Monday, November 27, 2006

A Pacific Northwest Winter - Part III

"You Haven't Yet Seen Cold"
February 7 to March 23, 2006
Dear Friends,
A beautiful winter scene – warm, cozy homes nestled amongst tall trees, whose drooping branches are lightly tipped with freshly fallen snow – brings a glow to one's heart. Visions of lounging before a toasty fireplace, feet propped up on a cushy pillow, float serenely in front of the eyes. It's Valentine's Day, dreams of champagne and soft music, a lover snuggling...
Wake up! You are really in that boat anchored out in the ice-covered water in front of those cozy homes! There is no fireplace, no champagne, and you get to bundle up, go out on deck and remove the heavy load of snow that has covered the solar panels, clogged the access to the hatches- your frozen fingers aching. Your lover, however, is with you and she hasn't yet threatened to abandon ship, so it's not as bad as it could be! So get out there and shovel that snow with your little plastic dustpan while she takes QuickTime® movies of you doing it! On your way out, turn up the cabin heater so icicles stay on the outside of the boat. The foreground reveals the true nature of the situation. Photograph of Rikki-tikki-tavi anchored in snowy Port Ludlow Inner Harbor by Del Jacobs. As a weak sun begins to peer over the trees, we awake to find Rikki-tikki cloaked in soft white snow. Okay, so it wasn't a lot of snow that fell that night, just over an inch or so. And the previous week in Port Ludlow had been sunny and clear. We'd gone shopping with Dave and Marcia in their little Honda, had Polish sausages at Costco, were able to get in some computer time on the marina wi-fi, where Juniata was moored for the winter. Best of all, we delighted in some great camaraderie with our friends. We were enjoying our first week at Port Ludlow quite a bit. The Inner Harbor is lovely and very protected, with sticky mud on the bottom- all the better to hold you with, my dear. We liked the Inner Harbor. Marcia unloading the latest goodies from the trunk. We loaded the Honda so tight we had to hold stuff on our laps! We were soon to discover that the snow was only the beginning of our winter fun in the Inner Harbor. The VHF weather announcements gave little warning of what was to come. The electronic voice said the night temperatures would fall into the 'teens. The voice didn't say our little watery parking lot would freeze over, so we blithely hung on our anchor and watched the hail and snowflakes blow by. In the middle of the night two days after snowy Valentine's Day, we were awakened by loud sounds very much like the squelch on the VHF gone into overdrive. Immediately, we knew it was the sound of surface ice being crunched and broken up against the hulls as the breezes gently pushed the boat from side to side. No worries, it was thin ice. The low winter sun just couldn't seem to warm up the air during the day and temperatures barely reached into the 20s, then dropped again into the 'teens night after night. On the morning of the 17th, we awoke to 18 degrees. Lucky for Rikki, there was no wind because he was frozen in place- solidly. The ice was so hard that Clark couldn't punch through it with the boat hook. The entire Inner Harbor was frozen over with about 5/8" freshwater ice- and Rikki-tikki was stuck in the middle. Darzee to the rescue! Clark got the outboard started, let it warm up, then managed to break a hole large enough to back up a little way. It was easier to go backwards because the spinning prop helped break up the crust of ice. While I attempted some video clips of the action on my Canon PowerShot, Clark ran our Porta-Bote-turned-icebreaker up on top of the ice a few feet at a time, waited for it to break, backed out, took another angle of attack, and then ran up on the ice again, repeating this action many times. It took about an hour to make a narrow cut completely around our trimaran. Then he took Darzee on a few merry-go-round turns to widen the ice-free circle. The hard, freshwater ice laid thickly on top of the saltwater of the Inner Harbor. Dave and Marcia were expecting us to arrive at the marina, a half-mile away, for a car trip into Silverdale for shopping or, as we call it, provisioning. We hailed them on the walkie-talkie over the racket of Darzee breaking an icy highway for us to get out of the Inner Harbor. There was no way we could move Rikki-tikki until the ice softened a bit, which we hoped the sun would do during the day. The shards of broken ice were sharp and we feared damage to the paint. So we went shopping. Little Darzee broke a path through the ice. Wow, what a racket! We returned from our excursion into Silverdale just as the sun was touching the tops of the trees. We rounded the tip of the island into to our bay and saw that the highway Darzee had forged remained unchanged. The ice around Rikki was as hard as ever. Clark dropped me and our goodies off at the boat, then turned to run Darzee back and forth along the edges of the path, widening it enough to drive Rikki out to the main harbor. With just enough light left to see, we anchored in liquid water to wait for warmer weather. We were determined to go back into our private bay as soon as it was possible, we liked it that much. A few days later we found ourselves sitting in the Honda again. We were just leaving the marina parking lot for another trip to the shopping center. Marcia's cell phone rang. She missed the call as she searched inside her backpack for the phone and the call went to voicemail. Unable to retrieve the message, she merely returned the call. A friendly female voice answered but said she hadn't made the call. She asked where Marcia was calling from because the area code showed California. Marcia explained that they were aboard their boat in Port Ludlow at the marina. The woman exclaimed, "We live in Port Ludlow!" After many questions, Shirley realized that her husband, Del, had called the marina trying to find the owner of the trimaran that had been anchored in snow and ice in front of their home on the Inner Harbor. Would Marcia know these people? Yes, we know them, and they are with us right now. Would you like to talk to them? And so we met Del and Shirley. Del had taken photos of Rikki-tikki-tavi over the last week and he wanted to make sure we received copies, so he hunted us down! He owns the only trimaran in Port Ludlow, an F-31A, and was very interested in our multihull. We invited them to dinner aboard Juniata and a tour of Rikki-tikki when we came into the fuel dock. We sure enjoyed their company! Shirley and Del treated us all to a lovely dinner at their fabulous home. Listening to Del's wonderful stories, we were fascinated by the rich and adventurous life this couple has led. We are grateful for the photos but the real pleasure resides in meeting such interesting and generous folks. Thank you, Del and Shirley. Frozen solid. Photo by Del Jacobs. Our enjoyable memories don't end there! Del invited us to attend a meeting of the Northwest Multihull Association in Seattle as his guests. It was a great day to ride the ferry between Eagle Harbor and Seattle- the views incredible. Del took us to Fisheries Supply, where we found a couple of terrific rain hats, and REI's flagship store, where Del bought a tent (we just browsed). The NWMA meeting was great fun. Del introduced us and passed around an 8 x 10 photo of our iced-in trimaran. We met a whole roomful of multihull enthusiasts, some cruisers and a lot of racers with "F-boats", most of the names fleeting. We were invited to write a story of our trip up the coast for their April newsletter, which we did. It is available online from the NWMA website- Thank you again, Del and Shirley. We hope to meet you on the water, sailing your trimaran. The rest of the story is that our heater decided to quit just as the cold weather was at its coldest. We had just spent, you may remember, about $500 to have a new fan installed in Vancouver. They did other maintenance too while it was in the shop. Clark reinstalled the overhauled unit in January before we returned to the U.S. Now it was only mid-February and the heater was belching blue smoke in attempts to fire up. We sent for more parts from Seattle. A tiny zipper sandwich bag with a little screen and a couple of gaskets arrived in the mail- $120! Clark took the unit over to the marina and, with the blessing of the staff, he disassembled the entire heater, part by part, on their worktable. After cleaning the burn chamber and installing all the new parts, he hauled the heater back to Rikki in the Inner Harbor to see if it would fire. Yes, but our confidence that we had reliable heat aboard was considerably eroded. By now, we were making regular trips in Darzee across the 1/2-mile of harbor to the marina. Some days it was very choppy with wind-blown waves. The wind never bothered us in the landlocked anchorage behind the Twin Islands. Other days we were assailed by sleet, hail, rain– you name it. We wanted kayaks and were spending time researching online for what was available at a reasonable price. I remembered that Costco in Sacramento sold kayaks last year, but we'd been to Costco in Silverdale many times- no kayaks. Then, one day, we went to Costco with Marcia and there, stacked up high, were bright orange kayaks! The one-person sit-insides came complete with paddles, spray skirts, and a cartop carrier (smart of them to include this!). Guess what we loaded onto the car? We went back to Costco and bought another kayak! After a bit of practice, my kayak became less tippy. I devised a way of safely getting into and out of the kayak from the stern steps. Two lines, one fore, one aft, tied onto the handrails, keep the kayak from scooting out from under me! We are going to enjoy having these and, Rod, we now have a way to rescue Darzee if he ever decides to go on walkabout again. In March, Dave and Marcia took Juniata to Port Townsend for a haul-out. We visited them with Steve and Myndy from "Enchantress". Dave was lucky to have good weather for painting the bottom and removing a thru-hull. I took a walk around and shot some photos of other boats there for work. Port Townsend has a very busy boatyard, there are vessels of every size and description, commercial and otherwise, though we saw no trimarans. Juniata on the hard in the Port Townsend boatyard. Boatworks in the boatyard. One of the murals in the Port Townsend boatyard. We began getting ready to leave for our Spring Cruise of South Puget Sound. The weather was definitely showing signs of improving! Just to remind us that winter wasn't yet over, it snowed again on March 8th. March 27th, we would head south into Puget Sound to meet Juniata in Port Madison.

A Pacific Northwest Winter - Part II

"Two Windy Weeks In Friday Harbor In Which Darzee Goes On An Adventure" We awoke to this view of Mount Baker across San Juan Channel from Friday Harbor's North Cove. Late that afternoon, as we settled ourselves and Rikki-tikki alongside the little barge in Hong Kong Basin, we met the caretaker of the barge, Jim, a very reserved fellow. He is known in Friday Harbor as a creative- local art galleries sold his jewelry and very-much-in-demand, fantastically detailed miniature buildings built inside bottles. He even designed and built the special miniature tools that this kind of weensy construction required. Now he writes stories and articles from the confines of his little boat moored out in The Basin. We marvelled at the tales he had to tell of past experiences living in a myriad of boats- all very tiny- a canoe (would you believe?), a West Wight Potter, now an 18' powerboat named "Patna". Our view of the Port of Friday Harbor from The Barge. We had been to Friday Harbor once before- in the company of two other boats, four of us aboard a chartered Catalina 36 named "Norma Jean". It was 1995 or thereabouts, 4th of July, and we had a great time watching the local Independence Day parade featuring kids towing their dogs and smaller siblings in decorated wagons. There were brass bands, lots of waving flags, firetrucks demonstrating their water power. It was truly small-town America stuff. Hot dogs were on the grill and lawn games were played in the sunken park. The community egg toss was especially fun. Dozens of participants were defeated, impossibly and at long last, by a very small boy whose egg, despite hitting the grass many times, simply refused to break. At the end, his egg had to be broken by the judge to prove it wasn't hard boiled! Our 2006 visit was cold, windy and gray most days, it being January, not July. The crowds of boats waiting to get a slip were absent, as were the lightly dressed sailors wearing sunhats. Friday Harbor residents had their town to themselves for the winter. We tried to blend in. It was our good furtune to have made the acquaintance of two locals while at Nanaimo's Newcastle Island back in August. Rod and Barbara live right off the main street around the corner from the big grocery and they wanted some advice on remodeling their home. They also desired our opinion on several homes that were under construction with the idea they would purchase one as a rental investment. Since building is Clark's area of expertise, they "hired" us to do some consulting. We enjoyed many hours of discussion, friendship and were given the opportunity to see a couple of very nice homes, plus a little of the island itself. Washington State Ferries call several times a day, leaving a rolling wake with each passing. We were invited to a Super Bowl Party. We don't enjoy football and neither does Rod, so we spent the time walking along country roads with our hostess and enjoying great conversation. We met several other sailor folks- our hosts were long-time SF Bay Area sailors and owned Bird Boat #18 for 25 years. They later owned and raced a Farallone Clipper, a classy classic wooden sailboat. We felt like newborns talking to Dan and Eileen about sailing. Their home on San Juan Island is cozy and filled with books, a lovingly built wood dinghy resides in the shop. The rooms feature a terrific view over Griffin Bay and San Juan Channel. On one of the two days we had sun, Clark and I filled our rolling insulated bag at "The Marketplace". In between our forays away from Rikki-tikki with new friends, we endured unpleasant weather, both while tied to The Barge and in the marina. We backed into two slips at the Port of Friday Harbor (they only charged us for one). Big winds were forecast and the minus tides would have set us into the mud in Hong Kong Basin, so we sought refuge of a sort tied to pilings and docks in deeper water. Sure enough, the winds reached 55 knots- that's 63 mph! The waves leaped all the way over the docks even inside the breakwater. When the winds ceased, we moved back to the barge and went back to rowing Darzee into the dinghy dock. It was cheaper. Our double-wide "G Dock" slip in the Port of Friday Harbor. Local color inside the Port docks. The Port of Friday Harbor before the wind began. Back on The Barge, another rainy windstorm blew in overnight. Clark got up in the morning, made coffee and sat down in the settee to enjoy it. He usually sits on the starboard side where we tie Darzee up between the vaka (the main hull) and the ama (the outer hull), using a three-point arrangement to keep him from banging into the hulls in the wind and waves. I arrived in the galley just in time for Clark to take a look outside to find that Darzee was gone! Darzee had taken a "walk", gone on an adventure of his own, without us. It was raining. The wind was blowing very hard. Lucky for us it was blowing toward the shore behind us. How did Darzee get loose? Unbeknownst to me, Clark had moved Darzee to the barge before we went to bed. Whatever knot he used, the waves had managed to untie. I grabbed the binoculars and searched anxiously along the shoreline. The tide was extremely high and lots of flotsam was piled up against the land. There, among a bunch of large logs, bobbed our lost tender, but we had no way of getting over to him. We thought, no problem, the tide will go out and leave Darzee high and dry. We can have Rod go down to get him later. Just as we voiced our solution, the wind shifted completely around and Darzee started to float out away from shore. I started to get very worried and fetched my drysuit from the ama, intending to swim to shore and retrieve our little taxi before he was blown out into the channel. Clark nixed my swimming. I got out my new dock hook and posted myself on deck, just in case Darzee was close enough to snag on his way past. Meanwhile, we called (we still had our GoPhone!) and left voicemail for Rod- could he come rescue Darzee? The morning before the storm that blew Darzee away. Nice and calm. With every gust of wind, we crossed our fingers that the jetsam surrounding Darzee would hold him close enough to shore for Rod to reach him- that is, when he arrived. The waiting was tense. After what seemed like forever, we saw our friend, without even a hat on, walking along the backyards of the homes that line the shore. Darzee was inching his way out of reach and we knew Rod hadn't seen the dinghy yet. He couldn't hear our shouts against the wind. We waved our arms and Rod finally spotted our wayward workhorse. Through the chop and rain, our rescuer brought little Darzee home. We are forever grateful and promise to never let it happen again, Rod. Thank you. Not calm now... Rod rescued Darzee and returned him to us. When the weather cleared enough for us to get out of Friday Harbor, we did just that. It is a great place- convenient access to everything a boater needs (except decent laundromats, more about that later) and the Washington State Ferry system. However, we've pretty much concluded, Friday Harbor is a wind-hole. Enough said. February 6- a calm day to leave Friday Harbor. Stopping at the fuel dock on our way out, a very pleasant couple hailed us from the wharf. They wanted to tell us how much they admired Rikki-tikki, so we invited them for a quick look-see. It turned out that Davey and Ziggy are circumnavigators, with wonderful stories we hope to hear when we meet them again. We are so glad they stopped to introduce themselves. Then we motored down through Cattle Pass and across the Strait of Juan de Fuca over relatively smooth seas, dodging the many logs and congealed islands of debris carried into the waters by the high tides and storm waves. The rain threatened but did not fall, we finally reached Point Wilson on a course for Mystery Bay. We carefully threaded our way through the complex winding entrance to Kilisut Harbor, between Indian Island and Marrowstone Island, spotting our first-ever long-tailed ducks- beautiful. A quiet night on anchor was a welcome change from the boisterous and busy days we spent in Friday Harbor. Point Wilson. The next morning, a very cold crosswind cut through our woolies as we rounded Marrowstone Point, but then it turned against us. The day was gray but the high clouds allowed a great view of the Olympic Mountains as we approached Port Ludlow, where Dave and Marcia on Juniata were holed up for the winter. We thought we might pay them a visit. It was February 7, 2006. Our view of Hurricane Ridge as we head into south Admirality Inlet. The condos at Burner Point, the entrance to Port Ludlow, the Olypmic mountain range in the background. Dave and Marcia wait on the dock to take our lines at Port Ludlow Marina. From their slip at Port Ludlow, Dave and Marcia enjoyed this view of the Olympic Mountains. Yet another chapter begins in our life on the water aboard Rikki-tikki-tavi. ... (Your patient indulgence for the belated nature of our journal entries is humbly requested.) Clark & Nina s/v Rikki-tikki-tavi


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