Neah Bay to Bedwell Harbor and Checking into Canada

Cape Flattery. Neah Bay is on the middle right.

It’s not for the faint hearted.

As I rounded Cape Flattery, I was careful not to take any shortcuts. After a full day at sea, it’s always tempting to cut that last corner, but I resisted the urge this time!

I went to sleep a little after 07:00 having just cruised 25 hours from Astoria Oregon. I was so glad to be done with the eastern Pacific and the almost constant head winds and seas.

Three hours later (I’ve known for many years that my natural sleep cycle is about 3 hours, so whenever possible I try to plan on getting 3, 6 or 9-hours sleep) I was ready to go.

Engine start was 11:15; I hauled my trusty Delta anchor and was underway by 11:30. Just before getting underway I was hit by a local’s 3-foot wake wave caused by him entering the harbor at 30 knots. I suppose that was my welcome to Washington State!

Neah Bay to Reid Harbor and Bedwell Harbor B.C.

I was headed to Reid Harbor. An overnight stop there would allow me to leave early the next morning and get to Bedwell Harbor, the spot for Canada check-in.

The last time Dauntless was in Canada was in Nova Scotia 5 Years earlier.

Looking at the tides & currents, it was critical that I get in and out of Bedwell before 08:00. This would allow me to make the passage thru the narrow channels to Vancouver with the current, that was as strong as 6 knots.

There was another issue, Canada Customs. They have this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality.  They seem to think every American:

  • Is armed to the teeth,
  • Is a druggie
  • Or wants to move to their socialistic paradise.

Now, while that may be true; it’s not me.  And when I have

Reid Harbor

places to be, I get impatient the third time they ask if I have any guns, illegal drugs or why I have 50 bottles of wine (I was in France and it’s a long cruise!).

I didn’t want to take any chances with an overly officious officer. I wasn’t carrying anything illegal or planning on leaving anything in Canada, but sometimes they can be prickly, and I couldn’t afford to miss the favorable currents.

The Customs Office opened at 08:00; but that was too late for my currents, so I needed to be there by 07:00. That had the dual advantage that I could use the phone to check-in, and I could make the strong currents going north to get to Vancouver by mid-afternoon.  (Yes, like too often, I had a time commitment).

I arrived in Reid Harbor at 22:15. 82 nm, and 11 hours after leaving Neah Bay at an average speed of 7.5 kts (1 knot current assisted).

While the sun had set an hour ago, it was maybe only 30 minutes after nautical twilight, so it was now dark, dark. There were a few boats already anchored around the bay, so I had to pick by way carefully in.

The telephone to check-in

In fact, while getting ready to anchor in my first chosen spot, a house onshore, flashed lights at me. Not knowing what that meant, I moved a couple hundred meters south.

It was a great anchorage; a peaceful night and I was up bright an early at 05:00 ready to get underway for the short one-hour trip to Canada and Bedwell Harbor.

An hour and twenty minutes later, I was in Bedwell Harbor. It was easy to get in and out and had a very nice dock for boats to tie to for check-in into Canada.

I walked up the ramp, called the phone number above the phones on the wall and a nice lady in eastern Canada took my information (Name, passport number, boat information) and wished me a pleasant trip.

15 minutes after tying up, I was underway to Vancouver B.C.

I love it when the plan comes together.

My confirmation number

Two related You Tube videos:

Vlog 14 Arriving at Neah Bay

Vlog 15, Neah Bay to Bedwell BC is not ready yet. In a couple of days. If you subscribe on my You Tube channel, you will get notified.

Dauntless at the Customs’ dock

 

 

A Wild Ride Outbound on the Columbia River Bar

Our chart leaving the Columbia River Bar

The cold weather finally broke last week, returning Southeast Alaska to more seasonal temperatures, in the 30’s and 40’s. The warmup came just in time, last week was a trying week for me. In the course of a few days, I managed to fry something in my Heart Inverter and flood my Wallas DT40 heater.

And at this time, both are still not working. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will probably have gleaned that I normally don’t write about problems usually caused by my own stupidity, as is the case here, until I also have the solutions. It helps me to mitigate my stupidity.

So, more on those problems later.

+++

Yesterday, I uploaded the 12th Vlog on my series, Dauntless at Sea Goes North to Alaska.

Vlog 12, A Wild Ride Outbound on the Columbia River Bar tells the story of Dauntless and I leaving Astoria Oregon for Neah Bay in Washington, about 25 hours away.

Conditions on the Bar were supposed to be very good, with waves of 1 to 3 feet and light northerly winds. I had about an hour cruise just to get to Cape Disappointment from my marina in Astoria, just west of the Astoria bridge. Maybe during that uneventful hour, knowing I had a long day ahead of me, I got a bit impatient.

As I was abreast of Cape Disappointment, I was passed on the port side by a little smaller fishing boat. Instead of turning southwest and following the channel thru the river bar for another 4 nm, he went due west. Now at the speed of Dauntless,  4 nm is about 45 minutes. And I’d be going southwest instead of north.

The winds were light, less than 10 knots from the north. How bad could it be if I left the channel here and followed the FV?

I checked the chart and it showed minimum depth of 45 feet (the channel is 60+ feet). It would save me about 30 minutes. And if the locals could do it, so could I.

I think you can hear me say something to that effect on the video.

As soon as I left the channel, the waves increased significantly. There were even whitecaps. With each successive series of waves, I kept on thinking, more like hoping, that that was the worst of it. It wasn’t.

The waves started out in the 5 to 7-foot range, short period, only a few seconds. Within a few minutes, they were 10 to 12 feet, mostly from the west, but a few from the NW and SW, so we would have a wicked roll, along with the violent pitching.

Now a little perspective, the pitching was never as bad as the three attempts to leave Cabo San Lucas, but I turned back twice there, so that was pretty bad.

It turned out to be 10 minutes, but when that 10 minutes was done, it was a nice ride for the next day.

One thing you will see in the video is a couple of the bigger waves that almost touched the anchor and how well my baby Krogen takes these waves. You can see how the wave is forced outward, away from the boat by the rub rail and the shape of the bow and hull.

In the 25,000 Dauntless and I have been together, we have never had green/blue water over the cap rail. As many of you know, we have been in some ferocious seas, with waves as much as 9 meters (28 feet) in the North Atlantic storms. In fact, the entire North Sea and Eastern Atlantic, was no piece of cake.

That really speaks to how well designed the Kadey Krogen is and thus is the only boat that I would ever cross an ocean with.

But then you all know that.

 

The link to the latest vlog. If you like it, please Like and Suscribe:

Dauntless at Sea Vlog 12

 

Breakup Sex

Quick update. I now have on my You Tube Channel the video that does with this blog post. It’s here Vlog 13 20190704 , The roughest 3 minutes crossing the Columbia Bar and the aftermath

Enjoy

I was shocked to see that I had not written any blog posts in weeks. I certainly wrote a considerable number in my head.

The chart shows me leaving Astoria

Alas, my laptop has not figured how to read my mind, though I am sure Google is working on it.

Leaving Astoria, a wonderful little town, at the mouth of the Columbia, at the crack of dawn, I was geared up for my last day on the Pacific.

After two years of slogging up the Pacific coast from the Panama Canal, Neah Bay and the protected waters of the Inside Passage, was only a day away.

My Route over the bar.

My departure time was predicated on a number of factors:

  • I wanted to go out during the ebb, in this case, I’d have a +4-current going out with me, this was important since the dock was more than 10 miles from the entrance of the Columbia River and its infamous bar.
  • Winds were forecast to be from the northwest at 10 to 12 which was OK, anything less than 15 to 18 being good at this point.
  • It would be 150 nm to Neah Bay, about 24 hours steaming time. From my early days driving crossing the country in 3 days, I knew that overnight was not so bad, but as soon as the sun came up for that second 24-hour period, I become intensely tired. So, I wanted to arrive at Neah Bay at sunrise or soon thereafter.

    The Maretron data showing pitch and roll

The winds were blowing from the Northwest (as usual) perpendicular to the Columbia Bar and not against the current. They were not very strong, being 10 to 12 knots. So, I expected relatively benign conditions, much like my midnight arrival a couple of days earlier. I even called the Coast Guard to get the latest Bar report as I got close.

The report was, “one to three feet with no restrictions”, just as it was when we entered. In fact, entering we could not even tell when we passed the Bar itself, other than what the chart told us.

In fact, I had composed a fantastical account in my head of that midnight bar crossing to cater to all the folks who expect a horror show every time they hear the words. “Columbia Bar”. I was going to title it, “Smashed by the Bar” and even include a picture of the dent in my swim platform that actually occurred at the fuel dock in Astoria when the bow line let loose.

But my fantastical account never got written. My short attention span was soon captured by Englund Marine Supply in Astoria. A warehouse filled with everything imaginable and a lot beyond my imagination. My original paravane birds were purchased from this exact store, then shipped to me in Florida. Now, 5 years later, I would be buying another set in-person. Maybe trivial to many, but for me, quite prophetic.

If you are in the Northwest, it’s a must stop.

Leaving Astoria that morning, the fourth of July, everything was battened down (or so I thought), as is the norm for ocean cruising. Minutes before reaching the Bar, I again heard the same observation from the Coast Guard Station the north shore of the Columbia inlet, 1 to 3 feet, 2 to 4 at the center.

A great afternoon

I was in the center. Still, all seemed uneventful and after 5 minutes, I thought that was it, much like my entry a few days ago.

But not quite.

Oh, this is the infamous Columbia Bar. The next 10 minutes were like riding the Wild Mouse in Coney Island: violent pitching, wicked rolls, slamming through waves, very un-Kadey Krogen like. But just like all the times before, the wonderful bow rise of the KK keeps all the water outside. We go over waves, never thru them. The only casualty was my laptop now has a Columbia Bar dent in its casing. The Maretron data shows a 4° pitch, that’s a lot, when it happens it feels like 45°.

I’m reminded of an unpleasant breakup: doors slamming, loud words, ugly glances; a long ten minutes.

But then silence, calmness descends. The house is quiet, just like the ocean is quiet now. Light northerly breezes. I contemplate life alone for the next 14 hours.

As darkness descends, off the west coast of Washington state, the seas turn glassy. Dauntless is gliding along under a star lit sky.

A door opens, the one that was slammed not so long ago, a contrite face looks in, later, the seductive voice, this is our last night together. I look at my bent laptop. We can’t say goodbye like that.

Who can say no to that; not I.

Seas were flat and glassy as we glided along. Numerous sea birds, dolphins and other aquatic beasts passed by for a visit.

By late evening, as it became truly dark, I could see fireworks from two different west coast Washington towns. (Almost like a ’60’s movie in which the bedroom door closes and we see a cartoon of fireworks. )

It was like the last gentle caress. A kiss on the cheek, soft words: “now you are going to inland waters, while I must find some other intrepid souls.

A perfect night

You are a little too nice, too mild, even naive; but I’ll always love you and wait for your return.