We are ready to go, ready for ‘Hello Ocean!’ The new Icom m802 HF radio is talking to the pactor modem so we can report our position, download weather, contact nets, and email underway. I am delighted with this new radio – easy to use (once I learned its little ways) and quick to connect. Jon did the hard part – electrical and mechanical connections. I did the research and logic part – our usual division of labor. The radio is BIG and has three separate pieces so it took some reorganizing to get it to fit.
Today we are topping up the water tanks, getting the last groceries for the week, and Jon is making some adjustments to the reefing gear. As it turns out we are more likely to need light air sails than reefing equipment, but it would be silly not to be ready to reef all the way to that third reef. Reefs are ways of shortening sail, like taking a tuck in a blanket. Shortening sail reduces the speed of the boat, reduces wear and tear on the boat and crew, and increases control and stability. Each boat has maximum optimal speed and to exceed that for any length of time is foolhardy. We are conservative.
Tomorrow we top up on fuel and hit Point Wilson at slack tide on our way to Cape Flattery / Pacific Ocean / Neah Bay – about 85 miles away. Then we will sail away from the coast a bit for safety and optimal wind, and finally a left turn and we’re on our way to San Francisco.
Expected Sea Conditions
For this trip I am using a service called PredictWind. It is an online service and has an iPad app as well. You pay for it monthly but can put it on hold while between trips. It updates by internet when you are on land or it can use the GRIB files you download by radio while underway. The graphics are fabulous and really help to visualize what is happening out there. The images in this article come from that service.
We do expect to hit some nice seas – 10′ to 15′ probably, but a long period (space between the waves) is likely so not too uncomfortable. Phoenix likes this kind of moderate seas.
Wind should be moderate as well. If I can keep us away from the middle of the little high pressure system that is keeping the weather moderate we should make good time – 5 or 6 days plus time on each end to get out to sea and back into land. But if we get stuck in the high pressure system – the purplish in the chart below – we will slow down and work on our sun tans and try out our new assymetrical light air sail. Or maybe even the engine, but we are kind of purists and prefer to live with the vagaries of the sea. By downloading the weather files via the HF Radio I can see where the high is expected to be and try to sail around it. Or let it move around me! But weather moves and our boat moves slowly, and forecasts are imperfect, so que sera. The good news is that despite our late departure there is nothing dangerous out there for this trip. We’ll have to work a little harder if we do meet some 25 to 30 knots, but it should be short-lived.
I will try to post one more time from the coast, and then maybe short updates while we are at sea. No pictures while we are underway, though. Our radio does not have enough bandwidth for images. I could add some after we get to shore, if we have some good ones!
Goodbye, Port Townsend.