Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Longest Sail Yet - Seattle to Port Townsend

How far can we make it in a weekend? We answered that question this weekend as 6 of us sailed from Seattle to Port Townsend and back.

Crew: Steven Bryant, Dylan Peterson, Kate Tonnessen, Vesla Tonnessen, Chris Kazimer, and Joe Brown.

We got a late start getting out of the locks in Seattle which forced us to sail/motor into Kingston in the pitch dark. We could see the lights of the ferry terminal and we had a full moon so we were in pretty good shape. That said, we noticed a GIANT BARGE (like takes a mile to stop, intercontinental type barge) a little to late for comfort. It was in the blind spot created by the genoa sail. It was weird too because some optical illusion and the dark made me think it was going one way when it was really on a collision course. We missed it by a long shot but had it been in the blind spot for another 5 minutes it might had been another story. Too close. Note to self: pay extra attention when crossing the shipping channel.

We picked up Joe Brown in Kingston. That night was pretty cool. We motored back out into the bay and dropped off two crab traps. Then amongst the moored boats and the light of the full moon we putted around, played guitar, and generally cut-up. Good times.

The next morning we scored 4 crab in our traps, put them on ice, and headed out. The wind was lousy for the first two hours, but then it picked up and we started making good time. In fact, we reefed the sails just in time to keep us out of trouble (foresight, we're learning!). Most of this time we were going up wind or on a beam reach (perpendicular to wind). We stopped in at Port Hadlock for a little break. Year's ago Kate spent two years creating amazing pieces of art at this boutique hotel at the marina. It was great for everyone to see it finally. Huge 6 x 6 windows with multiple layers depicting scenes and nostalgia reminiscent of the ocean and the northwest. She is so amazing. I can hardly wait to see her next piece. Soon we all got motivated by some circular peer pressure and all jumped in the ocean. It wasn't as cold as we thought and the air was warm. Deetz, for extra credit, jumped in naked for all the yacht club to enjoy.

We were beating up wind towards Port Townsend. Kate took the tiller for a little bit while I worked on something. The waves were higher than they'd been all day. She lost her balance and the tiller broke off! We should have replaced it from the start. Clearly the bottom was rotted and it was just an accident waiting to happen. She recovered from her face plant into the bottom of the cockpit and I grabbed the "nub" of a tiller that was left. We dropped the sails super-fast and motored in the remaining 30 minutes. It was all I could do to steer. We didn't really want this sort of adventure after 9 hours at sea. At this point the toilet also quit working and we could smell our filth. Disgusting. We made it to Boat Haven, pumped the septic, and docked the boat an hour before dusk. Phew. We walked into town, had dinner, played some pool, and tried to rally. No luck. But it was great to be back in Port Townsend. What a great place. Beaten we soon retreated back to the boat and played Texas Hold 'em until 2:30am and then passed out.

After breakfast we headed out for another day of sun and sailing. This time the wind was strong almost all day and it was ALWAYS at our backs. Man, what a difference that makes. We took this opportunity to throw up the spinnaker (big parachute like sail used only for going down wind). I've never done this before and putting up a spinnaker is a process. I pulled out my laptop while under sail, connected via my cell card, and literally looked up "how to put up a spinnaker". Based on a few pictures and our intuition we went to work. It wasn't pretty, sometimes it was scary, but it got up. Boy did we move. There were white caps out and they all played in our favor. We made a huge wake and were easily going twice as fast as we've ever gone before. Not to mention it was super cool to have the giant colorful sail up in front of us which pulled us over waves like we were surfing them eternally.

Reading this blog I see that I'm painting a pretty picture and it is of course hard to get everything across. I should say that it wasn't all fun and games. Nine hours or so a day in close quarters with 6 people is trying. We got on each others nerves, there were arguments, tears, and several people were pretty mean at times. So I learned a few things. A full weekend sail may be fine for those passionate about the mechanics of sailing. However, it may be too much for a boat mainly full of passengers. The Puget Sound is very protected and the waves don't get very big. There aren't the rollers like at sea. Even so the environment on the boat can get pretty rough and desparate in a hurry. It's thrilling, but can be scary too. This is especially true with green horns like Deetz and I in command half buzzed on gin.

Approximate Path - zoom in ... follow loop clockwise ... click on pin points

View Larger Map

Hanging Out Under Sail

Everyone Act Natural

Vesla Relaxing on the Bow

First Raise of Spinnaker ... ever!


Darcy said...

The picture you painted in my mind was spectacular and then suddenly the squabbles you encountered on the open sail made everything swirl into oblivion, and I got really confused. Can I come play?

MOM said...

Looks a little chilly at times. Yes, 6 people in a boat that size is way too many. Please be careful!

Berge said...

I'm still shking over the thought of been hit by a ship or falling overboard and dying before the boat got turned around.

Looks like you are learning the "ropes" pretty well.