Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 01-12-2014, 15:24   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Anacortes
Boat: Red Admiral, 1979 Holman Pye 36
Posts: 71
Trip Report: Fraser River Outflow

Fraser River Outflow November 29th 2014

The experiment for this trip was to become more familiar with the Fraser River Outflow. Id only encountered it briefly or by accident in the past but never really put together and carried out a plan specifically designed around this local wind. The idea was to feel out some boundaries of the event, test out some hypotheses, and hopefully get a ride in gale force winds without having to become too committed or get exposed to any serious risk.

If you watch the Wundermap on Weather Underground during these events you can get a feel for how they behave and its usually the case that the Fraser River Outflow has its maximum velocity NE of the San Juan Islands in the area where the Fraser River meets the Straits of Georgia. This wind can blow hard through the San Juans accelerated by local terrain and down the shore of Whidbey Island into Admiralty Inlet. But it seems to weaken as you go towards the Olympic mountains as you might expect with the flow splitting around the mountains, some heading west into the Straits of Juan De Fuca and some heading south down Puget Sound.

So the plan was to overnight in Blind Bay the day before the event and then go out through Cattle Pass into the Straits of Juan De Fuca and cross over to Sequim Bay where I was expecting wed be out of the wind. Blind Bay didnt look as sheltered as I remembered when we arrived and it wasnt a relaxing night with the violent gusts and the small chop coming through. But I didnt have a better plan for a place sheltered from the NE that would provide a state park buoy to tie to. Buoys are key for this kind of sailing because when the wind is howling you just have to slip the lines to get out not struggle bringing up an anchor or risk collisions getting out of a marina.

In the morning the wind was blowing a full gale. The previous nights freezing rain had set everything solid and it was a chore just working the lines. We got ourselves out in the channel and were getting ready to sail when we were met by a small pod of Orcas heading the other way. Its rare youll see Orcas in such close proximity and its yet another of the many reasons to sail in the off season. We struggled getting the sail unfurled with everything frozen in place. Even the gusting wind wouldnt open it. You know youre having a good trip when the sail and lines are frozen so stiff that you need to use the winch handle to get the sail unfurled.

You could see the Islands were filled with the expected strong wind and random furious gusts. Weve seen this before from other directions and because of the terrain the wind is fiercely chaotic. The way I look at it is: sure its blowing 30 35 knots, zero in one place and 70 in another. Its nerve wracking enough to make you cuss out loud some times. I briefly toyed with the idea of trying to go out Thatcher Pass and get into where I figured the real business was happening out in Rosario Strait, but quickly dismissed that as likely leading to unwarranted suffering and possible failure. So we stuck with the plan, Upright Channel to Cattle Pass. As we began to sail down the channel a 50 knot blast came across with a blanket of spray and foam, this subsided and we sailed out past Flat Point and through Cattle Pass in 25 35 knots of wind.

As we got into the Strait the wind began to ease and we tried to stay in it by heading east. But with the boundary of the gale trending east and our destination west we eventually slipped out of the wind until it was so light we ended up motoring the remaining distance. The wind came back weakly from the West inside of Dungeness Spit which makes sense when you think that whatever NE flow remained had to choose a route when it met the Olympic Mountains. Some headed west into the Straits and some East to join its brethren raging down through Admiralty Inlet.

As we got closer to Sequim Bay the waves got progressively larger until they were quite remarkable in size for an inland sea. I wasnt aware the North wind could create such waves and was intimidated by but secretly longing to see whatever was occurring back towards Rosario Strait to cause such large seas. But for us it was 5 10 knots of wind and rolling hard motoring with the steep seas on the quarter.

There was some concern that the seas might become an issue heading into Sequim Bay close along the sand spit but, rather than cross ways to the entrance as Id expected, the waves were quartering and in addition to that of such size that they were breaking in the shallow water seaward. As a result the channel was relatively calm compared to the waters just beyond.

Inside Sequim Bay back where the state park buoys are it was, as predicted, blowing about one knot from the North. This supports the prediction that Sequim Bay represents shelter from the NE wind. Its a great destination in most cases anyway and we always have the buoys to ourselves.

Sequim Bay is always beautiful but today even more so with the surrounding trees covered in snow and a faint sea smoke rising from the relatively warm water. There is no flatter surface than a windless sheltered bay and it was certainly noticeable after the previous 24 hours.

With a night of gentle offshore breeze blowing the sea smoke over us we woke to a half inch of ice formed on the deck and running rigging, and with the bright sun typical of the Fraser River Outflow the scene was spectacular and unique. What a great way to wrap up the trip and another successful experiment dabbling with the gales of the Pacific North West.
__________________

__________________
korrigan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2014, 15:58   #2
Registered User
 
tbodine88's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Austin TX
Boat: West Wight Potter 19
Posts: 720
Re: Trip Report: Fraser River Outflow

Too cold for me, but I'm glad you had fun.
__________________

__________________
Frimi Captain
Tom Bodine
tbodine88 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2014, 16:15   #3
Senior Cruiser
 
Cheechako's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Skagit City, WA
Posts: 19,371
Re: Trip Report: Fraser River Outflow

Brrrr! Those waves were probably due to tide flowing against the wind direction. You chose a heck of a weekend for that trip. Goodonya
__________________
"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard











Cheechako is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2014, 16:45   #4
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Anacortes
Boat: Red Admiral, 1979 Holman Pye 36
Posts: 71
Re: Trip Report: Fraser River Outflow

Gotta get one of these float suits, a balaclava, and some good goggles.

No other reasonable way to do it.

The boy is sad because he's too small and growing too fast for his own suit.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	cold.jpg
Views:	140
Size:	88.8 KB
ID:	92675  
__________________
korrigan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2014, 12:29   #5
Registered User
 
cwyckham's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC
Boat: Niagara 35
Posts: 1,870
Re: Trip Report: Fraser River Outflow

Nice trip!
__________________
cwyckham is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2014, 13:10   #6
Registered User
 
Capt Phil's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Stateline NV
Boat: Prior boats: Transpac 49; DeFever 54
Posts: 2,749
Re: Trip Report: Fraser River Outflow

Having towed logs, flat and bundle booms, 12 months out of the year up and down the middle and north arm of the Fraser before I wised up and started commercial fishing, I share your love of freezing rain. I was too stupid to realize what a miserable life I had chosen at the time! Phil
__________________
Capt Phil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2014, 16:31   #7
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Anacortes
Boat: Red Admiral, 1979 Holman Pye 36
Posts: 71
Re: Trip Report: Fraser River Outflow

That doesn't sound like a miserable life to me Phil. I'd gladly trade where I am now and where I've been for something like that.

I've spent most of my life inside sitting in a chair and consider most of that time a complete waste. The only thing good about that time is I was able to earn enough money to have a sailboat.

But one can earn money in other ways and I realize that now. My intent is to make a change and get my 100 Ton Masters license and find a way to make a living without sitting in a chair.

It's kind of late for a big change but outsourcing is sucking the life and the livelihood out of engineering and I'll likely be unemployed and unemployable soon enough.

I'll tell you it's a real shock to find out that the more years you work as an engineer the harder it is to find a job. I'm better at it every year but you wouldn't think so based on the responses I get to interviews.

Oh well I never wanted to be an engineer, always wanted to be a fisherman. If I can get to where I'm making it taking people sailing or whatever as long as I'm outside the last few years of my life then I'm Ok with that.
__________________
korrigan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2014, 17:09   #8
Registered User
 
Capt Phil's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Stateline NV
Boat: Prior boats: Transpac 49; DeFever 54
Posts: 2,749
Re: Trip Report: Fraser River Outflow

Those were formative years for me, Korrigan... Looking back I guess I was fortunate to worked on the water in the PNW from about 1957 through 1970 fishing for herring, salmon, halibut, any fish that would produce a dollar. Add several years towing logs and beach combing and selling what I pulled off the beach to gypo mills and I ended up with a solid seagoing resume. I used it to establish a delivery business on the west coast, had the sea time to get 100 ton Masters ticket and earned a fair living taking vessels from Alaska to Panama and points between.
If you have a desire to pursue that life, I would encourage you to get as much experience on different types of vessels, pleasure and commercial, as you can. Licensing is very important in the delivery business, mainly because insurance companies require it. But experience will keep you and your crew alive and get the boat where you have contracted to take her in one piece in a reasonable time frame.
Good luck with your venture... Phil
__________________
Capt Phil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2014, 08:34   #9
Senior Cruiser
 
northwestsailor's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Kenai, AK
Boat: Meta Dalu 47
Posts: 277
Images: 10
Send a message via AIM to northwestsailor Send a message via Skype™ to northwestsailor
Re: Trip Report: Fraser River Outflow

I have been anchored for the last several months in Sequim Bay just south of John Wayne Marina and north of the state park where you caught your moring buoy.

I have experienced just what you describe as violent winds approaching Cattle Pass from the north then almost dead calm for the passage across the Straits. Sequim Bay is a place of refuge from whatever winds except south to south east. Those winds when over 25 kts. can develop into 2-3 foot chop by the time they get as far north as the marina. I don't know how it is at the Sequim Bay State Park since the fetch is about a mile shorter. Judging by the fact that they don't restrict the size of boat on their buoys or at the dock I would surmise that it isn't too bad.

The other hazard that should not be underestimated is low low tide in the channel getting into the bay. I have seen sail boats temporarily stuck there and I have rubbed the bottom when I strayed from the deepest part of the channel. I have also seen a good five knots running through there so it is good to the ebb or flood correctly for your passage. There is a current station there so there are no excuses.

Anyhow thank you for verbalizing an experience we both shared. Now I know where the phenomenon is coming from and can check the winds up North. I also think you were wise to avoid Rosario as there is as much or more happening under the surface as above.
__________________
Victor Raymond
S/V Rajah Laut
1988 Meta Dalu 47

completion by Peter Smith
northwestsailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2014, 08:51   #10
Registered User
 
waggy's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 45
Re: Trip Report: Fraser River Outflow

Are you allowed to swim with Orcas?
__________________
waggy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2014, 11:00   #11
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Anacortes
Boat: Red Admiral, 1979 Holman Pye 36
Posts: 71
Hi northwestsailor

Are you in the big aluminum boat?

I've been in and out of Sequim Bay a number of times recently and saw a big aluminum boat in there. Presumably that's you. Seems like you've gone elsewhere now.

I'm in the small white sloop that shows up on Saturday afternoons. A couple of weeks ago I tried to get into the Westerly gale on a Sunday. You might have seen me going out with an orange trysail set.

Thanks for the info on the channel. I haven't found that shallow spot yet. So far so good on that score.

Years ago I kept Korrigan in Port Angeles and driving up there on weekends I remember that when the Southerly gale was blowing it would occasionally come through Sequim Bay and you could see the waves from the highway. I looks like it get's pretty rough in there in those conditions. From what you are saying it sounds like there's no protection in that bay south of John Wayne.

I figure if it's really howling from the South I'll head over to PA where it's always calm in those conditions. It's a ways out of the wind though and requires motoring.

...

Swimming with Orcas? I suppose you could try but they might eat you. Whenever I see them they are always on some kind of mission and going somewhere. I don't ever follow though, tried once going upwind in big waves and it was futile as there was no way to keep up with them.
__________________
korrigan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2014, 17:37   #12
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Newport Beach
Boat: Formosa/Peterson 46 Cutter
Posts: 63
Re: Trip Report: Fraser River Outflow

Thank you one and all for the very cool comments and interesting insights. Much better than reading depressing Yahoo news.
__________________
19 and counting is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2014, 20:31   #13
Registered User
 
waggy's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 45
Re: Hi northwestsailor

Quote:
Originally Posted by korrigan View Post
Swimming with Orcas? I suppose you could try but they might eat you.
__________________
waggy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2014, 22:48   #14
Senior Cruiser
 
senormechanico's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2003
Boat: Dragonfly 1000 trimaran
Posts: 5,834
Re: Hi northwestsailor

Quote:
Originally Posted by waggy View Post
If you don't freeze to death first !
__________________
Memento,homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.
senormechanico is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2014, 13:25   #15
Senior Cruiser
 
northwestsailor's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Kenai, AK
Boat: Meta Dalu 47
Posts: 277
Images: 10
Send a message via AIM to northwestsailor Send a message via Skype™ to northwestsailor
Re: Trip Report: Fraser River Outflow

Yes, that is (was) us in the aluminum boat. Now briefly in the marina as we take care of land bound issues (aging parents). When we get back in late January would love to sit down and talk about local sailing issues.

Glad you haven't met the shoal in the channel. Was only an issue with our deeper keel Jeanneau. With the Meta Dalu we have a retractable keel so even motor boats would do what we do. But that is another story when we meet.


Sent from my iPhone using Cruisers Sailing Forum
__________________

__________________
Victor Raymond
S/V Rajah Laut
1988 Meta Dalu 47

completion by Peter Smith
northwestsailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Problem with heat exchanger outflow Strait Shooter Engines and Propulsion Systems 22 03-12-2013 23:06
Fraser 30 psteele235 Monohull Sailboats 17 01-05-2011 06:19
Intake and Outflow Valves ukrsindicat Plumbing Systems and Fixtures 3 10-12-2010 13:32
De Kleer Fraser 30 psteele235 Monohull Sailboats 2 15-04-2009 15:30
Fraser Built by De Kleer - BC, Canada psteele235 Monohull Sailboats 0 03-08-2008 01:34



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 09:41.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.