Prism's Blog

Roche Harbor, Port Angeles, The Strait of Juan De Fuca, Neah Bay and the sail down the coast

WE MADE IT BACK TO CALIFORNIA! But first the details!

When we left Stuart Island we headed for Roche Harbor is hope we would meet up with some family friends, but they were up in Canada for the week. (we missed them by one day) Jon and I forked up the  bucks to stay the night on the dock so we could get nice hot showers and do laundry and hopefully meet some other boaters, little did we know that we would run into a couple we have met before on 2 separate occasions….. I think we were meant to be friends. We first met Fletcher in Tacoma when he bought our dingy from us, about a month later I met his girlfriend Khristy on the train down to California, us girls happen to be sat next to each other during lunch and we truly found out how small of a world it is. THEN when we were walking the docks looking at all the HUGE powerboats that are infested in Roche Harbor we saw a couple get out of their Columbia 26, we walked right by them and I stopped in my tracks and got some very weird looks from Fletcher as I stared trying to make a connection from where I knew them. Sure enough we all hit it off and ended up spending the rest of the night together once Jon and I got back from dinner. It was a few days before my birthday so we went out for a nice dinner knowing it would be our last for a while.  We really hope to see Fletcher and Khristy again!

The light house on Stuart Island that we never made it to

Our guest slip in Roche Harbor
Late night handing out with Fletcher and Khristy

We set sail, well more like we fired up the engine and made our way to Port Angeles, bypassing Friday Harbor as it did not hold any appealing aspects for us).  We stayed in Port Angeles for 2 nights,  went on a search to find some boots for our trip down the coast. We headed towards Neah Bay on August 29, my birthday! I would love to say that my birthday was spend with great wind, warm sunshine, visibility for miles and a pod of orcas escorting us down the strait of Juan De Fuca, but that would be a lie. No my birthday was spent wet. It was cold, foggy, periods of rain that were so hard you could almost not see the front of the boat, and no wind.  Jon asked me what I wanted for my birthday and before I could answer he brought me out an umbrella. Thanks babe! As he sat under the dodger watching the radar staying dry, I kept a look out for logs and kelp beds getting drenched. The only thing we had going for us was the fact that the strait was calm, and hearing some of the horror stories we were happy that we were not fighting high choppy walls of water. About 3 miles from Neah Bay the fog cleared and we could see the bay up ahead welcoming us in from the rain, that however did not last long. We were about a  1/2 mile to the first green buoy when the fog came back and swallowed everything! GREAT just GREAT! Now the sun has gone down, we have about 20 min of twilight to get in and set our hook. We made it to the channel and crept our way past the green marker buoy, then the rain let us have it. The hardest it had rained all day was in the last 30 min of us trying to get the hook set, where both of us had to be outside not taking cover under the dodger or in the cabin. I don’t think we have ever set the hook so fast! We were really happy that we had stopped in about 400ft of water a few days prior to drop our anchor and let it un- wined its self. And wouldn’t you know that as soon as we were inside starting on the hot drinks the rain stopped and never started back up!  We woke the next morning to clear skies and greetings from the other boaters in the bay that had watched us come in during the down poor.

Crossing the Strait of Juan De Fuca on our way to Port Angeles

Heading to Neah Bay (before the rain started)
Jon said to me  ” Happy Birthday babe, want an umbrella?”

Finding the entrance into Neah Bay
We were planning on leaving on the 1st, but that meant that for 2 days we would have had 15knts of wind on the nose and south swell. Nothing about that sounded good to me, and my nerves started to get the better of me as the fear of the unknown sank in. We were getting ready for bed ready to leave the following morning at 5 am along with 3 other boats, I think Jon saw how I was not excited about this and right before we hit the sack we decided to stay and wait for a better weather window.  When the other boats woke up they were all shocked to still see us there. There is not much to do in Neah Bay and it is also a DRY reservation, and not only our boat but all the others in the bay were running low on their supply of liquor. Imagine, a bay full of cruising sailors all heading south, everyone of then out of booze! Jon and I sure were happy that we bought a sailing dinghy cause that was all there was to do in the bay. We did however become friends with the other boats and had happy hour on our boat, we have 14 people on Prism in the cabin and cockpit hiding from the cold 10 -15 knts of wind that was blowing outside. It was great to have other cruisers on the boat all having a good time! Such a change from the non welcoming boaters we found mostly in the San Juan Islands, with the exception of a few. The following night we all gathered aboard S/V Tregoning for a music night! Jon and I brought all our instruments and the other boats brought theirs and we jammed till our fingers bled. 
Neah Bay sunset with S/V Enchante in the back

Jon sailing about in Neah Bay to pass the time 

Jon forgot to tie our dinghy up, it needed a rescue from the break water!

Happy Hour on Prism 

Dishes from happy hour

Neah Bay with all the boats that have become friends 
Farting around on the dinghy

Taken shortly after I capsize and was bailing out the dinghy
Walking about the town in Neah Bay
All of the people we met and the boats they were on really made Jon and I wish we were going further south along with the rest of them. But for right now, reality is in the way. 2 YEARS and we will be sailing the dream to warmer waters! 
We left Neah Bay on Wednesday September 4th at 7 am. First stop, the docks to fill up on water! 10 minutes later, we were off! we have the end of an ebb tide to carry us our to sea and past the red marker bouy that told us it was safe to make our left turn. We knew that the first 24 hours were going to be motoring, and we had planned on it so we would be hitting the outer skirts of a little system that had some good wind all the way down the coast.  We were staying on the east side of the 125 latitude line that is where all the large traffic transits about 40-50 miles off the coast.The 2 days off the Washington coast were beautiful with calm seas and warm sun, and about 28 hours into the trip we had 10 knts off our beam with a small west swell that kept our sails full for 48 hours of perfect sailing!  The Second night at sea will be one that Jon and I will never forget, as we were on a beam reach scooting along doing 6knts, we watched the sun drop below the horizon and watched the stars come out. We had no moon but the water was so alive with the bioluminescence that it was hard to see the lights of the fishing boats off in the horizon. On the first watch Jon said that there was a moment that the ocean was glowing green! It was just the most perfect night of sailing either one of us have ever had!  Then Oregon coast happened. We had 0-5knts of wind with big seas. We were so happy with the way Prism made her way down the swells with no wind to help keep her stiff. I am pretty sure that if we had been out there on our old boat Tara we would have been in the fetal position and crying our selves to sleep at night.  The down fall of the big seas and  lack of wind was the fact that the leech of our jib ripped free as it was getting beat up from being filled to having the wind knocked out  as we got picked up and dropped by the seas. And of course that happened in the middle of the night, our HUGE 130% head sail was out for the count, good thing we have a stay sail and main in somewhat good shape to help us get home. If we ever have enough wind to fill them! We got pretty used to the rocking and rolling that was Oregon waters, and we were happy to make it to California and looking forward to the wind that was forecasted around cape Mendocino. We kept a reef in the main as we hopped and waited for the 25 knts of wind that we should be coming into at any moment! Nope, it never happened. If anything the light 5 knt breeze that had us ghosting along at 3.5 knts died and then fog set in. It stayed this way for the rest of the trip. We would motor or motor sail to keep us moving. There was a slight moment of panic when we started to calculate our diesel range with the amount of tankage that was on the boat. On paper we have a 80 gallon diesel tank. We have never used more that 20 gallons ourselves and we had heard on other hc33 of the diesel pickup tube not going all the way to the bottom of the tank, effectively making the tank a 40-50 gallon tank. This had us a little worried as we creeped over the 50hrs of run time (our engine uses about a gallon and hour). Somewhere off the Oregon coast Jon topped the tank off with one of our 5 gallon jerry cans. The idea was to cross our fingers and hope we didn’t run out of diesel until we where at least 5hrs from dock. This way if we could make it that far we could use our last 5 gallons of diesel and guarantee that we would make it. This plan worked! At 2:10 AM we crossed under the heavily blanketed Golden Gate Bridge. The fog was so dense that we couldn’t even see past the lights that run along the bottom of the bridge. Thank goodness we had done this before at night and we had radar. A word on radar; it is super useful to have radar in dense fog so you can see anything with a flat surface. It is also a must to have it viewable from the cockpit. I had never had this luxury and was accustomed to have Shannon yell at me from inside the cabin of what she saw coming at us on our old boat Tara. This worked well until Alcatraz shaded the radar view of the main channel. Luckily Jon saw a super tanker at the right moment or we would have been turned into a bunch of Hans Christian bits. We got into Berkley marina 3:20 AM and had the intense feeling of being home at last. We had been at sea for a total of 139hrs 22min and 9 sec. Averaging 5.1knts and having traveled 710.4 NM. A huge sense of accomplishment overwhelmed us and we where so wired from completing the trip we ended up taking showers and hanging out to around 5 am, we then retired into our bed. That night I woke up in a panic because I thought we had both fallen asleep on watch. Shannon had to calm me down and I then fell back asleep.  
And we thought this was cold

The red marker buoy telling us it’s time to turn LEFT!

Sunset on the open ocean


This is was closest a fishing boat came to us during a night watch

Night sailing in the bright glowing sea!

Are we there yet?

Sailing along

A pod of common dolphins played with us for 45 min

The seas have calmed and we are a day away from San Francisco

COLD and tired but still having fun!

5 hours away from the Gate, Jon topping off the tank to make sure we will make it

The Golden Gate at night with thick Fog
Trip summary down the west coast!

You can see our HARD turn to the south to avoid a super tanker
Once we were caught up on sleep we pulled down our ripped jib sail and got to work on fixing it up. Oh man is it a BOG sail! Thank goodness we had a dock to work on it, I’m sure it would have been very hard to do this while at anchor. We got it all back together and gave it a good scrubbing to get all the dirt off, it looks like a new sail…kinda 🙂
All done!

Jon working away

Working very hard
The 3rd day home we took our friends Katie and her boyfriend Xavi for their first sail! We had a blast just messing around on the bay,  with each of them taking their turn at the helm! It is so good to see good friends again now that we are back in the Bay! The following day Mom and Chris showed up, and stayed on their boat Sea Castle for the weekend and came out sailing with us as we made our way though the crowded bay to watch some of the Americas Cup Races. We now are rebooting our normal lives having been cruising for more than a month. We did just got done with a 4 day boat raftup at Treasure Islands Clipper Cove, but more of that is to come!
sailing with Katie and Xavi

2 thoughts on “Roche Harbor, Port Angeles, The Strait of Juan De Fuca, Neah Bay and the sail down the coast

  1. Did you change your font. I'm finding it difficult to read lately. Where's an email for y'all anyways. Hate to leave this in a comment. Sell me your boat! Adam, lopez island

  2. Adam, I am sorry you are having a hard time reading the font. It has been the same font for the whole blog. Only a few places where we had copied and pasted from word is the font different. If you still find it hard to read, please let me know and I will change it.

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