Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day 27- Saturday, September 8, 2012- We Made It!

Day 27- Saturday, September 8, 2012- We Made It!
Needless to say, after the whale encounter yesterday, I didn’t sleep much.  I kept replaying the incident over and over in my mind.  What if?  Then what?  Wow.  It could have been really bad.   Thankfully, it was an amazing experience but I would never wish it upon anyone and hope it never happens again.
At 5:40AM, this morning, the alarm went off.  Immediately, I was wide awake, and let me assure you, this is a miracle in itself as I am NOT a morning person (but take me dancing at midnight!)  A quick check of the weather indicates lumpy seas for the first hour and a half and then settling as we head further into the Stait of Juan de Fuca.  Coffee is done perking, dog duties done, shore power chord stored, anything loose is now stowed or secured, and we’re off by 6:30AM, first light.
Clear and flat seas for about 15 minutes….then fog and swells…then more dense fog and bigger swells.  For over two hours it was like driving through the mountains in a blizzard.  Do you know what vertigo is?  Everything in your body feels like you’re turning in circles but your instruments tell you you’re going straight.  It feels like you’re going to fall right off your seat and splat on the floor yet the computer says you’re going straight…it is bizarre…no sight of land and a horizon that is moving in every direction except flat.  The Roamer handles it much better than I do.  I have a lot of confidence in my vessel but was praying that the weather would improve giving us better visibility and flatter seas.
After riding the bucking bronco for a couple of hours, the wind and the swells all started to move in the same direction off our aft and the sun started to lighten the fog.  Along with the flooding tide, we were able to throttle up and enjoy all the benefits of tide, wind, and swell.  Soon, we were flying through the Strait of Juan de Fuca doing better than 32 statute miles an hour and getting almost 2 miles per gallon…unheard of for a boat our size at that speed.  It made up for the 1 mpg we were getting fighting the swells and struggling to stay on plane out in the washing machine wind and swells of the exposed South Coast.
32 statute miles per hour getting 1.9 mpg!  Yippee!
Along the way, Ron Meng, the owner of Islands Marine Center, called to report that he had new ground tackle waiting for me and wanted to make sure we were doing ok after the whole incident.  The crew a IMC has done a fabulous job taking great care of us.

The sun broke through as the swells subsided and we enjoyed the super fast, efficient remainder of our 150 mile crossing.  We could see the magnificent Mt. Baker from over 125 miles out!  Soon, we were seeing the sights we had seen before: Victoria, Turtleback Mountain, and Cattle Point.  We did it!  By God’s grace, we circumnavigated Vancouver Island!
Race Rocks Light House With The Olympic Peninsula Mountains Behind
We cleared customs via a phone call as we’re NEXUS card holders and then stopped at the Port of Friday Harbor for fuel.
Then, it was just a short hop over to Islands Marine Center on Lopez Island where Dan was standing by with his big smile to rig the new ground tackle while we took their courtesy car and  grabbed some fish tacos at the Galley.  After lunch, we showed Ron and crew the video…they were all amazed at the scenario being played out.

By 4PM, we were tied to our dock at Dolphin Cove and the boat was being unloaded.  It was an awesome trip, to say the least.
So for the final numbers: As you can see below, over the last 27 days, we journeyed 1,095 miles and burned 574 gallons of diesel for an average of 1.91 statute miles per gallon.  (I suppose I could add about 10 gallons for the genset and about that much for the kicker engine and dinghy.) Looking back at our 2009 Alaska trip, I see that we averaged 1.92 mpg with our single engine so this is almost identical as our twin.  I am pleased with these numbers given the swells and currents…seemed like we were always going uphill.

1,095 miles to complete the circle.
Now that the ground rigging is replaced, there’s not even one little thing that needs to be repaired on the boat, other than one loose fitting on a water hose that I think can just be tightened, but I didn’t want to do that until I got home in case I broke the fitting.  Yes, there’s lots of cleaning to do and some routine maintenance but I can’t be more pleased with how well the Roamer performed.
Note the shiny new anchor!

This has been the most technically challenging boating experience I’ve ever had…even more so than our trip to Alaska in 2009.  It was so much more remote than I ever expected.  Next time, I’ll rent a satellite phone.  Thankfully, we had a great, sturdy vessel that performed flawlessly.  My crew was amazing.  My best first last mate, Val, did an awesome job as always with the boat and had everything meticulously organized all the time. How can she do everything?  Gourmet meals included!  Connor, our 15 year old was also amazing.  He is such a great help on the boat and is totally in charge of the dinghy and the dogs as well just all around great helper.  He is great at tackling problems and finding solutions.  We all got along great and could have just kept on cruising, but reality beckons.
I will do one more post after this one to recap this year’s blog.  So, here’s your chance to send me your comments.  Please do.  E-mail me at Kent.Huisken@Sio.Midco.Net.