June 23, 2014

Donna's adventure begins: (part Ia)

Cruising: Waterbourne pleasure journey embarked on by one or more people. A cruise may be considered successful if the same number of individuals who set out on it arrive, in roughly the same condition they set out in, at some piece of habitable dry land, with or without the boat...    (Sailing Pocket Dictionary by Henry Beard & Roy McKie)
As we leave Port Ludlow, I realize it's just Bill and me.  As the least experienced, and ONLY crew member, I have quite a few misgivings, and it has finally sunk in; "I live on a boat!"  However, it's only 13 nautical miles to Port Townsend, which at our average speed of 7 knots under power, ( think roughly 7 miles an hour), it's only a two hour journey.

The first thing we do before we go, is motor over to the pump-out station.  This is an unfortunate, but necessary chore for a boat with onboard heads.  When a vessel is within 3 miles of shore, all black water waste must be contained in a tank onboard, and when it gets full, you must go to a station that has a large hose and literally suck it out of your tank and put it in theirs. Be careful when you do this....  It also means that we have to sidle the boat with the fenders out, and lines ready to tie, up to the dock, so we can be next to the pump out station.  I drive. (first time with this boat) I get next to the dock fine...whew, did it.  Bill does the "suck out" part, whew, I didn't have to do that.  Now it's time to leave and I get my first lesson in currents, and wind.  I try to drive away, and the wind pushes the aft end of the boat towards the dock, a collision is in my future.  I gun the motor into forward, blue smoke arises, and I miss the dock. First crisis averted, and it is either a good start or a bad one depending on your point of view.  I view it as good. We are underway to Port Townsend, and everyone, with everything is intact.

Reading charts can be a complicated process, and I get my introduction to eddies.

We are rounding a point to head towards Port Townsend and the front of the boat, the bow suddenly gets grabbed and pulled in a completely different direction. WHOA, what the heck?  Bill points out the eddies symbol on the chart, see that, that's what those do.  We will have many more encounters with these on our way north.

I put DR (Denali Rose) back on course, and head towards port.  The cruising guide says the opening to the harbor is difficult to see from the ocean side, and that you are supposed to line up your bow with a white tower that is on the side of the hill, and then you'll see it. Not true.  I circle, circle, circle, it probably looks like we are either drunk, or can't make up our minds on what to do.  Finally, with just the right light, I see it, and we head in.  We radio in to the Harbormaster and receive our slip assignment, we find our slip, and now comes the fun part again, to put the boat next to the dock. Mission accomplished without too many maneuvers, and Bill jumps off, and ties the first line to stop the momentum. Boating people for the most part are very helpful and kind, and we have a couple of guys come over to help Bill to center the boat in the slip and tie her down.

We are docked right next to wonderful restaurant, and we immediately head over there for a pound of peel and eat shrimp, a dish of mussels and clams, and a cold beer.  Oh, yeah, cruising life is good.

Because of a slip assignment mixup, and ease of accessibility to the sail loft, (the firm working on our sails) we actually moved DR 3 times to different parts of the harbor, some are more difficult than others, and I gladly give Bill the helm.  At some point we have to do the pump out thing again, and this time I am not as lucky, I put the first scratch into the beautiful paint job, and I cry.  Yeah, yeah, someone's gotta be the first one.....

We spend our time adding food to our larder, shopping at West Marine, getting the sails repaired, and put back on, and getting DR measured for a new set when the time comes to buy.

Port Townsend to Anacortes is about 30 nautical miles, and we left in the afternoon.  We were trying to make it to our next harbor before dark, and we encountered some strong currents which delayed our progress more than we had anticipated. By the time we were approaching the harbor, the sun had set, and we were in twilight.  The nautical saying is: Red Right Returning. This means when you are returning from sea, you keep the red channel markers on starboard. (right)

These are the easy explanations, it gets complicated quickly.
(Courtesy of Nigel Calder: Captain's Quick Guides, How to read a Nautical Chart)
I was having trouble seeing the markers, much less what color they are, and you don't really want to stray outside the channel to risk hitting something, going aground, or colliding with another boat.  I had also called the Harbor Master to find out our slip assignment, and he didn't have the reservation that I had made. So the night watchman, who was the only one on duty, figured what the heck, and gave us one that he thought best.  By that time it was really getting dark, and he stood on the end of our slip finger with a flashlight trying to signal us in.  Cap Sante is a pretty big harbor and there were rows and rows of vessels, many of which were worth more than seven figures, which was just another reason to be be as precise as possible with where we were headed. Another successful docking, and a sigh of relief...break out the wine!

You may be wondering why I am at the helm, and Bill is tying up the boat.  Someone has to pilot the boat, and someone has to hang fenders, and get the dock lines ready to tie up. When you leave a dock, you don't leave the fenders hanging on the side, and you coil up all of the lines and put everything away. On the other side, when you arrive, someone has get all of this back out and attach it to the boat in the appropriate spots.  Usually this is being done RIGHT before you are ready to dock, and sometimes, the side that you put it on gets changed and then you have race around and try and get it all ready on the OTHER side.  I call it "doing the crazy monkey" as you are trying to get everything ready.  Then as the boat glides into the slip, the crazy monkey has to jump to the dock from the boat, and tie up the spring line, (line at the center of the boat), and help stop the momentum before you run the bow into the dock [actually, I apply reverse thrust to stop the boat...]  I'm sure with time all of this will become "old hat", but I would rather stand stationary at the wheel and guide the boat in for now, even with the challenges of tide, current and wind.

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