A week at Westsound, Orcas Island

It’s nice to be back.  Westsound Marina continues to be run by Ian and Betsy Wareham, a most pleasant marina and small boat yard on Orcas Island that was started by their father and the kids have continued the business.  Betsy runs the chandlery and the manages the marina, Ian operates the boat yard and does all sorts of marine repairs, fixes motors, paints boat bottoms, you name it he’s probably already fixed one.  Slips are at a premium in the relatively small marina, my Dad keeps his boat there and he was able to find a spot for his powerboat such that I could use his slip for Beetle.  Beetle will be there for a couple of weeks and then will shift across to Friday Harbor for the winter.,  I telephoned the Friday Harbor folks and turns out the off-season starts September 15 (originally I was told September 1 – which would be odd as that’s prior to the big Labor Day weekend), and to bring Beetle over to the guest dock that day to set up for the winter moorage and liveaboard, plus there’s a place to keep the truck there as well.  The interisland ferry that runs between Friday Harbor and Orcas is relatively inexpensive at $18 round trip for car & driver, no charge for walk-ons (you are only charged in one direction, the return trip is included in the cost of the ferry ticket).

Being back here also means various details of crashing back into a “normal” lifestyle: getting car insurance for the pickup truck, re-registering Beetle with the state of Washington, having an address that UPS and US Postal Service will deliver to without complaint, updating boat insurance to include the marina, and doing repair work on the property at Orcas (installed replacement deck boards on a portion of the barn’s exterior deck, repainting the barn is up next, intermixed with log splitting for the wood-fired hot tub).  The pickup truck is running well, which is a great as it will get used while I’m here on island.

Beetle came through the run from Kauai with no damage, and I’m particularly pleased that the new standing rigging did not stretch during the trip and did not require re-tuning mid-ocean.  I expect that tuning the rig in relatively high winds off Waikiki had something to do with that, plus I’m using compact strand ‘Dyform’ wire which stretches significantly less than 1×19 wire.  Upshot is the mast remained in column and didn’t require adjustment along the way.  The solent furler setup works wonderfully, making it super simple to change gears as the wind changes – swapping out from the no. 4 to the no. 2 was as simple as possible and being simple and easy means the change is likely to be made – no more beating up the no. 2 in slightly too much wind!

On the local front I’m going to join the Orcas Island Yacht Club as this creates access to reciprocal privileges at other yacht clubs.  I asked Betsy (she’s the OIYC race officer) if I could join, she said, ‘Sure! Fill out the form and I’ll sign off as a sponsor.’  So I did, filled it out, walked over to the chandlery and she signed off as Sponsor 1; I asked whom else I might know that would be Sponsor 2 and she said, ‘Ian will!’ and wrote him in as the second sponsor.  I must remember to thank Ian for doing this even though he has no idea he’s the second sponsor.  Next up is to attend the Club’s salmon barbecue on September 19th and that fulfills the application requirement of attending a club event where the new person gets introduced around.

Other thing I did was visit the UW Medical Clinic in Eastsound to have my right foot and ankle looked at; it’s been not happy since the day after setting the spinnaker in the ridge up to the High, the foot swelled up making walking around the boat difficult, and when the swelling went away there was still a fairly good pain in the center of the foot just below the inner ankle bone that protrudes out as a knob.  The doctor checked out the foot, no sign of gout or arthritis, nothing obviously broken, so either I had tweaked some of the soft tissue or had created an avulsion fracture where something joins the bone.  X-rays were shot two days later when the x-ray tech was available (it’s a small island, we’re lucky to have an X-ray machine and someone that knows how to operate it), and yesterday the radiologist telephoned to let me know that there was nothing wrong with the bone structure and recommended rest, ice, and compression – let the ankle heal itself.  So while I may have used two hands for the run from Kauai to Orcas, I definitely single-footed the second half of that trip.  Looks like something got out of whack in the area at the top of the arch on the underside of the foot, closer to the inside of the ankle.  The foot has been improving a lot, perhaps from being able to walk around (which is not easy to do on the boat), and it’s much better at weight bearing.  Hopefully in a couple of weeks more everything will be sorted out and fine.

It’s Tuesday morning, time to get some things done at the property, then over to Beetle to continue working on the boat diet.  Beetle has too much stuff stashed away on board, I’ve been moving through the lockers and finding things that I’m not using or didn’t use, and Beetle is floating noticeably higher in the water!  I’ve also been scrubbing away with the boat brush attached to the long handle boat hook, removing the green algae growth that has plagued the water line, knocking off the wonderfully dark red/brown dirt from Hanalei that made it all the way across the pond, along with the newly-grown gooseneck barnacles that manage to cling to boats even when they’re moving along smartly.  Whatever ‘glue’ the gooseneck barnacles use would make amazing underwater glue – apparently folks are studying how the barnacles do this, as there are various papers on the protein-based ‘cement’ the barnacles create.  Perhaps ‘Barnacle Cement’ will replace ‘Gorilla Glue’ as the strong adhesive of choice.

Enjoy the day!

– rob

Arrived Port Angeles last night

Good morning, I’ve had another super night’s continuous sleep on board Beetle, now happily tied up to the breakwater guest dock in Port Angeles, which is at the eastern end of the Strait.  It’s a quiet morning, it was a mostly quiet night except for what I believe are the ship support boats running in and out to the tankers anchored out in the bay.  These are relatively short metal crew boats at maybe 30 feet that ran in and out at least until I went to sleep at 9pm.  And the tanker furthest into the bay departed late yesterday, tugs and things to help them get out and going.

Turns out the two Polar tankers (painted bright blue) are Conoco boats and are double-hulled ice class tankers that run up to Valdez and back.  At least one of them looked like it had twin rudders, one to each side, which made it look like an Open 60 on steroids at the stern end.  I’ve not seen that on a tanker before.  So if you should happen across a bright blue tanker with full width enclosed wing bridges (it gets cold up north!), you’re probably looking at one of those ships.

Plan for the morning is to get fuel at the fuel dock, and they have had in the past a discount for paying cash.  I have $300 still in the bank wrappers remaining in US $1 bill stash for Mexico (clearly I used the other $300 in Mexico) and hopefully that will make the fuel dock happy, though I’m not sure they’ll want to count out all the cash.  I’ll take on the order of 65 gallons diesel into the tanks, and I’m not going to fill the jerry jugs – don’t need that diesel sitting on deck cooking in the sun here in the San Juans.

Then  I’ll motor across to the pass between San Juan Island and Lopez Island and on up to Orcas.

The hop down from Neah Bay went well, up and out easily and by 9AM was running along down the Strait.  It was foggy at first but I could see the shoreline, with pea soup fog towards the center that hid all the ship traffic in the shipping lanes (I ran to the south of the lanes).  An hour out the sun burned through along the shoreline and I had bright sun, a wall of fog behind me, a wall of fog in front of me, and thicker fog to the north – I had my own little spot of sunshine.  That spot stayed with me for another hour and then I drove into the forward fog and had that the next 35 miles to Port Angeles; I had an excellent opportunity to observe fog from the inside – it all looks about the same, white with a glow of sun from above.

The fog finally did lift two miles out of Port Angeles and there were the three big tankers anchored there all in a row, nose to stern, filling up the rather large bay.  My guess is this is a regular occurrence as a place to stash your ship when it’s not needed.  All three boats had their radars running and that makes me believe they have a manned bridge and radio presence at all times, even while sitting still.

That’s the up to the minute news, the day is getting going, the harbor master should be here in half an hour and I can visit with him, pay for the night, and work out shifting over to the fuel dock.

– rob

Landfall and Neah Bay

It’s now afternoon here in Neah Bay, a nice anchorage and marina located just inside Cape Flattery – it’ the first place you can easily stop on the way in (if you’re coming in on the US side – I don’t know what Canada might have to offer over on Vancouver Island).

The trip around the corner from Tatoosh Island at the tip of Cape Flattery took a long time, partly that was intentional as I did not want to hit something in the water with Beetle going fast, and it was black outside last night so it’s something of a game of russian roulette as to whether or not you hit something. Fortunately, we didn’t hit anything. Unfortunately the fog came in and visibility was less than 200′ for most of the night. I was not looking forward to driving in to a new harbor (to me) in the fog and never see anything, but that’s what I had. At least the wind stayed down at 6-8 knots which made it easy to motor along slowly through the night and fog.

Shortly after dawn I was perhaps three miles from Neah Bay and the fog lifted just enough make out the trees on the nearby shoreline – far out! At least it wouldn’t be a blind entry via radar and chart plotter. It’s always nice to visually connect the dots with your own eye balls.

There were a couple of salmon trollers going along slowly just outside Neah Bay, and three small sport fishing boats tooling about the flat water doing the same thing, chasing the elusive fish. The turn in to the bay was straight forward and it’s a rather nice place, at least today – very quiet and peaceful. Of course it’s also not howling through here, and it’s a Sunday; maybe it’s a lot busier on a weekday?

I got the fenders out, set up dock lines, dropped the main and came on in to the long guest dock, which later I was informed is actually for commercial boats – they wanted me to move to a regular slip in case a commercial boat came in, I asked to just stay where I was and they are letting me do that.

After tying up I went to sleep for four hours and slept great. It was also too quiet on board, made me miss the engine running! But I persevered and got in some good sleep.

Plan for tomorrow is to up and out for Port Angeles. Obtaining fuel here in Makah Marina is something of a run-about, in that I have to go to the Mini-Mart a fair ways down the road to let them know I want fuel, they send an attendant down to the fuel dock, I move Beetle over to the fuel dock, do the fueling, then put Beetle back on the guest dock and go back to the Mini-Mart. Seems a bit excessive, particularly as the Port Angeles fuel dock is all of 20′ from the guest dock, and you don’t have to go anywhere to pay for the fuel – the register is right there on the fuel dock. I do have 22 gallons in the day tank which is plenty of fuel to run down to Port Angeles in the morning, so that’s the plan.

One odd thing is AT&T does not have a presence in Neah Bay, but Verizon is here. As all my stuff is AT&T, none of my stuff works. And I can’t figure out how to make the Note 8 tell me which phone carrier it’s connected to, let alone which data carrier it’s connected to – which means I can’t connect to Canada if I wanted to. The Canadian cellular towers seem to have much stronger signals than US towers, which means often the stronger signal is from Vancouver across the Strait. it’s the little things, eh?

All is well, nice to be in off the ocean. Looking forward to a most excellent full night’s sleep and be up and running in the morning.

– rob/beetle

Landfall – Vancouver island firtst visible thing

That was interesting – Vancouver Island was the first thing to come up visually today; hadn’t expected that. With the clear air visibility is on the order of 80 miles, and that’s when what looked like snow on a mountain began to stand out from underneath a band of high white clouds. Now I’m 60- miles out and it’s easy to distinguish the various peaks up that way. Looks like I can also pick up portions of Washington, not sure which yet.

One thing I do fairly often is to check the AIS receiver to see if there are any targets about. Normal answer is ‘0’. I just checked and there are ‘114’ targets now – egad! Where did they all come from? Turns out the VHF antenna is picking up the traffic up in Portland, plus everybody tucked in behind the Ucluth Peninsula on Vancouver. There in fact is only one AIS target out here, a Class B salmon fishing boat that is motoring slowly off to the SW from my position. If the boat type is ‘fishing’ and SOC is 2.7 – you know they are trolling for salmon.

I’m surprised at how cold I think it is – I’m all bundled up and have been sitting out in the sun like a lizard on a hot rock soaking up as much heat as possible. I’m not sure it is helping. As I intend to overwinter in the San Juans on Beetle, I have a suspicion the first purchase I make is an electric blanket!

I’m about 35 miles from turning the corner into the Strait, there’s relatively little shipping out here and that’s nice. One of the big guys just went by three miles off, he’s southbound. And the number of small fishing boats has declined, it’s down to three of them and only one is in the area.

Goal is to have a quiet evening on Beetle and creep on in slowly; I’d like to be 15 miles off the cape at midnight, so far that looks reasonable, and then a slow jog around to Neah Bay.

VHF is on local mode, squelch turned way up, volume way up – if anyone keys the mike they should be nearby and make a pretty good racket in the cabin. AIS alarms are working, radar alarms are sometimes working. Feeling pretty good now, got in a two hour continuous sleep after the radio net.

Enjoy the evening!

current position
58 14’N 125 33’W course 072T speed 4.7k
distance to cape flattery: 33 miles (yeah team!)

– rob

Saturday morning and motoring towards Neah Bay

Good morning, it’s 2:43AM boat time, which is 5:43AM local time, which is 1243 UTC today. Lots of clocks get going in different time zones when moving across lots of longitudes. Today I’m going to reset the clocks to be local time, as I’m more or less local now.

The morning has begun well by discovering Beetle had managed to sail a decent portion of the distance to Cape Flattery while I saw sleeping, even as the breeze has been dying off. Good Beetle! I rolled up the no. 2, brought the main more on centerline, did a quick calculation as to boat speeded to arrive at Neah Bay at dawn on Sunday (answer: 4.4k). Started up the motor, triple-checked that there were no lines overboard in the water, engaged the transmission and we’ve been slowly tooling along through the dark at 4.7k.

It’s just before 6AM local time and that’s now enough light to see what’s around me. There’s definitely a fishing fleet out here, they’ve been showing up on radar, some have AIS (class B), all have had lights. They are just drifting around the ocean, which makes me think they are longliners that have had their gear out for the night and will be picking it up today, perhaps for another set tonight.

The water is not quite glassy-smooth, there are faint ripples on the surface to remind one that there is wind, just not very much. 3-5 knots at the moment, according to the instruments.

I went back to sleep and have now reset the clocks, it is 8:54AM boat time. The ocean has gone glassy, wind at 0-1 knot, Beetle is tooling along across the water. Saw two of the boats on the water, they are definitely longliners out running about checking their gear now. Days like this must be really nice for those boats, the crew doesn’t have to contend with swells riding into the boat as they work the line.

It’s definitely chilly, despite being in a High here off Washington. And 100% overcast grey cloud base. No squalls,though! I need to get fenders and dock lines ready for tomorrow morning’s arrival in Neah Bay, put away sailing gear and all the extra running rigging that has found its way ondeck over the past 18 days. Nice to almost be in. And the day tank is filled up and I’ve got plenty of fuel – no issues there.

Enjoy the morning!

current position
47 56’N x 126 55’W course 071T speed 4.7k
distance to cape flattery 91 miles, and then another 9 around to Neah Bay

– rob/beetle

– rob

Long slow day to the coast, but pleasant!

Today was a long day of going nowhere fast, but I did go somewhere and knocked off a few miles. Best part is to be finishing up the run on a quiet note, far better than coming barreling in with a storm behind.

The wind shifted around to the west as forecast, and the wind is slowly filling in to the coast. The funny part was that the boat speed was about the same as the filling-in speed – so I sailed almost the entire day in very light air running deep, which is not fast. For half the day it was just the main up, as we were too deep to make effective use of the headsail and the no. 2 would flop around; not good for the no. 2, it was furled up after that experiment. Mid-day the breeze took on a definite shift to the south and that held, 8-10 knots, was able to sail along without too much difficulty. Early evening now, the wind has finally begun the solid shift to the east and has lightened further, now 6-8 knots. We’re still making 5 knots on course, hopefully the breeze fills in as forecast as 11-13 knots and we’ll be off and running.

Belowdecks I started to sort through the cabin, tidying up as everything got messy again since the High. Also slept a bit and read.

Current forecast is for wind as far east as 126W, and then a small High off the coast after that. My plan therefore is to sail tonight and tomorrow (Saturday), with the expectation of putting the engine in gear and time the run to Neah Bay to arrive off Cape Flattery Sunday morning with daylight. Stop at Neah Bay, I’ve not been there before, figure out fuel get in a solid night’s sleep. And then it’s on down the Strait to Port Angeles Monday night, Orcas Island Tuesday. But first need to get through the evening and help Beetle stroll along across the water – every mile I can sail tonight and tomorrow is a mile I won’t need to motor Saturday night.

Enjoy the evening!

current position
47 38’N x 128 24’W course 077T speed 5.1 knots
distance to cape flattery 153 miles

– rob

Rolling along downhill towards the coast

It’s been an interesting evening out here on the pond. The Low is on its way (current forecast says Saturday afternoon) and the wind has shifted from the NW to W as of this morning – now I find Beetle running DDW under main only after gybing shortly after I woke up to find up sailing happily, if slowly, along to the NE. Now we’re sailing 096T – which puts most of the mileage under the keel directly to the east.

East is still the ticket, the further east the better it gets – the opposite of how California was populated. I’ve got 41 miles to go to cross over into the 150 mile forecast zone, and I’m hoping the wind will continue for a while inside there. Out here there is supposed to be wind, and I’ve got 12-14 knots at the moment to push us along downhill before the swell (and the swell is helping propel Beetle rather a lot). Beetle is definitely doing the weeble-wobble thing as the swell rolls through:

Cape Flattery to Cape Shoalwater between 150 nm and 250 nm
220 AM PDT Fri Aug 3 2018

TODAY…W to NW winds 10 to 15 kt, becoming W to SW early,
then becoming SW 10 to 20 kt. Seas 4 to 6 ft.

inshore not so much wind:

Cape Flattery to Cape Shoalwater between 60 nm and 150 nm
220 AM PDT Fri Aug 3 2018

TODAY…NW winds 10 to 15 kt, becoming W 5 to 10 kt. Seas 4 to 6 ft.

In the SHTP return fleet the lead boat is due in today – Cliff on board Rainbow should be around Pt Reyes sometime this evening and he’s planning to duck up into Drakes Bay and anchor for the evening. Winds are NW 15-25 in his area, the typical coastal flow one finds below Pt. Arena. I tried that once, what he’s planning, and found that conditions were so awful offshore (where I had just been for weeks) that the entire fishing fleet was holed up in Drakes Bay – I had never seen so many white lights out there! It was still howling in the bay but the water was flatter, so I spent 30 minutes thinking about dealing with anchor and all and then split for San Francisco. Hopefully it’s better for Rainbow.

Two of the boats are holed up in the High where it has gone flat as a lake. Madrone has decided to enjoy the High and be bobbing for a couple of days, rather than fight to get out of the High. Jacqueline has decided that is a terrible idea and is motoring slowly along in order to creep out of the High. Hopefully Jacqueline’s fuel supply is up to the task!

It’s a fine morning out here, a bit of sun playing through the gaps in the clouds, big blue water and the sun really lights up the small white caps.

current position
47 33’N 129 30’W course 088T speed 5.1 knots
distance to cape flattery 197 miles

– rob