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Old 05-06-2012, 12:28   #1
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A cautionary tale: Or trip report of Bellingham to Astoria.

I learned a lot in this voyage- some good some bad and some ugly. I took some risks, with some of them paying off and others coming back to bite me in the butt. The people who interacted with me shall remain anonymous, because this tale is from my point of view.
It started over a month ago, with me arriving in Bellingham and taking my boat back from a live aboard that had "cared" for my boat during the winter. I noticed only about 5 inches of fuel left, but what the heck, I wanted to get going (I hadn't sailed all winter). I also noticed he had put some serious dings in the hull, but he had no $$ so what was I going to do. Just get the boat to another area.... He assured me it was ready to sail. So I started, with the plan to solo all night and pick up a crew in Port Angles. Someone who I had never met but was solid on paper.
The wind was good coming out of Bellingham bay- too good in fact. What was 20 knots quick grew to 25-then 30. All on the nose. I decided that starting the engine might be a good idea when coming behind Elisa island- keep the batteries topped off, and knowing that if I got too close to the rocks I could power off. The engine (brand new last fall) ran for 30 seconds then quit. What?? I heaved too, ran down to the engine room and found the filters clogged. Changed to my secondary filters, and noticed water on the galley floor. The hatch that was facing rear was being lifted off by air coming forward of it. Was there a hatch loose somewhere in the dark of forward? And why weren't all the hatches battened down? Took in the complete Gestalt for a minute, turned the boat around and docked back in Bellingham a few hours later. With the engine running just long enough to get her into a slip before dying again.
Lessons learned- when your soloing you have no one to blame but yourself when things aren't quite right. And if you leave someone on your boat, you should expect repairs.
For the next few days I tracked down the grudge in the tank. Ended up getting a poly tank (only 17 gallons) and a jerry can and rerouting all the fuel from the big tank to the little one. The big tank still sits there, with 35 years of silt in it, for another day. By Thursday I was ready to try again. All hatches sealed, ports battened down and thru hulls off except the engine. Set sail at 1201 am friday morning. (I have never been superstitious) Sailed well the rest of the night (with some prevailing winds in the San Juans make me motor for about 3 hours. Pick up my ever patient crewmember and off we go. 3 hours of sleep and three hours of driving. Get to Neah Bay about 0700 Saturday Morning.
Now I had been pushing myself since Monday. Drove all night to get to the boat, then attempted to solo and back, then installing the diesel tank and cleaning the system, then testing it, then soloing over to the Stait of Juan de Fuca. I wanted to anchor and sleep for at least a day...but my crew really wanted to get out there, and I wanted to see how I would do in the ocean also- besides the weather window ended Monday night. So off we went. A mistake, but not for the reasons I thought. It seems like my crew had a medical problem- one that did not show its face until we were well offshore. Once again I heaved too, looked at the symptoms and realized he was in some deep problems, and turned around for Neah Bay. In the violent swells a dockline came loose and wrapped around the prop. With the prop out, we could not fight the ebb tide at the straits and into the bay. The Coast Guard came a picked us up right off of Neah Bay, my friend was taken in an ambulance, and the boat was disabled. I was so tired I could not sleep, and I felt really demoralized. I left the boat there in the care of my friend, who in between medical appointments, got the prop unstuck and the boat ready to sail again. And I got to sleep again. I will leave it at the half-way point here.
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Old 05-06-2012, 12:43   #2
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Re: A cautionary tale: Or trip report of Bellingham to Astoria.

Goodness. That was one messed up voyage. You should write it up as a short story.
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Old 05-06-2012, 12:51   #3
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Re: A cautionary tale: Or trip report of Bellingham to Astoria.

Ouch. Sounds like you did a good job of realizing that you were about halfway down the "accident chain of events" and bailing out while things were still safe (both times). That good judgement made up for rushing things earlier.

Funny, I wrapped a prop just off Cape Flattery as well (spinnaker sock control line). We didn't have a medical emergency to deal with, though, so we were able to keep sailing it down to San Francisco and dealt with it there.

Lines in the water suck.
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Old 06-06-2012, 16:21   #4
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Re: A cautionary tale: Or trip report of Bellingham to Astoria.

Well, this seems like a confessional . The rest of the journey I will write up soon. My luck continued to hold- some good some bad and some ugly. As I ate at a little potluck and watched the sun go down over the Pacific last night, I realized that I really am a lucky man. Lucky in that I was given common sense, which bailed me out time and again on this trip. BTW- the first crewmember is getting his heart looked over in the Mayo Clinic, and he appears to be no worse for wear- thank goodness.
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