Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Neah Bay to Coos Bay, August 15 - 18

Things in life don’t always work out as you expect. We left Neah Bay psyched to spend 7 days on the high seas but, instead, spent 3 days and nights in the big blue before heading in to Coos Bay in Southern Oregon. Our weather forecast broke down and we figured tucking in to port made more sense than braving a gale at sea.

At sunset, the night before we left Neah Bay, I took a video of that beautiful harbour with Vancouver Island in the distance. (to be posted on this blog soon). I captured the image of a couple small sail boats who were also heading out – one for Portland and, the other, a Catalina 27 called Amica, for San Francisco. We had spoken to John Innes, captain of Amica, and his plan was to wait a few more days before leaving.

The next morning, upon leaving Neah Bay, we saw two other, larger, sailboats heading down the coast. We briefly spoke to Eyera(?), an unusual boat with an antenna-like mast – we knew we would not be alone out there, but what was the likelihood we would see them again? The empty vastness of the space we were heading in to seemed almost overwhelming.

Leaving Neah Bay

I have suffered seasickness on long passages in the past and wanted to make sure that didn’t happen to me again. I started taking a medication called Stugeron, a motion sickness drug not readily available in Canada. Luckily a good friend of mine is British and, through her mom in England, I was able to get a good supply of it. I had started taking it the night before leaving Neah Bay and every 8 hours afterward. Although during the passage I didn’t have much of an appetite, I didn’t once feel nauseas or need to toss my cookies. What a relief that was as I knew I would need to be able to hold my watches, make sensible decisions and keep up my strength. Once acute seasickness sets in all you really want to do is slip over the side to make it all go away. I know because that was how I felt on a five day sailing passage on a Tayana 52 between Hong Kong and Manila 15 or so years ago. That said, I have rarely been sick on coastal voyages.

Here is an excerpt I wrote in my journal about this passage when we arrived in Coos Bay:

We are safe and sound and Ka'sala is fine too. We left Neah Bay, as planned, on Sunday morning in the brilliant sunshine with very little wind, so motored out past Cape Flattery, Tatoosh Island and out into the open ocean. About 2 hours out we entered a fog bank and stayed in it for the next 24 hours or so. No wind. We continued to motor along with no problems (though the drone of the 35 hp 3 cylinder Yanmar engine started setting our teeth on edge after a while). We kept the course Doug had planned and after a while the wind came up enough to sail.

Passing Tatoosh Island off Cape Flattery

Entering the fog

For the next 24 hours we sailed under moderate winds - the most were about 20 knots. The problem was the sea state - very confused seas, swells going this way and that, wind waves going this way and that, so when the wind dropped off we really started getting tossed around. Our sails couldn't get the wind to stabilize us. Not much fun at all. Then we got a forecast that said gales were expected to form further south along our route. We had a conference and decided the best thing to do was to head back into the coast and wait out the weather. Good decision. So we looked at the charts, and where we were, and chose Coos Bay, Oregon. It took us the third day to motor here - the wind continued calm and the waves continued confused and rolly. At least the fog left after the first 36 hours. We travelled 360 nautical miles in total by the time we arrived at 9am this morning.

Looking aft at a roller. You can imagine what was before the bow! (video to come!)

The seasick medication I was taking worked. Although I didn't feel particularly hungry, I made it through - even though it felt like being in a washing machine at times. With the boat pitching and rocking it made it very difficult to do much else than hold on. The going all day and all night tires you as well - especially at night when you hold watch. We tried it 4 hours on, 4 hours off during the night, then we were pretty relaxed about it during the day. At no time were we in any danger, just unpleasant and bloody hard work! We were very tired after 3 days and 3 nights of it. The very positive side of all this is that we got out and did it - we were able to handle all that was thrown at us, made sensible decisions and tried our mettle.

Crossing the Coos Bay Bar under the watchful eyes of the Coast Guard

The Coos Bay area is very interesting. We've actually stayed here a few times in the past, but have never noticed the marina. In fact, the little area we are in is called Charleston - it's a quaint little fishing village - the whole area is really popular with family tourists. There are many restaurants, tons of fish shops - Dad would be in heaven again - fish boats, commercial, sporting - there seems to be lots of fish, crabs, oysters, prawns. Mmmmmm. There looks to also be a recreational area nearby with some good hikes - so we won't have trouble entertaining ourselves - AND the dock costs only 14 bucks a night (with water and power!, though we do need to buy internet access).

Fishing vessels at Charleston

I spent most of the day cleaning up - the boat (very salty), below (very tossed around too - all of us had been in the washing machine!) - the laundry - ourselves. I feel like a human being again - you can imagine how wonderful the shower felt! Tonight I am going to sleep like a baby!

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