Uncivilized said " As not even sailors often grasp how big a 35’ wave is, especially since wave height is measured from the back. Just tell folks that the waves are the size of strip malls, & that they’re several houses high. That sometimes works"
We were anchored in Neah Bay (NW tip of Washington
State just inside Cape Flattery at the west entrance to the Straits of Juan de Fuca) headed for Cape Scott. There had been NW gales for two days in the Straits. The gales had been blowing SSE from the Aleutian Islands 1000 NM across the NE Pacific toward Cape Flattery for several days before that.
Day three I climbed on the cabin
top to peer toward the Straights of Juan de Fuca and commented to a fellow boater who was visiting our boat
. "There is sure a lot of big freighter and tanker traffic headed eastbound in the straits."
Friend had been the XO on the 175' USCG buoy tender
Fir out of Seattle
. He had made many transits of the straits and knew those were not freighters. He handed me the binoculars for a closer look.
The freighters were actually very big long period swells marching eastward.
The next day I was impatient to leave for the 225 NM mile trip NW to Cape Scott. An hour later we were going up and up and over 20' long period swells. The swells were so large the main was completely blanketed in the troughs. The swell crests were at least 20-seconds apart. They were smooth as silk with no white water
or break at the crest. Just small hillocks rolling toward the SE.
Our 50 HP Yanmar
running at 2800 RPM
could not keep the boat
speed above 4 knots going up the swell. Going down the backside - I had to pull it back to idle to keep from picking up too much speed.
An hour later, with the swells only getting bigger as we got further offshore
I wanted to turn our 40' cutter
It was a real challenge turning the boat broadside to those swells.
Two days later we again left Neah Bay for a succesful sail to the north end of Vancouver Island at 52N.