Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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. 

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