September 15th-18th, 2008: Port Townsend to Coos Bay

September 15-18, 2008:  Port Townsend to Coos Bay

Departed Port Townsend at 700 hr on September 15th, 2008. We have a great crew on board: Kathy Haight and Chris Wood from Port Townsend (their boat, Skye is a Lyall Hesse cutter similar to the Pardeys’).
A beautiful sunny, clear day. Rounded Cape Flattery in the late afternoon (motoring with no wind at all). Enjoyed a delightful meal on the afterdeck. Kathy had volunteered to make “sandwiches”, but we had no idea what a gourmet sandwich chef we had onboard. Imagine tuna, fresh cranberries and walnuts in a delicious dressing on fresh-baked croissants. This is definitely the life!!
Fried the alternator around that time, (or so we thought) but kept on going. Coincidence or amazing magic, just after this happened and we were talking about calling up Gordon Simms, master sailor and electrical genius, who had been helping us just before we left, he called us on the phone — no kidding—and said he just wanted to see how we were doing !!! With his encouragement, Tony just took the drive belt  off and hooked up the new, untried ‘towed generator’ (We call it ‘Mr. Toad’) and it made electricity for us for the rest of the trip. We love Mr. Toad! (8 amps at 6 kts –more than enough to keep up with the computer (power hog!), GPS, running/house lights and radar.)
We sang David Lovine’s song…  “All around Cape Flattery Tatoosh shone bright” under a full moon. Had a quiet, breathtakingly beautiful night. On Tuesday, at 125 degrees longitude, with the swells starting to roll in, Kathy and Pat were a bit queasy, Chris a little less, and Tony just plain exhausted. (We had worked on the boat till 2 a.m. the night before). But everyone did watches and kept up spirits and senses of humour. It was certainly a brand-new feeling to be out at sea, with no other boats or land in view, for hours at a time. We were surprised, throughout the trip, how little other traffic we saw. A few cargo vessels, a couple of nights of twinkling clusters of lighted fish-boats (mostly in Oregon), and maybe one or two other sailboats far, far away.
The next day, the seas were a little calmer, we all got a little more sleep, and we all felt a lot better. Which was good, because on Wednesday we had the wind 15-20 knots on the nose and a very rolly sea. We all felt OK up on deck, especially at the helm, and we felt OK horizontal in the bunk. But those long minutes of getting into wet weather gear and getting the harness all set up, brought on the queasiness again.
We were extremely grateful for the harnesses Brion Toss set up for us the day before we left. They were easy to use and it often felt like Brion himself was holding on to us. The helm became difficult to manage at this time, although it wasn’t bad once you got into it for a while.
The first night we had moon and stars to steer by. The next night, just the moon. The next night, just the lights from a few fish boats, once in awhile, but really you had to watch the compass all the time.
What a sensation, to be ploughing through the seas on a pitch-black night, at the helm for hours at a time! Mostly it was wonderful and exciting. The queasiness, we could have lived without, and we will try some meds next time, at least for the first few days.
We sure didn’t eat much—mostly saltines, cuppa soup noodles (Kathy & Chris’ remedy), biscotti (thanks Christian) and applesauce. The first couple of days we had Kathy’s gourmet sandwiches, but once it got rough out there most of us weren’t that hungry. This is a great weight loss programme!!
Thursday morning we pulled into Coos Bay at about 10 a.m. (a sensible plan to get some rest and fuel). We had actually slowed down for most of the night so we wouldn’t enter the bay in the dark. This became a pattern for the trip, and we made every landfall at exactly the right time.
The entrance to Coos Bay is lined with caves on both sides. It seems amazing to be only a few days away from home, and yet the landscape looks so different from anything we see in coastal BC. We saw pelicans on the way in!!! As we pulled into the transient dock (lots of room), we noticed crowds of folks sitting in lawn chairs, visiting, talking, eating and drinking and catching crabs in traps. This goes on all day every day, with people from all over the states coming here to spend their holidays doing this. It’s like sailing into a Steinbeck novel.
Once we got in, exhausted, salty, and suddenly very hungry, we had a huge breakfast on the boat and then a shower ashore. Scrambling for US coins to put into the shower. We all felt strange walking on solid ground again, and spent the day checking out the area, trying out the ice cream (great ice cream), napping, drying wet clothing, cleaning up the boat and ourselves, and visiting folks on the dock.
Consultation with other cruisers on the dock solved the alternator problem. Turns out we had inadvertently pushed in a button(equalizer on the voltage regulator) that shouldn’t have been pushed in. It gives 16volts on purpose (even if you don’t want them) to shed buildup on the plates. So that was easily solved.
There was a catamaran with a couple (David, British, Sylvie, Zimbabwean). Very friendly and helpful folks. They have a long and fascinating story and have just purchased this boat – a good deal, but with a few challenges. She has two engines and two rudders, but one of the rudders is jammed. David, the skipper, says it’s too cold to dive here in Coos Bay, so they will try to get to San Francisco on one rudder. (They did). Sylvie, David’s partner, besides being an experienced sailor, creates incredible handmade quilts - art pieces that have to be seen to be believed. The one she is working on right now, is an underwater scene in three dimensions, using hand printed fabric, collected from exotic ports all over the world, with tiny, tiny hand stitching—the wrinkled neck of a turtle done with ultra-suede, so realistic, and the shell effect done like a mola-layer after layer after layer. Such meticulous handwork—-Stunningly beautiful designs you could stare at for hours.
Another boat, with an Aussie couple, was the subject of much photo-taking. Many, many ideas for interior stowage and equipment tricks. Who would have guessed that we would meet a fellow (Max, the owner) who would be an engineer who did his thesis on wind-vane steering in sailboats? Tony was delighted to be able to talk over self-steering with him.
We could have spent days and days enjoying the company of the cruisers and locals in this port that is so different from Canada. However, the weather forecast got in the way of life.

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