Leaving Canada By sv Prairie SeaShell on 15 Sep, 2006 7:09 PM
We were on our way to Port Angeles, WA. This is the first stop in US waters, where we will have to check in with customs.
Anders & Elizabeth arrived by ferry on Monday, September 11th, and within an hour or so, we were on our way to Port Angeles, WA. This is the first stop in US waters, where we will have to check in with customs.
We have heard many stories about how long the check in process takes. We called Customs on the phone when we were approaching the harbour, and they took most of our information over the phone.
Customs came to the dock to meet us when we arrived, took a quick look at our passports and wrote up our cruising permit. The whole process took only a few minutes.
After supper, Don & I went to get a few groceries, fresh fruit, meat & veggies etc, all the things that you are not allowed to bring into the US.
Since the weather thru the Juan de Fuca Strait had been so good all day, we decided to try our luck at an overnight to Neah Bay, which traditionally is the last stop before making that big left turn to the south. Unfortunately, fog started to roll in as we were leaving, then the wind picked up, and within an hour we heard a Securite on Channel 16 advising of gale force winds approaching, so we turned around and went back to Port Angeles.
Here we stayed for two days, visiting with some local boaters, who told us about the free internet at this marina. That made it real easy to pass the time here. We treated ourselves to some fresh prawns, right off the boat.
Lynn preparing meal
We left Port Angeles for Neah Bay on September 14th, my sister's birthday, with sunny skies and calm winds. The highlight of the day was a visit from some dolphins playing in our bow waves. Don had spotted them from quite a distance out heading right for us. It amazes me that with only one eye, he seems to spot things way before I do.
The water was so calm and clear when the dolphins arrived that we could almost look right into their eyes. They didn’t surface beside the boat, just crossed back and forth across the bow and under the boat for several minutes, then they were gone.
We were contacted by S/V Surf Wind who had just left Neah Bay. They said there had only been one boat anchored there, and from his description it sounded like it might be our friends from Shelter Island, aboard S/V Momo. Sure enough, the moment we pulled up to the dock, Michelle, Bernie and their two little girls dingyed over to say hello. They are also on their way south, hoping to go non-stop all the way to San Diego.
Anders on Prairie SeaShell
We left Neah Bay around 9:00 am, no fog, sun trying to peek through, looks like another great day shaping up! We motored out past Cape Flattery and Tatoosh Island and made that left turn. This is generally a very rough stretch of ocean, however, for us, conditions seem to be too good to be true. Hope we don’t pay for this later!
We put up the main sail before lunch and were motor sailing at about 5kn with 1500 rpm. The gate on the mast that holds in the sail slugs has a stripped screw, so Anders fashioned a block to hold things together. Slowly we put up more sail, next the jib, then finally the bright orange storm sail. There was no storm in sight, and we were looking to catch all the wind we could.
By suppertime though, the wind had completely died and we had to take down the sails. Unfortunately, it gets a bit rolly below with no sails to stabilize the boat, but it’s hard to put up with all the banging and clanging that goes on with a slack sail and it’s really hard to sleep. The sun set around 7:30 and it was totally dark by 8:30. Wish we could have left a week earlier so as to have the benefit of the full moon. Sure glad we have radar because the stars just don’t light up much.
Our first night passed uneventfully, but by morning the wind was coming from the south. When you want to sail south, the preferable winds would be coming from the north. Swells kept getting bigger, wind kept getting stronger, coffee pot went flying, and the day just kept getting more and more uncomfortable. This was not what the many weather forecasts we receive were calling for.
Problems started happening about 1:00 A.M. Sunday morning when the anchor stopper released and the anchor dropped about 5 ft. Anders got us up and went forward and managed to secure it.
Although we couldn’t see any problems, we were quite concerned about the damage it may have done to the hull. Don and Anders had reduced sail to double reefed main, but things kept happening. The mirror on the medicine chest lost it’s handle, dishes were dropping out of the cupboards (fortunately it was the Tupperware ones), the rivet on the preventer pulled out, and to top it off, Elizabeth was sick.
The only good thing about this night was that we now know for certain that neither Don nor I get seasick. By about 10:30 A.M., we had an “on-board meeting” and decided we are not going to try to go non-stop, we are heading back to shore and will attempt to cross the bar at the Columbia River.
We persevered for the rest of the day, fortunately without any more problems, just major wind, up to about 35-40kn, waves up to 12 ft and we bounced around like we were in a washing machine. We finally pulled into the dock at Ilwaco Harbour, WA around 6pm. We were tired, stressed, bruised & sore, but glad to be alive.
The Prairie SeaShell is one tough boat, the builder did an excellent job. She has definitely had her shakedown cruise. Apart from some cosmetic damage to the bow from the anchor hitting it, and one shredded Blue Water Cruisers Burgee, we have weathered the storm. Hope we don’t have to endure too many more of these types of days.
We left Ilwaco Habour after refueling, just in case there was a lot more motoring ahead. There are many dangerous sandbars at the mouth of the Columbia River as well as currents and you must stay well within the very shallow dredged channel.
The US Coast Guard has one of their major training centers here and there were many boats out doing maneuvers. We did manage to hit a shallow spot on the way out and bumped over a sand bar.
Winds were light most of the day, not enough to fill the sails. This makes for a rough ride, because you need the stabilizing effect of the sail to combat the swells, which for a good part of the day were around 8-10ft.
The following morning passed uneventfully, Don and I raised the main around 9:00 A.M. and all was well until afternoon when winds started blowing again, up to 25kn. Anders and I had to double reef the main and take down the jib in rather unpleasant seas. This seemed to settle things down considerably, but we were all getting tired. We expect to pull into Coos Bay, Oregon just before daybreak to wait out another bit of bad weather.
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