Cruising 2010 – Grays Harbor

We were underway at 0530. Our wake-up call was a commercial fishing boat getting underway.   Between the noise of its engines and the halogen lights it was hard to ignore.  A last minute weather briefing with Jim on NIRVANA and then we were underway. We were two pleasure boats, in a long line of sport and commercial fishing boats headed out to sea. The channel out of Ilwaco is long and narrow, so we all got in line and followed one another out to the Columbia River.

You can see the promise of sunrise in the picture of the old pilings. The pilings are in as good a shape today – as the day they were driven into the seabed – below the waterline. The pilings and the buildings they supported above the waterline are another story. We learned this past week, in our Astoria Trolley trips, that the pilings represent property lines. The pilings can still be built safely on today – though it hardly seems likely, and to remove them would take years in courts for permits, so they stay where they are.

Before we knew it we were crossing the Columbia River Bar. Though not flat, and a bit bumpy, it was a brief time and the further north we went the better the conditions became. As always on this part of the coast, we spent our time watching for and dodging crab traps. I wasn’t going to document the traps, as you probably get tired of seeing them, but I inadvertently got this one, while taking a picture of the nice conditions. So, in this case – you get a two-for-one shot! That is Grays Harbor off in the distance. This was a short day of 53 miles. Actually, it is probably a little less, but we took time, after entering Grays Harbor to compensate the compass for the autopilot. We had occasional issues, today, where “Auto” didn’t want to steer. That is never a good thing! Sometimes, that after sitting at the dock for a few months, or sitting in a commercial fishing basin (like the last three nights) that the compass becomes uncalibrated. So, we compensated. For those of you not familiar with the concept, we swing the boat in circles until the heading rate stabilizer and the compass catch up with the correct direction. (This is probably the lamest discussion ever, but it is the basic action we take.)  And it was successful.

We know it isn’t summer yet. Note the snow on the Olympics! But the sun was shining today and tomorrow is supposed to be even nicer – meaning flatter and even less wind. We didn’t have much of a wind, mostly a breeze that kicked up and then stiffened just as we got into Grays Harbor – just as it was forecast. Remember the picture on the Weather Forecasting blog where the flags were red and yellow – they are now all green!

When we arrived in Grays Harbor all the charter fishing boats were gone. I have never see that dock empty before. I thought that they may have moved to another location. But no, it’s a beautiful Saturday, and they were all taking sport fishermen to the fishing fields. Now they are coming back in, and the gulls are following and screaming, close behind them, hoping for free food! We saw our first pelicans today! Yep! We are on saltwater! It can get smelly in commercial fishing basins, but I am not complaining. There is  a lot of action, you can hear the gulls, and smell the fishy air – oops, I meant to say fresh salt air!

Tomorrow will be another early departure and a much longer day. We expect to be underway for about 12 hours. Most of the hours will be sunny and flat –  and at the end of our day? We will be anchored in Neah Bay, just inside the Strait of Juan de Fuca, safe and sound. And we are on our way – Cruising in 2010!