Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Under the Golden Gate!

The Big moment had arrived. The moment we had dreamed of....cruising under the San Francisco Bridge!.... and it was so enshrouded in fog we couldn't see a blessed thing! As we motored into the blustery bay (the only wind all day) we could see the Island of Alcatraz looming ahead in the mist. Then the fog cleared in front and we inhaled the stunning vistas of the Bay Area as we were carried into our slip at the St. Francis Yacht Club.
   Our first mission was to put together our folding bikes which we had purchased and had delivered to the Saint Francis ahead of us. Thumbs up to Don from West Marine SF for going the extra mile. (50 actually!) That accomplished we set out to a nearby bicycle shop to research carriers for puppy dogs. George chose a modest wicker basket style, and happily rode along behind Daragh taking in all the sights along the way. Hopefully he will learn to lean into the curves eventually! Tomorrow we head to the famous Pier 39 and, as usual, stay at the best accomodation in the bay, Chantey V.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

California Here We Come!

 Eureka! Yes, Eureka, California, our first landfall over the California border. At the pubic dock we met a delightful young family, Mom, Molly, and Dad and their 6 children, four girls 2 boys, and one a baby, all under 8 years old, on an old sloop with no running water! We are constantly amazed at the folks you meet along the way. They had sold all their belongings and were headed north with no specific plan or timeline.Wow!  With the chance of the weather deteriorating, we studied the forecast and decided to make an overnight passage to Fort Bragg across the formidable Cape Mendocino. As we cautiously crossed the bar next morning on our way out to sea, we knew we were in for a ride!  A rather ominous, milky orange moon hung low on the horizon  as dusk set and the wind and waves began to mount. By the time we started our watches about 9pm, the winds were moaning at 20knots and 9ft. waves were towering over us in our now seemingly tiny boat, being tossed about like matchsticks! We hunkered down for a long, dark night ahead. As the morning dawned, cold and foggy, 19hrs later, we dragged ourselves over the bar into the tiny village of Noyo River Harbour,  and Fort Bragg.
       With no slips left at the dock we tied up to a private dock beside a little seaside restaurant, Corine`s where we were welcomed by fellow sailors Michael and Brenda next door on Ruby Jean in their Haida 26.  The brothers at Corine`s, Anthony and Dominic have run the restaurant since the family emigrated to the USA 60 years ago from Italy. Dominic loaded us into his pickup truck and chauffered us into town. I christened him `The Mayor of Fort Bragg``, when ho told us of all the family holding they had accumulated in town since father Carine arrive in the 40`s and shined shoes for 10 cents each, giving the money to Mama Carine, which she squirrelled away and later invested in realestate. America, land of opportunity! Later he showed us his polka dot painted toe nails, compliments of  his wife the esthetician. Tomorrow we will reluctantly leave this charming spot and prepare for our longest day yet, 15 hours to Bodego Bay.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Astoria and the mighty Columbia River

Today, Tuesday, we crossed the infamous Columbia Bar,(Astoria, Oregon). As luck would have it the weather was clear and sunny with light winds as we timed our entry for low slack. The river current is VERY strong here, where the Columbia enters the sea, and can be one of the most dangerous in North America in poor conditions. As we crossed an enormous tanker came up from behind going 12 knots and honked loudly for us to move over! We entered under the arched bridge of Astoria and breathed a sigh of relief at a successful crossing. The harbour was peaceful and inviting after all that, and we spent the next day meandering through the town. After a satisfying luncheon at the Wet Dog Cafe, chosen by Georgie, we took the tram car to the Maritime Museum. The exhibits were excellent, with a fascinating history of the notorious Columbia River Bar and those unfortunate and brave lads who gave it the title `Graveyard of the Pacific`. The river marks the end of the Lewis and Clarke Trail which was the early route across America along the river. Tomorrow we plan our departure and the next in a series of bars, the Tillamook-Garibaldi and Newport, Oregon. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Crossing the Bar

After some delay due to internet connection we are back in communicado once again.
Today we crossed the notorious Columbia Bar, with great trepidation. However, all went well as the weather was sunny and clear with light winds.The swells are still quite strong and one can just imagine how wild things can get out there! This was our third bar so far, so we are getting the hang of it. With good preparation and background knowledge of the shoals, depths, and current weather forecast from the Coast Guard stations, it was very do-able, just follow the recommeded way points. The trip has been a great success so far, from little first nation villages to urban centers, and gorgeous scenery, it's amazing to think we all live on this little blue planet third from the sun! Today we ventured into the delightful town of Astoria where we visited a superb Maritime Museum. Most of the displays were about the history of the Columbia River and the fearsome Bar. It told of the hundreds of ships, large and small that have braved the fierce currents, and gave it the name 'The Graveyard of the Pacific.' One certainly gains a new respect for these waters. Check out the photo of Georgie (first mate) and Cathryn from page 2 of the Port Angeles News.We're almost famous!Next stop Tillamook, and ,oh, yes, another bar!! 
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me,
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I go out to sea.
But such a tide is moving, seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep,
Turns home again.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark,
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
when I embark.
For tho' from out are bourne of time and place,
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my pilot face to face,
When I have crossed the bar.
Alfred Lord Tennyson

Monday, August 1, 2011

Winter Cove, Saturna Island

Well here we are at Winter Cove, Saturna Island visiting our good friends Pat and Barb Ropars on our first stop along the voyage. Farewell Rendezvous is tomorrow and the weather is perfect for the week-end. Pat has kindly provided us moorage at the Winter CoveYacht Club which is much appreciated by first mate Georgie for his daily perambulations.  Barb, it turns out is also an O'Neill from Ireland and thus a distant relative of Cathryn! After a delicious steak dinner we were off to visit our Bluewater Cruiser friends who were just arriving for the festivities. We enjoyed a gourmet potluck dinner at the park, and then 'The Farewell the the Fleet' with the ever-eloquent Boudewijn MC-ing the event, and blessing the 37  'Leavers' with their goodie bags as they head off on their adventures.  Later we dingy'd about to visit old friends and new, and exchange last minute words of wisdom, and general goodwill wishes along the way. Daragh and I would like to thank all the Bluewater folks for your support and encouragement, and most of all for welcoming us into the fold. Without you, we wouldn't be setting out this day to live out our dream. Happy sailing til we meet again from Chantey.