Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Destiny & Unplugging

We're headed off for 1-2 weeks on Destiny.  No internet access 35 mile out in the Pacific.

More adventure tales coming soon!

Day 3: Destiny, Flames and R&R

sailing in the san juan islands
quaint Roche Harbor Hotel
July 2nd: Roche Harbor, San Juan Island

Despite our desire to see Desolation Sound, we decided to take it easy for a change and take an extra day getting some much-needed rest and relaxation.

Since I proclaim to be a galley wench, figured it was high time I learned how to light our 30-year-old alcohol stove.  It didn’t seem right to continue to make it a “blue task*” – Wayne’s responsibility.    That being said, with my shoulder-length, unruly hair, I harbor a healthy respect for stoves that belch foot tall flames in a small, confined space, even if it is a normal part of their priming process.    For those mechanically inept, fire-fearing, life-long non-smokers uncomfortable with matches and lighters, I bear witness by personal example, there is hope.  Got it down.  If I can, you can, too!

Other than fostering my fledgling fiery prowess, and returning the favor of providing dinner for the Hilliers while we talked about sailing together, we deliberately accomplished not much of anything the whole day.

85' Schooner Destiny in Roche Harbor
moored at San Juan Island
Our choice of Roche Harbor was not a random one.  There are several sailable routes from Everett to Desolation Sound.  We came that way to explore the opportunity to crew a vintage and lovingly restored 85’ wooden schooner, Destiny, from there to San Diego.

Wayne regularly peruses boater forums, like Latitude 38 and the Cruiser’s Forum to check out crew requests.  A few days before we left, amid our frantic preparations to leave, Wayne spotted the Hilliard’s request.  “This would be a great opportunity for us to get more ocean experience,” he pitched.  “And what a cool boat!”  I agreed, on both counts.  Plus, we could visit Wayne’s folks in Santa Barbara, not that far from San Diego.  It was just a matter of seeing if it was a fit.  Oh, and how to get from Everett, to Portland, back to Roche, from San Diego to Santa Barbara, from Santa Barbara to Portland?  Mere details.
We liked the Hilliards, a lot.  Their boat is beyond cool; best to learn about Destiny’s amazing story from their website.  They must have liked us, or maybe the Greek salad and chicken picatta enough; we were invited to crew.  Yes, we were in!!!!

*Even among us liberated and capable women, boat responsibilities often divide along traditional gender lines.  Engine repair, for example, is a “blue tasks;” cooking, a “pink tasks” (my responsibility), lighting the stove, now whoever gets to it, a “purple task.” Dealing with head (toilet) issues is a hotly debated division on many boats, and I am eternally gratefully on our boat it is usually a blue task.  Thank you, Wayne, for continuing to give me more and more reasons to love you.

Day 2: Bowing to Capt. Nemo

July 1st:  Pt Townsend to Roche Harbor, San Juan Island
Initially it was kind of a fun challenge to calmly brush my teeth while the boat bucked like a bronco on steroids. The novelty wore off when I became too nauseous to hold the tiller (which steers our boat) for even a moment or two.   This marked the only time I’ve ever made my contribution to Capt. Nemo, feeding the fishies.  I made up for lost time. Upon arrival, I chose not to mention this in my call to Mom, a non-boater and definite worrier.

Mike Hilliard, Co-caption of the schooner Destiny, wryly calls the stretch we traveled, the straights of San Juan DeFuca, “San Juan De Fuc-a*”

We learned -- later -- sailing this section on a full (or new) moon dramatically impacts the tides.  Add to that wind waves formed by 20 mph gale winds.  The result? “Confused waves” which come irregularly from every direction, and up to 8 foot “standing waves” which are spiky and tend to literally and violently rock the boat.  In our relatively tiny 27’ sailboat, the whacking motion feels like something between a hard slap and a wrecking ball slam. This broke our auto-helm – aka – assisted steering, which is like losing a crew member.

The sea calmed down much more quickly than my stomach.  Wayne’s unfurling our jib sail further steadied our boat.  It took laying flat out and a visit from a pod of Orca whales hugging San Juan Island for a full recovery for my stomach to settle. 

sailing, san juan islands
Orcas from the "J Pod," San Juan Island
There were probably 20 whales in the pod, entertaining us.  Their audience included several whale charters another sailboat, a couple power boaters, two protection boats, and several kayakers, who were literally pressed against the shore while less than 10 feet away the killer whales spouted, and at one point even leapt SeaWorld-like, fully clearing the water’s surface.

Despite all that, we cooked along at up to 9 knots of speed**, arriving at Roche Harbor at 2:15, we figure 7 hours to cover 40 miles, less the killer whale show.

Mike Hilliard puttered up in his dinghy, “Fate” to welcome us and help tie us off to a neighboring mooring ball.  More about Mike and Dawn Hilliard and “Destiny” in the next post!

Our maiden voyage in our dinghy was less smooth.  After several tries, we decided our 50s vintage Seagull motor with the pull starter that pulls over after every pull (by design), was more trouble than it was worth.  We paddled, clumsily, with our $10 paddles, to the marina, filled with multimillion-dollar yachts.  It may be called Roche Harbor, but “rich harbor” would be more apt.  But one of the best parts of boating “for the rest of us”?   We all get the same spectacular view, no matter how much or little we paid for our boats or what they look like.

*Trust you can fill in the missing letter.  This is the PG version.
**In normal conditions, when our boat is neither hindered nor helped by wind, tides or current, our O’Day motors along at 5 ¾ knots.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day 1: June 30th Everett to Port Townsend

It was wet. 

It started out as a calm gray morn, warm, windless and humid, but not raining. We were surprised we slept until 9 am; even though we’ve been some seriously whipped puppies with all the trip’s preparation -- including collecting and leaving all our "worldly" possessions in a Subie with 232,000 miles and the cab of a '95 Ford Ranger.  We got ship-shape and showered, and headed off to the strains of the Navy’s independence day band at 11 am.   We were figuring we’d motor the 35 miles to Pt. Townsend, arriving at 7 pm.

Did I mention it was wet?  Seems green (sea) water breaking over the cabin to our dodger-less (unprotected) cockpit (open area, where we steer the boat from) had a magnetic attraction to my face, at my time at the helm (steering).  I looked like drowned rat, but a very happy one, nonetheless. 

Despite my cooking prowess (really – there is legitimate justification for me to call myself “Galley Wench”), our first meal underway was PBJ sammies.  They were good. 

To celebrate Wayne’s birthday and the start of our journey, we made a rare splurge, and indulged in our favorite Port Townsend restaurant, Fountain CafĂ©.  Our clam and mussel appetizer was delish.  I happily devoured my main of “NW gumbo.” Wayne’s crab cake was excellent, and ultimately our waitress triumphed over the technical difficulties with his steak.  She was a champ.

We ended the day well; with a stunning sunset. A good start.

Catching Up -- June 30 - July 21st -- Desolation Sound & Back

Internet access was limited, so we unplugged…. We spent our time experiencing our adventures rather than chronicling them.  A series of brief retrospectives follow in chronological order… and we’ll resist “spoilers,” but will do some overviews at the end.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

June 29, 2012

Wayne's Boeing Dreamliner aka 787 co-workers gave him a sweet send-off on his last day there -- cake, potluck and well-wishes all around.  "I must've shaken a hundred hands," Wayne said, shocked.  Very nice.  Thank you!  We're grateful as well for the generous paychecks, especially for overtime and over holidays that made this dream, do-able.

This post would not be complete without the cake from Wayne's colleagues, which of course says it all so much bluntly than we can (considering we will be looking for work periodically;))....

Oh, and thanks, Shiela Strubel, for doing a great job getting the GalleyWenchTales Facebook page set up. With limited internet access, often quick posts are likely to happen there, first.

We hope you'll like & follow us in both places!