Thursday, July 31, 2008

Trip to San Francisco (in pictures)

Ok, so I did this kind of funny, I put all the pictures in this post, and the text that I typed up over the trip in the other post, further down. Hopefully you can enjoy both without too much trouble.

The trip to San Francisco (in text)

Southbound trip: Seattle to San Francisco aboard Wild Fire.

7/24/08 (Thursday)

As the sky clears up on the open Pacific, I’m looking back on how I got here.

Tuesday we left, at around 2:30, from Shilshole Bay Marina. We got underway by motoring, but after some convincing, I was able to get up the sails, and we soon began sailing and turned off the motor. Pat (the owner of Wild Fire) and I discussed watches, and I got the 3:00 am to 9:00 am night watch, and then the 12:00 noon to 3 and the 6 to 9 pm watch. So we have it split up into 6 hour night watches and 3 hour day watches. I got to bed at about 9 pm that night, just before coming out of the Puget Sound past Point Wilson (next to Port Townsend). The current and wind were opposing each other and it got really rough there, which made for a toxic chop. I was getting tossed about in the V-berth, up in the front of the boat, as if it was a bad carnival ride. I would go airborne and then land again on each wave, so needless to say I didn’t sleep well. Finally, I had enough, and feeling a bit like tossed pizza dough, I got out of the bunk, and took my watch in the oven. Pat, by this time, was looking quite green and tired, so he was happy for me to take over. Well, the chop was unforgiving, and after trying to put up sails to make it more stable, I finally was cooked and tossed my innards out into the heaving seas. Its hard to stay healthy when the boat is well lit, because you keep on looking at the boat and then over you boil over.

I fought to stay awake for a while, but dozed here and there, and sailed us up right next to Victoria in order to try to avoid some waves (hide behind Race Rocks, you know), but at sunrise, things weren’t looking terribly good. Why did I come out on this boat? Oh, and incidentally, Pat woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me that a shroud had come loose and ask me what we should do with it. Since the rig was still up, I figured that we were lucky, and we patched it with a shackle, which seems to still be holding….

So the boat was falling apart, and I’m seasick, and I don’t know if I can trust the judgment of the Captain. What was I doing?
Well, the waters calmed down a little around Victoria, but on we headed, and after not paying attention for a while, I was rewarded for my own stupidity by a loud CLANG!! That kind of shook the boat a little. We had glanced off of the center of the channel marker. A glancing blow, luckily, so we were all right. But I was being stupid and lazy and I knew it.

Pat emerged, wondering what was up, and still looking green. He tossed a few more times in the morning, once in the sink, which made for a bad smell that still hasn’t gone away, and once in the cockpit, which was too bad, because I saw it and the image won’t go away. We kicked ass tacking across the straight and eventually made it to Neah Bay, arriving at dusk. We got a slip and stayed the night in the marina, which was a good choice, because we both got good sleep and started feeling better inside.

The next morning we struck off at the crack of about noon, after searching for Wi-Fi and food and trying to sleep in for a while, and headed out past Cape Flattery and the lighthouse and headed south. There are a lot of Sherwaters and sea birds I haven’t seen before out here. Including a Tufted Puffin, and Albatrosses.

7/25/2008 (Friday at 8:00 pm)

South Winds blow, the very direction we seek is actively trying to push us away. Last night the sun set was all orange and pretty, but we didn’t see a green flash. The winds shifted at around daybreak, and we’ve been tacking to weather all day long. We’ve just now about made it to Oregon waters, but I’d hoped for that a long time ago. Early this morning I saw these small birds that flew around like bats, with quick irregular wing beats and lots of hard turns. I’ll have to look them up later. At 6:00 pm we saw a large pack of dolphins, jumping and playing in the boats’ wake. They were dark with some white on the sides, but I don’t know the species. They played with the boat for a while, and then left us. There were a bunch doing really high jumps off in the distance, I think trying to land and stun fish, but I don’t know. They really amaze me in how smart they are. You can tell by how they swim that they are looking at you, turning over and inviting you to come join them and play. I went up to the front to watch and they came over and tried to talk to me, but I don’t understand their sign language.

The sky is starting to break up and patches of blue are showing a little, hopefully we’ll get the NW winds again tomorrow.

Sunday, 7/27/08 12:00 pm

Like a ribbon across the glass, coming closer all the while,

darker blue has never looked so nice. Here comes a breath of style.

Little or no wind for a long time. We are motoring a lot, sitting still a lot, and going very slowly. I can see some wind approaching, however.

We’ve been hit by a slow wet southerly for a long time, and hopefully this is our high pressure of hope, a NW wind to drive us quickly southbound.

We’re off the coast of Oregon, about parallel with Newport, and I’m starting to realize what a fool I’ve been. Pat didn’t bring much good food, mostly TV dinners and cans of ravioli, and I don’t like that canned and pre-packaged sauce shit. I cooked eggs this morning with cheese and it was really a welcome addition to my insides, but we only had 6 eggs and now we’re down to 2.
False alarm on the wind, by the way.

So food is going to be a problem, along with everything else on the boat. I don’t think that the boat is going to break before we get to San Francisco, but its not too happy. The main sheet and traveler are mounted (like mine) above the cockpit, but originally they were attached to a traveler running across the front of the cockpit (right in the way, hence why they were moved). Well, the original was put right over a bulkhead, a strong point on the boat, and the new one is not, so it creaks a lot whenever the main sail is under load, like going up wind. No cracks, but it’s a matter of time, in my opinion.

The boat is very sea-unkindly, designed very much like mine, and rocks a whole lot. She pounds against the seas going up wind. The wheel is way back, so you get thrown around when you stand behind it, but all the instruments are mounted back there, so you have to go back there to see. And the wheel is in its own little compartment, so you have to climb over a bench to get there, which means you have to worry about falling off, and you grab the railing that the instruments are attached to, which has started to creak a whole lot and I had to reset the footing for because it came loose.
I like the roller furling jib, but the furling chord looks old and frayed, and I hope it doesn’t break in the event we need it badly. If it broke, the sail would be open, which could lead to trouble. I think we’ll rig up a backup chord.

The winches are all in the wrong places, so you can’t get a good crank anywhere, and the deck is painted extra slippery, so I can’t hold myself with my feet. I don’t trust myself to walk on the boat, unlike on Altair. Let this be a lesson to me.

Pat talked about some people who slept on the floor when they were under sail. I like the idea, but this floor is wet and I think I’d need a small frame or something to sleep on, just above the floor level, but high enough to stay dry. Or maybe a hammock kind of thing, rigged between benches, that was cloth, so you could find the spot lowest without trouble.

Tuesday 7/29/08, sunrise.

I need to feel

like my life is real,

I need to see,

I need to believe

I saw a bunch of shooting stars last night, and one was a real big one, that split into a few pieces and went halfway across the sky, all green and white. At first I thought it was a flare, but then I realized it was moving too fast, and I couldn’t see the boat that might have been in trouble. This morning, at sunrise, the clouds were all lit up like fireworks, slowly shifting as they burned. I got some pictures, we’ll see if any turn out. I just saw a few porpoises that looked just like the Harbor Porpoises you see in the Puget Sound, but I don’t know if they live out here or not.
The swell is SW, the wind is from the South, and we’ve been motoring since Port Orford. Wait, let me go back. We had good wind Sunday night, starting around 6:00 pm. I didn’t sleep hardly at all that night from the rolling, because we were pointed dead downwind, and when the sails are out to the sides at that point of sail, you have no resistance to rolling, so the boat rolls a whole lot. In the morning of Monday, we headed in to Port Orford to get some food and showers. I talked to the port manager there for a little while (Gary?) and he gave us a lift to the store. He was real nice, and laying at anchor there was nice too. I like the spot. I could see the place where Monica, Abe and I camped last December when we came down the coast. Then we began motoring southbound, and here we are now, about 40 nm north of Eureka. Everything is wet, and I’m cold. And still a tiny bit seasick. I can eat and do everything just fine, but I have a nagging doubt about my innards, and I don’t feel real good about the waves. I think it’s the boat, but I’m not sure. I’ll have to get aboard a full keel boat with a longer waterline for her length and see.

I’ve been thinking about my dream boat, and I think a trimaran is still her. Going downwind, you have really good roll stability, because the ammas come out and hold you up on either side, regardless of which way the wind is blowing. A keel only works when you lean it over, so if you’re heading downwind, you rock 10-15 degrees either way before it takes any effect, and then the sail amplifies the rock, so you go 30 degrees to each side pretty easily. Going upwind, the keel is great, because the sail pushes you over and then holds you there. But a trimaran works fine upwind too. The only thing that sucks about the tri is that she’ll pound something terrible going into waves. Since the trimaran doesn’t have the mass of the keel to push her through the top of the wave, there is a lot of forward pitching as you go over waves, and then pounding once you come down, because there is a lot of buoyancy in the nose. Cruising, I would try not to go against waves, of course, but it is inevitable. So you need to get a wave-piercing bow. The wave piercing bow is what they have on the big cargo ships, where it sticks out low in the front, and is half or fully submerged most of the time. It works by giving buoyancy way out far, but when it is submerged it doesn’t increase the buoyancy a lot, like on a normal bow. A vertical bow has a small increase in volume as you depress it; the deeper it goes, the more volume is submerged, but its linear growth. A swept bow has growth that is faster than linear, sort of exponential, and one that is both swept and flares out a lot (like on Wild Fire) has crazy fast buoyancy growth. Which makes it pound against the water rather than smoothly slide down into it and then come back. You can’t sink the bow, but you suffer when going up wind. A wave-piercing bow has really slow buoyancy growth, so you cut through the waves (provided you have a slender width on the boat) rather than punch up over them and smash down the other side. I think it would be very sea-kindly, though kind of wet, for a cruising trimaran. They have them on some super fast racing trimarans out there right now, a French one called Sodeb’o. I’ve also been thinking about a big drifting spinnaker that is asymmetrical, but mounted on a movable bowsprit that you could pull off to one side or the other, and then run the spinnaker off-center for the boat, and avoid the problem I always have where the air coming off the mainsail kills the spinnaker, so you can’t run dead downwind. I’ll draw it out and figure how to fly it some time.

Wednesday 7/30/08 12:00 Noon

A sense of cheer has come to me. I think because of our nearing destination, and also I’ve been slowly getting used to the motion of the boat, so I’m not feeling seasick. It could also have been stopping in Port Orford and getting more food. But with good cheer comes tragic losses. We broke the preventer chainplate last night. Its not essential for sailing, but useful. Everything seems to break when Pat’s on watch, and the wind also grows when he’s on watch, so I end up getting woken up a lot and having to come up topsides to fix stuff or to help change sail. Oh well. The chainplate is something you figure is never going to break, but it was really poorly fastened down, so there you go. Now we have only the starboard side one. (there is one on each side)

We’re also out of water in the tank. We have drinking water in bottles, but no water from the sink, so washing things is hard. The water valve is jammed, so we couldn’t fill it up in Neah Bay, so we ran out. And we’ve got electrical trouble. I think I’ve figured it out. When we were anchoring in Port Orford, we used the electric windlass at first, which jammed and caused a lot of trouble and was in the way. It made some funny things, so I ended up just dropping and raising the anchor by hand eventually. After that, we had some problems with the breakers cutting off unexpectedly, but it would sort itself out. It was as if the battery was suddenly gone, but we were still reading voltage. It’s a complicated system, and I didn’t create it, so it took a lot of discussion and probing to figure it out, but I found it was the 250 amp fuse that runs straight out from the battery that was blown. There was a bypass from the other battery that allowed us to think that everything was all right, so long as the engine was running or had recently been running.
The thing is, there is a lot of automatic shit on the boat and I couldn’t figure it out. If there was manual switches instead of automatic things we would have figured it out quickly. We’re also low on fuel. We did some calculating to figure it out, and we have enough to just make it, so we’ll be motoring all the rest of the way, in order to preserve the battery life.

I’m in sunny (and foggy) California now, just passing Point Arena. We’ll be in the golden gate around 10:00 Thursday morning.

Thursday, July 31, 2008 10:30 pm

I made it. I’m at David Parker’s parents’ house, and going to go with them and Amy (David Parker’s girlfriend, who is in this area doing birding stuff) to Yosemite, and we’re all in a hectic jumble right now, everyone getting packed and ready, and me trying to type things out in the middle, and sort through pictures. Crossing the Golden Gate was fantastic, but there is a lot of wind south of Point Arena. Once we got past the point, the wind picked up to about small craft advisory and then some gales here and there, and we were out there with a small craft. We made 160 miles in 24 hours on Wednesday, and were going to keep on going, but it was so rough that we went in last night at Bodega bay, and got a slip for the night. We got in to the dock at 1:45, and got to sleep at 2, then got up at 8 and got underway again, and made it to the bridge at about 5:45 this evening. It was blowing real good all the time and I’m glad to be off the water.

I’m tired though, so I’ll have to write more some other time.

Ok, now I'm back from Yosemite, and I have some more to add.
I feel like I've been badmouthing Pat a lot, and I don't mean to do it at all, because by the last few days, I had a great time with him. I think that he didn't have much experience with sailing a vessel a long distance, and we both learned a ton about preparedness, about how to handle a craft, and about how to keep things from getting broken, and how to fix them when they do break. In all that, I've come to respect Pat as a sailor. If he's reading this, I hope he didn't stop at the text above, but understands that I did really enjoy the trip, and I am glad I did it.
An example: the second to last day, we made it from Cape Mendicino to Bodega bay, and after the sun set we were suffering through big waves to make it to the bay to tie up for the night. Pat and I were trading watches, and I got seasick. I felt really good to have him at the helm while I was tossing up over the side, because I knew I was in good hands. I grew to trust him a lot during the trip, and even if I don't ever see him again, I'll remember that.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Neah Bay

I'm in Neah Bay, and fighting for wireless access. I'll be leaving soon.
The trip so far has been rough. We left Seattle hastily, and suffered for it a little, we motorsailed out past Port Townsend, then hit the rough seas where the current and the wind opposed, and I didn't sleep at all that night. Pat took the first night watch (9 until 3 am) and I sat in the V berth getting sick. Then it was my turn at 3, so I was up and got up some more sail to try to stabilize the boat and heaved overboard a few times. I didn't after that, but I felt no good for the rest of the trip.
Pat has been having a tough time, he's gotten pretty sick a bunch of times, so I've been on watch a lot. Daybreak I made it to Victoria and then we got in to Neah Bay at nightfall last night.
The Boat has a lot of things that need to get fixed on it, like all respectable boats, but I am still confident in the integrity of it all.
This will probably be all until I get to San Francisco, unless we decide to stop somewhere.
The weather looks to be favorable, so hopefully it will be only a week to get there.
And I'll try to call with position info occasionally.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I began on my great northbound trip on the 8th of july... I headed up to Bellingham, and then got a call from a housemate of mine, and I took him out in the san juans, and was prepared to continue north, when, I got a call from a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend's parents, who said he needed crew to head to San Francisco (from Seattle). I've never done offshore anything, so here was my chance. I sprinted (at 5 kts) back to seattle, and last night I checked out his boat. Its seaworthy, but it could use some more attention. The guy doesn't have much sailing experience, but I think I have enough to where I feel comfortable with the boat, even if he doesn't. He is full of "oh, that wouldn't happen" and I am full of "We best be ready if it breaks" I sound a lot like Jed, who if he's reading this, should give me a call and tell me how he is.
I also had a grievous loss. My faithful D70 was lost. Drowned. I was going ashore, and I dropped her over the side into 6 inches of water. 6 inches too much. The salt water is all over her, and I fear for her life. (especially since the power was on)
So now I am looking for a new camera.
And I'm leaving tomorrow for San Fran. So I am in a rush.
But after this trip, I think I'll be heading back northbound.
So I do have some pictures. Here is one of a friend and his girlfriend I too out sailing on the way north. I promised to put it on line...
And the Heron is one of the last pictures my poor camera ever took. (3rd to last to be specific).
But besides, that, I still had the video camera, which can take stills. So I got a picture of my housemate, wielding a blade in the sun...

I also took a decently seasick video of my speed when I was cruising in the mouth of the puget sound on saturday...

Monday, July 7, 2008


I played at Potlatch this past weekend. I played with D'oh, a team that is mostly UW alumni. Since I've been doing not very much running, I was expecting to get tired quickly, but I lasted through all the games (except one in the middle) and got out of the tourney with only one bad injury. My ankle is UW colors. Still, it was great to play, and to win, as many games as we did. We went 8-1. Never have I played a tournament like that.

It is hard to take pictures, so I turned my camera over to one of my teammates' mom, who was watching, and she took some good pictures, and then later, when I was nursing my ankle, I wandered over to take some myself, of a team I used to play for, South of the Border.