Thank God for Small Favors

Bringing Cari, a KK42,from Bodega Bay CA to Gig Harbor, WA Part II

Cari docked in her slip (second boat from right). the finger is on the starboard side, with a sailboat on the port side.

 

After that first 24 hours, winds and seas became more southerly and lessened in strength. So, the rolling slowly subsided over the next four days until we rounded the corner for the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

We have about 15 hours left to Gig Harbor, but this would be our last night out. It did cause a little excitement for me.

On Dauntless, I understand my Raymarine E-80 radar very well. Since the first day, back in March 2013, when I turn on the engine, I also turn on:

  1. Radar,
  2. Navigation lights,
  3. VHF radio,
  4. AIS transponder,
  5. Horn,
  6. Auto pilot,

I’ve just found it best practice to always have all equipment powered and running when underway, day or night. This precludes forgetting to turn on Navigation Lights when it gets dark and most importantly, allows me to always see what the radar sees in good visibility and even more critical, to investigate items it’s not seeing (no returns), but are obvious enough looking out the pilot house windows that there is an object I certainly want to avoid.

When that happens, I just re-adjust the radar’s gain and filter, so that it shows me what it should for the current sea state.

This allows me to have total confidence at night and in poor visibility situations. Obviously, on a different boat, with a different radar, that is not the case.

So far on this trip, I found the radar somewhat typical, in that it seemed to work pretty well, but at times, it either showed too much sea clutter or not enough.  Something to keep in mind.

Thus, that last night, being off the ocean and now in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, there was other traffic, navigation markers, etc. to deal with.

As we passed as few miles off of Port Angeles at Oh-Dark-Thirty, I saw a white light ahead, seemingly very close. I checked the chart, there should be nothing ahead for three miles, more than 30 minutes away. But there was a note about log booms in the Port Angeles harbor. We were near the harbor entrance, could this light denote a log boom?

Looking at the radar, I saw nothing, but as I said, I did not trust this particular radar that much to rely on it. That left my eyes and brain. As we know, our eyes and brain coupled with a vivid imagination, can do wonders at night. In particular, almost everything looks closer.

My brain was telling me that this flashing white light was close, almost too close. 

Being responsible for someone else’ boat, made me even more cautious than usual. I decided that caution was called for and turned the boat 90° to the north. At worst, I’d waste a little time, but at best I would avoid imminent disaster.

After turning and heading north for 5 minutes, as I watched the light (that I had turned to avoid), its bearing had hardly changed.  Umm, that meant that this light was not close at all but far way. Confirming what the radar had been telling me all along. I felt a bit embarrassed, but there were no witnesses and I felt good that I had chosen the safer choice, even if I wasted some time.

The rest of the morning was uneventful. Our ETA to Gig Harbor was about 13:00 and we decided that I would pilot the boat into the harbor and dock her, since I had a few dockings under my belt.

I decided that this was not the moment to recount the story of my first docking in Poland, where after docked, my friend said to me, “It’s a rub rail, not a crash rail”.

I was a bit nervous, never having seen the slip before and knowing it would be very narrow, at the almost end of the channel, leaving one with few options in case of a missed approach.

As you can see from the attached pictures, one from land looking at Cari in her slip, with a sailboat on her port side, the finger pier being on the right or starboard side and the overhead google shot, it is a narrow fairway.

Overhead Google view of Gig Harbor and I have put pin over the spot we would dock in

In spite of my nervousness, I decided I just had to dock as if it was Dauntless. I stayed to the right as we entered the fairway, trying to give myself as much room as possible for the left turn into the slip. I knew there was a sailboat docked on the left, with the narrow finger on the right.

With the Kadey Krogen’s high bow rise blocking the near forward view, I knew I had to trust my instincts. As I turned sharply left, I put her in neutral to reduce our forward speed of 3 knots. Seems fast, but steerage below two knots becomes problematic. The KK will turn very sharply, with a single screw and even without bow thruster. At full left rudder the bow pulpit was swinging over the finger. I knew to let it go well over the dock, in spite of appearances. Finally, with about 10 feet to spare forward to the dock, I put her in reverse and gave her a shot of power to kill our forward momentum. This also adds a kick to the stern to the right. The KK42 has a left-handed prop, so the stern is always trying to walk to the starboard, whether going forward or reverse.

Normally, I would have the person on the lines, put a line on the first cleat possible, then tie off at the midships cleat on the boat. Then use that with full left rudder and forward gear to push the stern against the dock finger. But in this case, it wasn’t needed. The surge of reverse, put the stern again the finger, stopped our forward way and the boat was perfectly parallel to the dock as it came to a stop, with the bow 6 feet from the forward dock.  We hadn’t touched the sailboat to the left, only a few feet away and we hadn’t bounced off the finger.

I was a bit astonished. As it was by far one of my best dockings ever.

Thank God for small favors.

I could finally relax for the first time in the days and weeks leading up to this trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Kadey Krogen Delivery

It’s been a quiet winter. Covid-19 or not, winter in Wrangell, Alaska is quiet. It’s possible to go weeks, without talking to anyone, other than the cashier at the grocery store.

Coupled with the fact, that until summer 2019, I had spent most of my winters overseas, my friends got accustomed to not calling. No cards, no letters, no nuthin., Great for hermits, not so great for a kid born in Greenwich Village, in what seemed like the center of the world.

Sometime in February, I was contacted by a new Kadey Krogen 42 owner, who had bought the boat located just north of San Francisco and was looking for advice on bringing it up the coast to his home in Gig Harbor, Washington, just northwest of Tacoma. After a couple of emails and conversations, I offered to help the new owner, Ole, bring the boat up north.

We made some tentative plans to try to do this in April, as I needed to get Dauntless ready for its busy summer with my brother coming up to go fishing and cruising for the summer. That will be the topic of another blog.

So, I was committed to this delivery from Bodega Bay to Gig Harbor. The owner, Ole, had extensive sailing experience, even building boats, but this was his first power boat.

In preparing for the trip, I started watching the winds of the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts. It was the same old story, northwest winds 90% of the time. Day in and day out, the same thing. The idea of hobby horsing up the coast for a second time was not very appealing. In fact, it made me pretty worried. What happened if Ole wanted to leave under so-so conditions and I didn’t?

As we talked over the coming weeks and months, I felt he was willing to listen to my experience, which made me feel more comfortable about my commitment. (as when I give my word, I keep my word).

The winds were not as cooperative. Over an eight-week period, I saw only one or two decent weather windows, with the NW winds abating for a few days. It’s about 650 nm from Bodega Bay, where the KK was, to Neah Bay (just off the Pacific Ocean in the Straits of Juan de Fuca).  That means almost 5 full days on the eastern Pacific with no stops. It’s another day from there to Gig Harbor, but I didn’t worry about that portion of the trip. Once we got off the Pacific, we would be in sheltered waters and better able to deal with whatever Mother Nature threw at us.

The weather window I was looking for, would have a low-pressure area and associated fronts, just off the coast, causing south to west winds at moderate strength. We needed to have a series of these lows, not just one, otherwise, upon frontal passage, with the low moving east, the high-pressure areas would build rapidly off the coast, bringing back the NW winds at 15 to 25+ knots off the coast.

That would be No-Go. My old body wanted no part of bouncing up and down the coast every 6 seconds for any number of days!

A few days before my anticipated flight from Wrangell to Santa Rosa, California, a two-day trip on Alaska Airlines, Ole called me to suggest a delay of 5 days, to better wait for our weather window. I was really happy to hear that, as I was looking at the same forecast conditions and was pleased that we were on the same page.

Looking 7 to 10 days out on Windy.com, it did seem that a weather window was developing for Saturday, April 24th. For the next week, the forecast stayed consistent, one of the best indications of a good forecast that has a good handle on the situation.

Sunday morning 02:00 fcst winds, approx 18 hours after our anticipated departure. We would be just SW of Mendocino, with winds off port quarter.

I arrived in Santa Rosa that Wednesday. The next day, we went to Svendsen’s Marine & Industrial Supply, a massive marine supply place in Alameda, that is worth the visit for anyone in the Bay area.

Sunday morning 08:00 fcst winds, approx 24 hours after our anticipated departure. We would be just W of Mendocino, with winds off port beam. (As fcst, this was our conditions for much of the night, with 12 to 18 knot WSW winds.

Friday, we spent provisioning, Ole was so generous in everything we bought and in fact we ended up buying far more food than we could ever eat, especially on a rolling ocean.

We were planning a Saturday morning departure, but it depended on the winds turning from the NW to the south, southwest or west.  While the forecast still called for this big change and had been consistent all week, the proof was going to be Saturday morning.

It was with much relief that I woke Saturday, checked the flags in the marina, and was pleased to see that they were finally streaming northward. Our much-anticipated southern winds had arrived. It was time to go.

Sunday morning 11:00 fcst winds, approx 27 hours after our anticipated departure. We would be just WNW of Mendocino, with light winds off port beam.

We couldn’t wait either, as the forecast winds were to become northerly again north of Eureka, California the following day. This meant we had to be north of that cape by the 24-hour point. It also meant that we would have strong westerly winds this first day, but those winds would become more southerly in subsequent days as long as we made progress north.

Now, a Kadey Krogen will roll on a damp lawn, and this boat had no stabilization. But neither did Dauntless my first year and 5,000 miles. A little rolling is good for the digestion in any case, and I was willing to put up with anything to avoid head seas and the hobby horse ride that entails on a full displacement boat.

As we left the harbor, we first had to go WNW for a few hours and then were able to turn NW to parallel the northern California coast. For much of the day, we had light southwest winds, with smallish seas off the port quarter. Again, this was just as forecast. As the day progressed, the winds were forecast to become stronger and more westerly for the nighttime hours. They did so that evening, so did the amount of our rolling. There was a cold front to our west, which caused the winds to increase to 12 to 18 knots. Seas built from less than one foot to 3 to 5 feet, so we were rolling like a … Kadey Krogen.

Sunday evening, 18:00 fcst winds, approx 45 hours after our anticipated departure. We needed to be off Eureka to stay east of the NW winds that were returning to be off shore.

That first day with any open water passages, when the boat gets rolling, any thing not secured would let its presence be known and they did. But this boat was pretty secured; Ole being an old sea dog. We had a line securing the refrigerator and freezer. The furniture was secured in the salon and we had re-stowed the loose stuff on the salon shelves.

The rolling increased that night, often up to 30° degrees to the lee side, 20° to the windward side, I was wedged into the pilothouse bench seat, having seen this movie before.

 A few things got loose anyway and as always; the noise is always worse than the damage (in a well-prepared boat).  A small container of fruits having escaped and spread over the floor that took some corralling. But the real damage was unseen for a number of hours.

This depiction for Sunday evening, 21:00, turned out to be reasonably accurate. We did have very light southerly winds that second night

What could that damage be?

As I said, Ole is a real Sea Dog, unlike me, who is just a neophyte in comparison. But the rolling took its toll, and the initial problem was unseen for hours. By the time, Olé did find the problem, it was a real mess.

A real mess.

Inside our refrigerator, a jar of preserves was unended, and horror of horrors, its lid came off, so it rolled around for hours that night with no lid, distributing its sticky contents everywhere over everything in the entire fridge.

It took poor Ole, hours to clean up the next day.

Guiltily, I thought to myself, better him than me, for a change.

I suppose there are upsides to being on someone else’s bottom.