Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Closing Thoughts On Pacific Coastal Cruise

I'm settling into a new slip in Tacoma for a few months and after taking my crew, Joyce, to the airport, I am filled with many thoughts, feelings about my trip. It was years ago that I dreamed of creating the possibility of cruising Shatoosh up the Washington coast to her new home in the Salish Sea. It was at that time I asked Joyce to crew for me. She didn't hesitate in accepting my offer. I wasn't certain that the Albin 25 was up to the challange and while I had sailed Sabra from Hawaii to Washington, I was confident in my abilities. Later in 2009 when I sailed on the Lady Washington down the coast and the weather was good, I felt that this dream could be a reality, if we picked a good weather window.

I have to thank 3 guys, Larry of the Starship, Dan on the Whiskyjack and Mike of Schooner Creek Boat Yard. Mike delivers boats and told me that he harbor hops up and stays 5nm out. His confidence in getting in and out of La Push calmed my reluctance to go.

Larry wrote me detailed emails about how to cross the infamous Columbia River Bar, describing the magical window: BE AT BUOY 10, 2 HOURS AFTER THE EBB TIDE.

Dan convinced me to install the free SeaClear program and the NOAA Raster charts, which turned my netbook into a chartplotter and has been a Godsend every since I got it up and running. With all their help, encouragement and wisdom, I felt very prepared for this trip. Making several practice runs across the bar, helped me gain confidence and experience. I remained patient and waited for the window of weather to reveal itself.

Having Joyce as crew was the icing on the cake. She is an excellent ocean sailor and we are very compatible in how we deal with issues/challenges. I could let her take the helm with confidence and, in fact, she was at the helm for the bar crossing, and the rounding of Cape Flattery. I could go below and take a quick rest, knowing that all was in good hands. She departed today with a pocketful of memories and fulfilled her own dream of being back on the ocean. Shatoosh and I already miss her.

My special memories were seeing a full rainbow from the north to the south jetty on the Columbia River, as we crossed the bar and cruised through the beautiful arch, the numerous sea animals; birds, sealions, orca whales and humpback whales, the mystical and magical islands of La Push, the kindness of the commercial fisherman at La Push, trusting my judgement calls to turn back in La Push and to proceed forward out of La Push the following day and to see the interactions of the reflected waves off Cape Flattery back into the westerly swells and enjoying Shatoosh handle them so elegantly. Of course, the ports of call were wonderful, how could you not like Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Port Ludlow, Pulsbo to be with the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain, Blake Island and Gig Harbor. The only disappointment was Neah Bay with many of the non-functioning essentials and the local folks were rather apathetic in their ability to serve incoming vessels. However, the sea lions and eagles made up for the shortcomings.

The total mileage was 470nm and we used 49 gallons of fuel. Our best speed was 10.4k and our worst was 3.5k, bucking a short lived ebbing tide in Admiralty Inlet. We are currently just about the same longitude as my starting point of Scappoose Oregon, and a gain of a little more than 2 degrees of latitude. Yes, it would have been cheaper to truck her up I-5 interstate, but we would have missed our great adventure. It was such a wonderful trip and Shatoosh out performed herself on the ocean. She is a real trooper, a river runner, a lock loper, an ocean going vessel and a Salish Sea cruiser. Who could ask for more? In 1999, when I started looking for a boat, I wanted an older, fiberglass boat with a diesel engine, small enough that I could run and jump on and go anywhere. I am, thoroughly convinced, that I found the perfect boat.
Joyce and Hira on The Perfect Boat.