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

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Hanging Out Under Sail

Everyone Act Natural

Vesla Relaxing on the Bow

First Raise of Spinnaker ... ever!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Brett's Visit - July 7th, 2008

We finished off Brett's visit properly with a short sail in the sound. The wind was just right and kept us keeled over from time to time. The genoa is definitely going to be too much sail for even moderately strong winds. The sun was out, the music was good, and I'm pretty sure Brett had a good time at the helm.

After the short sail we met up with Kate, Deetz, and Ken at Fisherman's Wharf for dinner. Kate made some delicious sides that went well with the salmon and last week's catch of crab.

Crabbing - July 2nd, 2008

We strapped 3 crab traps to the bow of the boat on opening day of crab season. Deetz, Kate, Ken, and myself onboard. The wind died as soon as we finished dropping the traps. It was eerie watching a regata in the distance as the boats floated almost motionless. A weird storm didn't bring any wind and dropped warm showers on us as we sat and drank and waited for the crab to fill our traps. We probably pulled up 15 or more crab but could only keep 3 of them. One of them was the largest red rock I have ever seen and one of the Dungeness was as big as they get as well.

We learned a hard lesson as we approached the locks in the dark. We didn't give enough room to a barge that came out and the massive amount of water it displaced threw us uncontrollably into a barrier around a bridge post. I couldn't get to the bow in time but the pulpit didn't break like I expected. Deetz was able to push off the stern enough to keep the grill from being smashed. So we got away unscathed except from an insult yelled by some hecklers on a tug boat nearby, "fucking idiots!". Kate yelled back at them pretty good, but Deetz and I couldn't deny that they were right.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

First Trip Across the Sound - Brownsville to Seattle - July 28th, 2008

After our first experience last weekend we were all on guard and amped up for another intense series of events on this weekend's trip. We had to make it from the Brownsville Marina to Fisherman's Wharf near Seattle. Since this meant waking up at 5am to hit the tides right most of the potential crew mates Deetz invited turned us down, but the ever faithful Delicate Dan signed up without hesitation. Somehow we kept Deetz from drinking all the whiskey on the boat and we got to bed early. Dan forgot to bring blankets so we let him sleep inside this time and wrapped him up in the sail bag, some seat covers, and other assorted items. We all slept poorly and woke up confused and tired.

There was no wind at 5am as the sun came up so we were forced to motor north out of the bay, through the narrow Agate Pass, and into the sound. Once on th sound there was an easy breeze and we were able to make it to the entrance to the locks on a beam reach (90 degrees to wind) on the same tack (no need to change direction and adjust sails). It was super easy and mellow; a strong contrast to the madness from the prior trip. Seals came by to check us out from time to time and we saw a school of porpoises. Mt. Ranier was enormous in the distance next to the Seattle skyline and Mt. Baker to the north was easy to see all white with the cover of glaciers. Puget Sound is a uniquely beautiful place to sail. Deetz ordered swigs from the flask at about 8:30am. I thought this to be a little abnormal but who am I to question the captain!

We approached the locks and waited by a sea wall for our turn to go through. "All boats, north wall, port side. Have your 50 ft lines ready," came blasting over the loud speaker. This is when we all realized that we had no clue about the procedure to go through the locks. As Deetz steered us towards the locks we frantically started tying together lengths of 10 ft dock lines to get as close as possible to what they needed. It ended up being no big deal, they helped us through it all as we fumbled around with bumpers and lines and such. Actually, I was suprised at how friendly they were. "Beginning flood," they announced as the giant doors shut behind us and fresh water rushed in lifting us and two other boats to the level of the channel and lake.

We docked at Fisherman's Wharf north of Ballard at around 10:15am and went and got some breakfast. After a short nap we headed down the channel farther east to meet up with a friend of Steven's. As usual, someone stranded with motor problems needed Super Deetz to save the day. Along the way we got to use our air horn twice to signal (one short and one long) the draw bridge to open. It was fun being the jerks in the sailboat for a change causing thousands of people in cars above to suddenly deal with horrible traffic problems. After Deetz fixed the diesel engine on the yacht and the group of 12 or so finished applauding him we met up and tied off near the University of Washington. Kate, Kris, and Vesla met up with us later and we finished the day swimming and lounging in the sun.




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