Monday, November 29, 2010

Sun Valley for Turkey Day

Enjoyed a great Thanksgiving at Sun Valley, Idaho with my sisters and families. Even hit the slopes to see if we could remember how to ski after five+ years in the tropics.

Bruce, Anne, Andrew, Tim and Jane sledding at Sun Valley, Idaho.

Portland, Oregon

We're now in Portland, Oregon to recharge our cruising kitty. Kathy is working for a biotechnology company and Dave is slowly working on a job while working on some boat projects. See the sidebar for our most current phone numbers.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's good to have friends with docks

Check out this snow man... our first aboard LightSpeed.
After our journey down the Washington Coast it was great to pull up to our friends dock on the John Day River. Shanon, Jasmine and Solice were great hosts and we look forward to sharing adventures in the future, hopefully some where warm.

Shannon, Solace and Jasmine.

High and dry for a propeller change.

Monday, November 15, 2010

LightSpeed's jouney to Oregon included SWIMMING in 50 degree water!

Weather was good on Sunday so we made a direct trip from Neah Bay, Washington to Astoria, Oregon. Good size swell from the WNW made for a bumpy ride, but not bad for mid-November.

The excitement of the trip was snagging a crab trap float on our starboard propeller. As these things go a line wrapped on the propeller is never good especially when that line is attached to a crab trap 150 feet down. The crab trap acts like an anchor and in rough seas could cause damage the sail-drive mounted propeller. Luckily we tangled up during mid-day so we could see what we were working with and cut away the crab fisherman's trap with one float still attached. The remaining two floats were in a big mass of line wound around the propeller.
The first plan to remove the mess was for me (Dave) to put on a survial suit, jump in the water with a knife and remove the line. As anyone who has ever been in a survival suit can tell you they float really good, but are bulky and render the occupant mostly immobile. The suits are big and designed so that you can climb in fully clothed including boots, jump in the water and float around on your back until you get rescued. The hands include two fingers and a thumb and are clumsy at best and once zipped up only your eyes and nose protrude.

So I climbed in the suit tied a knife on a lanyard to one hand tied a safety rope around and jumped in the water. I was floating like a cork and trying to purge the air from the suit so I might attempt a dive to cut the line of the propeller. In reality all I did was get thrashed around next to the boat in the swells and practically down myself when facing forward as the suit is so buoyant that you can't hold your head out of the water when floating face down. Not fun. I bailed on that plan and climbed aboard the boat panting half choked on sea water.

Turning to 'plan B' Kathy volunteered to jump in and give it a try... sans clothes or wetsuit. We're talking herorics here. Pulling on a swim cap and swim goggles she stripped down and dove in (with a safety line). After a few swipes a the line with our super sharp kitchen knife the line was free and Kathy was onboard and taking a hot shower. An incredible feat considering the seas and 50.9 degree water. This girl is tough and fearless!

The remainder of the trip was uneventful aside from a plugged fuel intake line which was pretty quickly resolved, but left me feeling seasick after a stint in the hot engine room spilling diesel fuel.

We actually arrived at the Columbia river bar about 3 hours early and decided to stand off and wait for first light to cross the bar. Bar conditions weren't too bad and only closed to boats 35' and less, however visiblity was poor in misty rain so we decided to wait. Current offshore was setting us north at 1.2 knots so it was kind of a pain as even though 'hove to' we were drifting pretty fast and had to pay attention to avoid other boats transiting the area. We crossed the bar about 20 minutes before sunrise in 8-10 non-breaking swell in the main ship channel which was a non-issue and hardly discernible from the offshore conditions. Running up the river we stopped in Astoria to fuel up and then headed about six miles further up the river to a side channel called John Day River where we are now tied up to our friends dock.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Voyage Plan Neah Bay, Washington to Astoria, Oregon

Check out this 40' log we sailed by today. Definitely something that would go bang in the night. Even worse we saw a 3' diameter dead head ( a neutrally buoyant log floating vertical in the water) that can cause serious hull damage. The other major hazard is innumerable crab trap floats and the possibility of entangling a propeller in rope. All good reasons to attempt the trip during daylight hours only.

Most sailors make a direct overnight trip from Neah Bay to Astoria taking their chances with the floating hazards. Day sailing this coast is not without it's own hazards and success requires careful planning, cooperative weather and time. Sailing South from Neah Bay the first possible stop is La Push, but a narrow and shallow bar crossing dissuade most sailors from making the stop. The second is Grays Harbor offering a less weather dependent entrance, but at 105 nm from Neah Bay too long for a winter time daylight sail without a prior stop at La Push. The trick is finding a intersection between weather, tides and daylight to make it work.

Headed toward Oregon

Sailed from Victoria, BC to Port Angles this AM and now headed for Neah Bay, Washington for the night. If the weather holds we sail for Astoria on Sunday November 14, 2010. We may stop at La Push or Grays Harbor as weather permits.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Victoria, BC

Sailed into Victoria, BC today and will meet up with Kathy on Friday when she returns for a business trip to Atlanta, GA. Working on moving the boat to Portland, Oregon as weather conditions allow on the ocean.

As I write I'm enjoying a great view of the Victoria Harbor with the government buildings trimmed with white lights and the majestic Empress Hotel glowing with warm orange lights that makes it look a little spooky as if they still have it decorated for Halloween. Victoria is one of my favorite cities so I'm happy to enjoy it while waiting for our weather window.

Round the County Race

This past weekend I raced LightSpeed in the Round the County race with friends Aaron and Kelley. The Round the Country Race is a two day event that takes sailors on a clockwise circumnavigation of the San Juan Islands in Washington State. The race was good fun and the focus of racing environment helped me learn a few things about sailing LightSpeed. The first day of the race we took things pretty easy and kept well clear of the boats battling for prime starting position at the line. We also were pretty lazy about flying our spinnaker when we should have. The second day we again steered clear of the start line antics and crossed the starting line pretty late, but with our spinnaker up. Our tactic worked well and we quickly caught the fleet and for a fleeting moment were in the top ten with the huge racing sleds. Then the wind filled in as we rounded Turn Point on Stuart Island and things got pretty dicey. A catamaran responds to the helm a little differently than sporty race boats. Maneuvering LightSpeed conjured visions of a clumsy giant at a full out run surrounded by scurrying mice. We held our own with faster boats on the downwind run, but our spinnaker is made for very deep wind angles compated to the A-symentrical spinnakers off the race boats. In the end the pointing ability of the cat vs. race boats had us out matched on the windward legs. Our tactics and sail handling were decent, but showed our minimal racing experience. Overall we placed 62 out of 72 on a corrected basis leaving lots of room for improvement on future races. Cruising certainly doesn't hone the technical sail trim required for racing so it was good to pay more attention to the details and experiment with what worked best.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Recharging the Cruising Kitty

We've decided to recharge the cruising kitty (i.e put some money in the bank for future cruising adventures). This wasn't in our plan, but then Kathy stumbled into a great job working for a start up bio tech company. Kathy will be traveling frequently for work and Seattle seemed a natural place for me to find work. Unfortunately, the state of Washington would like to collect 9.5% 'Use Tax' based on the fair market value of the boat simply for the privilege of keeping the boat in Washington waters. We thought we could find a way to avoid or moderate the tax, but have exhausted all avenues without success.

Moving on to 'Plan B' we looked at moving to British Columbia and perhaps obtaining Canadian Citizenship. The requite privileges of Canadian Citizenship such as long term health care, unencumbered ability to live and work in any of the Common Wealth counties were carefully considered. However, it would be a minimum of three years as permanent Canadian Residents to qualify for Citizenship and a hefty import tax on the boat of 14%. We really like the idea, but value our unconstrained flexible lifestyle too much for such a major commitment.

'Plan C' Oregon. No taxes on our boats and no long term commitment. The cons are State income tax and limited ability to actually use our boat as it will be 100 miles up the Columbia River in Portland and far from exciting cruising grounds in British Columbia.

We've decided on Oregon and the next big challenge is delivering the boat to Portland from Seattle. Not too many weather windows this time of year and lots of strong Southerly wind and big swell to complicate crossing the Columbia bar. Racing in the 'Round the County' race this weekend (Around the San Juan Islands) then will look for a window to make the hop to Oregon.