Saturday, June 25, 2011

Much Needed Rest

The Happy Crew

Paul, Mike and Don

Mexico to Seattle - Day Forty, THE END (And the Beginning)

It is 2030 on Friday, June 24th. Position 48 deg 05.2 min north 122 deg 40.3 min west. We just past Port Townsend and expect to be in Shilshole Marina by 0400 on Saturday. A very long voyage with no major injuries and no major equipment failures. I would like to reflect on a few of the memorable events. First the crew. When the crew was assembled, it was not by any design. Kirk Hackler is a person I respect and had worked with previously, so I was delighted he was able to help as long as he was able. After that it was somewhat rag-tag. The Puget Sound Cruising Club was notified through Judy Naismith resulting in several possible candidates. In the end, Don Van Valkenburg who has a similar vessel was enlisted. He has been very dependable as a sailor but was also very good in the galley. One of the most helpful members was Ralph Hemphill who marketed himself in the La Cruz Marina with a rather unprofessional note on the bulletin board. I was impressed with his single handed sailing lifestyle and his ability to speak Spanish fluently. He and I spent a long time dealing with difficult sailing conditions without an auto pilot. We got the job done and I am so thankful he was the other guy on board. Through a cruiser met during the voyage south, Andrew on "Windsong", I was introduced to Paul Grossman in Florida. Paul has several sailing experiences on the west coast from California to Washington and he was available for the legs from San Diego to Seattle. Thankfully, he has a great sense of humor and stories to tell because we have now spent a lot of time together and it has been fun. Paul is always willing to do the unpleasant tasks, such as foredeck work in a seaway, and he has learned a few new things along the way - AIS and Furuno NavNet2 technologies. His knowledge of ports along the way became very helpful. Finally, my brother, Peter who has never joined me in a sailing adventure. He fit right in and carried his load. That part of the trip from San Diego to San Francisco went so quickly, I don't know if he got short changed or was just lucky. And finally Nita, who provided logistic support and helped get "Odessa" prepared for the voyage. I suspect her biggest challenge was the absence of boat, home, and husband for nearly a month and a half. The boat and husband will be resolved in a few hours. The home may take longer. To those who sent messages of encouragement - Frosty and Judy - and got no reply, the thoughts were welcomed and appreciated.
The big issue was the W-H Auto Pilot which had no maintenance for fifteen years and got a little beaten up during the voyage. Wil Ham the designer, builder and customer support for the equipment was on top of it. He put it back together making it better than new and got it to me with only a single day interruption. I wish all of the equipment had such great support. While I am talking equipment, the Aqua Signal Navigation lights failed twice in Mexico and, I discovered last night, that they failed again. There has got to be a way to keep water out of a light fixture under real sailing conditions.
In fact the really big issue was the conditions. Nine of the forty days were spent at the dock/hook. Five of those days were weather related. Many of the days underway were so challenging that our knots made good per hour could have been walked easier and faster. As previously warned, the wind was always on the nose. Except for yesterday and today, that was correct. It is wonderful that we ended the voyage on such an agreeable note.
I am glad to have this journey behind me and the daily writings will not be missed either. Thanks for joining me/us along the way.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Thirty-Nine

We are roughly 50 miles from the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Position at 2100 is 47 deg 35.7 min north 124 deg 33.6 min west. Synopsis - we covered as many miles in half a day as we normally cover in a full day, over 70 miles. It helps having westerly winds, good visibility and calm seas and continue to motor sail. We are sailing as a cutter with Yankee and Storm Staysail and have shaken a reef out of the main leaving it double reefed. We are not too excited. But, we did cook a chocolate cake. We expect to be in the straits about day break. The weather report indicates westerly winds beginning at 10 to 15 increasing in the afternoon to 15 to 25. A down wind sail on the last day? There is a really good chance that these reports will end tomorrow. Until then.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Thirty-eight

Optimism has overcome me. Our position 45 deg 14.7 min north 124 deg 02.9 min west at 1930 on Wednesday, June 22nd. The wind is less than ten knots (on the nose) and the seas are modest and will probably improve this evening. Only 60 miles to the Washington/Oregon border and another 135 to the Race Rocks buoy at the entrance to the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Our goal is four knots per hour which would put is in the Straits in two days. Then, 125 nautical miles to Seattle. Of course, there are upsides and downsides. At this time, the weather looks really good for an anticipated arrival of Saturday night or Sunday morning. Today, we stopped in at Newport, Oregon for fuel. Changed the oil, Don got his shower, and Paul got his Rogue River beer. Back on the road in less than three hours. A final fuel stop will be Neah Bay or Port Angeles which ever works best time wise. We still have plenty of food. Sadly, Don's stash of Trader Joe's chocolate (the really good stuff) has been consumed. Paul redeemed himself completely tonight with a beautiful and tasty preparation of chicken, fresh vegetables and MASHED POTATOES. Eating has become our major form of entertainment. We now have had two great days in a row. Until tomorrow.

Mexico to Seattle - Day Thirty-seven

Position is 48 deg 50.8 min north 124 deg 16.2 min west; time is 1800. It appears that we have made 75 plus miles in the past 24 hours. The Yankee went up around midnight and we have maintained five knots plus since. The seas have calmed significantly. What a difference a day makes. We are about 47 miles from Newport which is our next stop. Today, has been noted with overcast and some fog. As evening approaches, the weather is clearing. Biggest event of the day was a vegetable, noodle and chicken soup prepared by Chef Don. All for today.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Thirty-Six

Bashing in Oregon. Time is 1800 and location is 42 deg 34.6 min north 124 deg 34.0 min west. We are making 3.5 knots, the winds are 25/30 and the seas not too bad, but the boat is wet. At approximately 0130 we finally crossed the Oregon/California border. Since then, we have traveled 50 miles or more but are only 35 miles north of the border. This due to tacking. The winds and seas were very pleasant this morning allowing for good progress. As the day progressed, the wind and seas increased making tacking angles less desirable. Tonight, we expect the cycle to repeat itself. Presently, we are motor sailing with triple reefed main. To make things go a little faster, we have decided to put up the Yankee (which can be done by one person) as soon as conditions allow. When more hands are available, we will raise the staysail and adjust the sail plan as needed during the day. The coast line so far has been a series of capes and other projections. Tonight, we will round Cape Blanco after which the coast line smooths out. Our next port of call will be Newport, 125 miles north. Hopefully, Wednesday. There we will refuel and change the oil. Hoping that summer brings us speedier sailing.