Yesterday we had a glorious day for a boat trip. We left Cow Bay late in the morning headed for the yacht club in Sidney. It couldn’t have been better cruising weather. It was cold of course – its January after all – but it was dead calm with clear blue skies all the way. However, as we came out of John’s Passage we could see a solid wall of fog about at Sidney and it closed in behind us as we entered Tsehum Harbour. No biggie – we were where we wanted to be so no worries. My only concern was that I wanted to make the crossing to Port Angeles today because the wind forecast was calm today, going to hell for the rest of the week.
Last night we went to Jimmy Buffet night at the club and had some pretty decent jumbalaya. Marilyn didn’t like hers but I don’t know why she ordered it in the first place. She doesn’t like Spanish Rice and jumbalaya is pretty well Spanish Rice with seafood in it. It was her birthday so I bought supper.
This morning when I got up I could sort of see the lights around the marina but as it got lighter the fog closed in tighter around us. By the time we untied around 9:30 it was socked in solid. I got disoriented just leaving the reciprocal dock and wandered into some shallow water before I got my head around simply trusting the plotter. We crept out by Van Isle marina, following the plotter and waiting for the radar to warm up. By the time we got out past Van Isle’s breakwater I had the radar working and I was blindly following the plotter. Marilyn was on the foredeck watching for crab floats. There’s always a minefield of floats at the entrance to Van Isle but today either there weren’t too many or we just couldn’t see them.
Then it all went to hell. The new computer crashed leaving us without a plotter and then instead of simply rebooting the piece of crap HP computer decided it needed to create some error report which took forever to compile. About the same time the radar quit working.
I pulled the shifters to neutral and we drifted while I sorted things out. We were in a really bad spot at the entrance to a busy marina but we didn’t have much choice. By this time the HP had decided to reboot so we had navigation again. I decided I would restart the radar and if it still didn’t work we’d turn around. About the same time we discovered that the horn wouldn’t work. Normally that wouldn’t be a huge issue but in fog you’d like to be able to sound a horn once in a while.
When the radar came back up it appeared to be working normally. The nav computer came back online and it appeared to be working too. I went below, found the old nav computer and got it running with a spare GPS puck as a backup. The horn was pooched – too much salt water over the years. I’ll need to find another set of trumpets but we decided to press on.
We agreed that if we got to Trial Island light and it hadn’t cleared up we would just go into Victoria and sit it out. By the time we got about halfway to the lighthouse the fog was lifting a little bit and we maybe had 200 yards visibility. So I called Victoria traffic control and told them we’d like to get across Juan de Fuca without getting run over. Normally pleasure vessels don’t check in with traffic but they had been asking all morning for us to check in if we were about to cross the traffic lanes.
By the time we got out in the middle of the strait we had about 2 miles visibility so it was generally a pretty pleasant crossing. However, when we entered Port Angeles harbour it closed in worse than anything we had seen all day. There were a couple of ocean going freighters anchored in the harbour. We could see them on radar but one of them we passed less than 1/4 of a mile away and never saw it. The other one appeared out of the fog maybe 20 yards in front of us. You couldn’t see from one end of it to the other.
US Homeland Insecurity seems to have figured out that we are not a terrorist threat. I phoned them from the dock, once we finally found it in the fog. Thank goodness for good charts and GPS.
They asked me a bunch of questions and then sent some guy down to the dock to see us. I’m sure it was the same guy who checked us in the time Marilyn got puking sick on the way over. He didn’t seem much concerned about what we were doing. They give you this great freaking long (maybe 20 digits) “clearance number” so I dutifully wrote it in the logbook and then we moved ourselves over to an open space on F Dock. The marina staff aren’t around today but I’m sure they’ll be OK once they get out money tomorrow.
On the way over Marilyn phoned Elliott Bay marina and got us a rate there for a month. We liked that place so much when we stayed there after we bought Gray Hawk that we’ve wanted to go back ever since. So we will.