Monday, July 11, 2011


It was a REALLY long day.

But in one day of running, I exceeded the number of hours I had spent on the ocean previously, INCLUDING the day before.  I have been on two short whale-watching trips on CALM waters, and I was aboard Viking Star on her virgin voyage across the Columbia River Bar several years ago.

Saturday we crossed once again, and we don't intend to bring the boat back in for several more years.

The bar forecast said waves 2-4 feet, and once again, we felt that the forecasters vastly under-reported, though technically the roughest stuff was past the bar.  I was quite anxious beforehand, and this continued for several hours, until we turned north, and the waves settled a bit as afternoon approached.  Conversation was difficult, mainly because I was concentrating so hard on taking calming breaths and consciously relaxing my muscles.  I knew I couldn't maintain this level of anxiety, it was exhausting.  It WAS rather fascinating to watch the six-foot swells heaving up before you, though.  There were white caps everywhere on the 2-4 foot wind waves, on top of the swells.

The ten hours it took to get from Ilwaco to Grays Harbor tired us both out.

But the forecast for Sunday sounded beautiful!  Swells were only to be 1 to 2 feet, every 15 seconds--nearly flat!  And turning to come from the southwest in the afternoon--YAY!  A 'push' up the coast!

Al set his alarm for 2:45 AM, but awoke at 2:30.  He had thought I would be able to stay in bed and sleep some more. Right.  By 3:00, the engine was running and we were pulling away from the dock.  It was VERY dark.  It was scary.  Al turned off the chart plotter because the light was too bright, ruining his night vision.  He steered back to the ocean using the GPS and radar.

We were still motoring westward an hour and a half later when at first light Al says 'There's something big and black straight ahead!  Oh!  It's a whale!'  I saw it just as it disappeared below the water.  Half an hour later we had another siting, and then we both simultaneously saw whales on either side of the boat.  Later, I saw two tails lift and dive.

It WAS a gorgeous day.  Just very long.  It was 20 hours underway before we anchored in Neah Bay, 'just around the corner' after entering the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

5 AM, sunrise over the Olympic Mountains

Tatoosh Island welcomes us to the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Canada has some 'purple mountain majesty' too!  Vancouver Island

Sunset.  But we have another hour to go to our anchorage.

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