Anchored out at Pord Maddison

Yesterrday morning I was up and out of Port Ludlow relatively early.  It’s a deep-ish anchorage there, some 52′ down to the bottom.  Gotta hope there are no old logging cables on the seabed as there are a lot of those around here left over from the way long ago logging days and anchors are good at finding them.  Anchor came up no problem.

A relatively short 21 miles was left to arrive at Port Maddison – that’s where I wanted to get to as Kristen is flying today and my brother is in the area, will be fun to visit with everyone for the long July 4 holiday weekend.  Water was flat, wind close to nonexistent, and pulled in to Port Maddison early afternoon. 

There’s a community dock here, so I tied up there for a short while, got the dinghy together and assembled on the foredeck, then shoved off to drop the hook in the little inlet that is Port Maddison. 

This morning I have discovered something that is even more annoying than big powerboats running their generators at night: lawn mowers!  It seems that everyone has decided to mow their lawn this morning, and there more than a few lawns here to be mowed.  It was pretty funny to look about and see all the different shapes and sizes of lawn mowers that people have, and they all buzz away in their own particularly octave.  I wonder if one could write a Symphony 50:1 Mix for Riding Mower and then perform it annually at an outdoor amphitheatre built around a field, using different grass cutting devices to produce different sounds.  Something that one should probably not tackle, as I suspect reception would be less than enthusiastic unless you were, say, a John Deere officionado.

This morning has been boat cleaning up and organising, and I will be headed in to the beach in a while to go look for critters along the rocky beach – might be some earwigs in there that could be of interest.

And on the good news front, TMobile finally came through with their unlock code for my Samsung Note 2 – now I can be rid of TMobile.  Nasty company to do business with, and that’s over.  Even my tiny SIM card from the AT&T company works in the device, and I suddenly have a fancier phone to use.

- rob


Tiger Beetle arrive in Port Ludlow this fine evening

It’s way up north here in the Pacific Northwest (though we’re actually in the Pacific North East – the north west would be somewhere Valadivostok, Russia), and this means that evenings are real short and days are real long.  It’s roughly 7pm and there’s something like 3-1/2 hours of daylight left, and then the sun will be back up bright and shiny super early like tomorrow morning.  I wonder why the earth wobbles on it’s axis?

Beetle and I deparated Westsound Marina on Orcas Island this morning after a brief pit stop at the food store to fetch some foods.  Mom dropped me off at the marina, the idea being that my automobile would not occupy one of the few spaces available in the small-ish gravel-top parking lot that Ian has set aside for the boat-folk to use.

There’s a High up overhead and that means sun, which is a fine thing up this way as it is super green with trees and super green implies super wet, and it is by most standards.  Nice to have sun and dry and mostly  clear skies.  And being under the ‘H’ means no wind, which there isn’t.  Nice motor over at relatively low RPMs in the flat water of Puget Sound, listening to the dulcet tones of the US Coast Guard hailing repeatedly the boat with the bent propeller, after the operator of the boat with the bent propeller discovered that you don’t start with ‘Breaker Breaker’ on VHF 16, you don’t go in where the little dots and asterisks are on the chart (‘there are rocks here!’) and he also discovered that he doesn’t know what 22A or 83A means – so all of the conversation has been happening on VHF 16.  Friendly person, though, didn’t seem too bent out of shape over not moving once he’d had rediscovered the rocks with his propeller.

Port Ludlow is a bit more than half way to Bainbridge Island from where I started, and that makes this a convenient and most pleasant place to pull over and stop for the night.  It’s extra calm in this small bay, there’s a marina off to port that doesn’t even need a breakwater – that’s how protected this place is.

All is well is the world of Beetle, other than observing the chain stripper fall off the windlass whilst lowering the anchor and chain.  That was a novel thing to see, at least the chrome-plated bronze casting elected to fall into the anchor locker rather than overboard, it wasn’t bent, and I even found the two large metric machine screws that had abandoned their duty of holding the stripper in place (the screws were hiding, one in the coils of chain remaining in the locker, the other was found sneaking around the font of the locker after I had removed all the chain on to the deck – I caught the little bugger and reinstalled him).  Perhaps I need to use some loctite red on them!

- rob


In the San Juan Islands

As a quick note, Beetle has arrived happily in the San Juan Islands, having departed Alameda in San Francisco Bay at 2AM Thursday morning – we were at Cape Flattery Tuesday at 8:30AM – that’s a reasonably quick run up the coast.

The only real issue was not so clean fuel received from the fuel dock in Humboldt Bay; I was able to purchase a bunch of 2 micron fuel filter elements for the Racor fuel filter while at Newport, Oregon – and used two off those filters to get the 40 hours up the coast to Cape Flattery.

John has headed home, Kristen is hanging out here on island ffor a bit, and there’s lots of laundry to do.

Will write more later, and go through the photos to pull out the more interesting ones.

It was a nice run up the coast, starting at La Cruz in Banderas Bay; and it’s been nice to step off the water here in the San Juan Islands, a whole bunch of miles to the north!

- rob

Monday afternoon, passisng Gray’s Harbor, 100 milse to Cape Flattery

It’s been a super pleasant day today as Beetle tools along smoothly through the flat water off the coast; breeze has held at 0-10 knots from the NE and N, swell is running at 1-2′, and wind waves are on the order of six inches – makes for kindly traveling conditions.

The three of us have been taking turns hanging out in the cockpit to soak up the sunshine, read books, and tell stories. John’s Nikon camera lens has magically come back to life after several years of having the autofocus mechanism not work – now it works and he’s amazed! Kristen has been feeling better, brought Fred (the big beanbag chair) up to the cockpit and has been mountain-peak-spotting. I’ve been reading, along with resting/napping and keeping track of fuel usage – so far I’ve run two of the jerry jugs into the port tank as the port tank is the easier of the two tanks to fill, and we’re doing fine at this engine RPM.

There has been very little marine life visible out here, apart from the Murres and gulls. We did have a couple of people-related events today, namely a huge number of triple-float crab pots set SE of the Columbia River, and the case of the mysterious drifting bulk carrier. The crab pots were set in 450-500′ of water, which is real deep in the world of crab pots, and there were hundreds of the floats set about the place. There was also a longline flag that we saw, and then beyond the flag and pots was a great big blue fishing boat- at 100 foot or longer it looked like the kind of boat that would have set tons of pots out here. I called him the radio, he answered, and told me that we were seeing either crab pots or long lines, and either way the gear was not on the surface and therefore don’t be worried about running into any lines. There miles and miles and miles of pot floats! We only actually deviated course for two of them, which was not so bad.

And the Columbia River is a pretty busy port, lots of traffic in and out, including big full size container ships. We went by to the west of the pilot area, and watched on the AIS, and then later just by looking over the bow, a giant bulk carrier that didn’t seem to be doing much – circles, perhaps? – at speeds reported via AIS to be 0.2 knots. I called up the Zambesi and they told me they were drifting, I told them I would avoid them, and they were pleased I was not asking them to turn on their engine and move out of the way. So we got to motor right by their bow and got some fun pictures of their ship.

It’s now around 6pm and we’re organizing our gear after a decadent day of lounging in the sun, in preparation for running tonight. Fred’s bag has been put away, food bags are stowed, shoes have been put in their places so we don’t trip on them, and foulies and tethers and hats are being arranged so they can be found in the dark. Tonight should be our last night-run on this trip, and it would be good to go through the night uneventfully; at the rate we’re traveling we should be around Cape Flattery in the daylight tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, and then carry on to Port Angeles by early evening.

- rob

Monday morning at sea – Columbia River coming up

That was a mister toad’s wild ride for the first 6 hours after departing Newport Harbor last night. We had cleared the harbor entrance with the last of the sunlight at 8pm, straight into 20 knots from the north – exactly where we wanted to go. The wind would not have been so bad, but it had been blowing out there all day long and had generated a wicked 3-4′ chop and we started to pound the moment we turned onto course 351True from ther harbor’s outer buoy. After a few minutes of this, which mostly involved banging into a steep wave and lifting up most of that wave onto the foredeck and watching the water come rolling down the deck and into the cockpit (plus a couple of deeper waves that rolled up and over the dodger) we turned west 20 degrees and slowed the boat down in an effort to get away from the coast and the crab pots and not to bang directly into the chop.

Kristen doesn’t do well in these conditions and promptly got seasick and emptied her stomach contents into a ziplock baggie she had in her hand expressly for that purpose, then managed to get some sleep in. John took firs7t watch, I took second watch, and we tacked back towards the coast when we were 11 miles offshore. The NWSforecast called for stronger wind from the north outside and lighter wind inside – so we headed back inshore after going through a 50 degree tack (motorsailing with the third reef up). The swell was negligible, but the chop kept up slow and wet.

About 2AM Kristen was back up feeling much better and stood her watch, and I kept running fresh fuel into the daytank with an idea to keep the fuel level higher in case there was in fact something going on with debris in the tank and keeping fuel high would lessen the sloshing effect in the tank. I have no idea if that helped, but the fuel filter I swapped into place in Newport harbor is working perfectly, 0 vacuum, and we’re continuing to make good time moving along at 2000 RPM.

And now I’ve just woken up, it’s 8AM Monday morning and we’re running at 6.8 knots through glassy conditions with a bit of left over motion about 29 miles from the border between Washington and Oregon. Washington here we come!

Goal is to carry on up to and around Cape Flattery, hopefully arriving there 24 hours from now (Tuesday morning some time), and if necesssary stop in at Neah Bay for fuel, and carry on for Port Angeles and stop there Tuesday night. If that happens, then it becomes a relatively shortly hop across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Orcas Island on Wednesday. NWS forecast indicates that all this will work well given the weather out here: we’re north of the wind that is supposed to fill in today off Newport (same 20 knots we had yesterday), there’s light 0-10 knots all of today and most of Tuesday, and we will be in the Strait before the wind fills in at 20 knoits Wednesday off the west coast of Washington. Will be interesting to find out just how well the wind reads the forecasts.

So, morning here, nothing broke last night, Kristen is sleeping, I’m typing, John is looking around for sharks and whales, the sun is up with a crispy clear sky, water is a shiny mirror with zero wind. Not too shabby given what we started out just outside the bar at Newport!

- rob

Saturday morning off Port Orford and Cape Blanco

It has been a good night’s run up from Humboldt Bay, and with the sunrise we’re out here off Port Orford with Cape Blanco in the offing not too far away.

Had our first problem of the trip – the starboard fuel filter failed to pass fuel when Is wapped over to it, resulting in shutting down the engine (fuel starvation). I was swapping filters in the Racor 500FG ganged filter set because the port filter was showing high enough vacuum (sucking too hard to get fuel through the filter) that it needed to be replacled. This has always simply meant swinging thet fuel flow handle to point to the starboard new filter, the motor continues to run, and I can change the port filter at my leisure. Not this time. I swung the handle and within seconds the vacuum gauge goes way high and the motor dies… rats! We drifted around for 10 minutes while I swapped in a new port fuel filter paper element and the motor fired right up. I pulled out the starboard pap;er element to verify I had in fact replaced it (Marina del Rey? San Diego?) And it looked just fine – so at least Ihadn’t done something dumb like swap to the new fuel filter and forgotten to replace the old one. Will want to sort this out in Newport Oregon – our next port of call.

There were several large black fuzzy squall clouds that we went through last night, though it’s really more that they ran over us as we don’t go fast enough to avoid them. Beetle got a good fresh water rinse with lots of rain falling out of several of them. And in the middle of the second rain cloud (which you can see easily on the radar, even to the point of knowing when you will exit the rain) we came into a bunch of south bound fish boats running with super bright lights on pointing forward. I called one of them on the VHF to ask kwhat they were up to – fishing? Netting? Squidding? And I did not want to run into their gear. The first boat that went by us called over to the sailboat on his port side and he told me they were out shrimping, everybody was shut down, and there was no gear in the water for me to worry about. That was most nice of him.

I talked with Kristen via telephone when we were abeam Rogue River – she’s on the train headed for Newport, there to join the boat for the remainder of the run up the coast. She was seeing snow (!) Outside her window as they ran along the tracks through the mountains. I imagine the big black squally things we’re having out here are turning into white fluffy snowy things in the mountains. These squalls should represent the backside of the front that went through last night to the north of us, I have now arrived at that latitude, and should see better conditions (as in smoother) as the front clears off to the east and we motor up what will now be the west side of that front line. Make sense?

Weather forecast continues to look good for departing Newport on Sunday to continue the run up to Cape Flattery, nothing big is forecast to move in other than the High which is due to appear over Vancouver BC – the folks in Seattle are all excited about getting some sun! I wonder if they will know that Beetle brought some up in a box from Puerto Vallarta just for them :)

All is well so far this morning, I’m now keeping a closer eye on the vacuum gauge on the port side fuel filter (running with no resistance at the moment), we are 10 miles south of Cape Blanco with a lalrgish swell running at 8-10′ and 10-12 knots of wind from the NW – not too bad at all as the water is remaining fairly smooth over the swell.

Enjoy the day!

- rob

Northbound from Humboldt Bay Friday night

Good evening, the pit stop for fuel at Humboldt Bay went well, I’m glad our arrival aligned with daylight as that would not be the most pleasant place to enter for the first time in the dark – big swell building up as you run in towards the beach that would not be well lit by buildings behind as the town is not on the beach. Running in towards a beach never seems like a good idea, though there are two large parallel breakwaters that extend out to sea which do provide some protection as you enter. Once inside you turn left and run 4 miles up the river to the Englund Fuel Dock – a building on a tall pier lined with concrete-filled steel pilings. Fender boards worked great, and I have figured out how to whip a dock line around a fat piling (which you cannot put your arms all the way around) such that the end of the line wraps around the piling and back into your hands – that’s how we lashed Beetle to the pilings.

Took on 43 gallons of red-dye diesel no. 2, and three hours after passing the outer buoy on our way in, we were past that buoy on our way out.

Once north of Humboldt we fell in with a fish boat that appears to be doing the same run north that we are, though he is taking time out periodically to stop and fish – perhaps that is a way to pay for the fuel costs of the run they are doing. Currently the boat is hanging about 2 miles to the west of us as we run parallel to the coast towards Cape Blanco, the next big point to round, currently some 66 miles ahead.

There hasn’t been a whole heck of a lot of sea life to be found out here so far, but today fixed that: found a large grey whale right at the entrance to Humboldt Bay, he or she was spouting and hanging out at the river mouth, lots of albatross winging around the boat this afternoon, and then early evening observed three different sharks pass by the boat very close as in 5-15′ away depending upon the shark. My guess is we are seeing Mackerel sharks (a cousin of the Mako, according to my fish book) that is found up here in the colder waters. Definitely not a blue shark as it’s way too cold for them and the fin didn’t look right for a blue.

Conditions are slightly more lively than last night, we’re moving with 8-12 knots of breeze from the west, the occasional large rain cloud moving by from west to east that brings some rain and colder air, swell is up at 6-8′ from the west, and we do the occasional BONG when a white cap plonks against the port bow.

Running well, should be at Blanco sometime tomorrow morning, and that will put Newport Oregon squarely in our sights. Crescent City is to starboard and the border between Oregon and California is just ahead. Plus we’re having a good solid moon today in between the high clouds, and the moon really lights up the water out here – nicer to run when you can see the waves as compared to running in total blackout conditions.

All is well on board, hopefully it continues that way.

- rob