Sunday, October 14, 2007

Up the river without a paddle

We finally had a few days of Indian summer, coinciding with a school holiday, so decided to head upriver for a long weekend. On Friday we got a late start leaving Portland, so we motored for 6 hours to reach Beacon Rock State Park before dark. Only one other boat at the dock, which is one big advantage of a late season trip. This place is packed on a typical summer weekend. The park has been extensively developed in the 5 years since our last visit, and we enjoyed a long walk along the trails before night fell.
On Saturday morning, we radioed ahead to the Bonneville lockmaster, and were told we could get locked through in about an hour. It took us nearly that long to get there, as we were fighting current of up to 4 knots in places, and weaving our way through hog lines of salmon fishing boats. Here's an aerial view of the dam, with the lock to the right.
This was our first time through, and we were impressed with how easy it was. It's a bit spooky coming into the lock from downriver, and seeing that your masthead doesn't even reach the top of the sidewall! We were glad we weren't sharing the lock with any tugs or barges. It took nearly a half hour to fill the lock, after which we emerged onto a placid lake. We motored another half hour to reach the small marina at Cascade Locks. The entrance is quite shallow, but we didn't touch bottom. This is a nice facility, especially for the price (free). Since there was no wind, we decided to go for a hike on the nearby Pacific Crest Trail. When we got back to the boat, the wind had come up, so we had a nice afternoon sail over to Stevenson and back. I don't think I've ever seen such mild conditions in the Gorge.
A strong east wind came up overnight, so we had a nice trip downriver. After clearing the lock, we partially unfurled the genoa, and flew down the Gorge. When we reached Government Island, the sun gave way to fog, and the wind switched to the west. End of the season for this year. Time to start getting the boat ready for a possible departure to Mexico next year.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


We had an uneventful passage from Westport to the Columbia River bar, a smooth bar crossing, and a reasonably good trip upriver. As darkness approached, I decided to take the Cathlamet Channel in hopes that we could find a good spot to anchor for the night. We did, but the next morning it was low tide and we couldn't get the rest of the way up the channel - we had to backtrack 7 miles. We still managed to get to Portland by 6:30PM today, and are spending one last night on the boat before we clean up, pack up, and head down I-5 for home. It has been a great summer on the boat, and we're feeling enthused about sailing south to Mexico next year. We are very thankful to all the friends who made this trip possible, by caring for our house, our dog, and our car while we were gone.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Well, we got up on Sunday and it was raining, and the weather observations made it sound pretty tame out at sea, so we bagged our plan to hang out in the San Juans and scooted out the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We had a surprisingly smooth passage right past Race Rocks and along the central strait. When we got to Neah Bay, instead of spending the night like we usually do, we decided to push on overnight, in hopes of reaching the Columbia River bar in time for the late afternoon flood tide. Alas, we hit a northgoing current which slowed us down by a knot, so we decided to detour into Westport and spend the night. We had never been across the Gray's Harbor bar before, and it seems like it could be more challenging than the Columbia bar in bad conditions. But conditions were light today and we had no problems. No sooner had we put a line around a cleat than the US Coast Guard arrived for a safety inspection of our boat. We were asked to produce boat papers, drivers licenses, and all of the required equipment such as life jackets, flares, horns, etc. We passed with flying colors!
It was kind of a dreary day in Westport, but we entertained ourselves watching the sports fishermen (we didn't see any women!) unloading king salmon and tuna from the charter boats. We also watched the launching of a huge mega-yacht from the Westport Shipyard, which produces about a dozen of these resource-guzzling behemoths per year.
The New Hope Cafe seemed to be closed, but we had a memorable dinner at Takohachi's Restaurant - salmon with kumquat ginger sauce, seafood hot pot, and a unique flourless chocolate cake. As Waggoner's Cruising Guide would say: "recommended."
Tomorrow bright and early, if the weather gods are with us, we will make it the rest of the way to the Columbia, and start up the river towards Portland. We should be home by Thursday.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Back in the USA

We cleared Customs at Roche Harbor and are anchored for the night in Garrison Bay. Tomorrow we will head over to Fisherman's Harbor on Lopez to rendezvous with a few Oregon friends. Tuesday we will start heading out the Strait in hopes that the weather will have improved enough for the outside passage back to Portland.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cow Bay

Cowichan Bay is a lovely place to stop, even with the weather deteriorating. We spent last night in Nanaimo, and headed on south through Dodd Narrows and Sansum Narrows to get here. There is a wooden boatbuilding center, a great bakery, and a lot of groovy thrift stores for the Admiral to browse. The couple on the next boat, Bob and Susan, are on their way to Mexico on their CS33 My Wind Song. We didn't catch any fish today, but we still get to eat salmon for dinner (good fish store here too).

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

heading south

It was sad saying good-bye to Eric and Nora yesterday, for it means that summer fun is drawing to a close. After replacing a broken bilge pump, we headed out of Campbell River and down the Strait of Georgia, with a slight tailwind but not enough to fill the sails. It was nice to finally shut the motor off near Comox, sail across the bar, and into a peaceful anchorage at Sandy Island. Well, it would have been really peaceful, except that there were about 50 teen-aged sea cadets camped there for the night! We paddled around the island, admiring the views across the Strait and getting close to seals, eagles, plovers, and other local wildlife.
In the morning, we sailed a short distance to Tribune Bay on Hornby Island, one of our favorite anchorages, with its broad sandy beach, amazing rocks, and warm waters for swimming. We would love to lay over for a day here, but the forecast calls for another round of SE winds, so we will probably head for Nanaimo tomorrow.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

sailing with Eric and Nora

After we said goodbye to Robin and Ian, we said hello to Eugene buddies Eric and Nora. Even though we returned to Desolation with them, we managed to find new anchorages and experiences from the previous week. One highlight was Eric foul-hooking a dogfish (small shark) while we trolled for salmon. Hey, it was the only fish caught on this boat this season! Another highlight was kayaking in the Octopus Islands. Finally, on our last day, we saw a waterspout.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

sailing with Ian, Robin, Marc, Connie, & Luc

We enjoyed 5 days of great weather in Desolation Sound with Robin and Ian visiting from Cambridge, and rafted to m/v Constance with Marc, Connie, and Luc from Philomath. We swam, kayaked, caught fish and prawns, hiked on an old logging road. Desolation seems more crowded than in past years, but it is still a beautiful spot to spend a few days with friends!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Savary Island

Feeling the need to stretch our legs, today we visited Savary Island, just a few miles south of our previous anchorage in the Copeland Islands. Because the conditions are so mild right now, we felt it safe to leave our boat anchored in the open roadstead and head onshore for a long walk.

We walked west for 5 miles along quiet roads until we reached Indian Point. With the tide now out, we walked back along the beach.

Tonight we'll look for a snug anchorage close to Campbell River, where we will pick up our friends Ian and Robin tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Copeland Islands

Instead of rushing headlong into Desolation Sound, as we've done in past visits, we decided to slow down and investigate the Copeland Islands, just north of Lund. To our delight, there was a pleasant little nook with our name on it, just sheltered enough in the currently stable weather conditions, and surrounded by wildlife viewing and kayaking opportunities. We stayed 2 days!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Seeking respite from strong headwinds, we traversed an area rife with names related to the career of Horatio Nelson. We headed up Agamemnon Channel along the eastern shore of Nelson Island, past Captain Island, and into Hotham Sound. We found a sweet anchorage for the night in the Harmony Islands, within earshot of a spectacular waterfall. The next day we headed back out to open water along Jervis Inlet, passing Vanguard Bay and Hardy Island. Our visit with British naval history over, we resumed our passage north, along Malaspina Strait.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Jedediah and Pender

We had yet another fantastic sail on Saturday with the persistent south winds -- through Dodd Narrows, past Nanaimo, and across the Strait of Georgia to Jedediah Island, a beautiful provincial park. We hiked, kayaked, swam, met fellow Oregonians Jack and Lucy on Wy'East, and shared two great evenings with new friends Gary and Marilyn on Stella. A tough place to leave, but the wind has switched back to the NW, so we have to get a move on. It will be much tougher sledding the rest of the way to Desolation.
A rough but short beat across Malaspina Strait this morning brought us to Pender Harbour, on what is at least for today, truly the "Sunshine Coast." While I update the blog and check emails, Vicki is at the store. Winds are forecast to rise to 20-30 by this afternoon, so we may stay here tonight.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Fit to be stern-tied

Another great day of sailing. On our way west from Sucia, we were overtaken by a pod of about 50 orcas in the middle of Boundary Pass. We held our course unless we saw a whale surface ahead of us. At one point, a female came up from our stern quarter, and before we could react, went directly under the boat! We could see her white saddle patches clearly.
While checking into Canada at Bedwell Harbour, we came across a boat that our neighbors had chartered earlier this year. Then we headed north, broad reaching and wing and wing, into Trincomali Channel. I should have let well enough alone, but when I saw a boat that we had overtaken raise a spinnaker, I had to follow suit. We had a pretty good sail most of the way, but a few scary moments getting the spinnaker back into its sock.
We decided to call it a day at Princess Cove on Wallace Island. Great protection from the southerly winds, but a very popular place, so you must stern tie to shore. After an hour of this fire drill, we were secure for the night, but a bit exhausted!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Back on the water

Two wonderful 2 weeks at home: many visits from family and friends, the DaVinci Days celebration, and catching up with the ever-changing scene at work (OSU). Now we're back on the water. Squalicum was a great place to leave the boat - excellent facilities and very helpful and friendly staff - probably our favorite of the many marinas we have stayed in.
Our first day's sail was a hoot. Under jib alone, we headed out of Bellingham Bay on a port tack, and saw this lovely square-rigger footing along on the opposite tack. Didn't catch her name, but I believe it was the Lady Washington. Meanwhile, about 80 canoes from virtually every Indian tribe in the PNW will converge on Lummi Island on Monday. What a sight that would be! But we have appointments to keep with friends and must take advantage of southerly winds to head north. Spent our first night at Echo Bay on Sucia.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

home for awhile

Last Wednesday we spent the night tied to the Olga dock and dreaming we were in the Bahamas. It was hotter than we've ever seen it out here, but we were thankful that we weren't ashore where Seattle was experiencing record heat. On Thursday morning, we hoisted a double-reefed main and sailed across East Sound, where it was still blowing like stink. Once out of East Sound, the wind was back to normal and we were becalmed until we motored to West Sound. Here we tacked up the bay a few times, and then rode the tide through Crane Passage and tacked through the Wasp Islands, past Jones Island, and on up the President Channel past Waldron and toward Sucia. We finally put out the hook in Echo Bay after a full day of some of the best sailing we've had this summer. After a walk ashore and a nice dinner, we rowed over to the neighboring boat for a drink and a chat. Graham's C&C33 was immaculate and well-equipped and we had fun swapping sailing stories until dark.
Thursday we sailed most of the way to Bellingham, where the boat will stay in a guest slip for the next two weeks, and the next morning we drove a one-way rental car home.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

...and more wind (and some current too)

Be careful what you wish for, right? After whining for weeks about not enough wind, now we have too much. Two days ago we had a wonderful sail from Anacortes to Clark Island on the N side of Orcas. Enjoyed a peaceful evening at anchor, but awoke to 20+ kts coming at us from the Strait of Georgia, and a small craft advisory on the radio. So we hightailed it for Eagle Harbor on Cypress Island, where we spent the day hiking. Winds in the anchorage were gusting over 20 all day and night. Today we crossed Rosario Strait to see if it was blowing less in the San Juans. The photo shows the wicked ebb current flowing past the N end of Cypress. After coming through Obstruction Pass, we were hit on the nose by 30+ kts blowing out of East Sound. So we tied up to the dock at Olga and are calling it a day!

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Finally - some decent sailing on our way back south to Anacortes. On Thursday the 5th we left Chemainus and ended up at Port Browning on North Pender Island. There was a wedding at a nearby house on shore that evening, complete with flamenco dancing that suited the hot sultry weather.
On Friday we had a very nice day of sailing across Boundary Passage, south through the San Juans to Friday Harbor, where we cleared US customs, and then on to Spencer Spit (Lopez Island) where we dropped the hook for the night. After a great walk along the spit, we met Galen and Shelly on Nirvana, a brand new (to them) Ericson 38 like ours. Its always fun to meet people who validate your own choice of boat :) and we discovered we had other things in common, like a love for SCUBA diving in the Caribbean. I hope our wakes will cross again soon.
Yesterday we pulled into Anacortes for some final adjustments to the rigging work that was done this spring in PDX. We only have a few more days on the boat this time around. Thursday we'll tie her up at the marina in Bellingham and drive home for a two week break from sailing.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


Weather has been hot and sunny for the past couple of days. On Tuesday we motored a few miles south of Ganges and anchored in "Grandma's Cove" to explore Ruckle Provincial Park, an old farmstead with miles of trails to explore. Next, we actually sailed for a few miles along Satellite Passage toward Sansum Narrows, but had to motor the rest of the way to a peaceful anchorage at Maple Bay. Sharing the anchorage was Webb Chiles' old Ericson 37, the one he single-handed around Cape Horn (as chronicled in his book Storm Passage).
On the 4th we went to Chemainus, an old mill town that has tarted itself up with many beautiful murals (photo above) to lure in the tourists. We found fresh berries at the farmer's market and delicious apple strudel at the Chemainus Bakery. In the evening we saw a really fun performance of Cole Porter's Anything Goes in the Chemainus Theatre - excellent cast and musicians, and Porter's wonderful songs and lyrics. We saw Annie here four years ago, which was also very well done.
Today we had to turn south toward Anacortes, and we managed to sail a bit of the way in light and fickle breezes, aided by an ebb tide. Now we're anchored in Port Browning, a deep and lovely cove on North Pender Island.

Monday, July 2, 2007


After a restful layover at Reef Harbor, we finally had a bit of sailing today. We gingerly picked our way through the Belle Chain Islets, then through Horton Passage into Plumper Sound. Just inside the sound, a 130' schooner named Roberts II had recently wrecked on Minx Reef. What a sad sight. We're not sure, but we heard they had been relying on a dog for navigation. Speaking of dogs, our second mate has two new pairs of boat shoes that help her grip the fiberglass better. We sailed on into Ganges Harbor on Saltspring.
Looks like we are headed back to Anacortes at the end of the week, to correct a couple of items that were not done right the first time on our rigging and wiring. Anybody want to join us for a few days of sailing in the San Juans after that? We would love to have some guests from Saturday July 7 to Thursday, July 12, who could give us a ride back from Anacortes to our car in Portland on the 13th.


Saturday we headed past Turn Point on Stuart Island, and across Haro Strait into Canada. After clearing customs at Bedwell Harbor, we continued on to a favorite anchorage near the east end of Saturna. It was warmer than it had been since leaving Portland. We saw a long, lingering Green Flash over the Strait of Georgia, and the next day (Canada Day) we hiked around Tumbo Island. Lots of eagles here!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Art critic

We've slowed the pace in the last few days, hanging at some favorite spots in the San Juans: Shaw Island, Roche Harbor, and now Garrison Bay. Actually, slowing down was enforced on us by a slight mishap... after a long, lovely walk on Shaw and a visit with the new owners of the store, we dinghied back to the boat in time to get out of the rain. A couple of hours later, 2 boys in a sailing dinghy yelled out to us that our dinghy had flipped! Apparently, a valve cap had worked loose and one of the tubes slowly deflated, until the weight of the outboard caused the entire dinghy to roll over and play dead. The two guys helped us attach a halyard to the engine and pull it up out of the water, then right the dinghy. I telephoned my boating mentor Bruce for advice on treating the immersed motor, and we made arrangements to get it serviced the next day at Roche Harbor. While waiting at Roche, we walked around the sculpture garden (photo).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Canoe Island and Anacortes

Yesterday we crossed the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Port Angeles to the San Juan Islands. Despite a small craft advisory, winds were fairly light and we had to motor most of the way. We spent last night at Canoe Island, where friends Joseph and Connie Jones run a French language summer camp. Today we managed to sail at least half of the way from Canoe Island to Anacortes, where we are enjoying a visit with one of Mark's high school buddies. A pod of orcas was cruising along Guemes Channel as we approached Anacortes.
The boat is performing well after all, except that the masthead wind transducer isn't sending any data, and the mast partners leak like a sieve. Both of these items were worked on at the boatyard, so we have asked them to rectify the situation (once we get back to PDX). Tomorrow we may head into Canada, or if the forecast is correct, we may just hunker down and watch it rain!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Passage to Port Angeles

We felt lucky to get a "weather window" for our 24-hour passage north to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, although we wouldn't have minded a couple of days to enjoy Astoria. The infamous Columbia River Bar was on pretty good behavior this time around, the penalty being that there was not enough wind to fill our sails. Oh well, better too little wind than too much. We did get to sail for about 5 hours in the afternoon. As a line of squalls blew over us the wind gradually increased, and we put in 1 reef, then another. Then, the wind backed and diminished and it was back to the engine. Our new crew Mike did a great job of watchkeeping between dinner and midnight, letting Vicki and I catch some sleep. The seas were pretty lumpy even with so little wind, and we rolled pretty heavily in the 5' swells coming in from our port beam. We were glad to see the light on Cape Flattery as dawn approached. We passed through the "Hole in the Wall" between Tatoosh Island and Cape Flattery, and were snugly moored in the Makah Marina in Neah Bay by 8 AM. We decided a day of rest was in order. It was fun to walk the docks, watch the dozens of eagles on the beach, and take in the Makah Museum. We met the crew of Castaway, a Tayana 37 out of Coos Bay.
Today, we looked forward to the predicted 10-20 knot westerlies to blow us down the Strait, but they never materialized. Instead, we motored all but one hour of the 50-mile passage to Port Angeles. We said goodbye to Mike and caught up on a few minor repairs. Thanks to Mike for the photo of "Showgirl" in Neah Bay.

Friday, June 22, 2007

boring blog, eh?

You're probably wondering why there aren't any pictures in this blog. Well, first off, we have been so busy getting everything shipshape that we only took one picture the first day, and none at all today! Then, I realized that the USB cable for the camera had been left at home. We were able to find one in Astoria today (by the way, we had a nice ride downriver, 5 hrs 45 min from St. Helens). However, after I transferred the picture (it was a nice one of the beer can regatta at St. Helens) to
the hard disk, it disappeared. Sigh~. Oh well, we have the cable now, we'll have some pictures to upload after we get to Neah Bay. Our friend and neighbor Michael has joined us here for the overnight coastal passage. We're planning to cross the Columbia River Bar tomorrow about 8AM, and we hope to arrive in Neah Bay about the same time on Sunday.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Goin' with the flow...

Ahh, this is more like it! We are tied up to a little public dock on Sand Island, near St. Helens, OR. We are only about 20 miles downriver from Portland, but our sailing adventure has begun! Chica is along, and she is having an interesting time adapting to the little rubber non-skid booties Vicki got her. She can't quite believe that she won't slide on the deck like usual. The weather is nice, and we have a good forecast (in terms of our ocean passage) for the next few days. Tomorrow on to Astoria.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Getting ready

Seems like a whirlwind since school was out last Friday. Mark's mom has been visiting from Ca., and we've been running doing errands to get everything ready for our voyage on Southern Cross starting tomorrow, Thurs., 6/21. So nice to be heading out and back on the water, but couldn't have done this departure without good friends/neighbors like Debi, Michale & Linda, 'The Craft Family' and many other dear ones. We're driving to Portland tonight to sleep aboard, wash 'her' down, stow the chow and then try out the new rigging on Thurs. on our way down the river to Astoria. Can't wait.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Get out of town!

We hope to head downriver in a few days. The boat is pretty much ready, the standing rigging has been static-tuned and all the running rigging is back in place. Once we get to Astoria, we may have to wait awhile for a weather window before we cross the bar, as our friends Cory and Nancy on Balancing Act have been doing.
"A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it." - John Steinbeck

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Some History...

Vicki and I have owned our Ericson 38 , Southern Cross, since 2002. Our boat is moored in Portland, OR, each winter, and each summer we take her north to British Columbia. You can read about some of our earlier adventures here.

This is our second sailboat. We owned a Nor'sea 27 called Mischief in the early 80's. Living aboard a vessel that size for close to 3 years was a good test of our relationship. I guess we passed the test, as we are now in our 26th year of marriage.

They say that owning a sailboat is like standing in the shower and tearing up $100 bills, and that seems true enough this year. We have had the rudder bearings replaced, swapped out our 2-blade MaxProp for a slightly larger (17") 3-blade MaxProp, replaced a cracked thru-hull, and had the bottom painted. Once the boat was back in the water, the mast was pulled for installation of new standing and running rigging, a masthead LED tricolor/anchor light, and a set of folding steps just below the masthead. All this in preparation for a longer cruise, starting in the summer of 2008, to Mexico and perhaps beyond.