Saturday, August 30, 2014

August 30, 2014 - Grays Harbor

Another awesome day but long transit.  We are going to stay put tomorrow and play around Ocean Shores/Westport.  We arrived around 3:30pm today and decided to anchor rather than go to the busy Westport marina on a 3-day weekend.  Not much is said about anchoring in here and no one is even doing so today, but we chose a nice spot out of the way.   Our transit today had a mix of conditions from calm to a bit rough.  We started with small long swells and abruptly transitioned to short steep swells, and ended with a nice following-sea/swell.  Today was the first I think the kids and I experienced what an ocean swell really feels like.  In the morning it was very calm so Steve decided to work on a boat project.  At that same moment I spotted a whale blow, our first one this trip.  They were going the same direction, south.  Cindy and I went up on the bow to watch and take some pictures.  Soon after the seas changed from flat to some very short period waves that sent the boat bobbing like a cork.  These were not in the forecast, and were not in the direction of the forecasted swell.  It was an uncomfortable ride for a few hours, so a bit of sit down time was in order.  So much for Steve's boat project.  The kids played legos most of the day.

After anchoring we had an early dinner and then headed for shore. The first time with our newly reconfigured dinghy.  We changed from a heavy 4-stroke steering wheel with power tilt and electric start, to a lightweight 2-stroke tiller steer and a pull start.  We shaved more than 175 pounds of wieght from our dinghy, and opened up the interior space so we can better fit our bikes, and all the supplies we will be shuttling back to the boat over the year or two.  We miss the comfy seats, and the power tilt and electric start.  But the new configuration is definitely more practical, and there is a lot less to maintain as is now a model of simplicity.  We went to shore and once again the kids were in the surf with clothes and not bathing suits. (Laundry was done tonight onboard with our boat's washer/dryer).    We scoped out the skim boarding and it could be a good spot if the tide us right.  So tomorrow along with Westport, we hope for good weather and beach time.


Who remembers the theme to the 'Beverly Hill Billies?'
2 dinghies, 2 kayaks, 4 bikes, 2 kneeboards, and more.

Still dry warming up for the big waves

Our boat is a tiny dot back there to the left

Brown pelicans are everywhere and fun to watch

August 30, 2014 - Underway to Grays Harbor

We got an early start today leaving the marina at first light.  Fishing boats began leaving about an hour before us so we were not alone in the early morning.  Last night just after dark a coast guard motor life boat left it's boathouse in La Push, passing withing a few feet of our boat.  They were only gone for an hour or two, so perhaps it was a training exercise or they were escorting a boat across the bar.  These boats are amazing.  They can roll completely over and then self-right themselves and continue going.  There are lots of great videos on you tube showing these boats off Astoria Oregon practicing in the heavy surf.

Here is one such video:

We thought we'd share a little about what it's been like so far with several long days of motoring.  It's actually quite easy going.  The autopilot keeps us right on course so we don't need to sit and steer at all.  While you are on watch, you do need to look ahead for any obstacles(we only had to change course once when we ended up running parallel to a string of crab pots about 50' of our port side), and you need to check all the engine gauges to make sure the oil pressure is good, the engines are being properly cooled, and that the fuel filters are not clogging.  So far I've had to change fuel filters 4 times.  We are using two fuel tanks that we have not used for a year or more.  They were empty and I did clean them about a year ago, but I could not get into each baffled compartment.  I suspect that the process of rapidly dumping 260 gallons into each tank sort of scoured the bottom and side putting any sludge into suspension in the fuel.  Not bobbing around in the ocean those contaminants are being drawn into the fuel filters.  The engines draw a lot more fuel than they burn and the excess is returned to the tanks.  Eventually we will have "polished" these tanks and we will stop going through filters.

 Our internet connection has been great so far with no lack of coverage from La Conner to Grays Harbor.  We are using a Verizon Jetpack which creates a wifi hotspot that 5 devices can access simultaneously.  It has been GREAT.

Conditions on the ocean have been exceptionally good.  The winds have been less than 15 knots with a very mild swell.  We are experiencing wind waves, like we are used to in our home waters.  So the ride is something we are used to.  The constant motion of the boat does make it a little difficult to walk around, and our narrow, steep, curving stairway to the staterooms and heads is a little tricky.  We must exercise caution on the stairs.

There are very few boats and very little radio traffic out here.  Visibility has been good most of the time, but fog has descended on us a few times reducing visibility to less than 1/8 mile.  They do call this month Fog-ust on the coast for good reason.

We are travelling close to shore, or with "one foot on the beach" as cruisers refer to this tactic.  We would experience a smoother ride further offshore, but with our intent of harbor hopping, getting 30  miles offshore would add many hours to every day of transit.  It's just not worth it.  But with such favorable seas, there really is no need to get further offshore.

 People may be wondering about sea sickness.  So far the only casualty has been our kitty Zappa.  He did get sick on our Strait of Juan De Fuca day.  It was quite rough for the first few hours and Zappa threw up on a pair of my shorts, which were laying on our bed.  I'd rather clean a pair of short than try to clean the blanket.  Since that event Zappa has been just fine.  I (Steve) did feel a bit queezy yesterday after spending an hour moving stuff from the pilothouse settee down to our stateroom.  I was up and down those step at least 25 times and I think that probably did me in.  I ended up putting on the "anti-queeze" wrist bands and laying down for a little while.  I was better in an hour.  Cindy has complained a few times about feeling slightly sea sick, but so far nothing serious.

Friday, August 29, 2014

August 29, 2014 - Neah Bay to La Push

What a great day today.  We fueled up in Neah Bay and then motored out past Cape Flattery in the fog and down the coast to La Push.  The fog lifted just as we approached Cape Flattery, the very tip of WA state.  We experienced fog and choppy seas but overall great conditions for the transit.  There was almost no sea swell.  The boat is working great, with nothing to fix so far.  Our first Bar crossing was entering La Push.  Seas were calm so our entry was easy.  The marina is small and basically we only had one choice for a full length slip.  The regular tennant is out fishing at WestPort.  We hope he doesn't come back tonight!  We are one of the biggest boats here.  The docks are rickety and there are only a couple cleats to tie to.  Fortunately it will be a calm night, so there is no worry about our 60,000+ pound boat overloading these old wood docks.

We took a little walk around the Indian village of La Push and ended up on a nice sand beach with breaking waves.  The kids played in the surf for about an hour.  They had a great time trying to outrun the waves as they washed up the beach.  La Push is set in a very scenic location.  It is beautiful here with rugged islands and spires dotting the jagged coastline.

Tomorrow we have another long day of motoring to get to Grays Harbor where we will spend Sunday exploring.
Cape Flattery

Entrance to La Push

Cindy playing in the surf

Kevin and Cindy in the surf

More surf fun

Weather changes quickly, this is within an hour of prior picture!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

August 28, 2014 - Transiting the Straight of Juan De Fuca

What a long day today of motoring from east to west through the Strait of Juan De Fuca.  We looked at the weather at 5:45am and made the decision to delay our start of the long day as the winds were higher than desired.  Gale force winds were forecast for one portion.  Heavy fog also rolled in but then cleared a few hours later so we decided to head out.  The coastal weather forecast is ideal, but the conditions were poor in the Strait for the next few days.  We decided to tough it out for the first half of the day so we could get past the bad weather section and begin our transit of the coast while the calm remains.  We started at 9am, reaching Neah Bay at 7:40pm.  We experienced fog, choppy seas, and even a coast guard boat that rapidly passed us going the opposite direction, and then make a U-turn and pulled up right behind us.  The thought of stopping to be boarded was scary in the seas we were in.  They hailed us on VHF and asked a few questions.  They had some pauses where I imagine they were looking us up via some expensive US government wireless technology only to find that we are squeeky clean with no criminal records, or even speeding tickets.  Steve has a US Coast Guard Captain's license, and we all have passports and Nexus cards.  I doubt they could find any meaningful reason to board our boat, so they sent us on our way without boarding, thankfully.  We were pressed for time to get to Neah bay before dark and a boarding would have likely made it a nighttime arrival in an unfamiliar port.  The situation was a bit scary but we know we have nothing onboard to cause us to be worried.

Later Steve hailed a Coast Guard cutter than was involved in some sort of military practice.  We were just entering the "danger zone" and wanted to find out if we were safe to transit this section of the Strait.  They told the operations were over and it was safe.  A few minutes later the Coast Guard made an announcement to all boaters on the VHF stating the operations were over.

Just as we were nearing Neah Bay, a very strange looking boat appeared out of the fog.  We had been tracking it for a while on radar and AIS.  When it's shape appeared Steve recognized it from pictures he'd seen in various boating magazines.  It looks like a submarine, and is almost 400 feet long.  It's one of the largest private yachts in the world, and it is named "A".  It is very distinctive looking.  I just came in from the ocean and was headed toward Puget Sound or Canadian waters.

We are presently anchored just off the marina in Neah Bay.  Tomorrow we fill the fuel tanks and possibly head to La Push, about a 6 hour journey.  We will turn the corner at Cape Flattery and begin our journey south.  Another monumental day for us!  There is not much in La Push and understand cell coverage is poor so it may be a day or two before an update.  But you can always follow our progress with the SPOT satellite tracker.  The link is at the top of the page.

A "tall ship" sailing by.

Entering a fog bank in the Strait of Juan De Fuca

Hanging out in the pilothouse.  Almost to Neah Bay.  Foggy.

The unusual megayacht "A", owned by a Russian Billionaire.

Sunset as we near Neah Bay, Washington

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

August 27, 2014 - The BIG Adventure Begins!

Today was the day, we left the dock, turned the corner into the channel and came to realize our dream coming true.  Wow, even up to the last moments it seemed unreal.  As we left Shelter Bay with some friends on the dock, we also were surprised at many people waving us farewell from their homes.  That was an emotional moment, and thank you all for the well wishes.
Sunrise from Shelter Bay the day we are leaving!

Steve, Cindy, Kathy and Kevin

We wanted to give thanks to all who we have spoken to about our adventure and those that came to our farewell party a few weeks ago with inspiring stories of their previous similar adventures.  Everyone we have met that has undertaken a similar adventure with their children has encouraged us, and they all tell us that this will be one of the most positive periods in our lives, and for our children as well.  A great big THANK YOU goes to Jamie for being a lifesaver.  He spent a good portion of his day off work yesterday to drive to Seattle, with two of his children in the car, just to pick up our new liferaft that was late arriving from Florida.  Without his help, we likely would not have left today.  Also, thanks to friends of the kids that have taken them over the past several weeks so that they could enjoy some end of summer time with their friends, while we worked on all the tedious chores required to make this trip become reality.  Many more thanks are deserved, but there is not enough time here tonight to do so.

We left at 10:20AM this morning.  As we were motoring toward Deception Pass under clear sunny skies, we were hearing of the fog in Rosario Strait via the VHF radio.  The fog was west of the bridge, which is pretty normal this time of year.  As we approach the fog, of course one of the two radars will not change it's range.  We have two radars so thankful for that.   Everything has been working just fine.  We have many chores planned for battening down the hatches prior to the trip tomorrow.  We are not expecting rough conditions tomorrow, but once we get out into the ocean rough waters will find us.  So, we are spending some time now preparing the boat for the inevitable rougher conditions.
Deception Pass and bridge, fog in Rosario Strait

Our plan today was to anchor in Aleck Bay, Lopez Island and then spend the afternoon getting ready for a long day tomorrow in hopes of reaching Neah Bay for fuel.  Yes, A LOT of fuel, we believe 1000 gallons or so.  Ouch!  We have enjoyed a nice sunny afternoon here.  The sunset right now is very colorful.  This has been a great first day to mark the start of our big trip!!!
Sunset in Aleck Bay

Our location and tracking device for our trip will be up and running in the next day or two.

Monday, August 25, 2014

August 25, 2014 - Departure Update

It is taking a bit longer to complete preparations for a departure (house and boat) as well as waiting for a life raft that is due in today but looks as if it may be tomorrow.  Our departure is now planned for Wednesday the 27th at 10am, heading south through the channel and out Deception Pass at slack.

Friday, August 22, 2014

August 22, 2014 - getting close to leaving

As it stands now, we will be cutting our dock lines Tuesday morning, August 26.  About 10 days later than our "optimal" departure date.  Our original departure date was to be Sept 1, but many experienced coastal boaters encouraged us to leave earlier for the prospect of calmer conditions on the ocean.  There has been so much more work too do to get ready for this trip that our August 15 date became unobtainable.

It looks like we have renters for our house.  They just have to pass the background check, which we think they will.  It's a very nice family of 4, with two little ones.  They love our house and it's location near the pool, playground, tennis courts, and clubhouse.  I'm sure they will enjoy it as much as we have.

The living spaces in our house are virtually empty now.  Kathy has been VERY busy emptying every cabinet and closet.  She's also been cleaning the entire house.  We have taken dozens of trips to the storage unit with our belongings.  We just keep taking more over there.  The worst is yet to come though.  My shop and the garage are yet to be fully emptied.  That's where the heavy stuff is like a joiner, a table saw, drill press, and bandsaw. By the end of the weekend we will have an empty shop, garage, and house.  We think we will need to move onto the boat by Sunday night.

The boat should be mostly ready to move aboard by Sunday night.  It's been a tedious and long job wrapping up so many projects on the boat.  I have spent a few 20 hour days in the past week trying to get everything done.  Not fun.  The safety related stuff is now all completed.  Now I'm working on the "nice" stuff.  The things that will make life better onboard, like having hot water.  I just installed a new, bigger, hot water tank in the engine room.  But I had to replumb the hot water side, and I had to hook it into the engine cooling system so the engine could heat the water when we are underway.

I finished the hot water tank plumbing today, I also finished the dinghy securing system I came up with, and hooked up our windshield wiper controls, and the two horns.  I also made a little work bench in the engine room above the start batteries.  I'm trying to wrap up the instrument cluster at the helm, and I need to secure the solar panels so they can't swing outward in rough water.  I have most of the parts and pieces, I just need time to get it all installed.

Once we get underway we can relax a little, organize the boat, and think about what lies ahead.  We can't wait!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

August 10, 2014 - Thank you, and and update on our plans

Thanks for all the well wishes and questions on when we plan to leave.  Right now we are hoping to leave the Shelter Bay dock between the 20th and 25th.  As we get closer we will post a more definitive day and time.

Our weekend has been occupied with trips to the dump, two yesterday and two today.  Yesterday we emptied a garage full of items (from two boats and leftover building supplies from building our house).  Ten years of many things.  I was surprised to find out we had about 2500lbs with about 200lbs from the house and the rest from the building materials (home and boats) from the garage.  Well, that was yesterday.  Today, our 18th year anniversary of marriage, we had more fun spending time emptying out a crawl space at Steve's sister's house that had items from when we moved up here prior to building our house.  All I can say is out of sight, out of mind! We forgot most of it was under her house.  Confused, don't worry, just too much stuff!  Much of today was metal which was recyclable for free (thank goodness for the environment and our finances), but we had about another 2000lbs of items (no typo there).  Wow, over 2 tons of things to get rid of.  Keep in mind, all of the clothes, toys, and other reusable items were not included, we obviously are giving away items that can provide for other families.

The house is about ready to show as a rental.  We live still in the house but have had the carpets cleaned so everything is sparse around here.  We sleep on a mattress on the floor and the kids have a folding cushion each.  We have some clothes in closets but not much else in the regular living space.  Much of our remaining time will be spent emptying the first floor rec-room/craft room and the garage to prepare it for rental.

On the boat, Steve has now installed the watermaker, both radars, most of the other electronics, and is getting ready to install a new water heater.  It is a 30 gallon unit compared to the tiny 10 gallon water heater that was 30+ years old and full of rusty sediment at the bottom.   We are starting to move items to the boat for our trip.  We hope we can remember where we put everything!

-Kathy, Steve, Cindy, Kevin, and the cat Zappa

Sunday, August 3, 2014

August 4, 2014 - Our lives are changing

Already I feel our lives changing....

The house is moving toward emptiness and the boat to be our home.  I made our bed this afternoon at the house and felt some dejavu’ from my past.  I was making our bed which is now on the floor, as our furniture has moved to storage, and I was remembering the old times.  I moved from the east coast of the USA and spent my first months in the Seattle area on a foam pad that was my bed back in 1990.   I made the leap from east coast to west coast without a job or friends/family in the area, to know that I could be whatever I set my mind to be.  I could make it happen.   Wow, fast forward, getting up from the floor today is something to remember after 23 years of life here and many years on these bones!  I can honestly say that the leap I made to move west and the desire to meet people with the same passions as I have had was well worth it!  Follow your dreams and make your life worthwhile, you only have one!  I would not change that decision I made, even with all the wonderful  friends around me; to leave everyone and everything that was my foundation, to transition to an environment that I felt would embrace the person that I am.   I retain those relationships, friendships, and memories from the east and have made/enjoy so many friendships and fond memories with those that I feel as part of our extended family.  This small town life we live here I would not trade, thank you so much La Conner and families for making our life here so very precious.  Thank you ALL for being a part of my life, my families life, as you all help round out where we have come from and our foundation for what comes next.  I feel confident in our adventure, but without Steve being the solid foundation for our family, this trip could not happen.  He is the superman in our adventure and a true rock in the family.    Here we go, I am so excited to have this adventure with my family......

August 2, 2014 - Bon Voyage Party

Thanks to our friends and family for coming to say goodbye last night!  We had a "Bon Voyage" BBQ party at the Shelter Bay BBQ area next to the marina.  We estimate that more than 100 people attended our going away event.  I guess people really want us to get out of here!

We were so busy talking to our guests that we didn't take any photos.  Bummer.

We left our boat open for people to go check out and at one point I looked down and there must have been 15 people up on the flybridge, with more inside.   I left out a few before pictures in various rooms so those unfamiliar with the boat could see all that we've done to Adagio.  She is a vastly different boat compared to when we bought her 3 years ago.

It was great fun last night to see so many of our friends! 

Thank You!!!!!!

Here is a picture that Kathy took this morning when she walked down t the BBQ area to clean up a bit more.

Blue Heron sitting on one of the dock ramps