The last time I motored for longer than a couple of hours was back in September of last year. I didn’t trust Satori’s motor much because I knew it had not been kept up aside from the occasional oil change and radiator fluid. The muffler was leaking, fuel hoses were leaking and the freshwater intake hose was also connected to a joint I was able to break off just by grabbing it and breaking it. Since then I have completed the needed tasks to make the engine much more dependable. If I’m in a storm or becalmed and need to motor for twenty-four hours, I want it to keep on going. I spent the last two days testing some of the long distance motoring and so far all is well.
I left Seattle on Saturday morning around 8am. This time instead of backing Satori in idle reverse, I just pushed her out without any motor assist while the motor was in idle neutral. I think this is the best method so far for single-handing her off the dock. I motored up to Port Townsend in hopes to be able to sail around the strait and then into town. Winds were not favorable on Saturday so I took the time to raise the asymmetrical spinnaker and try to sail downwind back into town. With barely a knot of wind, it was great for raising it for the first time with the new snuffer tube. After hours of moving barely half a knot I decided to motor into the bay and lay anchor.
There were two boat anchored north of the ferry terminal. One large catamaran and another classic keelboat. I wasn’t sure that I would be staying in the harbor, mainly because I didn’t like the choices of anchoring so I dropped both anchors with a low scope and took Sasha to shore. I was greeted by a friend who happened to be in town for the Rhododendron Run; an annual 10k he and his family enjoy while camping at Fort Warded. After a long overdue reunion and a quick stroll to the wooden boat marina I headed back to figure out what to do about the anchor situation. After tying off the dinghy and working down below for about thirty minutes, I decided to check my depth and was confused by the reading. I read eighty-eight feet on the gauge and then upon looking out above I realized that I unhooked and was drifting from a fresh change of wind speed. I was fortunate that not only did I avoid a collision but also interfering with the ferries. Since I was drifting without any immediate emergency I simply pulled up both anchors and laid them on deck while I sort out the situation. At first I had some problems with my halyards being entangled while I’m hastily trying to get some sail up. Later I realized that the winds had picked up to almost twenty knots. I didn’t want to be racing around the point at five knots and heeling but I was also excited to finally have some wind! After sorting out the anchors and heading back into the harbor I dropped sails and motored into anchoring position. This time I paid out plenty of chain and hooked up equal distance from both other boats.
Looking out a couple of times in the night, I could see the catamaran a thousand feet away. My swing was only a hundred, maybe hundred fifty max. In the morning the catamaran was within two-hundered feet and I was a bit worried because there was no one on deck. When I took Sasha to shore he finally came out and called me over so I had a quick conversation. He expressed his concern that if the winds picked up and he drug anchor that we would collide. I was confused how he got so close in the first place, told him to keep an eye on things and that I would be departing within the hour.
After another stroll through town and a stop at the local café, I motored back to Satori and prepared her for departure. After pulling anchor, I raised the stays’l to get her moving with the wind and then raised both the main and jib which placed me right where I wanted her. No need for a motor when you have a wind coming off the shore pushing you right where you want to go. After passing the terminal in time to avoid a docking ferry, I headed out of the bay and around the point to head home. Winds were not blowing very strong and at one point I realized that I was heading downwind and the current was working against me. I raised the spinnaker which helped with keeping my speed above two knots but the ideal winds were also closer to the eastern shore and in the northbound shipping lanes. I monitored the traffic just in case I needed to jibe and get out of the way. The other benefit of being on the eastern side was that passing boat would be on the west side, which made it easy to head up to hit the waved at the proper angle. Heading downwind puts the mainsail and spinnaker in a place where you don’t want to be hit from a wave broadside as it will cause some serious thrashing and interrupts the momentum you have. It’s better to head up to hit a wave as you can sheet in and keep the thrashing to a minimum.
The only two vessels that passed while I was in the northbound lane were ferries. The first one was the Victoria Clipper, moving about thirty knots and stayed clear of me. The other was a vehicle ferry, which called me on channel sixteen to plan his passing and also to remind me how the traffic separation scheme worked. I agreed and repeated out plan without explaining my situation. “Thank you for making contact… We will pass starboard to starboard and I will maintain my corse and speed”. About the time of passing I decided that it was time to start motoring home. I wanted to be docked around dusk so I stopped pleasure cruising and started down the southbound lane. An hour later I hit twenty-five knot winds and white caps with wind to the bow. I did not expect the sudden change from high pressure and a little wind to full on wave diving. At one point the cruse ships were coming out of Seattle and one of them decided to cut corners. You know that reminder that I’m in the wrong lane? Well, I’m also reminded that no matter what, I’m in the wrong lane. You can’t play chicken with a cruise ship. I kept my course and passed the ship coming up the southbound lane within a half-mile and also surfed their waves from their wake. It was reminder that commercial vessels do not want recreational boaters inside of the traffic separation lanes and even cruise ships doing twenty five knots can go where they want without any repercussion, unless they collide with another vessel.
I did check with the Coast Guard about the situation and received a response from Mark Ashley, Director, Puget Sound Vessel Traffic Service;
“The Traffic Separation Scheme and Rule 10 of the COLREGS are established to provide order and predictability of traffic flow. The scenario you describe broke down order and predictability and I am looking into it. Sometimes cruise ships desire to leave buoy SE to starboard when northbound to overtake other slower moving vessels. I see that Grand Princess was overtaking Andrew Foss and that could have been a factor. However, proceeding northbound in the southbound traffic lane with opposing southbound traffic is not prudent. ”
Another couple of hours of pushing the motor at three-thousand RPM and hitting the twenty knot winds head-on and I was heading towards the green flashing buoy just outside of Shilshole Marina. I cut my speed down to three knots coming into the outside lane and then dropped to two when I made my turn to L-dock. I docked Satori flawlessly once more and put her back into marina mode. Another weekend adventure gone awesome.