Vancouver to San Diego Part 3

Sept 4

6:50 am awake

Get up, get dressed in the semi-dark and try to remember where you put everything night before so you don’t destroy your night vision. But there’s coffee when you emerge so it’s all ok.

7:30 am depart

Its a calm morning and Sea Esta casts us off and we slowly drift away. Then it’s simply a matter of firing up the engine and we are off.

While Sea Esta raised their anchor we take a slow tour of the harbour and docks and then follow them out into the strait.

8:56 am

Cape Flattery. That’s the big left turn moment when we exit the relatively protected waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and head south along the rugged Washington and Oregon coast. As with all these momentous moments in my sailing career to date it was a non-event.

We turned south and continued to motor in a small swell with no winds. Still it’s an accomplishment and we will be in the Pacific for the rest of the trip.

9:35 am
48° 20.5334′ N,124° 45.3532′ W

We spotted a humpback and watched him sound with a flap of his massive tail.

One thing of note is that the U.S. weather broadcasts are quite different than the Canadian ones. Their male voice is much more stern and authoritative but it still has some quirks. The one that got me was the hourly announcement  that there was no pleasurable precipitation. I kept wonder what that was. A warm rain? Enough rain for a good shower? Maybe it would rain hard enough to be like one of those massaging shower heads? Eventually I figured out it was measurable not pleasurable which took the mystery out of it and ironically enough reduced the pleasure.

11:00 am
48° 12.0367′ N,124° 47.9520′ W

Nothing happening. No wind, swells, lots of water.

1:00 pm
48° 0.9295′ N,124° 46.0987′ W

See above.

Sea Esta is zigzagging trying to limit their roll. The Baltic’s deep keel and heavier displacement makes it a gentler boat than the Catalina in Rollin seas. They, however, have a full enclosure so I don’t feel very sorry for them.

1:36 pm

Tim whipped out his harmonica, well one of them: he has seven I think (A B C D E F & G), and treated us to some solos. He’s pretty good although like most amateur musicians he insists he’s not so hot.

Be that as it may he did attract a couple of porpoises for our visual pleasure. They didnt stick around long–probably more punk oriented and just not fans of the blues.
The Catalina kept rolling and performed even more zigzagging to try and keep the swell off their quarter and we just plowed steadily along.

Eventually we came in sight of Cake Rock which resembles nothing less than a giant cake. Go figure. It did mean we were getting in sight of the entrance to La Push so that was exciting.

There weren’t even ripples on the water and I spent some time on the side deck watching our bow wake disturb the glassy water of the Pacific. Mesmerizing and beautiful. So I shared it on Instagram.

A little later a couple more porpoises came by but no one wanted to play.

2:55 pm arrived
La Push, WA
47° 54.7037′ N,124° 38.2175′ W

La Push was our first bar entrance but it was a non-event. Beautiful, but other than having to pay attention to the buoyage it was no different than entering any other harbour for us. Most (all?) of the ports in Washington and Oregon are in river mouths. That means there is usually a delta of some sort where the water crashing in from the pacific both suddenly shallows and constricts. This can make for some big waves and dangerous conditions. The Columbia River bar is said to be one of the most dangerous and treacherous in the world. But like the tidal rapids in the PNW, if you pay attention to the weather and time it right they should be no issue. We have plenty more to do so I guess we’ll see.

No one was answering on the radio so we picked random slips and tied up. A Fishery guy did pop over to see if we had caught anything but that was it. We never did find anyone and so ended up with a free night of moorage.

I headed out for a walk as everyone else was talking about going for a run and I didn’t want to get swept up in their insanity. It’s a native community but there is a terrific beach on the other side of the breakwaters and tons of tourists camping and staying in some beautiful waterfront cottages.
I went looking for some sunscreen but they were sold out; huh. Along he way I encountered Jim and Mark staring down the beach. Apparently they had lost Donna. A bit later I found Tim who had likewise lost Donna. Donna is starting to remind me a bit of Leslie who also has a habit of getting lost.

Back on board we had a visit from Lucky Girl who is a Selene trawler (maybe 40-45 feet). Apparently they were in Neah Bay last night as well but we hadn’t spotted them in the dark. They were on their way to Portland and also were planning on stopping in Gray’s Harbor next.
Then it was time for a beer. Jim and Mark popped over and we discussed plans. There was a bit of a heated discussion on safety, pfds and mob drills but it was all resolved in the time-honoured fashion of each to his own.

Dinner was tasty burgers and after we did a few chores like topping up the water tank and engine checks. I will admit sitting in the evening air that I gained an appreciation of Leonard Cohen. Although since I don’t really know his stuff I did embarrass myself by asking who we were listening to. I mean I’ve heard all the songs before by different performers but who actually listens to Leonard Cohen? I guess from now on that’ll be me.

The rest of the evening was spent sitting quietly on deck with the funky disco led lights and relaxing.

Sept 5

5:50 am awake
6:00 am depart

We beat Sea Esta and Lucky Girl off the dock and across the bar but the trawler soon passed us and the two sailboats angled out to sea. breakfast was waffles which Donna did in this cool single-sided waffle pan.

7:23 am

We put the head sail out in winds SW at 5 knots. Pretty soon we were cruising along at 6.0 knots with the motor still running.

Eventually though we had to roll the sails back in, but Sea Esta stubbornly kept her main out and zigzagged back and forth. 

9:15 am
47° 37.8264′ N,124° 37.9374′ W

We picked up an AT&T about about 5 nm offshore so everyone immediately checks their phones like a bunch of teenagers.

A bit later we spotted a couple of other boats but they were going the other way.

11:00 am
47° 30.0859′ N,124° 29.5289′ W

At this point we are motoring 3 nm offshore but decide to move in closer so we could at least enjoy the scenery. So Tim had a nap and I played that boater favourite, Bird or Crab Trap. There are a lot of crab traps.

12:25 pm

A bazillion birds started flocking to a spot just off the starboard side with dolphins diving in and around them. Then suddenly they all took off and moved ahead of us and gathered again. There were pelicans, cormorants, gulls and and something I am calling murrelets but who the hell knows what they really are. Anyway, we guess it was a herring ball but whatever it was it was cool to see the birds converging.

Speaking of birds, I keep seeing these black stubby gull-like birds swooping mere inches above the water and moving up and down with the swells. It’s a terrific but of acrobatic flying.

2:50 pm
47° 8.7814′ N,124° 16.2876′ W

Still motoring.

3:50 pm

A couple of porpoises came along and were cavorting in the rain that finally caught up to us. I am starting to get wet. 

5:30 pm
46° 54.7574′ N,124° 10.5088′ W

Still wet but at least we are crossing a relatively benign bar. 

6:24 pm arrived
46° 54.6005′ N,124° 6.7178′ W
Westport Marina, Gray’s Harbor

It was a 68 nm day but we are settled in the transient moorage at Westport Marina in Gray’s Harbor, Washington. Tim and I break out the tarp to keep the rain out and sit relaxing and enjoying a Bud.

It’s a huge fishing town, really reminds me of the oil patch. A local deckhand looking for work stopped by to chat and beg a glass of water. Sounds like fishing is another boom and bust industry for the workers.

The transient space is only $25 but the facilities are pretty sparse. I am starting to dream of a hot shower. Dinner was pressure cooked ribs but I too tired to gorge.

9:14 pm Lights out