Sunday, June 29, 2008

More tall ships, and homeward bound...

I'm back in Seattle, and I'll be here for a week. But before I got here, I had left Port Angeles and sailed across the strait with the Tall Ships. I got some good pictures of them under sail...
When I was in Victoria, I had a good time hanging out with the very busy crew, spending some time with my brother, and helping out build platforms to get people on and off the tall ships.
I also asked to be crew on board the ship "Kaisei" for their transit from Port Alberni to San Francisco. Hopefully I'll get on.
After that, on Friday morning, I headed out from Victoria Harbor. I left around 10 am, and I managed to get all the way to Kingston, Wa, by 11:45 that night, so that is about 66 miles. I think it's about the most I 've done in a day.
Customs was going to be trouble, because the only Customs "port of entry" that was on the way was Port Townsend, which closed at 4:00 friday, and didn't open again until monday, so I had to call and have someone meet me at the dock in seattle, and schedule a time. Then I had to be there on time, or else I have Homeland Security after me. So I can't be late, is what I'm saying. I best be there on time.
So I get to bed at midnight and set my alarm to wake me at 6, and I have about 9 nm (nautical miles) to go, which I can cover at a pace of 5 knots, in under two hours. No problems there. I'll just get up and weigh anchor and go.
I wake up and notice the shore is very close to my location, and I check the depth sounder... 8 ft. Trouble, but not danger. At least immediately. There are a lot of rocks in the area, so I should watch out for a big one that could hit my keel. I turn on the engine and go forward to raise anchor. Once I get the anchor out of the water, the wind is pushing me towards the shore, but I'm all right, once I put the motor in gear, and get under way. I do so, and the engine immediately dies. Trouble.
Why did you die, oh sweet little engine of mine?
No answer.
I hastily run forward and drop the anchor again, to prevent myself running aground. Then I see my "insurance" providers, which were two lines I had dragging behind the boat, in case I fell overboard I could grab ahold of them and pull myself back on. They had become wrapped around the prop.
The inevitable began to sneak into my head... I was going to get wet.
6:15 am, I am hastily putting on my mask and snorkel, and into the water I go. Its a bit chilly, and murky, maybe there are sharkey-larkeys down below in the deep...?
It takes me about 15 minutes to get the prop cleared, and then up I come, as fast as I can, to get under way. Now cruising at 6 knots, I'm on track to make the 8:00 am meeting. I pull up and the customs officer comes aboard, but doesn't really look at the boat at all, he just talks to me. It seems like it could be so easy to do this over the phone....
I have a game starting at 10:00 am, so I am interested to get out of there as soon as I can...
8:35, I am free from customs, and I blast on towards the Hiram Chittenden locks.
Just as I pull up, there are red lights telling me to wait, and a man comes on the PA system to tell me that I will have to wait 45 minutes before I can go anywhere. After an hour and a half, I get in the locks, and its 10. I'm late. I hate being late.
I have to wait for the Fremont Bridge, then get into my car, its almost out of gas, all the lights are against me, and finally, 11:18, I make it to the game.
It was a good game.
Anyways, yesterday was a long day, and I slept in this morning, and I'm feeling much better. Because in the end, life may be a pain in the ass sometimes, but its the best thing I have.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Tall Order

I've managed to get myself involved in the Tall Ships culture. There are 5 of them in Port Angeles now, and I hear that there will be about 20 in Victoria, so I'm going to cross the strait and follow them there, then head back to Seattle. I've been able to talk to a bunch of the sailors, and its really neat to meet so many young sailing people. It feels like home. I climbed to the top of the Kaiseh, a polish built japanese tall ship, I got to the top of the Bounty, which is built in 1960 (or so, check the website for that crap) as a prop for the film with marlon brando.
I've been on the Hawaiian Chieftian, and the Lynx, but not the Lady Washington yet. I've met a bunch of people I almost immediately would trust my life in their hands, despite the clothes they wear, their god-awful smell, and pretty much anything that they look like would show me. You look them in the eye and you see strength and something true. Its like meeting your old friends from way back again, except you don't know them yet.
I love the feel of wood decks beneath my feet, and even though some of the ships are steel, a lot of them still have wood decks. And the rigging. I am at home aloft, like a monkey in the jungle.
It makes me want to get aboard one of them. I think I may try.
In the mean time, I'm headed for Victoria, to see the promenade of the ships into the harbor.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

An Ode to the White Knight

I made it to Port Angeles yesterday, and here I am again... The Tall Ship Lynx is also here, I've been visiting with the crew and the captain a little bit yesterday (when there was no wind) and then I was waiting for the wind to start to blow. Once I felt it was going to get going, I headed out, knowing that it was supposed to get to "small craft advisory" winds, and thus being advised, I made my way out on to the wide straits. For a good hour, I sat with no wind, drifting eastward (I wanted to go west, but the current is against me) and sanding some woodwork and oiling it. I think it looks great now, but trouble awaited...
I could see the water ahead of me getting carpet-like, so I hastily put on more clothes to get ready for it. It began to build, but then died away, and I found myself with too many clothes on, so I tookk some of them off. Oh deception.
So when it began building again, I didn't have enough time to put more clothes on, I was too busy trying to drop sail and get things ready for a blow. I finally got the genoa (large jib) down and put up the 75% lapper (which is about half the size of the genoa), and then put a reef in the main (which makes it smaller). I was feeling good, but the wind kept on picking up. Soon the waves I was pounding into were getting larger and larger, until they began to get ENORMOUS. These where the biggest waves I'd seen in 500 ft deep water. I'd be screaming along heeled over at around 45 degrees, and the monsters would move in. They come in sets, like in surfing... The first one is big, then the second one is bigger, and they suck out in between, so you can't see anything except this green (the sun was setting behind them, glowing nicely through the waves) wall of power and death. Nature lays the smack down hard core, I'm telling you. The cool thing was that the boat would almost completely jump from the water as they pass, this crazy drop down into the chasm between the surf. They would peak, and then break, just like surfing waves, and they must have been six feet high. I made it out to about the middle of the strait, and then as I was heading back towards Washington, I decided that I should get the hell off this water, and the best place to stay the night would be to go back to Port Angeles, rather than go to "Freshwater Bay" which is where I was planning on going. So I turn the boat around, and start heading down wind. Bad choice. Pounding into the waves is all right, and the canoe was filling up, but going down wind, I start surfing, and the canoe hates me. Its full of water, then empty, then full again, and suddenly its ahead of me, then its six feet under water, then with a large snap, its not attached anymore.
But I paid for that canoe, I've lost a different canoe, and I'm going to fight for this one, damn it. So I kick on the motor, drop sail, (which nearly gets me thrown overboard a few times, and is a crazy ride in itself, because the sail doesn't want to drop) and then turn the ship around. Now, where was that canoe? It has a black floaty fender attached to it, and after a few passes, I grab the fender with a boat hook, and attach the rear-drag line to the boat, ready for action... I motor for a while, but then the waves calm down a bit and I am going kind of slow, I'm worried about not making it back by dark, so I put up the jib and sail under that. Not enough power, I'm afraid. I guess the wind blows big and then stops. Must be some sort of funny weather around here...
Put up the main, still with the reef in it, and I'm doing all right, but then after a few minutes, the wind picks up again and its shoving up great big waves again. I'm just in front of the coast guard station off the end of the spit around port angeles, and the waves are getting big again. Suddenly a big green wall picks up behind me, and I think I should probably do something, but its too late. I surf ahead as I hear a crunching sound, suddenly going faster than before...
When I look back I can see some broken remains attached to the rope, and I see a little white end of the White Knight bobbing, but after the next wave its gone. I fly the final few miles to the corner and then back to the dock, where I spent the night, getting in just after the sun sets. It takes until today to realize the sorrows of losing that canoe. No more paddling ashore to visit, unless i get something new.
Maybe an inflatable...
Here is a picture of the remains of my beloved canoe...
RIP White Knight.

Friday, June 20, 2008


I made it to Dungeness Spit, which is west of Port Townsend, on the south side of the straight of Juan de fuca. Its a pretty nice place, with a great view of the Olympic Mountains. I can also see Mount Baker, and have a nice view out into the straights. I'm heading as far west as I can make it, so I'll be trying to get out to the tip of the Olympic Peninsula. I'm feeling so much more free after my trip to Costa Rica; my sailing is not any better, but I am more confident in myself. Its a funny thing, because I haven't proved that I can handle the water any better, but I feel like I can handle myself better. I feel like the challenges that I worried about so much before are falling away from me. The straights that were so taxing and difficult before, do not worry me that much anymore. Maybe I'm growing up, maybe I'm getting stupid, or maybe because its summer (today) things are warmer, so less scary.
On another note, I am getting internet access out at the tip of the dungeness spit, which is in the middle of nowhere. So that is kind of nice.
Tomorrow I'll go to Port Angeles and beyond.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Heading West

I'm heading out for the Pacific today... I figure if I can make it to the western tip of washington and stick my nose out into the great ocean, I'll get a little more perspective on a long singlehanding trip. I'll be back next weekend, the 27th.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Graduation, catamarans, and surfing...

My big sister graduated from Evergreen State College, with a Master's in Teaching, so she is going to be looking for a job this summer. If you happen to know any places, pass me the contact info and I'll get it to her. The ceremony was pretty good, though long and kind of hot in the sun and cold in the shade. The main speaker, who I don't remember his name, talked about sociology, and it was really interesting. He got me inspired a little to start reading Howard Zinn, and then I got to reading "a people's history of the American Empire", which is illustrated, like a comic book. Its got some interesting things in it, all of which really connected to me about the wars we've been having for the past 50 years. I'm going to get political for a minute here... I am getting convinced that we've been getting ourselves into those wars, while making it look like someone else pushed us into it. But the result is that we go on to protect our interests. And then I wonder why other countries don't have the rights to protect their interests like we do.
Ok, enough politics.
So after some of that, we went out to a friend of Bryan's to do some sailing on a catamaran.
Wowzers, they are fast. I'd been sailing on one about 5 years ago last, but I'm hooked again. Altair might be too slow for me in the future. Anyways, it was great to go flying across the water like a pelican, or cormorant or something, but kicking up a lot of spray.
Then sunday, we went surfing. This was the first surfing I've done since Costa Rica. And the water here is @(^@)(#%^@#$% cold. On the way back we saw the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain sailing in the mouth of the river in Aberdeen, and then we went out to watch, and they started firing cannons on each other! A real old school sea battle!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Costa Rica

I'm back in Seattle, and I feel like its been a lot more than the week I've been away. So much has happened in such little time. I flew into San Jose and then stayed in Alajuela for a couple days until friday, where I went to the east coast (Puerto Viejo) and surfed for the weekend, and then came back to Alajuela, and went to a butterfly garden on monday.
But I met a million people, I learned tons of spainish, and I want to go back. Here are some pictures...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Costa Rica

I´ve been here two days now, and I´m starting to get the hang of things. I went to a volcano today, up on the rim of the crater, and it was good, but really foggy and smelled like sulfur. The climate changes radically as you gain elevation, and I saw some things that looked like sequoia and some that looked a lot like alder. Could have been a sitka alder.
No monkeys, but lots of cool birds, and a lot of neat plants. I climbed a tree, but everything is in stages of decay, so I almost fell out a few times, when branches broke under me. Hopefully the trees other places are better.
Tomorrow I´m going to the coast with Laura Felice. I met up with her when I came in, and she put me up for a night, but then I was on my own after that, until tomorrow at noon. I´ve learned a few spanish words, and I can understand a lot more than I thought I would be able to.
I´ve been able to meet people pretty easily, and i´m excited about that.
Things are not terribly cheap here, but they are nicely priced most of the time, and I feel like I could easily spend a lot of time here and learn a lot of spanish.
The sun rises so strangely here, it doesn´t wander around a slow southernly path, like it should, but goes straight up.
I´ve taken some good pictures, but I can´t up load them, so I´ll do it when I get home.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The last few days..

I'm just about to leave for the airport to go to Costa Rica, but I got some pictures from Danny of the last few days of sailing and my birthday party, so I wanted to put them up.