Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Monterey Bay

Sea lions sun-bathing
Portcullis keeps out sea lions

On Sunday we had a wonderful day at sea with sunshine, meals outside, and a temptation to go barefoot after many months - it felt like years - of cold weather. After motoring through the calm bay in the pink dawn,
we arrived early through scads of barking sea lions who lined the channel either side or sun-bathed in large clusters mid-channel. Our neighbours Joe and Skip helped tie us up on docks which are barricaded to keep marauding sea lions from entering  - a large orange fender now protects our swim platform.
Cannery Row
Walking through Cannery Row, we gained entrance to the wonderful Monterey Bay Aquarium via a Courtesy Pass given us by Skip Dubrin - Volunteer Emeritus. Larry took marvellous photos - here are just two.

There are a number of boat-fixes which have been interfering with our sight-seeing, but we hope to remedy that before we leave on Friday.
Larry prepares to check propeller

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Cape Mendocino

Cape Mendocino, 100 nautical miles behind us, is situated on the northern California coast near 40 degrees of latitude.

Apart from the very seasonal phenomenon of tropical storms, that part of the world's oceans between the latitudes of forty north and forty south is blessed with gentler seas and calmer winds than the regions to the north and south of it. On the California coast, the land trends south-eastward south of Mendocino as well. This gives the southbound sailor more sea-room and removes any threat of being trapped against the coast by an onshore storm. I've made six southbound and three northbound open-ocean voyages crossing the fortieth parallel towards the tropics - always accompanied by a sense of relief.

It is true that the equator-bound winds can reach considerable strength near the coasts at this latitude but here, far out to sea, this trip is unfolding as I remember. The sun has come out, the seas and winds are gentler and the forecasts no longer show any threat. An upward gaze at night is greeted with stars dancing about rather than with mists swirling around the masthead running light. And while not driving us along at great speed, the winds which, a few days ago impeded us, Have now changed to be in our favor.

Two more days should see us into Monterey, California where we will rest and sightsee a few days before proceeding onward toward Ensenada, Mexico.

It is my turn to cook today: Salad is for lunch and filet of beef, broccoli and yam fries for dinner with a dessert of mandarin and blueberry.

There's even a bit of warmth [or perhaps just less chill] in the air!

At 26/04/2014 18:33 (utc) our position was 39°02.85'N 125°22.36'W

Thursday, 24 April 2014

From where I sit

2130 Wednesday
We're having strong (just under 30-knot) winds ... since late Sunday the passage has been MOSTLY "the pits". The wind is from the bow, and we have to be careful moving around as the boat gets hit by large "side-splitters" (my term) coming in from the west where the seas have been whipped up by storm-force winds.

Yesterday, however, I was able to sit in the cockpit for several hours to watch the dawn. A slice of moon was still hanging above some pink clouds. I noted heavy sheets of rainfall along the eastern horizon. Ahead of Traversay was an endless procession of black clouds and I worried we'd be in their path, but all of these marched off towards Oregon to dump their contents on hapless citizens there. Our own black cloud caught up with us somewhat later, and still has us in its thrall.

As I sat there I tried to imagine the passage our friend Paul Lim made as he attempted to get to the Galapagos from British Columbia. Reading his story with mindfulness brings with it a similar affect to nearly endless meditation; or that of listening to a mesmerizing repetitive loop of Philip Glass music. There is a poetry to his story and a heroism in his rescue of a little green sea turtle. It was instructive to try to place myself in his mindset ... watching the endless waves pass by, and the changes in the sky. During his passage he achieved mastery over his negative thoughts and impulses. Powered only by the wind (with too little fuel to start his engine) Paul finally landed in the Marquesas after 81 days at sea, near-starvation and at least 7 crossings of the equator.

Here on Traversay we've been eating well. I had overstocked on fresh vegetables in Port Townsend. During the calm Sunday (motoring out the Strait of Juan de Fuca) I made veggie/black bean soup and I froze a tri-coloured pepper salad. Larry made a salmon-pasta dish last night. These are not too difficult to make and serve in bad weather.

It is so bouncy that I can only write this because the chart table (with the computer) is on the down-wind side. Luckily my sea-sick meds are still working. I used a 3-day scapalomine patch on Sunday and have just not taken it off yet. In a few hours at 0400 (when I return to watch) we should have enough calm for me to clean the dishes.

It may be miserable out here, but at least there are no crab-pots and no icebergs!

At 24/04/2014 04:42 (utc) our position was 44°07.89'N 127°58.69'W

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Going Sideways

The Oregon coast is lauded as being one of the most scenic in the world. This is an attractive draw for ROAD tourists. From the point of view of sailors heading south, it is not useful at all. The sea cliffs and boulder-strewn beaches offer no succor to the unwary sailor who fails to keep a prudent offing. Also, the few harbors there are cannot be entered safely in the very conditions likely to make life on the ocean very unpleasant.

We left the Strait of Juan de Fuca for sea in the leftover swell from a major storm; what an awful motion! The forecasts nonetheless offered a good few days for progress before the next low pressure system - and included no gales or storms. The weather was described as "unsettled" though, settled weather only being offered far in the future.

Of course gale-free forecasts often get changed and today there are warnings of up to 40 knots of wind from the south off Oregon. Fortunately our route far offshore avoids this scrunched-up area of high winds and seas near the coast but still leaves us with somewhat lighter southerlies to impede our progress.

At the moment we are slowly heading almost due west for the day to get further from the nasty weather. This jog westward will only show up on our blog map as a shorter day's run because the blog map draws straight lines between noon positions. Sometime this evening, we will again put the wind on the starboard side of the boat and resume our progress to Monterey Bay, California. These weather systems appear every three days or so. By the time Saturday and Sunday roll around, we will be far enough south to avoid their contrary influence.

At 23/04/2014 18:49 (utc) our position was 44°04.32'N 127°08.44'W

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Port Townsend

Planned N Pacific Circuit
We've untied the lines and left the lovely city of Victoria behind us. It was a great experience being tied to the dock and living a somewhat 'normal' life for 5 months. We appreciated having friends already living in the city, and also the warmth and kindness of people we met.
'Red' in New Zealand, 2005
Now, however, we're looking forward with the usual mix of excitement and anxiety to the trip we've embarked upon. After clearing US Customs in Roche Harbor we came here to wait out a few days of bad weather and to spend some time with Kevin and Beth Hansen (former owners of 'Red' - a Waterline BIG sister-ship to Traversay III). After fuelling up early tomorrow we'll head out the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Aboard 'Red' with Beth and Kevin
David at Butchart Gardens, Victoria
We’ve planned to make a North Pacific circuit this summer, stopping in Ensenada Mexico, Hawaii and King Cove Alaska and perhaps touching down in Monterey Bay California.

After docking in Victoria, Larry spent time organizing ice charts while I edited photos from our last big trip (across the Northwest Passage). The result was a talk which we presented at various venues in the city. Appropriately - David Lloyd flew in from Edmonton to join us for a talk at the Maritime Museum. David provided us with ice charts during the trip. Our talks were well attended and well-received. 

After several summers of ice and snow, we’re really anticipating the coming of Summer.