We are on the tail end of our 550 mile shake down cruise. We left Astoria, myself, my uncle, Mike and Zander and headed out across the infamous Columbia River Bar on Friday morning the 12 of September. We crossed the bar at exactly the slack so it was an uneventful crossing, the best kind. We immediately got into 10 knot winds and started sailing. It was a fast downwind sail, but it was rocky. At one point in the night something fell and I though, what else could possibly still be upright to fall? We had a difficult time getting to sleep, but with three adults the watches were easy; standing two hours on and having four off. You get good at finding places to wedge yourself with 60 degrees of roll!
At some point the next day we lost the wind. We were able to motor sail here and there, but for the most part the seas were calm. On the 13th, our second day out, we hit thick fog, so thick it was hard to see the lights on the bow. Yesterday the fog stayed on throughout most of the day and the horizon was blurred, with no distinction between sky and sea. It was a very eerie! We were slaves to the radar and looked out into the midst, trying to get a glimpse of vessels we knew were passing. Some were a half a mile away, but we heard and saw nothing.
The wildlife sightings have been awesome! We saw several breaching whales the first day, reminding us we are not the big kahunas out here. We watched sun fish lazily sunning themselves with only their fins breaking the surface to give away their location. Sea lions regularly pop up to see us or rest on the surface, fins in the air to thermoregulate. A pod of dolphin swam in a huge circle while birds circled over head and we can only guess that they were circling a bait-ball or school of small fish. While trolling we caught a beautiful Coho Salmon and had fresh salmon for dinner. Everyday there have been whale sightings. This is not the season for the gray whale migration south, but we think, at least some, of the whales we are seeing are fin whales. They are huge leviathans that often dwarf the boat. Hard not to think of stories like the sinking of the whale ship Essex. With the ban on hunting whales in most of the world, whales are making a huge comeback and mariners are having more and more interactions with them. One danger sailors face is hitting a whale and breaking off the rudder on your boat. Not only does this impair your steerage, but it can be a source of water in the boat. Personally I like the water on the outside of the boat and fortunately Pelagic has a skag that hangs down and protects the rudder from just such a thing; whether it be whale or rock!
Life on board has been comfortable with the loss of the wind. No seasickness yet (knock on wood). We are cruising along, making good meals, jumping into the home schooling and doing lots of reading. With non readers for sons (hopefully a term I won’t use forever) it has been a trip highlight to see Zander curled up on his bunk reading. Not a video game has been played, not a movie has been loaded, no teasing, no fighting and there has been a limited amount of whining about the school work. Quite blissful. Oh yeah, I’m missing two kids......all that will most certainly change! I’ll take what I can get. Five days in, still sane!