Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day 6: Coon Island to Scappoose Moorage

28 September 2009: Monday

The morning is chilly, so we start up the heater to warm the cockpit and main cabin. Do some prep chores before we depart. Carol, while stating she does not do mornings, was standing by with her coffee at 0830 when we cast off the lines.

We make one more pump out stop and then back to the marina. We pull the boat together, check the engine, Con takes a shower and then we are off to Portland. We stop and have a very luxurious lunch at Saltys on the Columbia River near the Airport. It was the fitting end to a great cruise. Con is moved to tears when she speaks of what this trip has meant to her and how it has changed her. Carol, also states that with my encouragement she ventured out of her boating box to become a single hander cruiser. So, Shatoosh, Pashmina and Hira have impacted a couple of lives this week. It is so rewarding when I see this happen. Another of Carol's friends has decided to purchase a boat just since my making contact with her. I love seeing women becoming independent owners of boats and cruising the waters. This has been a wonderful cruise of firsts for everyone and it was delightful to have a budding crew member onboard Shatoosh. Con, come again and maybe next time Joyce can make it, as well.

day's run 3.7nm
Total: 88.2nm

Day 5: First Time Albineers Rendezvous in Oregon

Sunday: 17 September 2009

This will be the first time that Albineers will rendezvous in Oregon. As I have mentioned before, I belong to the Albineers of BC and also am an Albin yahoo group member. When the 2009 membership came out I noticed that there was a member in Portland. Last week in preparation of this trip I decided to email Carol and Ed. Within minutes she replied, "Yes, they own an Albin 27 sport fisher and they have it up in BC for fishing." These are the American made boats and are not the classic Swedish ones that I love. I personally think they should have their own clubs, as they are entirely different vessels. But at any rate, Carol tells me she has a 20 ft Shamrock docked near her condo in Portland. She been wanting to cruise it, but hasn't been out much in except for day adventures. I say, "well join us on Coon Island on Sunday." We email back and forth and several days later she decides on joining us. Hurray.

We untie the dock lines early 0740 hrs and with an extremely low tide we precede slowly out of the narrow and shallow inlet to the lagoon. There is 5 feet of water. The sun is shinning directly on the water and into our eyes making it difficult to see. I make my turn to port and I hit a deadhead off the lower side of Burke island. This is another first for me in this area. I never saw it and I hit on the starboard side and we glance off of it to port. I do not hit it on the deeper end of the boat. Con's phone is ringing, I see a coyote trotting down the mainland shore towards us. It is a very busy morning and we have just begun our day. Three otters are playing and fishing on the beach of Martin island. Mergansers take off in front of us at the entrance. I see lots of white caps, so tell Con that it is going to be a little rough but the seas will be on our stern.

It is always so good to see the terrain at a very low tide. The entrance sandbar is high and dry.

We enter the river and slowly move the boat across the river to the Oregon side to get out of the wind, current and tide. We begin to see lots of bird activity up ahead and I spot a bald eagle on a channel marker. Con has him in her sights with the binoculars and I steer close to the marker. He takes flight so she gets to see and appreciate the wing span of these magnificent creatures.
A bit farther on a piling is another eagle which doesn't fly off, so we get a very sustained and good look.

At St Helens we stop to fuel up and I am preparing Con that this will be a very rough docking with the wind and waves. She has to be quick and focused, and be safe. We make a successful docking and Tony greets us to help tie up. Tony works for Mayday Marine and is filling in this morning. Steve on Knot Enuf has seen us and motors over in the dink. He is spending the weekend at Sandy Island. His wife is Carol who we stopped by to see in Kalama the other day. We all have a nice chat, we fuel up and get some more coffee and shove off to make our Albineer's rendezvous.

The Multnomah Channel is flat and calm, the sun is coming out and we change out of our morning clothes. As we approach Coon Island I can see the docks look full on the east side. I see a few boats that I recognize. I'm called by Carol on the VHF and discover she is already here and docked on the west side. This is the beginning of our first meeting. Even though Shatoosh is the only Albin, for the first time I'm with another Albineer member. This is Carol's first big outing on her Shamrock, "Fish Dish" and her first overnighter. So we have a great time meeting, talking and getting to know one another. By late afternoon we are alone. We have nice pupus of Carol's smoked BC salmon and a nice meal. At 2030 hrs we get to hear the coyotes on the mainland make their kill. I love to hear that call of the wild.

Day's run: 12nm
Total: 81nm

Speaking of Albin Boat owners: A nice note from the Albin Yahoo Group just came in:

I read some parts of your blog and can't wait until I have a couple hours free to read it all.
PLEASE keep it up. It's all that keeps us working stiffs going through the New England winter as we admire our snow-bound Albins.
John Stewart"Driftless" (A25-737) Dighton, Massachusetts, USA

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day 4 Walker Island to Martin Slough via Cottonwood Island

Saturday 26 September 2009

Today, is another first. Constance didn't fall in or out or off of the boat. She is making progress with her boating and docking skills. Transforming those hiking legs to sea legs. Way to go girl!

We depart at 0930 hrs and head downriver to show Con the beautiful Chartreuse flora that grows on some of the granite cliffs. The coloring today is beautiful, with the dark green evergreens, the reds and the yellows. There is one particular place I like as it is 40-50 ft of water and is a partially separated piece of cliff with trees growing atop it.

Our next stop is to visit the signage about the Lewis and Clark Expedition on Lord Island. It is a lovely area with grass and deep water to shore. I have often thought about anchoring for lunch here or just to take an afternoon break. The sign states that Lewis and Clarke camped here and it is referred to it as Dibblee Island, but does not state the dates. I finger through several references on board, but can not pin point the date. I turn the helm back to Con and I go online to my blog. Don't you just love it. Thank you Verizon. I click on the Images of the Columbia River and hit Lord Island in the Image Index. Bingo...Lewis and Clark were on the island on their way back home on 26 March 1806.

The US Naval Ship T-AO- 202 Yukon is outbound and cuts a smart bow wake through the Flat Columbia River. She is 677 ft long, 97 ft beam, and 35 ft draft. Wikipedia states she is a fleet replenishment oiler. In early 2000 she had 2 collisions at sea; one of which she incurred severe damage above the waterline and had to make way to Pearl Harbor for repairs. Her crew is mixed civilian and naval personnel. We cross the river after taking her stern and follow upriver taking a look at the empty docks of Longview. Con continues to steer Shatoosh up river and learns to throttle down as we take several outbound tug wakes.

We enter Carroll's channel 1215 hrs and motor back to my old anchorage, but decide to anchor slightly downriver of my usual spot. We anchored today with my lunch anchor from the cockpit. The first time for me to use this small anchor and chain. It was perfect for a short time anchorage. I will certainly use it again in the future. Why I have never used it before is beyond me? I have thought about it often.

We depart our lunch anchorage at 1330 hrs and head upriver toward Martin's Slough where we spend the night again. I tell Con how nice the v-berth is for reading in the afternoon and a nap usually ensues. She awakes about an hour later and the wind has picked up which is usual for this area and the following seas are 4 ft. We are docked again at 1510. This means only one thing left to do to add to Con's first time list, which is now into double digits, and that is to take a solar heated shower on the aft cabin. A perfect shower on the aft cabin this afternoon in Martin Slough without a boat in sight. Saturday and we are alone in this huge anchorage. Amazing.

We have a wonderful evening and a small camper boat comes in to anchor and spends the night.
Today's run: 25.6nm
Total : 69nm

Friday, September 25, 2009

Day 3: Walker Island

25 September 2009: Friday

We depart about 0930 hrs and the sun is burning off the hazy sky. The Columbia is windy with 2 foot seas. We are headed for Kalama to pump out and to Goble to get ice and then to Walker island. The tide is ebbing and we make good time down river, slowing to count the 12 vultures on the wing dam upriver of Sandy island. I like to pump out at Kalama. It is easy in and out and there is good maneuvering room at the station. The water is always calm. We dump off 2 bags of trash, visit the port head and then go 2 docks over to visit with Carol on Knot Enuf. She is always a delight to visit with.

We are outbound and dock at Goble to make a short run to get ice. Con is on the bow line and I have the stern line. We are sandwiched between 2 tugs, the tide is ebbing and the wind is on our stern. Con is working her line aft and I give the command to hurray and get on board. She jumps in and in a flash she is falling back out of the boat right in front of me. I grab her and help her get back into the cockpit. The boat is now slipping away from the dock at the bow. I grab the bow line and pull her back into the dock. That was really close. I jump in and off we turn around heading out of Goble. Con states her foot slipped on the cushion. This is another close call. We will have to be very careful when docking in the future.

The Eternal Wind is docked filling her belly with grain and the Catherine Ostendorf is carrying wind turbine towers heading to Portland. She hails from Monrovia. Most all the wind generators are being brought into the docks at Longview and are registered from Bergen, Norway.

Con takes her stint at the helm, while I play around on the charts, and plotting an ETA for Walker Island 1330 hrs. I relieve her from the helm as we approach the Walker island dock. We are tied up at 1335 hrs. A huge boat is tied up also and they return in the dinghy and later the owner and his wife arrive in another dinghy One couple are guests from Seattle and the boat hails from Portland. It is 50 feet plus and a beam of 18 feet. The owner is familiar with Albins so we have to talk Albin story.

We get Pashmina ready and go up to the cove and across river with hopes of hiking some more. The tide is so low that we can't get over to the wing dams between Walker and Lord islands. We go ashore through some terrible mud and decide it is not worth the effort to continue. So back we go and spend considerable time cleaning our feet, Pashmina and our shoes. What a mess. Pashmina is stowed on top again. We have a lovely evening. It is the calmest day I have spent at Walker, but the wind comes up at night and by 0030 hrs we are rocking and rolling. I had set more fenders out at dark and readjusted the lines, so we were well set. Con sleeps through it with her ear bunnies in.
Days run: 19.8nm
Total : 43.4nm

Day 2: Beach Coaming at Its Best

24 September 2009: Thursday

I like exploring between some of the wing dams along the river, behind Martin Slough, Burke Island and various other places. We spend many hours walking in the sun and enjoying the beaches, the glorious plants, seeing many beaver signs and racoons prints. The tide is out which always is so revealing. After trekking for a while Con names me, HIRAWATHA, which seems to fit my basic nature and love of exploring.

Stretching my back on timbers of a wing dam.

Tidal carvings of the beach.

Beaver cuttings.

We see lots of wildlife, deer with twin fawns, eagles and a nest, a few remaining osprey, merganzers, killdeer, hear the cackling of migrating sandhill cranes, and a pair of wood ducks. Not to mention all the commorants, Great Blue herons and canada geese. I show Con all the pumice stones on the beaches of varying sizes still left from the Mt. St. Helens eruption.
We dinghy and walk for 3 1/2 hours.
Con has a little trouble getting back on Shatoosh from Pashmina and starts to fall back off the gunnel on top of me, but together she ends up safe on board and not in the drink. Whew, that was close! I've never had anyone fall overboard. This is one first we don't want to have.
Day's run: 6nm
Total run: 23.6nm

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Cruised Filled with Firsts: PDX to Martin Slough

23 September 2009: Wednesday: My new crew is flying in from Denver this morning. I'm up early and meander through the maze of overpasses to get to the airport. I pick up Constance at about 1000 hrs. Con is a sister of one of my best crew; Joyce. I hoping that the boating genes might be the same. Joyce was originally going to make the trip with her sister, but had to cancel. So here I am taking a non boater out cruising. A first for me.The timing is perfect and we return to Scappoose and do some last minute purchases at Fred Meyer.

I give Con a orientation tour, as she is new to cruising and to Shatoosh. We are off by noon and head upriver to pump out the head at McCuddys. The skies are free of clouds, the temps in the 80's and there is no wind. We have an ebbing tide to take us downriver. I let Con get a feel of the helm after we pass the Gilbert River. She does well as she drives Shatoosh to the Columbia river. The river is dead calm, no boats to speak of and I turn the helm back over to her to steer a course on a range marker for practice. She does quite well. We see 2 eagles and it is a first for Con to see a bald eagle. I'm certain she will log in many firsts on this trip.

My first for me today is running this trip just using my NOAA charts on my mini. My new template for holding the mini is working out fine. I have no trouble manipulating the charts, zooming in and out and advancing them. When the computer is hooked up to the GPS then it will be done automatically. I can see how nice all this will be when it is put together.

We arrive at Martin Slough and I am delighted to see we are the first to arrive. Later a large Carver comes in to anchor. In the meantime we gather the last of the blackberries and they should be wonderful at breakfast. I show Con around some of the interesting aspects of the lagoon area; beaver chewed logs, where the beaver lives(we did not see him/her this time, but we saw prints), and the famous hugging tree. I've heard of "tree huggers", but this is the ultimate cruising experience: being hugged by a living tree. How cool is this?

Late afternoon 2 men on a 30 ft Camino-Ode to Joy arrive and give us several home grown tomatoes. They are red and plump and should be delicious. We have a nice salmon dinner and Con has brought some wonderful chocolate which is a nice treat with our tea.

Con finds the water really relaxing and asks for an early to bed assignment. I agree and am asleep in seconds.
Total day's run: 19.3nm

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Preparing Shatoosh For New Crew and New Concepts

Its Tuesday the 22 Sept 09 and the temperature is in the high 90's, if you can believe that. I've been on board since last Saturday doing some prep work and fixing a few items that needed tending to; such as reattaching a snap screw on the canvas, a picture fell off the bulkhead and so did the dish rack Saturday night. I got to that leaking window in the aft cabin, but won't know if its repaired until the next rainfall, which won't be this week. Sawed off the projecting ends of the bolts from the oars.

Met with Dan on Whiskyjack for a while on Sunday to touch base on nav projects. The list is unending. "Oh, yes, there's one more thing," he says. He has given me a female 9 pin to hook up with the male 9 pin that I still haven't bought. Then there is a CD for the USB. "A CD", I ask; knowing I don't have a CD option on the mini. "Not to worry", he says. " You just download it into your big computer and take it off using your thumb drive", as he pulls his out so handily from his pocket."I don't have a thumb drive", I reply, sheepishly, and he looks at me as I was some sort of alien from another planet. "You don't have a thumb drive?", he asks, politely. "OK, OK, I can get one", as I scramble back to my car to get a pad and pen to make a list, as I sense more data is coming forth.

In between projects, I get my tide charts, figure out the days, where we might go and avoid all yacht clubs on the weekend. I write up a menu and shopping list.

I'm back from grocery shopping early today to beat the heat, so have some fun time playing around with making templates for the computer at the nav station. I've got some left over cardboard and some wood that I found in the aft cabin berth lockers. A few cuts with the jig saw, a little super glue and presto, I put it all together believing it will be good for a trial this week. I'm stowing my charts and will run only using the charts in the mini to see if I will like this format.

I gaze at the nav tray and see my cell phone holder and casually slip the mouse under the ends and I'm amazed it holds it perfectly well. I just love double duty things. It is the unexpected, the serendipity of it all that makes me chuckle deep inside. I feel as though I have just discovered a potential event that would warrant the Nobel Peace Prize. I step down into the fore cabin grinning from ear to ear. "Yes, perfect", I call out.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Blog Makes the Lady Washington Blog

Last night I sent an email to the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority notifying them of my newly posted blog about the Port Townsend to Aberdeen Run, which I thought would interest them. To my surprise this morning there is a nice commentary about my blog on the Lady Washignton Blog with links to my postings for each leg of the voyage. It is referred to as a "Remarkable Blog". How exciting! This will certainly create new exposure for my blog, but at the same time will be very good Public Relations for them. I'm stepping into my father's domain. Thanks Bob.

Take a look: http://historicalseaport.blogspot.com/

Friday, September 18, 2009

Day 3: Crossing the Westport Bar and Reaching Aberdeen

16 September 2009: Wednesday
All night the crew moved the LW back and forth off shore about 20 nm. The winds and seas were building out of the southwest. Often, there were 3 on the helm and the boat rolled heavily during the night and early morning. Several crew were ejected out of their bunks, the noise down below was incredible with things being thrown around and rolling. I got up once to try to find the source in the head and the galley. All seemed secure. In the aft cabin, a drawer slid out crashing on the cabin sole and breaking to pieces throwing all the contents into the cabin.

I get up at 0630 hrs and go on deck to see the morning. The seas are about 10 feet on the big ones, I look to the east and there is a window opening revealing a golden sunrise with the Olympics in the foreground and a small coned mountain in the distance which is Mt. Rainier. How gorgeous is this? In minutes it is shrouded in storm clouds and rain.

"A" watch eats at 0745 and I'm a happy camper, protein is the order of the day. Bacon and eggs stir fry hits the empty spot in my stomach and a soothing energy disperses through my body. I am ready for my day. Captain Dave is at the helm, First Mate Kyle is barking out the orders for all to get in position to furl the sails. Up they go on the windward, starboard side, the seas are still 6-10 feet and it is raining hard. No one complains, everyone is performing their role with focus and determination and with safety being the number one priority.

Once the sails were furled, Captain Dave turns the LW on a north easterly course towards the Bar and the entrance buoys to Grays Harbor. The bar report states 8-10 ft seas from the south west, the tide is flooding and there is diminished visibility. Catherine is on port watch, Kyle on starboard watch and we are beginning to pick up the entrance buoys. Most everyone is on deck keeping some type of watch. Whales surface on the port side outside the buoys and are breeching and tail and fluke slapping. It appears like it is a mother and calf. The rain is pouring down and our visibility in altered.
0830 hrs: A fishing vessel appears on the port side. A fishing vessel is also coming out of the harbor and it is not certain if he is passing on our port or starboard side. It turns out that the small fishing boat crosses in between both bows of the LW and the outbound vessel and then cuts diagonally across the channel. Another vessel is outbound and passes us on our starboard side. Later it turns back down on us and returns to the harbor. It looks like Grand Central Station at rush hour. Captain Dave sees that we are not going to make the second green buoy and he asks for immediate support on the helm to turn the vessel. 5 people are on the helm instantly. He speeds up the Lady's engine and we pass the buoy safely on our starboard side and then cut back into the marked channel. It is not long before we are inside the harbor with flat seas, but the rain continues.

We continue up the channel toward our destination of Aberdeen(about 15 nm). Lookouts keep up with buoys, markers and the local fisherman, as they dash and dart in front of the Lady Washington. The Coast Guard comes out and greets us and returns to their dock. It time for some coffee to warm our bellies. Crossing this bar during these conditions gives us all confidence that we can do it again when necessary.

The Chehalis River Bridge is opened so we can pass and the Captain takes her upriver a bit and turns her around so he can see the effects of the tide and current, before he makes his turn to starboard up a small river. This looks impossible to dock this vessel in such a tight space. The docking team performs that beautiful ballet again with throwing fenders, lines and someone swings out from above and jumps on the dock to retrieve those heavy lines.
Captain Dave performs the impossible, as he turns her again, in an even smaller river, and gently docks the Lady Washington in her home berth at 1130 hrs, without a hitch. The ramp goes out, an awning over the hatch, the garbage collected, the heads cleaned and lunch is served. Ann and I pack up our gear and say our goodbyes to all. The crew departs and Ashleigh from Gig Harbor volunteers to stay on deck watch for some peace and quiet.

What a spectacular voyage. Passages are not always easy and there are moments in the trip you wonder how much more you can do, how much more you can tolerate, and then the pause comes and you realize you can do alot more. You could make another voyage, because you have become stronger by looking deep within and tapping that great resourse called resolve. It is always there, waiting to be tapped, waiting for the next voyage. I was not disappointed at all that we did not get to sail. The trip was filled with so many inspiring events, but the best part was being able to see so many young men and women filled with fortitude and ambition to go to sea to learn all about life's precious skills that will support them throughout their lives. What a grand future lies ahead for us all. Thank you Lady Washington for building character in the lives of our youth and for revitiliazing the lives of my slightly older generation.

The chart below shows our general route, but not our exact courses. The mileage is approximate and total miles for the trip is about 220nm, but that number does not reflect the mileage of standing off all night. Roughly we were at sea for 47 hours.

I just looked on Google Earth to follow our voyage. You might find it interesting and there are some nice photos of the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain in Grays Harbor. Also, please visit the Lady Washington link listed at the botttom of my blog.

Stay tuned, as I am leaving this Saturday to pick up a new crew and Shatoosh will be plying the waters of the Columbia again next week. See what is in store for this next adventure on the low seas.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Day 2: Down the Coast of Washington

15 September 2009: Tuesday

"A" watch takes over from "C" watch at oooo hrs. They have been watching the phosphorescent plankton in the water. A cruise ship has passed. It has been an easy watch they report. It is not long after we are on deck that we approach Neah Bay at 0030. I drift back to 1982 when Jean, my twin, Mike and I on board Sabra, my Swan 36 made landfall at Cape Flattery coming from the Hawaiian Islands and entered Neah Bay. Wow; that was 27 years ago and my memory of it, is as fresh today, as it was then. I'm wearing the same survival suit tonight.

At 0130 hrs we pass Cape Flattery. This is the second time in my life to pass this cape and I have never seen it. The first time it was fogged in and now it is shrouded in the dark of night. 10 minutes later Kyle orders us to alter course to steer 265 degrees. We are being under the watchful eye of Tofino traffic control from Vancouver Island. The Canadians seem so polite on the radio,"Good morning, this is Tofino Traffic Control". Their politeness changes, as an inbound ship migrates over into the outbound lanes. "Captain, What is your intention?", he snaps. " When do you plan on returning to the south lanes?" The vessel officer speaking in broken English answers, and whatever he said, seemed to satisfy the traffic controllers. Kyle notifies Tofino at 0230 when we round R 2D buoy at Duntze Rock and we change course to 180 degrees. Tofino takes our position and asks us to report when we have reached 48 degrees. We are currently at 48 degrees and 24.o minutes. Each minute of latitude is 1 nm, therefore, we have 24 nm to get to 48 degrees and our speed is approximately 4 knots. We will be there at about 0830 hrs.

We are in the Pacific Ocean and heading down the coast. This is new territory for me. We have seas on our bow and slight wind. During our watch, we went through several rain squalls and building seas. The action on the tiller became rather intense and at times it took a lot of stamina to hold our course. We talked about, if need be, that 2 people could steer if they felt overpowered. Everyone did amazingly well. Some watch members had never been to sea, never been on the ocean at night and some had never steered a compass course before. Kyle patiently helped each person overcome their obstacles. One person said it was scary. Yes, it is as you are pounding through seas that you can not see into total darkness. You have nothing to orient yourself, no shoreline, nothing but darkness. By the end of the watch, the crew has changed; gaining confidence in their sea faring abilities and getting to know the Lady Washington more intimately.

I have never sailed on a Tall Ship, but plenty of my ancestors have. A large group of my 9th great grandparents sailed from Holland in the mid 1600's to colonize Manhattan and what is now, New York State. 14 different families, hailing from Norway, Germany, Holland, and French Huguenots with names of de Forest, Van Pelt, Van Huyse, de la Montagne, Hendershouts, Andressisen, and Van Schoonhoven to name a few. In 1845 the Reids came from Scotland, up the Hudson/through the Erie Canal /Great Lakes and settled in Wisconsin and in 1850 the Gilmours/Dunsmuirs came from Scotland, around the horn on a 6 month journey via the Sandwich Islands to be the first coal miners on Vancouver Island. Tonight, in the darkness of night, with the rain blowing in my face, I remember them all and honor them with the greatest esteem I can muster from the great cave of my heart. I particularly think of the mothers who who gave birth on board and the mothers who kept many children happy in the dark bellies of these ancient ships. How did they do it? Why, did they do it? It was all for the hope they felt in finding a better life than the ones they had left behind. One crewman said he was unhappy with his job. He wanted to do something that made him happy, to feel alive and he wanted his young daughter to be proud of him.

Going to sea will certainly build self confidence, self esteem, learning that teamwork will get the job done. None of us can single hand this Lady. Each watch, moves the vessel towards its destination, hour by hour, chore by chore, and in doing so, we build a better self, a stronger self, so that later when we meet our life's challenges we can face them with character chiseled out of strength, confidence and perseverance. Already, I have learned this trip is not an easy one, every line is big and heavy, every fender is almost as big as the smallest woman on board, and a simple task of eating your meal is not so simple. Cruising on Shatoosh is simple. Cruising on the Lady Washington makes you dig deep into your soul to find the strength to do what is necessary at the moment. Tonight, I face my dream of sailing on a Tall Ship down the Washington Coast with excitement, joy and gratitude for my ancestors and my present day crew members. Together we will bring this ship to the port of Aberdeen and all of us will be better and stronger people because of it.

0400 hrs. Our watch ends and I ask the "B" watch captain to have me wakened at o600 so that I might get to see the sunrise. Dawn on the ocean is always special. I return to the quarter deck and the watch captain is from Majuro in the Marshall Islands. He is quiet, confident, but very orderly. He has a beautiful smile. From the ocean side of the peninsula one can see the entire Olympic mountain range. Clear as a bell is Mount Olympus with snow still on her. Tofino Traffic calls to see if we are at 48 degrees. Our position is 48 degrees and 8 minutes. They tell us to switch over to Channel 16. They will no longer be tracking us. We are alone now, no one is watching us. I return to my bunk and sleep some before breakfast which is pancakes. My digestive tract is fragile this morning and after hanging upside down to get the toilet pumping water, I am slightly queasy. I have not been sea sick in 30 years. I lay down again and get myself pulled together with electrolytes, vinegar water and Reiki.

Our next watch begins at noon 1200 hrs. We get to eat at 1145, but I pass on another carbo meal and eat some almonds instead. So far we have not had any substantial protein in our menu, which really surprises me. I go up early and it is 1125 hrs and discover we are cruising about 2-3 miles off shore and are nearing La Push. There is a narrow entrance to the harbor and I remember looking at it once thinking I would never want to enter from the sea. The view of the coastline is spectacular and we pass several small islands, Hand Rock, Caroll Island, Sea Lion Rock, Cake Rock( photo)and James Island. We can see RW "Q" Buoy. Someone yells, " whale on port beam" along the area of the buoy. We see the whale blow several times and surface dives for quite a while.

Hira at the helm of the Lady Washington

We monitor a coast guard rescue from the Port Angeles station on the VHF radio. A vessel is taking on water and they abandon ship. The ship sinks, however the USCG helicopter was enroute and rescued the members of the sinking ship. We were not able to get the exact coordinates of the rescue.

Its not long after I get off the helm that I remove my survival suit. The sun is coming out and the temperature increasing and I am getting hot.

Ashleigh is not feeling well, so I give her my survival suit so she can have a pillow for her head.

1430 hrs: We are abeam of Destruction Island and about 5 miles off shore. The afternoon is filled with lots of sun and the waves have been rather rolly all day. Several crew are feeling a little sick. Especially the ones doing chores down below. We continue to have head winds and seas. Ashleigh and JP are asked to wash and scrub the decks.

At 1445 Kyle computes an ETA at Gray's Harbor around 0400 hrs. This will not be feasible, so we will have to stand off shore until dawn to cross the Westport bar and entrance to Gray's Harbor. We set a new course heading out to sea to meet the oncoming southwest waves. We meander around numerous crab pots, spot some porpoises, lots of flocks of pelicans. The off watch crew are hanging out singing sea chanties, lying on deck or reading their favorite books. The RPM's are dropped to reduce speed. It will be a long time to stand off but a safe and prudent decision. We close out our watch at 1600 hrs.

At 1800 hrs, the LW is 20 nm off shore steering a course of 190 degrees. I am hungry as a horse when I enter the galley area. The cook is sadly disappointed, her meal isn't ready, as the wonderful bread loaves did not rise or get done and it seems she did not make enough. Everyone is saying it is ok, there are plenty of things to eat. There is real meat protein in the form of chicken in a thick broth. It is very delicious, but short on supply. No seconds tonight for the big boys. The flavors of the food are very delicious and the cook is always hard at work. How she performs this very difficult job is beyond me?

I think I rested some, as we are back on watch at 2000 hrs until midnight. Kyle is really wanting to get some sailing in, so at 2030 hrs, he calls all hands on deck and sets the fore and main topsails. The cook is ondeck suited up in her rigging and up she goes aloft to help set the fore topsail. Everyone goes into action and all are excited to go aloft. One man is 72 years old, holds a 6 pack Captains license and aloft he goes, keeping right up with all the youngsters. This is great to watch, however it is dark and the mast light is allowing us to see this action. This is a lot of work and in spite of all the effort of the crew, there is not enough wind to fill the sails. I forget the terminology that is used, but instead of having everyone go back up to take them down the sails were somehow reduced in size yet not completely secured with rope tie downs.

This rugged coast is void of light and there are few settlements on it. There are not many places you can go to see the night sky in all her glory, but tonight is the night and the place to see the unending numbers of stars, galaxies and planets. The milky way is mapped like a road across the sky. Billions of stars are crystal clear and "A" watch is watching with total excitement and delight. We are all pinching ourselves and saying, "can you believe this", "isn't this spectacular"?

Later on in the watch my excitement dissovles into sleepiness and I have to sit on the deck as opposed to standing on deck. I drift off meditating and then fall asleep for a while sitting up. The throwing life ring makes for a nice backrest and I am sleepy but comfortable. I struggle to hang in there as I am getting cold and shivering at times. Kyles asks me to take the helm for the last 30 minutes of the watch, which I am most happy to do, as I can focus and do something to get warm. I sigh in relief when the watch ends. I'm in my bunk in a flash and fall asleep in a second. I knew having these 2 shifts would be hard for me, but I stayed the whole time and glad I did.

Total run: approximately 100nm.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Lady Washington Wins By Default

14 September 2009: Monday:Day 1

We depart Tacoma around 1000 hrs and we experience misting rain all the way, but we are optimistic about it clearing in the afternoon. As we pull into Port Townsend and I see a Tall Ship in dry dock. We find the Hawaiian Chieftain still being worked on and a propeller missing. I hail over a crewman. He tells me that the rudder hub was cracked and one is being flown over from Denmark.

I explain we are the new passengers, so he calls the Captain of the Lady Washington. Apparently the ship was outside waiting for us to arrive, as there was limited dock space. The Lady Washington arrives in short fashion and ties up long enough for us to climb aboard the rope ladder. The Captain maneuvered the Lady in the tight basin as though her hull was filled with thrusters in every direction. We depart about 1245 hrs. We get a quick orientation by Lisa, an enthusiastic young girl. She shows how to put on our life jackets, where to stow our bags, how to use the head and then takes back on deck as the Lady is motoring out of the marina and her bow is pointed towards Pt. Wilson.

Our friend Mary was to meet us for lunch. Well, scratch that plan. I'm trying to notify her but no answer on her cell phone. I leave several messages. We never connect until later in the evening, as we are well offshore and beyond Port Angeles. She does see the LW depart and figures we were on board. She has several photo opportunities so it will be nice to see her pictures of us underway.

The Lady Washington departs Port Townsend, WA. Whidbey Island in the background.

Photo by Mary Huston

They have delayed lunch so once under way we have a very delicious soup, cooked by a young woman who says she loves her job. Ann and I meet Captain Dave and his wife Nancy and the First Mate Kyle. He is operating also, as the Watch Captain for "A" Watch and states he is short handed. Ann and I both want to pull watches and help as much as we can so we sign up. I notice that A watch pulls the midnight to 0400 shift, which is my least favorite shift in the whole wide world. I say to myself," you can do anything for one day". My next least favorite is 2000 to midnight, which will also fall on Tuesday. I say to myself the same mantra for Tuesday night. Great guns; my 2 least favorite shifts in the same day. I will definitely have to step up to the plate on Tuesday.

But for now let me focus on Monday. I fix my bunk and get myself organized with my cameras, notepads to keep a mini log and go up on the quarter deck to see what is going on. Kyle orders a practice fire drill and we rush to get our jackets on and the crew sounds off their numbers. There are 16 + the 2 of us making 18 people on board. Seattle Traffic Control is keeping track of our course and speed and we check in by noting our position off Pt. Wilson.

Photo by Mary Huston: Taken as the Lady Washington rounds Pt Wilson Buoy and enters the Straits of Juan de Fuca.

Ann and I begin to get our sea legs.

I take some photos of the different aspects of the boat. All the lines, pulleys and fittings are a sight to behold in their beauty and tidiness. The rudder post( looking down to the water).

At 1440 we pass Protection Island to port. The seas are flat, no wind and a haze fills the Straits. Our next point of contact is Dungeness Spit. We are staying south of the incoming ship traffic lanes. The sun is penetrating the haze and it seems as though this weather will hold the rest of the afternoon. The LW has a new chart plotter so Kyle is explaining it to us. This is his first time outbound in the Straits of Juan de Fuca, so I get to help him with some of the pronunciation of the way points. Already I am really impressed by this young man. He is upbeat, energetic, a teacher by nature and really knows his sail training, navigation and how to motivate a group of young adults, not much younger than himself. I remember when they came in to pick us up. He was barking out orders and the crew were responding with vocal feedback and moving all about the boat, like a Balanchine ballet. No one did anything until they were ordered to and then did it with a quick response.

Ediz Hook is passed at 1725 and Kyle asks me plot the course on the chart. I love navigation, course planning, being look out and sighting the buoys and approaching ships. The seas are flat, no wind to speak of, and only a hint of a pacific swell. Boy, this is a piece of cake. I get to take my turn at the helm which is a huge tiller which seems about 10 feet long. It is controlled with rope pulleys and a bronze fitting to create a stop on it. It also has a small braided rope with several loops to put an additional stop on it. You control this monster tiller with your thigh, or lean in to it with your buttocks. Using your arms to pull and push it would deplete your energy in a short time. With my thunder thighs I'm good for the long haul. Ann describes her first helmsman opportunity as, "I thought I was wrestling an alligator". Ann has numerous years of being helmsman for the Tacoma Dragon Boat Association and has raced internationally. She learned to sail with the Tacoma Women's Sailing Association many years ago. I first met Ann while being assigned together in the Army as Physical Therapists at Madigan Army Hospital in Tacoma. Our friendship goes back to 1966. I knew without a doubt when I called she would jump at this chance to be on the LW. She recalled that she, her mother and children had sailed on the Lady way back when she was first launched and plying the waters of Commencement Bay in Tacoma.
Kyle has the other 2 young women on our watch, Catherine and Ashleigh to take the older 2 women(Ann and I) on the hourly check of the boat. They write down all the vital signs: oil pressure, temperature of engine, voltage, RPM's, we go and check the bilge water levels in 3 sections of the boat, check the stuffing box, check the generators, inverters and record the findings on checklist. This is done hourly around the clock. We eat dinner at 1800 and have a very flavorfull pasta dish. I stay on deck and watch the sunset.

I make contact with Mary on her cell phone and we discuss our failed attempt to meet for lunch. I hang out on deck until dark and then go below to take some rest. After about an hour I begin to get cold, so get up and put on warmer clothes for sleeping. I am awake and dressing when the watch person comes at 2345. She tells me the status of the weather which is clear, slight winds and seas from the west. I try to wake Ann, but she is fast asleep and does not stir, so leave her to the sleep fairies.
(Since Ann and I are paying passengers, we can opt for doing what we want to do. We were told that many passengers don't wish to pull a watch.)

Bow watch on the Straits

Days run: approx 90 nm
Port Townsend to east of Neah Bay.