Sea Life

June 30, 2014

I saw thousands of these.  Yes, thousands.  Maybe millions.  Every time a wave broke over the boat it left their little bodies behind, and the blue part left ink spots on the deck until the next wave washed them away.  Strange looking creatures.  They were completely at home in the conditions, and I envied them that.  They’re called sail jellyfish.

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The Sail Jellyfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When conditions were at their worst, a black footed albatross seemed to hang around to keep me company.  Yes, I know it was probably just looking for scraps of food, and yes, I know that it probably wasn’t the same bird every time.  I also know that it couldn’t care less about me, but it gave me some comfort at the time to imagine that it was checking in on me.  “Hey, dude.  You look like you’re having a rough time.  I live here.  Anything I can do?”

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Black Footed Albatross

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These dolphins are fast.  They too came around to check me out and stayed a while.  Again, I liked to think they were there for moral support.  They played a game where the port side dolphin would shoot forward and dive under the boat, in front of the keel, and pop up on starboard.  Then the starboard dolphin would do the same thing and pop up on port.  Cross, repeat, cross again.  In high winds and huge seas, while I was wondering what in the hell I was doing in a small boat, they were playing backyard dolphin games.  Super cool.

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Pacific White Sided Dolphin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s interesting that you don’t see as much of the albatross as you get close to land, and you don’t see many gulls as you get out to sea a ways.  Saw lots of pelicans close to the coast, and a few puffins up near Cape Flattery.  I don’t know anything about sea lions, but I never imagined them far from shore, so I was surprised to see one pop its head up about sixty miles out.

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Puffin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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That’s BackBeat’s position report from the Yellowbrick tracker this morning.  Looks like 2014 won’t be my year.

The short version of this story is that I had a pretty rough delivery to San Francisco. Three autopilots burned out, I shredded a nice new Elliott Pattison spinnaker, and my boom snapped like a twig. I have a spare spinnaker, and I bought a new boom extrusion and autopilot Monday and Tuesday, but Tuesday evening I found a broken keel bolt.  I’d had water in the bilge since Port Angeles and was concerned, so I was checking them all for torque.  Seeing a broken keel bolt made me catch my breath.  It’s the forward bolt.  One other bolt felt kind of funky when I torqued it.  No wonder I had water in the bilge.  The keel was down there flexing all the way from Port Angeles.  That’s really dangerous, and a show stopper if I couldn’t get it repaired before the race.  I was up most of Tuesday night drilling holes to sister in two new keel bolts. Wednesday a 3/4 inch tap broke off in one of the 10″ deep holes I’d drilled.  I sat back, took a deep breath, and managed somehow not to cry.  After finding a new boom and dealing with the autopilot situation, I knew this was the end of the line for me. I flew home last night to get my trailer. I’ll have to haul the boat out and drop the keel to make a seaworthy repair.  This is not a DIY job unless I have the luxury of time in my own yard.

Of course I’m disappointed.  Julie met me at the marina Wednesday night, though, so the trip officially became a vacation.  We went out yesterday on Red Sky, Brian Boschma’s Olson 34, to see the fleet off in 15-18 knots of wind and sunny skies.  It was a little painful to watch everyone head for the Golden Gate Bridge while I rode a coaming on the chase boat, but sailing to Hawaii–and back–with questionable keel issues crossed a safety threshold that I didn’t want to tempt.

I’ll post more later, with all the gory details, so stay tuned.

I’m ready to leave for San Francisco.  NOAA forecast 25-35 kt winds in the central strait this afternoon and evening, which is about when I’ll be there if I leave in the next few hours.  I’m watching the buoy data, attempting to time my departure to miss that business.  Getting out of the strait is a bitch this time of year.  It’s eighty-odd miles straight into the wind, tacking all the way, and when the current turns against you those tacks can seem like they’re taking you nowhere.

In the meantime I made a couple of videos to show people where I’ll be living and working until mid-August.  It’s a small boat, and it seems even smaller looking at it on a monitor.  Am I sure I want to do this?  Well . . . ?  The cool thing about this kind of sailing is that, even when the weather’s awful and everything is going wrong, it only takes a day on the dock before you’re itching to get out there again.  Go out, get beaten up, recover, repeat.  I’d like to hear what a shrink has to say about that.

Outside the boat:

Inside the boat:

 

Last Minute Stuff

June 2, 2014

Leaving Spokane Wednesday morning.  Stops in Seattle at Fisheries Supply for a few last bits of gear, Blue Cosmo to pick up an Iridium SIM and Axcesspoint hotspot, and Viking to pick up my liferaft, and then it’s on to Port Townsend.

Speaking of Viking, it turns out only Viking can service and recertify their rafts.  My four person RescYou valise cost $999 to service.  I guess I knew it was going to be expensive, but that still caused a bit of sticker shock.  Oh well.  Maybe that’s just what it costs.  This is the first time I’ve ever had this expense.  Now I know.

As I’m writing this there are gales off the Northern California coast.  My plan is to leave my slip on or about the 8th, depending on the weather.  I guess we’ll see how it develops.  That should put me at Marina Village in Alameda by the 15th or 16th, which has been my goal.  There’s wiggle room, but it’s time to go . . .

Good news.  I believe I’ve talked Julie into meeting me in Kauai.  This is her super-busy season at work, so she has to do some wrangling and planning, but it looks like it’s going to happen.  Sweet!

I’m a little worried about weight in the boat.  She’s light, but not ultra-light.  Adding all the gear and provisions moved her waterline up a bit.  I had to experiment with placement to get her to sit on her lines.  It’s all fine, but I don’t want her to handle like a pig.  The surfing on those big swells is too much fun.  We’ll see how it goes on the trip South next week, and make any adjustments we need to.

Well, it’s back to my checklists until Wednesday morning.  More later . . .