Monday, August 28, 2006

A jet, a helicopter, now a whale

What a super birthday present, an orca graced us today with his/her presence and played in our bow wave. It was fantastic. I was below and Barry yelled at me to come and see the killer whale, he said it had surfaced just 10 feet off the bow. I thought he was exaggerating but then I saw it too. Wow, I grabbed my lifejacket and went forward to watch the whale, She/he came up right beside the boat, then she dove down and I could see her white patches as she turned and went under the boat toward the stern. A minute later she came up directly in front of the bow, from underneath and then she blew and just disappeared. I decided that it was a she because she was so curious. Anyway I think she was about 15-20 feet long. I feel really blessed to have seen one up so close. Barry said he would rather have seen her from a further distance away.

We are on our way to Crescent City, California, it will be an overnight sail from Coos Bay. It has been foggy all day so we are sailing in a 50 meter diameter piece of sea, it never seems to get any larger. Sometimes I get quite disoriented and think I am going in the wrong direction, but our trusty compass and GPS keep us on the right path.

We had to take our mainsail down because the nut on the gooseneck, which is the thing that attaches the boom to the mast, came loose and tumbled overboard. We don't have a spare nut big enough to replace it, we are both kicking ourselves that we did not check it, with the new boom we should have looked at all the attachment pieces to ensure they were still tightly secured. Live and learn, there was no damage done, it wasn't a big panic situation and we learned a valuable lesson. The genoa is pulling us along just fine at the moment.
We made out way into Brookings, Oregon, WHY, we are not sure. Barry had mislabled a route on the GPS and instead of going to CALIFORNIA, we ended up in southern Oregon. We thought we were going into Crescent City, California until the last minute, it was very foggy and we were following the GPS and then we put on the chart plotter on the computer. Well glory be, I looked at the chart plotter and it said we were going into the port of Brookings. I told Barry and he said, we are still in Crescent City right, and I said I don't think so. After checking the position on the GPS we determined that yes indeed we were still in Oregon, not in California. The routes were just mislabled on the GPS and if we had followed the route to Brookings we would be in California, but oh well, no harm done, we are safe if just not sure exactly where we are. We hope to go to Eureka, which is really in California tomorrow. It was really quite funny and the navigator is really miffed at himself. He said not to tell anybody so shhhhh!!!
We managed to fix the boom today so will be able to put the main up tomorrow, we are quite tired and I need to get to bed.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

We are still in Coos Bay and will hopefully leave tomorrow (Sun) morning. The wind had dropped enough but everyone said the seas are still too lumpy and we would be very uncomfortable so I guess I will listen to those that know and stay put, besides the Captain said I had to.
As compensation we are going to go the the Blackberry Festival in Coos Bay. We are pretty sure this involves pies and jams and such like but perhaps we will walk into a meeting of computer guys, who are unwilling to talk to us and they madly send messages all over the country.
We had a fellow from Tucson, well the city in Arizona. over for dinner last night, we had a lovely tuna casserole, He reciprocated by giving us some elk burger meat and he also lent us a cruising guide for Southern California. We will mail the guide back to him once we have finished with it, he was heading north. People are just wonderful

Thursday, August 24, 2006

We were walking down the dock today and Barry spotted a boat load of sea urchins so we stopped to talk to the guys. In order to harvest them they have to dive for them to about 35 feet. Only a tiny amount on the inside is used for sushi. He said that 4 of them, 2 divers and 2 on the boat got about $1,500.00 worth in 4 hours. The fellow we were talking to showed us the tool they use to harvest the sea urchins and said that he had whales and sea lions that were swimming around him. The whales apparently leave the divers alone but the sea lions are very inquisitive and try and get the divers to pay attention to them by swimming very close to the divers and crowding them. He said that was a bit unnerving because they are so large.

This next picture is one of my impression of the U. S. of A. It is a parking lot. They love to pave everything down here. At every marina we have been to there has been acres and acres of parking lots. I guess when you drive everywhere in very large cars you need to have a place to put them. In one place they didn't even bother with sidewalks, they just painted lines on the hardtop, very practical actually.

We went to a casino today with the crew of another boat, both fellows are German by birth and were born shortly before the war. We heard a few stories about what it was like there and the one fellow had actually been in a concentration camp. His mother was non-Jewish but his father was Jewish and he said he was the only blond haired, blue eyed kid in the concentration camp, but because of his looks he was treated better than other Jewish children. It is interesting hearing other people's life stories and learning the American slant on the world.

The winds are still very high so we will be here tomorrow as well. We got a map of the area today and plan to go walk on a beach tomorrow. They have beautiful beaches here in Oregon.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

We managed to find our way into Coos Bay, Oregon, with the help of the Coast Guard. After sailing all day we were approaching Coos Bay in the dark when we heard another sailboat contact the Coast Guard and request that they come out and help him find his way into the harbour. We probably wouldn’t have asked ourselves but since the Coast Guard was going to help someone in we decided we would join the procession into the harbour.
It was pretty harrowing, all the lights were very confusing in the dark you have no idea how far away you are from things and there are blinking red and green lights all over the place and shore lights that don’t have anything to do with the navigation are shining away. Then it got really rolly and the boat was tossing around from side to side in the dark and you can’t see the waves coming so you can brace yourself, then the Coast Guard guy is on the radio giving very helpful, but long detailed instructions about where you should go and what you should follow, I would remember about the first two instructions to tell Barry and then the following five would be gone forever from my memory. We followed the other sailboat that was following the Coast Guard boat and eventually got into the harbour safe and sound. I know it would have been a lot more nerve racking than it was if they hadn’t been around to help us.
We found out why the spinnaker ended up in the water yesterday. The end of the halyard (the line that pulls the sail up and down) attached to the top of the spinnaker had frayed in two, not a good thing. We pulled the other end out of the mast and will have to use our spare halyard until we get this one fixed. The thing that is perplexing is what caused the chafe, the halyard on the main sail in chaffing as well, but just not so quickly.
We spent the day washing and drying out the spinnaker and its sock, we had to get all the salt water off of them and then figure out how they could be dried. The spinnaker is a huge sail, the biggest that we have, fortunately it is relatively light so isn’t too heavy. We draped it all over the boat until it looked like the boat was wrapped in nylon. I think we will be spending more time here because they are predicting 35 knots and we aren’t keen to go out in that.
The dock we are moored at is full of fish boats and sail boats and the chief entertainment seems to be crabbing off the dock. People make a day of it, they come down to the dock with their lawn chairs, their picnic lunch and their crab nets. There were 2 older couples from Arizona here today; apparently they come here in the summer to get away from the heat. We talked to the crew of the other sailboats that are docked here as well as a deck hand on a 75 foot fishing boat that is going to Alaska. We bought a fresh tuna from one of the fish boats and Barry marinated it in a honey, mustard marinade and cooked up part of it for dinner. It was yummy, that was the first time we have cooked and eaten fresh tuna, and we have a lot more of it to figure out what to do with. I am thinking tuna casserole, or company. Hope all is well with everyone.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

From Cat's-Paw IV at sea:

We are charging along in bright sunshine under spinn........spoke too soon. Just as I was writing that Barry yelled at me to "HELP". I scampered on deck and the spinnaker was in the water, not a pretty sight. I went up to the bow to try and haul it in and was making headway until it got under the boat. Then Barry came up and managed to get the heavy, heavy wet spinnaker on deck. We are not sure what happened but it looks like the sail parted at the head where it connects to the halyard. The halyard seems to be still at the top of the mast and I guess that means another trip up there in Coos Bay, hope it is calm.
Anyway we HAD a wonderful run under the spinnaker, 8 hours with no problems, in glorious sunshine, the sunshine has been sadly missing the past few days. The wind was picking up and when I finished my watch said to Barry that I was happy with what was happening with the sails but it was getting close to time to take the spinnaker down as the wind was building, guess we should have done it sooner than later!!!
We had a Coast Guard helicopter divert course and come right over us about 1000 this morning, and then Barry spotted a whale, so it has been a great day. We are headed to Coos Bay, Oregon and will most likely get there in the dark. We talked about it and if conditions are right we will attempt to enter the port after dark,that would be another first, I will let you know how we made out.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Well, I found out about Cape Disappointment. It was the English captain John Mears that was disappointed, he was disappointed in 1788 when he visited this coast line in search of the
"River of the West". He was unable to find a passage through the breakers so he named the headland, Cape Disappointment.
We spent the day exploring Newport, Oregon. We went down to old town and watched the sea lions try and sink the floats. They are huge animals and very territorial, making no bones about who is the boss and who gets to sleep on the floats. Then we down the to beach and strolled along the 5 mile long beach. Lovely gorgeous sand, the weather was cool and slightly foggy, apparently the area is know for that and people come here to escape the heat. Then we went to visit a restored lighthouse and then ambled across the bridge over the Yaquina River. You can see from the picture the jetty's they have on either side of the entrance to the river to calm the seas and keep the sands in line for entry to the port. After all that walking we stopped in at a local brewery and had a tour and partook in some free samples. The Rogue Brewing Company has made a success of microbrewing and is quite the place, they sell their beer in 20 oz. bottles, you get one bottle and you are good for quite some time.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

We have arrived in Newport, Oregon. We did our 2nd overnight sail, this one was not nearly as spectacular as the first one as it was cloudy and there wasn't that beautiful moon or the wondrous stars to gaze at. On the 2:00 A.M. to 4:00 A.M. shift I got out my walkman ( I have not graduated to an MP3 player yet) and boogied to the Rankin Family and the Gumboots as Cat's-Paw IV did her own boogie in the Pacific swell. We got see the lights of various towns on the Oregon coast as we sailed past. It was a safe passage and the wind vane worked like a charm, all you have to do on watch is keep an eye out for other boats, and make sure the vane is steering the boat the way you want, adjusting as necessary.
We left Astoria at 6:30 A.M. on a Saturday and the Columbia River entrance was just saturated with small and large fishing boats. We had to slalom our way through them in the fog, you have to have steady nerves I tell ya. The fog cleared up once we had sailed over the bar, once again crossing was not a problem. We lost another boat hook as Barry was attempting to lower the windvane while underway (not an easy task). I guess that and the pair of clipon sunglasses I lost the other day is this month's sacrifice to the sea god.

A bridge over the Yaquina River in Newport Oregon

We had the crew of two other Bluewater Cruising boats come over and help us dock once we arrived, 2 Pieces of Eight and Willawaw. We are going to have dinner with them tonight. They are leaving in the morning but we will stay tomorrow and leave on Tuesday morning, depending on the weather. It was great to see them, they have been here for a day already so could give us the scoop on what we should see and where to catch the bus. It will be nice to exchange stories with them tonight.

Friday, August 18, 2006

This is the sight we saw as we rounded Cape Disappointment on the Columbia River, as we were about to cross the dreaded Columbia bar. When I think about the name I wonder who was disappointed and why? We went to the Maritime Museum in Astoria today and I didn't see any displays to tell me who or why, too bad!!
To take a step backwards, yesterday we motored most of the way from Gray's Harbour to Astoria. The wind came up with 15 miles to go and we actually sailed across the Columbia bar, it was glorious, sun beaming down on us the boat just humming along, fishing boats, trawlers, coast guard vessels zipping all around, great fun. The entrance to the Columbia River is dreaded up and down the west coast as one of the potentially most dangerous stretches of water, it has been called the graveyard of the Pacific. It is treacherous due to the tons of sand that are deposited at the mouth of the Columbia River each year, dredges are constantly scooping up the sand to keep the channels open. The shallowness of the entrance causes the waves from the open ocean to become very steep and close together. We made it in with no problems but we still have to cross the bar on the way out. Hopefully our charmed voyage will continue.
We spent the morning trying to purchase a cell phone. Don't get me started on how and why it was a problem, just suffice it to say that computers don't understand the problem of not living where the phone has to be activated and that the U.S. computers don't seem to think that citizens of another countryy could possibly be interested in buying a cell phone here. (big long heartfelt sigh). We do have a phone and I activated it tonight and although I had to ask someone what their zip code was so that I could activate the phone I am not in that zip code area, so I am unsure if the phone will ever work. I will keep you posted.
We are in a marina that is under the bridge that spans the Columbia River going from Oregon to Washington. There are huge ocean going freighters chugging past at all hours of the day and night. We had a great walk along the waterfront today seeing a lot of buildings that are still in use and then a bunch that have been converted to restaurants and shops, a very interesting mix. We are off to Newport, Oregon tomorrow, it will be another overnight sail so must get to bed.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

We had a lazy day around town today, we went for a walk this morning and then I had a great nap after lunch. We had a tour of the tall ship in the harbour. We learned about how they kept track of where they were by using a navigation peg board. One fellow said he and his wife were on a 2 week learning vacation onboard and it only cost them $350, it would be a great vacation. One girl talked about getting over her fear of heights when she was climbing up the ropes to let down the sails. We purchased some crab for dinner but it wasn't nearly as good as the ones we caught when we were on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
We will head to Astoria tomorrow, we have checked out the tide table and the weather and have a definite plan of when we have to leave and when we hope to arrive. Time to hit the hay and get some more rest.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

We survived our fist overnight sail. It was pretty tiring but there were moments of absolute beauty. We left Neah Bay at 1030 on Aug. 14 and arrived in Gray's Harbour 125 miles further south at 4:30 P.M. on Aug. 15. We did two hour shifts all day and night. We sailed almost all the way and someone who wanted to sail with us from Neah Bay motored sailed all the way here and arrived at 5:00 A.M. We sailed on a close reach most of the night so although it wasn't a downwind romp we didn't have to tack back and forth and went in a striaght line for most of the trip. We would have still been out there if we had had to tack all the way.
The trouble with two hour shifts is that you barely get downstairs and take your stuff and climb into bed and it's time to get out, especially when you lie there trying to block out the sounds of the sails slapping around and the gear clanging on the deck. I think I may have got 4 hours sleep total through the 30 hours.
We had one hair raising incident, a fast U.S military aircraft buzzed us not once but three times. He came diving down at the boat and then you could see the afterburners kick in as he pulled up to turn for another run. I have no clue what it was about, but he just went away after the third fly by, unbelievable. We just kind of stared at him as he zoomed around the sky. They must have more money than brains if they don't have any better things to do than buzz poor innocent Canadian sailors.
I was on shift, by myself, in the middle of the night as the moon rose. It was absolutely gorgeous, it was in the third quarter and after it came up it lit up the whole ocean. When we are sailing the only light that is on is the masthead light, and the instruments, compass and GPS, (so you can steer) so it is pretty dark out there. As I was gazing up at all the stars, I couldn't help but think of the thousand of other sailors who had experienced the same thing. Imagine what the guys on Christopher Columbus's ships were thinking in the dark hours of the night. At least I know where I am going and have a pretty good idea what I am going to see when I get there, they didn't even have a clue about what was over the horizon.
We are going to stay here for two nights to make sure we catch up on our rest. As we were walking around today we saw a sign for free tours on a tall ship so I think we will take that in. Catch you later.
Heading into a fog bank on a windless day.
From August 14
We arrived in Neah Bay last night after a long day of motoring from Port Angeles. Most of the day was spent in fog that would lift every once in awhile, but we are getting lots of practise using our radar. We sailed in the last 4 miles when the wind picked up. There was 1 other Bluewater boat here, Toketi, so we had a pleasant happy hour on their boat and met a British couple that are sailing in a 33 foot boat that are on year 7 of their cruise around the world. Those 2 boats are planning on sailing directly to San Francisco and are going to wait here for another day hoping for better weather, it is galing just north of San Francisco. The weather forecast for our jaunt to Gray's Harbour looks favourable so we will leave later on this morning. It will take us over 24 hours to get there so we will experience our first complete night sail aboard Cat's-Paw IV. If you would like to follow our position reports please go to

Saturday, August 12, 2006

We left Sidney this morning at 0808 (I think that must be good luck or something). We motored down to Victoria as there was no wind but it picked up once we were close to Victoria, then the fog set in. We did fine in the fog, radar is wonderful, until we got close to Port Angeles and then when we were past the GPS point that Barry had put in for the entrance and I couldn't see anything, there were fog horns blowing, a huge ferry went bellowing past us at 20 knots and I still couldn't see more than 200 meters, I got a bit freaked out, to put it mildly. Oh yeah and just before that we had started the motor and I noticed there was no water coming out of the exhaust, so we shut it off and we were sailing into the harbour and Barry couldn't find the GPS adapter for our chart plotting program so we relying on green flashes on the radar. Well Barry figured it was the impeller, that was causing the problem with the engine.
So we anchored in the harbour and proceeded to learn how to change the impeller. We got the instructions out and found the new impeller, took the cover off the raw water pump, took the old beat up useless impeller out (see picture above) and the piece of the impeller that was stuck in the discharge line and proceeded to try and put the new impeller on. You guessed it, it didn't fit, SHIT, what next!!!! We looked at the old impeller and figured out that new impeller screw was bigger than the old one and it wouldn't fit in the water pump shaft slot that it was designed for. REALLY BIG SHIT. but wait, could we take the old screw out and put it in the new impeller, yes indeed, we could and VOILA, when we turned the engine on water came flying out the back like it is supposed to, yippee, We then went and checked in to the U.S. and I calmed down somewhat, I am still a bit rattled as is Barry I am sure after being hollered at, very loudly.
After checking in we walked downtown and loaded up on citrus fruit, garlic, eggs, chicken and beef, all substances which you are not allowed to import into the U.S. Then we hit the Dairy Queen for products to calm my nerves, a peanut buster parfait did the trick, stopped off at U.S. customs to get out U.S. cruising permit then strolled back to the boat. I wish I had had the camera with us because we saw the most unusual metal sculptures of birds that were attached to the top of some pilings, there was a pelican, a seagull and a heron, they were gorgeous.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Here is the crew for our Bon Voyage Sail. As we motored up to Arbutus Ridge this morning I bemoaned the fact that there was no wind and it was going to be boring for our visitors this afternoon. After a lovely lunch on the dock, the wind was very obliging and picked up enough to make it interesting but, I hope, not frightening for our guests. It was a gorgeous day and even though we had to tack upwind to our slip in Sidney no one seemed to mind too much. It was great to have Barry's 2 sisters and his Mom onboard as well as Sherran's partner Doug. It couldn't have been a more fitting end to our stay on the west coast.

The boom behaved itself, although we discovered that it is almost a foot longer than the old one and it is going to take a bit of getting used to. Barry is going to have a few extra bangs on his head before he figures out exactly how much longer it is.

We have a big day tomorrow so I'd better get some rest.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Well, we have said all year that we were going to leave on or about Aug. 10 and today is Aug. 10 and we are still here, but things are looking up. We have a new boom and it is on the boat and semi-functional. The semi is because we are still waiting for our boom vang, but it is supposed to be put on the boat this afternoon, so theoretically we could leave after it is installed, but we are not going to.

We still have to get our car up to its’ retirement pasture on the back forty at Kim’s (Barry’s sister) place near Duncan. We have arranged to sail up to where Barry’s Mom lives have lunch with Barry’s family and then sail back with one or more of his sister’s and then Kim will drive the car up to Duncan and park it. We figured this would be a nice way to say goodbye and we will be able to take the new boom for a test run. We are planning to leave on Saturday morning which will be the 12 but I figure well within our projected departure date of “on or about Aug. 10”. It will also avoid the dreaded sailor’s superstition of never leaving a port on a Friday, I know, I know, it is just a superstition but I just don’t want to start out what may be a trip around the world on the wrong foot.

Our driver’s licenses have arrived, we got our typhoid medication today, I picked up enough emergency rations to last a couple of weeks, Barry got some plywood and 2 X 4’s in case we get a hole in the boat and I think we are ready to go. I am sure there are some sort of spare parts we will discover we should have had but I think we have enough to get by in a pinch. We met a bunch of boats last weekend at the Bluewater Rendezvous that have the same basic itinerary that we have so I am sure we will bump into them in various ports.

Now that I know we can leave on Saturday, I have stopped being so anxious about it and now I am just getting excited. The not knowing when we were going to leave was killing me. If you want to get in touch with us after Saturday contact us on our boat e-mail only text in your messages, no pictures and no attachments please. We will check in to our yahoo account when we are near and internet hookup. I will updating the blog, as I did around the island, so you will be able to follow our travels if you wish.

Friday, August 04, 2006

What is wrong with this picture???
We are still waiting for our boom to be fixed, and since it is a fairly major piece of a sailboat's equipment we won't leave until it is safely and securely put back on the boat. They came and took it away last Monday and it may be ready today but another piece, the boom vang, will not be ready until Tuesday so we have to wait until then for our boom.

The other hold up is our driver's licence, and this one is our fault. When we changed over to B.C. licences last year they would only issue us a 2 year licence, which means our's expire next year. At Barry's sister's (Kim's) suggestion we went in to see if they would renew them early and HORRAY, they would, we now have licences that are good until 2011. The only problem is that you couldn't get the right away, they would mail them to you and it would take about a week to get them. We went in last Tuesday to renew them so I figure with the holiday we won't get them until Wed. or Thur. so we are going to wait for them.

Waiting is not one of the things that I do very well. I should go organize a track meet or a bingo or something to keep me busy for a week. We have gotten all the things that we can think of that we need to do, done this week, I am sure there are a million other things that we should have done but didn't think about.

We are going to a Bluewater rendeyvous for the long weekend so the socializing should make the time go by.. It will be nice to talk to all the friends we made over the winter and see how others are making out in their departure plans. Cat's Paw IV will get quite a few comments and questions about her boomless status I am sure. Hope all of you have a grand August long weekend.