From March 29 when we left Friday Harbor until May 29 as we prepare to leave Desolation Sound, we’ve logged slightly over 1,000 cruising and racing miles under Yahtzee’s keel. Out and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, down and back up the Washington Coast, up the Columbia River to Portland and down again, and north from Victoria to the Sunshine Coast and Desolation Sound, it’s been an incredible two months aboard Yahtzee — yes, even when we unexpectedly needed to haul the boat out of the water for two weeks.
In the grand scheme of things, 1,000 miles aboard a sailboat isn’t really that far and it isn’t cause for great fanfare. But San Francisco is less than 1,000-miles from the San Juan Islands and so is Alaska, so I guess it’s something. To us, though, the miles are just a byproduct of our overall sailing goals and lifestyle. We don’t purposefully try to achieve a certain amount of distance, but not having permanent moorage or a home harbor means we’re always on the move and when we have an idea to go somewhere or do something — i.e. the Columbia River and the Oregon Offshore Race — we make it happen. Continue reading Reflecting on two months and 1,000 miles under the keel→
Porter and I landed the kayak on a rocky beach, climbed out and pulled it up away from the incoming tide. As I tossed his life jacket onto the seat, he raced off into the woods and with a holler of, “Let’s run dad!” I did too.
Up a short hill we went, over rocks, through mud, pushing past leafy tree branches. At the trail’s head, Unwin Lake stretched out before us. Across the glassy water, green mountains climbed high into the sky and at our feet, large, weathered logs created an uneven raft.
After working our way to the water’s edge we sat on a log together and looked out across the lake. We were the only people around that evening and the decision to jump in for a swim was easy. Off came our clothes and in just our sandals, we leapt into the cool, fresh water.
Laughing and splashing, we paddled around before climbing up onto the log and into our underwear. And as we worked our way back down the trail, Porter said, “Dad, that was so much fun. I’m glad we did that.” I was too. It was great to be back in Desolation Sound.
Our trip to Desolation Sound started shortly after leaving Princess Louisa. We had a favorable tide and good weather, and with a 5 a.m. start, we kept figuring, “why not keep going?” as the day wore on. We were helped immensely by a fresh southwesterly breeze funneling up Malaspina Strait and we flew the spinnaker for hours in the afternoon sun. At one point, we passed a pod of orca slowly moving northward as well. Continue reading Solitude found in Desolation Sound→
Princess Louisa Inlet. Mention the name to nearly any boater who’s graced its mountain flanked waters and impressive waterfall and you’ll likely see a slight twinkle in their eyes. It was eloquently described to us as “Heaven on Earth” before we untied our dock lines in Pender Harbour for the trip up and has been raved about in books, cruising guides, blogs and in person for as long as people have been visiting its hollowed grounds. (If you’ve never been, here’s a first timer’s guide).
Since buying Yahtzee four years ago I’ve been emphatically told, “Oh, you’ve got to go to Princess Louisa Inlet!” And been asked, “Have you made it to Princess Louisa?!” Until this past weekend, I’ve always answered that question with, “Not, yet!”
As I write this from Pender Harbour on British Columbia’s beautiful Sunshine Coast, there’s a slight breeze trickling across the water and the sun is shining from high overhead. It has been slightly over a week since we pulled Yahtzee out of a slip in Portland, Oregon and in that time we’ve put just shy of 500 nautical miles under our keel. For us that’s a lot in a short amount of time. But it has been an incredibly memorable week of traveling and has us back to the lifestyle that we know and love.
After winding downriver to Astoria and then sailing in the Oregon Offshore Race to Victoria, our friends departed and my dad waved goodbye to us from the window seat of a seaplane as we simultaneously exited Victoria Harbour. From there we sailed north to Sidney where Jill’s mom, Donna, flew in and met us in Tsehum Harbour. (The Victoria airport is actually closer to Sidney than it is to Victoria.)
Since we’ve spent so much time in the Gulf Islands over the past year and because our goal this summer is to get farther north and around Vancouver Island, we did just that. The weather and tide set us up perfectly for a run to the Sunshine Coast northwest of Vancouver and after a 67-mile motor-sail from Sidney, we dropped the hook in Buccaneer Bay on Thormanby Island. Continue reading Wherever we go, it’s good to be home→
Two hundred and eighty nautical miles. Three days and two nights. Seven crew. Nothing but sailing. The 2016 Oregon Offshore Race aboard Yahtzee was an absolute blast!
But just like many things in life and sailing, the race had its distinct ups and downs, swings in emotion, and peaks and valleys. The winds and seas changed as we tacked north and then sailed downwind towards the finish. Boatspeed was key, and it took a competent and alert crew to make the boat go fast in all conditions.
Aboard for the race we had my dad, Russ, our buddy Mark (who raced Swiftsure with us last year) and our friend Cliff. None of us had done the Oregon Offshore before, and we were all in for a grand adventure — peaks, valleys and all. Here they are.
I’ll start with a couple valleys, because after sailing and racing on the ocean, every sailor coming off a boat immediately has their own tale to tell of calamity — many of which get told for the rest of their lives. Also, there were far more peaks than valleys.
A current affair: With a 7 a.m. start time set on the Columbia River Bar, we were up early at 3:30 a.m. and off the dock at 4 for the long motor out of the river. We were greeted with a little bit of a northwesterly breeze as boats jockeyed for position along the start line between red buoy #2 and the committee boat. Due to the ebbing current and decreasing wind I wanted to have us right on the line for the gun and we were on port tack sailing well as the race began. It was a good start. Continue reading The peaks & valleys of adventure aboard Yahtzee on the Oregon Offshore Race→
UPDATE (Saturday, 1045): Just as predicted, the breeze finally shifted to the west yesterday afternoon and the Oregon Offshore fleet has enjoyed reaching and downwind sailing conditions ever since. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a familiar homestretch for many, and the boats have been finishing in Victoria Harbour since early this morning with the TP52 Kinetic V taking line honors.
Aboard Yahtzee, we had a great night with the spinnaker up and rounded Cape Flattery just after sunup. The spinnaker is still flying and the sun is breaking through the clouds as we get to the central Strait — the finish is near!
UPDATE (Friday, 1100): After a tricky, current laden start yesterday, the Oregon Offshore fleet beat its way northward in 0 to 10 knots of northwesterly wind. Those fortunate enough to make it towards shore were rewarded and those who were swept westward in the wicked ebb (including us aboard Yahtzee) had to fight to make miles northward. Once clear of the current we started making miles, though, and a gorgeous day and night of sailing ensued.
On Friday we’re all still clawing our way north towards Cape Flattery. Fortunately, we’ve got breeze and sunshine and are enjoying the ride! Follow the tracker here.
When we arrived at Danish Marine at noon on Thursday, Yahtzee was hanging from the travel lift slings waiting to be dropped in the water. Her sail drive and prop were back together and the new seals were doing their job.
Porter was eager to get back aboard after an extended stay ashore and when the boat was in the water, we climbed aboard, fired up the engine and tested the drive: powering in forward and reverse was smooth, Yahtzee was ready to go.
“Are my toys still on there?” Porter said with mouth agape as he watched his home being hoisted from the water at Danish Marine on Hayden Island.
A week and a half earlier when we departed the Portland Yacht Club for destinations farther upriver, I discovered water in our transmission fluid, which, as most would agree, is not good. Wanting to take care of the issue before something more severe happened, we decided to have a mechanic take a look and I called a few knowledgeable friends for a potential diagnosis.
The consensus point of view was water making its way into our saildrive and because our drive is a unique type, the mechanic wanted to take a few days to research the necessary parts and make a course of action. So for the first time in a while, Yahtzee was docked with no set departure date. And while that is tough because we’re so frequently on the move, we also know that it is simply part of the cruising life. Continue reading Making lemonade out of lemons while cruising the river→