Sunday, August 30, 2015

Neah Bay

Lat: 48:22.395N
Long: 124:37.029W

Arrived at Neah Bay mid afternoon after an uneventful passage from Port Angeles. Will be watching the weather carefully for the opportunity to continue south.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Port Angeles - August 27 - 30

We left Seattle after breakfast on Wednesday under sunny skies with no wind.  We motored peacefully along with the tide until we reached the area with names such as “Foulweather Bluff”, “Mutiny Bay”  “Point no Point” – obviously an area of bad memories  for 18th century mariners!  For us, it was only a tide change, but we battled 3 knots as we headed into Oak Bay with the idea of transiting the Port Townsend Canal instead of returning through Admiralty Inlet.  The only worry was the bridge that crossed the canal.  It has a clearance of 58 feet at high tide and Ka’sala is 54 feet – what’s four feet?  As it turned out, even though the canal is narrow,  a camera hangs down from the centre of the bridge and a 3 knot tide was pulling us through at over 7 knots, we swished through without a problem.  We continued on to the Port Townsend waterfront and dropped our anchor in front of Siren’s.

Under the bridge - you can just see the camera hanging down
Thankfully it was a quiet evening, the wind stayed benign, and we enjoyed a lovely dinner in the cockpit before an early bed.   We were up at 2am to ride the tide to Port Angeles and entered the Boat Haven at 7:30am.  We had a fairly good wind chop against us but flew along in the strong tide.  If we had waited until a more sensible hour it would have taken us at least 2 hours longer to get here.

We filled Ka’sala with diesel and headed to our berth on the commercial side of the marina where we are surrounded by fishing boats, power boats and sailboats – most of which appeared to be stored here as we have seen little activity around.   We have a row of boathouses behind us.  On the other side of the boat haven is the usual place for transients and where we have stayed several times in the past.  It seems full of gigantic yachts getting ready to head out to sea – likely being positioned in southern waters so their owners can enjoy favourable conditions all year round.  So far we haven’t identified any other sailboat cruisers making the same trip as us.

We have cleaned up the boat inside and out, and filled the water tanks.  I completed a full provisioning at the local Safeway.  Doug is doing many last minute chores around the boat – checking all the systems.  We are ready for the passage – now it is up to the weather.  We are presently in a south easterly flow – our barometer dropped to 992 but is now starting to rise.  We are looking for a north westerly flow to make the passage so currently, it is the opposite of what we need.  Nonetheless, we will leave Port Angeles tomorrow morning with the tide and arrive at Neah Bay in the late afternoon.  Based on what we have seen through NOAA and Passage Weather we could be sitting there until at least Wednesday while the system goes through.   We want to be ready to jump as soon as the conditions are right.

Last night we had dinner with our cruising friends Tom and Carolyn.  We first met them when we lived in Hong Kong and they were circumnavigating aboard their Tayana 37 Moonshadow.  We have been able to connect with them over the years and they continue to be one of our greatest inspirations for the cruising lifestyle. 

The first day we were here we had to do laundry and discovered the laundrymat  was 2 miles away. Now was the time to see if the bicycles would work for larger, bulkier loads.  We divided the wash between two bags and rigged them on the back of the bicycles – no problem.  The whole operation went smoothly.  Afterwards, we decided to investigate a paved path that ran along the waterfront and discovered the Olympic Discovery Trail ( We followed it for about 10 miles before turning around.  If we had continued, it would eventually lead us to the Port Townsend Peninsula.  We plan to do the whole route someday.  Afterwards, Doug cleaned up the bicycles and packed them away in the quarter berth.  Will it be San Francisco before we ride them again?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Seattle - Bell Harbour Marina

Bell Harbour Marina is in the heart of downtown Seattle.  It is a relatively small area tucked in behind a cruise ship dock - behind a large breakwater.  
Approaching Bell Harbour Marina (behind the cruise ship) in the "smoke" front from inland forest fires
In the background to the east, the skyscrapers of the city run as far as the eye can see.  In the foreground are five story hotels and condos, bisected by a viaduct that allows traffic to bypass the area.  Right along the waterfront is a quieter road where vehicles have access to all the nooks and crannies.  A little farther along is the Pike Street Market – a huge rabbit warren of shops and stalls of vegetables, flowers, fish, meat, crafts, fortune tellers, etc - so bewildering and packed with people it is hard to orient yourself, let alone take a picture.  

Ka'sala's berth at Bell Harbour - the cruise ship left a couple hours later (Ka'sala lower right)

Bell Harbour Marina
In the distance is an enormous Ferris wheel which generates the most amazing light shows in the evening.  
There was no way I would ride it!
Farther along are the giant cranes that service the ocean going cargo ships and behind them looms the enormous volcano, Mount Ranier.  To the north of the marina, the city becomes more residential and the shore is lined by a beautiful park that runs along the railway.  It boasts bicycle and pedestrian ways that can be followed all the way to Chittenden Locks and for miles beyond.  We are surrounded by the thunder of traffic, building, industry and railways. 

Ka'sala is dwarfed by the city
 There are distinct neighbourhoods where the architecture reflects the culture and the streets are thronged with all manner of people.  I wouldn’t call it a restful place, but there is a lot going on.

These crazy amphibious vehicles were everywhere driven by wild and boisterous men, blaring loud music and filled with pop-eyed tourists.  It was a 90 minute tour that zipped up and down city streets and through Lake Union!

We found these rent-a-bike stations across the city
We figured out pretty quickly the best way to explore this city was by foot.  On our first day we covered most of the downtown core from Bell Town and the Seattle Centre to the north, took the mono rail to the shopping district, wandered through the business area on our way to Chinatown and back through the Pike Street Market.  We visited the amazing outdoor equipment store REI.  There are many attractions to take in and thousands of people seem to be doing it.  For us, it was a gorgeous day – too beautiful to be spent in a museum.

You can see our marina in the centre foreground and get an idea of the area we covered in our walk
On our second day we put our bikes together and headed back to Chittenden Locks on our way back to the bike shop to pick up Doug’s front wheel with the replaced bearings.  
I was somewhat startled to see this sign on this house by the bicycle path... we passed it several times again and each time there was a different type of warning (though no more about Doug!) - an interesting form of personal expression!
We continued on to circumnavigate Lake Union and back through Fisherman’s Terminal where we had a delicious fish and chips lunch before returning along the waterfront back to the marina.

Happy on my bike
Our thoughts are increasingly on our upcoming ocean passage – we are ready, Ka’sala is ready and we are watching the weather patterns on NOAA and Passage Weather carefully. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Seattle - Shilshole Marina

We completed our mission in Port Townsend - Ka'sala is now back in excellent sailing order thanks to the excellent ministrations of the PT Rigging crew and Doug's hard work.  We cannot overstate that we highly recommend this company for anyone wishing to re-rig their boat.  The crew at PTR: Lisa and Dan, (owners), Shannon, Justin and Josh were professional, friendly, knowledgeable, patient and understanding.  They went above and beyond to ensure the whole operation was a success

New "boots" for the end of the spreaders hand crafted by Doug
Dan operates the crane

Victory shot - the mast is ready to go back on
Doug helps Josh by holding the mast 
We left Port Townsend at 6am on August 20, the clock tower chiming the hour as we slipped through the breakwater.  It was a grey world with just a touch of sepia on the horizon, the seas pewter flat.  We motored with a two knot tide around Marrowstone Island and through Admiralty Inlet as the sun rose.  We kept to the western side of the shipping lane, expecting to see the big beomouths heading out to see, but only passed three.  About three hours in, the wind piped up, but unfortunately right on our nose – tacking back and forth across the shipping lane was just not a practical option.

We arrived at the Shilshole Marina, just north of Seattle and near Ballard, at lunchtime.  This marina is gigantic – 1500 slips, a virtual forest of masts.  We learned that only 300 slips are assigned to live-a-boards and there is a waiting list.

Shilshole Marina at sunset - a field of masts
It is a well maintained, clean facility, with gardens and pathways.

The coast railway runs behind, so periodically we see and hear working trains and the Amtrak.  There is a beach and a park at the north end that is crammed with families and people having a good time.  The marina rents electric bicycles.  On Friday evening they featured an outdoor movie “Pirates of the Caribbean” that was attended by hundreds of people – families, young people, kids and couples - in lawn chairs and blankets.  The whole place is oriented to the west so there are fantastic sunsets.  The marina is “guarded” by a giant statue of Leif Eriksson – in recognition of the many Scandinavian people who have settled in this area.  The weather has been warm and rain free, though we are encountering a “smoke front” from forest fires inland.

Leif Eriksson overlooks the marina

Soon as we were berthed, we broke out the bikes and headed into town to get internet/cell packages for our smartphones.  We ended up buying “Go Phone” packages from AT & T which allows us to use one phone as a “hotspot” to access the internet through all our devices.  It is not cheap, but at least it keeps us connected – something we realized was very important to us when we were without the two weeks we were in Port Townsend. 

Once the phone question was solved we were free to explore.  We quickly found the “Burke-Gilman Trail” which runs along the canal system.  The Shilshole Marina is a kilometre away from the Chittenden Locks and canal structure, built by the US Army Engineers in the early 20th century to connect Puget Sound to Lake Union and Lake Washington.  This is a well used and busy waterway, open 24/7 and free to any transienting boat.  It isn’t completely straightforward, however, as 7 bridges run along the canal, only 2 high enough to allow a boat with Ka’sala’s height to pass under.
(We are 54 feet).
One of the bridges by Lake Union - look at all the activity on the water!
 From the number of boats inside the canal system and on the lakes one can see it is a very popular place and very busy.  We watched several boats navigate through the locks and strolled the beautiful gardens.  We found it worthwhile to watch the information video in the visitor centre before exploring.
Chittenden Locks - you can just see the mast of a sailboat to the left

Doug watches the doors of the small lock

Sailboat released from the locks

The Burke-Gilman Trail seems to run forever.  Over the course of our time here we got as far as Lake Washington – about 12 miles - though the trail continued for miles and miles more, intersecting with other bikeways along the way.  Ironically there is one stretch of about a mile which the locals call the “Lost Link” as bicycles are forced to navigate very busy downtown streets before they can pick up the bikeway again at the Chittenden Locks.  Nevertheless, we have used this artery a dozen times in the last two days as we have explored the area.

The Burke-Gilman trail to the left, looking to busy Lake Union to the right

While we were biking on our first day, Doug started noticing a creak in his bike.  Unfortunately, it turned out that the bearing in his front wheel broke down.  Luckily, there is a Dahon dealer here near Ballard at Electric & Folding Bikes Northwest ( and they have been bending backward to try to help us.  (Thank you David and DJ!) Apparently it is very unusual for a bearing to go on one of these and they did not have any in stock.  To make a long story short, they have lent us a wheel, while they get what they need to fix ours.  The bikes are under warranty, and Dahon will honour it.

Ballard is a working man’s town – a great deal of industry all around – but right in the core is a lovely tree lined avenue full of cafes, bistros and small hotels.  We passed people sitting out on patios, enjoying the good weather and watching the world go by – it seemed very European.

We also noticed an abundance of craft breweries – we sampled the Hale brewery and imbibed their Mongoose IPA and Red Menace Amber Ale.

Doug at Hale's
We left the Shilshole marina on Sunday in a smokey haze, sailing out to Bainbridge Island in light winds, then back into Elliot Bay and the Bell Harbour marina - right downtown Seattle.  We will be here until Wednesday when we begin our treck out Juan de Fuca.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


We are presently docked at the Shilshole Marina just north of Seattle on the outskirts of Ballard having arrived a couple days ago from Port Townsend.  We have been busy exploring this place by bicycle and hanging out at this lovely marina.  Tomorrow we are moving into the Bell Harbour Marina in downtown Seattle for three nights where we will be surrounded by skyscrapers and close to the pulse of the city.

The re-rigging went extremely well and Ka'sala is now in fine shape to make her ocean voyages.  We plan to head out Juan de Fuca toward the end of next week as the tides seem to be in our favour.  Hopefully the weather also cooperates.

I will post photos and details in my next entry.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Port Townsend Redux

We have been in Port Townsend since August 7 and will likely be here until the 19th.  Our main purpose for being here has been to re-rig Ka’sala and that has been going very well.  We have a slip in the PT Boat Haven, which is near the mill and industrial areas.  The Boat Haven is about a kilometre south of the old Victorian town, which is tree lined and full of beautifully restored 19th century buildings occupied by boutique hotels, gift shops and cafes.

Ariel shot of Port Townsend - Boat Haven in the foreground, Port Hudson at the far right, Point Wilson at the far left
We are happy at the Boat Haven.  It is clean, modern, well run and has all the conveniences we need such as laundry, showers, garbage disposal, groceries, chandleries, pubs and takeaways.  It is also not too expensive – currently a dollar a foot and they rent by slip size. (We are in a 35).  The one thing they do not have is free internet – you have to pay extra for that service through a private company – and that costs $10.00 a day, $30.00 a week for one device.  (We have multiple devices). 

PT Boat haven - We are past the second breakwater from the top - horizontal row, 5 down on the 2nd vertical row.  In the foreground of the haven is the haul out area, large boatyards in the back
One of the largest travel hoists I have ever seen - notice tha man to the right is shorter than the tires
Internet access has turned out to be a far greater problem for us than we realized.  Soon as we crossed the border into the US the SIM cards in our cell phones died – so no more access to data.  We figured we would buy some kind of package here with AT&T that might take us through to when we leave the US – sometime in November.  Unfortunately, the closest place to get an American SIM .card is Sequim – an hour’s drive away.  Fortunately for us, the rigging company has graciously allowed us to use their internet, but this involves sitting on a curb outside their building when they are closed and hanging out in their lunchroom when they are open.  As a result, our communications have been irregular.  We plan to go to Seattle from here and there, we should be able to get the plan we need to get our smartphones working again.  Oh, how we rely on internet access!

During the winter, Doug had contracted with Port Townsend Rigging to do the work on our mast.  As far as we know, the rig on Ka’sala is original, though we know it was taken down when she was shipped across the US from Florida to Vancouver in about 2006.  As our little ship has experienced tens of thousands of sea miles – around North America, the Caribbean, down to Mexico and two long off shore passages to and from Hawaii – we figured she was due for a new rig.  Doug decided on PT Rigging because they were the only company he could find in the Pacific Northwest who have a rotary swedging machine. He felt it would do a superior job of connecting the shrouds and stays to their fittings.

Doug working on the mast at the side

Swedger - rigging wires are placed behind the round door to the side
Inside Port Townsend Rigging - the lines are measured on the long table to the left
We had the mast pulled last Tuesday, but Doug spent a couple days before hand preparing the boat for its removal.
Crane on a truck pulled the mast off the boat
All the wires, halyards, the furler and stays wrapped and ready for removal.  Ka'sala is mast stepped, so the boot remains just forward of Doug's feet

Mastless Ka'sala - a sorry sight

Readying the mast for removal to the Rigger's shop

Justin and Doug walk the mast down the main road of the boatyard

Since then, the mast has been lying on its side beside the rigger’s building and Doug has been working on it each day – removing, cleaning up and sometimes replacing the numerous stainless steel fittings.  

At the top of the mast there are numerous things to attend to as this is where sensitive instruments such as antennas, lights and wind indicators are placed, in addition to rollers belaying multiple sheets and electrical wires within the mast.  When the mast is vertical on the boat, this type of servicing generally has to happen while swinging from a line so when it is horizontal it is a great opportunity to closely inspect and service everything on it.  As our mast is anodized aluminum there was no need to repaint.  Instead we cleaned and put a couple good coats of boat and airplane wax on it.

While Doug was doing all these things, Justin, the rigger in charge of our job, was measuring, cutting to length and swedging our new rigging wire.  

Justin working on the swedger

The stays to the sides of the mast are fairly straight forward, but the forestay is a bit more complicated because of the furling device and the backstay because of the antenna.  Doug has reattached the new stays and tomorrow the fore and aft will be attached before the mast goes back on.  Once that happens, Justin will tune the rig so it will perform optimally and safely.

Happily for us, we have not encountered any major problems or holdups in this operation.  The weather, for the most part, has been conducive to the work with only one day of rain.  The rigger is close enough that by bicycle we are there in a few minutes.  The people who work at PT Rigging are friendly, professional and helpful. However, we are looking forward to being operational again and continuing on our cruising adventure.

Ka'sala the junk heap!  We've piled everything on the carriage roof so I could put on two coats of varnish on the caprails - an easy job without all the shrouds!

While Doug has been working on the mast (well, I helped with the waxing), I have been doing the logistics.  Laundry, cleaning, shopping, cooking – things that seem pretty mundane at home are a little more complex and time consuming when you live on a sailboat!  I have also managed to touch up and get a couple coats of Cetol on the caprails.  Yesterday we plugged in to electricity and, in addition to hot water from the tap, I even got the chance to use my little vacuum cleaner!!!  (We are finding the solar panels and wind generator seems to keep the electrical systems working, but we do slowly build up a deficit over time).

We have also been able to get our American cruising license sorted out.  As I mentioned in a previous post, our clearance into the US at Roche Harbour was harried, the border protection people were overwhelmed and undermanned, and they refused to issue us a cruising licence because they were too busy.  They told us to get it in Port Townsend.  Sailors cruising in American waters need this license as it exempts them from taxes, levies and fees.  Each harbour they arrive in, they are expected to check in with border protection with their license number.  When we contacted border protection in PT we were informed we should have been issued the license in Roche Harbour – how is that for Catch 22?  However, Jeff, the customs officer who helped us, although initially annoyed, conceded that we weren’t the ones who had created the problem.   He was very accommodating and resolved the problem for us and issued us the license.  In retrospect, we realized the whole misunderstanding could have been avoided if we had called ahead to make an appointment to clear in at Port Townsend – we would certainly do this the next time.

Port Townsend hasn’t been all work and no play!  The first weekend we were here we jumped on our bikes and headed out to Fort Worden and Point Wilson for a look around.  Fort Worden is like the big sister of Fort Flagler which we had visited the week before on Marrowstone Island. 

We bicycled all over this area
Gun Emplacements 
Officers' Quarters at Fort Worden

The lighthouse at Point Wilson is now automated, but we were able to get a good look at the tidal rips nearby from the land.  
Lighthouse at Point Wilson

Sailboat in tidal rips off Point Wilson - Whidby Island and coastal mountains in background

There are bicycle lanes on many of Port Townsend’s streets and roads, as well as paths to connect them, so getting around by bicycle has been pretty easy.  We have baskets for the back which carry everything from groceries to tools.  Yesterday we decided to see where a path went that we had noticed at the far end of the boat haven.  We expected it would go as far as the mill, about a kilometre away.  Weren’t we pleasantly surprised to find we were on a multi use trail created from an old rail bed that wound its way along the ocean, through woods and small farm fields until, almost 8 miles later, it ended at Four Corners on the other side of the Peninsula?  Heavenly!

I’ve had a bit of time to browse in the shops, and we have gone out to the pubs a couple of times for the excellent draft beer and music.  The Farmer’s Market on Saturday has been a dream and reminds us of our own in Courtenay  - chock-a-block full of fresh veggies, fruit, pastries, arts, crafts, music and interesting people.

Busker at Farmer's Market - an interesting way to play a cello!

And it is to love - delicious!
Delicious beer in the lovely beach side garden at the Pourhouse

This weekend there is a classic car rally and the county fair.  There always seems to be something going on and you don’t have to be rich to enjoy it – even if our Canadian dollar is way below par!

Clock tower above the boat yard - chimes each hour