The bar crossing out of Astoria was uneventful and the bar was benign, which was good, we didn’t need additional adrenaline pumping on the initial start of our passage.
We hoped to fish for tuna about 25 miles offshore, it’s been a fantastic run so far and everybody has been catching their limit. We didn’t have any bites on the cedar plug, it just skipped across the surface reminding us of our inexperience. Sorry Woodhouse – you should’ve kept the gear for yourself.
We motored through the first 7 1/2 hours in mostly calm wind and waves, but with large comfortable swells. The wind later picked up to a fresh breeze from the west, we shut down and hoisted all sails. We quickly sped up to 6.8 kts under full sail, it was great to have Konami moving as fast as she could with all the extra gear and weight. She was in her element. It was a glorious beam reach sail for the first hour. From there the seas drastically changed due to a prior low pressure system that moved in during the night and early morning.
By dinner time the sail became very uncomfortable with confused wind waves and swell coming first from South-southwest, West and the clocking wind to the Northwest, cross swells. And the wind waves and large cross swells continued to build…. The boat started rolling from side to side and pitching up and down through the wind waves, figure eights and sliding in the cockpit wasn’t fun any longer. The snapping sails and banging rigging was worse, the entire boat rattled and clanged, reverberating throughout the interior, neither of us got any sleep on our offwatch. We headed up to a close haul (pointing the boat and sails toward the wind) sending us further offshore figuring we would make a long straight line back into Coos Bay when we arrived west of the bar. The ride smoothed out just enough for us to regain our balance and senses. Calculating the point of sail and distance we knew we had best jibe (reposition the sails to opposite side of the boat) back towards shore if we were going to make the tide change and bar crossing on time, which began the dreaded downwind rolling. We tried to sail about 20 degrees off the dead downwind to minimize the roll, nothing helped. First a large swell capped with a four foot wind wave from the west lifted us up and we surfed gently down. The next swell rose up and just when we thought we would surf down the backside, a mean cross northwest sneaker swell took over and shoved us off the side rolling us onto our starboard (right) side. Without missing a beat, Konami righted herself and just as we regained our foot hold, the southwest swell with breaking wind wave picked us up and pushed us off onto port (left) side. Everything from dishes to gear inside the boat clanged and complained, including us. I thought about the poor little spider that I threw overboard earlier and the retribution I was receiving.
On through the night we jibed back and forth across our rhumb line, surfing, rolling and pitching as the wind clocked from Southwest to North-northwest. Thank goodness for the dark night and we couldn’t see what was coming from behind. The sleeping fishing fleet of boats and crew were drifting along anywhere from 1 to 3 kts, setting off the AIS (automated information system) alarm keeping us alert. John and I each got about two hours of sleep. By morning the wind died and the wind waves subsided, sunny and warm, John started the engine. We were about 12 nautical miles abeam the Newport bar when he listened to the updated forecast. The wind waves were forecasted to be 6 – 9 feet, swell 3 feet 9 seconds, winds 20 – 25 knots, gusting 30, small craft advisory beginning in the early afternoon and in effect for the next 72 hours right in the middle of where we were headed. It meant spending another night out in rough conditions. We made the turn in to a welcoming sunny Newport.
We watched a whale spouting off the stern, later John saw a whale breach several times about 350 feet from us. His powerful body slammed down sending thudding sounds through the hull of the boat. On the way in to the Newport bar we nearly ran over a basking sun fish, it quickly splashed and escaped just under the water so I got a great view of it. A good six feet long. His or her large partner was also basking 20 feet from the boat. Strange creatures.
It’s amazing how much attention the Westsail boat receives. We’ve had several people come up and talk about their experiences with the Westsail or yell from a passing boat that their brother sailed a WS28 to New Zealand. We have people look at our rigging and exclaim how lucky we are to be retired and living the cruising dream. All the rough sailing is forgotten, we pat our boat with pride and gratitude.
Terrific friends greeted us on the dock with beer and congrats, offering humor, showers, home cooked dinner and a ride to the store. Woohoo!
Will post pictures when we have fast wifi
Total Distance over the ground: 147 Nautical Miles
Sailed: 15 hours 10 min
Motored: 11 hrs 40 min, of which nearly 2 hours were spent idling drifting along in the sun
Overall Average Speed (rolling and pitching) 5.4kts