Monday, March 17, 2014

2014-05 Tillamook Bay, to Cape Flattery, to Anacortes, Washington

Monday, March 17, 2014: Evaluating the Tillamook Bay Bar for a 1:30 AM Departure.

This afternoon the seas on the bar were not passable.  We hope they improve by 1:30 AM when we plan to cross.  See the video below.  The bar is closed for crossing as of 2 PM today.

We met with the US Coast Guard Tillamook personnel today who gave us valuable information regarding our crossing.  We will notify the Coast Guard at 12:30 AM.  They will give us an updated bar report tailored just for our departure.  The CG will also stay in communication with us as we cross, if the bar is open early tomorrow morning.

Should be an interesting challenge.

8 PM Update:  Tillamook Coast Guard has opened the bar to vessels over 40-feet.  After a visit to the Wild Blue earlier this evening to keep us informed, the CG officer called my cell at 7 PM to inform me of the opening.  He will recheck the bar for us at 1 AM and standby during our exit from Tillamook Bay. WOW! What an impressive,  highly-functioning and totally communicative organization.

Tuesday-Wednesday, March 18-19, 2014

By 12:30 AM Tuesday the Wild Blue was thrustering off the dock.  After checking with Coast Guard Tillamook, the Bar remains open and the 47-foot motor lifeboat is on station monitoring it.  Once out into the channel, the 3.5-knot flood current slows are water speed from 8.8 to 5 knots.  The crew, wearing life vests, takes their stations: Dick to Port and Elliott to starboard.  Coast Guard 276, the 47-foot motor lifeboat, stationed on the north side of the Bar calls on the VHF to say they will make "one more pass" across the Bar.  They start their pass just and we reach their stern, providing us a a clear path across. The video below documents the crossing.  Best to view in a dark room!

Update: 3 AM Wednesday, March 19, 2014

This morning we are around Cape Flattery and pointed easterly towards Anacortes in the San Juan de Fuca Strait.  The winds have come primarily from the Southern points of the compass, and the ocean swells are nicely-paced with just some occasional 2-foot chop.  Expect to be docked at Anacortes by 9 AM this morning.  All-in-all looks to be a comfortable last 32-hour leg to the Seattle area.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

2014-04 Bodega Bay to Tillamook, Oregon

This week a weather window allowed us to continue with our cruise northward from San Francisco to Anacortes, Washington.

Monday, March 10, 2014 - San Luis Obispo to Bodega Bay

Crew Dick Squire drove up to San Luis Obispo today arriving in the afternoon.  He transferred his gear to our car and Pat then drove Dick and Alex north to Bodega Bay Harbor where the Wild Blue was moored.  It's a 5-hour drive up 101 across the Golden Gate and we stopped in San Anselmo to for dinner with the Olson family.  Our third crew Elliott Olson and family had a delicious salmon and pasta dinner awaiting us when we arrived. With our tummies full and Elliott with us, we drove the final hour to Bodega. Since a hazardous sea warning was up until 11AM Tuesday, we decided to leave mid-morning for Crescent City.

Tuesday and Wednesday, March 11-12, 2014 - Bodega Bay to Crescent City

We shoved off mid-morning leaving Pat to "shop" her way back to SLO.  Just outside Bodega entrance, light winds and a moderate sea greeted us so we turned hard right and shot the gap between Bodega Head and Bodega Rock saving about one-half hour. Once clear of the Head, we set a course for Point Arena.  If the weather gets nasty before Cape Mendocino, our bail-out stops are Little River just south of Mendocino and Shelter Cove just under Point Delgada.  After Cape Mendocino, we can bail at Eureka or Trinidad Bay.  If all goes well we should be in Crescent City after 30 hours straight, or 4PM on Wednesday.

Looking for the green flash in Tuesday's sunset at sea.

The seas and winds built up during the day and by early evening spray was washing over the fore-deck and pilothouse while the boat was pitching a bunch.  Dick's and Alex's sea legs were still a bit weak and so they reduced their food intake, and chewed what they did eat extra fine....... for obvious reasons.  At dark we rigged for night running: besides dimming the displays, we added plastic light filters and display hoods to further diffuse and contain the light.  Lastly we illuminated the new mast mounted head-lights. These 12 volt LEDs blazed the ocean in front of Wild Blue with bright white light, allowing us to easily see seabirds, gulls, kelp and most importantly, the numerous crab trap floats.  What a useful tool to fully equip the boat for night-time operation.

By early morning the winds had abated to under 10 knots and we rounded the sometimes fearsome Cape Mendocino at 9AM.  With just a low 6 foot swell and little wind chop, we had an easy run into Crescent City arriving at 4PM.  We tied to the nearly empty transient float.  After rinsing the salt-caked hull, rails and decks, we washed away any lasting trepidations with Weisers, MacCallan, and WhistlePig.

US Coast Guard flanks us approaching Crescent City.
Oldest California lighthouse.

All alone at the Crescent City transient float.
Thursday-Friday, March 13-14, 2014 - Crescent City to Newport, Oregon and then Tillamook Bay, Oregon

By Thursday moaning we were ready to go again and thrustered off the dock at 7:30.  The forecast called for 7-foot swells nicely spaced at 13 seconds and low winds all day and evening providing less than 2-foot wind-generated chop.  Our goal for this leg is Newport, Oregon, a 24-hour motor just along the coast.  Bailouts for this leg are in Oregon at Brookings, Port Orford, Bandon, and Coos Bay.

We immediately noticed the already moderate swell upon exit from Crescent City.  Alex and Dick decided to go light on food intake while "iron stomach" Elliott dined force majeure.  After clearing Point George just outside Crescent City, it's a straight run of 65 miles to Oregon's Cape Blanco.  The swell stayed at 7-foot, but the winds and chop increased all afternoon.  By 4PM we had 28 knot westerly gusts and 3 to 4 foot wind chop.  The ride was bouncy, wet, but very secure.  By 6PM we made Cape Blanco and turned 30 degrees to the starboard to fetch Yaquina Bay and Newport.  The wind softened at 10 to 15 knots by 9PM and started to clock.  That is  the wind came first from the Northwest, then North, then Northeast, then East and so on until by early Wednesday is was blowing from the South at over 20 knots.  About 11PM with a 20-knot easterly, wind waves slammed into the starboard hull, giving the active stabilizers a real test.  Occasionally the fins would overreact causing a few heart thumping rolls!  Eventually after numerous rolls and recoveries, one gets used to those deep motions.  By 3AM with a strong southerly, the boat was surfing on the following 5-foot wind waves and making a speedy 9-knots.

We arrived at the Newport entrance on a 2-knot flood tide with the wind behind us which allowed a smooth crossing of the Yaquina Bay bar.  We tied up at the Newport transient dock and Elliott began a tasty scrambled egg breakfast.  By now Dick and Alex were quite hungry! While breakfasting we began chatting about the last several hours ride with the following southerly breeze, good speed and favorable visibility.  The NOAA weather forecast was deteriorating for several days starting Saturday.  So after a few minutes we had convinced ourselves to eat fast and leave now for Tillamook Bay.  However, we didn't think to consider our crossing the Tillamook Bar.

It had rained good last night and continued this morning.  All the ocean salt crust was washed clean by fresh rain.  By 9:30AM we had re-crossed the docile Yaquina Bay bar with its flood current still keeping the waves from breaking.  Our cruise northward to Tillamook was relatively smooth and the 20 knot southerly winds and chop pushed us comfortably along.  Crab trap floats littered our coast-wise route and so it was important to keep a keen eye looking forward. It was an uneventful motor cruise, so far, and we arrived at Tillmook entrance a little past 4PM.  The bar view was one of turmoil: giant swells, waves breaking, and agitated water all across the entrance.  It was pretty clear the bar was closed, but just in case, we called Coast Guard Tillamook for a report.

The duty officer informed us that the bar was closed to all except commercial vessels.  They asked for all our particulars: boat length, persons aboard, live vest aboard, etc. They made it clear that we should not attempt to cross and that the Coast Guard would re-evaluate in 2 hours at slack tide.  So we set a course into the waves, slowed the boat 5 knots, and headed out to sea.  After an hour we reversed course and headed back.

Just before 7PM we spied the CG's 47-foot Motor Lifeboat examining the entrance bar seas. Soon after they hailed on the VHF and said the bar was open to vessels over 36-feet.  And then they gave us some entrance navigation suggestions, and stood by while we attempted to cross.  It's best to view the video below for the full effect.

Note ex-surfer Elliott is watching the ocean swells on port side, while Dick is keeping us away from the submerged south Jetty on starboard.  Both men are lifetime boaters who own similar sized boats, and are fully competent!  Alex is cranking the wheel from lock-to-lock in his attempts to keep the boat pointed down the swells. In future crossings,  will try the thrusters to help keep the boat pointed properly.

Looks like Wild Blue will be tied to shore until Monday or Tuesday as a front moves through over the next several days.