Friday, November 21, 2014

Finding a liveaboard slip for LightSpeed

November 21, 2014
Ballena Isle Marina Alameda, California

With housing prices in the San Francisco Bay area pushing toward the stratosphere, live-aboard moorage has become a scarce commodity as well.  Multi-year wait lists are common and combined with a multi-hull boat nearly impossible.  We were resolved to a long search and lots of bouncing around... a permanent slip was but a distant dream.

All I can say is a HUGE thanks to South Pacific cruising friends Steve and Carol, we now have an excellent slip at Bellena Isle Marina in Alameda!
LightSpeed is now on 'D' dock at Ballena Isle Marina
We still need to head up to Napa Valley Marina for a haul-out and bottom paint and then sometime in early December we'll move into our slip on 'D' dock.

Ballena Isle Marina looking west toward downtown San Francisco.
Ballena Isle Marina looking east across Alameda.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Biking with Blue Bie

November 19 ,2014
San Francisco
Anchored at Aquatic Park

South Pacific cruising/kiting friends Teri and Philip of s/v Blue Bie here in San Francisco?  Who would have guessed!  We met up at Aquatic park and then rode bikes across the Golden Gate, had lunch in Sausalito and then took the ferry back to the city.  Racing to catch the ferry was full of laughs as we only had a few minutes to get to the dock and no idea where it was... an amazing race of sorts.  Back aboard LightSpeed we popped some champagne to celebrate our chance meet up and pre-birthday celebrations for Teri. 

 Teri and Kathy pop wheelies.
Philip, Teri and Kathy.  Philip brought a nice camera along, so maybe we'll add a few of his snaps later on.

Monday, November 17, 2014

LightSpeed arrives San Francisco!

November 17, 2014
San Francisco, California

We made it!
LightSpeed at the Golden Gate bridge

Beautiful November day at the Golden Gate.

From inside the pilot house

Admiral Kathy and Captain Dave with Golden Gate in background.

LightSpeed anchored at Aquatic Park in downtown San Francisco.  You can just make out the Ghirardelli sign.  Local swimmers are doing laps in the 62F water.  Burr.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tight squeeze at Dolphin Cove

November 15, 2014
Fort Bragg, California

This morning I fueled LightSpeed at Dolphin Cove about 1/2 mile up the Noyo from the Noyo river boat basin marina, beware the river is shallow.   It was either run the gauntlet getting into Dolphin Cove or side tie to a commercial fuel wharf.  Without fender boards and crew, there would be a good chance that the piles at the commercial wharf would leave a few marks.

So, I threaded the needle to get in and out of Dolphin Cove.  Once inside the tiny mairina, the fun continued with very little turning room and a unoccupied sport fishing boat that was hogging the slip I needed to access the fuel dock.  I had to improvise and  pulled off a side tie to the end of the 6' wide fuel wharf finger... wish I would have got a photo of that!  The fuel hose was too short, yet undefeated I filled jerry jugs, decanting them into the tanks.  In the end the commercial wharf would probably been worth the risk of a scuff on the rail.

On the way out of Dolphin Cove I filmed the narrow pass.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Smoked salmon underway Eureka to Fort Bragg

November 14, 2014
Fort Bragg, California

Our boat cat Shell woke me up at 4AM with exfoliating sandpaper licks to my nose.  I was planning on a day off while Kathy visited her nephew Rowen and new grand nephew Brock at her parents Santa Rosa home.  It really worked out great as Kathy had a chance to catch up with cruising friend Teri of s/v Blue Bie and catch a ride to Santa Rosa.  Teri and Philip cruise a Outremer 43 catamaran and we enjoyed sailing with them this past year in the Marshall Islands.

It was 4AM, I pushed Shell away from my nose and reached for my android tablet to check the weather.  NOAA was calling for 'up to 5 knots' and so I pulled myself out of bed and quickly got LightSpeed underway.  Finding 5 knot winds for the 97 mile run from Eureka around point Mendocino to Fort Bragg was worth the early morning start.

Heading out of Humboldt bay was easy enough with clear night skies, a well lit channel and radar.  On the Pacific it was pretty bumpy, I think it's the swell from the super typhoon, I was actually feeling a little queasy as I made breakfast and coffee.   It was too dark to see anything and with the ground swell lifting the boat every 13 seconds, watching the horizon would have been therapeutic. As the veil of darkness slowly lifted I started to gain my sea legs as a welcoming dawn warmed the morning sky.

While in Crescent City the day before we'd had a chance to meet up with Jimmy and Phoenix for dinner.  Jimmy is a mad fisherman (a good thing) and brought us two huge chunks of King salmon.  A Huge thanks for the beautiful fish!

Overnight I'd brined the wild line caught Chinook salmon in preparation for smoking since I thought I'd be staying in Eureka for another night.  The fish was ready to go, so I set up the 'Lil Cheif' smoker on deck and hauled out the Honda eu2000i generator to power the smoker.  It was pretty rolly, but I managed to rinse the fish and get it in the smoker racks without incident.  Finding the power cord for the smoker proved to be a bigger challenge.  There is nothing worse than searching lockers for some obscure items while in a seasickness inducing seaway.

I found the cord, plugged in the smoker and sat down for a break.  No such luck as the wind picked up out of the east, so now it was time to hoist sail.  The fresh air helped, by the time I got to my coffee it was cold.

For awhile we were ripping along toward Cape Mendocino at 9 knots and then it was over.  Bye bye wind.  No mas.  From there on it was a power boat ride the entire way.

The smoked fish turned out great and I even pressured canned 5 half pint jars and gobbled up some thin slices I'd prepared as fish jerky.
Chinook Salmon (King)  jerky.  Oh so tasty!  Smoking fish underway from Eureka to Fort Bragg

Approaching Fort Bragg in the dark is not fun.  Running over a crab trap float in the dark close to the enterence channel is even less fun.  Luckily it came free pretty easy.

Running the Noyo river bar at Fort Bragg with a big west swell and complete darkness is something far less than fun.  I've been over the Noyo river bar a few times and even in the dark once, but today was scary with the big west swell.

Glad to be safely tied to the dock.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Oregon/California offshore spinnaker run.

Sailing near the Oregon/California border with a tiny spinnaker.  A little later the wind picked up to the high 20's and the surfs started to go over 15 knots pretty often. Once we hit 18 knots of speed through the water it was time to reduce sail.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Crescent City, California

November 10, 2014
Crescent City, California

Fast sail from Port Orford, Oregon yesterday.  Here are some shots from around Crescent City harbor.  Harbor facilities were pretty nice.  Laundry room, free showers, free internet and really nice new docks.  Safeway is within 10 minutes walk, good Mexican food across from the marina, Englund Marine supply, travel lift and marine railway.

 Pretty nice sunset for the middle of November when it should be foggy.
 This salmon troller was built in 1919!  Today her third owner, keeps her looking fine and fishes crab, tuna and salmon.
 Classic lines on this salmon troller.
 After the 2011 Tsunami the engineers went a little crazy with the pilings at 30" in diameter, which is twice as big as normal.  Look at the pile spacing along the guest mooring dock, wow this was expensive as the steel piles are cased with 1.6" plastic pipe on the outside.  
 Old ice house on the pier to have survived the 2011 Tsunami with no issues.
Heading out of Crescent City.  

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Port Orford, Oregon anchorage

November 9, 2014
Port Orford, Oregon

We're choosing a cruising approach to the transit of Washington, Oregon and Northern California.  Sure, we could be in San Francisco by now if we pushed a bit, but we're cruisers and find much more enjoyment in harbor hopping if the weather permits.  Tomorrow, we'll make the 65 nautical mile hop to Crescent City, California, then the next day the 64 miles to Eureka. 

Light southerly winds today, then calm as we approached the anchorage at Port Orford, Oregon.  We planned to keep moving if the anchorage looked ugly, otherwise stop and enjoy another good nights rest. Based on our past experience, Port Orford has excellent holding sand in about 30' just east of the jetty. Crabbing is excellent.   If swell conditions permit you can tie your dinghy to the ladder on the wharf and go for a walk ashore.

Port Orford, anchorage ~30' in excellent holding sand


Saturday, November 08, 2014

Community Supported Fishery

The Community Supported Fishery concept really makes sense.  Give this link a look.

Coos Bay, Oregon

November 8, 2014
Coos Bay, Oregon

Made the 81 nautical mile run from Newport to Coos Bay arriving in the final tinges of twilight.  Beautiful clear blue skies and comfortable seas for the entire ride.  For 1 hour we had nice easterly winds and hoisted full sail running close to the beach making 9-10 knots, otherwise it was motor sailing.

Heading out of Coos Bay

The fuel dock is closed on Sunday, however the owner said he might be in early in the morning to do some paperwork or maybe we stay for another night?

Update:  The owner Mr. Russell (84 years old) made a special trip down to sell us 39 gallons of fuel!  One thing we already miss about cruising is the focus on people.  Mr. Russell had all the time in the world to chat and enjoy the moment and a beautiful sunrise over Coos bay as we fueled up.

Russell's Marine Fuel & Supply
(541) 888-4711
That's it for now.

Crossing the bar in the dark

November 8, 2014
Newport, Oregon

Crossing the bar in the dark

It's midnight and we just tied to the dock in Newport, Oregon.  Having knocked off 110nm of our 570nm voyage to San Francisco, I think we've earned a nice restful night at the dock. No reason not to stop given the spectacular weather outlook.

Crossing the Yaquina river bar presented no difficulties, conditions were pretty calm and we caught the last of the flood tide with text book timing.

Using our Autopilots 'Navigation mode' set to follow a pre-planed route we leveraged technology to off load the steering task.   We were still in command of the helm, just more focus on monitoring range lights, flashing navigation buoys and using our eyeballs to look for hazards and other vessels.  The radar is also a very useful, but not necessary tonight as we had good visibility with clear skies.

Crossing one of the local bars this time of night would probably be more risky.

 Radar on our 23" monitor was easy on the eyes.  We're just leaving the first range as we turn at the green buoy and picking up the second range to take us under the bridge.
 We're safely tied to the dock
Chart minus the radar overlay

In the middle of the this post, I was interrupted by a cat overboard situation.  Shell our beloved boat cat somehow found the 1 foot gap between the boat and the dock.  I quickly pulled her out of the water and gave her a warm rinse in the kitchen sink.

 Shell looking like a rough alley cat.
Shell preparing to try to lick her fur dry.

That's it for now

Friday, November 07, 2014

Sailing Sunset

November 7, 2014
Underway on the northern Oregon coast

Beautiful sunset with a bonus green flash!  Winds built to 15 knots plus and for the last few hours we're flying a spinnaker.

We might stop at Newport about 45 miles distant, if we can maintain our present speed of 8 knots.  Our ETA would be about 11PM and with a full moon, moderating seas and no restrictions on the bar it's appealing to spend a night tied to the dock vs splitting watches overnight.  The weather forecast suggests excellent conditions with northerly winds through Tuesday down the coast.

That's it for now.

Columbia River Bar video

November 7, 2014
Columbia River Bar crossing 10AM

A quick video we just filmed on Columbia river bar with 10-12' seas.

Cruising friends

November 7, 2014
Astoria, Oregon

Cruising friends

Thanks to Mac and Catherine of s/v Indigo who drove down from Portland to send us off with a lovely dinner. It was really great to see you two and fun to catch up.  We sailed in company of s/v Indigo from Astoria towards Mexico in 2011 and enjoyed spending time with them in La Paz.

We were lucky to catch voyaging friends Shannon, Jasmine and Solice at their private dock in the John Day river.  Since our last visit in 2011 they've spent a few years sailing in Mexico and traded boats at least 3 times! As always we enjoyed some great meals and excellent conversation.  Thanks you for your endless hospitality!

Solice was 3 last time we visited Astoria, in this photo she's holding our cat Shell when she was an 8 week old kitten.

At 7 Solice is a real gem, tough as nails shooting a bow and arrow with her dad, polite, sweet and full of youthful joy. Thanks for sharing your smiles!

 I wish we would have snapped a few more photos.

One of my favorite sailing blogs is Sailing Totem, Behan really captures the essence of sailing friendship in this post titled 'Friendships and Cruising'.  check it out.

Railroad bridge at the entrance to John Day river feels a little skinny in a wide catamaran.

That's it for now.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Super Typhoon Nuri

Super Typhoon Nuri is set to slam in Bering Sea as a 915-925 millibar low with 30-50 foot seas.  Nuri will likely influence the jet stream over North America bringing an artic blast to the Midwest.  More on the story here: 

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Astoria, Oregon

November 1, 2014
Astoria, Oregon

Blue sky trip from Westport to Astoria with light winds.  Pretty nice for November in the Pacific Northwest!

Haulout scheduled for Monday at 1PM.  Looking forward to catching up with our Portland friends.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Cruising friends with books

Crossing the Pacific in 2006 we crossed path many times with Kelly and Kelly aboard s/v Moorea.  Kelly girl chronicled their 4 year world circumnavigation in her just released book you can find it at Amazon as a ebook or the real thing... Sailing the Waterhouse.   You can also follow their current adventures here & Front cover for web
The cover photo of s/v Moorea was taken in the Marquesas at Ua Pou island with the super cool spires. Our first cruising boat, s/v La Vie was there at the same time and you can see both boats in the background of this great photo.

Ray and Judy Emerson were out there in 2006 and Ray has a new book Sell Your House and Buy a sailboat (Then Sail Halfway Around the World)  I can't recall for sure, but there is a good chance they were anchored in Ua Poa at the same time.  It was pretty busy with most boats using a stern anchor to avoid swinging into their neighbors.

Ray is hilarious in real life, so I'm sure this book is a great read. You can also check out his website at:

If we know you and you'd like to be added to this post, send me a link.

Westport waiting for weather

October 31, 2014

Kathy checking out the Grays Harbor bar from a observation tower in Westport, Washington.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


October 30, 2014
Westport, Washington

LightSpeed arrived safely after an overnight sail from Neah Bay.

Underway, I took the first watch, but only made it to 8:30PM before hitting the wall of a long day.  Kathy took the helm until midnight and then I passed the helm back to her at 2:30, so I could get a few hours sleep before our early morning arrival at Grays Harbor.    About 5:30AM Kathy roused me as LightSpeed approached the first green buoy at the Grays Harbor bar.  I slowed LightSpeed down to get my bearings and wake up for a few minutes.   With large westerly swell, it's critical to time bar crossing for the flood tide and ideally near high slack.  Our timing was perfect, except for the fact that it was pitch black and raining sideways.  If we waited until daylight, the ebb tide would be in full swing and conditions on the bar could be restricted, so we wanted to get in before the ebb.

We proceeded south to the 'red' side of the channel (red on right returning), picked up the range and turned to the east to make our way across the bar.  Our radar was invaluable in identifying and confirming our position relative to the navigation buoys.   Between the pitching seas and driving rain, keeping track of flashing buoy lights is no small task, but made much easier by having a good navigation setup and excellent visibility through our glass pilot house windows.

We'll holdup here in Grays Harbor until Saturday when the weather improves, then make a run to the Columbia river bar and up the river 13 miles to Astoria, Oregon.

It will be our third time hauling LightSpeed at Port of Astoria, the first was for a repower in 2010, then a post Alaska inspection in 2011.  Our plan to repair some paint on the port hull, service our sail drives and renew anti-fouling on the hulls.  It's only a few days work if we have dry weather for the painting, however good weather is going to be in short supply this time of year, so it could take weeks.

That's it for now.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Underway Washington coast

October 29, 2014
Underway off the Washington coast near La Push

Asked for permission to cross La Push bar... denied.  CLOSED TO ALL RECREATIONAL VESSELS.  But, open to commercial vessels and fishing vessels which gave us hope that the coast guard would give us special dispensation based on our vessel, coast guard licenses and experience.   Plus high slack tide was coming up so, seas were moderating, conditions were clear and the wind was less than 10 knots.

 So, we bobbed off the bar for 80 minutes while the Coast Guard evaluated conditions and raced in and out of the pass unfettered in their cool 47 footer.  In the end the coasties were worried about liability and could not let us enter as the bar was CLOSED TO ALL RECREATIONAL VESSELS and we are a recreational vessel.  I asked if it said fishing vessel on the side of LightSpeed could we pass?  Yep.  But, it didn't say that so we had to go by the book.

So, now it was almost 4:30 pm and the sun would be setting within an hour or so.  It was turn around run in the dark to Neah Bay or continue southvernight towards Westport 70 miles distant.  I sure hope the bar is open at Westport as to catch the tide we need to cross at 7AM in the dark.   I'm not happy about running at night based on all the logs we've had to dodge today nor crossing any bar in the dark.  Maybe we'll stand on for Astoria if the weather gives us a break as it's only 40 more miles to the Columbia river bar.

The deciding factor was the wind direction.  Since it's forecast for south or south east, both give us the option to run off or hove to if conditions get really bad. If the wind forecast for anytime in the next 24 hours was for onshore, we would have high tailed it back to Neah Bay.

That's it for now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Crabby cat

October 28, 2014
Neah Bay, Washington

Just dropped the hook in Neah Bay, gusty winds, low scudding clouds and rain providing a Halloween like welcome.  

Our talkative boat cat, Shell was excited the anchor was down and just before dark we noticed her sitting inside the crab trap on the aft side deck.  When it really started to rain she somehow made a Houdini like escape and bolted for the front door.  

Weather for tomorrow looks decent and we're hoping the bar at La Push will be open.  Not the beer bar as I believe the small village is dry, but the river/ocean interface 'bar' that can get rough and or dangerous with southerly swell.  The USCG provides bar reports and regulates entry/exit across the bar, so we'll check in the morning to see how it looks 

No AT&T or Cricket cell or data coverage here... Verizon would be the way to go.  Lucky for us we found an open WIFI network.

Shell in a crab trap.

Heading for Neah Bay

October 28, 2014

Heading for Neah Bay from Port Angeles today

We might have a weather window on Wednesday to make a hop down the Washington coast, so we're headed to Neah Bay to be ready if the weather gives us a break.  We could be sitting out there or at La Push for awhile and we most likely will not have internet, so updates could be non-existent until we get to West Port or Astoria.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cleaning, wiring, varnishing and flying some sails

October 26, 2014

Port Angeles, Washington

Cleaning, wiring, varnishing and flying some sails.

Working on projects and cleaning house today.  Kathy tackled the sail locker in out port bow, giving the walls need a good wipe down with a mild vinegar solution.  Dave tracked down a fault with the starboard engine kill switch, cleaned up the workshop area and the started sanding and varnishing fiddles.  While Kathy had sails out on the trampoline, Dave hoisted a few to give them a good airing.

Washington and Oregon Bar reports, current conditions and live cameras

October 26, 2014

Port Angeles, Washington

Stormy weather persists offshore, so we'll continue to hold up here in Port Angeles.  Neah Bay is the typical jumping off point for boats heading south, but limited internet and phone service in Neah Bay would hamper our productivity and significantly limit our ability to monitor the weather further down the coast.   It's only 50 miles to Neah Bay, so if we catch the tide right and get a nice 8-9 knot ride out the Strait of Juan de Fuca it's only 6-7 hours, all the services here in Port Angeles far outweigh the benefits of waiting for an indefinite time period in Neah Bay.

Coast Map
Bar Cameras for the above harbors and current bar conditions can be found on a cool web page here:

Columbia River Bar reports and Bar report phone numbers can be found here:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Videos: Bikar Atoll Pass via dinghy and LightSpeed

Scouting Bikar pass via dinghy
Running Bikar pass at low water with 24' wide sailing catamaran LightSpeed.  Don't try this with your home!

Port Angeles, Washington

October 25, 2014
Port Angeles, Washington, USA

Yesterday we motored from Seattle out to Port Angeles.  Conditions were calm and the tide was with us most of the day.  We considered anchoring out, but the NOAA forecast was calling for NE 20 which would make for a bumpy night on the hook.

The Port of Angeles has a nice guest moorage dock for $0.75 a foot a night and that price includes WIFI internet.  Half the price of Shilshole or Port Townsend!  It stormed pretty good overnight and we were glad to be tied to the dock in the calm waters of the marina.

Today we analysed the weather forecasts and strongly considered heading out to Neah Bay to stage for the jump to Astoria, Oregon.  With gale winds whipping the coast and nary a break between storms, it's pretty hard to find a weather window.  Sunday shows some promise, but only if we're willing to leave in the evening and run overnight in pretty strong NW winds.  We're not in a hurry, so we'll probably wait for a bigger and nicer window that has more daylight.  

Two other sailboats are in Port Angeles waiting for weather to make the run.  s/v Fifth Season, a Fountaine Pajot Venezia 42' catamaran and now maybe 44' with hull extensions.  This boat has been places, having originated in the British Virgin Islands, they've been to New Zealand, Hobart, Australia and Japan, before sailing across the North Pacific to Kodiak and cruising Alaska.  They have doubled all their rigging, a novel approach to ensuring the rig stays up.

The other is a big, but beautiful mono-hull named s/v Captains Mistress, they sailed from La Paz Mexico direct via the clipper route to Kodiak, Alaska.

Pretty cool that these two boats and LightSpeed all sailed to Kodiak this year.

That's it for now.

Setting up Airmail telnet for use with winlink 2000

October 25, 2014

Airmail telnet settings for Winlink 2000

WL2K              (Remote Call Sign) (Remote Host)
8772               (PORT)
120                (Timeout in seconds)
CMSTELNET        (Password)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

OpenCPN beta 3.3.2222 is really cool

October 23, 2014
New Release of OpenCPN beta 3.3.2222 has some great new features

GRIB files now have a 'particle' feature that is super cool in visualizing the wind flow.

This is the brief on how to set it up:
First click on options/plugins/ and enable the GRIB plugin
Next click on the GRIB 'wind sock' icon on the tool bar
Now click on the 'Settings' in the dialog box and then click box for Particle Map
Download a new GRIB and enjoy!

If you need more instructions check out all the new changes to the 3.3.2222 beta and find instructions here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blake Island

October 22, 2014
Blake Island, Seattle area, Washington State, USA

With millions of people within only a few miles.  I could hardly believe I had all 475 acres of Blake Island State park all to myself.  I had a nice walk across the island and around the sandy spit on the NW corner.  In the thick forest I hear the call of eagles as I snacked on some huckleberries.  

Here's a link courtesy of Dave Bechtel that give some great insights in to the history of Blake Island.

Blake Island, NW Sandspit
 LightSpeed with small craft harbor docks all to herself.  At $0.60 a foot a night this is a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the city only 7 miles distant
 Geese, Deer and Raccoon were everywhere, but not a human to be found.
A ornately carved totem pole stands tall at the traditional camping spot of the Suquamish Indians.  Today, this this beautifully decorated Long House is a great place for Seattle visitors to take in a traditional dance performance and enjoy a delicious lunch of NW salmon cooked over a alder wood fire.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sunday cruise

 Aaron and Dave enjoying the incredibly nice October 'tee-shirt' weather.

 Aaron and Steve preparing the big spinnaker for a downwind run.

 Hollingbery clan says "Arrrh"
 Big thanks to Terry and Steve for bringing the great eats and drinks!
 On our second voyage of the day we sailed the Seattle waterfront

 Close up view of the big wheel
 Space Needle
 And we had to dodge a few nets.
Good times.