Monthly Archives: July 2016

Salish Sea to Seattle

The 60nm passage from Port Angeles to Seattle began with a careful study of the tides and currents.  Timing is important and can shave hours off this passage if done right. In the summer, this passage almost always requires motoring, and after 20 days of mostly sailing from Hawaii, I looked forward to relaxing with the autopilot doing the steering. We departed at 09:30 so that we would hit Dungeness Spit around slack, and Admiralty Inlet at mid-flood. This meant departing against an ebb tide, but by staying close to shore between Port Angeles and Dungeness, we actually had a slight positive current from back-eddies. We were also helped by a light westerly wind that gave us an extra half-knot by motor sailing with the Genoa. We passed Dungeness Spit moving at 8 knots, and were going 8-10 knots through Admiralty Inlet.

It had been 2 years since Apropos was in the Salish Sea.  As we motored-sailed south towards Seattle, it was great seeing all the familiar landmarks–Dungeness Lighthouse, Port Townsend, Point No Point Lighthouse, the Edmonds-Kingston ferries, the cruise ships headed to Alaska, and finally, the Seattle skyline and Shilshole marina.  Our trip to the South Pacific was amazing, but some of the best cruising grounds anywhere are in the Pacific Northwest.

Anna Maria, who we hung out with when we were in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, joined us in Port Angeles for the final passage to Seattle. We reached Seattle by 7pm and pulled into Shilshole marina to pick up some of the crew from the Fiji, Samoa, and Christmas Island passages for the final 3 miles to Lake Union. Doug, Dave, Denise, Justin, and Adrea came aboard and we motored to the Ballard Locks, then through the canal to Lake Union. This completed a nearly 2-year, 16,000 nautical mile Pacific Ocean voyage with stops in 8 countries–Mexico, French Polynesia, Cook Islands, Nuie, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, and Kiribati.

Country Courtesy Flags (top), Rally Flags (right), and what’s left of the Tibetan Prayer Flags (left)
Inside the Ballard Locks
Some of the crew joined us for the last 3 miles to Lake Union
Fremont Drawbridge to Lake Union

Passage Statistics

A little friendly competition among the different crew for the 4 passages between Fiji and Seattle (bold indicates winners):

Honolulu, Hawaii to Port Angeles, Washington:

  • Distance traveled: 2654nm
  • Distance (straight line): 2320nm
  • Route Efficiency: 0.87
  • Fuel Consumed: 122 gal
  • Sail-to-motor Ratio: 4.4
  • Passage Time: 19 days, 20 hours
  • Moving Avg: 5.58 kts
  • Fish Caught: 0
  • Seasick Crew: 3

Christmas Island, Kiribati to Honolulu, Hawaii:

  • Distance traveled: 1282nm
  • Distance (straight line): 987nm
  • Route Efficiency: 0.77
  • Fuel Consumed: 66 gal
  • Sail-to-motor Ratio: 4.4
  • Passage Time: 10 days, 10 hours
  • Moving Avg: 5.13 kts
  • Fish Caught: 2
  • Seasick Crew: 0

Apia, Samoa to Christmas Island, Kiribati:

  • Distance traveled: 1627nm
  • Distance (straight line): 1277nm
  • Route Efficiency: 0.78
  • Fuel Consumed: 60 gal
  • Sail-to-motor Ratio: 4.4
  • Passage Time: 14 days, 5 hours
  • Moving Avg: 4.78 kts
  • Fish Caught: 4
  • Seasick Crew: 1

Savu Savu, Fiji to Apia, Samoa:

  • Distance traveled: 680nm
  • Distance (straight line): 611nm
  • Route Efficiency: 0.90
  • Fuel Consumed: 20 gal
  • Sail-to-motor Ratio: 5.8
  • Passage Time: 5 days, 21 hours
  • Moving Avg: 4.84 kts
  • Fish Caught: 0
  • Seasick Crew: 2

Update from Sea

Today is day 14 on the Hawaii to Seattle passage. We are at 43deg30min N, 145deg27min W on a heading of 65 degrees. That puts us roughly 2/3 of the way there! We motored for another 20 hours last night before the wind returned at noon and we’ve been averaging a fast 6-6.5 knots since. Weather has drastically changed to slate-grey overcast days and cold, damp nights. We’re surrounded by fog now with visibility of a half mile. We’ve been in the shipping lanes for a few days now and spot 2-3 cargo vessels daily on AIS. Closest point of approach has been 20 miles or more, so no visual sightings. Some are going west to Asia and some are moving east to SF, LA, or Panama.


Some issues we’ve been dealing with–

1. Engine is not running well when using the starboard tank. The rpm’s go up and down, signaling a flow restriction between the SB tank and engine. We circumvented the problem by running only on the port tank and pumping fuel from the SB tank into jerry cans, then topping up the port tank as needed. This worked until it didn’t–as the SB tank drew below half a tank, our fuel pump wasn’t able to lift the fuel to the jerry cans on deck. Today we removed the 12″ plate on the SB tank (located under the aft berth where Brian sleeps) and were able to pump the remaining 25 gallons out, emptying the tank. It was hard, tedious work with the pump filling a 5 gallon jerry can in 30 minutes. This was done in the morning when the seas were still flat, and was accomplished without spilling much in the cabin. We’re now happy that we have access to the remaining 80 gallons of fuel if needed.

2. We think we just figured out the cause of vomiting with John and Brian recently–both ate un-refrigerated cheese. We didn’t think those wax-wrapped cheese needed refrigerated. Problem is, I just ate one 2 hours ago (before we figured it out)! Will report back on this later…

3. Damp, damp, damp–without any sun to dry things out, most of our clothes and bedding are damp. Makes it a challenge to get out of bed for night watch. Then it takes 10 minutes to get prepared for the cold. I’m now wearing 3 layers top and bottom, Tuf neoprene boots with wool socks, gloves, wool hat, and foul weather top and bottoms. This ain’t the South Pacific I’m accustomed to! Despite the above issues, morale is great aboard. John and Brian have been awesome crew and fun mates. Both are boat owners and know lots about boat maintenance, engine issues, sail trim, etc. We still have plenty of food and even some fresh oranges and apples. I sliced up 1 of our 2 Hawaiian pineapples today. Brian has been chief cook and makes dinners like spaghetti and burritos. John’s specialty is pancakes. Mine is making coffee and doing dishes! I pull in GRIB files daily on the SSB radio to provide us with weather info. After sailing north from Hawaii for 1100 miles, we turned NE and set a great circle route to Cape Flattery. We use the daily weather updates to determine whether or not we can stay on the great circle route, and so far we have been. At our current rate (130nm daily average), we should enter the Strait of Juan de Fuca in 7 more days.