July 15, 2017 began the sailing adventure of a lifetime! My awesome girlfriend, JoAnne, crewmate extraordinaire, Drew Hoffman, and I threw off the lines at Shilshole Marina to set sail for the Sea of Cortez...or at least that was the big hairy awesome goal for this first stage of the adventure. We had an excellent start with 18+ knot winds, but around Point No Point, the wind died and we ended up motoring to Port Townsend because we would have been set back to Seattle with the three-knot current. I’m not a big fan of motoring on a sailboat, but when the option is to end where you began, I just swallow my dislike and fire up the iron wind. The cool thing is that we didn't need to use the engine for the rest of the trip down the coast, other than charging the batteries and dropping the anchor...except for the last couple of hours sailing from Catalina Island to San Diego.
We made it to Port Townsend by 1900 and dropped the hook for a lovely evening of music (Drew on guitar, me on ukulele, and JoAnne on off-pitch vocals), my special clam pasta with sour cream and chives, wine, and well-deserved sleep. We wanted to catch the ebb tide the next day, so we left for Port Angeles around 0400 and with a good 5-10 knots, made it there around 1600. We had a most excellent night out on the town at our favorite hole-in-the-wall, Bar N9NE, and returned to the boat for another great night of shut-eye. I also probably have a warrant out for my arrest because I forgot that we would be taking off around 0430 before the marina was open to catch the 0430 ebb tide to take us to Seiko. Since we ended up heading out into the middle of the Straights of Juan de Fucha to catch some stiffer winds, which we did, and made excellent time to drop the hook in Seiko. I tell you, fetching the anchor was a bit difficult due to the heavy kelp beds, but we ended up taking the advice of Coastal Pilot 7 and anchoring off the crescent-shaped beach where the anchor fetched in some firm mud. We went to town to pillage and plunder--JoAnne pillaged the best burger of her life, Drew had a more type of California burger with avocado, and I had a somewhat bland Caesar salad made with iceberg lettuce. We had another awesome night of music and wine a restful sleep. The next morning we heaved anchor around 0500 and sailed the last miles to Neah Bay. We got there relatively quickly, around 1500, got fuel, set the anchor, but due to 35+ knot winds, we decided to get a slip for the night because our two-person kayak, which we had three, more than likely couldn't handle the wind or the extra provisions we needed to take the left down the coast. That was one of the many good decisions we made on this awesome passage...and awesome it was!!!
Thinking back on the dream of traveling around the world and actually coming to that jumping off point where there is metaphorically no turning back. Well, actually there is turning back, but why would I chicken out now when I have told everybody about doing this over the last five years...that would be a bit embarrassing and probably commit me to just falling off the face of the internet or living a quiet existence somewhere on the hook in the San Juan or Channel Islands. In the next post, I’ll go into more detail how we prepared for taking the left down the coast: weather routing, provisioning, and getting mentally prepared
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