“Hey, it’s the lighthouse on Cape Disappointment.”, I commented, calmly, serenely, getting out my camera.
Mike, at the wheel of Galapagos, looked up. “What? Are you kidding? Really?” he queried in his surely-you-are-a-crazy-woman voice.
I was amused. Seriously. Mike always amuses me, but generally it’s on purpose. Was this his brilliant attempt at dry humor? Did he think I was being ironic? I mean, we were in the middle of the damn Columbia River bar. What cape did he THINK we would be passing?
“Yeah, that’s Cape Disappointment over there.” I said, pointing my camera to the north and using the voice of extreme patience because clearly this man was confused and yet he was steering a 40,000 pound vessel across waters known as the Graveyard of the Pacific. My life was in his hands. I didn’t want him having some kind of a mental health moment just then.
He looked at me. Perhaps his eyes puddled up, or maybe that look meant he was coming down to earth from wherever he’d been.
“Melissa. You know what that means?” Was I supposed to answer that? Was this a trick question? Maybe rhetorical in nature? I could only shake my head in mute anticipation.
“It means we’re really doing this! We’re really doing it!”
Whew. Yes, of course. We. Are. Doing. It. This man has been so micro-focused on completing tasks, on doing what needs to be done, the fact that we are actually ready to bring Galapagos home was lost on him. Sometimes it’s the small things, like seeing a light house, that brings the entirety of the whole info focus. Crossing the river bar for the first time is a small symbolic victory, in spite of the fact that we chose our time carefully and it was calm and uneventful. Whoop de doo. Still, there was a decided thrill of excitement as Galapagos galloped out to sea, hoping to turn left.
This was the second day in a long and eventful weekend during which we checked many small things off our ‘to do’ list. It started with getting fuel for the first time. Let’s just say this: gone are the days when 12 gallons fills our tank. We put in 50 gallons for now. We don’t have a clue how much fuel the new engine consumes. It’s supposed to be very efficient. Keep a good thought on that.
Our goal of the day was to find an anchorage and hopefully do some sailing. The last time we went sailing was when we delivered Moonrise to her new owners. It’s time to check ‘sail this bloody boat’ off the list. I breathed a sigh of intense relief as we exited the marina without drama. With the wind behind us, we put out the head sail and before long we were getting 6-7 knots on the GPS, against the current and tide. Galapagos is a heavy boat. We were well pleased with this.
We tested out the anchoring system and spent our first night at a lovely anchorage just north of Tongue Point. The windlass works smoothly, although there is work to do on the electrical switches at the bow. The cockpit switch works, making the repair of the bow switches something that we can put off until we are in Puget Sound. We hardly know what to think that we are now people with an electric windlass. Somehow, that seems out of character.
Workaholics that we appear to be (we really have you fooled on that one!) we though we would accomplish a couple of things while at anchor. We accomplished much. Mike accomplished a long and deserved nap in the cockpit. I whiled away the afternoon doing a little thing called ‘READING A BOOK’. Oh joy!
While there we did actually measure our mast. Let’s just put it this way: that Port Townsend cut with its bridge clearance of 60 feet is no longer an option for us. We are at 59.75 feet from the top of the mast to the water, plus a couple or three feet for the antennae at the top. And Mike checked out our running lights and anchor light. Check!
Mike made a delightful discovery as we whiled away the hours at anchor. He kept looking at the GPS display and noticing that our batteries were more than fully charged and had remained that way even though we had been using electronics and the fresh water pump inside. Because we don’t yet have refrigeration on the boat, we figured we had a pretty low energy draw. That is true, but still be should have been seeing some kind of decline in the charge, especially over the course of many hours. I mean, we did use the electric windlass and that surely uses some kind of power. The only answer was that we must be getting extra charge from somewhere and that was, in fact, the case. Apparently the solar panels, which we thought needed replacing, are still working! Who knew? What a pleasant surprise that was.
I thought anchoring out was probably enough of a goal for one weekend, but Mike had other ideas. He wanted to cross the river bar and get out on the ocean. After early morning coffee in the cockpit (have we mentioned lately how much we love this cockpit?) we pulled up anchor by 9:00 Sunday morning so we could motor down to the bar and cross at slack tide. Having a few years of sailing experience helps when anticipating stuff like this. This area of water is dramatic and treacherous, leading to many stern warnings about staying safe. Only two days before there was loss of life, again, in that passage. (They were in a small, open boat, Mom.) Rather than focus on what not to do, we prefer to focus on how to do what we need to do safely, then follow directions. So we timed it and crossed at slack water and it was completely uneventful. The view of Cape Disappointment, flying pelicans, sea lion buddies, and millions of seabirds were more interesting than anything going on with the water beneath the hull. We will do our best to be that lucky next time.
Once Mike realized we were in the clear in terms of water turbulence, he was chomping to get the sails up. We had not even cleared the bar when he decided I should take the wheel and he would put out the head sail. Um. No. I know ‘oh captain, my captain’ and all that, but it seemed to me that we could get out past the coast before tooling around on the foredeck and adding more to the steering equation. And thus it came to pass. We cleared crab pot alley and then put out the headsail. And it was glorious! Our plan was to sail as close as we could to the wind and try to go northwest. HAHAHAHAHA! Silly fools. That will never work.
We were hoping to avoid the usual motorboat ride up the coast of Washington State, thinking maybe we would tack way out into the ocean and then back. But there is southbound current and then the wind is almost always from the north as well. So those two forces of nature together conspired to the point where, after three hours of sailing, we were no further north than we started. It was sort of like having one of those lap pools that allow you to swim constantly but still get nowhere. That will teach us. At least it would be easy getting back to the coast at the right time.
So we took a break, pulled in the sails, and christened our vessel on the sea. We had denamed her previously, and she’d been patiently waiting for the renaming ceremony. We recorded it for our own amusement, but we share these raw, unedited videos with you here for yours. Yes, those champagne flutes are glass, and no, we are not drunk in the videos. That’s just how it looks when you are balancing on a heaving deck with bottles and glasses and papers everywhere. This was a serious occasion. Try to be respectful, will you?
And the final chapter. Watch while Mike hits his stride, his Southern Baptist origins beginning to show, presence of alcoholic beverages not withstanding.*
So she is well and truly named, the Coast Guard paperwork is filed, and we are on target to leave Astoria over the 4th of July holiday, now that the gods have all been appeased, we hope. Next weekend we will have a Coast Guard safety check, just to cover our bases, and finish up small projects such as locating the source of the smell in the engine room. Hint: we fear it is plumbing related. More on that as things develop. Other projects that may or may not be addressed as time allows include a new mattress in the aft cabin (file this under cheap boat tricks), paint in the aft head, and more cushion coverings. And that’s just my own list.
In other news, today is Mike’s birthday and I’ve been dribbling presents to him for a couple of days now. Of course, the best present was this weekend’s successful venturing. But he’s also, so far, received a sailor’s palm and very cool leather thimble, and a picture of his grandpa Hiram Boyte who was called ‘Red’, to hang in the engine room. We’ve named the Beta ‘Hiram’ after him. “Red’ Boyte was a steady and reliable influence on Mike when he was growing up. We like that in a grandpa, and also in an engine. More surprises await Mike at his birthday dinner tonight. Nothing like stringing this thing out.
*In spite of how it looks in the photo, we are not fans of drinking and driving, whether it be on boats or in cars. We don’t do it. Period. Be assured that the gods of the sea and wind had most of both of those bottles of champagne. I hope they liked them.