Saturday, September 6, 2014

September 6, 2014 - Astoria Oregon to Newport Oregon

Saturday and exhaustion has hit us adults today after our first overnight cruising.  We left Astoria yesterday at 2pm or so.  The online Columbia River Bar report seemed just fine and so did Buoy weather so why not leave?  Nineteen hours later we arrived in Newport.  Well, it turns out the VHF bar report gives a little more info than the online version.  After listening to the VHF report while we  motored down the coast Steve figured out the we exited the Columbia at a high Ebb tide which is worst for wave height and periods for the notorious Bar.  We had a rough ride of it, granted only for about 15 minutes of the crossing, but it presented the beginning of this first overnight journey for us with some anxiety.  Once out, things smoothed out but not as smooth as our first journeys down the coast.  Moving around is not so pleasant and makes some of us not feel so good, but sitting we all seem to survive and thrive.  Steve and Kevin are using the compression point wrist bands, Cindy and Kevin have tried some Bonine, each one time, and I have not done anything yet.  The responsibility of keeping everyone fed, feeling OK and any needs met, gives me a responsibility that if I did not have, I think I would probably feel ill.  Prior to sunset was a bit choppy but all were eating and it seems that food is keeping the peace in some of our tummies.   I am able to microwave and cook on the stove so pasta was the item for tonight.

We experienced whale sightings before dark which were incredible.  The first was a sight I had while on watch, a sight of blowing, something I know well from working in Alaska.  Well, it was close off of our bow so Steve got out quick and got a great picture of it's tale as it dove just before us coming by it.  We are not deviating from our course in these encounters.  The second was also my watch but as it was daylight I was reading and watching, something nice out here compared to a car!  Anyway, Steve yelled and I looked immediately up to see a huge GRAY whale above the water horizontally.  Steve saw the whole thing.  It was one of those images you see on TV with the whale leaping completely out of the water, turning 90 degrees in mid-air, and crashing down into the water with an awesome splash.  AMAZING to say the least!  We yelled this time at the kids who came quickly up from the salon to the pilothouse.  It was moving west while we were heading south.  It actually went off our starboard side and headed in the same direction south with us.  Opening the Pilothouse door, it surfaced and we all saw and heard it blow, the whistle and air sound, also AMAZING!  I would estimate only 50 or so feet off of our starboard.  It was huge.

Sunset soon came which was quite beautiful.  The almost full moon was out hours prior so it lit the sky for us.  Steve took first watch 8:30-midnight.  When I came to relieve him, all was good and Steve was to sleep close by for this is my first night watch, 12am - 3am.  The moonlight and our bright light lit the waters well.  It was amazing to watch the ocean swells go by and the seagulls flying in front and trying to fish again and again using the light from our spotlights to find the fish.  Well by 2am fog started building and by 2:30am visibility was almost nill.  It got very dark and our spot lights became useless and instead presented just a while wall of fog in front of us.  Stressful to say the least!  Once we lost visibility, and the water became a bit shallower we did an abrupt course change and headed out to deeper water.  We headed further out to skip the crab/shrimp pot floats so that it would not be an issue when in 450+ft of water (if you are looking at SPOT that is why we did a sudden swing west).  Two radars are running at different ranges so I can check both for boats versus noise from waves and we have each at different distances going out to about 6NM (Nautical Miles).  Another boat, a sailing vessel headed our way, calls at about 3am using our AIS call sign which I am not sure of (Steve posted above our VHF but in the dark I could not see it).  I check in with Steve and he was calling us so I answer and let him know that we see him and understand we are catching up and heading his direction.  We are twice his speed and both understand we are going to the same location.  Thanks to AIS I know his vessel name, direction, speed, location, etc.

At 5am a bilge pump light started coming on which indicated that is was running and appears to be cycling on and off all the time.  Cindy and Kevin are sleeping in our stateroom on our bed since it is the smoothest ride in the boat.  This particular bilge pump is located under this bed.  Well, we forced Cindy over to the other side into Kevin to get underneath and see if there is a leak in the stabilizer.  Water is in the bilge but does not appear to be from that source.   There is also a raw water intake for the master toilet, and also one depth sounder transducer.  Not sure which is leaking.  More anxiety now in Steve.  More investigation and no known source or reason so something to look at before we leave Newport.  It does not appear to be leaking now, but there are a lot of carpet remnants floating on top of the water from when our carpet was installed.  Perhaps the pump intake is just clogged with carpet debris and just can't pump out the little water that is sloshing back and forth in there?

Also about 5am or so we heard a big thump as if something fell or we hit something in the water while it was still dark and foggy.  Listening a bit further, there was scratching up above on the fly bridge.  Steve went up to look as I was sure there was some bird that was trying to get it's footing.  He saw a large seabird sitting on our flybridge floor.  Looking later today there is nothing there so I imagine he was able to recover and fly away.  We certainly did not expect birds to be hitting our boat.

Arriving at 9am, we had help on this nice guest dock.  We have seen or met two boats that will run in the San Diego to Cabo San Lucas run for Sailboats called the "Baja Ha Ha."  We have so far seen 5 sailboats flying the red "Ha Ha 2014" flag.  They all have flags, makes it easy to see/know them!  There are about 250 boats converging on San Diego in mid to late October to travel together down the Mexican coast to Cabo.  This event has been run every year for almost 30 years now.  When we returned from the port office to check in, we found the sailing vessel we spoke with overnight was tied up right behind us.  Nice to meet them and they have the same schedule as us to go to CA and then Mexico and see what's next.  A very nice couple from Canada.  We have not gotten back with them today but I imagine we will soon.  This is exactly what we are expecting at finding others in the same general area where we might see them occasionally and visit.

Gray Whale diving in front of us!

Sunset on September 5th, first overnight trip for us.

The pilothouse at dark.  Light of the moon outside to left, spotlight a bit on the right.

Newport River Bar entrance, foggy!

We did get out today to a museum, more to come on that and our experiences in Newport OR.


  1. Well I thought some fish boat had stolen your spot locator!! Good to hear your first night transit went OK. Wave at Point Arena when you pass that area. I operated the Loran A station there in the late 60's and watched the ocean a lot. Nothing out there I need to go looking for!! Ha! Ha! Safe Travels!

  2. Wondered why the course change. Now I know! Hope you get to the
    Aquarium Dad

  3. Dear Elston family: We read each of your blog posts SEVERAL times because we're so interested in your adventure. Thank you for sharing your cruise reports, photos and details of your journey with those of us who are enjoying your journey vicariously. While we miss you back here in Shelter Bay (it's just not the same without our daily sightings of that green pickup :) we're over the moon in our enthusiasm for all the experiences awaiting you. Best wishes for continued safe passages and interesting happenings,
    Greg and Vanessa

    1. Thanks Vanessa! Are we leaving gaps or missing something? Let us know.....