May 7, 2005
M/V DESERT VENTURE
Day 5 (May 4, 2005)
After a good night’s rest, Day 5 dawned much brighter for us. It was a little rainy and misty and foggy, but we were rested and excited for our last day on the ocean. The weather had performed as forecasted so our southerly was awaiting us, once we crossed the bar at Gray’s Harbor. We had a 6’ foot swell as we came in the day before, which was no big thing, but leaving we were right on with the tide and it was a calm exit out of the harbor.
Southerlies. This is the third sea state you may have thought I forgot to tell you about. No, I was saving it for today!! If you are going North and the wind is coming from the south, it basically pushes you up the coast, then you have a faster ride ahead of you. And we were doing really well. At less than 1850 RPM, we were averaging over 9 knots an hour. Oh wow, put on your seatbelt!! It also means fuel consumption will be less, too. I suppose that makes sense. So though southerlies are good news, when you are headed North, they have their challenges, too.
The seas were still pretty flat, with the southerly kicking up some wind waves. Not that much of a deal, as we weren’t doing the up/down/splash thing from the last two days. This sea state is also what is called a “following sea”, as it was behind us, pushing us along. We did have a bit of frustration, though. This is a problem we have experienced from almost the beginning of owning D/V. Our auto pilot is as old as the boat, and its technology is that old, too. We have never been able to get Otto (Auto Pilot) to perform efficiently on a following sea. It has been somewhat frustrating. Otto will keep us on course, but through its gyrations we do a sort of zig zag thing, as the bow moves back and forth. Which means we aren’t moving in a straight line, which means we go a bit further, and Otto does a lot of whining about it, too. (Actually, the sound is the hydraulics working. It isn’t failing.) Well, we knew to expect it, and it was just another of those little things that makes for interest when we are underway. At some point we will upgrade to a more efficient auto pilot, but for now it works and that is the main thing.
When we first got underway, we once again found ourselves in the midst of lines and lines of crab pot floaties, so we both were on watch, as the light was such and the colors are all different it can be good to have two sets of eyes watching. We tended to have to take Otto off line often to dodge a line of pots. So, that was when I really got good at driving by the compass. We can drive the boat much easier than Otto can, in a following sea. So, after some whining of Otto, we would drive for awhile. And that means me and really it isn’t that big a deal!! Like many things, it is practice that gives you confidence.
We did finally get away from all the floaties just south of Destruction Island. It is about half way between Grays Harbor and Cape Flattery. There were some low lying clouds along that part of the coast, so sometimes it was pretty shrouded. We could see the lay of the land, and the hills are covered in evergreen trees. And though you couldn’t see but the shadow, you could see the outline, and you just knew they were pine. As we moved to the west to go around the western side of the island we took some of the sea on our beam (remember that is broadside), and did some side to side movement. Sea on our beam is my least favorite situation. But it was short lived as it is a small island and we were along side and past it fairly quickly.
The day just flew by, as we were rested and excited to see the famous Cape Flattery and enter into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. And sure enough we finally got to the big intersection and it was beautiful. The sun was out, it was about 5:00 p.m. We think we saw the main home for all the murres, as there were huge flocks sitting in the water just south of Tatoosh Island, which in just west of Cape Flattery. I attached a picture of Cape Flattery. It is said that the cliff is 120 feet. We decided to shoot right through the Hole In the Wall. It is a narrow passage between Tatoosh Island and Cape Flattery. As we approached we could see that the sea state was such that a safe passage was possible, so through it we went. I want you to look closely at the picture of the ocean.
I hope you can see a definite line between two very different sea states. It was all rowly on the Ocean side of the pass, and it was dead calm on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I have never seen such an obvious difference in sea states. In watching it come close, it took some understanding from the Captain before I understood what I was seeing. Oh the marvels of land and sea when they come together!! And just like that we were in the Strait of Juan de Fuca!! We made it!!! Yeah!!! It was so wide, too. I had expected something much narrower, but with the fog on the Canadian side, it looked like another ocean to me at first. Very calm, and peaceful. Otto went back to his happy job, and we sat back and breathed a huge sigh of relief and exultation to have made the voyage and done it so well.
It wasn’t far, after coming around the corner before we were at our next stop. Neah Bay, is a famous anchorage for going just before or right after a passage through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We were more than ready for a break and this was a very peaceful and beautiful place to drop anchor. We were in awe when we spotted two bald eagles sitting on some pilings. It was hard to believe it, but our binoculars told the story. We didn’t see them again, but somehow I felt, they were just checking to make sure we made it, and we did!
That night was absolutely calm. We never heard a single sound. Now that may seem a normal thing, but we often hear sounds, sometimes more nights than others. As I noted in the beginning, we have an aluminum boat. That means the hull is aluminum, and we hear more noise on the hull. So, it is not uncommon to get bloop, bloop, bloop , almost nightly, if there is wind, or if someone passes by. We are pretty used to it. Also, when tied up to a dock, especially while in the Bay area, we tended to get lots of crea-ee-ek, crea-ee-ek, from the fenders being crushed between the dock and the boat. The fenders are doing the job of protecting the boat and the dock, but they complain about it (well, that is my take on it). Actually, it is all once again, a function of the wind. (When staying aboard in the VIP Stateroom earplugs will be distributed if the bloop, bloop, bloop bothers you.) Wind is a sailors friend sometimes, and sometimes not. Just depends on where you are, which way you are headed, and well, if you have sails its another whole set of stories! We have friends that cruised from San Diego all the way to Australia on their sail boat. I just want to say that I thought of them often, as I know in their sail boat, they experienced untold things I will never experience in a motor yacht, and I am in awe of their accomplishment.
We stayed for another day, enjoying being at anchor and enjoying the scenery, doing some little projects and just enjoying not going. We could have stayed another couple days but, as you may have guessed wind and weather dictated we should move on, and so it was we moved on Friday morning. Captain Bruce said it was time to move to a new level of experience, and you know how I hate that, but I was at the helm as we left Neah Bay. It didn’t hurt that bad! Actually, I have often been at the helm when leaving an anchorage. The captain is busy finishing the securing of the lines and/or anchor and etc.
Since we have had all the long cruising days we want for awhile, we decided the next port would be Port Angeles, just up the Strait about 50 miles. We are at the transient dock now, enjoying 20 amps power. Today is Saturday, and we walked through the town and enjoyed being a tourist. The rain never came to us. It was a perfect day. We will stay one more day, and then on Monday we move to Port Townsend, a brief 30 mile cruise where we can provision, do laundry, get mail, etc., all the things everyone does in the normal course of life. And that, is how we expect to spend the next few whiles. Going from one anchorage, to a laundry, grocery, top of water, etc. Life is beautiful and simple and just the way we want it. Life doesn’t get any better than this.
Our warmest Aloha,
Angie and Capt Bruce