We made it. It took 22 hours. It was easier and harder than we thought. I think the seas were roughest at night on the second leg but without the steadying sail, the seas from the first leg from Astoria to Gray’s Harbor made us more uncomfortable. The moon didn’t rise until early morning. We were crashing through a dark night 10 miles from shore with nothing on the ocean and no one on the land and it made us lonely and scared. We sang songs and talked about fires in Appalachian cabins. Warm dry things that were way above sea level seemed like the best things possible. I admitted I wouldn’t even mind M*A*S*H’s hackneyed cosy familiarity. Now that I am back on land you can keep your M*A*S*H episodes.
The day started with a sunny 2pm departure for the slack tide on the Gray’s Harbor bar. We had moderate wind, perhaps 10-15 knots. As the sun set the wind rose to 20 knots or more and the waves built. We were crashing into seas ferociously, taking spray and sometimes green water over the bow. I had the 6-10pm shift, so I watched the sun go down from the helm. It was an amazing sunset. When Kristin took over at 10pm it was still quite light. The nice thing about the night on June 25th is that it doesn’t take long. When I relieved Kristin at 2am the seas had calmed somewhat. By the end of my shift at 6am it was bright out again. The sky was light already by 3:30am. It turns out that Kristin had the hardest shift by far, crashing into big seas in the dark. It was a very cold night. We had to share a balaclava, the helmsperson always got to wear it.
The morning brought calm, sometimes glassy seas and the sun’s warmth. We were so tired, but sort of jittery, wide awake but not very clever. We headed into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was misty but seemed to be dissipating. Then while trying to find the buoy we needed to round, we realized that it was not dissipating, but building. We were enveloped in dense fog. So much for an easy landfall. We fired up the radar, and drove using the pointer on our gps map. The radar wasn’t that useful, as it takes skill to read, but that gps pointer saved our asses. We putted in at half speed, picking our way slowly around the island at the mouth of Neah Bay. An island we could only see when were were 100 yards from it. An island we only later learned was covered in trees. Once inside the bay the radar came into its own, showing us the breakwater to the marina. We pulled in between two giant steel fishing boats. We walked up the ramp to the marina, saw a sign that said “wood fired pizza 1 block that way” and felt glad.