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September 28, 2006

Photo Album for Bellingham to San Francisco

I just added a photo album with most of the pics from Bellingham down to San Francisco.

Bellingham2SanFrancisco

September 27, 2006

San Francisco

Well we're safe and sound in San Francisco and best of all there were no breakdowns on the boat during this leg. We left Newport Oregon on Saturday around noon with a forecast for 2 days of 20 – 25 knot winds out of the North and then a day of 10 – 20 knot winds before the wind went light. Initially everything looked great. The Pacific greeted us with 20 knot winds out of the North witch had us flying downwind for the first 16 hours or so. Then in the wee hours of the morning, it died all together and we had to motor. Our 3 days of moderate to strong winds had turned into 16 good hours and then nothing. No problem. Now the motor was running well and as we set off motoring South setting a pattern that would repeat the rest of the way to San Francisco. Everyday we would get a little sailing in in the mid day or afternoon and then by night there was nothing. We ended up motoring about 75% of the way from Newport to San Francisco.

Here's a pic on the way out of Newport:
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The previous week had caught Greg bashing off Cape Mendicino into 40 knot winds and big head seas towing a barge of salt from San Francisco to Vancouver. I decided to head 60 – 70 miles offshore to get away from the seas developed by both Cape Blanco and Mendicino and also to get away from the fog and confused winds found inshore. We ended up with both fog and poor winds. On the bright side we were outside practically all the shipping traffic and had practically no wind waves at all rounding Cape Mendicino. We only saw one ship until we turned in towards Point Reyes and our approach to San Francisco. What we did see were lots and lots of dolphins. More often than not at night where you never saw the dolphins themselves, but instead saw these green streaks darting around under the boat with the occasional splash somewhere off to the side.

Here's the fierce seas of Cape Mendicino:
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And here's the best one I got of the dolphins. They're quick little buggers and my digital camera has a horrible response time:
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This morning found us off Point Reyes and Drakes Bay at 1:00 in the morning. It was too late to go in and anchor and way too early to make the 25 mile trip down to the Golden Gate. So we spent most of the night motoring slowing along the coast watching all the inbound shipping go by while we waited until dawn to hit the Bonita Channel and slide in around the shipping lanes and into San Francisco Bay. The morning found us with no wind (big surprise) and and a low gray overcast. Not the best of weather, we had to motor into the bay famous for it's wind. Oh well maybe we'll get some good sailing weather on the way out. We're going to be at the South Beach Marina for today and tomorrow and the Friday we'll be heading over to Alemeda to visit my cousin Rick who lives over there on his Gulfstar 50. On October 4th, Joe is coming down to sail to San Diego on the 5th. Until then I'll be working on a few boat projects, but hopefully it's time to kick back and get into cruising mode.

Here's the view coming in under the gate:
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September 22, 2006

Maintenance break in Newport

Here's the view from Beutiful Newport Oregon:
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Things are going well here in Newport. It's not much of a sailing town, but there's a strong fishing fleet here and they have two well stocked chandleries. As an added bonus, the Rouge Brewery is about a half mile away at the other end of the marina. Since we don't have a car here, we haven't really been able to venture out and have been forced to hit the brewery for dinner every night.

A couple of days ago I was able to open up my diesel tank. Inside I found three good size paint chips that were undoubtedly the source of my fuel problems on the way down here. Otherwise the tank was nice and clean. I also made a permanent installation of my bicycle pump. Now if I ever get anything in the tank that's clogged the draw line, I just turn one valve, give a couple of pumps on the bicycle pump and then turn the valve back. Hopefully now that I have it installed, I'll never need it again.

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Wednesday also saw the rebirth of my mainsail. There's a good size table for folding clothes in the marina's laundry room which was transformed into my sail loft for most of the day. The sail tore at the same place as the first time. It ripped along the second batten from the bottom and then hit my patch from at sea and tore down through the panel. This is another good lesson. Where I added new sail cloth, the repair held and where I just sewed the sail back together at the batten pocket, it ripped again. So I used up a bunch of my sail cloth on hand and patched both sides of the sail all the way around the batten pocket and along the tear to the bottom of the panel. I think that the main is in better shape than when I took off, but only time will tell.

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My Dad and I finished caulking the outside of the cap rail yesterday and will do the inside today. That should wrap up everything I wanted to do here in Newport, so if the weather cooperates, I'll be setting off down the coast tomorrow. We'll see how Dad and I do with just the two of us. If the weather looks good and things are going well, then we'll sail all the way down to San Francisco, otherwise we'll head in at either Brookings OR, or Crescent City CA.

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And thanks again to Peter for sticking around and helping on the boat:
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September 18, 2006

Pacific Ocean 4 : Jason 0

Well the North Pacific kicked my butt this week and I've tucked in my tail and taken refuge in Newport Oregon while I do some repairs on Bodhran.

Things were going great. We motored all the way out the Strait of Juan de Fuca in calm seas with no wind. Compared to the customary beating into 30 knot head winds, I was very happy to listen to the diesel engine for 100 miles. An hour or so before we got into Neah Bay, the engine started losing rpms. No problem, we were in a little swell, so sediment had just been kicked up off the bottom of the tank. I'll just change the fuel filter and things will be fine. As it turned out things were fine the rest of the way out to Neah Bay...problem solved right?

Brent, Peter and I spent two nights out at Neah Bay working on the boat getting it ready to head offshore. We might have left after the first night, but it was foggy in the morning and there were plenty of things to take care of before we left. So a day of boat projects it was. I also was able to get my first weather fax. It was a pretty useless one, but at least it was working. So I checked the weather on the radio and with Greg interpreting the weather faxes for me it looked like a reasonable weather window and we were to be off the next day. The forecast was for 2 days of heavy (15-25knot) winds out of the Northwest and then a day of moderate winds out of the West and then in four days time, light winds out of the South. We definitely didn't want to be stuck out in the light Southerlies, so we were off at dawn the next morning.

Here's Bodhran anchored in Neah Bay:
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We motored out of Neah Bay with Paul and Saesha who we met in Port Angeles. They've got a DownEast 38, so it was fun to have the two Downeasters heading out together. The wind was light and 8 foot swell that had Brent squealing like a little kid on a roller coaster as we crashed down the back side of each wave. Then as we were rounding Tatoosh Island off Cape Flattery, the engine died again. Uh oh, the wind was out of the Northwest and the current was running out the Strait, we would have to bash our way back in to Neah Bay if there was a real problem. Alas I again thought that it was just the swell stirring up the tanks and that we just needed to clean the water separator and everything would be fine. As you might have guessed, I was wrong. But back to sailing off Tatoosh Island, the wind was building, the windvane was steering, the sun had come out and we were having a great sail in the right direction. Why would we go back. So on we sailed for a few hours until we noticed that the lazy jib sheet was dragging in the water to the side of the boat. Well that just wouldn't do, so I went to pull it in and nothing. It wouldn't budge. Oh horror of horrors, the jib sheet had wrapped itself around the prop while we sere sailing. With my transmission, the propeller freewheels whenever not in gear and boat is moving. Well it did a nice job of getting 8 turns on my prop shaft before we noticed it and there was no way to unfoul it. The wind had picked up to 25-30 knots, the boat was handling great, but we were to be without an engine for the foreseeable future. No problem it was going to be windy for days to come and we're a sailboat we don't need no stinking motor. And on we went through the night with a double reefed main and staysail doing 7 knots on a beam reach in 15 foot seas. It was wet, we were taking green water over the rails, but the boat was handling great. So I left Brent and a very seasick Peter on deck and went to bed. About 4 in the morning it was blowing a steady 30 knots and we decided to heave to (put on the brakes in the sea) which basically involves trying to keep the boat at a 50 degree angle to the waves to generate a very comfortable motion for us to sleep in. Unfortunately in the middle of heaving to – RIP!!! Well there goes the main sail torn in half just below the second batten. No problem, out comes my little storm trysail which is a better sail for heaving to anyway and down goes the main.

Here's Sea Heather motoring out of Neah Bay with us:
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And here's what we saw of Sea Heather out in the strait:
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And here's Brent and Peter letting Lord Steersington do the sailing off Cape Flattery:
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Ahh a stressful first day at sea to be sure, we made 100 miles in 14 hours which is screaming fast for my boat but now I don't have my two primary sources of propulsion and what to I find the next day? Those weak southerlies that were supposed to be 4 days off. Oh cruel, cruel world we were stuck wallowing all day in 8 – 10 foot seas with no wind (think weeble wobbles). I tried to only trick I knew to get the prop free by starting the engine and quickly putting it in reverse then back to neutral, then forward, then neutral. Well that only served to kill the engine. I then tried to start the engine again and was rewarded with smoke from the back of my starter. So now I was getting pretty depressed. Just then a familiar voice came across the vhf. Greg Krovonik was passing by on the Tug Ocean Mariner on their way down to San Francisco to pick up a load of salt. We had a nice chat on the vhf and he and the skipper of the the tug tried to help me trouble shoot my propeller/engine problems. We were also able to test out my Single Side Band Radio and decided to call each other each day at sunrise and sunset. It was nice to know that someone knew I was out there and was able to check up on my. So Brent tried valiantly to sail with the drifter while I took to repairing the mainsail with my Sailrite sewing machine down below. It was slow going. I think that Brent moved us 8 miles, most of which was current and by late afternoon I had the main repaired hoisted up the mast just in time for the night of no wind which followed our day of no wind. The mainsail was up there flogging during both Peter and Brent's night watches while I tried to sleep below imagining what was happening to my repair job. When my 0200 watch came around I decided to put a double reef in the main to flatten in out and keep it from flogging too badly and naturally – RIP!!! Oh yes, I again ripped the mainsail that I had just spent most of the day repairing. So again up with the trysail which stayed up all the way to Newport. So day number 2 at sea was completely fruitless and uncomfortable.

Now it was day three. I was a little pissed off at yesterdays lack of progress and the seas were down to 4 feet. It was time to try and free the prop. I lashed a vicky to the end of boat hook pole and launched the aft half of my dinghy to attempt to free the prop from above. Unfortunately I just couldn't see the line well enough to cut it and the boats were bouncing around too much for me to work. So there was only one solution left. I had the Farmer John wetsuit that I had picked up off Lamont a couple of years earlier. I soon found that it was a size too small, but hey it was better than nothing. So in with the contacts, on with the goggles, knife in my teeth (slight exaggeration) over the side I went. I had Brent and Peter on the boat to spot the larger swell for me so that I wouldn't be caught under the stern when it came crashing down. 7 or 8 dives later I had the prop completely free and was back in the aft half of my nesting dinghy drifting off Bodhran 30 miles to the west of Gray's Harbor. Luckily Brent was kind enough to pull me back in. Ok, one project done. My mission for the day was to get us back under way. Now it was on to the engine. I tried to start in again. It smoked again, but this time I was able to identify the problem as the wiring harness that time forgot. The prong on the plug for the starter had shorted and melted in place. So off with layers and layers of black tape, off with the old wiring harness, and on with lots and lots of butt connectors...voila the engine was running again. Now I feeling pretty good about myself. I told Brent to motor us Southwest we were back in business...for 5 minutes until the engine died again. That pesky fuel problem was back. So I spent the next 6 hours going through my fuel system trying everything I could think of to no avail. I went to bed that night rolling around in 4 foot swells with no wind to steady us feeling very dejected having made 8 miles to the South during the little spurts when we had the engine running.

On day 4 came a revelation. I finally was down to the problem. The draw line from the diesel tank was clogged. Fortunately I had just fixed this tank 6 months earlier and had put in two nice big inspection ports on top. Unfortunately the wind was back up and the swell was picking up again and with a full tank, I would have spilled diesel everywhere if I opened up the top of the tank. Add this to the fact that the boat already reeked of diesel from my tinkering of the day before. I did still have one trick up my sleeve. I had made a fitting that I could put on the tank so that I could pump it up with a bicycle pump and test the tank for leaks. So I took off the barb from the tank draw line and replaced it with the bicycle pump valve and pumped air into the tank to clear the dray line. It only took two pumps and the line was clear. The wind had picked up out of the South and without our main sail we couldn't beat into the wind very well, so we motored off for 2 and a half hours before the engine died again. It was the same problem, the draw line was clogged again. There must be something in the tank which I keep blowing out, but not getting rid of that happens to land on the draw line after a random period of time. So off come companion way stairs, tie the stairs to the galley crash bar, off with the fuel hose, off with barb fitting, on with the bicycle pump, pump up the tank, off with the bicycle pump fitting on with the barb fitting and on with the fuel hose, untie the stairs, replace the stairs. This procedure became the bane of my existence over the next 2 days. I'm sitting here in a laundry room in Newport Oregon barely able to type because I'm so sore. All day on day 4, whenever the engine died which happened on average every 15 minutes. All night long while Brent and Peter were on watch, I would lie half asleep waiting for the engine to die and for my routine to begin again. But today was a good day, we motored 75 miles and were South of the Columbia River just into Oregon.

Day 5 found us in 20 knot southerlies beating hard to weather. It's cold, it's wet, but the monitor is doing the steering which always puts me in a good mood and I'm not pumping out the diesel tank every 15 minutes. Then Peter pops his head up from the companion way to inform me that the starboard side of the cabin is flooding. My cap rail is leaking like a sieve and we're hard on the weather making good time with the rail being submerged as we crash through each wave. Now this one really sucks. It's nowhere near as dramatic as the fouled prop or the ripped main, but sitting in the starboard locker and shelves were all my sailing reference books, my iPod, my digital camera, my backup SSB receiver, and two external hard drives with hundreds of movies and the backup of all my pictures and music. The iPod, SSB, and camera are all trashed, I assume that the hard drives are gone and I'm not sure whether or not my books are going to dry out and survive. To make matters worse, this means that we can't sail for risk of really flooding that side of my boat which contains my 5 batteries, battery charging system and inverter, my stereo, my computer, and my SSB Transceiver all of which managed to stay dry. So it was back to the pump the crap out of the diesel tank every 3 – 90 minutes day and night as we motored into 20 knots of wind and sloppy seas.

Day 6 found us in the fog off Newport Oregon. I had talked with Greg and the tug skipper about safe harbors on the west coast. Almost all the west coast harbors on on rivers and involve bar crossings which can be extremely dangerous when the weather is bad. The consensus between the tug guys and Charlie's Charts was that Newport had the mildest bar crossing and was the only place to go. So we had been working our way down here for four days. Luckily the wind was down and the swell was moderate. I called up the coast guard, but couldn't understand a thing over the VHF radio. Cell phones to the rescue. We were back in cell range. I talked with the Coast Guard in Newport and found that the bar had a 6 foot swell with a 2 – 4 foot confused chop between the jetties with three miles visibility. No problem, as long as the engine didn't die we'd be fine. So we began to line up the approach buoys, but were having a heck of a time finding them. Our visibility was down to a few hundred feet or less. Fortunately GPS on the laptop and my Garmin in the cockpit put us right on the marks. So in we went until just before the narrow entrance between the jetties with surf breaking outside the channel on either side here comes a tuna fisher right in front of us. We both veered and passed each other comfortably, but now I was a bit rattled. So once again I started my approach between the jetties. I could just begin to make out the Port jetty and the big seas breaking on the rocks all around it when out of the fog came this enormous fog horn. It sounded like a super tanker was coming out the channel. So once again, I turned tail and ran back out into the fog. I waited a little while and nothing came out. So once again I called up the Coast Guard on the VHF and once again she had her Charlie Brown's teacher filter turned on and I couldn't understand a word she was saying, but they guy who was operating the dredge in the channel heard me and inquiring about the big honking fog horn and said that he was performing dredging operations in the channel and was sounding his horn every few minutes. OK, so at least it's not a supertanker coming out the narrow entrance, so in I go for my third attempt, completely stressed when just as we passed the port jetty an enormous bow pops out of the fog. It's a big factory trawler that just came out of nowhere. I think that he must have seen us on the radar as he left us plenty of room to clear the whitewater roiling off the jetty to my left. Now we were committed, so we used the chart plotter on the GPS and navigated into the marina and have finally found a safe place to lick my wounds before continuing on South. So I'm going to be here and in cell range for at least a few days while I fix the mainsail, caulk my caprail to keep the boat from leaking while beating and clean out my fuel tank. Peter and Brent are taking off and my Dad is coming down to crew with me the rest of the way down to San Francisco. I made a pretty classic newbie cruiser mistake by taking my boat out without doing sea trails and testing all the improvements I've made over this last 6 month push to get the boat ready. I can't thank Peter and Brent enough for putting up with everything and never complaining once during the last week of one problem after the next. Hopefully the sea trials are done and I can look forward to some smoother sailing in the future.

Sorry but I was too busy fixing the boat to take pictures, so no new pics until after the bar crossing. Here's the view of scenic Newport:
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September 10, 2006

Leaving Bellingham

Well I made it off the dock on my scheduled departure date of September 7th. I didn't have anything stored and my Dad and Peter were doing projects up to the last minute while I was out grocery shopping, but I got off the dock and I'm on my way. Here's a picture of the interior a few hours before leaving:

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and one on the way out:

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So Peter and I made it out to Cypress Head on Thursday night and the had a great sail with the tides beating into 10-15 knot winds all the way to Port Townsend. Our job for the day was to come up with a name to anthropomorphise my Monitor Steering Vane. The current front runner is Lord Steersington, the 17th Earl of Steerage on Tyne. I know it's a little bit long, but it's got a nice ring to it. Anyway, here's a picture of my buzzing the Lady Washington on our way into Port Townsend:

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The anchorage in Port Townsend was packed, deep and rolly, so after hitting the Wooden Boat Festival we weighed anchor and sailed down near Port Hadlock for the night and met up with Jeffery, Christine and Aaron on the David B for a great Pesto dinner.

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We took off this morning at 7:00 to catch the outgoing tide on the Strait of Juan De Fuca. There was no wind and the Strait was glass calm, so we motored all the way to Port Angeles. The weather is looking pretty good for tomorrow, so we'll try to catch the tide at 6:20 and make it out to Neah Bay. The weather is also looking pretty benign off the coast, so hopefully we'll be on our way South on Tuesday morning.

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Well the coffee shop I'm in is closing so I need to get this posted. I probably won't get internet access untill we hit San Francisco in 10 days or so. I'll try to get another post off then.