August 2012 preparations … sea trials … the Oregon Bridge to Bridge …. Astoria to Newport
I entered the boat in the Oregon Bridge to Bridge to prepare her equipment- wise , test the crew for Mexico (since it was the same two individuals), and make sure we were ready for our mid October departure date for San Diego where we were to rendezvous with the Baja Ha-Ha fleet. The friends and crew were Angela Sivers (a licensed massage therapist) and Dean Major (the stitcher who made all of our canvas sail covers, her bimini, and dodger). The tan Sunbrella covers in the pictures throughout this blog are his creations. Dean asks that I let you know when you see the “Circus Tent” custom awning on Spiritus in Mexico that it came with the boat and he specifically disclaims all knowledge of it. Dean’s work is exceptionally beautiful and graces each day we sail Spiritus.
The best way to describe the late process of preparing to sail Spiritus to Mexico involves the Oregon Bridge to Bridge.
I am posting the contents of a letter written to the sponsors which were the Yaquina Bay Yacht Club and the Astoria Yacht Club whose members make this yearly event possible. The race dates were August 17-19, 2012. The race is described as an overnight downwind race/rally. It is a PIYA standard race and all boats must be equipped and crewed in compliance with those rules. In addition, boats must have a PCRF rating before the race for handicapping purposes. Contents of the letter sent after the race (it is quoted from the Bridge to Bridge yahoo newsgroup) follow:
Had a great time on the Bridge to Bridge 2012.
From the crew of Spiritus, a ketch rigged Ingrid 38. We had a ball!
First, we had to get to Astoria. Great trip. Following seas and winds from
South at 4-6 knots. Started out clear then became foggy as night set in.
Our original plan called for motoring the whole way (anticipating 15-20 mph headwinds from north for a major portion for day light hours). It was a good planbut as you know the winds and seas were quite extraordinary for the entire
For us, we found when we motored as winds fell the wind was perfect to keep the smoke from our diesel at or near the cockpit .. so we were not bothered by
mosquitoes as the engine acted as a fogger. We really liked that part.
Night found us at sea, in thick fog, with fairly frequent fishing boat
encounters. So it was two people on deck shift and lots of radar. Lost radar
for an hour but crew got it running again.
We got offshore of the Columbia Bar about dawn and decided on basis of reports
and after watching the very small boats exiting the bar to go ahead and enter a
couple of hours before the ebb tide ended. (Yes, we listened and had planned
based on the advice of those of you who educated us about the bar… but based
on what we were seeing, we decided to go ahead and not wait till the tide
changed. Passage was relatively uneventful. You guys have an amazing number of fishing boats small and large. Made for a very busy radar screen. So follow red line … till 22-25 buoys then look for green line. All goes well.
Entrance to your West Basin Marina is a hoot for someone who has never been
inside it before … tight … sharp turn but once inside very sheltered. Find
the slip … not a problem. Tie it up. Go SHOWER. Find out where Yacht Club
is for the captain’s meeting.
Thanks to all who helped us out-of-towners. Thanks for committee for making us feel welcome and for all the preparation.
One, and only one negative comment. The meeting to “decide” a starting time for the race. Gently, I suggest not calling a meeting to decide if some has
already decided. Call it a meeting to inform.
Now that we knew what we had decided .. we suddenly had to get a lot done back at the boat to get on the water by 6:30 am. Yikes … Had a crew member
spending time with family in Astoria …. frantically emailing, texting, and
calling to get him back to boat at reasonable hour.
And, second small note from my mental notes. Flags for starting are (I am sure) a wonderful tradition. But, we now have radios (the race rules specifically
required us to have them). For the handful of messages necessary to start a
race … a simple radio message at same time flags were being used would have
been helpful in the extreme. I am sure in many cases this would and could
prevent any false starts saving a lot of frustration. As it was, lots of trying
to stay near committee boat and remember what flag meant what … all worked
well BUT …. simple is simple. Common language radio use would have helped
those of us who were “new” to “rallys”.
We sailed first six and a half hours or so.
Might be more appropriate to say, we hung out within a mile of the starting bouy for 6 1/2 hours at start of race (no wind .. for us anyway). Finally at 3:30 we fired up the “iron genny” our secret sail and off we went. I think we were
actually a mile north of the number 2 buoy when we finally gave up and started
south. So we had spent the day going backwards.
Motored until about 1 am when the engine suddenly died … and would not
restart. Worked for an hour on it while we hastily put up sail and found we
could make 3-4 knots and maintain steerage while we worked on engine.
Decided we could not fix it in our tired and frazzled state. We decided to get
some rest and just sail the night away.
Some time late in the evening or early in the am we were passed nearby by a
sloop working a very bright spot light. Tried hailing on the fleet channel and
ch 16 to no avail. Worried our radio wasn’t working but turned out later all
was well with radio. If you are reading this, can you enlighten us as to what
you were doing. At first we thought you were signaling and hailed you to see if
you needed assistance. As we were at that time without engine we would have
been of limited use but still were near to turning back when we saw you spot
lighting your sail which was up and still moving so we decided it must be an
issue with sail or rigging. You moved off towards shore on a tac then turned
south so we figured you were ok.
Nightly ghostly sightings. We had harbor porpoises following us while we were
sailing in that phosphorescent bio-luminescence … sparkling and ghostly wake
and heavy breathing six feet away from the cockpit in the dark. Spooky cool.
I have read of this phenomenon for many years but never seen it for real.
Contacted wives, friends, lovers, and race committee to let all know we were
having trouble with engines but were still headed to Newport finish. Wife’s
second question after “are you all ok” was “does this mean I have to buy a new
engine?” Explained that we were still working on it but that because of way it
died, we did not believe it was dead, as in damaged, just not working and that
even if it couldn’t be restarted by us at sea, once at dock we would be able to
fix it (or someone could).
We all remarked that it is a lot easier to work on the engine when you are tied
up at dock with a 120 volt power line plugged in.
Race committee was exceptionally helpful (thank you Pat). Asked if we needed
help. And arranged to meet us once in Newport with the Committee Boat to get us in a transient slip if we needed it.
Engine troubles. We tried again at 9 am-ish and got it running. Turned out to
be air in fuel lines (Volvo MD 17D diesel three-banger). Happened when I
inadvertently ran a fuel tank totally dry in an attempt to get rid of all my
three-year old diesel. Well at least we know there is no sediment in the tank
Called friends, lovers, wives, and race committee to let then know we had engine again. Found out of nine boats, four had turned back, everyone (I think this was right) had done some motoring. Made us not feel so bad about turning on the engines, finally, after whole crew agreed.
At dawn, still very light and variable winds off Cape Lookout. Motor on. Sea
was like glass at times.
Off Cape Foulweather, had a whale slap its tail on the near horizon about four
times. Very cool also. Dodging crab pots.
Entered the bar between the jettys at Newport. We came in on the outflow of an
8 plus foot tide so had a very strong outflow for our little 36 hp engine.
Tied up at my slip (Spiritus is from Newport) and let committee know were in safe and sound. They told us to get our selves over to the pig roast. “Yes, mam!”
Good food and very gracious treatment at the Yaquina Bay Yacht Club post event.
In short, thanks to all who organized this, helped people get ready, especially
to the inspectors and to those who took us sailing on the Columbia Bar to ready
Good job all!