1 - Portland to San Diego
9/3/02 PYC to Mott Basin, Astoria, OR (46 11.79N 123 44.47W) 81.6nm 10 ½ hrs.
We left PYC in early morning sun and twisted our way back down the Columbia with the ebbing tide. As we neared the 20-mile mark (from the ocean) the wind and seas picked up. Wind was SW 20, just as predicted, and EVERYONE said don’t go now! We anchored in a beautiful basin off Astoria that was dredged to accommodate Liberty ships. As we were dropping the hook, a gill-netter approached and warned us not to anchor in the basin this night as the salmon opening was 1900-0700, and the basin would be full of netters. We tucked up in a corner between 2 islands with a view of ships in the river and mountains on the horizon—another beautiful site. A netter ran behind us providing us dinner entertainment. We went to bed under a canopy of stars.
9/4/02 Mott Basin to Astoria 6.7nm 1 ¼ hr
Awoke to fog and a fisherman offering us a steelhead—yum! Then we motored all of 6 nm to the Astoria West Basin Moorage where we fortunately got an end tie. We walked about 5 miles along Astoria’s interesting waterfront with abandoned canneries, rehabbed canneries, pilings from destroyed canneries, and one active cannery now processing sardines for bait. There was a new cutesy housing development, a few shops and cafes, a nice maritime museum, and the East Moorage Basin with one dock completely occupied by huge, noisy sea lions. A trolley runs the 2 miles between marinas with stops along the way. There didn’t appear to be much more to Astoria than the waterfront, some Victorian homes in various stages of repair, and the extremely long bridge spanning the Columbia River and connecting OR to WA. We had crossed the bridge in the motorhome in 1995 with the kids on our Rt 101 trip from San Diego to Seattle. We asked a few more people about crossing the bar 1st thing in the morning on the waning ebb and got various answers. Early to bed anticipating a pre-dawn departure.
9/5/02 Astoria to Newport, OR (44 37.27N 124 03.20W) 112.8nm 13 ¼ hr
We were up at 0500 for a 0730 uneventful J crossing of the infamous Columbia River bar. We had a lovely ride following the rugged OR coast down the ocean in 3’ swells. Neat rocks and lighthouses provided the scenery. We made great time, averaging 9kts @ 2000rpm until…the starboard engine stopped just before we reached the Yaquina River entrance channel. Fred tried a few quick fixes, but they didn’t work; and the current was increasing by the minute. We limped in with just our trusty ole port engine, and settled up against the T-head of a very long pier. After dinner Fred was back in the engine room changing and tweaking fuel filters, swapping fuel lines and changing a primer pump while I fought with Nobeltec to print our day’s chart (Nobeltec won—no chart). After changing the secondary filter and satisfying himself that the engine would run, my diesel-smelling Capt. headed for a hot soapy shower, ending a long day.
9/6/02 Lay Day
Oops! The engine didn’t want to run at 0600; so we scheduled a lay day and called Newport Diesel. While the mechanic was enroute Fred discovered a "hairball" in the fuel line (a ball of fiber about ½" in diameter). The mechanic changed the fuel pump anyway since the old one had 7000 hours on it. The total bill was $185.00. We walked to the U of O marine science center for interesting interactive displays and a live octopus that had once escaped from her tank and crawled across the floor! From the science center we took a bus into Newport and walked the Bayfront area. It was neat with cafes, canneries, a fishing vessel wharf, sea lions, and interesting shops. One wood shop had a unique wooden clock for $3100 and a table & chairs set for $13,000 among other cool stuff. But the quintessential "cool stuff" shop was the bead shop straight out of 1967 Haight Ashbury. Talk about a step back in time! We smelled of incense the rest of the day. We opted to walk (about 3 mi) back to the boat and had wonderful views from the bridge across the Yaquina River. Fred worked on the new battery charger, and we studied the weather forecast and chart and decided to head for Coos Bay in the morning.
9/7/02 Newport to Coos Bay OR (43 20.79N 124 19.28W) 81.9nm 10 ¼ hr.
What a perfect day! The Pacific was pacified, and we rolled south as the coastline abruptly changed from verdant green mountains to flowing yellow sand dunes. A few whales and porpoise played, and we had a great ride to Coos Bay. Secured at the "bull rail" transient dock at the town marina, we cooked yesterday’s crab catch and had a delightful dinner on the back deck at sunset. The weather forecast for day after tomorrow calls for 6’chop on top of 6’ swells; so we’re off before dawn tomorrow.
9/8/09 Coos Bay to Crescent City CA (41 44.94N 124 10.99W) 114.8nm 13 1/2hr
The alarm rang at 0315, but we were up anyway. We decided to start early so that we’d have only 2 hrs of darkness as opposed to running overnight with several hours of darkness. We cleared Coos Bay inlet @ 0415 after a tedious run through the inlet. We had a crystal clear sky with all the stars guiding us into another calm day. The sun rose @0630, and with the help of hot chocolate and our electric heater we began to warm up. We were back to rugged OR coast scenery when a huge lone Orca loped over to see us—the only time we’ve seen one without a pod. It was another beautiful, calm day with lots of offshore rocks and reefs to navigate around. We really like our navigation set-up in the warm, sheltered pilothouse. The large (compared to newer models) GPS interfaced with Nobeltec on our Dell laptop makes it so easy, and our old standby Furuno radar is right there too. The Capt. just relaxes in the helmseat and steers with "thumb control" on the autopilot remote. One complaint, though. Call us old fashioned, but we prefer Raster charts to the new-fangled vector ones. Raster provides much more info at a glance. With vector we can’t see names of capes or rivers unless zoomed in. Our electronics dealer sold us vector because he thought they were better. We’re glad we have paper charts to plot on. We keep dividers, etc. in the drawer, but we have become basically lazy about navigating and have a back-up system with a 2nd laptop interfaced with a portable Garmin III+ GPS and equipped with a cigarette lighter plug. With our computer plugged into DC and our holding plate refrigerator we use our generator very little.
We pulled into Crescent City Marina, and a fisherman offered us his slip. He was staying at a side dock to try to sell his Albacore to pedestrians (we didn’t see any buyers). The fisherman next to us told us that large companies have bought out the small fisheries. The big company chooses its fishermen and offers lower prices than the old company. Last year shrimp brought 75 cents per pound. This year they are 17-25 cents; so the smaller fishermen have resorted to catching tuna and selling from the docks. Another sign of the times: Walmart came to town and K-Mart closed up. The weather forecast for the next several days again calls for strong northerlies and SW seas building to 11’. We wanted to have a lay day to catch up on some maintenance, but not 4 or 5 lay days in Crescent City. We plotted and planned for another early departure and attempt to beat the weather to Eureka.
9/9/02 Crescent City to Eureka (40 48.38N 124 10.19W) 65.8nm 7 ¼ hrs
Alarm set for 0500. We got all prepared for leaving and waited for dawn so we could see crab pots. At 0630 the winds and seas were calm as we headed down the coast passing the giant redwoods. (They looked like any other hill from 2 miles at sea.) We easily crossed the Humboldt Bay bar at flood tide and secured at the nice public dock in Eureka. They loaned us bikes to cruise through Old Town but told us not to be out after dark. Old Town is still being revitalized and has some unique shops. Across from the marina is an industrial site—at odds with the natural beauty of this coast. We’ve been pleased that our AT&T cell phone has worked in most towns and sometimes out at sea. We get e-mail on board, but the connection costs $1.20 per minute; so we don’t send or receive pictures at sea and only connect about once a week.
Capt’s notes along the voyage: Our purpose is not only to get Playpen home but to see as many ports as possible by harbor hopping with as few over-nights as possible showing that a cruising couple on a well founded LRC can safely go from the NW to the NE. This voyage makes one appreciate one of the many differences between the average trawler yacht and a Hatteras LRC—our large fuel capacity!
The vastness of our remote shoreline makes one realize how vulnerable our nation is
There are few cruising boats south of the Columbia River. We’ve met 3 in various marinas. You’d think the VHF is broken, it’s so quiet.
9/10/02 Eureka to Shelter Cove, CA (40 01.20N 124 03.73W) 64 nm 9 hrs.
We’re not sure what the right way is to round Cape Mendocino, but we found the wrong way! We hit the cape at the buoy 5 miles offshore and were greeted with 6-10 ft swells (some higher) on our starboard beam. The stabilizers took the edge off the wind waves but just couldn’t handle those huge swells! Then we headed 9 miles out into 1000+’ depths. We had the worst following seas we’ve ever experienced. The Capt. said they were 8-12’ at least with lots of foam on the down side as they passed us. The swells finally subsided to 4-6, but the wind waves increased. The seas moved to our starboard quarter and became more comfortable—still not great. The Capt. has decided "Cape" on a chart means "hold on" as that’s what we’ve had to do at Cape Hatteras, Cape Flattery, and Cape Mendocino. The wind behind us was only 20 (forecast 25), but it really kicked up the seas, and the view from our new cockpit was downright scary! A fisherman later told us to stay 1 ½ mi. off shore for the best ride.
The voyage south may be more comfortable with the seas behind, but as Bud Trussell (owner of hull #1 LRC 48) pointed out, going north into the seas is safer. Bud bought his boat in Michigan and took it through the Erie canal and down the east coast where we met him in Annapolis. He then took her up the west coast to San Francisco Bay and her home port of San Leandro. Lou & Phyllis Scott (#49 of the 48 LRCs) took Traveler from the east coast to her home port of Ludlow WA and now San Diego. There are a few other 48s out here, but we don’t know their stories.
We anchored, finally, in Shelter Cove, a misnomer if there ever was one! The 4’ swells rolled in all night and brought fog and fishing boats with no anchor lights.
9/11/02 Shelter Cove to Bodega Bay CA (38 19.82N 123 03.40W) 126 nm 16 hrs.
We wanted to leave Shelter Cove at 0300 (actually we wanted to leave as soon as we got there, but didn’t want to do rough seas all night in the dark). We couldn’t leave at 0300 because we were in a black hole composed of dark and fog. We got up the courage to weigh anchor at 0400, and our trusty radar helped us pick through the unlit boats in our black hole. As the sun rose we realized we’d be in the fog all day, and our black hole turned into a white one. The chop on the swells wasn’t breaking, and the wind was minimal near shore; so we just motored along alone in our fog listening to the somber observations of last year. We arrived at Bodega Bay in a black hole again and couldn’t pick out the channel; so we dropped anchor in 40’ of water where the radar showed us safe. We later discovered that the light on the jetty was out. We had a little surge, but we were so tired we didn’t notice. The Capt. spent his second night on the salon sofa with the Nobeltec and radar on standby and the radio tuned to channel 16 just in case someone wanted our attention.
9/12/02 Bodega Bay anchorage to Spud Point Marina in Bodega Bay (just around the corner)
When we both awoke, the fog had subsided enough for us to round the corner into Spud Point Marina. We were finally tied up and still after about 47 hours of rocking and rolling. We walked around the marina and up the hill to a fax/copy place where a very nice lady let us look at Hatteraslrc.com. Nice job David!! Then we came back to the boat to make a zillion phone calls for moorage in Sausalito/San Francisco. We were told we’d need an end tie because of our size, and there were no end ties to be found. Fred met another cruiser who’d just come in on an extended 49’ DeFever. The DeFever crew thought they could get us into Oakland Yacht Club. We fueled with the cheapest fuel in the entire area ($1.41—the most we’ve ever paid), had dinner and were in bed by 8:30.
Capt. notes: We talked to several cruising friends today. The advent of the cell phone has brought the cruising people a whole new wonderful dimension of staying in touch. When you think of that nice person you met somewhere you just call them up. There is a lot of time to think of and remember the nice cruisers you meet. A business card with boat and crew names, address, phone numbers, and e-mails is really helpful for staying in touch. We have made many friends and swap valuable cruising info and experience.
9/13/02 Bodega Bay to San Francisco and Alameda (37 47.07N 122 15. 88W) 64nm 7 hrs
What a thrill to take Playpen under the Golden Gate Bridge! The high fog added interest to our pictures, and we had beautiful sunshine once under the bridge. Navigating in the bay was really difficult as the Capt. had to dodge ferries, look out for ships, and find his way through a large sailboat race. We were very fortunate to get a berth at the Oakland Yacht Club where some friendly patient people waited for us and helped us tie up. OYC has some of the nicest, friendliest people we’ve met. They all had suggestions for doing the Delta and loaned us books and a car.
9/14/02 Lay Day at OYC
This was a day to wash the boat and clothes, do a little provisioning, and find a place to keep Playpen for 2 weeks while we go home to celebrate Fred’s mom’s 90th birthday. We found what we hope will be a perfect place at Bellina Isle Marina on Alameda Island. Playpen will have her own 70’ x 17’slip (as opposed to sharing a well) in a gated marina away from wake-producing traffic. They’ll even give us a ride to the airport.
"Everything-but-the-Capt." note: In my navigation/log duties I try to print a chart from Nobeltec of our day’s trip. It worked wonderfully for 4 years with Nobeltec 4.0, but we upgraded to 6.0 so we could get e-mail weather. Now I’m told I can’t print to an HP printer using Windows 98. I’ve called Nobeltec several times and been given different advice each time. I can print a page or two, and then it locks up again—arrrgh! I can only get Nobeltec during business hours (Pacific time). Is the Captain’s any better? I think we’ll have to look into it.