Days 20-22 Safe arrival in friendly Port Townsend ... via Neah Bay!

Highlights of the last few days of my three-week passage from Kauai, Hawaii....

Tues evening:
'Happy Birthday' sung to me by the Pacific Seafarers Net choir! Thank you all so much for that - a lovely surprise!!

Wed 18th Aug (Day 20) Heading to Cape Flattery ..... Vancouver Island not so very far off

Wind got up to around 25 knots from NNW by midnight, seas big ... Vancouver Island only 90 ml away... reduced visibility with fog lurking, some shipping.
Made contact with Darlene, KL7OYC, near Ketchikan, Alaska, on Gt Northern Boaters' Net - last saw & spoke with her in 2006! Also Barbara, VE7KLU, Net Control for GNBN in Sidney, B.C., later, with Bill, VE7WSM, in Port Alberni, relaying.
Occasional storm petrels seen, also bits of kelp seen floating - sure sign of land!
Wind became flukey - dying and then increasing several times, over day - but fairly consistently from NW, so course directly towards Cape Flattery could be held. Seeing a definite tidal flow - sometimes helpful, other times not!
Spectacular deep red sunset, with overcast sky clearing from the west to give clear sky overhead, bright half-moon shining on sea which finally has phosphorescence with frequent vivid bright sparks in disturbed water beside the boat, under a bright, starry sky.
A lot of time continuing to be spent with emails to & fro, dealing with radio reception problems and what I must do to resolve them on landfall... I'm determined to fix that problem!

Thursday 19th Aug (Day 21) Unexpected brief landfall to see friends in Neah Bay!

Broad reach with full genoa in NW4 (around 11-14 knots) but dying over morning. Clear sky but dense cloud layer over Vancouver Island preventing me from seeing its mountains, even when closer later.
Chatted to 'W.E. Ricker', a Canadian Fisheries vessel carrying out a hake survey and later took VHF DSC call from 'John P. Tully', Canadian CG vessel, to warn me of a Panamanian tanker a distance ahead, just then leaving traffic lanes at end of Strait of Juan de Fuca and shortly to make a turn ahead of me, across my path.... Plenty of shipping now.
Feeling v. tired for lack of proper sleep - two nights with increasing shipping around, so not able to relax for long... and another busy night coming up...
Birds a-plenty on sea at entrance to Strait - flock of tiny grey/white waders and lots of sea-ducks which would skitter across the surface, rather than take off, or dive suddenly ....murres & penguin guillemots. I'm suddenly seeing birds I'd forgotten about since last this way in 2006!
Motorsailing east now in light wind from west.... came across a big area of kelp in deep water. Help! Get out of there as fast as possible, while avoiding big clumps where seen. Kelp is nasty stuff (normally a warning of shallows) and it's not good news if the prop hits it, the stem being really hard & woody.
Incredibly, got a call from 'Kokopelli' as taking photos of Cape Flattery in distance... Canadian boatfriends I'd last seen in 2008 ... now in Neah Bay - I just had to stop and see them....!! Spent two hours in Neah Bay - turned out Richard was helping to bring a boat up from San Diego, in company with 3 others, all of whom it turned out I'd met previously in B.C. or in Mexico - what a lovely, unplanned landfall ..... and in bright sunshine!! Such an incredible coincidence - they'd not long arrived themselves and heard me on VHF talking to a tug heading west towing a barge, to agree avoidance tactics...
So last leg of this journey now.... eastbound along Strait of Juan de Fuca on edge of traffic lanes, thick fog & cloud obscuring Vancouver Island, in Canadian British Columbia, to my north and lovely Washington (U.S.A.) coastal scenery, with Olympic range of mountains, to my south in lovely sunshine ... but feeling cold with a water temperature down to almost 10C (50F)!!
A beautiful sunset. Ferries crossing N-S between Victoria and Port Angeles adding to stream of E-W traffic I'm having to keep a constant eye on as I head past Dungeness Spit (so many British place-names hereabouts...!) and on towards Pt Wilson and Puget Sound, as dawn beaks...

Friday 20th August .... Final landfall in Port Townsend, WA, USA

Avoided early morning rowers out training in calm water inshore - preparing for Wooden Boat Show (10/11 Sept) racing, no doubt.

Arrived 0745 at fuel dock just inside Port Townsend Boat Haven - after my third attempt to get through mud of shallows close to entrance at dead low water - and it's not even Springs yet!! Twice I approached slowly, knowing there could be a problem, and had to back away hurriedly as the water got a mite too 'thin' and we started to ground.... Wind had died completely so I had no problem coming gently alongside with lines and fenders at the ready, stepping off to tie up and await opening of fuel dock so I could re-fuel before moving to a slip. It was lovely to hug friend Kathy who came by soon after, before work.

I'd already contacted people for a long list of jobs needing attention on board and spent the rest of the day in discussions on electrical, mechanical, sail, rigging and other problems - all to be sorted out over the next 2-3 weeks or so, so the boat will be in good order for my mid-October departure from Victoria, B.C., Canada - just 35 miles to the NW of here. I've plenty to keep me busy now! But I'm looking forward to getting together with friends I've not seen for quite a while, in between the work.

Written by : Mike

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