Vancouver to San Diego Part Five

Sept 8

7:30 am Awake

I got up and sipped coffee from a real mug. Eventually after savoring coffee at the right temperature, I got dressed and joined the conference over on Sea Esta. Seems Jim didn’t have his reef line installed and was trying to get it rigged. That went on for a bit but I eventually wandered away so as not to keep getting in the way.

There were four other boats on dock heading south. While I was sitting on deck Seraphim arrived; they had been communicating with Tim previously by email as they were also heading for San Diego to join the Baha Ha Ha. Later that night one more Canadian boat pulled in for a grand total of seven transients heading south. One of them (a French boat) was ultimately heading for French Polynesia.

As I was walking down the dock the single-hander aboard Tiger Beetle mentioned our starboard upper spreader seemed to be bent. Sure enough, something had put enough force on it to bend it up 15 or 20 degrees. This was a bit of an issue since the rigging is what keeps the mast up and the sails flying.

Tim was also doing some engine work trying to patch a pinhole leak in the exhaust. It seems the boat wanted to stay in Newport for a while. I was going to go shopping for sunscreen and toothpaste but decided with all the hooplah to just run to local marina store and see what they had there.

There are tons of coast guard boats here. I’ve seen more boats and Coasties here in one day than I think I’ve seen in total in the PNW. Since we are right across from the fuel dock, they all pull in daily to fuel up. One of the fellows on the dock, Cody, a Texan, says this is the coast that all of the members get sent to for training. Supposedly the most rugged waters and challenging conditions in the U.S.

We turned the boat around to relieve some of the force on the starboard shroud and Tim decided a trip up the mast to check out the spreader was called for. So we broke out the bosun’s chair and I belayed him up the mast. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for how the damage occurred, but the stainless steel tang that was riveted to the mast was definitely bent.

At that point it becomes a discussion on what to do about it. Nobody was enough of an expert in stainless to know if just bending it back would weaken the metal significantly, and drilling out the rivets to remove the tang seemed like an excessive solution.

So we called around. Tim called guy who referred him to a local rigger. Turns out he was local to Newport, Massachusetts. I got a number from the guy at the fuel dock for a local marine service guy and he agreed to come down and look. Then it was sit-around-and-wait time for a bit.

After he arrived there was a lot of talking and head scratching and eventually Tim ground him up using a winch to take a look. The consensus was straightening the tang and locking the shrouds in place with some cable clamps would solve the problem. Tim had removed some old wire running back stays and it was also decided that building some new ones out of amsteel (a synthetic line similar to spectra) might help prevent it from happening again.

So Tim caught a ride to the local chandlery and picked up some parts (the fellow, whose name was, ironically, Mike Chandler, was kind enough to lend Tim his 20% discount).

Meanwhile I hung out and chatted with the neighbours and generally relaxed in the sun. As the day went on the winds climbed and the boat had a distinct tilt to it.

After Tim got back we hauled him up the mast again where he installed the clamps and had to resew the leather chafe protection. Something that was a lot more difficult 50 feet above the water in the wind than you would suppose. The chandlery didn’t have all the parts for the back stays so it was going to be another trip to the store and another trip up the mast tomorrow.

So while I was standing around on dock watching Tim dangle from a halyard he shouted to me to go help a MacGregor down the dock. The small sailboat had lost power on its outboard and the strong winds had blown it onto Tiger Beetle. There was only one fellow on board with three small boys. When I got there the master of Tiger Beetle had wrestled the boat into the small space between the sterns of the docked boats and was trying to keep it pinned stern-to to the dock. I clambered aboard and tried to get a line on the stern of the French boat to keep the MacGregor from bashing into the Beetle while everyone desperately tried to get the outboard restarted.

Then another shout from Tim had me abandoning the MacGregor to scurry back up the dock to help fend a newcomer off the dock as he’d mistimed his turn and wasn’t able to get into his slip.

Then it was rushing back to the MacGregor where they managed to restart the engine and we cast off and I rode over to the fuel dock where they could catch their breaths and investigate the engine issue. Then it was a run back to our boat to send up some tools to Tim and eventually lower him back down to the deck. I got quite the workout there for a few minutes.

Then it was a beer and dinner and a quiet night before bed.

Sept 9

7:30 am awake

After a nice cup coffee I headed up for a shower. I ran into the MacGregor guy who chatted my ear off as I attempted to brush my teeth and grunt in response. Nice enough guy but a typical farmer with a typical rural outlook on life. Except for the drawl I could have been talking to someone in Brooks.

Tim and Donna had walked into town early to pick up the new battery and hopefully catch a ride back, so I sat in the cockpit and caught up with writing.

10:10 am

The battery showed up and we got it installed. Then we moved the boat over to the fuel dock to top up the tanks and change slips to try and get out of the wind.

Lunch was a toasted egg sandwich. Have I mentioned how spoiled we are?

The Customs guys (4 of them) show up as we leave the fuel dock. Tim had talked to them the day before and received a mild reprimand for not checking in upon arrival. Sea Esta was stubbornly insisting they had been told at entry they didn’t need to check in so they hadn’t. Since they were away on a run the CPB guys stopped by and reminded us politely that Sea Esta had better call them, but the 4 officers and generally martial milling made the message sound a lot more intimidating than polite.

Then it was time for a long walk across the bridge to the old town docks where Englunds Chandlers was located so I decided to tag along. Of course tagging along with runners Tim and Donna is a bit of an exercise in itself but I survived the 2 mile or so journey.

We crossed the gorgeous Yaquina Bay Bridge, which was built in 1936 and was Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works Project no. 932. It’s a gorgeous piece of Art Deco architecture with ornate concrete and metal work. It’s really too bad we as a society can’t afford to build things like this anymore.

Exiting the bridge and turning right we passed the Coast Guard station and entered the old docks area, which has been revitalized as a tourist destination with gift shops and tons of fresh seafood places. What makes it interesting is the fishing docks and plants are still there in and amongst the ocean-view restaurants.

We stopped in to see the source of all the noise we’ve been hearing constantly. It’s a special set of docks reserved for sea lions, and man are they loud. They are a protected species so they tend to take over space and make it there own. We also ran into Mark there; he’d been on a bit of a run and was looking for lunch.

Right beside the sea lions was a familiar sight. The old undersea gardens that lived in Victoria so long is now here looking a little shabby and long in the tooth but still a going concern. It’s still even owned by the Oak Bay Group so I guessed they just decided it would be more profitable here in Newport.

The chandlers was stuffed full of stuff I “needed” but I managed to restrain myself and got away without buying anything. Tim and I headed back to the boat and Donna went off to Starbucks for coffee and wifi.

Back on board I learned to splice amsteel as the lines needed loops in each end. Pretty easy if you have a fid (a fancy type of splicing needle).

Then I belayed Tim up mast again — I say belayed because unlike the fellow the day before, Tim actually climbs the mast. All I do is make sure he doesn’t lose any ground as he inches up. He ran the new blue running back stays from the spreader and then cleaned off all the bird crap and algae while he was there. On the way down he cleaned the first spreaders as well and then we were done aloft … hopefully.

Then it was time for a beer. I wandered up to the Rogue Beer outlet by the marina showers and picked up some Hazelnut Brown Porter. Jim and Mark came by and we started a conversation about whether to stay or go that ultimately lasted until we actually left.

The crux is the weather about 100 miles south is turning bad in the next few days. It’s looking like we can’t get much further until Tuesday so is there any point in leaving beautiful Newport? And there is a small chance that the weather will come early and we would be 77 miles south and not able to come in to port. The range of opinions on the dock is vast and a lot of people are insistent that leaving in the morning is a poor choice.

Personally I think the weather predictions look good and it’s purely a matter of whether we think being one leg closer to Cape Mendocino has any value. That’s the cape that has all the unpredictable weather and marks the end of the “dangerous” Northwest coast. So I think it’s fine to go but think staying is a better choice if we have another three days to wait for good weather.

Later when Tim wandered off I had another long philosophical conversation with Donna. She got a thoughtful soul and is fun to wax spiritual with. It always makes me realize how much I do embrace modern spirituality in my core, but just don’t have any patience with the bullshit trappings associated with “new age” thinking. The Lord’s Prayer had it right: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  Do we need more than that? There isn’t really any need for God or any other divine presence to be a part of that simple philosophy.

Later, after dinner, when I walked up to the bathrooms by the fish-cleaning station I ran into the local pride of feral cats. There were a few adults and about 6 gangly teenagers, all black or black and white, feasting on the scraps they could get at. Very skittish but they would casually ignore me in that cat way as long as I held still.

Back at the boat it is bed time but there is still no absolute decision; but the votes are such that we will likely be up around 5 am and head out to Coos Bay.