North Before South 3

Today’s post is coming from the laundry room at the Newport Marina and RV Park. Sometimes you have to get creative. The marina wifi does not reach down to where we are moored, but it comes in nicely up here. We discovered the wifi when we were actually doing laundry last night. Today it’s cloudy and very windy with a nice strong, gusty south wind. Off and on rain.

Back to August and the islands.

One of the sights on Stuart Island as you head up to the lighthouse. These are American Yaks. There’s a sign that lets you know what these shaggy beasts are and a little bit of information about them. There were three of them in the pasture. Originally from the Himalayas, the breed numbers about 7-8,000. They are supposed to be good to eat and their hair good for spinning.

The main trail from the dock splits to go to the lighthouse or down to the school. We headed for the school in the morning. Because the population of the island is so small, the school has been closed for a couple of years now. The school library is open to the public and there’s a small museum of island history that was pretty amazing. One of the photos was of early teachers on the island. Louise Bryant taught there for a year before going on the cover the Bolshevik Revolution with John Reed. Other teachers stayed and married locals. Family portraits included info about which family members were killed in boating accidents. Another reminder about how hardy folks had to be to live in a challenging environment that to a summer visitor seems pretty bucolic.

One of the other cool things about Stuart Island are the Treasure Chests. These are the way to get t-shirts, caps and other island related stuff. You take what you want and mail in a check to the folks who put them together.

Our last stop for the trip before heading south was Garrison Bay, San Juan Island. Another cool and cloudy day. We rowed over to English Camp and walked around. It’s a beautiful setting with a number of old pear trees. We rowed back to Gypsy and took apart and stowed the dinghy on the forepeak, and hosted Drømen for dinner. We had a fabulous time traveling with Jerry and Joy. Thank you!

Drømen underway. Fair winds!

The plan was to head for Port Angeles in the morning, check the weather and then head out for the coast the following day. The Strait of Juan de Fuca takes about 10 hours to traverse. There’s usually a tide change in there somewhere and in the afternoons, the wind can really pick up. If it’s blowing against the tide, it can get really rough. We decided to keep our options open.

We set off for Port Angeles and ended up making better time than we thought we would. From the weather report, it sounded like winds would be switching from northwest to south in the next day or so, so we decided to keep going to make use of the NW winds. The sun came out and that always helps. Winds down the coast ended up being light so we motor sailed. More clouds. Off of Gray’s Harbor Bill checked the Columbia River Bar times. We’d either have to blast down the coast at 10 knots (not possible with our hull) to make the afternoon tide or shoot for the 10 pm tide. We slowed it all down. The engine was turned off and we tried sailing and let the monitor wind vane do the steering. The winds were very light and not quite getting us where we needed to go, but it did successfully kill some time. We got to the bar a little early, but skies were clear and we crossed slowly with the Milky Way visible overhead. The full moon rose over Young’s Bay, huge and orange. At 12:50 am we tied up at Astoria West Basin. It took us 42 hours from Garrison Bay.

A good night’s sleep and hot showers! We packed up the offshore gear: jacklines were stowed, the anchor reconnected, and all the salt was washed off the boat. Rode the flood to Cathlamet for an overnight. From Cathlamet, flew the spinnaker through Longview, and dropped anchor in Martins Slough. Next and last stop Rose City Yacht Club.

Spinnaker flying as we pass ships at anchor near Kalama.

North Before South 2

First, a quick update. We’re currently in Newport, Oregon waiting for the weather to settle, and posting from the Newport Public Library. Our trip down from Astoria went well, smooth seas, light wind from the south, and the motor running the whole way. Not quite how we wanted to sail to San Francisco. We tucked into Newport because those light south winds will be increasing over the next couple of days to the point we don’t want to go bashing into them – gusting to 30 knots or so. Seas would be confused and just not pleasant to be in. Around Wednesday, the fronts should have moved through and we should be back to a north or northwest wind that we can actually sail with. We have time to be prudent.

So, back to North.

Ganges, Saltspring Island. Groceries. Ganges was hopping. The anchorage was full. The guest dock was in the process of being taken over by a 131′ motor yacht. Drømen anchored close in to the public dock and we anchored out about a 15 minute row away. Got our groceries and caught a ride on Drømen out to Gypsy. We all headed to Annette Inlet on Prevost Island and rafted up again. One of the fun and nice things about rafting up is alternating boats for dinner or appetizers.

The next day, rafting up in Princess Cove, Wallace Island. You can clearly see the ropes off Drømen’s stern that are tied to the shore. The sheet-like thing hanging in the back of Gypsy’s cockpit is our aft sun shade. There is a also a sunbrella shade that goes forward to the back of the dodger that also slides into the pole slides into the top slit in the pole. We had an extra furler section and turned it into our shade support.

Wallace Island has two small coves for anchoring, Princess and Conover. Most of the island is now a park and has a nice trail to walk. Back in the 50s and 60s the island was owned by David Conover who built and ran a resort there. There are a few buildings left. It’s a beautiful setting, but walking around it reminds you that you had to be pretty self-sufficient to make a go of things on an island.

Aside from bopping between islands, this was also a voyage of discovery for the Gypsy crew. We needed to get our sailing skills back up. We got our motoring skills honed. Not much usable wind for where we were going. Bill had the single sideband radio to figure out. It simply would not talk to its GPS. The wiring diagram came out one more time and he noticed that the installation needed a ground. We managed to find an appropriate length of wire, installed it and hoorah, it worked! This means that we can send and receive text emails while out and about and more importantly, weather forecasts. Nina finally learned to use a pressure cooker.

Quick stop at Tent Island and on to Chemainus, a town on Vancouver Island. Joy had reserved slips for us both at the marina. It’s a tight marina with an awesome wharfinger. The town is known for its murals. Many depict local history and some of the newer ones are influenced by Emily Carr. It was a fun way to get some exercise and learn about a town. Enjoyed dinner at Thai Pinto and breakfast the next morning at Bonnie Martin. Chemainus had a lot going on. There was the weekly live music concert in the park, a farmers/craft market in the morning, a mill strike that was in its seventh week, some really good ice cream, and a nice grocery store a decent hike from the marina.

Vesuvius, Saltspring Island was our next stop. We had stopped there twenty years ago and met a potter that we bought a bowl from. We thought we’d try to look him up again. We tied up at the public dock, walked up to where the pottery shop was and it was now something else. Disappointed, but not too surprised, we headed back to our boats. Our next destination was Lyall Harbour on Saturna Island. We were going to meet friends of Jerry and Joy who have a Cascade 36.

Destiny, a Cascade 36 owned by Nick and Gail. They’ve lived aboard her for twenty years up and down the coast. She’s a beautiful and well kept craft.

Stuart Island, back in the States was our next destination. In the old days, you had specific ports of entry that you had to check into before going anywhere else. Joy told up about the ROAM app and Bill managed to get it loaded on his phone (wifi while cruising is interesting) and then get the data to upload. We made a phone call, and were admitted entry. No frantic circling at Friday Harbor waiting for the customs dock to become available and juggling documents while on the phone to the customs officers. Dropped anchor at the west end of Prevost Harbor.

Stuart can only be reached by boat or private plane. It has maybe 15 permanent residents. Turn Point Lighthouse is a nice walk from the boat dock.

Turn Point Light.

Do you want to know where we are?

We have been asked, is it possible to know where Gypsy is? The answer is yes most of the time.*AIS (automatic identification system) is something big ships have been using for years. The AIS transponder on a ship sends out a signal that says here I am, my name is xxxxx, this is my course and speed.
Small boats like Gypsy can also get a transponder. We may or may not show up on radar, but we will be seen on AIS.
There is a website called marinetraffic.com they collect AIS data and display it. You can search for a boat and find out where it is.
The problem with a name search is there are a number of Gypsys and Gypsy varients. You can also search by MMSI number, which is a unique identifier assigned to a boat. If you have a Gypsy boat card you have the MMSI, if not it is 367591410.
You can also create an account and add Gypsy to your fleet. You will get daily emails about our location.
* If Gypsy is offshore, it is likely that we are out of range so you won’t get any updates untill we are back in range.

Bill and Nina

North Before South 1

We spent a provisioning day in Oak Bay, did laundry, had lunch at a lovely french bistro that had excellent local beer: Vis-a-vis and Penny Farthing. Then it was on to Sydney Spit to meet up with friends on Drømen. Except the engine started and promptly died. The kill switch on the engine was sticky, so we fixed that. Not the problem. So fuel filters were next. The big one wouldn’t come off (the wrench was still in Portland). Got everything tightened back up, cleaned up, and the engine bled and off we went. We managed to get out of the tight windy marina without crashes or scratches but it was close.

First stop: Sydney Spit to meet up with friends Jerry and Joy on Drømen.
Nina, Joy and Jerry on Sydney Spit. We rafted up and rowed over for a hike on the spit.

On the left: Gypsy and Drømen rafted up. Drømen has her anchor down and in this photo is also stern tied to the shore. Gypsy is tied up to Drømen. This way only one boat has to do all the anchoring. We’re rafted in Princess Cove on Wallace Island. Our respective dinghies are on the right.

From Sydney Spit, we headed over to Fulford Harbor for a lunch stop. The public dock is really short and was full so we circled around and headed off to the north side of Russell Island. One nice thing about the Gulf Islands, is they are all fairly close and we were able to get to the next island in 2 to 4 hours. Not much wind so a lot of motoring.

Russell Island was originally homesteaded by a Hawaiian family who had an orchard. It’s now a park and in years past, they’ve had volunteers who talk about the family and their history. This summer, the volunteers were renovating the buildings. There are a couple of short trails and we walked those. We anchored separately at Russell and Bill turned on his AnchorWatch ap. Boats do not stay in one place at anchor!

The next day it was on to Ganges for groceries.

More exciting travels later: the Astoria Public Library is about to close for the day.

We’re on our way

Thanks to everyone for a wonderful Bon Voyage party. We are very grateful for your friendship and support. We cast off and sailed about 25 miles down river to Martins Slough, where we are anchored for the night. It was a rainy trip which reminded us that fall is coming. We are dry and glad to be underway.

Bill and Nina

Shakedown Cruise 2019

We took a short cruise north to the Gulf and San Juan Islands during August. It gave us a chance to try out new gear on Gypsy and to work on our rusty sailing skills. Gypsy did great and we found that we did better than expected.

side curtains-
One of the new side curtains. They will give us more wind and rain protection in the cockpit. Nina got a fancy snap tool . It has been a big help on canvas projects. It is much better than the budget rivet the snaps together with a hammer.

Nina made a cockpit shade, the side curtains and a companionway cover. They were big improvements in our comfort on the boat, protecting us from the sun, wind and rain if it had rained.

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Our new swim ladder. Bill had a teak board that he had kept for years. Before we moved and sold the tools he made a new ladder from the teak.  When you are swimming the ladder folds down to make it easy to climb out. It is very solid. It mounts to the toe rail with webbing straps that fit through the holes and are held in place with a piece of pvc pipe. He got the idea for the mounting system from our friend Jerry on Drømen.

 

deck portside-

Looking forward, port side. The yellow line on the left is a jack line so we can attach ourselves to the boat when we have to go forward in the ocean. Our ocean life jackets have D rings to accommodate a tether so we are always attached to the boat or to a jack line.  Toward the center is the boarding ladder Bill built out of teak.  To the right of that is the dinghy seat, oars and sailing kit.  In the front of the boat is our nesting dingy.  In the foreground on the right is one of our three solar panels.

deck stbd side-073315512

Down the starboard, or right side, of the boat is another yellow jackline. The white canister is our life raft.

view underway-

This is the view out the dodger window. The gear on the deck blocks some of our view, so we also look over the dodger and around the side to get a complete view.

RR Bridge-133415795

The first obstacle going down river is the Vancouver railroad bridge. The bridge is too low for us to go under it. It swings open to let tall boats and ships through. Depending on train traffic it can be a slow or a fast wait. This time we got right through.

While everything on deck looks shipshape, we were still figuring out where things needed to be stowed down below.  Portland to Astoria is about 100 miles, and when you are traveling at about 6 knots it takes awhile.  We split the trip up into three legs.  Day one: Portland to Walker Island.   Day two: Walker Island to Cathlamet, Washington.  Day three: Cathlamet to Astoria West Basin.  At Walker Island we met up with Rose City folks heading home from the Lazy Days Cruise: Willow, Lady Louise, Honalee and Crystal Swan.  On the way to Cathlamet, Bill organized the head storage and tried to get our Open CPN and GPS to talk to one another. An email to the great folks at Rodgers Marine Electronics solved that problem. The charting program on the laptop now knew where we were.  We got to Cathlamet on farmers market day so we got some fresh blueberries and figs. The next morning we headed to Astoria. In Astoria we filled the fuel tank and worked on our offshore prep list. We made a trip to Englunds Marine for some last minute parts.

Astoria sights.

Day five we were ready to head across the bar. The tides determine when you cross. We left at 8:45 in the morning. It was cool with low clouds and light NW wind. We motored down river with the help from the ebbing (outgoing) tide. At 9:23 Nina lost her hat overboard. We did not rescue it and considered it a sacrifice to the gods of the deep. The ebbing tide had us going 11.5 knots over ground, so it must have worked. That is a five knot boost in boat speed. By 10:10 we past buoy 3 so we were across the bar and officially in the ocean. We started heading north. At 3:00 pm (1500 hours) we started doing watches.

When we are on a passage we take turns being on watch or sleeping. We have found that 3 hour watches work well for us. Nina has the watch from midnight to 3:00 am, Bill has 3:00-6:00 am, Nina 6:00-9:00 am, Bill 9:00-noon, Nina noon to 3:00 pm, Bill 3:00-6:00 pm, Nina 6:00-9:00 pm, Bill 9:00-midnight. While you are on watch you keep a lookout for other boats and ships, set the course and note important information in the log book. Log entries cover where you are, the weather and wind.

Off watch you sleep, if you get caught up on sleep you can read or work on a project or cook.

The northwest corner of Washington State is Cape Flattery. That is where we turned east to head down the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

cape flattery lighthouse-4930
The light house on Cape Flattery. It is 1:15 pm on day 6. Much of the weather up the coast looked like this – a lot of gray.

ships Juan de Fuca-164513709
A couple of freighters on the strait.  These are much bigger than the ones that ply the Columbia River.

It is a long way down the strait to Victoria. The wind from the west built over the afternoon and by evening was blowing strongly. We kept reefing the sails to keep the boat speed under control. It was well after dark by the time we got to Victoria. We did not want to enter Victoria Harbour at night so we sailed on to Oak Bay, a suburb, where you can also clear customs. We got there and tied up to the customs dock at 12:15 am. We cleared customs and waited until morning to get fuel and a slip in the marina.

Bon Voyage

One of the things we agreed on early in our boat ownership days was that projects were okay, but the boat had to be sailable.  That kind of got put on the hard so to speak for the past four or five years.  We now have most of the major projects done.  It’s time to go sailing.  We headed up to the the San Juan and Gulf Islands on Gypsy for a short three week shakedown cruise and to meet up with friends on Drømen.  There will be more about that soon.  Meanwhile, there’s a Bon Voyage party to invite you to before we head south. Hope you can make it.

Bon Voyage Party

Bill and Nina are sailing Gypsy to Mexico

Saturday, September 7 4:00-8:00 Rose City Yacht Club

rowing-
Photo credit: Jerry and Joy, Drømen

It’s a potluck party, drop by and see Gypsy.

Please RSVP GypsyKramer@gmail.com

Rose City Yacht Club, 3737 NE Marine Drive, Portland

Gate code: 572637# (Kramer on a phone keypad)

And you may have noticed we’ve changed the title of the blog.  We hope it reflects the direction our project is taking.