Saturday, August 29, 2009

August 29, Fort Bragg

Wednesday, August 26, we finally left Coos Bay at 1:30. The weather was beautiful and the forecast even better, so Earl set his sights on Fort Bragg, close to 300 miles south. Ambitious considering the meager crew and the 6 knot speed of the boat. As forecasted, the weather got better and better, but very foggy. Earl and I alternated watches overnight, but there was not much to see. Only three boats on the radar. Lot of birds. Our light picks up any white on the birds and they look quite dramatic at night. Morning found us about as far south as Trinidad, and still in pea soup fog, but glassy seas. Earl left for a long nap and shower and Mouse and I watched. The only excitement was a boat that was apparently determined to find us in the fog. We tried changing course and blowing the horn, and finally just slowed way down. The radar continued to show a boat headed right for us – actually it was hidden by the image of our boat on the radar- when about 75 yards in front it broke out of the fog and crossed our bow, waving. I wanted to give the skipper a special wave. What a jerk!

The day continued very foggy and very flat. We found a little night hawk on the back deck. Earl finally put him on the swim step and he finally flew off. Then my favorites, pacific whiteside porpoises, came by for a short visit. Even with zero weather, the waters off Cape Mendocino were mixed up – currents going every which way. I was happy we had calm seas and can easily believe some of the scare stories that I had heard. The fog finally lifted south of Cape Mendocino at Punta Gorda and we realized that it would be wise to anchor for the night rather than trying to get to Fort Bragg. We headed for Shelter Cove where we anchored at 10 pm and were rocked to sleep. When dawn arrived we pulled anchor and headed for Fort Bragg. Mouse thought it was going to be an army camp and could not imagine why we thought it would be nice for a multi night stop. She was delighted to find a charming northwest village built around a river harbor. There are tons of sea lions about. A nice Canadian family on a 34 foot sail boat helped us tie up. They have an 11 year old son and plan on spending a year on their boat. The Vancouver School District has loaded a year’s worth of school on their laptop and there is a teacher to whom the boy will report periodically by phone. They are also headed for the Sea of Cortez.

We celebrated Mousie's birthday with spareribs, asparagus, raspberry pie, ice cream and lots of wine.

As you can tell, I have not yet quite figured out how to put photos in. They are there, but not very logically placed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

August 26, Coos Bay photos

The light house at Cape Arago
The pond in the Japanese garden at shore acres

The beach at Bandon. In the background, you can see a 'house' someone has made of drift wood

August 26, Coos Bay - still

Saturday, August 21 we left Newport in the fog. Here is the Newport bridge as we left. The sea lions were all over the rocks at the entrance and barking away. The weather was so so. We had planned to go to Winchester Bay on the Umpqua River but by the time we got there, there were breakers all across the bar. The bar was closed to small boats and Earl decided to go on the Coos Bay which has a larger entrance. As we went on, the weather got better, but the Coos Bay bar was closed to vessels 40 feet and under. Earl decided it was a go, and I was stationed in the salon to look for large waves that could break over us from the rear, while he skied the boat in, masterfully. We tied up at the transient dock – not in retrospect the loveliest spot in the world. Earl went down to check the engine and discovered a high pressure fuel line had small leak and was misting diesel around the engine room. Diesel in the engine room is not permitted on Serenity. Earl diagnosed the problem and put in a call to a local mechanic, but he was not working on Sunday. We busied ourselves cleaning house and walking around the port area, technically Charleston, not Coos Bay. There was a locally pottery place that we enjoyed, but not much else.

Monday morning the mechanic came down, agreed with Earl’s diagnosis and said it would take at least a day to get a part. We decided to rent a car, but it was easier said than done. One of the two rental companies had no cars, and the other had only one, an SUV, for an outrageous amount of money. We took it and Mouse and I bought groceries and then picked up Earl and drove down to check out Bandon, which is famous for its links course. The beach is spectacular, large boulders and crashing waves. We had lunch at a Thai restaurant. We all like food, but something – probably the waiter’s expression – warned us off the Thai hot and we settled for the medium plus heat. Wow! I have never had such hot Thai food. The flavor was delicious, I think, but we needed to get ice cream cones afterwards, for medical reasons. Our lips were burning. Later in the afternoon, we dropped Earl off at the boat and Mousie and I took a tour of Cape Arago and a local park, Shore Acres, which has wonderful views and gardens. Quite a lovely day.

Tuesday, a mechanic returned and while Mouse and I returned the car he replaced the hose. We filled with fuel and took off for a long run. But we did not get far. About 1 hour into our trip, Earl checked the engine room, only to find diesel still misting it. Back to Coos Bay and Ed the mechanic. It is now Wednesday am and he is replacing yet another hose. We hope to get off today because the forecast is good and we are tired of sitting at the transient dock in Charleston.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

August 22 - from Astoria to Newport

We finally left Astoria at about 10, well into the flood. Instead of the 10 knots from the day before, we travelled slowly against the tide. It was just as well, since Earl had to maneuver through a fleet of hundreds of little sports fisherman. The bar crossing was uneventful, to the relief of those who had visited the maritime museum the day before and seen photos of the bar when it is not nice. It was a pleasant ride down to Cape Lookout. Greg and Roland no doubt remember this place, but for others, here is the description from the Coast Pilot:

Cape Lookout projects west for 1.5 miles, forming a narrow rocky promontory 432 feet in height at its seaward extremity. The south face is nearly straight and its precipitous cliffs have numerous caves

When we arrived at 7:30, it was a little foggy and the noise of the birds in rookery was extraordinary. Mouse said it was Wagnerian. Despite the roll, Earl was able to grill a steak on the barbeque and we had a pleasant dinner and peaceful night, rocking quietly.

On Friday the 21st, we were off at 7 am for one of those rare days for which the Ocean was named. It was glassy and one could see for miles. We passed flocks of murres, each mother with one or more chicks floating beside her, chattering away. We saw at least 4 whales, but did not determine what kind they were. There are also tons of seals and sea lions.

We tied up at the Embarcadero in Newport at about 1:30 and went in search of lunch. We followed local advice and ate at the Local Ocean Seafood on Bay Street. It was fabulous fusion food: Penn Cove mussels in Thai coconut milk curry, crab and garlic soup, fish tacos, fried oysters, and tempura shrimp with soba noodles, all enhanced by a lovely local wine. Memorable. After lunch Earl went and bought fresh crab for dinner while Mouse and I walked and shopped. We particularly enjoyed looking at all the sea lions on the docks, barking and looking like large brown slugs. Unfortunately, we did not have a camera with us.

August 22 - Photos

Cricket requested photos - we have not taken many, but here are a few.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

August 20, 2009 - Astoria, Oregon

We arrived in Astoria after lunch and moored at West Marina at a beautiful new dock. Earl opted to stay at the boat and Mousie and I went off to explore the town. There is a 100 year old trolley which runs along the Columbia River from our marina all the way through the town. It only comes once an hour or so and there did not appear to be any schedule, but it was adorable and well worth the wait. For $2 you can ride all day, or actually all week if you don’t wash off the stamp on your hand. We got off at the Maritime Museum which was quite wonderful. We were treated to a movie on the terrors of the Columbia River Bar - the graveyard of ships. Mousie was not sure she wanted to go back out over the bar having seen the movie and the 2,000+ shipwrecks plotted on the map. We were very impressed by the now retired Coast Guard 43 foot boat that could roll and very glad to not ever be on it. We found little on the Astor Fur Expedition at the Maritime Museum so we tried the Heritage Museum across the way. Their exhibits mentioned the expedition, but very briefly. Apparently Ramsay Crooks is not immortalized here. Mousie treated us to a lovely dinner and Earl introduced her to seared Ahi tuna which she liked.
We tried to leave at 8 am to catch some of the outgoing tide down the river this morning. Small problem - when Earl tried to leave the slip he discovered we had no water under us. So we had to wait a couple of hours which allowed us to take Daisy for a tour of Uniontown, the old Finish part of Astoria. She found it very exciting and left multiple calling cards.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

August 19, 2009 - On to Astoria

We left Port Angeles on Sunday the 16th at 6:30 headed for Neah Bay 65 miles away. It was another beautiful day, glassy calm sea with just a small swell. We started at the beginning of the flood and fought the current all day, sometimes at a speed of 3.5 knots. Actually fought is the wrong word, because there was nothing adverserial about the day, it was just a little slow. We had hoped to check out the Makah Museum in Neah Bay, but we arrived too late so we just anchored in the Bay and enjoyed a nice evening in lovely surroundings.
We made our first try at downloading weather and it worked very well. We even pulled down the surface temperature charts to see how far we would need to go for tuna fishing. Earl would love to go, but with no empty freezer space and no amount of ice, I don’t know what we would do with one or more tuna. We tried again for crab and again got nothing. Earl is blaming the new collapsable pot I bought.
Monday the 17th, we left Neah Bay at about 5:30. It was lumpy coming out of Juna de Fuca Straits. We had the out going tide against incoming swell, but unlike the day before we were speeding – 8.5 knots. Once we headed south it was lovely, but foggy on the shore so that we saw nothing much. A little shore bird landed on our deck. He looked cold and tired and took a nap on our front deck. Earl put some bread crumbs out for him, but he was not interested. After he left, Daisy cleaned them up. We anchored at around 2 in the lee of Destruction Island which Earl remembered fondly from his younger years fishing out of Westport as a nice anchorage. We rocked and rolled and Earl complained. I guess he has forgotten the happy nights we had in Cook Inlet at Starisky rolling around all night. Anyway, after rolling around for 6 hours, at 8:30 he decided the time had come to head south to Westport. Once underway, the sailing was comfortable. The stars were beautiful and the night was long and uneventful. We arrived in Westport at 6:30 in pea soup fog. The charter boats were roaring out of the harbor and I was afraid Earl was going to hit one and never live it down. Happily we made it to the dock, 120 miles from Neah Bay, and had a beautiful sunny day in Westport.
Mousie and I visited the museum in the old Coast Guard Building which was very nice. Among other things, it houses the lens from the old light house at Destruction Island. It has 1700+ prisms and is really a work of art. We had a visit from Brady and Happy and then Mouse and I went for our first bike ride together in 45 years. It was fun.
Today, Tuesday August 18th, we are on our way to Astoria. It was not nice early and made me bad tempered. But now it is lovely and we have just entered the Columbia River, are making 10.5 with the flood and looking forward to exploring Astoria. Wonder if I’ll find any reference to Ramsay Crooks, our ancestor scout for the Astor Fur Expedition.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

August 15, 09 - We're Off

The big day finally arrived. We needed to make the noon slack water at Deception Pass and so Earl said we needed to leave at 10 am. However, unwilling to take any chance of missing the tide, he revised that to 9 am. Knowing Earl, I assumed that meant that we would really depart at 8, so by then Daisy, Mousie Miles and I were on boat and ready, only to find out that this time, Earl was actually willing to wait till the posted ETD (almost - we actually left at 8:55).
While we waited at the dock, Roland and Nancy Miller came by to see us off and then Pam Oldow came to give us all (including Daisy) a goodby hug.
We ran into Skagit Bay and were at Dewey Beach by 10:15, leaving us less than 2 hours to cool our heels waiting for the tide.
We had a lovely trip to Port Angeles. There was sun, no wind and just a small swell. We passed by Sequim and Dungeness and arrived at around 5, just in time to set the crab pot. We were anchored and ended up setting in water that was too shallow - only got rock crab- but we watched another boat pull a dozen large crab not twenty feet away.
Mousie said the sunset behind the pulp mill stack and plume, which was lovely, reminded her of Elizabeth New Jersey (which might not please the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce).