Mustang Sally
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California, Sweet California

Robust start at 4:00 AM on July 6th.  California here we come.  Wind was 20 knots on our tail.  Mustang Sally romped south at 8-10 knots.  The auto pilot struggling in the dead downwind conditions and short 8-10 foot swells.  It was a bit of a steering challenge.  But - with this wind it looked to be a short 6-7 hour sail.

My friend Dennis Picard's asked that I give the finger to Cape Blanco for him.  The same cape dealt him a licking when he rounded it in 2003.  Not wishing to temp fate to much,  I addressed the cape from a safe distance and shouted out an expletive about sex and travel.

About 10:00 AM we sailed into a thick fog and the wind weakened to a soft caress.  Boat speed dropped to 2-3 knots.  With the radar monitoring the marine traffic we "lit up" the twin diesels and motored south over calming seas for Crescent City.  It was fun using the radar to dodge the other boats without any visual contact.  This was the first real radar payback.  Radar is good. 

Arrived a Crescent City California at 4:00 PM July 4 and enjoyed the American Independence Day festivities.
Rae - Chilling on the Tramp

Sharon Furling the Main


Taking a Spanking at Cape Blanco

It was a nasty surprise for us yesterday - Saturday July 2, 2005.  A leisurely downwind sail from Umpqua River (Winchester Bay) around Cape Blanco (pictures left and below) to Port Orford became a little more exciting than planned.  We slipped over the Umpqua River bar at 6:00 AM and motor sailed south until about 1:00 PM.  By then the prevailing wind had strengthened enough to shut the engines down.  The North wind continued to build and as we approached Cape Blanco at about 4:00 PM.  We tucked a precautionary cape rounding reef in the mainsail. 

My wind instrument showed the wind at about 8 knots and the boat was moving at 6-7 knots totaling 15 knots.  I was a bit surprised that the boat did not slow down after the reef but 15 knots should not problem.  We considered a second reef - but it didn't seem necessary.
After clearing the cape, we turned east toward shore and the wind speed doubled.  Mustang Sally took off like a race horse headed for the barn.  Boat speed zoomed up to 11-12 knots and the boat was flying through the water at breakneck speed.  Streams of white water cascaded off the bows and flew over the boat as Mustang Sally sliced through the waves.  "Hang on baby" I shouted to Sharon over the screaming wind and roaring water.

Sharon climbed up on the salon top and cranked a deep reef into the foresail.  I kept my eye on the auto pilot,  which rounded up a couple of times but recovered and got the boat back on track.  The boat speed continued to climb so I eased out the main sheet to try and power down.  But there was nothing that would slow that Mustang down.

We needed another reef,  but with the anchorage 5 miles away and the boat speed exceeding 10 knots,  it would take more time to reef than it would to get there.  "Lets run for it"  I shouted to Sharon.  Mustang Sally had already made up her mind and we hung on for a wild ride.Now we prefer a leisurely approach to an unknown anchorage.  And here we are roaring in at - darn - 14 knots!We are scurrying back and forth between the helm, the navigation computer,  the charts and coast pilot to confirm our position while Mustang Sally charges ahead barely in control.  As I ease the mainsheet some more, we are hit by a gust and the line is torn from my grasp.  Diving from the salon top to the traveler,  I grabbed the end of the line before it unravels completely.  Sharon and I work together heaving in the sheet to pull the boom and sail off the spreaders.

The rock to the left is called Graveyard point.  This is a 200 foot cliff and it forms a lee at the anchorage at Port Orford.  The lee breaks the wind and flattens the seas. This is where we were headed.

As we approached the lee,  I notice that the mainsail halyard had slipped and the sail is drooping.  As we turn the boat into the wind to drop the sails,  Sharon dashes to the mast to apply topping lift to hold the boom in place.  One more minor smack from Cape Blanco for today - The lazy jack flies out of my hands and blows useless to the sky.

But all was well as we tucked into this lovely lee at Port Orford.  We hear the  winds howl above us.  But behind this cliff the seas are calm and the boat rocks gently with the few gusts that hook around the point.  Here we gather our wits and determination - and wait for ideal weather to for the next leg to Crescent City, California.

Two lessons learned and reinforced:

1)  Wind really accelerates around the capes.  Capes are areas where the land sticks out into the ocean.  The prevailing winds usually run parallel to the coast and around the capes.  It is a similar phenomena to a sail or an airplane wing but on a much larger scale.  The wind is deflected from its normal path and compressed to go around the Cape.  On the downwind side of the cape the wind accelerates and creates a area of low pressure and BIG wind. 

2)  Mustang Sally loves to run at breakneck speeds in winds over 10 knots.  If you want to control her,  reef the sails early and reef the sails deep!




Some Pictures from Winchester Bay (Umpqua River)

Canada Day Dress Up
Planning the Next Leg
Sun Over Main Rippin' up the Dunes

Dolphin Escort

Sharon and I did our first overnight sail on Friday June, 24th and 25th.  We had carefully plotted the times to go over the Gray's Harbour and Columbia River bars.  The timing meant a 4:30 AM departure and swift trip to the Columbia.  Rae set the alarm for 4:30 PM and we slept in.  We dragged our butts out of bed, rushed around, cast off, and went out to look at the bar situation.  (more on bars below)

The bar was ugly,  big nasty breaking waves covering the bar.  So we turned around and high tailed it back to the harbor.  Time to get out plan B.  Plan B was to leave at 11:00 and sail overnight to Newport.  At 11:00 the bar was rough but not nasty.  With a reef in the mainsail and a roll in the genoa,  we punched through the bar  in 20 knot northwest winds then dove south. 

Nice sailing all day.  I had to work to keep the boat speed down under 8 knots to prevent arriving too early for the Newport bar.  The skies were grey and dull and the sea was much the same.  Occasional rain showers rinsed away the sea's salty brine.  Winds eased and backed to the North as the day turns to dusk.

As night fell I saw little to fear in the inky black seas, the black starless, moonless cloud spattered sky.  We could see only a few tens of feet beyond the boat.  Darkness clamped down and the sound of the boat creaking and groaning became louder.  The waves smacking and splashing seemed more focused as we munched down noodles and dreamt of the fruits of Mexico and warm weather sailing.  The occasional sneaker wave zero's in on us and whacks the boat with a startling ka bang!  The wind starts a whistling in the rigging.  The boat was rocking and swaying and our world pitches and yaws with the sea.  I said to Sharon,  "This is great! isn't it Sharon? ...... Sharon?  .....Sharon!!???"

Sharon battled nervousness and sea sickness and won the battle.  In the early morning, Sharon's bleary eyes spotted a pod of frolicking Pacific dolphins .    


We landed in Newport Oregon in the mid morning, - and gave my sprained ankle a chance to heal.  We faced the feared US medical establishment and paid $380 for an x-ray and consultation.  Not so bad!  It is not broken and I should be back to leaping in a few weeks.

Getting Passed the Bars.

An unexpected challenge to our habour hopping strategy.  Tidal bars block our way.  You can think of these as giant metal bars that come up from the ocean floor at semi random times to block our way.  When the bars are up (i.e the bar is closed) it is dangerous to try and pass.  Before we left we did not understand the subtleties and timing needed to pass the bars.  But we have a better understanding now.  You can read more about tidal bars by clicking here

Sailing Down the Coast

We have experienced some incredible scenery and a fair amount of grey skies and seas.  I left out most of the grey pictures and that left just a few.  Click here to view.

Pirates,  Treasure and Tsunami

What a way to start a trip around the world.  Two of our most feared scenarios came to pass in the second week.  And buried treasure to boot.

The pirates were the worst.  They attacked us on the remote coast of the Olympic peninsula as we were working our way out the Straights of Juan de Fuca near Port Angles.  They came in fast in three slow moving ships.  One of them leading the attack and drawing our attention while the others rushed in from the opposite direction.

They were on board in a minute,  brushing away our clumsy bear spray and flare gun defenses.   One of them,  Jack - they called him - could not keep his filthy paws off of Sharon,  and another - a keeper of the armory - forced me into a sword fight.  But the good Sheriff, Lord Jim and his fair lady Dee came to our rescue and offered us safe passage and two jaunty men to escort us safely through the waters off the Olympic peninsula.

Home land security showed up to investigate.  They had a good look at Mustang Sally.  But  - they missed the seven illegal Mexican immigrant worker we were smuggling into the country. They missed the six pounds of Canadian beef in the glove compartment.  And the 140 lbs of fresh fruit and vegetables in the bilge.  But they arrested me and put me in jail. I  called my daddy to make my bail.  My daddy said son, you are gonna drive me to drinkin if you.......


Anyway,  we had way more fun than expected in Port Angles

Treasure?  Well,  as some of you know we have long considered it every Canadian's patriotic duty to do everything legally possible to avoid taxes.  When we had to clear into Canada,  we knew customs would confiscate much of our duty free golden nectar of the gods.  So what to do? 

We tried to drink it all but it was too much for even someone blessed with my abilities for consuming copious quantities.  Can you guess the solution?  We buried it on a secret island in the San Juan's and will pick it up on our return.

Tsunami?   Early last week (June 14th) there was a six and a half on Richter scale earth quake in northern California.  That event set off Tsunami warnings up and down the coast.  We were anchored in a snug little cove doing boat projects and enjoying blisssome days.  About 4 PM the boat started bucking and swirling about.  But that was just the wind puffing up a bit.  We felt nothing - nada - waloo.  I understand that alarms went off up and down the coast,  but we didn't hear about it until the following Monday.  May the rest of our Tsunamis be as blisssome.


Fond Farewells to Canada the Beautiful


Our hearts are heavy as we leave Poets Cove in the Gulf Islands and say good bye for now to fair Canada. 



We must be cra-zzzzy to want to explore the world when Canada is so fine.

But the dye is cast and we are on our way!!  Waahoo!!!!

Check out our checklist for sailing around the world


Below are a few shots of some fun we had when the wind kicked up on Sunday.  We needed to reef the mainsail then beat our way down San Juan channel to Friday harbor through winds gusting to 25 knots.  Good robust sailing,  good practice for the ocean and great exercise.

Shakedown And Maintenance Cruise 

 or  How we Dally in the San Juan Islands in early June.

Radar is operational,  computer install reworked so everything is tucked away in a safe dry place with good ventilation.  Tramp rivets are 110% secure.  And look who we ran into while beavering away on the boat at Stewart Island.  Thanks for the burgers Tony and Frances and wonderful to see you all and say bye bye.

Enjoyed a three day cruise with son Joshua and his family - Harper,  Thea and Justin. To Sucia,  Roche and Point Roberts.  Sharon got her art fix at Roche harbor's wonderful art garden.   20 knot breezes zinging us across the Straights of Georgia.  Testing the new equipment and commissioning gear.  All is looking good.

But we are thrashing back and forth a bit.

Crossing the Straights of Georgia 6 times 11 days.  Killer Whales and porpoises show us the way. 

A good way to get in the groove of our new life style.

Now just the radar,  tramp rivets, some caulking and a few other jobs and we will be ready to take on the  the ocean.  So put down this computer and to work with me! habits linger.

Dock lines were cut on schedule June 1. 

Ready or not the adventure begins.

It was wonderful to see our good friends out on the Blaine and White Rock piers and on the water to wish us well.

Awesome that Aoleus delivered a good breeze to get us on our way.  Sally picked her skirts and romped - 7.5 knots all the way across the Straights of Georgia.

Gotta love Josh Roger and Dave Firby for the Dom Perignon toss.  You guys got style!

Many thanks to the International Yacht Club,  Bob and Karen Bezubiak,  Dave and Moe,  and many others for putting on a wonderful bon voyage party.  Great fun partying,  feasting and dancing at the Blaine Boating Center.  We rocked the joint!



So long for now!