Nike Therapy

When we were planning this shindig cruise/sail/travel thing, we read all the common wisdom from others who had gone before us. ‘Set a date’, some said. ‘Your boat doesn’t have to be perfect! Don’t fall into that trap!”, said others.  We’ve met a lot of people who have this dream and it never comes to fruition because let’s face it: staying is a lot easier than going. Lots of people make all these plans and never leave the dock.

You get this view at the north end of Colvos Passage

Well, I’ll tell you. We didn’t have much trouble leaving the dock. I mean, we had to. We couldn’t afford to stay and keep paying the price of moorage. So ‘leaving the dock’ was just a necessity unless we wanted to go back to work. Leaving the southern part of Puget Sound, however, has been harder than we reckoned for. In the end, we had to practice what I’ve come to term ‘Nike Therapy’. I started using that term with my counseling and coaching clients when we’d come to a place where excuses would no longer work and there was failure to move forward. You know the marketing hype Nike has: “Just do it.” That’s all. You just get off your ass and do it. Yeah, it’s not always easy but sometimes it’s the only solution. And that’s how we came to finally attain ‘escape velocity’ and get the hell out of Gig Harbor. I’m not saying the time was perfect, and our boat certainly isn’t perfect, but the time was here. It was time to ‘just do it’ and get moving.

At the end of our first day we  anchored right next to SV Cambria at Port Ludow. We had a pretty terrific day with speeds of 8.5 knots toodling up Colvos Passage. Then a stop at Shilshole Marina in Seattle where we topped off the diesel and water tanks, had an excellent visit with friends Lee Youngblood and Kathleen Scott Davis, then executed an absolutely flawless ‘get off the dock in high winds that are pushing you into the dock’ maneuver. Dang I was glad that turned out so well! Everyone knows how I feel about maneuvering this boat in marinas.

Point No Point

Still high from our visit to Shilshole we had a ripping good sail almost all the way to Port Ludlow. Great wind, tacking tracks to be proud of on the GPS, and we both began to get our ‘sailing’ legs back. It’s been awhile but the body remembers.  Oh, yes. It sure does. It remembers things like how hard it is to climb up that companionway ladder at a 15 degree heel; how things slide off the workbench and onto the floor, how cooking at an angle is a bit of a challenge, that there’s a reason why all our drawers and cabinets have latches, and the fact that our cockpit is set up for motoring and dockside living. Not sailing. Decidedly not sailing. However, the words ‘ripping sail’ here also refers to what happened to our genoa as we approached Foul Weather Bluff.

You know what I hate? I hate when I say things out loud like, “Geez, Mike, I sure wish there had been time to tend to that tiny issue with fabric on the genoa before we left.” Because when the universe hears those words, suddenly time for that very thing is manifested! So this morning we will take the headsail down and examine the sacrificial cloth on the leach; the cloth that has now been sacrificed to the spreaders. We’re not sure about the damage yet. It’s too bad I couldn’t take a photo, but I was too busy minding the steering and helping Mike get the sail under control as he pulled it in. Oh sailing. Sheer bliss that, in a moment, turns into sheer terror. It’s why we love it.

We took this in stride, grateful it happened now, in a place where we can get it fixed or get another sail or whatever needs to happen. It’s very nice not to be stressed about it, and to know that this isn’t a vacation that was just ruined. Being stuck in Port Townsend for a few days will not come amiss. We were in good spirits as I went on deck to secure the halyards that were rattling.

The other mountains. The Olympics.

So I’m up on deck minding my own halyard-securing business when suddenly a Coast Guard boat comes absolutely screaming around Foul Weather Bluff, lights flashing, siren blaring, rooster tail flying. I thought there must be some terrible emergency somewhere until I realized they were bearing down upon Galapagos at an alarming speed. Screeching to a halt close by in the power-boat rendition of a skid,   they yell into their megaphone, “SAILBOAT! STOP! WHERE ARE YOU GOING?”. I almost wet myself. So many scenarios go through your mind at a time like that; a time when a machine gun is literally pointed at your boat for no good reason at all. I’m literally turning in circles on the deck looking at the surrounding area for something I’ve missed that could be causing these people to act like heathens.

I yell back (because they didn’t even have the grace to hail us on the radio) “Port Ludlow!”, but that was lost in the wind and they screamed at us again, “WHERE ARE YOU GOING?”. At this point I’m wondering if someone needed to go back to kindergarten to learn some manners and my hands are just that close to begin on my hips. I’m also ready to admit that it’s possible I do have a tiny library fine outstanding, and yes, I’m guilty of driving our boat on the wrong side of that last red channel marker (are they giving tickets now for that, too?)  and one time I may have scooted under a traffic light just as it was turning red. Maybe Mike stocked an illegal amount of beer on the boat?  I promise I’ll never do (fill in the blank here) again if they’ll just let me go this time.

I scream back at them, louder and with more emphasis, if not attitude, “PORT LUDLOW!!”. They lower the gun. I have given the correct answer and will not die today. Now they instruct us a little more calmly that we’ll need to slow down so that this big assed submarine and its bully boat escorts can pass in front of us. Yeah, apparently our big sailboat was going too fast. (Laughing my ass off!) Hey, no problem! We’re happy to do that. I’m giving them the ‘thumbs up’ signal all the way back to the cockpit. Hell, we’ll even drop anchor right here right now in the shadow of Foul Weather Bluff if you’ll just go away and leave us in peace.

There they are.

I have a great deal of respect for the Coast Guard and understand they have an important and sometimes dangerous job. On the whole this was a humorous encounter. But really? Is this necessary? Is there some reason for terrorizing pleasure boaters going at a cool 5 knots? Hail me on the radio next time, Coast Guard. Or at least don’t treat us like criminals. Okay? Sure ‘preciate it. Also,  I’d like to send you a bill for my laundry.

We’re in Port Ludlow for today and part of tomorrow. Then on to Port Townsend the day after that. We’ve got no plans. Just taking things as they come.

Sailing Vessel Galapagos, out.

When the mountain is veiled in pink.

19 thoughts on “Nike Therapy

  1. OMG! Your description of the coastguard encounter. I was laughing out loud and had to read my husband that passage.

    He reminded my that we had a similar situation when we brought our boat home from Florida. As we were going into Charleston harbor we say a Carnival cruise ship coming out. Wow, cool!

    Nope, just as happened to you; all of a sudden a border patrol boat came screaming towards us with a man at the gun on the front. What the hell did we do?

    As they got close enough, my husband waved and they backed off a bit. Then they kept themselves between us and the cruise ship till we passed.

    WHAT a weird encounter.

    We are finally on the move again and I am actually blogging. We’re here: if you would like to read our adventures. Start at Vacation post for this trip.

    Love your blog and it makes me want retirement bad. (5 more years)

    • Oh yeah, sometimes they can take things way too seriously. But I know they are just doing their job. Maybe they just enjoy it a little bit too much at times. Thanks for your blog link! I look forward to reading bout your adventures!

  2. My knees would still be shakin’ after a confrontation like that! Who knew? I have not done a star chart for you. Maybe I ought to take a look. Love you!!

    • Ah well, they’re just trying to protect us from terrorists. Or maybe they are trying to protect that big bad submarine from little old us. Love you, too! Let me know if the star chart alerts us to anything!

    • Yes, you are getting closer! I know the feeling. Glad you like my new ‘signature’. I felt like I wanted something to differentiate new ‘cruising’ posts from the old ‘getting ready’ posts.

    • Well, truthfully we’re ok with this. I want ALL the things to happen now, while we are close to resources we know and trust. We knew the headsail was needing attention. We just didn’t know how badly. Now we do. And when we start down the Pacific Coast, it will be with a sturdy headsail and this won’t happen to us on the big water.

  3. The shipping lanes pass pretty close to Point No Point, so my guess is you were near the shipping lanes? And sounds like having just switched from sailing to motoring, a few directional changes could’ve confused the sub/escort about your course. Those subs can sneak up on you fast, and they’re hard to see from 5 miles away. I suspect the CG doesn’t want to hail over VHF because they’re trying to keep the location of the sub a secret (that’s why it’s not on AIS). So tough situation for both parties. The only thing you can do is keep a really good lookout.
    We had a similar sub encounter off Marrowstone in June. Spotted them early enough to avoid though.

    • No, we were not in the shipping lanes. We had just passed the red buoy off Foulweather Bluff. We had been motoring for awhile as we had just ripped our headsail. I talked to the commander of that particular unit, who was there on that mission, and he actually couldn’t give me any good reason for the behavior, just said that ‘it was determined that they should intercept us personally’. No statement from him about the reason for the dramatics. In this case, CG hailed the Victoria Clipper minutes after their interaction from us and were clearly heard on the radio discussing the need for the Clipper to be aware of the sub’s approach. I actually talked to two people: an admiral, who was most apologetic and said the mission had already had some red flags, and the direct commander of the unit who was much less impressive in terms of taking responsiblity/giving me a good reason why this type of action was necessary. We do have a good sense of humor about this thing, but we are also grateful that we come at life from a position of feeling safe around people in uniform with big guns. Lots of people out there don’t feel that way and would have been terrified rather than simply pissed off.

  4. I tried sending a comment before but kept getting errors when I hit send. Hopefully it goes through this time.

    I’d love to visit and sail that area. I’m thinking to move there soon, even temporarily, after I retire from the military. There’s a school I’d like to attend near Port Townsend.

    Regarding the CG, I think of it in a military sense. When they’re out on their boats, they’re essentially deployed on a mission. In that case, they’re working to protect the sub. Not hailing on VHF could be for security reasons. No telling who is in the area listening in on the radio to get military movement locations. They have to be on high alert at all times, so it’s stressful for them too.

    It may be scary as hell getting them to roll up on you so suddenly but the element of surprise is on their side. Glad it was only a minor inconvenience for you.

    • This came through fine, Daniel. I don’t know what was up with the error messages. If you get those again, see if you can copy what they say and contact us in case it’s something that we can fix (and by WE, I mean Mike). I do hope you can come and sail up here sometime. It’s an area that many people do not ever want to leave because the summers are sheer luxury. Is the school you want to attend perhaps the wooden boat school in Port Hadlock? That’s a very cool place. Mike has drooled over their classes. We’ve put the CG thing behind us and know they were just doing their job, although I will always question the need for HOW that job was done and think it was over the top, especially considering they were announcing over the radio to the Victoria Clipper the sub was there and they needed to let it pass. They would have called much less attention to themselves by motoring up to us without all the drama.

      • Yes, the wooden boat school in Port Hadlock. I’ve been looking at their Traditional Large Craft program for several months. I’m thinking that could give me a good break post military and a good way to start using the GI Bill education benefits.

        Wife isn’t a fan of traveling across the country for me to attend so not sure what I’ll really end up doing. Still, plenty of time to figure things out.

        • I hope you can find a way to follow that dream. Since you are on the east coast have you checked the schools in Maine? I know a guy who used to teach at a wooden boat school in Maine. Their coastline is similar to ours, dotted with islands, although their winters are much colder. Perhaps that would be closer for your wife. And you could probably sail your boat there and live on it while in school.

  5. Pingback: Sail On, Sailor | Little Cunning Plan

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