Saturday, June 18, 2011

Setting Sail

Nine months of work and miserable weather all lead to this.  One month of sailing and exploring the Puget Sound and destinations north.  We had been looking forward to this for the last 9 months, most of which was rainy and full of work.

We spent about two days getting the boat ready for the trip.  Finishing last minute repairs or improvements that we had put off and packing the boat up with a plethora of bulk food from Costco.  We figured we had enough basic food for the month and we could supplement it with fresh veggies, fruits, and whatever else was for sale at the places we went.  We bought two small kayaks to serve as a way to get to and from the boat, they worked great and were a lot more fun than a ratty dinghy.
Lots of clothes on, trying to stay warm.

The plan was to spend our final day on land finishing up little jobs and organizing the boat, but the unthinkable happened.   The weather was good, it was sunny and warm and there was wind for sailing.  At about 5pm we set sail and left Eagle Harbor,  we needed to get to Port Madison which is less than ten miles away.  This seem like a short distance but when you top speed is 6 knots (7mph) it takes a while longer.  The wind was out of the North so we had to tack upwind for several hours until it started getting dark, then we decided to start the engine and motor the rest of the way.  In the fading light we anchored and nervously watched to make sure the anchor was set and that we wouldn't swing into another boat during the night.  All was well, we crawled into the v-birth and fell asleep.

The next morning was rainy, cold and windless.  We wanted to get to Poulsbo for Viking days, so again we started the motor and sat out in the drizzle motoring for 2 or 3 hours.  Viking days had some cool things, like a great Norwegian Luncheon, a Viking Village, and some live music (First band was AWFUL, second band was really good) but we wouldn't bother going more than once.   The rain was off and on but the legendary northwest overcast was in full effect making it just barely cold enough to be uncomfortable.
Beth tied up the anniversary roses so they wouldn't spill over when we heeled

Viking days ended and we sailed very slowly, but without the engine back to Port Madison.  The next morning was pretty decent it was partially sunny, but the price you pay for sun in the in the Northwest is often time wind.  We spent five hours "sailing", and after going less than two miles we turned on the engine and motored to Kingston.

So for the last few months Beth and I have be really psyched on the idea of sailing engineless.  Of course, we have and engine on the boat, but we liked sailing without using it.  I built a sculling oar and mounted an oarlock on the stern of Gesena, a sculling oar is what they use on the boats in Venice.  Anyway we were getting good at it, we could leave our slip scull out to the harbor, short tack out, sail all day and park the boat back in the slip without ever turning on the engine.  We had been doing it this way for quite a while and loved the challenge it provided.  This is why we are always so bummed to turn on the engine.

Ok, so we got to Kingston and my parents showed up it town. We took them sailing and showed them the island, and ended up going to visit my aunt and uncle(where my parents were staying) in Lacey.  It was good to see them all. I hadn't seen my cousin Sarah in about 6 years so it was nice to meet her kids and for her to meet Beth.

After a night in Lacey we got back to the best sailing weather we could have asked for (at least in the Northwest).  It was sunny, there was plenty of wind and it was in the direction we wanted to go.  We paddled out to Gesena, lifted anchor and headed north.  We ran wing and wing with following seas for a few hours.  We were covering ground faster than we ever had before.  We decided to go through Port Townsend Canal and anchor on the other side for the night.  We were less then 1 mile from the canal and the wind completely died.  With the sails flopping around we sadly turned on the engine and motored about 1.5 miles to the anchorage.
I grabbed this crab off the bottom while kayaking.

After an an uneventful night near the canal we lifted the anchor and sat windless again.  We took turns sculling the boat, more for something to do than to actually get somewhere.  The wind slowly started to build and soon we were tacking our way towards the inlet to Mystery Bay.  The entrance to the bay is pretty intricate, but the chart looked like we could take a shortcut and skim over a shallow area.  We slowly motored our way through where our shortcut was.  With Beth on the bow and my eyes glued to the depth sounder it was no real surprise when we slowly ran aground.  I will say this was actually one of the coolest experiences of the trip.  We knew that it was only a matter of time before the rising tide lifted the boat off the bottom, so no need to panic.  We tried using the motor to get us off, but it didn't have the power and there wasn't enough wind to get the boat to heel enough to lift off.  So I got into my kayak and Beth handed me the anchor.  I paddled about 200 feet out in front of the boat and dropped it.  We piled every thing on one side of the boat to get it to heel over just a little.  Then with Beth in her kayak watching the anchor dig into the gravelly bottom I winched the boat slowly forward.  I cranked against the anchor until the line was super tight and then I would go jump on the low side of the boat.  Gesena would heel just enough to slide forward six or eight inches.  Once we were off it was a quick sail into mystery bay.

Mystery Bay was certainly a nice comfortable anchorage.  The first morning we were there we paddled a mile or two up to Fort Flagler, an old military base.  It was fun to wander around the bunkers and just enjoy the mostly sunny day.  We left around noon and got back to the boat just in time.  The wind picked up and the water was to choppy for kayaking, so we spent a boring, cold afternoon stuck in the boat.  The next day was decent weather and the little town was having a festival called Tractor Days.  Tractor days was ok, I think it would have been much better if you were from Mystery Bay.  We did catch some really big oysters and fried them up for lunch which was nice, but again the afternoon got cold and we were stuck under blanket in the boat.  We planned out our course for the next day.  This was to be the big crossing of the trip about 35 miles of more exposed water than we were used to.  The wind and more importantly the tides looked good for the next day, so we got the boat ready for a morning departure.
I used the hammer and screwdriver to help pry open the strong oysters

Things went slowly in the morning.  Just enough wind to think that you could sail, but not enough to really go anywhere.  We told each other "Once we are out of the bay there will be wind".  We motored out to find once again no wind.  This is when we decided we had had enough.  Not enough wind not enough sun not enough fun.  We motored defeatedly back toward Bainbridge.  The mood was not good,  I think that we just burned out on the Northwest, which I have now dubbed "The Gateway to the Great Indoors".  It was a great experience living on Bainbridge Island, Beth and I learned so much and got to spend a lot of time with Beth's family, which was great.  We just stayed too long and left too early for a sailing trip to be warm and fun.

We got back to Bainbridge, spent a day cleaning the boat and sold it for our asking price in less than a day.  That put some spring in our step and after being soundly beaten in pickle ball by my 52 year old father in law, we left for the west, the arid mountains, and close friends we were longing to get back to.

1 comment:

  1. The oysters are huge! Nice post, glad the boat sale worked out well. Don't get bummed, sailing can be as great as you imagined, warm water and air helps! enjoy NYC!