Saturday, September 29, 2007

We don't give a ..... cuz its your birthday

Friday was our first day weatherbound in Neah Bay waiting out the first big storm of the season. The sky directly to the west was crystal clear and if we hadn't had NOAA telling us about the storm, our senses would have told us there was nothing to fear. It seemed like the last day of summer. And, just about the best way I could imagine to spend my 30th birthday. Neah Bay and its wonderful people have been great to us at every turn. This is a very fun town if one has the right attitude, and my crew has been having a great time. A female native fishing captain, Lou, drove us out to the Shi-Shi hike trailhead, but on the way stopped at her house to pick up some kippered black cod for us, and invited us to her beach volleyball party the next day. I told her the forecast was for gale force winds from the south and rain, but she wan't fazed.

Shi-Shi Beach, is awesome. John and I made the plunge into the huge turquoise shore break. That may have been the highest point in a day of highs.
Blow the tubes!
John and I exhibiting some of the collection of plastic trash we gathered on the beach
John's cooler tracks.

the walk back to the village, across the reservation from the trailhead was 8km. But we've found that usually the first person we talk to will offer us a ride. After 15 min of walking we began to hear the deep bass thumping of a very loud stereo. We were not about to ask the in habitants of the 89 Cutlass that we discoverd was the source of the loudest rap on the reservation for a ride, but as we tried to walk past them on the road, they rolled down the window and wanted to know how the surf had been. Once the smoke from the inside of the car had cleared, we explained that we had only found the broken board on the beach. This was our kind of ride back to town, and they thought nothing of stowing half a surfboard in the back seat with us, and playing some earthshattering rap for us on the way. Steve and Tasha later visited the boat and had a piece of birthday cake. Hopefully, we'll all make it the beach volleyball party later, as Tasha happens to be Lou's neice. Its funny that the places you wouldn't first imagine turn out to be the places where you can have the best experiences and meet the most memorable, real people.

The night was finished off with a pan fried Red Banded Rockfish from a local fisherman's boat, and a cake made by Dan.

Now, as the storm actually approaches, the rain has come and its a cold, blustery day. John's off to catch a salmon in the TSOO-YESS river, and Dan and his friend Kristina are hiking out to Cape Flattery. I'm going for a rainy kayak along the northshore out to Flattery, as I've wished I could so many times while on the bridge of a ship.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Juan de Fuca Straights

John takes in the moonlit path over Fort Warden on a great hike we had from Port Townsend.

Motoring in the eastern Straights with the Olympic Mountains to port

Not a breath of wind, motoring from Port Townsend to Crescent Bay

All day on deck, sailing upwind toward Neah Bay. Two passing rainy fronts, but in the evening...
Cape Flattery, Tatoosh Island, and Neah Bay. The condensing moisture pushed up by the coast range looked like a forest fire.

We're now tied up among a fleet of fishing boats here in Neah Bay. Things are drying out and a hot shower and an ultasonic toothblasting have made things a bit more civilized. John is playing old country songs on his toy guitar and Dan is huddled up next to what little warmth the kerosene heater puts out. It was an awesome day of sailing. We didn't make the best time from Crescent Bay, where we anchored last night, but we only ran the engine for about an hour out of 12hrs on the water. I didn't really leave the deck the whole time. It was transfixing just to have a nice 7-10 kt breeze, and to watch Sula work over the easy ocean swells. Even when the wind dropped down to just a few knots, she seemed to have a yearning that wouldnt' allow us to break down and motor into such a wind. And the sunset over the pacific had every one of us thinking maybe we should just bypass neah bay and head out into the ocean. But now it looks like there is an alaskan low that is driving SE fast and will dip down too far south and bring us headwinds late tomorrow if we head out. So we are planning a day in this small sleepy reservation town. A hike to Shi-Shi is in the works and an exciting visit to the general store which is the only hardware store/marine store/grocery store for this village. Hopefully the storm will blow through fast and on sunday morning we can head out and see what lumpy swells remain from the blow.

Monday, September 24, 2007


the crew john nic and dan


Hi all. We actually did it. I'm sorry if my patience or sanity wore thin, but it worked, we actually made it off. Yes, Sula is now only 25 miles from Seattle, but it's a larger distance than just as the crow flies it. We're now tied to the town dock in Port Townsend. The crew is split up. John is in the local fly shop trying to piece together a serviceable tuna/salmon rig. Dan is wandering the town looking for local color. I'm at Sirens, the bar with Wi-fi. The party on saturday was an unqualified success. Much life was lived in a very small space. I didn't get too many pictures because I was too busy with the festivities but I'll post what I've got. Then yesterday we did make it through the locks and into the saltwater. I feel farily filled up with gratitude right now for all the people who have offered so much support and encouragement to help me out on this little project. I could name a lot of people, but most of all mom and dad, I can't ever explain how convinced I am that I have the coolest parents in the world. Tutu, grandpa, and all the crosetto/rumpeltes/thornton /sutton/williams /smith/palmer/dojny/welty/maury clan. Thank you guys so much for everything. Thanks also to everyone who came to the party and provided such a nice sendoff. You guys are fun! Thanks to all the lovely ladies at Creekside Dental of Issaquah, for being the voyage's only sponsor, and providing state of the art ultrasonic waveguide technology for the crew's dental needs on the way south. Join the wave. Ultreo!

This morning we woke up at 0430 and left Ballard at 0510. 10 minutes behind schedule. We had a beautiful sail to PT, and the anchor was fast at 1230.

I can't say enough about my crew. Internet dating has been a disaster for me, but what a time for the internet to pull through! Dan is absolutely the best crewmemer I could imagine. He is diligent and intelligent and patient. What luck. John, also..... can barely tie his shoelaces, but be makes every moment light and put in its proper prospective. I'm so happy to have him aboard.

standby for some pics. I don't know when I'll have internet again, but I'll report on things as soon as I can.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My Buddy Boat

Meet the original sailing odd couple, and Sula's possible buddy boat for the the way down to SF. Greg (left) is a retired police detective from Barrow Alaska. Kevin (right) is a yacht broker, and the most dangerous man on Lake Union. They do seem to get along for some reason.... and if you look closely at the left side of the picture you will notice that the name of their boat is.... yes,.... Passing Wind II. Greg insists that this refers to the fact that his craft is speedier than her heft might suggest. We'll see what happens if we reach the ocean together. I'd like to hope that Sula's slight figure will help her in anything but the strongest breeze to move a bit faster. I look forward to reporting on the actual rusults of this epic matchup. Their destination is Mexico as well, so hopefully at times we'll have a compainion out there on the high seas.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

here's how to look at the weather in any place where there is a NOAA buoy

look at the satellite wind maps for a buoy in any area you want to check out.
I'm not sure how its done but they can actually measure wind speed from space across large swaths of the ocean. So the plan is I will call someone with internet and you can tell me what the wind is doing!

here's what happens when a 700 ft ship going 20 knots hits a 20 ft wave going 20 knots in the other direction.

the ocean

I'm in a warm, dry coffeeshop in fremont, and all I can think about is what's going on off of cape flattery. Cape Flattery is the northwestern-most point in washington state, and is a literal turning point from sailing westward out of the straights of Juan de Fuca, to sailing southbound in the Pacific Ocean. It is also a figurative turning point in many ways for me. Its there that the voyage actually begins in my mind. It will most probably be a downhill run in the prevailing northwesterly wind, and so at that point, a sailing vessel is farily committed. Once that left hand corner is turned, to turn back would be..... harder. Its that left turn that I've been thinking about for so many years now. I passed those swell soaked rocks many times this spring and looked at them intently through binoculars from the stable deck of my containership and imagined that left turn, toward the warm south seas, away from the familar, entrapping Puget Sound. I fully expect the moment to be anticlimactic in reality, but its still going to be a very real point of departure.

7 Days!

Well. 7 days. Thats a little nervewracking. The boat is getting closer and closer to being ready and I think there's only a handful of small things to do. I think we can make it out by the 24th. We have a buddy boat that will be making the trip down to san francisco and they hope to leave the same time as us. I'll hope to post a picture of them soon.

I spent the entire day yesterday working, and made lots of progress stowing all of the stuff that just been piling up. She is actually looking yachtlike again and not like just a damp storage unit.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I think the time has come to spread the word about the blog, so feel free to pass it on if anyone is interested. Hopefully something interesting will happen sooon so then I can blog it.
This picture is my new home, Ewing St. Moorings. 624 West Ewing if anyone wants to find it online. My boat is just to the right of those boathouses with the red roofs. Its home to a motley collection of about-to-sink project boats. A perfect place to cause a rukus and savor my last weeks in seattle. Hopefully there will be a going away party here on the 22nd.

Monday, September 10, 2007

taking a day off

today I played bad golf with my dad. and also build a cradle to keep the liferaft in place on deck. The liferaft is a fairly important item, and so I'm feeling good about early AM departure on the 24th. if we get underway at 4 am we'll have a 3 knot ebb current pushing us toward port townsend and we should make it there in the early afternoon for a nap and a trip to Sirens.

Friday, September 7, 2007

preparations continue

Changing a light bulb takes 4 hrs on a sailboat! This is me up the rig putting in my new LED masthead Tricolor bulb. The best view is from aloft. I moved the boat yesterday to a new marina., Ewing Street Moorings. Its like a working maritime museum. I think I'm going to stay here as longs as possible before departure. Come visit.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Allah Shore

A departure date has been tenatively set for Sunday, September 23rd. The going away party will be held the evening of the 22nd. It should be at Shilshole? Sula is now in the Canal, bouncing around from one marina to the next, inching toward the salt water. The final crew list has been set. Dan, a professional sailor from the bay area, answered my posting on 38 north, and although I haven't met him, I'm sure will be quite an asset on the trip south to SF. My good friend John Wray is a professional writer from Brooklyn and despite the fact that he has no sailing experience, brings a great wit and unending fortitude in the face of constant danger and annoyance. I had the pleasure of joining John on his rafting trip down the mississippi river, and although it was a fairly dangerous and frazzling experience, my friendship with John emerged even stronger and the trip was an experience I'll think about fondly and often for the rest of my life.

So, crew, friends, family, anyone. Come to Shilshole Bay Marina on Saturday Sept 22nd and meet the crew and send them off to the wild blue yonder proper.