Velella's Drift

An account of Velella's voyage from Seattle to New York via Panama, 2009-2011

Archive for September, 2009

Nude in the middle of the city

Our anchorage  is pretty much prime cut: It has a killer view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, a protected downtown beach on which to land the dinghy, and a choice of either the colorful curiosities of Fisherman’s Wharf or the vista-rich lawns of Fort Mason both within a quarter-mile stroll. It even has quite a few resident harbor seals, who follow our dinghy so closely it would be alarming if they didn’t look so much like Nuala. Of course what our Utopian anchorage does not have is an outlet to plug ourselves into, so we swing free on the hook, reliant solely on our (awesomely large) solar panels for power.

There are surprisingly many things on Velella that need electrical current to function–things that I never really considered while living on land. The electric bilge pump is a good thing to keep on, and of course refrigeration draws a lot, the anchor light adds a few watts, and we find it pretty important to have charged phones and computers. Even having running water takes the energy of an electric pump to create pressure. Unfortunately, drawing water and drawing HOT water are two different systems, a fact that somehow I’m embarrassed to admit that I had no notion of until yesterday morning.

One of the things I love most about our boat is the incredibly hot hot water heater. It’s not lukewarmish water that we imagine is hot, it’s like scaldingly, luxuriously hot. I was imagining my first hot shower at the anchorage when Prescott informed me that “uh yeah Meg, that hot water heater is on the AC circut–didn’t you know that? It’s either from the engine or from the plug, and we have niether right now.” The news was like a bucket of ice water.

However, we did have one power-free, fresco option. The solar shower. A very simple, very black, five-gallon bag that heats up in the sun, supposedly. I, for one, was a bit skeptical, because I was not into the idea of a tepid shower, especially on that blustery San Francisco Bay day. There is no way that the sun could heat up that bag of water as hot as I wanted it, not North of LA. So Prescott was the guinea pig (he was dirtier too, so a little more motivated). He looked like he was having quite the time–no goosebumps or squeals… and I had to admit that lavender scented Dr. Bronner’s soap (Thank you Brook!) smelled delightful mixing with the salt air…

Then I got impatient and made him give me a turn. Do I wear a swimsuit (we’re in the middle of the city)? I better have my bathrobe close by because that wind was brisk, and I was going to be pretty pissed if this thing wasn’t warm. Prescott was dressed and moving around the cockpit already, leaning up the cushions vertically along the lifelines, and pinning towels around the cockpit’s circumference to create a windproof privacy fence for my shower. No one on the docks or the beach could see me as the solar shower bag hung from the end of the boom and I stretched out on the warm, sunny teak for my first bath in awhile. I thought it would be cold and camplike–instead it was decadent and heavenly. My hair tingled and squeaked clean, my skin woke up, my head cleared, as the steaming bag of water rained down on me in the sun. My bathrobe was right in the shade of the dodger, and as I toweled off my hair in the wind, I felt like a character in a book.

We rowed into shore feeling less like the vagrant hippie sailors we were beginning to look like and more like pressed and clean yachties skipping around the Bay. It’s taking some time for me to get used to not having life’s luxuries readily available (and sometimes it’s a real pain in the ass), but my shower was an enormous accomplishment, and a daily ritual I look forward to repeating in anchorages all along this beautiful coast. Thank you Mom for the last-minute gift of the solar shower!


I think we’ve found a way

As I am learning, the origin of San Francisco is rooted firmly in the California Gold Rush. My San Francisco experience has yielded a gold rush of sorts, although a more personal one. Today both Meg and I had our “Eureka” moment, the revelatory equivalent of striking a rich gold vane.

I remember in high school and college bemoaning the fact that space in America is disappearing. As population increases, the United States becomes more cramped. Beautiful land in this country is hard to come by, as our forefathers and their offspring have snatched it up. Like many of our natural resourced The American Dream -to own a tenant of land, nurture it and craft it after one’s ideals- seems to have been hunted almost to extinction. The government no longer pays stipends to adventurers looking to move west. The opposite; property costs more than ever and is viciously hoarded. Nowhere can you expect to live for free.

If one must save their whole life to buy their little slice of heaven, they can never expect to leave. After paying the mortgage on a house, how can one possibly have enough money left for travel? That requires paying fees and taxes, for residency on another’s property comes at a premium price. There must be a better way.

The answer, of course, is timeshares.

Actually, sailing is the answer. My long-winded intro was a little obvious, so I needed a curveball.

Today was our first day in San Francisco. We dropped anchor in Aquatic Park yesterday evening. Aquatic Park is a small manmade cove just off the north shore of San Francisco, next to the Fishermen’s terminal. Upon arriving, my first thought was “how can this exist?” Here we are, staring into downtown San Francisco, and we’re not paying a single cent. Have you ever seen an RV park in the downtown of a city? Neither have I. But somehow we are not only saddling up next to the heart of the city, but its completely free. This was my first revelation.

This morning, Meg and I rowed in to go exploring. We took BART (the Bay Area Transit) downtown, where we expected to find a farmer’s market. Instead, we arrived in the middle of cramped skyscrapers (damn you, googlemaps!). Luckily the San Fran Library was across the street, so we looked up a guidebook on the city and discovered that the true location of the market was on Fishermen’s terminal, not too far from our boat.

(As an aside, I also had a euphoric moment in the library when I discovered a book I’ve been searching for this past year. When Meg and I began planning this trip, I figured that as long as we’re living out our dreams, I might as well write that biographical Beach Boys screenplay I’ve been mulling over for the last six years. The original Beach Boys biography, written in 1973, has been out of print for years. It fetches over $300 on ebay. I’ve been looking for it forever and San Francisco is the first place I’ve seen it. This is like the holy grail of books for me and I was overjoyed to finally be able to leaf through it today, heaping luster on already amazing day.)

We spent a total of $40 for the freshest vegetables, fruit, bread, cream and a loaf of goat’s milk cheese referred mysteriously throughout the market as “batch #8” (after tasting a small sliver of it, Meg and I spent a good half hour tracking down the one booth that still had batch #8). Then we took BART back to our park, where our dinghy was locked to a lamppost. The aquatic park where we’re anchored is on a beach, and we got a lot of weird looks from the adults and kids playing in the water as we unhooked our raft from the lamppost, dragged it into the water, and took off with our groceries into the windy bay. It was an incredibly hot day, so we put on our bathing suits and had a delicious lunch on the bow of Velella, with the San Francisco skyline on one side and Alcatraz on the other.

Eventually we rowed back to town. There’s some sort of funk/soul festival going on in the park and, if we weren’t going to buy tickets, we figured the sound quality might be better off the water. Not to mention, the San Francisco public library (my newly adored institution) was having its yearly book sale. A huge waterfront warehouse had been dedicated to housing all the library’s no longer needed books, being sold as a fundraiser for a dollar apiece. After 3 hours of browsing, we had a shopping cart full of “the field guide to the gray whale”, “the rolling stone’s illustrated history of rock and roll”, “lonesome dove”, “watership down” and many others. They had an amazing book from 1879 “Magic for the Stage”, a performing magicians handbook. It was the most earthy, mysterious tome I have ever laid eyes upon. A one-of-a-kind relic, its price sticker was $500. I tried to get the surprisingly pecuniary librarian to give it to me for $100 but he would not lower his price.

An amazing day, to be sure, but what most surprises me is the richness our boat provides. The best part about this is the sanctuary we have. Anytime we choose, we can become engulfed in the city. We have friends ashore and a thousand different adventures wait. But Velella remains our inner sanctum, our fortress surrounded by an infinite moat. By rowing our dinghy half a mile out to our anchorage, we are afforded all the solitude and self-sufficiency of country living. It’s truly an amazing experience. I’ve never felt so completely self-reliant, and at no cost other than what we spent on farm-ripened fruit and a basket of used books.

After a month of hideous weather and rough seas, the winds are changing. Meghan was on to something when she proposed this trip a year ago. In a world where your ability to be self-sufficient is directly proportional to the size of your bank account, we may have found a loop hole.  It’s called “cruising”.

Meg and Andrew don’t believe me

In the span of a single second, I experienced what I am certain will be my greatest miracle on this trip. It happened this morning, and I am writing it down as soon as possible, to preserve as best I can that fantastical instance.

The experience was all the more remarkable for the rough times that preceded it. Two days ago, our weather again turned sour. We had pulled into Shelter Cove to escape the stormy seas, but the swell followed us into the tiny inlet. After several attempts to set the anchor (making sure we wouldn’t drift into the shore during the night), we threw our exhausted bodies down for some rest. However the pounding of the waves against Velella’s hull, combined with an hourly wake-up call to check our anchor, meant the night was sleepless and we’d begin Tuesday even more exhausted than before.

We awoke with the morning fog. In our previous experience, fog had burnt off after a couple hours. But this was San Francisco fog. We were still 100 miles from the city but already the coastal waters were covered in a permanent blanket. No amount of sun could penetrate them, so we slunk through the mist straining to see in the grey half-light.

As the day wore on, the seas picked up, giving our most difficult night yet. During my three hour watch, I counted the duration between the waves. Three seconds. That meant that every three seconds, Velella was getting rolled from the side by 4 to 8 foot waves. The continual battering quickly wore us down. Not even a strong cup of coffee was enough to warm me from the winds and the chilly wet air.

Sailboats are balanced for sailing. This means that, even when motoring, the ride can often be made more comfortable if there’s a bit of sail up. Since the wind had picked up during the night, Andrew (when he awoke for his 4 a.m. watch) and I decided to make a reefed mainsail. I turned the boat into the wind and Andrew began the task of tying in the reef knots. But the winds and the waves would allow us no peace. Our boom became stuck, because the winds had whipped our topping lift around the backstay, tangling it. With a grip still on the steering wheel, I unhooked it from the boom in an attempt to free it from the rigging.

Fighting the topping lift with one hand, and steering with the other, I was vaguely aware that the boat was turning away from the wind. An accidental jibe (the wind grabs the boom and slams it across the boat at speeds up to 100 miles an hour) is one of any sailor’s biggest fears. Fear rose in my chest. I noticed our boat turning further downwind, and I hurriedly tried to reattach the topping lift so I could get the boat back on course. But I wasn’t fast enough.

The wind caught hold of the mainsail. Before I could even blink, the boom rocketed past my face, slamming hard into the rigging on the opposite side of the boat. It ripped the topping lift out of my hand, lacerating two of my fingers. The topping lift swung back and forth around the mast, like a lethal pendulum. Andrew caught it. Badly shaken, the two of us agreed there would be no sailing tonight.

We had another evil omen at first dawn. The fog still clung around our boat, thicker than ever. On our radio, the Coast Guard was franticly searching for a boat. An unknown vessel had called out a mayday (the highest distress call) and then gone silent. Meghan woke me up, upset by the possible fate of the other boat’s crew. Exhausted by our foul conditions and spooked by the fog, we were all on edge as we motored through the ghostly clouds into harbor.

I was at the helm, nervous. I couldn’t see more than half a mile and I knew from the charts that the area north of us was shallow and rocky. Off our port side I noticed a huge wave crest and break on what looked like a rocky shoal the size of a small island.

“How am I doing guys? I’m seeing rocks on our left!” I shouted into the cabin.

Meghan and Andrew checked our chart plotter and came up, puzzled, reporting that there shouldn’t be any visible rocks. We looked again for my rock, but saw no sign of it.

“Shoot, I swore I saw something. I’m also exhausted” I admitted.

Andrew and Meghan went below, and I resumed my vigilant inspection of the horizon. I was caught off-guard when, beside our boat, a whale burst from the water.

On this trip, we’ve seen a half-dozen whales. I’ve seen whales broaching, displaying the small of their backs as they turn back into the water. I’ve seen whales sounding, flipping their tales out of the water as they dive into the deep. I’ve seen the mouths of whale feeding on krill, and I’ve seen whales slap the water with their fins to steer schools of fish. We have footage (which we will post, shortly) of a mother humpback and her calf feeding on krill at sunset. But nothing could compare to this.

I have never before seen the whale in full. The broaching whale does not do them justice. I had no idea the true enormity of the animals. If I had known how big they truly are, I would never have thought it possible for them to jump almost entirely out of the water. But the whale showed his full self, the length of him extending beyond multiple waves. If you have read Dune, it reminded me of Frank Hurbert’s description of the sand worms, for it was like a single serpentine coil rising out of the ground. It was like a Romantic-era mural of a whale hunt, an image that I did not think existed except in the mind of the artist. I now understand the ancient mariner’s fear of the Leviathan. The creature was larger than our boat and it had exploded out of the ocean, only to disappear a fraction of a second later.

“Holy SHIT!”

I released the steering wheel and fell into the cockpit. Meghan and Andrew ran up to see what had happened. I could only point to the spot on the ocean where the whale had disappeared, a giant ring of white foam. The three of us stood in the cockpit for what seemed like forever, but the beast did not resurface.

The Sailing Philosophy

Let me begin by saying that conditions are improving. Crew disposition improves with our weather. As we head south and the skies grow sunnier, so does our morale. Even with the morning fog, our current harbor in Eureka, CA is picturesque. Across the small marina where we are moored the waterway is lined with beautiful Victorian houses. Our boat sits next to a wildlife preserve, and we are but a small walk from verdant flora, deer and marsh waterfowl. The fiber of our trip improves with each line of latitude we cross.

We’ve also become more adept as a crew. In the beginning, our roles were fuzzy, leading to many overlaps and subsequent squabbles. Too many cooks in the kitchen rendered every decision, be it the choice of our next port to the proper tie of a knot, into excruciatingly long courtroom testimonials, with lengthy pleas before the jury, backed by evidence from our sailing literature, and plentiful time for rebuttals. Now we’ve accepted each other’s proficiencies. Tired of argument and growing ever more trusting, we’ve unofficially divided up the labor on the boat. Andrew, who races sailboats, is deferred to on matters of sail trim and knots. Meghan, inherently meticulous and, as a Captain, more knowledgeable of the seas than Andrew or myself is our navigator. She carefully plots our course, checking and re-checking the conditions ahead of us. Since I have spent the year trying to stay ahead of the upkeep on our Yanmar diesel engine (“Yannie”, as we affectionately refer to her as), I have become the resident mechanic, responsible for Yannie’s well-being and handling Velella whenever Yannie is run during precarious conditions (such as crossing a bar or docking).

Just as we have learned one another’s abilities, so have we learned what sailing is NOT. It is easy to imagine Velella on the ocean horizon, backed by the setting sun, sails stiff in the breeze. She cruises over the ocean swells at a solid six knots, her helmsman smiling as another philosophic truth is revealed (such conditions revealing eternal truths at the rate of approximately four per hour). This was my vision when I planned our trip. Learned truths, it turns out, are often more practical.

TRUTH #1: WATCH THE WEATHER. Perhaps this seems obvious. Of course a sailing vessel, being dependent on the wind, would need to pay attention to the location and availability of the wind. But in the beginning, it was not yet given its proper consideration. When we left Seattle, we looked at our course, and then determined how the weather might serve us. If we were trying to make it to Port Townsend, and there was wind on our beam, great! We could sail and the trip would be all the more comfortable. If there was no wind, we would motor and still make the same time. Weather was a supplemental consideration.

Now, weather is not just our method of transportation. It is the whole of our existence. It is our safety and our comfort. It affects our mood, our interactions with each other, even our outlook on life. It is the first thing we look at when we wake up and we check it every hour we are out at sea. More than any other topic, it sparks crew discussion and we each take our turn interpreting what the current prediction means for us, and whether it’s worth continuing onward. We don’t even consider going out if the wind is against our bow. If the forecast turns while we’re in port, it means an extended vacation wherever we are. If we’re at sea, it means we head for port as quick as possible.

This was learned the hard way, after getting stuck in two separate gales. A gale is defined by its 30 to 40 knot winds and, in our case, 10-12 foot seas. Without basis for comparison this will mean nothing to you, as it did for us initially. The difference between 6 foot swells and 10 foot swells might only be the difference of four feet, until you’ve been out in both. The night we powered through our first gale was the first time on this trip I was scared. We were making between 1 to 2 knots of headway, motoring over waves with a double reefed mainsail for stability. It was completely black, no moon, and steering in the cockpit meant being slammed from all sides by the power of the ocean. Every fifteen minutes Velella would hit a particularly large wave. My only forewarning would come immediately before we were hit, in the form of six foot high bioluminescent froth. It afforded just enough time to mutter one cursory swear word before thrusting me off my seat at the wheel. The boat, lifted up and pointed directly up into the night sky, would just as quickly rocket down, submerging our bow in the foot of the next wave. Underwater, our navigation lights lit the frothing ocean like a hotel Jacuzzi.

I was concerned for Meghan and Andrew, who I imagined bouncing around the cabin to the point of unconsciousness. But I the force of the boat would not allow me to leave the wheel, nor could I shout down to them over the wind. Though exhausted, Meghan was otherwise fine. In the morning she would relate to me the feeling of awakening from sleep in a state of weightlessness, levitating above the V-birth as the waves tossed the front of the boat into the air.

TRUTH #2: THE SAILING PHILOSOPHY. Our agreed-upon approach, as we began in Seattle, was to use the diesel engine as little as possible. Our sails being our primary and most comfortable method of power, this made sense. Plus the month which we gave ourselves to make it down the coast allowed time for a leisurely sailing pace of 3 to 4 knots. Who cares about speed, it’s the experience we were after!

Tied directly to the influence our weather has had over the trip, it the importance of speed. Though we must move quickly to San Francisco so Andrew can make his flight home on the 27th, our boat’s speed also determines our safety. Every port on the coast is only accessible at certain times. The tides, nightfall, ocean swell: Any of these conditions can limit our access to safe harbor. To make the distance from one port to the next, or to outrun an approaching front, motoring is necessary. Though preferable, sailing in low winds costs us 2-3 knots of speed. In an automobile this would mean nothing: But in a boat with an average speed of 4.5 knots, covering an average of 90 miles per stretch, it can mean the difference of days. Sailing has unfortunately become a luxury, supplementing Yannie’s admirable performance. Hopefully when we’re less crunched for time, and have the luxury of California breezes as opposed to Pacific Northwest storms, we’ll be able to go carbon-less and rely solely on our sails. Yet thus far we have yet to quit our addiction to fossil fuels.

TRUTH #3: MANAGING EXPECTATIONS. The trip improves as our expectations change. Not only is the weather becoming more “sailable” as we go south, but so are our ideas about the trip. We are better able to read the weather forecast, which plays a critical role in the experience. We don’t expect to sail every day, and it becomes a treat to shut the engine off and spend ten hours doing 8 knots on a following wind. We jumped into this trip on one of the hardest, most unforgiving coasts. The trip has been rough, but even the stormiest of oceans will eventually calm. We emerge into the warm Californian waters with experience under our belt and ready for smoother seas.

“Arms are the New Face”

Prescott and I spent an entire afternoon back in Neah Bay passing the time by reading all the magazines in the only grocery store in town. We didn’t purchase any, just piled them up on a table near the window and plowed through them, page by vibrant, contemporary page. It was kind of a pathetic way to spend the day, but we were desperate, and the magazines were like a portal back to the society that we were so sorely missing in drizzly Neah Bay.

Prescott learned a lot about Why the Beatles Broke Up, while I found out that Arms are the New Face. Cool, convenient for me, I thought, since my new lifestyle is sculpting me some killer arms (but a rather tired face). Living at sea has kicked my ass in many ways and made me stronger in others. Seasickness was probably the most effective diet one could ever hope for. Sheeting in the genoa in 20-knot winds (without self-tailing winches–RAARR), being in a semi-constant state of abdominal crunch for balance against the swell, and cranking the helm for hours at a time in a gale has made me tighten up, cramp up, and then get tougher.

Since Neah Bay, we’ve experienced the full gamut: A few days of utterly sublime downwind sailing (all accompanied by CS&N’s “Southern Cross” blaring loudly in my headphones), some rainy midnight gales that belong in the bigscreen, and a few warm, bobbing calms. Every time there’s a watch change, the boat gets a little less comfortable until the helmsman gets a hang of the perfect angle to cut so that the wind and waves hit us optimally. Each day it’s a different story, but we are all getting the hang of what sail wardrobe to fly in what conditions, what quarter of our stern we want to take the rollers from, and how best to wedge ourselves in our bunks for sleep when we can get it.

Sunrise behind an oncoming storm

Sunrise behind an oncoming storm

A full rainbow before the gale

A full rainbow before the gale

We made it to Eureka, California, by leaps and hops between flukey weather windows, running in to harbor at night from a couple storms, and then settling on a coast-hugging route to minimize our chances of getting stuck out at night. After a harrowing night outside of Newport, Oregon, we pulled in to Coos Bay to the warm hospitality of our friend Ian Leonard (who now happens to be in the Coast Guard at Coos Bay), and the next night we dropped the hook in the shelter of Port Orford.

Finally we made it to Crescent City, our first Californian port of call. After a very long and tricky entrance at dusk (between reefs and rocks everywhere), we turned the corner to the harbor and heard a deep THHHUNGK sound as the bow dipped forward and we stopped completely. Not two feet from our dock for the evening, we had run aground. No amount of power in reverse was going to unstick us from that gluey mud bottom. And as if our drama was supposed to become a comedy, we noticed a sunken ship at the dock not 50 feet from where were. The harbormaster came out and hollered, “You need a berth for the night?” I said, “Yeah, we will, but not for a bit… we’re aground right now…” I’m not sure if she didn’t hear me or what, but without answering she just turned and walked away! The family of fishermen on the breakwall next to us was laughing and chatting us up, saying they saw three people do the same thing that day. Luckily, we didn’t have to sit there for long; we checked the tides and they were rising rapidly enough to lift us off in all of 5 minutes.

The site of our grounding in Crescent City

The site of our grounding in Crescent City

This morning, I celebrated our arrival in Eureka with a dollar-long shower. The colors here are markedly Californian, and the sun is out, and the ever-present Northwestern crab shacks are dwindling in favor of beach-themed decor. Today is our day off; we get to be still, stretch our legs exploring Old Town, and get seasick all over again as we grow accustomed to being back on land. But aaahh: I can cook dinner without doing lunges,  I can crawl into bed without vaulting like a gymnast, and all my tired arms have to do is take pictures as we tour another new city.

(Stay tuned for video footage of Velella crossing the California border escorted by a pod of jumping porpoises!)

Guts and Weather

Newport, OR, shoreline

Newport, OR, shoreline

Our itinerary is shot, as we knew it would be as soon as we laid it out. But people want to know where you’re going to be, so.

This trip takes place rather late in the southerly sailing year, with many cruisers having winged south in early August instead of September. Unfortunately, the nice NNWesterlies that are supposed to be prevailing this time a year are few and scattered far between strong gusty southerlies, just for us. These southerlies are sucking around the edges of low pressure systems that are all related to this big damn storm in the Gulf of Alaska. It is incredibly obnoxious that the Gulf of Alaska is affecting our little sun-quest.

Hm. Southerlies. That sounds nice—at least warmer than the winds howling down from the North? Unfortunately no. For any armchair sailors out there who have never had the pleasure of sailing against a headwind, let me paint you a little word picture, if you will. Most of us have had the experience of going on a nice jog on a windy autumn day, feeling like you’re flying for the first half and barely noticing the wind, only to turn and head back directly into what feels like a wall of pressure forcing you to lean 45 degrees into it avoid being blown backwards as your feet leave the ground. This is what sailing south into a southerly headwind feels like. Except instead of dealing only with the whip and push of the wind directly back on you, you’ve got a gargantuan sideways up/down ocean swell (the kind sent as a special culminating treat from Japan), and opposing “wind waves” on the surface that can themselves become 4-6 feet tall (on top of the 8-10-foot ocean swell). All together, the motion feels like an erratically teetering top that’s lost its momentum to spin. And all the contents of your stomach are along for the ride (jf you’re lucky).

Choosing our weather windows has been the most difficult part of this trip for me. We have a professional router helping us to decipher the numerous and often conflicting models, but at the end of the day, it’s still up to us to decide what we’re comfortable going out in. Which quite honestly for me, isn’t much.

It’s a horrible call to have to make when everyone is chomping at the bit to leave. The last thing any of us want is a repeat of the (nine?) days we spent trapped in Neah Bay. Living offshore in the wind, waves, and miles of endless sea is one thing, but living on top of one another at the dock is almost unbearable. Nobody wants to stay another day, and it’s easy to think that “Ah, beating into strong headwinds all night in the fog and rain is better than being cooped up here. Adventure! What did we come for!” But the hair on the back of my neck stands up when I examine how many shipwrecks our route will take us over, and how few harbors along this “hostile” coast are suitable for refuge from a storm. So, I routinely come back to being the grouchy and inflexible Girl-Captain, pulling the plug and offering to pay for one more night of moorage and a pizza for morale, in order to spare us 12 hours of hell out there tonight. Let the winds tire themselves out while we’re tied up behind the sheltered breakwater, thank you.

Tomorrow the wind is supposed to clock to the east. A good time to run out on a comfortable morning reach, settle into our sea-living-rhythm, and gear up for another night watching the inky black nothing and feeling it all so much more vividly under a zillion undulating stars.

We’re getting ready to do this backward

Click on this link to see video footage of Velella crossing the treacherous Yaquina Bay bar in Newport, Oregon, as we entered our first port of call on Saturday afternoon. Going out against the surf tomorrow should be interesting.