Saturday, August 30, 2008

Alameda, Here We Come!

August 27 -28, 2008
Sat phone call "Safely around Mendocino"

So after I learned and won at Chicago Rummy, we tried to eat at the Chart House, but it was closed. There was a little restaurant called the Bistro that let us order the awesome 4:30-6:00 Special at 6:05 (we were seated at 5:55 after all). Anyway, again, we were all bunked early 8:30ish even though I read for a little while. We were on our way by about 6:15 Wednesday morning and after a quick little touch of the bottom near the gas dock, we headed out from the breakwater. We really saw some great wildlife: more sunfish, whales (almost always while I was asleep, so I feel as though my crewmates may have been pulling my leg), scores of seals, the cutest little birds that were always in pairs, something that jumped in the night - twice, and dolphins. We had about 10 hours til (the dreaded for PJ) Cape Mendocino. At that point, the weather models indicated that we would probably have skirted the worst of the winds that were building steadily off-shore. Well, for anyone who is watching the developments with Hurricane Gustav and New Orleans: weather models are helpful, but aren't a crystal ball. Anyway, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief as we passed the Cape around 4:00 pm. However, maybe because it was late afternoon and the temperatures inland had been high (over 100*), the winds picked up for about 3 or 4 hours. We, and by that I mean Jamie and Behan as I was trying to get some sleep, saw sustained 30 knots of wind with a couple of gusts to 50 from the north. By the time I came on watch at 1:00am, things had started to slack off and continued to do so pretty much for the next 18 hours til we hit the Golden Gate in almost completely calm conditions. What more could you ask for? We came in close around Point Ryes which I have only seen in the dark and in the daytime has to be one of the coolest lighthouses ever.
Point Reyes Lighthouse - How was it built????
It seemed like most of our wildlife sightings were between just off of Point Reyes and the GG. We kept getting confused that we were really in San Diego at Seaworld. Behan was downright giddy, seeing San Francisco (where she spent a sizable portion of her childhood) from a new perspective - the other side of the Golden Gate. Going under said bridge, we toasted Totem with Dark and Stormies. Next we swung in towards the St. Francis Yacht Club where the Gifford children, having just arrived with their grandparents on a flight from Seattle - with just enough time to get the rental car, waved at us from the beach. Niall spotted that bright yellow kayak lashed to the foredeck immediately!!! Then, the real excitement began. We were passing by Alcatraz enjoying the wharfs on the city's waterfront, when from where we had just come horns started blaring. An outgoing tanker was having issues with an incoming freighter who had not left it enough room to get through the Golden Gate. Well, as they honked and belched smoke reversing their engines, from our angle, near disaster was avoided. I must say that I did get out my camera and start filming just in case there was something worthy of U-tube. And there might have been as the Coast Guard bombed out towards the scene. But that wasn't all the excitement, there's more. As we turned our attentions ahead to the Bay Bridge, we noticed a fire boat. It spraying water at Treasure Island. It seems as though there was a brush fire on the cliff where the Bay Bridge comes from SF into Treasure Island before continuing across on the Oakland side. I don't know how it turned out, from our vantage point, it seemed like a pretty stubborn fire with a fire boat that couldn't quite get the water far enough up the cliff and no way to really fight it from above. Remember that freighter who seemed to be at fault under the GG? Well, it was now bearing down on us, so we continued on to Alameda where a slip labeled "Swiftsure" awaited us. It made me feel at home (or work, or something - I believe in signs). Oh, did I mention that in the blazing heat? There were also cold beers and ice packs waiting for us courtesy of the Jessies!!! How could you top that off? Try pizza, green salads and beers at Linguini's. Showers and flights home were all that were left to round out this trip. Oops, I almost neglected to mention a quick visit to the Seattle Embassy - yes, you guessed it: Starbuck's early on Friday morning for lattes before it got too hot!Align Center
Toast to Totem

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

News from SV Totem

Newport Oregon Bridge

August 24, 2008

Once in Newport, we all enjoyed showers and then visited the Rogue Nation headquarters where we wound our way through the brewery to the eating facilities and had some chow. By 8:30, we were all pretty much in our bunks. Sunday “dawned” overcast and not many sport fishers headed out with the glum forecast. We boarded the new loop bus and on our way to and from Fred Meyer (both the chandlery and Radio Shack were closed on Sundays) saw a decent portion of the greater Newport area. We are guessing that since the gas dock had opened early and there really weren’t many customers and they dwindled to nothing throughout the day as the wind and rain came in, that they decided to close early which made out departure decision easy: Monday after the gas dock opens! Like all good sailors we took the change in plans with a grain of salt (actually glass of wine) and enjoyed a warm dry evening aboard the boat.

August 25, 2008

Two nights in Newport, OR and we awoke this morning to fog and fairly calm winds. Last night we enjoyed watching a Rodin Williams comedy show and The Wedding Crashers. We followed a commercial fishing boat out under the Newport Bridge and the skies immediately began to clear. The bar was a little rough but it was the side swell that almost did me in. I quickly took a Gravol and had luckily had a good breakfast, so I able stay outside for a little while and rack in my bunk, waking up a couple hours later doing much better. We went by the famous dunes midday and had a great view of them because we are staying fairly close to shore so that we can head into Crescent City ahead of some weather tomorrow morning. Behan made some great sandwiches out of the last of the sourdough bread that I made for the trip. We have finally been able to put up the sails and are making good time still motor sailing. Not much wildlife today other than birds. We did see a couple of seals and Jamie and I are pretty sure that we saw some kind of small whale. We hope to hit Crescent City around sunrise tomorrow and wait out the weather, getting an early start for our final push on Wednesday morning.

Crescent City, California

August 26, 2008

A little after sunrise, we rounded the breakwater that protects Crescent City. The gas dock attendant came right down and lower the pump down to us. The gas dock is about fifteen feet above the water. There are some lovely barnacle covered tires strung on a log that you tie up to. Quite an adventure just getting gas. The wind is starting to pick up and there are other boats ducking in here – one from Port Hadlock across the way and Friday Harbor right next to us. Anyway, we got some local knowledge on where to go for breakfast and we all filled up at “Fisherman’s”. We have heard that the Charthouse is where the fishermen go for their fish n chips and so it sounds like that might be our dinner stop. We are thinking about getting a very early start in the AM to take advantage of a supposed lull between here and Cape Mendacino. It looks like we will be staying close in to the coast for the rest of the trip except right before San Francisco where we do not want to be in the Potato Patch if there is wind. I will try to find some pictures to post and hope that my next posting will be from Alameda.

Monday, August 25, 2008

PJ Helps deliver Totem to SF

Leaving Neah Bay!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My “squishiness” seems to have passed so here I am 9 miles off of Oregon, ready to do a little typing about our trip down the coast on Jamie and Behan Gifford’s s/v Totem. The skies are pretty clear with some thin high clouds and the ocean swell is way down. But let me start at the beginning which is really about an hour into my good friends’ dream of “go cruising”. It is so exciting to get to be here at the beginning. Anyway, the Giffords and their other crew member, Curtis Edwards, left the home port of Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island about noon on Thursday, August 21st. They stopped into Shilshole to get gas and me about an hour later. As with all great adventures, there are bumps along the way. Their big bump was that the auto pilot and all of its backup parts Buoy off Neah Bay decided not to work the day before. I had hastily picked up a new Raymarine autopilot and handed it off to Behan for Jamie to install. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite functional by pick up time at Shilshole. However, about 5 hours later it was and off we went at about 6:00pm. Looking at the weather and tides, we had pretty much decided to do a red-eye run to Neah Bay. With Dall’s porpoises beside us, we headed for the Straits of Juan de Fuca and hoped for the best. We were also toying with the idea of waiting out a small weather system in Newport, Oregon. Yesterday, the sun dawned to some low clouds and fog and about an hour to go to Neah Bay. By the time we hit the gas dock there, it was about 8:00am and the sun was starting to burn off the remaining clouds. Rounding Cape Flattery, the ocean swell was small to medium but was almost straight westerly which put it right on our beam. And so the squishiness began, but my Gravol did its work and I was just a little sleepy which, since we were not racing was not a problem. We have seen lots of birds – many brown pelicans which Jamie says are not supposed to be here. I spotted a sunfish and then Behan thought she saw another one a couple hours later. The sun kept a few clouds at bay, but it did get a little cool when the sun would go behind a cloud. Sunset was a non event and I hit the rack for a few hours around 8:30. I awoke (was not woken up because again we are not racing) around 12:30 and joined Curtis for some night watch. Towards the end of our watch around 4:00am, we spotted what we think was a NOAA buoy. It had both a red and a green light down near the water, long white lights along the sides leading up to the “not blinking” yellow light on top. Anyway, it was either a NOAA buoy or a UFO. I couldn’t keep my eyes open for another minute, so I hit the hay. Sleeping has not been a problem on this trip which is most excellent especially for my crew mates. I awoke to the smells of sausage (and it actually smelled GOOD) around 9:30 but no one was interested in food (except me) because they had just seen some humpback whales. They got to see them breech even. I got to see two more whales about an hour later and yes, I did get breakfast (Behan made those sausages into egg wraps). We are still steaming (not enough wind to really sail and make it into shelter before the low goes over us) towards Newport with hopes of a grocery store for a few forgotten things and wi-fi for . . . . . . you know, all that computer stuff! Until then, the skies have some high thin clouds that are allowing it to be toasty warm, a light breeze off our starboard quarter and only small swell – what more could we want.

Sunset off Oregon Coast

Saturday, August 16, 2008

PJ's Last Thursday

I will be heading off down the coast to San Francisco on the SV Totem with Jamie and Behan Gifford as the begin their cruise. I am not sure if Brad will get the boat out for the last Thursday night next week, so I let people know that this might be their last chance. My strategy worked and the Larson/Scholls and my brother and sister-in law finally made it out. The entire Toland family made it on board (just barely) as well as my friend from college, Dave and his family. On the kid-front, we had everything from serious lego-ing to serious sailors. Brad had had enough of the Cruising Class and entered us in the Racing Class. There was wind and we had great racers on board, so we definitely had a great sail. We really got going once the foredeck figured out how that spinnaker sock worked. There was one mark that we didn't quite make, so we just left it to port. Back at the dock, Dave and Austin did a little swimming off the stern to the cheers of everyone else. Talia was our only dunker. I think everyone venutred up to the party shoreside. Thursday was the first of these extra warm evenings with a fantastic sunset followed by an equally amazing moonrise. Rose and I just sat in the cockpit in awe of the almost full moon over our city. I cannot believe how much fun we have had on these Thursday nights. Thank you to everyone who has come out with us and basically made it possible. If you haven't gotten to go out on Capaz yet . . . . well, we will just have to get out there. If I can figure out how to send email on the sat phone, I will keep you all posted on my progress down the coast.

Austin and Mikah just bring the legos out on deck
Jack is part of our foredeck crew

Laurian relaxes pre-race
John just wanted to go on a boat ride

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Capaz Declares Aug. 7 "International Night"

Rose Driving with assistance from Midshipman Bryce
Since there was no official theme for Thursday's Race at Elliot Bay, we decided to make up our own (Pirate Night was so much fun last week despite the rain). We had International Night on Capaz. Aboard we had two women from France (one has lived here in Seattle for a number of years, the other was visiting from France). Then, we were hosting some sailing friends of our . . . . . well, sailing friends who live in Brisbane, Australia. John and Jaqui, the Australians, had a friend with them from London. Jarrel had his first sailing experience ever with us. Then, we had representatives from Greenwood and Blue Ridge, while not necessarily "international" are a good representation of North Seattle. Anyway, we had 5 kids aboard again. Steve Brunette drove a boat for the first time in . . . . he figures . . . . 25 years (since he raced with his dad, Wade, on the J-35 Valkyrie). I got to drive a good part of the race. Brad did take over for that mark rounding where Hey Gorgeous decided that giving a boat that outweighs you by several thousand pounds room at the mark is just a silly idea. We did not use our engine at all this week and had a great race (I only lost 3 boats after I took over driving). Everyone enjoyed the barbeque and Rose helped us bring the boat back to Shilshole afterwards. We again spent the night on the boat - it makes for an easy end to the evening. Friday morning, Brad got up for work while the boys and I had a fairly leisurely morning (not having to hike up the hill now that we are back up to 2 cars).

Steve Driving before the Start

Friday, August 1, 2008

Pirates Aboard Capaz!

Baker Family Pirates
The Pirates were aboard Capaz for the Thursday night race this week. You might have noticed
that there was a bit of rain on the statistically (according to Brad) driest day of the year, but we still all had a great time. We were joined by people from near (Ballard-vicinity: Rose and Scott) and far(Sequim and Winslow: the Hays and Gifford families, respectively). Ryan, Autumn, John and G-ma and G-pa were also on board to join in the fun. We had many pirates with and Captain Brad even brought along his wench (we'll see if we have any G-rated pictures of that one). There was wind for a few minutes after the start and to the leward mark. It eventually lightened up to almost nothing, but the final straw for hoisting the iron sail was that we must have gotten a little too close to the Fleet (in town for Seafair), because the Navy patrol boat with big guns on it waved us off. We proceeded to motor around the rest of the course and make up to the party while there was still plenty of really great food left (Palisades was the sponsor last night!!!!) There was a little more rain and wind for the return trip to Shilshole, but good company and warm drinks all around.
Those Giffords RRRRRRR Real Sailors
Again, we have decided to just stay on the boat after racing (good decision). The boys were finishing up camp at the Science Center downtown this morning and so we couldn't sleep in too late. Besides that, Brad and I needed to get the boat through the locks before we headed off to work. So, my day went like this: get the boys to camp downtown, drive to Ballard and drop the car off near Metler's slip (Friday night's destination), ride the bike to Shilshole, hop on Capaz and take her through the locks with Brad hoping the Seafair crowds wouldn't be too bad, get the boat secured in Metler's slip, go to work(whole other bunch of work related stuff), pick up kids downtown, pick up Brad work after long showing, back to boat at Metler's slip, make bank deposit, pick up gift for party, oops, then it all derailed and we had to switch to Plan B. How did such an action-packed, fun-filled day get derailed you might ask - well . . . . . . how 'bout the aft head blowing up? Yep, that will do it for your evening. We were getting ready to head to a friend's birthday party bbq and I went back to help one of the kids with the flushing process and I learned a very important lesson: Do NOT force the flushing process. The consequences are stinky and time consuming. Anyway, instead of a party (sorry, Wendy, but I am almost completely positive after 7 years of cruising that you understand!!!) we opted for a quick dinner on the boat and then some showers back at the house. We are sticking to it though, staying on the boat and starting fresh on finishing the windlass project and perhaps installing a new head in the morning before heading off to tomorrow's destination, beautiful Holmes Point, Kirkland!!!
More of the Crew

The FOREDECK is where all the action really is
The Adventure Continues . . . . .
The needed to end up back at Shilshole for our return on Sunday night. So, I drove out there and rode the bike back to the boat. After breakfast and some light cleaning, the boys got their respective reading done and I headed up to our gym (walking distance away from the moorage) for a quick workout. Brad worked on re-assembling the windlass. As was well until a fastener got over tightened and the power connection was broken. Luckily, we have the Gifford's to which we could raft. Bryce and I went up to the Salmon Bay Cafe for a blunch of eggs and toast and when we returned, it was just about time to set off for Kirkland. The bridge tenders didn't make us wait too long and the Blue Angels were doing their thing as we went from Portage out the cut into Lake Washington. Not bad seats for the show. The Giffords and Tolands caught up with us in their RIB dinghy (Canadian Naval surplus) on their way back from watching the Blue Angels. Capaz arrived at Holmes Point around 3:00 and rafted up to Totem. My crab dip was a hit and the barbecue was most exellent! Thank you Tolands and Lonergans for another great party. The kids pitched a tent in the yard and along with Niall told stories until the wee hours. I turned in fairly early after a s'more around the fire on the beach. I heard rumors of skinny-dipping led by my husband much later. Sunday ended up being a very nice day: sunny, but not too hot. On the advice of the guys at the locks, we tried to time our arrival just about the time of the end of the Blue Angels' main show. Totem followed Capaz on the hat trick trip from Holmes Point to Shilshole in almost exactly 2 hours. I describe this as a hat trick because we had 5 bridges to open and the locks. All four of the lake bridges opened right as we arrived - two of them we didn't even have to use the horn to request opening. Then, we drove right into the large lock and they did not fill it to capacity but we went right down. When we were about halfway down, the final railroad bridge opened. We exited the locks, went through and it closed behind us. The Giffords continued on to Eagle Harbor and we tied up in our slip at Shilshole just over two hours after leaving Kirkland!! Despite some challenges our first cruise into the Lake was fantastic. I am sure the good food, drink and company made the weekend!

Brad working on the windlass

Bryce, Austin and Niall

PJ Bryce Austin Brad and their Camp Tattoos