Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Waiting Game

Light through the trees in Whatcom Falls Park
Sunlight through the trees at Whatcom Falls Park

We’ve been in Bellingham for over a week now and are starting to get restless. Not restless in the sense that we are waiting for a baby boy to join us, that is inevitable. But because we haven’t spent this much time in one place since late August when we were finishing up final projects and jobs in Seattle.

As usual we’ve been keeping an eye on the weather, but less intently, as we haven’t been planning for the next anchorage. The sails are furled and flaked. The boat is washed and scrubbed. And I’ve even completed a few minor projects that had become stalwarts on my to-do list. 

We’re just taking it all in stride because, after all, making the best of things is how we roll aboard Yahtzee. Having the rental car has enabled us to explore a few beautiful parks and quaint neighborhoods, to do some extra provisioning and to get Porter to the pool, to meet Santa and to take a “train” ride.

Porter loves trains
Porter loves trains

And as usual, the liveaboard community continues to impress us with unparalleled generosity. Shortly after we got to our temporary slip on Friday afternoon neighbors stopped by to introduce themselves and chat , and one even brought over large pieces of fresh salmon and halibut as a welcome gift.

In the end, the wait is worth it.

Ready When You Are

Three storms landed haymakers on the Pacific Northwest this week that brought gusts of wind in the upper 60s and low 70s, knocked out power to many, downed trees, and for mariners, caused a good bit of anxiety. We got socked with the first punch while at anchor early on Tuesday morning before retiring to our corner in Bellingham’s Squalicum Harbor to watch the rest of the bout unfold on Wednesday and Thursday. On Thursday night when the gusts started I immediately knew they were in the mid 50s, but we didn’t really see much above that. Thankfully.

What this succession of storms did, though, is upped our overall preparedness. Not for another round of storms per say, as we’re generally always geared up for those this time of year, but for the arrival of our son. Jill’s due date is just a few weeks away now and we’ve decided—along with some gentle nudging form our midwife—that staying in Bellingham until he arrives is the best thing to do. So no more anchoring out in places like this…

Inati Bay, Lummi Island
Inati Bay, Lummi Island

Or sailing…

Crossing Rosario Strait
Crossing Rosario Strait

…until this guy is here, which is just fine with us. We’re ready now. We’ve secured a temporary slip in the harbor, have Jill’s mom aboard to hang out with Porter, rented a car so we can make a dash for the delivery room, and have the new babe’s room waiting. We’re ready when he is.

The Wind is Windy

Early on Tuesday morning when the wind gusts started hitting 50 knots, we could feel a noticeable change from the mere 30 to 40 that had been the norm for the previous few hours. No longer were we just swinging on our Bruce anchor and all chain rode, but heeling sharply as though sailing close hauled. We were anchored near Bellingham and fortunately made the decision to head for safety and more shelter a few hours before big gusts in the upper 60s started sweeping through Bellingham Bay. In retrospect, I wish I would have grabbed a photo as we sailed downwind at five knots under bare poles before I put the hammer down on our Perkins.

The Garth Foss tugboat pulls the Horizon Fairbanks container ship back to the Bellingham Shipping Terminal after it broke loose during high winds Tuesday morning, Dec. 9, 2014. PHILIP A. DWYER — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
The Garth Foss tugboat pulls the Horizon Fairbanks container ship back to the Bellingham Shipping Terminal after it broke loose during high winds Tuesday morning, Dec. 9, 2014. PHILIP A. DWYER — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

This was the result for the Horizon Fairbanks on Tuesday morning. And at the same time from our new spot in the harbor (just behind the ship) I counted no less than three headsails being shredded by the big breeze. At that point there was simply nothing you could do.

It looks calm in Bellingham now, but the halyard slapping symphony is just on intermission.
It looks calm in Bellingham now, but the halyard slapping symphony is just on intermission.

Right now, at 1330 on Wednesday, we’re halfway between the three big storms that have been forecast and it’s relatively calm. It’s supposed to start getting fun again tonight through Thursday night, so we’ll see how it goes. Stay tuned.

Anchorages: You Win Some, You Lose Some

A pleasant, sunny Sunday morning at Cypress Head.
A pleasant, sunny Sunday morning at Cypress Head.

When I felt the wind shift to the south and then southeast in the small hours of the morning, I knew it was going to start picking up. It did. And so, too, did the chop and swell.

What had been a comfortable anchorage on the south side of Saddlebag Island, just north of Anacortes, in the formally northeast and easterly breeze became quite the opposite. It really wasn’t due to lack of protection, though. It was because the chop that kicked up and ran around Hat Island refracted off the rocks on Saddlebag’s southwest shore and caused on odd swell to roll back into the anchorage. We didn’t get much sleep.

With wind and anchorages you simply win some and lose some, and with the southeast wind set to continue for the remainder of the day, we hightailed it out of there at first light  for Cypress Head and more protection. We had clearly lost that one.

Saddlebag Island is "A" and Cypress Head is in the upper left corner.
Saddlebag Island is “A” and Cypress Head is in the upper left corner.

Once out of the anchorage and protection offered by Hat Island, the wind and waves were noticeably higher. But with that wind direction we were able to sail, so I rolled out our trusty 70 percent jib and we made a quick broad reach with the current down Guemes Channel—in between Guemes Island to the north and Anacortes to the south.

Our destination was the marine park at the north cove of Cypress Head on the southeast side of Cypress Island. The north cove, along with the adjacent south cove, are created by a spit of beach that connects Cypress Head to Cypress Island.

Cypress Head.
Cypress Head

What we found was a well protected cove that was devoid of any other activity; besides bald eagles, seals and quite a few types of sea birds. As the only boat and visitors at the park, we were free to leisurely swing on a mooring ball, hike, kayak and, of course, take Porter to the beach to explore, find treasures and throw rocks. We won that one.

Porter playing on the beach with a toy bulldozer we found.
Porter playing on the beach with a toy bulldozer we found.
Porter and Jill playing on one of the two beaches at Cypress Head.
Porter and Jill playing on one of the two beaches at Cypress Head.
Drift cards we found on  the beach that are being used in an oil spill study. It was cool to register them online and see where others had found them, but not cool to image oil being on the beach if it did spill.
Drift cards we found on the beach that are being used in an oil spill study. It was cool to register them online and see where others had found them, but not cool to imagine oil being on the beach if it did spill.