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cast off

Sausalito, California - Sept 27

What a thrill (and relief) to pass under the Golden Gate Bridge and enter San Fransicso once again! Although Dave had named our GPS route Hell Trip 2006, it was certainly not a repeat of Hell Trip 1988 when we limped into Bodega Bay with broken steering and a long list of other damage. This trip down the coast was much easier. We attribute this to taking the coast route - doing some harbor hopping interspersed with overnight passages - which allowed us to recuperate, fix boat problems, and get good weather reporting before going on.

Fort Bragg (Noyos) was a typical stop. We did laundry, then Dave rebedded a leaking foreward hatch and Jan rebuilt the head. There are always chores to do in every port.

While in Fort Bragg, we had a great visit from Jan's Dad and Isabel, on their way home from the Reno Air Show. What a treat to have family come to us. We also rented a car to dash to San Fransico one day to catch son Joel. Joel and his friends took us to the Folsom Leather Festival. I can't post those pictures, but we enjoyed a San Francisco experience.

Back in Noyos, we secured the boat for sea again, checked NOAA weather, and set off in light southerly winds. Another overnight motoring in calm seas, and we passed under the Golden Gate with no fog. Schoonmaker Marina gave us a quiet berth for 3 nights.

Our adventures continue... San Franciso to San Diego

Noyos River, California - Sept 19

Noyos River Entrance

We set out from Newport Oregon with 10-15 knots forecast from the South, encouraged that it was slated to clock around to the West by afternoon. Not so! We pounded under reefed main and motored for 12 hours into bumpy seas and gusts to 24 knots on the nose. Late that evening, the winds dropped to about 10 knots, and shifted to the North.

We had planned to stop in Coos Bay or Cresent City, but encouraged by the light winds, we motor-sailed on for 2 nights, past notorious Cape Mendacino, and continued on toward Fort Bragg, and the Noyos River Basin. On the 3rd day, well South of Cape Mendacino, the Northerlies filled back in and we were flying with reefed sails, another wild and bumpy ride. This made for a fast trip to the Noyo River Entrance.

Noyo River is located by an offshore buoy, then red and green buoys bordering toothy rocks you must thread carefully to enter the narrow breakwater channel, dredged to 9 feet. This means we have all of 3 feet of water under our keel, and hope the swells rolling in are less than that so we don't touch bottom.

Once inside we were charmed by the picturesque river. Round a couple turns, we found the fishing harbor and a quiet berth, most welcome after a tiring passage.

Now we will wait out a strong northerly blow - gale force winds to 40 knots - before making the final run into San Francisco later this week. During the days we walk along the cliffs watching the huge seas crash onto the shore, happy to be in a safe port.

Newport, Oregon - Sept 12

Yaquina Bay - Newport Sea Lions

Another rolly night's passage brought us to Yaquina Bay and the town of Newport, Oregon. The autopilot worked perfectly, making for an easy passage, although ship's cat Opal got seasick. Jan saw the green flash at sunset.

The bar crossing was easy, though breakers pounded the north jetty and blew spumes across our bow. We tied up at the Port of Newport marina, and enjoyed showers, laundry and a 14 hour sleep.

Newport Commercial Harbor

Today was our 36th anniversary. Where do the years go? We tossed the dinghy in the water an explored Newport. Fun town, great shops and restaurants, barking sea lions, Tillamook ice cream. We will stay one more day, while a gale to the south plays out.

Westport! Sept 5

Westport - working harbor

The marina took pity on us and is charging weekly rates while we replace our broken autopilot. The autopilot is like cruise control in a car, but instead of maintaining speed actually steers the boat to a compass course, allowing the chilled helmsperson to huddle out of the night wind with a cup of hot tea. It makes the difference between a pleasant night passage and a mild ordeal.

We could have gone on without it, but elected to park here in the inexpensive marina while we have access to Dave's cousin's workshop and tools. It is not a trivial install and Dave has already spent the last week twisted like a pretzel in the cramped lazarette (apt biblical reference to a coffin). Meanwhile Jan has unfolded a bicycle, enjoyed the beach trail to the lighthouse, visited the museum and biked to a grocery. Dave is beginning to feel our distribution of duties is inequitable.

Cousin Bob and his wife Julie introduced us to the great beach trail. We stuffed the backpack with hats, gloves, fleeces and jackets, and hiked to the Westport Lighthouse on a rare 85 degree day.

The septuagenarian lighthouse volunteer led us at a spritely pace up the 7 flights to the class 3 Fresnel lens.

Westport Lighthouse stairs

Westport Lighthouse Lens

The volunteer explained that the decommissioned lens has to be shrouded in drapes to keep it from starting brush fires on the surrounding dunes.

The replacement lens is a tiny lamp about the size of my thumbnail, but still visible 15 miles out at sea.

We also visited the Maritime Museum which houses the Class 1 Fresnel lens from Destruction Island. From the sea, each lighthouse has its own colors and pattern of flashes, marked on our charts, for identification. For years we assumed the lights flashed on and off, and only recently learned that the great lens turns slowly, and the flash we see far out at sea is the moment of focus from the lens bullseye.

The Museum hosted its 60th annual Seafood Fest over Labor Day weekend. Hoards of happy tourists showed up. Now they are gone, and the busy harbor is back to its bread and butter industry, fishing.

Tuna Tote Loading

Westport August 26

Cape Flattery and Tatoosh Island

We motored out the Straits of Juan de Fuca, happy to have the rare 10 hours of no winds and small swells. Reaching Neah Bay, we anchored for a quiet night. Around us, canoe teams practiced for the Makah Days races.

Around noon on the 25th we pulled anchor. Dave has run the jacklines, and everything is finally secured. We again motored in very light winds and patchy fog out to our waypoint beyond Tatoosh Island.

Our first overnight passage was calm and rolly in light winds and more fog. Just before sunset the fog lifted, allowing us to see the seaward side of the Olympic mountains. Like seeing the dark side of the moon! A California Brown Pelican circled the boat.

The autopilot misbehaved, requiring us to hand steer our 3 hour watches. Early this morning as we approached the busy fishing port of Westport we both watched out for traffic, and were happy to have our GPS/navigation system and radar working well. Dave called the Coast Guard for a current bar report, and we came in with no problems, just as the fog finally lifted.

All is well. There is daily maintenance as we work out the boat systems. Opal, ship's cat does not have her sea legs yet, but we seem to be finding ours.

Sunset at Sea

Port Angeles - August 20

Hooray!!!We finally cast off from Edmonds on Monday, August 14. Jan's brother and father were there to hand us our lines and film our departure.

It is so nice to be finally underway, although we only went to Port Townsend. Our main emotion is relief, to have broken free, after intense months of preparation.

Port Townsend Party

In Port Townsend we tied up in Point Hudson Marina. Over the next 4 days we had a lot of visitors, family and friends who drove up to wine and dine us, and "wave a hankie". The PT days allowed us to decompress, and enjoy these goodbye visits. We are so grateful to have the love and support of our families and friends.

Niece Emily helped Jan install snaps on the boom gallows for a new bimini top.

First Mate Emily

New Spin Drifter

We picked up our new spin drifter from Port Townsend Sails - a gorgeous thing, with more square footage than our house! Carol Hasse and Megan (light sail maker) generously came out for an afternoon testing the spinnaker, advising us on how to fly and snuff it, and how to trim our main and genoa, also made by PT Sails. It was a thrill to fly the jazzy new spinnaker, and see our boat making 5 knots in 6 of wind.

Carol confirmed that our forestay was set too loose, so we stayed one extra day in PT, and with advice and parts from Port Townsend Rigging, removed an extra toggle to shorten the stay and cut down the Profurl brackets to shorten the furling system.

Carol Hasse advising

A Hard Life, underway to Port Angeles

PT is a delightful port, but after 5 days we felt itchy to move on. We motored out against a flood tide but no wind toward Port Angeles. Within a few miles Dave noticed the regulator on the alternator had failed and we had runaway output. Stopping and restarting the engine seemed to reset it, but after the problem kept recurring, Dave took the alternator out of the system. Now we will spend an extra night here in Port Angeles repairing the alternator. We also discovered a seawater leak from an anti-siphon valve in the galley. This has been there for some time and can be fixed later.

Neither of us is discouraged by this series of problems. This is all part of cruising. We have just traded our land problems with water ones. We are both feeling happy overall in the boat, very comfortable and confident.

Weather is holding - lovely sunny days and light winds. Plan now is to turn the corner at Cape Flattery and run overnight down to Grays Harbor, if the weather remains fair.

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