After trouble-shooting the autopilot and heater, doing some last minute provisioning, and filling up with fuel and water, Seth and I and Celeste headed out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca on June 24 for our big adventure!
It was a dead calm day, fortunately and unusually, as the wind had been blowing about 20-30 knots from the west (the direction we were headed) almost every day since our arrival in Port Angeles. It was a great opportunity to test out our Yanmar and our new autopilot, watch the Olympic mountains pass by on one side and Vancouver Island on the other, and try to identify the many birds we were seeing around us.
The roughly 50 nautical mile trip to Neah Bay on Cape Flattery at the mouth of the strait was mostly uneventful: calm and partly cloudy with both favorable and contrary currents as the tide changed, lots of kelp and seagulls and guillemots, and then wispy fog as we neared the open ocean. The fog lifted just enough for us to see one of the Olympic coast’s famous pillars rearing up out of the sea. We turned into Neah Bay as the light was going and set our Mantus anchor for the first time.
Neah Bay is part of the Makah reservation and has a good museum of native artifacts found at a nearby village that was covered by a mudslide before white Americans reached the Olympic Peninsula. Seth and I wanted to visit the museum, but first we had more boat work to do. The engine seemed to be running hot, so I got out Nigel Calder’s book and read about the possible reasons for it. Overloading didn’t seem the cause since Seth and Clay had re-pitched the propeller when we’d hauled for the boot-stripe, and given that the engine was new the other suggestions didn’t seem right either. We tried giving the engine more oil and more coolant and we changed the fuel filters. She’s been running perfectly ever since! We also worked on the heater since we’d gotten a reply from the manufacturer and we took the opportunity to run our new lines we’d bought from Hamilton Marine but hadn’t had a chance to install yet. We targeted the reef lines and the main sheet because they seemed the most worn. We plan to do the halyards when we get a good chance and possibly also jib and staysail sheets although those are working well for now.
Then we had a chance to explore the little town and the museum where we particularly enjoyed the replica of a long house. The whaling canoe was also interesting, but we had seen modern West Coast Native canoes on the beach in Port Angeles and then we saw a group of Makah canoeists training while we were in Neah Bay and found both of those signs of cultural robustness more interesting. Then it was time to depart for real, on our passage north!