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 Thursday, October 25, 2012

Yesterday morning we topped off Dirona’s fuel tanks, put on the storm plates, and locked down the outside furniture. We just cast off from Jack London Square in Oakland and are underway for Hilo, Hawaii. You can track the voyage on the real-time plot at

We've been monitoring weather conditions for a couple of weeks (via the NOAA Ocean Prediction Center, the US Navy Forecast Models, and GRIB data downloaded into our chartplotter program, MaxSea). It looks like we'll have pretty decent conditions for the run. The video below shows a visualization of our route in MaxSea through modelled weather conditions using downloaded GRIB data. The GRIB data includes model wind speed, barometric pressure, and wave height, period and direction. The green areas are 5-8' seas, yellow is 9-11', and orange is 12-17' seas. The model shows 5-8' seas for most of the route, with a few points at 10'. And where we do see larger waves, the wave period is 10-11 seconds. Weather data isn't really accurate much beyond five days, so conditions could deteriorate, but so far it looks good.

The decision to spend a few weeks in San Francisco before crossing to Hawaii worked out very well. We'll skip some of the nastier weather that we've been watching hit the northwest coast of Washington state these past few weeks, and we had a great time exploring the Bay area. Below are some of what we've seen, and you also can display these on the map view.

09/12/12: Westpoint Harbor Marina
Lunch on deck in our new temporary home. Westpoint Harbor Marina is an impressive new facility with excellent services.
9/14/2012: Quarry Beach, Angel Island State Park
We're anchored off the Quarry Beach, south of the remains of Fort McDowell. The anchorage is suprisingly sheltered, given how exposed it looks on the chart. One of the reasons we stopped here is the view in the other direction: to downtown San Franciso and the Bay Bridge. It should look amazing at night.
9/15/2012: Sausalito Police
Sausalito Police boat off Pt. Blunt with our view to San Francisco in the background.
9/15/2012: Racoon
The US Army Corps of Engineers landing craft Racoon, with a Sausalito Police escort, landed at the dock just south of our anchorage. Several dozen people got off, probably for a tour.
9/15/2012: Outriggers
Perhaps twenty outriggers rounded the point later that morning.
9/15/2012: Fort McDowell
We set off on a tour of the bay, first around Angel Island. More of the remains of Fort McDowell are visible north of Quarry Point.
9/15/2012: Winslow Cove
Old immigration station buildings at Winslow Cove. Several boats were anchored there--the cove has good wind shelter.
9/15/2012: Ayala Cove
Ayala Cove is the busiest anchorage on the island. The park has docks and mooring bouys here. To maximize the number of boats on the buoys, boats tie a both bow and stern to different bouys.
9/15/2012: Sailing
Sailboats filled the bay--outnumbering powerboats by at least 20:1. The predictable afternoon winds make sailing popular.
9/15/2012: Steep hills
Those famous San Francisco hills.
9/15/2012: Camp Reynolds
The US Army established Camp Reynolds, south of Point Knox, in 1864.
9/15/2012: Golden Gate Bridge
Back under the bridge.
9/15/2012: Golden Gate Yacht Club
Home of the America's Cup.
9/15/2012: Ghiradelli building
9/15/2012: Sea lions
Sea lions at pier 39.
9/15/2012: The Bay Rocket
This boat moves!
9/15/2012: US Navy
One of two well-armed US Navy boats that sped past.
9/15/2012: Racing
About thirty Porche's and a handful of other cars were running the course at the west end of Almeda Island.
9/15/2012: Hanjin Berlin
The Hanjin Berlin unloading at the Port of Oakland.
9/15/2012: Crane operator
9/15/2012: Passing under both Bay Bridges
The new Bay bridge is currently under construction beyond the existing bridge.
9/15/2012: Heeled over
Sailboat off Treasure Island.
9/15/2012: Richardson Bay
The city view from our anchorage at Richardson Bay is even better than last night.
9/15/2012: Gray Matter
We had dinner with Christine Guo and Mark Mohler aboard Gray Matter, anchored a short distance away. Mark and Christine had just completed the same trip we did, from Sidney B.C., a couple of weeks earlier.
9/21/2012: Space Shuttle Endeavour
The Space Shuttle Endeavour viewed from our flybridge at Westpoint Harbor Marina. The shuttle, mounted to the back of NASA's modified 747, made a low pass over San Francisco this morning en route to its new home at the California Science Center.
9/22/2012: Dumbarton Bridge
Heading under the Dumbarton Bridge. We decided to take a short cruise south to anchor for the night. The morning is warm, sunny and calm.
9/22/2012: Bridge supports
The criss-crossing supports for the Dumbarton Bridge look rather elegant.
9/22/2012: Aqueduct
This aqueduct presumably is for carrying saltwater to the salt ponds.
9/22/2012: Old railway bridge
The chart says this railway bridge is permanently open. We can see why--the bridge is rotting away. And at the shore end, the bridge just ends in old pilings.
9/22/2012: Coyote Creek
Enjoying the sunny morning on the bow, anchored at the mouth of Coyote Creek. Nearby, down Alviso Slough, is the once-bustling town of Alivso.
9/22/2012: Sunset
Sunset with the lights of Palo Alto just starting to glow.
9/23/2012: Breakfast on deck
Another calm, warm and sunny morning. This was an excellent anchorage--quiet, private and relaxing. Yesterday's prevailing afternoon winds generated some waves, but they were hardly noticable on board. And another bonus of being at anchor rather than docked is the bow faces into the wind, sheltering the cockpit.
9/28/2012: Robert G. Brownlee
The Marine Science Institute research vessel Robert G. Brownlee heading up Redwood Creek as we departed. The 90-foot ship is designed for carrying school students, and a group was on board.
9/28/2012: Team Oracle Racing
The Team Oracle Racing's AC72 catamaran out for one of the boat's first test runs. The huge boat, with a sail higher than 130 feet is incredibly fast. San Francisco Chronicle reporter Al Saracevic, following in a high-speed inflatable, reported their chase boat was doing 30 knots at one point and the catamaran was pulling away. Of the four chase boats we saw, some apparently were some manned by spies for the competition, including New Zealand's Emirates Team.
9/28/2012: Coast Guard rescue diver
Nearby, the Coast Guard was practicing water rescues. The chopper was right near the waterline for ages. This video shows the diver retrieving the rescue dummy and being hoisted back up.
9/28/2012: Moore 24 National Championship
We just barely made it in front of the South Beach Yacht Club's Moore 24 National Championship field as they headed east across the Bay.
9/28/2012: Good wind
That steady afternoon Bay wind propels this contender between us and the Bay bridge.
9/28/2012: America Foss
Beautiful tractor tug America Foss running south.
9/28/2012: Overseas Anacortes
The tanker Overseas Anacortes leaving the tanker port at Point Richmond. The channel there is quite narrow--we passed close by.
9/28/2012: Marshall Foss
Marshall Foss with a line running to the stern of the Overseas Anacortes.
9/28/2012: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge
The 5.5-mile Richmond-San Rafael Bridge was one of the longest in the world when completed in 1959.
9/28/2012: East Brother Island Light Station
The historic light station was build in 1873 and now is a bed-and-breakfast. That would be a wild place to stay.
9/28/2012: Intintoli
The high-speed Baylink ferry Intintoli en route to San Francisco from Vallejo. Baylink runs a seemingly contstant stream of ferries from Vallejo-- we see several every time we're out in the bay.
9/28/2012: Rodeo oil refinery
A view into the complexity of the Sonoco Phillips refinery at Rodeo. The refinery can produce 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
9/28/2012: C&H Sugar Refinery
C&H sugar refinery just east of the Carquinez Bridge. We'll be seeing a lot more C&H facilities in a few weeks when we reach Hawaii.
9/28/2012: Traffic
Entering Mare Island Strait behind Baylink'sthe high-speed ferry Solana, that passed us just before entering the strait. And exiting is Baylink's Vallejo.
9/28/2012: View homes
These houses that wrong the shore and cliff must have awesome sunset views.
9/28/2012: Wreck
Bait Me aground below the cliffs. The wind had been blowing a steady 20 knots from the southeast the past couple of hours. Looks like they can get a lot stronger.
9/28/2012: Shipyard cranes
Mare Island once was a Naval shipyard, but now is private.
9/28/2012: Baylink terminal
Solana moored at the Baylink's ferry terminal.
9/28/2012: Vallejo Marina
Vallejo has a large marine that appears well-maintained.
9/28/2012: Mare Island Drawbridge
The Mare Island Drawbridge has a vertical clearance is 13' closed. We expected we'd have to wait a while to get through, since it was close to rush-hour, but the operator opened the bridge right away after we radioed a lift request.
9/28/2012: Tug under Highway 37 bridge
The current at both bridges was surprisingly strong, especially at the highway 37 bridge, where the current tended to push the boat north. This tug is coming through on an angle, presumably to work against that north push. We watched from our anchorage just north of Dutchman Slough. The tug anchored nearby around 7pm, then left again sometime in the middle of the night. We're guessing they were waiting for the tide to change.
9/28/2012: Sunset
Sunset over the marshes alongside Napa River. The anchorage is a little more open than we were expecting, but we have plenty of swing room compared to anything farther up-river. And once we were settled in, especially after the evening lights came up ashore, we quite liked the spot.
9/29/2012: At anchor on the Napa River
Taken from the dinghy before we ran up-river to Napa. It was going to be a beautiful day.
9/29/2012: Edgerly Island
At Edgerly Island, the river narrows and feels more intimate. The island is rimmed with houses, docks and boats.
9/29/2012: River anchorage
This powerboat was anchored mid-channel, where the river was calm and sheltered.
9/29/2012: Tug again
That powerboat's anchorage seemed ideal, except when we went further up-river and saw the tug and barge that anchored near us last night. That would have been a tight squeeze if the powerboat was anchored overnight.
9/29/2012: Estuaries
Just short of the city, a couple of estuaries lead off. Each was packed with houses, docks and boats and looked like very nice places to live.
9/29/2012: Waterfowl
The river shores are full of wildlife. We didn't see any fish jump, not anyone catch anything, but lots of fishers were on the banks as well.
9/29/2012: Geese
A gaggle of geese at Napa.
9/29/2012: Dinghy landing
Surprisingly, Napa has nowhere to land a dingy, let alone a larger boat. So we landed at the edge of the Riverfront complex and scrambled up the rocks.
9/29/2012: Napa River from Napa
View to the river from the Riverfront complext in downtown Napa.
9/29/2012: Downtown Joe's
We had an excellent lunch on the riverfront patio at Downtown Joe's Brewery.
9/29/2012: Milagros
We got thirsty after walking about downtown, so stopped for another pint on the patio at Milagros.
9/29/2012: Art
Napa has lots of interesting artwork. This one is outside the County of Napa building.
9/29/2012: Wine train
The Napa Valley Wine Train at the station.
9/29/2012: Sunset
Sunset over Mare Island. We returned downriver to tour the waterfront off Vallejo.
9/29/2012: Coast Guard
The area is well protected--three Coast Guard vessels and a police boat were moored at the north end of the marina.
9/29/2012: Dusk
Dusk from our anchorage.
9/30/2012: Moonset
Moonset the following morning.
9/30/2012: Sunrise
10/2/2012: Dawn
Dawn from the boat deck at Westpoint Harbor. We moved the boat temporarily as the marina is bringing a truck in to fuel a number of boats today.
10/5/2012: South Beach Harbor
We anchored off AT&T Park, just south of downtown San Franciso to take in Fleet Week and the America's Cup races. We weren't sure how rough the anchorage might get due to boat wakes and the the afternoon winds, but it turned to be fine. And our view, stretching from downtown San Francisco and across the Bay bridge was amazing. And we could see the America's Cup fleet moored nearby: in this panoramic photo their 70-foot masts are visible at the west end of the Bay bridge just left of the carrier USS Makin Island.
10/6/2012: Candlestick Point
Yesterday we went to the Blue Angels show and the America's Cup races. Wow, we had a great time. Today the Giants are playing at AT&T stadium, so our anchorage was very busy with ferries from the Oakland side. We moved south to get a nice spot with beautiful views away from the crowds and distractions that we enjoyed so much yesterday. Candlestick Park, home of the San Francison 49ers, is in the background.
10/13/2012: Dawn
Dawn looking east towards San Francisco. We anchored for the night just east of Golden Gate, tucked southeast of Fort Point. The occasional large wake bounced the boat a bit, but generally conditions were fine--similar to Blake Island Marine park off Seattle. And the view was amazing--San Francisco one way and the Golden Gate Bridge the other. At night, everything was aglow. Were we to be staying in the Bay area longer, we'd definately anchor here often.
10/13/2012: Sunrise
Sunrise over San Francisco.
10/13/2012: Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge in the morning sun.
10/13/2012: Swimmers
180 swimmers were preparing to swim from the St. Francis Yacht Club to Aquatic Park--the large circular basin about a mile east.
10/13/2012: Oakland
We're going to spend our last couple of weeks in Oakland for a change of pace. So far, we love it here. While we very much enjoyed the pristine and tranquil moorage at Westpoint Harbor Marina, here we're right in the action. We've got an end-tie with a view to all the passing boat traffic reminiscent of the Ballard Ship Canal in Seattle. We're also just east of the Oakland container port--we love watching the big ships come and go. And we're seconds from the restaurants and shops of Jack London Square, and close to the amenities in Oakland and Alameda.
10/14/2012: Sunset
Sunset from our moorage, looking to the Oakland shipping terminal with the Bay bridge and San Francisco just visible in the background.
10/18/2012: Rowers
Rowers at dawn, looking east from our boat deck.
10/18/2012: MSC Ivana
Tugs turn the MSC Ivana at the container port. The maneuver must be carefully managed as the massive 366m ship barely fits lengthwise in the channel--that's shore right off the bow and stern.
10/23/2012: Groceries
A cartload of groceries for the trip to Hawaii--we're on track to leave tomorrow. We just got the cart this week. It's light and easily folds flat for storage, and is super useful where no dock carts are available.
Thursday, October 25, 2012 6:19:51 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [11] - Trackback
On the Water
 Sunday, October 14, 2012

A decade ago, as we watched the America’s Cup races in New Zealand on TV, we longed to watch a race in person from the water. Last week, we got our chance. The current America’s Cup defender is the Golden Gate Yacht Club on San Francisco Bay. The races scheduled for October 2-7th have been on our calendar since we realized our trip to the area would coincide.

We wanted to get Dirona within dinghy distance of the course, so we anchored for the night outside the South Harbor marina breakwater off AT&T park, about three miles from the course. We were weren't sure how rough our anchorage might get due to boat wakes and the afternoon winds, but it turned to be fine. And our view, stretching from downtown San Francisco and across the Bay bridge was amazing. And we could see the America's Cup fleet moored nearby: in the panoramic photo below, their 70-foot masts are visible at the west end of the Bay bridge just left of the carrier USS Makin Island.


Before heading out to the course, we stopped off in "the pits" to check out the boats. Crews already were on board most of them, either preparing the boat or themselves for the afternoon's event.


The carbon-fiber AC45 catamarans are like Formula I race cars--just amazing technology. At 44' long, with a 900 sq. foot wing on a 70' mast, they weigh only 3,000 pounds and can reach speeds of over 30 knots. Their support boats are pretty nice too.


Before the races, we got to see our second Blue Angels show of the year, part of the Fleet Week festivities. We were a little closer to the action this time and had an awesome view. The shoreline and bay were full of people out to see the show as well.



And then for the main event. The racing was exciting--boy those boats move fast--and it was just wild to be there watching on San Francisco Bay with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.



There even was some excitement off the course as well. The boat on the right, maneuvering through the spectators, nearly ran us over in the dinghy before colliding with the sailboat on the left.

After the races, some of the teams towed their boats back to their moorage, but a few sailed back. The boats ran incredibly well in the rough water--just skimming across the surface. We barely could keep up in our 30-knot dinghy, often having to slow down through larger wakes. And with some impressive tight-quarters boat-handling, team Artemis even sailed right onto their buoy.


Shortly after we arrived, the Prada boat was lifted out of the water by crane. We could see a large dent in the side, but weren't sure if that was the reason for lifting it.

The AC45s will race in several venues around the world as part of the Americas Cup World Series. These boats are designed for quick assembly and disassembly to fit in a 40-foot shipping container. The final races, for the Louis Vuitton Cup and the America's Cup, will be raced in the massive AC72s. The AC72s are roughly twice the size of the AC45s: 72' long, with a 131' mast and a 2,800 sq.-foot wing area, and weighing 13,000 lbs. Their crew size is 11, compared to 5 on the AC45s. 

We'd seen defending champion team Oracle's AC72 out for its world open-water debut a couple of weeks ago. We clocked them on radar at 31.5 knots, and it will be capable of doing considerably more. We saw team Oracle's AC72 again this past weekend. The huge mast dwarfed the eleven crew below it as the boat sped across the bay.

Sunday, October 14, 2012 7:43:56 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [2] - Trackback
On the Water
 Monday, September 17, 2012

Late last week, we passed under the Golden Gate Bridge and cruised south to our new temporary home at impressive Westpoint Harbor Marina. The trip from Seattle started out with wonderfully calm conditions through the Strait of Juan de Fuca--amongst the best we've experienced there. We originally had planned to run a good 50 miles offshore to avoid boat traffic and crab pots. But a storm was brewing with gale-force winds and 14-foot seas predicted between 60 and 250 miles offshore, so we instead ran within 10 miles of shore where better conditions were predicted. The winds still were 30-knot with 12-foot seas, but that was an improvement over the alternative. After about 24 hours of big winds, conditions settled back down and we had a relaxing cruise into the San Francisco area.

To avoid entering the busy San Francisco Bay in the dark, we anchored for a night at Drakes Bay. We had both navigation reasons for delaying our entry, in addition to better photo opportunities. We'd have to first cross the San Francisco bar, best done at slack or on a flood current. During large ebbs, the current there can reach 6 knots. And when ocean storms are pushing waves westward in the opposite direction, steep 20' seas can develop there. Once across the bar, Golden Gate itself is only 0.7 miles across and busy with ship traffic.

We enjoyed the stop at Drakes Bay--steep hills surround the anchorage on three sides, with a view south towards San Francisco. And the entire peninsula forms the Point Reyes National Seashore. Had we not been so eager to reach our destination, we likely would have spent some time exploring ashore, particularly visiting the Point Reyes Lighthouse we'd passed on our way into the bay.

But eager to arrive we were, so we left Drakes Bay early the next morning and arrived at the San Francisco bar about an hour before high-water slack.  We had an easy cruise under the bridge, past the city, and south through the Bay. We'll be spending the next few weeks here exploring the area, before continuing on to Hawaii.

Our log for the trip is below. You also can display these, along with a detailed route, on the map view.

09/07/12, 8:00pm: Dusk
We're at the east entrance of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Conditions are excellent: 6 knots of wind, calms seas and clear skies. The cruise ship Amsterdam just passed heading to Alaska and still is visible in the distance, aglow with light.
09/08/12, 4:22am: Tatoosh Island
Conditions in the strait stayed wonderfully calm the entire time. We're now in thick fog off Tatoosh Island, and southerly winds are generating a tight chop on the bow.
09/08/12, 5:00pm: Off Ocean Shores
A salmon fishing opening is in effect--we're seeing a lot more traffic than on our previous run to the Columbia River. Conditions settled a bit, but now we're in S 15-knot winds with tight 4-6' seas on the bow. We've got gale-force winds predicted for Mon-Wed, so its definately going to get worse.
09/09/12, 1:00pm: Heading closer to shore
We're past the Columbia River bar--this is the southnernmost we've ever been with Dirona. Winds have been steady 15, but its been doing that for days, so waves are pretty close together. There's a gale coming with winds up to 35 knots and 14-foot seas. The conditions are predicted to be better close to shore, so we've hading that way now and will continue that distance from shore down the coast. Heading towards shore also lets us run diagonaly across the short swell, which is both more comfortable and much faster.
09/10/12, 4:30am: Off Cape Blanco
We're just over halfway to San Franciso now--we've got 365 mile left out of 837. Conditions are exellent now--calm seas and we're making great time compared to bow-into the waves yesterday. The weather prediction for within 10 of shore has worsened, but still is better than offshore.
09/10/12, 1:00pm: Winds 25-30 knots
The bad weather has arrived. Winds are N 25-30, generating tight 7-9' seas. The only good thing as that we are running with the waves, rather than against them, so we're still able to make decent time. Conditions are expected to worsen, with 10-12' seas tonight, and then start to ease off tomorrow morning.
09/10/12, 6:30pm: 15-degree rolls
Winds are steady 30 with 10-12' seas. The range in the roll guage pictured is from -20 to +20 in 5-degree increments. Even with hydraulic stablizers running at maximum output, we're still rolling 15 degrees each side.
09/10/12, 8:30pm: Approaching Cape Mendocino
Conditions much improved. The wind has dropped to 10-20 knots and the waves to 7-9'. The waves still are big, but aren't nearly as fierce as a couple of hours ago.
09/11/12, 5:10am: North of Fort Bragg
Conditions were reasonable rounding Cape Menocino, but worsened not far south. Winds blew 30-knots most of the graveyard shift, with 10-12' seas to match. The wind has again settled back down into the 20s, with mostly 7-9' seas again.
09/11/12, 7:00am: Sunrise
The sun just rose on what promises to be a good running day: winds are down to around 10 knots, the waves are 5-6', and the sky is clear and blue.
09/11/12, 12:05pm: Fog
The clear skies gave way to a thick fog late this morning. Winds are blowing around 10 from the SW--not much of a problem except we're getting a good saltwater bath from the spray. Our ETA to Golden Gate is the middle of the night, so we're thinking of stopping in Drakes Bay tonight and proceeding through Golden Gate tomorrow morning. Hopefully the fog will lift and we'll actually be able to see the bridge.
09/11/12, 6:20pm: Land ho!
The lighthouse at Pt Reyes, hung of the cliff, makes a dramatic display. Land actually has been ho for a while, but this particular land is more interesting to us because we plan to anchor at Drakes Bay for the night.
09/11/12, 7:15pm: Our first California anchorage
The engines are off after four days straight, the anchor is down, and the wine is poured. Time for a relaxing meal and a full night's sleep. For our first California anchorage, it's a pretty nice one. Steep hills are on three sides and we have a clear view south towards San Francicso.
09/12/12, 6:44am: Heading to Golden Gate
Got up just before sunrise and we're all excited to be heading towards the Golden Gate Bridge (even Spitfire).
09/12/12, 9:20am: Pilot Boat San Francisco
We're in the lanes with the Golden Gate Bridge just visible in the distance. Conditions are overcost, but not socked in.
09/12/12, 10:00am: Approaching Golden Gate
09/12/12: Passing under the Golden Gate Bridge
09/12/12: Fort Point
Masonry fort under the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge.
09/12/12: San Francisco
09/12/12: Alcatraz Island
09/12/12: Port of San Francisco
09/12/12: Passing under the Bay Bridge
09/12/12: Westpoint Harbor Marina
Lunch on deck in our new temporary home. Westpoint Harbor Marina is an impressive new facility with excellent services.
Monday, September 17, 2012 7:29:09 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [0] - Trackback
On the Water
 Friday, September 07, 2012

Today we set off from Seattle to do some longer-range cruising. Our goal is to cross over to Hawaii, and we'll figure out the next step from there. Insurance restrictions discourage travel in the area between June and November, during the northern hemisphere hurricane season. May was too soon to leave, and we didn't want leave Seattle and travel through the North Pacific in November during the winter storm season. So we'll first be travelling to the San Francisco area to stay there temporarily for 4-6 weeks until we cross over to Hawaii in October. This also puts us 200 miles closer--Hawaii is about 2,200 miles from San Francisco and about 2,400 from the Seattle area. The prevailing winds and currents are better on this more southerly route as well.

We've just finished a new feature on the web site that shows a real-time plot of Dirona's location. A small version of the live chart is on the blog site above, and a large one is at:

In the image at right (click to enlarge it), the blue line is the plot of our track. Each blue square on the line shows the time and speed at that location if you put the cursor on them. And the red square with the star shows our current location. The blue paddle icons represents a log entry along the way, the red one being the most recent. Click on a paddle to see details for that entry.

Each map also has a refresh button that you can click to refresh just the map data (rather than the whole page).

As we sail south, we're leaving one of the most beautiful cruising areas in the world and perhaps the nicest marina we've ever stayed at. Bell Harbor Marina, in the core of downtown Seattle, is a special place. Below are some of what we've seen since our cruise on the Columbia and Snake River system. You also can display these on the map view.

05/17/12: Echo Bay, Sucia Island
Sucia Island is one of our long-time favorite anchorages in the San Juan Islands. A few early-season boats are here, and the beautiful tractor tug Lindsay Foss preceded us in. We suspect it is waiting for a ship to escort into Anacortes.
05/18/12: Cap Sante Boat Haven, Anacortes
At Anacortes for Trawler Fest. We'll be presenting Saturday morning.
05/19/12: Padilla Bay
Maersk Cameron at the Anacortes refinery near our anchorage in Padilla Bay
05/21/12: Pier 57 Ferris Wheel
The Pier 57 Ferris Wheel, still under construction, viewed from our moorage at Bell Harbor.
05/25/12: Tramp Harbor
Beachcombing during low tide at Point Heyer.
05/26/12: Morning sun
Calm waters off the KVI tower.
05/27/12: Divers
Scuba divers at the fish haven off Point Heyer.
05/27/12: Murden Cove
Landslide off our anchorage at Murden Cove. Shoring that up looks like an expensive operation.
06/01/12: Celebrity Infinity
Celebrity Infinity leaving its berth at pier 66 as we leave ours.
06/08/12: Hanjin Geneva
The Hanjin Geneva en route from Seattle, viewed from our anchorage at Murden Cove.
06/15/12: Bell Street Classic Weekend
The classic wooden yacht Olympus coming alongside for the Bell Street Classic Weekend shortly before we left the marina for Murden Cove.
06/16/12: Ballard Locks
Returning out through the big lock after picking up a a load of fuel this morning at Covich-Williams. The small lock temporarily is closed. They sure pack a lot of boats in there--and this isn't even a busy day.
06/18/12: Old engines ...
... don't like starting.
06/18/12: Norwegian Pearl
When the cruise ships leave pier 66, you can almost touch them from the Edgewater Hotel patio.
07/03/12: Hydroplane
Mini hydroplane tearing through Quartermaster Harbor.
07/06/12: Celebrity Infinity
Celebrity Infinity coming alongside at pier 66 early this morning.
07/06/12: Sunset
Sunset from Yukon Harbor.
07/08/12: Morning
Looking west from Yukon Harbor in the early morning light.
07/08/12: Boat inspection
Department of Fish and Wildlife on a boat inspection.
07/13/12: Rich Passage I
Kitsap Transit's fast ferry Rich Passage I en route from Seattle to Bremerton.
07/13/12: Sunset
Sunset from the anchorage.
07/15/12: USCGC Stratton
The piracy threat level is probably about -2 at Bell Harbor today with the 418-foot US Coast Guard Cutter Stratton moored alongside.
07/16/12: Into the fog
The US Coast Guard Cutter Stratton heading into a foggy Puget Sound this morning.
07/16/12: Fire boat
Testing the pumping systems off Pier 66.
07/20/12: Blakely Harbor
David Baker sent us this picture he took of Dirona anchored at Blakely Harbor with the Seattle skyline in the background.
07/27/12: Silverdale
We're anchored at the head of Dyes Inlet for Silverdale's annual Whaling Days. The public dock is packed for the event.
07/27/12: Fireworks
Friday-night fireworks at Silverdale's Whaling Days. The show was impressive: we were only a few hundred yards away from the barge and felt like we were right underneath.
07/28/12: The Joey James Dean Band
The Joey James Dean Band on stage Saturday night at Silverdale's Whaling Days.
07/31/12: Nearly-full moon
A nearly-full moon rising over the Seattle skyline next to the mast of the HMCS Oriole.
08/01/12: Oriole and Halsey
HMCS Oriole in front of the destroyer USS Halsey. They're here for Seafair weekend.
08/01/12: Bringing in the colors
Bringing in the colors on the USS Halsey.
08/05/12: On the TravelLift
Getting lifted for anti-fouling paint at Canal Boatyard.
08/12/12: Racoons
Racoons gathering breakfast at low tide off Blakely Island. At least a dozen are out there.
08/12/12: Parasailer
Parasailer just lifting above the city, viewed from the dinghy in Elliott Bay.
08/17/12: Sunrise
Sunrise over Seattle this morning.
08/23/12: And you think your salon is small ...
Last night we watched the occupant of this tent stow all manner of gear in his craft, moored along the tribal docks at Bell Harbor. It looks like he's heading of for a big trip.
08/27/12: Dawn
Seattle at dawn as we approach Bell Harbor this morning from Blakely Harbor.
08/30/12: Moonrise
Moonrise over Port Madison.
08/31/12: Dawn
Dawn as we leave Port Madison heading towards Hood Canal.
08/31/12: Fishers
Fishers packed Point No Point this morning. Even more are outside the picture frame.
08/31/12: Sea monster
This driftwood sea monster has been on Pt. Hannon as long as we've been visiting Hood Canal.
08/31/12: Hood Canal Bridge
Heading under the Hood Canal bridge. The clearance is 30', but we had about 5' to spare on a 7' tide.
08/31/12: Bangor
Fog lifting over the Ballistic submarine sevice hanger at Bangor.
08/31/12: Wild ride
Enjoying the warm weather and calm seas off Sunset Beach.
08/31/12: Nightfall
The head of Hood Canal is a much cozier-feeling anchorage than the chart implies--we quite like it. We were here two years ago for July 4th and had a great time. A few small boats buzz about during the day, but nobody else is anchored--the place is calm and silent at night. And this time we had a visitor: Rachel, who co-owns one of the nearby houses, paddled out with a bottle of wine to introduce herself, and came on board for an enjoyable visit.
09/02/12: Sunrise
Sunrise from Lilliwaup Bay.
09/02/12: Whitney Point
We're tucked against the shore in a small cove off the Whitney Point spit. The anchorage is a little deep and tight for swing room close to shore, but its such a pretty spot that we had to make it work.
Friday, September 07, 2012 8:49:58 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [2] - Trackback
On the Water
 Sunday, August 12, 2012

Last weekend, for the first time ever, we took in some Seafair events up-close. Normally we're on vacation in August, since that works best with both of our work schedules, and are leaving the area just as Seafair is starting up.  The unlimited class hydroplane races for the Albert Lee Cup anchor Seafair Weekend. The race and many of the supporting events take place inside the Ballard Locks on Lake Washington, but one is located right at Bell Harbor Marina where we moor: the Boeing Maritime Celebration. Two of the participating vessels, the destroyer USS Halsey and the HMCS Oriole, had been moored at pier 66 much of the week.

Rather than leave for a weekend anchorage as we usually do Friday night, we opted to stay at Bell Harbor Marina to tour the ships Saturday morning. The pictures below are looking across Dirona to the Halsey from shore, and looking back the other way from the pier 66 breakwater just before we boarded the destroyer. The breakwater is a secure area and, even though we'd live at pier 66 for over three years, this was the first time we'd actually been up there.


The 509' Halsey was launched in 2005 and is capable of speeds exceeding 30 knots. The firepower on board is formidable. The 5-inch gun below is accurate to 13 miles. At right is a close-up view of the gun's remote-operated guidance system, above the bridge on the ship's stack.


The ship can launch a variety of missiles, including Tomahawks, from the bay at left below, and also has two tubes for launching torpedoes. And it carries two MK III Helicopters that are moved on and off deck on the tracks shown below right.


Up to 11 50-caliber machine guns can be mounted on deck, with an additional 2 40-caliber machine bugs on the bridge.


The bridge is packed with navigation and control equipment. It also has the only windows on the ship, but they aren't very large.


After touring the Halsey, we returned the marina to board the HMCS Oriole, moored inside the marina. The wooden sailing ship was built in 1921, originally as a pleasure craft, and was later donated to the Canadian Navy. The Oriole is both the oldest vessel in the Canadian Naval fleet, and the longest serving. The vessel is used for training purposes and for public relations. As you would expect from a navy vessel, the boat was maintained beautifully.


We left Bell Harbor after our tours to anchor for the night. To provide security for the destroyer, all vessels required a Coast Guard escort to enter or leave the marina.


Sunday morning, we locked through to freshwater en route to Canal Boatyard for anti-fouling paint. The locks were packed with small boats, presumably heading to Seafair on Lake Washington. At bottom right we are moored along the wall at the boatyard.


We've never had any desire to take our main boat to the events at Seafair--it's a bit of madhouse--but we figured it would be fun to take the dinghy to see the US Navy Blue Angels performance. We've not before seen so much traffic in the waterway en route to Lake Washington--even with a 7-knot speed limit, the water was pretty chopped up from wakes. And when we left the speed-limit area, the wakes from all the boat traffic were huge. At first we thought it was wind waves, but the water calmed once we reached the area where most of the boats were stopped.


Literally thousands of boats were there for the Blue Angels show.


And what a show it was. The jets fly incredibly close to each other, and so close to us sometimes we could clearly see the pilots inside.



Sunday, August 12, 2012 6:27:18 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [1] - Trackback
On the Water

Our cruising guide, Waggoner sister publication Cruising the Secret Coast, is available at local bookstores and online. Click book image for details.

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