beautiful bay with a large stream entering in the back. Contrary to the guide books, we had a difficult time getting the anchor to set in the south side of the bay but we were able to get a hold in the north east corner. The bottom seemed to be hard rock with a thin mud covering. It was a calm night and we had a lot of room around us so we didn't have any problems.

Saturday June 28, 2008
Location: Boat Inlet off of Reid Passage, BC
Lat/Lon: 52.3085°N 128.3726°W

This is a small lagoon that you enter through a narrow passage that you have to transit on the upper half of the tide. We went through with 8 feet under our keel at the lowest point. Once inside you are rewarded by an unspoiled bay not a quarter of a mile across surrounded by old growth forest. We were the only boat there and when I got up at 2 AM to check the anchor it was so dark that I could not see the shore, I had to turn on the spot light to locate the tree line. The sky was full of stars unlike any night sky you can see in the city. In the afternoon we went for a short walk on the rocky beach and then returned to our dink to continue exploring the bay. 10 minutes later when we looked back at the beach that we were just on there was a black bear not 100 feet from where we had been. He was the largest black bear we have ever seen and no matter how close we came he would not look up or run off. He spent 30 minutes eating the long fresh grass on the shore before he turned into the trees. Linda may never walk on a shore in a wilderness area again.

Wednesday July 2, 2008
Location: Rounding Cape Caution and Blunden Bay

There is an old saying, 'fog is your friend' because it normally brings calm seas. Well, we had a lot of friends coming around Cape Caution and the following day crossing from Blunden Bay to Port McNeill. We have 2 very good radars and AIS (Automatic Identification System) so we can see other vessels, the problem is other boats, especially small go fast fishing boats, running into us. On two occasions we had to stop the boat because we saw small boats approaching us quickly that would have run into us if we hadn't changed course. These little boats don't have radar and didn't see us until they were less than 100 feet away when they would turn sharply to avoid us.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday July 3,4,5, 2008
Location: Port McNeill

We really like Port McNeill, a small town on the North East coast of Vancouver Island. It's well kept marina is right next to the shopping area with a good grocery store, coffee shops, and restaurants.

Monday July 7, 2008
Location: Beaver Inlet off of Loughborugh Inlet

With the Spring currents in Johnstone Strait opposing us we decided to go into the back channels and discovered a great anchorage in Beaver Inlet. This is a well protected, long bay that has good holding. There is a cabin and dock at the head of the bay with a float home on the other side but once you are in the back half of the bay there is no evidence of other people. We shared the bay with one other boat that was courteous enough to anchor well away from us.

Wednesday July 9, 2008
Location: Von Donop Bay, Cortes Island

With a blow coming, we decided duck into this well protected bay for a couple of days. As with all of Desolation Sound at this time of year the bay was crowded with summer cruisers but there was adequate space and we spent two nights swinging in the wind. The outboard motor on our dinghy was starting to run rough and fuel would leak out of the carburetor after a few minutes of use.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday July 13, 14, 15 2008
Location: Newcastle Island, Nanimo, BC

We anchored on the edge of this busy anchorage and rocked and rolled as many boats sped by us as if we weren't even there. I worked on the outboard motor but only succeeded in dropping a critical part into 20 feet of water. Not a good day. We called around and ordered the dropped part from a dealer in Bellingham WA. We did have a nice meal at the Dinghy Dock restaurant.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday July 17, 18, 19 2008
Location: Squalicum Harbor, Bellingham WA

Windy city, every day the wind would start out at 5-8 kts and build to 15-20 kts by late afternoon. We walked the 4 blocks to the outboard motor dealer to pick up our dropped part only to find that it didn't arrive because it was not in the Seattle warehouse and has to come out of Wisconsin which would take another week. We needed to get some groceries but there are no stores within walking distance of the marina but the marina has a shuttle bus and will take you anywhere you want in the local area. They took us to an excellent Heagen grocery store and we were stunned by the size and selection in the store. We were use to the medium to small stores located in the small towns up the coast so this was a shock. We also connected with some old friends, Peter and Carolyn, that we had not seen for over 2 years. They were staying in their RV just north of town and we spent most of two days with them. That was a nice treat. We didn't look forward to returning to Bellingham to pick up the part in a week, although the marina is cheap, so Peter and Carolyn offered to get the part and bring it to us in Anacortes. Nice people.
We go up at 5:30 AM on Sunday to try to get off the dock before the wind kicked up. The wind was blowing from our beam and pinning us against the dock. By 6:00 the wind was up to 5-7 kts but we were able to get clear of the dock. When we got out of the marina the wind increased and by the time we were into Bellingham Bay it was blowing over 40kts. The waves had built to 4-6 feet, this was some of the nastiest conditions we had seen all summer. The weather forecast had been for winds 10-15kts. As we got further away from Bellingham and into the San Juan Islands the wind decreased and it turned into a nice day. The marina in Bellingham is a great place but the wind really sucks, perhaps it you were a sailboater...