Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Random Photos

 Shopping cruiser style in Anacortes, Washington.  Cap Sante Marina is a great stop as the grocery store is right across the street and no issues wheeling your groceries over to the marina.
 Is is the oh my god it's sunny face.  Taken while transiting Cattle pass between Lopez and San Juan Islands.
 La Conner Channel
Lightspeed very briefly docked in Seattle to drop Kathy for a business trip.  Sorry, not to get in touch... we were barely here before taking the boat back to the San Juans.

Monday, May 23, 2016

La Push to Port Angeles

May 23, 2016
Currently underway in Puget Sound from Port Angles to Anacortes

La Push, Inside the bar and approaching the Marina.

Inside La Push Marina and looking at fuel dock.  Fuel dock is open 24/7 if you have a credit card, it has a card lock machine right on the dock.  However, bee ready to pump fast as you have about 30 seconds from card approval to start or the machine times out and you get to start over.  After 3 tries, my bank put a hold on my card and I ended up paying cash. 

Narrow opening from river to Marina, what you can't see is about 18 eagles on the beach across the river.

La Push still has an active fishing fleet, so best to call ahead for reservations.

Heading out of La Push and nearing the bar.

Westerly winds filled in for a few hours and unfurled the sails for long overdue sailing. The wind diminished, so I went inshore to take in the details of this spectacular coastline of rocky spires and thundering waves.

At Cape Flattery and I took the 'Hole in the Wall' short cut between Tatoosh island and the Cape. Definitely something to avoid in the dark, but easy to navigate safely in daytime with settled conditions.
Approaching Hole in the Wall from the south.   Tatoosh Island on left, Cape Flattery on right

Exhausted from month long journey single handed sailing up the coast, once I turned into the Strait of Juan De Fuca I could hardly keep my eyes open.  I considered a stop at Neah Bay, but pushed on another 25 miles to Pillar Point and dropped the hook.  I thought I'd stay the night, but it was not the perfect anchorage, so with just enough hours left in the day pushed on to Port Angeles yet another 30 miles.

As I type we are underway for Anacortes, where I rendezvous with Kathy tomorrow.

Out of the corner of my eye I just saw a huge splash from a breaching whale, so altered course a bit to check it out.   I am now touch typing as I look out the window, hoping to catch more of the show.

Speaking of whales, when I arrived in La Push, the friendly owner Jim of the charter sport fishing boat 'Epic' took my lines as I pulled up to the dock.  Jim had a great story about encountering a pod of Killer whales earlier that day.  The Killer moms were apparently teaching their young calf's how to hunt and kill as they toyed with a 600 pound sea lion.  The sea lion was the underdog in the story and after looking at over 200 photos from the day and some great video, I was feeling sorry for the sea lion who was repeatedly tossed in to the air and smacked around by the Whales.  Apparently, the show went on for nearly an hour and then they finally ate him, talk about playing with your food.

If you want to go ocean fishing these guys are the best in the business, they try harder and catch bigger fish.  Give Jim Miller on the 'Epic' a call (253) 606-5517  All Whale photos courtesy of Jim Miller.

Whales pouncing on a Sea lion in the vicinity of Umatilla Reef. Copyright Jim Miller 2016

Copyright Jim Miller 2016

You can see the tail of the Sea lion just to the left of the whales.  Copyright Jim Miller 2016

Copyright Jim Miller 2016

Copyright Jim Miller 2016

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Westport to La Push

May 21,2016
Westport to La Push
LightSpeed arriving Westport.

Arrived safely in La Push, bar crossing was most benign of any yet.  Absolutley stunning scenery here on the wild Washington coast.  Good to be back in the Pacific Northwest. No cell coverage here, posting from Quileute Oceanside resort hotspot on my phone, so need to edit and upload photos later.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Astoria to Westport

May 20, 2016
Underway Astoria to Westport, Washington

Ticked on the boxes on my To do list for the quick haul-out in Astoria.  Would have been back in the water faster if I'd planned in advance, but none the less a pretty quick turn around considering some weather delays.

My opinion of the Port of Astoria has diminished greatly, prices increased, so no longer super cheap and my bill came to $801 for the haul, wash and blocking.  No bargain considering the shitty weather in Astoria and the Ports decision to shrink the boat yard and surround it with a industrial log shipping terminal.  Very noisy, the ground shakes under the large machines and tumbling logs and if you catch some nice weather then count on dust clouds.  Unpleasant and unsuitable for painting top sides, decks or even waxing the hull... I doubt I'll be back.

Installed the temporary Volvo 17x14 LH propellers, while I sort out what to do with my existing failed Gori 2 blade propellers.  Turns out that Volvo props suited for the 110 and 120 sail drives fit the Yanmar SD20 sail drive no problem.  I also gambled a bit and guessed correctly that the Volvo sail drive propeller nut is compatible with the Yanmar SD20 saild rive.  Saved over $100 per nut on that guess, who ever said Volvo parts were expensive didn't have a Yanmar sail drive.

New propellers have more diameter and more pitch and I can still get full revs and now we can power faster and maybe more efficiently.  MAJOR trade off is sailing performance will be diminished until I get some folding propellers installed.

Launched about noon, did a sea trial and then pulled into the fuel dock, since it was closed for lunch I went to lunch as well.  The weather looked pretty good and a quick calculation indicated that I could still make it to Westport if I hustled.  I skipped refueling in favor of arriving before dark.  Just enough fuel and favorable winds to get me Westport before dark.

Tomorrow, it's La Push if the bar conditions allow or a really long 112 nautical mile run to Neah Bay.  Kathy is rendezvousing with me on Monday or Tuesday, so gotta hustle to get to Seattle area.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Arrived Astoria

May 16, 2016
Astoria, Oregon

Hauled the boat this morning at the Port of Astoria.

After all that talk of running over a crab trapfloat, I found the last possible one to hit just as I entered the approach to the Columbia river bar.  I limped into the marina, had some dinner and then went for a swim.  I procrastinated, so the sun was down and that spring run off river water is chilly.  Cleared the line and had a nice hot shower.

This morning I was busy ordering boat bits for the haulout and then at 10 I headed over to the slipway for the lift.  Brandon and Jose did a nice job and Lightspeed is ridin high on land.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Tillamook to Astoria

May 15, 2016 @ 8AM
Tillamook to Astoria
45 40N 123 57W

Rain, fog and very low clouds, made for an authentic welcome to the Pacific Northwest fishing village of Garibaldi  just inside Tillamook harbor.  I pulled up to the Garibaldi Marina dock and considered staying for the night, but $25 and no power hookup compelled me to anchor in the bay.  I wouldn't recommend anchoring out as the currents in the bay are super strong, maybe more than 2 knots, which I found out later in the evening.  I tried my luck at crabbing, but only caught small ones, so no crab for dinner.  

Yesterday we had a small bird visit, the second in two days.  I think these little guys get lost in the fog and stop at the boat for a rest.  This little guy was wet and exhausted when he landed.  I put out some bread crumbs, but the tiny little thing couldn't settle and never fueled up.  The little bird kept hopping around the boat, much to the delight of boat kitty Shell who tracked every movement from the comfort of the warm cabin.  At one point I opened the door and the bird immediately few in and Shell took to the chase.  Little bird ended up perched behind the computer monitor and out of reach.  Shell was beside herself and walking all over the computer.  Eventually, I shooed the bird back outside and sadly late in the day I found him expired.  I think it was exhaustion and exposure as I kept Shell from harassing him.

Taking it slow today as the Columbia river bar doesn't turn to flood until around 5PM and even with light winds and minimal seas, I'll wait for flood tide.  Currently anchored in about 50' off Nehalem Beach trying for more crab.

Little bird stopped to take a break from the fog and rain.

Shell probably wouldn't make it in the wild as I think she is scared of this tiny bird.


Twin Rocks near Tillamook Oregon.

Early morning on the Pacific coast of Oregon.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Newport to Tillamook

May 14, 2016 @ 9AM
Underway Newport to Tillamook Oregon
44 40N 124 06W

Welcome back to the PNW.
All that rain is making seeing the crab gear all the more difficult.
Crab floats with floating line

Any time you're in less than 70 fathoms or 420 feet, you are going to see the ocean dotted with crab gear.  Over the course of a day I will see many hundreds of these propeller tangling floats and quite regularly take avoiding action. It would be fine and simple if I could just run in deep water, but getting out to deep water is not so simple.  Off Newport Oregon I would need to travel 20 miles directly offshore before finding 70 fathoms an unacceptable detour.  So, thus the need to stay constantly focused on avoiding crab gear and the extra fatigue that comes with it.  ay!

Got a chance to sleep in today to accommodate the correct timing for bar crossings at both Newport and Tillamook.  Since sea conditions were light I wanted to leave Newport on the ebb to get the extra boost of speed heading out and more importantly, I wanted to plan my arrival at the Tillamook bar for the flood tide to get a nice push up the river.

Arrived in Newport on Friday amidst a recreational halibut opener and some 600 small boats.  This presented a bit of a challenge at the fuel dock which was packed with at least a dozen boats and as many more waiting.  All these boats wanted gasoline and the diesel pumps had no callers, but were blocked by the cue.  I docked at the transient dock and walked to the fuel dock, the goal was to negotiate a space in the cue to access the diesel pump and hopefully avoid a fist fight in the process.  I spoke with all 12 boats on the dock and the crew of the fuel dock and then jogged back to Lightspeed and whipped over to the fuel dock parking perfectly Capt'n Ron style.  I got my 34 gallons and moved back to the transient dock with no incident with the unruly and somewhat drunk fishermen.  I guess that UW Fuskies win/win negation class I took maybe 15 years ago finally paid off as dealing with all these Oregon Ducks and Beavers is no small feat. Or more likely it was the superior education I got at WSU.

Next order of business was heading to Rogue for a beer and dinner.

Rogue 4 hop IPA

Newport is my favorite stop on the coast as you can walk over to Rogue brewing and grab a beer at the very authentic and original tasting room inside the factory.  I had a nice chat with Dan a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Special Agent and some Albacore fish and chips.

Looks at the weather forecast, it looks like we'll be delayed in Astoria, Oregon, so called the Port of Astoria on the off chance I could schedule a haulout for Monday.  Talked to Steve the yard manager and we're hauling out on Monday at 10AM.

Boat yard projects;
Paint bottom
Remove GORI 2 blade folding propellers for refurbishment, which could take many months as they may need to go back to the factory in Denmark.
Install fixed blade temporary propellers.
Change oil and seals in sail drives.
Change zincs.

Should be a quick haul out as no major projects planned... yep, well see how that goes.  Kathy should be back on board around the 22nd, so goal is to be back in the water and looking for weather to head up the Washington coast. 


Friday, May 13, 2016

Coos Bay to Newport

May 13, 2016 @ 7:15am
Underway Coos Bay to Newport, Oregon
43 27N 124 21W

Newport, Oregon

Seems like these 10-12 hour runs each day would yield plenty of time to get some projects done, but not the case as keeping a look out is pretty much all consuming without Kathy on board to help keep watch.

No easy answer to avoiding the hazards of coast wise navigation.  Running close to shore you usually get the benefit of less seas, wind and less adverse current.  The trade off is you get lots more traffic and crab gear, however this is my preference as I going north bound the current can plenty of speed.

Conventional wisdom is that running further out is safer, however you typically get adverse ocean currents and more wind and bigger seas, you also get bigger ships.  Case in point, lots of fishing activity in the 400-500 depth ranges yesterday, which would normally be where you'd be deep enough to avoid crab gear. Yesterday it was big trawlers, dragging nets and circling about causing my AIS alarm to sound frequently, I saw in excess of 50 vessels.  Out in deep water the current can really hurt, in the vicinity of Cabo Blanco I found significant south setting 1- 2 knots outside the 50 fathom line and next time, I'd run close to beach approaching Port Orford as likely there is a back eddy current that would be beneficial and worth the extra diligence in actively steering around crab gear and boats.

To top it off there is much more coast wise traffic here in Oregon with Salmon trollers entering the mix and plenty of sport fishers as the weekend approaches.

Crossing the bar into Coos Bay was easy as I caught the tide right and the seas had mellowed,  The entrance was busy with the fishing fleet heading in for the day and the Army corp of engineers was actively dredging the Coos Bay bar.

I was happy to find plenty of space to tie up in Charleston Harbor for a very reasonable $19.69 for the night.  Made a nice chicken curry for dinner and good thing I decided to cook the chicken, as no keepers in the crab trap.

Weather looks good through Sunday and then North winds about the time I'd like to be making the run up the Washington coast.
The question now, is where to wait for weather?  Should I stop in Astoria or just push as far as I can?  I'd rather be stuck waiting for weather in a Astoria vs Westport or La Push. No good internet the last 24 hours, so no good insights on what the weather models look like longer term.
GFS GRIB file shows pretty much zero wind.  Perfect for going North.

Most of the trip, I've had some sort of cell connection.  Much of the time, my phone says 'Emergency calls only', the network of choice would be Verizon or AT&T, not so much T-Mobile here in Oregon.

Flat'ish seas today and heavy marine layer, thankfully no fog as watching the radar all day is very demanding. Should be an easy trip to Newport and tomorrow Tillamook and then?


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Brookings to Coos Bay

May 12, 2016 @ 6AM
Underway Brookings to Coos Bay
42 03 N 124 21W

Arrived Brookings around 2PM yesterday and crossed the Chetco river bar on the tail end of the flood tide.  Tied up at the fuel dock to wait my turn for fuel.

Then, just as my buddy Paddy warned 'you will be boarded by the coast guard in Brookings' it was all of 15 minutes before the coasties pulled up behind me at the fuel dock and came aboard for an inspection.  Life jackets, fire extinguishers, flotation throw device, documentation, drivers license and verification that holding tank overboard valve was closed.  As a USCG documented vessel, we can be inspected at anytime for any reason, this one seemed to be for USCG training purposes.

Back to waiting in the fuel dock line, I went up the dock to chat with the fishing boat that was taking forever to fill up.  It was a long chat as they took 2000 gallons and it was nearly 4PM before it was my turn to take on the 40 gallons I needed to top up the tanks.  I called the harbor master about 7 times trying to get a slip assignment, but the guy was not too good with time management as despite saying he would be down in 20 minutes, he never showed.  After fueling I just picked a spot of my choosing, tied up and had a much needed nap.

After the nap, I walked from the harbor to the actual town of Brookings, it a few miles, but was nice to stretch the legs.  The mission was to find a crab trap, I have a few more stops in Oregon and it should be pretty easy to pick up a few crab dinners.  Found the trap at a place called Bi-Mart and it was only $20 and also picked up some new fishing lures for salmon and cod fishing.  An out of state fishing license is only $20, so a pretty sweet deal.

Back on the boat, checked weather and got to bed.  Alarm rang at 5:15 this AM, indicating I need to get moving to cross the Chetco river bar while the tide was still flooding.

FOG again, so looks like we'll be running the bar on radar.  Squeegeed the windows, just in case I might be able to see something and then cast of the dock lines.  Didn't have time to make coffee as only a few minutes before slack tide turns to ebb.  Noticed the USCG was getting ready to head out and check bar conditions, but I beat them out of the harbor.

Used the NAV function on my autopilot to drive the pre-planned route as I needed to watch the radar and try to look for crab gear in the dark and fog.  Mostly wishful thinking to expect to see any crab gear in these conditions.  Wondering if I could add a high power LED flood light such as the fishing boats use?  Seems that with the efficiency of LED I might be able to run some powerful lights when motoring.  Sure would be nice to have some light to help see and avoid crab gear.  Also would be helpful in being seen by other boats from time to time the lights could be switched on.

Brookings seems like a nice little town of 6000 situated in what is humorously called the Banana belt of Oregon.  Average high temp in June is 67F.

Today it's about 95nm to Coos bay, once out in to 60-70 fathoms of water I can relax a bit as should be out of crab gear.  A fathom is 6 feet.  Winds are light and forecast to be SW 5, so should be another motorboat ride.  Can't complain as this forecast gets us moving up the coast quickly.  Hopeful that fog will abate as vis is about 1/2 mile now that the sun is up.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Eureka to Brookings, Oregon

May 11, 2016 5AM
Underway from Eureka to Brookings, Oregon (Chetco River)

Slack water on the bar was 3:57 AM, so we were up at 3:15 to check weather.  I say 'we', but Kathy is on a business trip, so the 'we' was me and boat kitty Shell.  The cabin windows were heavy with dew and it looked pretty foggy, so a squeegee of the windows was the first order of business.  A few crab boats were heading out the channel and despite their super bright work lights, we're mostly veiled by the fog and but a smudge in an otherwise blanket of darkness.

Once the coffee was made and NOAA weather checked it was time to fire up the engines and get the anchor up.  Ghost is the perfect term to describe moving in the darkness and dense fog, scary is the very palatable sensation.  As we rolled up and over the invisible seas on the bar, I was thinking of the memorials to lost fishermen you find at every harbor along the coast, these are the sorts of conditions that make new ghosts.

Today we're heading for Brookings Oregon 80 nautical miles to the North, we'll arrive around 2PM, fuel up and take the rest of the day off.  Tomorrow, we'll probally go for Coos Bay another 80 mile run.

In the dark,


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

North bound - Fort Bragg to Eureka

May 10, 2016
Humboldt Bay (Eureka)
Anchored at: 40 45.49 N 124 13.09 W

Slipped out of Fort Bragg about 15 minutes after the 40' Eagle motor yacht 'Copper Star', we'd enjoyed the company of long time sailors Mike and Rae whom had circumnavigated and racked up 100,000 ocean miles.  Most of the day I was slowly catching up to their displacement trawler and near Cape Mendocino I finally slipped past when I cut the corner a bit.

Nearly no wind today, so motored along the 50 fathom or (300 foot) contour to stay clear of crab fishing gear.  North setting current help push us along at times, but also created havoc at Punta Gorda and Cape Mendocino where the wind blown 10' seas at 10 seconds stacked up against north bound current.  Much of the time it felt like a carnival ride as we launched off seas and Lightspeed lurched providing that stomach in your throat sensation.  I'd guess some of the seas at the capes were in excess of 20' and the period was super short.

Arrivng at the Humbolt Bay bar I headed in with out delay.  The tide was ebbing and the Coast Guard was calling the bar conditions dangerous.  I felt confident that Lightspeed would just happily surf big and ocacionaly breaking waves and she did, but I was a little frazzled by the time we got through several major surfs of nearly 16 knots with breaking seas on the stern.  I was worried for Mike and Rae as the Eagle 40 was a new to them boat and conditions on the bar were very much scary.

Across and into safety I repeatedly hailed 'Copper Star' whom was quickly aproaching the enterence.  Nothing heard!   I was getting no response and wanted to warn them off crossing Still nothing heard!  From the get go, it didn't look good as huge waves were closing out the enterance and then as they fully committed, their boat was almost immediately broached as a big wave spun their stern to port.  During a broach the boat is dangerously exposed to a rollover.  Mike righted the course, but seconds later another over taking sea broached them again.  Each successive wave was pushing them closer to the breakwater and I was really nervous as huge seas broke behind them.  A rollover would mean certain death from exposure in the chilly 50 degree waters for these 80 years old sailors.    Helplessly watching them be tossed by the seas was really stressful.

Gunning the throttle to correct their course with crashing waves on the jetty they negoiated the last of the huge waves and I siged in relief and grabbed a beer.     My plan was to anchor just inside the bay and out side the main channel.  I was dropping anchor as they passed by Lightspeed, but I still couldn't raise them on the radio.  About 5 minutes later Mike called on the VHF and I asked why he didn't respond to my hails... apparently the radio got switched to CH30!  I'm glad they made it across, that Eagle 40 is a sturdy little trawler.  Tomorrow the seas should be considerably smaller and with a longer period, so I hope to make some miles.

 Happy to be anchored after a 96nm of lumpy seas.


West Coast USA weather links

Cape Mendocino Area Marine Weather

Zone map

Graphical Forecast

Text forecast


Cape Mendocio Bouy 94

NOAA Eureka

Ocean Currents

'The Plan' - Underway for Washington State

May 10, 2016
Fort Bragg, California
39 26N 123 48W

Underway this morning at 6AM and heading North toward Eureka, 102nm.

It all started with an innocent weekend trip from San Diego to Catalina, then in the absence of any pesky planning we were underway for a summer in Washington State.

More soon,


Thursday, May 05, 2016

Noyo River

Noyo River enterence
Catching a little surf across the bar.
 Noyo harbor is the most authentic harbor on the West Coast, a real working port

As is tradition, Dave sporting a new beard for the trip up the west coast.  

 Kathy flew in from a week long business trip and her brother Dan drove her out to Fort Bragg.
 Looking west toward the ocean and Highway 101 bridge at the Noyo River.
 Dan planned to stay the night, so we did a pub crawl on the Noyo river waterfront.
 We also did some sailing in the harbor, here Dan is sailing our Lehman 12 dinghy.
 Overview of Noyo River (screen shot from my phone)
 Kathy picking some salmon berries at Noyo River, we must still be in California if there are ripe berries in early May.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016