The Sailing Vessel Apropos

Gig Harbor Trip

March 3-6, 2006

Destination: Gig Harbor

Crew: Jim, Karen, Doug, Mary

Day 1:

Departed Lake Union around noon on Friday for a 4-day trip with stops at Blake Island on the way to Gig Harbor with an initial crew of two (Jim & Karen). Motored through the canal and had no problems handling the lines in theRed Spinaker Ballard locks. A crew of two can be challenging, especially in the large lock where the boat gets lowered along a concrete wall. After we got out into Puget Sound we raised the sails and headed south with light northerly winds. Temperatures were a chilly 45 deg. F! After a mid-afternoon lunch, we decided to fly the spinnaker for the first time. Fortunately Karen had experience with asymmetrical spinnakers from her racing days in Perth, and knew how to rig the sheets so all went smoothly.What a sight seeing the blue/red spinnaker fill with a 5-10 knot wind. We made good speed with it until the wind died near Blake Island. Pulled the sails down, motored into the docks, said hello to the park ranger, then cooked a steak dinner on the new BBQ. Being early March, we had the entire dock to ourselves, which as we found out made us a good target for the raccoons. 

Day 2:

Woke up late, ate bacon & eggs for breakfast, used the park showers, then cleaned the muddy raccoon AutoPilotfootprints off the boat. The windDes Moines Marina was very light so we motored all the way to Des Moines, where we picked up Doug and Mary. On the way we took turns lying on the main boom with the remote control for the autopilot steering in one hand and coffee in the other.
We kept a careful watch for logs floating in the water, especially the dangerous deadheads (vertical logs that can get pushed under by the bow wave and are capable of puncturing the hull as they re-Tidessurface near the stern). On our way to Des Moines we practiced man overboard drills with the life sling. AfterDoug N Me picking up Doug and Mary at the Des Moines marina, we raised the sails and headed for Gig Harbor. Arrived after dark and got the last slip in Aratellas marina, then walked to Tides Tavern where we had dinner while listening to a jazz pianist.

Day 3:

Woke up to a light rain and ate breakfast in a cafe near the marina. Motoring out of Gig Harbor we saw this large white mansion against pink cherry blossoms. We also had a great view of Mt RainerMt. Rainier from the harbor. After clearing the point light house,we raised the sails and sailed in 10-15 knot winds to Des Moines to drop off Doug & Mary. Sailed most of the way back to Blake Island until it got dark, then motored the rest of the way using GPS Lighthouseas our guide. There  was no way to spot logs in the darkness as we motored along at 6 knots, but we made it without incident. Tied up at the dock on Blake Island and ate dinner. Since the marina had no electricity to plug into, we had to watch our house battery amp hours meaning no TV!


Day 4:

Woke in the morning to lots of wind. Turned on the VHF weather channel and heard reports of 20-30 knot winds from the SE (small craft advisory). Captain 'Gung Ho' Gung Howas excited to try some heavy weather sailing! After breakfast we shoved off and put out the jib, main, and mizzen sails and sailed on a beam reach towards Seattle. It soon became obvious that we had too much sail area as the wind picked up to 20 knots with 25-30 knot gusts and the helm got heavy (in hindsight, we should have prepared our sail reefs before leavingReef the dock). We decided to head up into the wind and reef the mainsail so Karen took the helm and Captain 'Gung Ho' scrambled to the boom to reef the main. With the sails flogging, wind blowing, and waves knocking us around, it was a challenging task. As soon as he finished tying the reef and got back to the cockpit, the boat got turned broadside to a big gust of wind, throwing the boom across and heeling the boat about 45 degrees and for a few moments it felt as though we were about to broach. During those few moments we were literally hanging on to whatever was near. Captain 'Gung Ho' grabbed the wheel and turned the boat away from the wind and the boat took off on a broad reach.

8.2For the next 3 hours we had an amazing downwind run with Captain 'Gung Ho' at the helm 30making sure an accidental jibe didn't happen. We reached speeds of 8.2 knots and saw gusts of over 30 knots.


We decided the safest way to get the sails down was to duck behind a bluff in Port Madison. Unfortunately, the wind was even stronger inside the bay and we got caught by a 35 knot gust that ripped the mainsail at the reef point (another hindsight: next time reef the sail properly so the pressure will not be on the reef points). After Videogetting all sails down, we then had to motor across the sound into a 25 knot headwind. The boat was pounding into the waves throwing spray over the dodger and into the cockpit as seen in this video.
This went on for about 2 hours and we were exhausted when we finally reached the inlet to the Ballard locks. Next we had to wait for 3 trains to use the trestle before they raised the tracks allowing our mast to pass through. Once inside the lock channel everything was finally calm. After the locks we decided to tie up at the Yankee Diner to get some dinner and relax. There was more excitement after dinner as we watched the water police pumping out a sinking boat that was tied to the dock in front of us. We motored the remaining mile back to our birth on Lake Union.