Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 30, 2014 - Eureka to Fort Bragg

Exiting the bar at Eureka was a little lumpy, but not bad.  There were no breaking waves to battle, nor was there any wind worth mentioning.  It was quite dark even with our nice lights.  I think we need even more candlepower if we are going to be doing this kind of boating on a regular basis.  I don't expect to, but you never know what lies ahead.

After the bar we got out into the Pacific Ocean again.  I breathed a sigh of relief with the bar now behind us.  The seas grew a bit and they were confused.  There was not much of a regular wave pattern so the boat was being tossed about in an uncomfortable motion.  The kids had moved to our bed, which is at the center of motion in all directions and is the best place to be when it gets rough.  They were completely unaware of our discomfort just 8 feet above their peaceful environment.  They were sound asleep.  Zappa our cat started showing signs of sea sickness, and unfortunately so did Kathy.  Eventually the seas won, and Kathy did indeed become seasick.  She took a nap on the settee for a few hours while I motored toward Cape Mendocino in the dark.  Zappa never did get sick, but he was not very happy about being underway again.

The infamous Cape Mendocino.  It was just fine the day we passed, thankfully.

Kathy awoke as it was getting light outside.  We were still 45 minutes from the Cape and conditions were good.  The sea had sorted itself out as we got into deeper water and were riding on a comfortable swell from the stern.  The winds were light.  Visibility was good.  All systems running perfectly.  I felt ready to round Cape Mendocino.  Kathy returned to the settee to rest some more.

The Cape proved to be an easy passage for us.  No huge waves or sudden winds.  This place has a terrible reputation for being violent and unpredictable.  Fortunately we skated though on an "off-day".  No drama or excitement.  That's the best kind of boating; uneventful.

During our transit to Fort Bragg we had a small pod of Dall's Porpoises come play in our bow wake for a few minutes.  It was GREAT.  They would zip around our bow going from side to side popping up to catch a breath with a loud "whoosh" sound of air.  Then back down to zip around some more.  There were probably 20 of them playing at the bow of our boat.  As quickly as they appeared, they disappeared.  It was exciting.

Watching Dall's porpoises play in our bow wake.  Beautiful
weather and sea conditions, just south of Cape Mendocino.

Dall's porpoises come to play

Later we spotted a whale spout several times, but we never saw anything more.  A bit later we saw a few sunfish floating on the surface.  We saw a handful of Valella float by.  Nothing like a few days earlier when we saw them by the thousands.  The sun was out and the winds were ranging between 7-12 knots.  The seas were relatively smooth and it was a comfortable ride.  Kathy and I each took turns napping on the nice bench seat on the bow.  It was very warm nestled into the bench seat.  With the wind from behind us there was no breeze on the bow and the sun felt quite warm.  It was fabulous.

A sunfish.  He appears to be injured.  I saw several others that
swam away as we got close, so I didn't get pictures of them.
Here's a good article about sunfish:

We adjusted our cruising speed early on in the passage so we could arrive at Fort Bragg around 6:15PM.  It's very hard to predict currents on a 105 miles passage, and the GPS speed is constantly fluctuating as the boat rides up and down the swells.  Nonetheless we arrived very close to our predicted time.  We were about 20 minutes early.   Not too bad after 15 hours of motoring.

The entrance to Fort Bragg on the Noyo River is definitely one to remember.   You cannot even see the entrance from offshore.  It starts out in small bay that is very shallow on the sides, with many rocks awaiting an errant navigator.  You then move into a very narrow bar that also has submerged rocks on one side.  Then you round a tight buoy-marked turn while going under the highway 1 bridge.  There are several waterfront restaurants lining the entrance and we could see people snapping pictures of us was we passed by.  Then it's a winding river full of buildings built on pilings over the water, and many fishing boats tied to piers.  It is very narrow and picturesque.  It's one of the most memorable places I have ever taken a boat.  I have never experienced a waterway like this before.  It would make a great setting for a Hollywood high-speed boat chase scene!  Or, throw in a little fog after dark and it could be the creepy "pirates of the Caribbean" ride at Disneyland.  Line up a few drunken sailors on the banks singing "yo ho ho and a bottle of rum" and you could completely skip the Disneyland version.  It is very cool.

The narrow bar entrance to Noyo river.  That's the highway 1 bridge, built in
2005 after the old bridge was determined to be dangerous in an earthquake.

Very interesting, and cool Noyo River.  It might look spooky at night with a
little fog.  

A commercial fishing boat comes in after dark.  Fort Bragg is very interesting.

We will spend a few days here waiting for the next break in the weather.  That break should be on Thursday or Friday.  Fort Bragg looks like a good place for the bikes.  The real town is on the other side of the river so we will need to ride our bikes over the bridge we passed under yesterday.  Town awaits us on the other side.

Adagio tied safely to the docks at Noyo River Public Marina.
Fort Bragg California.

September 29, 2014 - Eureka - where's my bike!

Eureka was a nice stop.  There are some great sand beaches nearby, and it is right next to the redwood forest.  We were able to ride our bikes from the Woodley Island Marina, over a bridge, and get into Eureka's "old town".  It was full of small shops and restaurants and bars.  Unfortunately it is also filled with homeless people.  They are everywhere you look.  On almost every street corner.  Sleeping on benches and in alleys.  Pushing shopping carts with all of their belongings inside or wearing large backpacks stuffed with everything they own.  Some had bikes and many had skateboards.  A large percentage of them had dogs, and smoked cigarettes.  Where they get the money to feed their dogs, and their cigarette habit I don't know.

We had one unfortunate encounter with a street person.  Well, I (Steve) did.  We rented a car on Friday and were over in town on our bikes.  It was getting near the time the car was to be ready so Kathy called and the car was ready, but they had nobody to come pick us up from the marina.  Instead of us all riding back to the marina to await their coming to get us we decided that I would ride over to the rental car place just 4 blocks away and the Kathy and the kids would ride back to the marina.  I rode to the Enterprise Rentals and leaned my bike against their front window, next to the door.  The building is about 100' back from the street and fenced on three sides.  There were several employees cleaning cars and a few customers renting cars.  I waited my turn standing in the doorway enjoying the sunny day.  I finally went inside and filled out paperwork.  I turned my back on my bike for maybe 90 seconds.  As I finished initialing the last field in the rental agreement I turned around after hearing a noise.  Much to my horror a guy was rapidly riding off on my bike out the parking lot past several employees.  I ran outside to the road and he was turning the corner at the next intersection, my bike helmet still dangling from the handlebars.  My bike had been stolen!  The thief had walked up to the building from the street, even poking his head in the doorway to see if anybody was watching, and then grabbed the bike, jumped on, and rode away.   He was a block away in less then 30 seconds.  My back was turned for 90 seconds, the bike just 5 feet away from me on the other side of an 8' tall glass window.  The thief was within perhaps 8 feet of me when he came through the doorway.  He was VERY bold and determined.  We have been extremely careful about locking our bikes and bringing our helmets with us when we go inside shops or to eat a meal.  But, at the car rental facility I never felt like the bike would even be considered as a target for theft.  Days later I am still shocked at this bold crime.  We will never leave a bike unlocked again, even if just 5 feet way.

The police were called and I gave them a description of my bike.  Unfortunately I don't have the frames serial number.  An employee gave a very good description of the thief.  They looked at the security video and the image of the thief was very poor and probably useless.  The officer said that theft is big problem here.  I doubt I'll ever see the bike again.  I think I know how these people are paying for dog food and cigarettes.  It was a unique bike and was perfect for this trip.  It was a Hummer brand folding mountain bike.  They are pretty rare.  It had front shocks and a front disc brake.  It had good quality components and was in very good condition.  My friend Jamie found us this bike and an identical one on Craig's list two months before we left.  We bought both bikes and Cindy is using the other.  Even though this bike is perfect for our trip, I don't care too much about the bike as we are considering our 4 bikes as temporary/disposable vehicles.  We are sure that the salt air and riding on sandy/salty beaches will ruin these bikes before the end of our tip.  The real bummer of this theft is that we really rely on the bikes for getting around when we are in port.   They allow us to explore each town quickly, easily, cheaply, and together.  They provide exercise and a quick method to get to a grocery store to re-provision (sometimes grocery stores are miles from the harbor).   Having just 3 bikes is going to really change the rest of our trip.  What to do?

Cindy's Hummer.  My stolen bike was identical to this.  Aluminum frame.
Great components.  Front disc brake.  front shocks.  Folding frame. It was fun.

Well, Craigs List is going strong in Eureka and we have a car for a few days.  This is a perfect opportunity to search for a new bike.  I scoured Craigs List and found a decent looking Diamondback aluminum mountain bike cheap.  We went and looked at it Saturday after provisioning at Costco and spending time in the Redwoods.  The bike was in good shape and the price was right.  So we bought it.  The bike needs some fine tuning; the brakes squeal badly and the front derailleur is not adjusted correctly and doesn't shift well.  Other than that it is going to be great.  I can have this bike all tuned up in a few hours.

Yesterday after spending a good part of the day at Clam Beach playing in the sand and surf, I bought a new helmet at Target.  We also bought a lock to replace the lock that was on my bike when it was stolen.  All of the stolen items have been replaced; problem resolved.

The replacement bike.  It will certainly do.  But, it's not he nice ride the Hummer was.
It's the difference between a $700 bike (Hummer) and a $350 bike (the Diamondback).
Don't get me wrong, the Diamondback is a decent bike and it will definitely meet our needs.

So, we are back in business and can again ride our bikes together to explore future towns.  We also learned a valuable (but sad) lesson.  Don't ever leave your valuables unattended.  Not even for 90 seconds.  This is a lesson our kids have never learned growing up in La Conner where crime is all but non-existent.  People don't lock their cars or bikes.  Houses remain unlocked even when nobody is home.  Garage doors can be open all day and night with nothing disappearing.  Our police blotter in the newspaper back home is filled with dogs barking, speeding cars, false alarms in security systems, but never any theft or crime.  Our previous home in a quiet neighborhood in Snohomish was also like this.  We never had any theft or crime worries.  I grew up on Mercer Island where theft and crime was also non-existent.  I have lived a sheltered life, perhaps that's why I like living in Shelter Bay so much?  :-)

Ironically, Eureka means "I found it".  Unfortunately it is where "I lost it".

So, as we push further south, I am finally learning about the real world and it's day to day problems.  So are our kids.  This is a trip of learning in so many ways.  Some of the lessons are unexpected and unplanned, which makes them even more meaningful.

September 29, 2014 - weekend in Eureka

Friday afternoon we rented a car, and had a bike stolen.  See info about this even in the next blog entry.  We drove to Trinidad, which is about 20 minutes north of Eureka.  It's a beautiful location with spectacular rock outcroppings in the sea.  We have heard that this is a great kayaking region with lots of interesting shoreline to explore.

Scenic Trinidad.

We went to Zach and Susan's house in Trinidad for a great BBQ tuna dinner.  Zach has been a crabber for 30+ years and knows how to cook all kinds of seafood.  In fact, they owned a seafood restaurant for many years and also a small crab market in town.  The tuna was excellent!  Kevin even thought it was OK, and he is a boy that normally refuses any kind of seafood.  Cindy would not even try it.  I'm not completely convinced that these kids are really ours, because Kathy and I both love seafood.

Zach grilles some Tuna to perfection.  Thanks Zach and Susan for having ius
over for a very nice evening!  We'll see you on our way back home, someday.
Kevin and Cindy each took turns being hoisted by Zach's
huge winch in his amazing shop.  I'd love to have a shop like
this someday!  The kids spent some time playing ping pong
in the loft area.

Early Saturday morning I spent a few hours working on Tom's commercial fishing boat fabricating and installing all the heavy cabling for a new high output alternator he is installing.  This will eliminate his need to run the generator whenever he leaves the dock.  I left the cables all ready for him to connect to the new alternator.  He is fabricating a custom mounting bracket.  He later gave me the name and number of a friend in San Francisco that has a fleet of commercial boats.  He wants me to come do some work for him while we are in San Francisco!  I could almost make a living while cruising if I wanted to.....

Now I feel like a terrible parent.  Kevin smokes
his first pack.  Fortunately, they taste like orange.
But still, this is not what I like to see.  He begged
for a day.  I'm getting some realistic temporary tattoos
in the next town to complete the package.  Yikes!
... Just like Dad  - NOT!

On Saturday we drove to the "Avenue of the Giants" in the redwood forest and took several hikes through the redwoods.  We drove about 30 miles through the redwood forest.  It is amazing.  The redwoods are huge and some of them are taller than the Statue of Liberty.  Some are 2000 years old.  That is mind boggling.  We learned a lot about redwood trees.  The bark can be up to a foot thick and is fire and bug resistant.  The roots are quite shallow but get interlocked with other trees to make them better able to stand up to strong winds.  They live on terraces just above the floodplains of rivers.  Only 4% of the redwood forest remains.  The rest has been logged and destroyed by man.  So sad.  Thank goodness for a preservation act in the 1930's or these trees would probably have been wiped off the face of the earth years ago.

On Saturday we also drove to a nearby beach and played for a few hours.  After that we drove out to the breakwater entrance and watched the huge waves breaking in the entrance.  I can't imagine any boat getting through what we were watching.  It was pretty scary.  Fortunately, NOAA has a great bar prediction site that seems to be very accurate.  It shows hour by hour, day by day, what conditions they expect in the bar.  When we got back to the boat we compared the prediction to our observations.  They matched exactly, which is quite reassuring.

Cindy towels off after playing in the ocean.

Boogie Boarding in the ocean.  Eureka CA.

Zach and Susan invited us to their cabin up in Brookings.  It is right on a river and looked great in the pictures they showed us.  We intended to go there Sunday afternoon, but it's a 2 hour drive there and 2 hours back.  We got a late start Sunday and decided to instead spend that 4 hours of drive time at a nearby beach playing in the sand and the surf.  We even flew a small kite that we bought back in Westport.  It was quite warm when we arrived at the beach as there was not much of a breeze.  By mid afternoon the wind had kicked up and it got a little colder.

Late Sunday afternoon we returned the car and prepared the boat for an early morning departure.  There is a one day break in the weather as a trough moves inland and an offshore high begins to develop.  This will give us a day of light wind as the winds shift from the south to the north.  After this calm day we will see a few days of very strong northerly winds and steep waves.  The NOAA Eureka bar forecast looks great for all of Monday morning.  We need to arrive at our next stop (Fort Bragg CA) before dark, as it's a tricky entrance that can be hazardous to an unfamiliar boater after dark.  Indeed, a friend of mine came here earlier this year and he said there were a few wrecks on the bar from people that made small navigational mistakes.  There is very little room for error on this entrance.

It's a 15 hour run from Eureka to Fort Bragg so we settled on a 3:15AM departure.  It's not much fun getting up at 2:45 to check the latest weather and get underway.  I think Kathy and I were both anxious about crossing the bar in the dark, after the conditions we observed a few days before.  We were going to have to trust the NOAA bar forecast, as we would not be able to see it until we turned the corner and were in it.

Friday, September 26, 2014

September 26, 2014 - Eureka California

We had a VERY easy transit to from Crescent City to Eureka, about 9 hours of motoring.  In fact, they were best conditions so far on the pacific ocean.  5 knots of wind, if that, and virtually no swell.  I think it would have been good waterski water!   Since the Washington/Oregon border we have been seeing strange little things floating on the water.  They look like pieces of clear plastic floating upright in the water.  Surprisingly, at 7-8 knots we pass them too quickly to really see what they are.  We have seen large patches of them at night in our spotlight, and they seem to show up in clusters.   On our trip to Eureka we saw many more of them.   In the afternoon we slowed way down and caught a few in a small net to take a closer look.  They are very strange creatures.  They are about 4" in diameter and have a clear semicircle sticking up on the top.  The bottom side is blue.  Kathy looked them up and they are called Velella.  They are related to the Man-O-War.

A Valella, from the top.

The clear "sail" on the topside of the Valella.  This is all we see sticking up
out of the water.

Thousands of Valella floating by.

Here you can see the little sails that move the Valella across the seas.

Here is a great link to info about them.

Just after Kathy looked them up we sighted them by the thousands!  It was amazing.  We have never seen anything like it before, and apparently neither has the California coast in the numbers seen this year.  They are being washed up on beaches by the thousands.

In Eureka we secured a slip in the Woodley Island marina, just across the channel from "old" town.  It's a very nice facility with a lot of commercial fishing/crabbing boats.  In fact, a commercial crab boat I completely rewired a few years ago is here.  I rewired it back in La Conner and then was here in February to install a new autopilot when the old unit finally failed.  So, I've been in this marina before.  Zach, the crab boat owner stopped by for a visit.  He's a nice guy and has a very interesting life, crabbing off the California coast.

Beautiful sunset at the Woodley Island marina.

Rainbow.  It rained hard here for a solid day, and then scattered showers the
following day.

The weather is not going to be favorable the next week or so.  We need to get past Cape Mendocino which is the most notorious obstacle for boats on the west coast.   The weather here can be terrible, and change very quickly.  In fact, in July it's the only place in the entire Pacific Ocean likely to have gale force winds.  That's omminous.

Eureka is the "waiting room" for boats heading down the coast, as it's only about 15 miles north of Cape Mendicono.  There are a few other boats here waiting for the right time to get past this next hurdle.

NOAA has a weather forecasting office here and we took a tour of the facility yesterday.  We got to go into the main forecasting room and sit down with one of their forecasters to look at the computer models and tools they use to generate the forecast.  It was very interesting.  There were about 4 other people in the room each with a bank of computer monitors in front of them studying weather data in order to make the predictions for the marine weather that us boater's rely on when making go/no-go decisions.

Yesterday, I (Steve) spent most of the day working on Zach's boat.  I installed a new charge sharing relay, a new battery charger, and also went out to re-calibrate his autopilot.  His motor seized up a while back and he had to have a new motor installed.  Fortunately the motor was under warranty and the entire bill was covered including cutting apart his boat and then re-fiberglassing it back together.  The total bill was close to $70,000!!!  During that engine swap the autopilot somehow lost it's configuration information and we needed to get it all fine tuned again.

Coming back to port after tuning the Autopilot on Zach's fishing boat "Miss Phyliss"

We are renting a car this afternoon and will have it for the weekend.  We are "stranded" here until probably Monday morning due to bad weather on the ocean.  Tonight we go over to Zach's house in Trinidad for a Tuna BBQ.  Yum!  Tomorrow we will go exploring by car.

A friend's of Zach's with a commercial boat two slips over from us stopped by an hour ago.  He has some electrical work for me on his boat if I'm interested.  Since we will be here a few days, I'm going to take advantage of this opportunity to help offset the cruising costs.  It's nice to have skills that are valued by our slip neighbors in the marinas  :-)

September 24, 2014 - Crescent City, CA

At was an easy trip from Coos Bay to Crescent City.  The weather had been a bit bad wile in Coos Bay so we waited until conditions improved.  As soon as we had a good weather window, we left.  We spent several days in Crescent City, California, which is just a few miles from the Redwood Forest.  We took a cab one morning to the forest and hiked through the redwoods at the Jedediah Smith Memorial Park.  We strolled among the largest and oldest trees in the world for about 4 hours, and 5 miles.  The trails were great, and the trees were huge.   Some of the trees are estimated to be almost 2000 years old!!!  They are awe inspiring. although I think Kathy and I appreciated the Redwood Forest more than Cindy and Kevin.

Cindy in front of a giant Redwood tree.
The trees are HUGE

Close-up of the root ball.  The Redwoods are impressive.
Cindy working on her "park ranger" activity book which she picked up at
the ranger station in the park.

We also rode our bikes into town and found a great playground that the kids enjoyed.  We went to Safeway and even Papa Murphy's to re-provision for a the next leg of our trip.

The kids getting a big spin on the tire swing.
I get dizzy just watching them spin!
Great playground in Crescent City.
The kids on a concrete breakwater construction block.  They used hundreds
of these to built the breakwater for the marina.

Another town, another anchor  :-)

Our new friends on "Pesto" (the Brazilian Family with two children) ended up next to us in the marina.  We got together a few times with them.  The kids played games together for an hour or two, while we adults got better acquainted.  They are a really nice family and we look forward to seeing them all many more times.  It was great to see our kids having so much fun with their new friends.  We look forward to many more meetings with them in the future, as we have the same general travel itinerary as they do.
Pesto and Adagio safely tied to the new docks in Crescent City

The marina in Crescent City was completely rebuilt after the Tsunami wiped it out.  I have never seen a marina built this tough.  It has the biggest pilings I've seen, and they are very closely spaced.  The docks are concrete and appear to be very heavily built.  I think they may have built a Tsunami-proof marina.

The marina at Crescent BEFORE the Tsunami

The marina AFTER the Tsunami.  Yikes!!!

Cindy showing how large these piling are.  Huge.

Our kitty Zappa checking out the docks.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

September 20, 2014 - Overnight passage to Crescent City, California

We are now in California!

The trip to Crescent City was about 17 hours, so we had to motor at night for at least part of the trip.  We decided to motor all night so the kids could sleep through most of the trip.  This allowed us to do home school the next day once we arrived at Crescent City.  We left Coos Bay Oregon at about 3:30PM just after the 3:00PM NOAA weather forecast came out.  Once we confirmed that the weather conditions looked good we fired up the motors, untied the lines, and headed out across the bar into the ocean.

The sea was glassy smooth, with rollers from the SW.  It was an easy ride.  For the first hour there was almost no wind, then it suddenly rose to about 8 knots.  Just enough to eliminate the glassy look, but not enough to make any waves.   Kathy saw one whale spout, and we saw one or two crab pots, but not much else.  After darkness arrived the winds gradually increased.  Around midnight or 1:00AM it was blowing about 18-20 knots (forecast was for 5-10 knots).  The ride was still good, but not as good as at was earlier in the day.  At times the wind was directly on our stern, blowing the diesel exhaust right up and over the boat.  We could see it in our forward spotlight, in fact it looked as if we were running in heavy fog, unless you looked to the side to see the lights on shore, or the lights of a few commercial fishing boats.  I suspect that I have a failing fuel injector or two on the starboard motor, as that motor is smoking more that the other motor, and leaves a little oil sheen on the water at start up.  In fact, the port motor has virtually NO smoke, even on a cold start.  I with the starboard motor was as clean burning.

Kathy came to relieve me at about 1:00AM and I went down for an engine room check.  Much to my surprise the port transmission was running hot.  It was about 210 degrees compared to it's normal 160.  I reduced rpm's and monitored the temperature with a handheld laser thermometer.  It didn't drop much.  So, I reduced rpm's to idle, and took it out of gear.  Still not much improvement.  I shutdown the engine and removed the sea strainer.  It was pretty clogged.  We had seen a few patches of sea weed that we ran over , in the dark.  Perhaps some had been sucked into the cooling system?  I put the strainer back together and started the motor, leaving it in neutral and at idle (for maximum cooling).  The temperature did drop back down to normal.  I put it back in gear and brought the speed back to normal.  The temperature was stauying in the normal range.  At about 3:00AM I felt I could take a nap, and did so.  About 6:00AM I woke up and relived Kathy, so she could catch some sleep before we arrived in Crescent City at about 8:00AM.  We tied up at about 8:30 on the beautiful new guest dock.

Crescent City was hit hard by the Tsunami and had to be completely rebuilt.  It is still being finished with landscaping and signage being installed right now.  This is a first class facility.

Crossing the Coos Bay bar.  It was an easy departure.

The kids in heaven while we motor.  A DVD movie playing on a player and
two laptops so they can play games together. 

A fishing boat, an hour or so before sunset.  Beautiful conditions to be motoring
in for a long overnight passage.
Beautiful sunset on the Pacific Ocean.

Miss Sayoka.  A boat I worked on in La Conner.  The boat was built by
La Conner Maritime last year.  I helped a little with the electronics installation.
Crescent City, California.

September 19, 2014 - Coos Bay Oregon

We spent several days in Coos Bay, Oregon.  It's not a marina setup for cruisers at all.  It is a commercial fishing marina, period.  There are virtually no facilities even remotely close to the marina.  The only things here are a bait and tackle store, a restroom with showers, and a tavern with pool tables.  The only restaurant was out of business.  There is no laundry, there are no restaurants, there isn't even a grocery store or mini-mart within a mile.  The pizza place in town (6 miles away) won't even deliver to the marina.  The nearest marine store is more than a mile away, over a bridge.  The nearest grocery store is several miles away.

The transient/guest is dock is home to people crabbing from the pier.  So, we had people camped out 5 feet from our boat day after day tending their crab pots.  We could hear their voices and smell cigarette smoke during most daylight hours.  Many commercial boats around us left their generators running 24/7 for days on end, so there was a constant diesel engine background noise, and the associated smell.  We had to keep our windows closed most of the time.

Can you tell we weren't thrilled with Coos Bay as a cruiser's stop?  Actually the town of Coos Bay is further up the river, but the marina is close to the ocean in Charleston.  So, technically we were in Charleston Oregon, but everyone refers to this as Coos Bay.

We spent our mornings with home school, and even some afternoons, getting caught up.  We worked on some boat projects too.  I finally got our water heater hooked to the electrical system so we can make hot water when plugged into dock water, or when the generator is running.  Previously we only had hot water after motoring for a few hours.  With 30 gallons of hot water in a well insulated tank that would last a couple of days.  But, we have ended up in a few locations longer than the hot water would last.

Rob at the bait and tackle shop (Basin Tackle) was GREAT!!!  He set us up with some Tuna gear than we can drag behind the boat as we motor down the coast.  We motor at about the ideal tuna trolling speed.  Tuna are biting out there and we hope to catch a meal or two :-)

Coos Bay was an escape from some weather.  It was also a comfortable distance from Florence for a day's cruise.  It was not a stop we were eagerly anticipating like some of other previous stops.  So, as soon as we got a break in the weather we left Coos Bay and headed to Crescent City, California.  It was an overnight trip, and the conditions were quite favorable.

Here are some pictures from Coos Bay.

Nice little fish market out on the docks.

Kevin and Cindy find a great climbing tree.  Charleston

Lots of commercial boats here.  Not many pleasure boats, anywhere.

Kathy finds her boat.   She decided she wanted to keep Adagio!

The Coos Bay Coast Guard practicing docking a "disabled" boat with a
second boat.  It was interesting to watch them practice.

Crabbers tending their pots right next to our boat.  This went on during daylight
hours until 10:00PM every day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 16, 2014 - BF - Newport Oregon Adventures

    Buttercup here, reporting for duty! On Sunday 14, 2014 we rode our bikes up to some sand dunes and other fun things to do.
    On Sunday, we all rode our bikes up the highway onto a bridge that has about 2.5 ft across the sidewalk. It was a very nerve racking walk. When we got to the other side, we had to bike uphill for a while and then go down a long, curving road down to some sand dunes.  We locked up our bikes and walked up a small hill.  On the other side, there was...
    A couple of sand dunes sloping down to the ocean that were so soft and sandy. As I walked across the warm sand, I kicked it up in the air and it floated away in the warm breeze. Then, I ran forewards and jumped down the smooth soft slope, ran strait to the ocean, and felt how COLD the water was. I ran right back to where Mom and Dad were, and yelled to Flunky that I would give him $100 if he came down to the ocean with me.  What he didn't know is that I would be paying him with Monopoly money!  We played on the beach for a while and then got all sandy in the dunes.  After that, we left and biked back up the hill to Sandland Adventures.
    There we played a game of Minigolf and then rode go-carts around a track at about 20 miles an hour!  It was really fun.  Then we took a dunebuggy tour for an hour.  We rode down steep sand cliffs, up and down sand dunes and next to the ocean as the tour guide told us all about the dunes and the animals that live there!
As you can tell, we spent a lot of time that day outside in Florence, OR! Fun!
Hi "Flunky" here,
     We had a great time in Florence Oregon.  Me, Cindy, Mom, and Dad played minigolf.  Mom won and I was third.  Then we drove go-karts around a track.  I was too small to drive by about 5 inches.  Dad drove and I was passenger (next to him).  Next we had to get on a dune buggy for a tour for about an hour.  It was mainly all on sand dunes.

September 16, 2014 - Florence and Coos Bay Oregon

It's been a few days since our last post.  We have been quite busy enjoying the Oregon coast.  What beautiful country this is!  Sand dunes, lakes, endless sandy beaches, rugged shoreline with impressive rock outcroppings, and quaint waterfront towns.

We motored from Newport to Florence last Friday and had good conditions for our transit.  About 1/2 way to Florence we heard a sailboat hailing the Coast Guard on the VHF.  They were having fuel problems and were just about out of usable fuel.  There was not much wind so they were motoring.  They were intending to go straight from Anacortes WA to San Francisco until they had this problem.  After 30 minutes of back and forth between the vessel and the CG it was decided that the sailboat would come into Florence and the CG would bring them enough fuel so they could motor up the Siuslaw river (pronouced "Sigh-ooo-slaw") to Florence to work on their issues.  3 hours later we arrived at the bar crossing just 1/4 mile behind them.  The Coast Guard had delivered the fuel earlier and had now come out in their 47' motor lifeboat to escort them all the way to Florence.  The Siuslaw river is quite shallow and has shifting sand bars that can make navigation a real challenge.  We took advantage of the CG escort and dropped right in behind the sail boat.  That made the trip up the tricky river a breeze.  We arrived a few minutes before 4:00PM at the highway 101 bridge, which we had already arranged to have opened for us at 4:00.  A crew has to drive an hour from Coos Bay to open the bridge, so you have to arrange for an opening in advance.  So, at 3:55 the bridge opened and all three boats passed underneath.  We could see people getting out of their cars to take photos of our boats, and people also came out of their houses, apartments, and hotel rooms to watch us pass under the bridge.  I guess it's a pretty big deal when the loud bridge siren sounds.  Locals scramble to see what kind of boat is coming to visit their town, and tourists get a unique photo opportunity.

Oh, the sailboat is from Anacortes, and is headed to Baja just like us.  They are part of the Baja Ha Ha rally beginning around Halloween in San Diego.  That's the 6th boat we've seen so far that is part of the "Ha Ha" rally.  They replaced a dead fuel transfer pump and left two days later.

The Coast Guard comes out to escort the troubled sailboat.  We follow them
upriver all the way to Florence.  That makes it easy!

Highway 101 bridge opens for us, and the sailboat.

No problems getting through.

Adagio tied up at the transient moorage dock, Florence OR

Beautiful weather in Florence OR

Friday afternoon we walked around Florence, which is a very cute little riverside town full of small shops and several nice restaurants.  Saturday we did home school in the morning and then went meandering through Florence in the afternoon.  Sunday we hopped on our bikes and rode a few miles to the dunes and fabulous beach just south of town.  We then rode back up a long hill from the ocean to highway 101 and stopped at a "tourist" activity place.  We played miniature golf on their fun course.  We raced around their race track in go carts.   But the best part was the dune buggy ride through the dunes, down to the ocean, and through the forests.  It was a blast and we learned a great deal about Oregon's sand dunes.  This would be a really fun place to own dirt bikes, or ATV's.  There were probably hundreds of people out playing on the dunes with all sorts of motor vehicles, but with so much territory you didn't see many of them.  It would be very easy to get lost out here.

Sandy Oregon coast.  Hmmm, where are the kids going?

Playing mini-golf. in Florence OR.
Every seaport town seems to have an anchor monument.
  Florence is no different.

The "dune Buggy" we rode out to the dunes.

From our dune buggy tour.  We ended up next to those two "sand Islands"
way off in the distance.  It was a very good 1 hour tour of the Oregon Dunes.

Close-up of the dunes.  They are far more expansive than this picture reveals.

After talking to a local with a Tolly 48, whose boat is just about as tall as we are, we concluded that we don't need to have the bridge opened when we leave.  We should easily fit under the span next to the drawbridge if we lower our two 22' antennas.  We did that and we had plenty of clearance.  We didn't feel the need to close highway 101 again.... although it made me feel oh so important and powerful :-)

Foggy for our morning departure.  You can't even see the bridge.
 We still have challenges with the weather and deciding when to leave.  This is very different that cruising in the NW where you can duck into any sheltered bay, drop the anchor and wait for conditions to improve.  Out here on the coast, once you cross the bar and get onto the ocean you better have a plan, with contingencies.  If you find that conditions worsen, river bars could end up closed, eliminating your escape route to inland protection from the wind and waves.  The bars are typically 40 miles apart at the minimum, which at 7 knots is 6+ hours.  That's a bit daunting!  It also explains why we have stayed a little longer at some of our stops.  We want to make sure we don't get stuck on the ocean riding out bad weather.

Yesterday (Monday) morning we left Florence in heavy fog intending to motor 24 hours to Crescent City CA.  The forecast was great with 5 knots of wind forecast.  The winds gradually increased until we were seeing 20-22 knots, from the south, within less than 2 hours of leaving Florence.  As time progressed the waves grew larger, and closer together.  About 3 hours into the trip it became uncomfortable "hobby horsing" our way south into the waves.  The constant up and down, bow rising and falling quickly, just isn't fun for anyone.  Nobody got sea sick, but I didn't feel too good after one of my routine engine room checks.  It's 105+ degrees in the engine room, and there are some fumes that go along with two hot motors screaming away in an enclosed space.  Those fumes, and the heat combined with the boats motion gave me an instant headache and an unsettled stomach for an hour or two,  We decided to bail on our plans for Crescent City, not wanting to endure an uncomfortable overnighter. We turned for Coos Bay, OR instead.  Their bar crossing is one of the safest, with the fewest number of closed days of any of the bars.  It's also the biggest port between San Francisco and Seattle with large container ships frequently crossing the bar.  We had an easy crossing and secured a slip at their transient guest dock.

Coos Bay is definitely a working marina.  There are very few pleasure boats here.  I'd guess it's at least 90% commercial boats.  Big fishing boats with generators running 24/7.  It's not a quiet place, nor is it dark at night.  Commercial boats are coming and going at all hours and they generally have their huge lights turned on.  These lights turn night into day much like the lights in a sports arena.

Adagio hanging out with the working boats in Coos Bay

Fishing boats are everywhere here.  Hardly any recreational boats to be found

There is not much here at the marina, and the real town of Coos Bay is a few miles away.  So, we don't have a lot of entertainment options here.  The kids are home schooling right now.  They are almost a day behind due to the inability to homeschool while motoring yesterday.  It's a catch up day with "boat school".

Back in Newport we met a nice couple from Brazil.  They have a gorgeous Hallberg Rassy 53' sailboat and have almost exactly the same plans as us for the next year or two.  They have two children ages 9 (girl) and 10 (almost 11, boy).  Perfect :-)  Obviously they are homeschooling.  Last night they pulled into the marina right in front of us.  They also had a rough time out there and were pretty exhausted from their passage.  It is going to be great to meet up with them from time to time along the way during our adventure.   We've only been gone two weeks and already we have met another couple, with kids, on the same adventure, going to the same places!  We expect to cross paths many times with them.

Alex and Adriana's beautiful 53' sailboat.  They also have two children close in
age to ours.  They have roughly the same plans we do for the next year of more.