D E M E N T E D P E N G U I N . N E T

June 23, 2018

Boat trip – day 20

Filed under: boat trip — admin @ 12:10 am

It took 15 days to get through California and only 3 days to get through Oregon. We have arrived in Westport Wa.

We left at 6:10 directly into rush hour. We got out of the channel into a lot of choppy water that I was hoping was from all the boats, but eventually figured out it was from the 10 knot head wind. We played crab pot roulette, made it out a few miles, then turned north. This was an unusual trip for us since we don’t actually know where we are going to end up for the night. But as I always tell my wife, we’ll figure it out (she loves it when I do that).

At about 3 hours in I realized we were somehow 15 miles out so I headed in towards shore. We got to about 6 miles away from shore and things got a bit smoother. Surprisingly no whale sightings yet, the area between Depot Bay and Lincoln City is known for that.

About 6 hours in things turned almost smooth again and we were nearing Oceanside. We passed our new friends on the Gus Stuga under sail about an hour before then. They hailed us on the radio and we had a brief chat. They are good people and I hope to see them again someday.

Since we hadn’t decided where exactly we were going, I’d been reading up on how/when to enter the Columbia River bar, which sounds scary but can be not too bad if entered at the right time (so I’ve read). We passed Tillamook Bay with a little trepidation because it meant we were committing to either Ilwaco or Westport – both of which were scary thoughts. We decided on Westport because of the tides. We would have to wait 5 hours for slack tide to enter the Columbia River, or go the 5 hours to Westport. Sorry Dave, but we won’t be visiting you tonight.

Around the mouth of the Columbia it got very warm, probably because we have an enclosed flybridge and the sun was out. This western Washington boy doesn’t do heat very well, but I’ll take it as long as the weather holds. At 12 hours in the depth sounder kept going offline and beeping. An hour later it finally stopped, but 20 minutes later it started again…. It was about that time that it started getting colder. That could just be from the lack of sleep and food (except for water and a snickerdoodle), but who knows. I didnt want to eat because I was already having a hard time keeping my eyes open.

We made it to the channel market at 8pm but the channel is very long, so it took us another 45 minutes to get to the dock. I registered for the moorage online and had a chit-chat back and forth with the marina via email. I told them twice that I was going to be arriving between 9 and 10pm. When I asked about the key for the bathroom and showers I was told to stop by the office and pick it up. I got to the office and it was closed so I called the number on the door and left a voicemail. I didn’t expect a call back but thought it was worth a try. Not too happy about that.

We may have met our next adventure buddies, they helped us dock tonight, are going to the same marina tomorrow, and have been very friendly. I’m not a particularly social guy, but even I enjoy this newfound community feeling amongst boaters.

I cant believe we didnt see a single whale today. We’re off to Neah Bay tomorrow, maybe we’ll see some killer whales. I just hope I get more sleep tonight – 4.5 hours of sleep and a 15 hour trip is a bit exhausting.

June 22, 2018

Boat trip – day 19

Filed under: boat trip — admin @ 12:14 am

This morning we “slept in” and left the dock at 8am. We were told the night before that the fuel dock opened at 8am, but when I looked out the window at 7:30 they were already open. Fwiw, the dock is open from 7:30 to 2:30 the fuel guy told us. He was a super nice and social person, and the fuel was the cheapest of the trip so far at $3.27 a gallon (apparently the locals complain that it’stoo expensive). We left the fuel dock at 8:30 which was way later than we wanted to since it’s an 8 hour haul to Newport and the weather starts to turn around 2pm. Seas were calm and there was no fog (finally) when we left – a good start to another leg of the trip.

There was a bit of a head wind all day at around 5-7 knots which caused some small ripples across the top of the water but nothing impactful. We cruised much of the day at about 12 knots and made good time. We are in dead head territory (floating logs) so I have to stay extra diligent. The sightings will start to increase the further north we go.

About 5 hours in the wind shifted little more from the west but still at about 5 knots. Anything 8 or above starts to be uncomfortable depending which direction it’s coming from. Head on is not too bad, from the rear is the worst and from the side is in between from my experience so far on this adventure.

We made it to Newport about an hour ahead of schedule. It was somewhat of a homecoming since I used to live just 20 miles north of here in Lincoln City. This harbor is literally the farthest south in Oregon I had ever been before this trip and it’s the first port since Santa Barbara that I am familiar with. I’ve been to San Francisco many times in my life but haven’t ever had anything to do with the marinas there, so that doesn’t count. Coming into the channel I felt like a battleship surrounded by a bunch of gnats as there were no less than 50 16-24′ boats that passed me on my way in all going at least 30 mph. The guest dock was right next to the fuel dock and it was like In-n-Out during peak dining time – there was a line of these boats hovering waiting to get fuel. Turns out that today was opening day for a 3 day halibut window, so the harbor is packed with all these small fishing boats. I finally found a gap in the fuel line, we got fueled up, got the last space available for the night on the guest dock and finished our dock side chores. We ate at the Rogue Brewery which was pretty decent.

Since Bodega Bay we have been docking every night in the same marinas as a sailboat (name is Gus Stuga). Since we keep ending up in the same place, we have gotten to know them a bit and tonight we joined them on their friends boat for a little wine and conversation. They have a lot of knowledge about our boat and engines and have given us a lot of advice. This social aspect of long distance boating is something I’ve read about while doing research for this trip, but now I’ve experienced it myself and it has been really cool to participate in that part of boating culture. Unfortunately tonight is the last we will probably see them, even though they are still heading in the same direction we are (Alaska). They are going to Girabaldi tomorrow (60ish miles) and we are shooting for either Ilwaco (we have friends there, it’sabout 115 miles) or Westport (145 miles) if the weather cooperates. We hope to leave by 6am. Early mornings are the part of this kind of boating I don’t particularly care for….

June 20, 2018

Boat trip – day 18

Filed under: boat trip — admin @ 10:44 pm

We left right at 7am and had to negotiate the narrow channel and the large fishing boats. Headed out to the bay into thick fog again that was leaving moisture on the isinglass which made it hard to watch for crab pots. The water was beautiful again though – zero wind and smooth swells.

About 2.5 hours in we came across a crab pot out in 450′ of water outside the mouth of the Rogue River, which was very unexpected, then another around 330′, which is less unexpected, so we cut out towards deeper water. Going around crab pots really isn’t a big deal, as long as you see them in time. I get nervous when I don’t see them until we are passing them by 10 to 20 feet on either side. It actually happens more than I’d like. That’s what happened when we passed the one at 450′.

Had another brief encounter with a whale about 3.5 hours in. It was the same kind as before but about twice as big. Most of the time we just see random birds, everything from large flocks to lone birds no matter how far out we are. We had a few more sightings of whales, but they were all brief.

Our music selection has started to vary. Most of the trip has been country, the last two trips have been mostly rock, and today it’s been 90’s hip-hop. I’m trying to convince Bobb that we need to listen to yacht rock (70’s easy listening – Christopjer Cross, Hall and Oats, Michael McDonald kinda stuff) but so far he’s not going for it.

The bow flag didn’t move at all today, although I think there was a breeze from the south because the water wasn’t as smooth as yesterday and there were tiny whitecaps going in the same direction that we were. The ride was as smooth as yesterday so it had no impact on us. It did get a little rougher outside Bandon with a 9 kt wind from the SW, but after what we’ve been through it was still in the “semi-pleasant ride” category. The autopilot did a better job at keeping up with the waves, but more adjustments are needed to make it better.

About an hour before we got to Coos Bay the depth sounder kept losing connection and the alarm would go off about every 20 seconds. There was nothing we could do but listen to the shrill beeping. It finally stopped when we hit 285 feet of water. I have no idea why it randomly does that yet. Pulling in to Coos Bay Harbor I got a little lost but finally found the Charlston Marina and got checked in. Unfortunately the fuel dock closes at 2pm (what?!?) so we’ll be tied up and ready to pump at 8am when they open again. We have about an 8 hour run tomorrow up to Newport, but it starts to get unpleasant around 6 hours in. Should be fun – thanks fuel dock guy.

June 19, 2018

Boat trip – day 17

Filed under: boat trip — admin @ 11:18 pm

We left the slip at 8am and headed for the fuel dock since we got in after it closed last night. We left the fuel dock at 8:30 and were out of the harbor by 9am. I called the Brookings harbor to make sure I knew what to expect when we got there, now we were ready for the day. Today is going to be the first time we’ll be heading consistently due north the entire trip.

Nothing to see today but thick fog, probably about 100-200 feet of visibility at times, and as few as 50-75 at the worst of it (right after Crescent City), but the water was smooth so I’m not complaining at all. At about 4 hours in we came across probably 50 fishing trawlers in our path and had to go wide around them. Luckily the fog wasn’t bad at that point otherwise we wouldn’t have seen them until it was too late. None of them showed up on the radar or had AIS. I saw some small whales about 10 miles before Crescent City. Not sure what kind they were but they were black with small dorsal fins and about twice as big as a dolphin.

We made it to Brookings at 4:30, right about the same time as some of the commercial fishing boats. It’s a small marina and a very tight entrance so it was interesting to say the least. We eventually got to the guest dock and found that the fuel attendant was still there and so we were able to fill up. While Bobb was filling up the boat I went to register for the night. Finding the harbor office was a difficult adventure. When I got back to the boat I was greeted by two Coast Guard officers on the boat who were mid-inspection. Apparently they hailed me on VHF as “the white boat entering the harbor” to come in for an inspection. End result of the inspection – full pass, nothing found to be out of order. I was amazed. They seemed to be pretty surprised themselves.

No bathrooms or showers here, good thing the boat comes prepared for such an occasion. The guest dock seems to host more commercial boats than pleasure boats. I was really motivated to make it to Oregon otherwise I may have just stopped at Crescent City, which may or may not have been better. I guess I’ll never know.

The boat is starting to show the effects of the trip, it needs some serious love when we get it home. The canvas and isinglass need to be replaced, the wood redone, some gelcoat repairs, wash and wax, the engines thoroughly inspected and freshened up, and a serious deep cleaning inside. We have made some improvements along the way while trying to maximize the downtime due to weather. When we started out we were using the compass to keep us headed in the right direction, now the boat drives itself and I just need to watch out for obstacles.

This trip put us just slightly over half way at about 700nm out of 1350 total. Sure seems like we’ve gone a lot further with about 70 hours at the helm. Tomorrow will put us at 800. Looks like we have clear sailing until Saturday so we should be in Washington by then – finally.

Boat trip – day 16

Filed under: boat trip — admin @ 7:03 am

We left the dock at 6:52am and were met with beautiful seas that were flat with a slight breeze from the SW. The fog has been persistent during the last few trips, this was no exception. With only a couple hundred feet of visibility it’s very disorienting. So glad for modern electronics. In all this fog I started to see ghost images, things in the distance that looked like other ships or some kind of mass, and then it would disappear into nothingness. Very strange. Other than that, this was the absolute best water of the trip.

Before we started out this morning I tweaked the autopilot and dropped the hard over settings (time to max turn) from 10 seconds to 7 and set the response level to Performance from Cruising. I didnt have the chance to test if this improved anything though since the swells and wind were not a problem today.

About an hour after max low tide (3 hours in to the trip) we slowed down by 2 knots again, but the seas were still very calm and pleasant, 30 minutes after that we had gained back about 1 knot. A tailwind kicked up a little around Cape Mendocino, maybe 5 knots, but it was nothing that really affected the drive and it pushed us to over 12 knots. It was a welcome addition but only lasted a few minutes. Most of the trip we were in the 11-12 knot range. The water was so good that I considered making the additional 7 hour trip to Crescent City, but after a few nights of getting only 5 hours sleep I decided against it. We pulled in to Humboldt Bay at about 3:45 and about an hour ahead of schedule. The marina was a long way down the channel and took us another 30 minutes to get to.

We will keep making good progress as long as this weather holds. Tomorrow is supposed to be about as good.

June 18, 2018

Boat trip – day 15

Filed under: boat trip — admin @ 12:10 am

Two weeks have gone so far on this adventure and so little progress. At least we are now on a roll with the weather and should finish a few more legs of the trip over the next few days.

We left the dock at 7:10 and the water was perfect. I told Bobb that this was exactly what I had imagined the water was going to be like for the whole trip when I was planning it – how naive was I. Things were going great – a tail wind, cruising at 11.5 knots, and the swells were smooth. After about 2.5hrs we suddenly slowed down by 2 knots, it was almost immediate. I noticed that the smaller waves had reversed direction and were heading west with whitecaps, but no wind. How odd. After checking the tide tables the mystery was solved, we found out that we were just coming off max low tide and starting in on the start of high tide.

10 miles before Point Arena it started getting a little rougher but it wasn’t too bad. The autopilot had a hard time keeping us straight – as much as a 50 degree (total) sway side to side – so I’ll need to work on fine tuning it to turn more agressively. At about 5 miles from the point the whitecaps picked up, much like it had at Point Reves the day before. No problem, the swells and waves had died down about two miles past Point Reves during yesterday’s run, just had to be patient. Unlike yesterday, after Point Arena it didnt calm down like expected so we headed in towards shore in search of calmer water, and it was a bit better – for about 10 minutes. The combination of a 15 knot tail wind, swells off the port bow, and waves from the aft starboard made for an uncomfortable ride. I had to disengage the autopilot because it couldn’t keep up. Looking at Windy I could see that the wind died down further out so I tried to head for that. The waves in our path to the calmer water were beating us up pretty bad so I decided to give up and head back north and just stick it out. It was stressful and frustrating. After about another hour it finally calmed down enough to set the autopilot again and I could relax a bit.

We made it to Fort Bragg/Noyo River by 3:15 and headed up the river. If you’ve ever watched Overboard there were several scenes filmed here and I recognized it right away from the movie. I have no idea how they got that boat into the harbor since the entrance is narrow and the channel isn’t deep. When we came in it was high tide and it was as low as 15′ in some areas. We needed to fuel up to be ready for the morning departure so we headed up the river to the only fuel dock at Dolphin Isle. The river got as low as 3.5′ in some places, and there were sunken boats and fallen trees in the water. When we got to the marina the entrance was only about 20′ wide and was tricky to get through with our 14.5′ beam, but we did it without hitting anything. The lady who works there was super nice (I didn’t catch her name). We asked about getting a slip but after realizing it was high tide and the river had been just 3.5′ in some places we decided to head back down river to the Noyo Marina for the night. The water here is so calm and the boat is completely still, it’s a vast difference to the turbulent marina we stayed at in San Francisco. If you visit here by boat, be sure to bring food as there’s not much that’s easily accessible. There’s a Subway, three pizza places, and a grocery store all in the same complex about a half mile away, a McDonalds about 5 blocks past that, but other than that its about a 30-40 minute walk to a restaurant.

In honor of the town we watched Overboard tonight, and saw several things in the movie that we had passed on our way up the river. It looks like the marina were staying in wasn’t built yet when the movie was filmed.

We leave in the morning for Humbolt Bay (Eureka). So far we’ve gone about 520 miles out of the 1300. We’ll almost be halfway after tomorrow’s trip….almost…and only a week left of my vacation. Tomorrow is the last stop in California for us.

June 16, 2018

Boat trip – day 14

Filed under: boat trip — admin @ 8:29 pm

Got up at 6:40, showered, did engine checks, then set out at 8am since it was a short trip ahead of us. I had made the decision to forego getting fuel yesterday because I felt we had more than enough to make the trip. When I started up the boat tho the guage said it was just above 1/4 full, so we headed to the fuel dock – which didnt open until 9. Fortunately the kind lady came by at 8:30, got us fueled up, and we were on our way by 9. The trip out the SF channel was pretty rough, but smoothed out a little when we turned NW after the last of the channel buoys. The waves and swells were all over the place and the bow was swinging a lot, by about 25 degrees most of the time but the wind was nominal so it wasn’t bad. We were shrouded in fog that left about 1-2 miles of visibility for most of the way until we got just outside Bodega, then it dropped down to about a quarter mile. We had a brief show from some small whales but not enough to get some pictures, one was only about 30 feet to port.

We got to Point Reves and the swells started picking up again, but once we were about 2 miles past they calmed down a lot and were only about half the size they had been around the point. Dodging several crabpots, and almost running over two of them, we made it to Spud Harbor Marina, topped off the tank, and got us a slip for the night. We ate at the only local restaurant and did some laundry. Now its engine check time and then chill for the rest of the night.

The worst thing about today was that I forgot to put the oil fill caps back on this morning so there was oil sprayed all over the engine room. I am not a morning person….but I won’t forget to do that again. 87 miles to Fort Bragg tomorrow, now we’re picking up some momentum finally.

Boat trip – day 13

Filed under: boat trip — admin @ 8:32 am

We went out and loaded up on oil and a few other supplies. After carying the 11 gallons of oil the half mile back to the boat we decided to just take it easy until Mom was off work. When we met up with her at 3:00 we went out for Chinese food, then went to the bar next door. We were probably at the bar far too long, and finished too much wine, but we had a great time. On our way back to the boat we stopped off at In-n-Out and made the poor decision to load up on more food.

We were tired and buzzed when we got back to the boat and decided to do the engine checks and oil top off in the morning. Now that it’s morning, that may not have been the best idea. The other bad idea was to wait to fuel up when we get to Bodega Bay, but when I started up the engine this morning I saw that the fuel level was about 1/3 full, and I dont know how accurate it is. We’re waiting at a fuel dock now, they don’t open for another 30 minutes which is why I’m updating this now. In a way this is a bit of a good thing since its max low tide and we dont want to go out though the channel when its max low.

June 14, 2018

Boat trip – day 12

Filed under: boat trip — admin @ 9:05 pm

Today was almost perfect conditions for the trip. The swells were up, and the cross waves were making us sway a lot, but there was little to no wind. The only part that wasn’t optimal was all the crab pots we had to watch out for. Some crab pot markers are easier to see than others, but some are so covered in growth that they look black, we almost ran right over two of them. We made the 64 mile trip in 7 hours and the autopilot did 90% of the driving. We wanted to time it so we would be entering the channel at high tide to avoid any sandbar or reef issues, which we were successful at doing, but the channel is really well marked so it wasn’t as treacherous as some people have made it out to be.

It was really cool to enter San Francisco under the Golden Gate bridge. This is something I never thought I’d do. If it wasn’t for the weather issues north of SF we were just going to blow by and head to Bodega but now we get to spend two nights here, see my Mom, and be tourists for a bit. We are staying at Pier 39 – the people are great, the restrooms/showers are probably the best so far, but the docks are pretty rickety, there are sealions everywhere, and there is a lot of current. I highly recommend snubbers or two different sized dock lines to act as snubbers if you bring a boat to SF. Our boat is constantly moving all around the slip in a fast and jerky motion and the snubbers took some of the harsh edges off the motion.

Tomorrow we go to the fuel dock and the pumpout station, then lunch with Mom.

June 13, 2018

Boat trip – day 11

Filed under: boat trip — admin @ 9:57 pm

After checking Windy today we confirmed our plan to head to San Francisco tomorrow. We decided to head across the bay to Santa Cruz to save us an additional 21 miles tomorrow. After making a few calls we finally found a slip, fueled up (215 gallons!), and headed across.

It started out great – no wind, the swells were big but just rolling along nice and smooth. About 10 miles into it though the dreaded wind and larger swells started picking up and before we knew it things had gotten nasty again. As we learned yesterday, we picked our spot between the waves, which wasn’t easy since they were very close together, and turned towards shore. 10 minutes later things were much smoother and the wind had died down. it took us 3 hours to make the 21 mile run (we had to make two jogs back towards shore) but we made it and are now ready to make the 7 hour trip tomorrow.

We’ll be hanging out until Saturday (iirc) since the weather is supposed to turn to crap north of the bay at about 2-3 tomorrow afternoon and stay that way until Saturday. We may just head to Bodega Bay then, or if things are as smooth as they look like they will be, maybe For Bragg.

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