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Walt Drechsler

Pellucidar sets her compass South

I know this published once but my file got messed up. If you’ve already seen this post just please ignore…..

Pellucidar untied her lines from the Port of Everett on Wednesday, September 4th, at 0900. With her crew of Mo Sitz, Glen Birkvold, Bill Bond, G2, and Groot, and Walt and Linda Drechsler, she headed out toward Admeralty Inlet, Strait of Juan de Fuca and down the coast to San Francisco. San Francisco would be our first major port on the way to the 2019 Baha Ha Ha, a crusiers rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

A lot of preparation went into this leg of the journey. Part of our preparation was the circumnavigation of Vancouver Island this last spring. That trip taught us a lot about ourselves as well as about Pellucidar. We were not the only ones preparing however. Our friends who joined us as crew had preparation to do as well. They arranged schedules, found transportation and brought more food aboard than we could eat in a month! If we shipwrecked on a deserted island I could not ask for a better team to be stranded with. (I can say that now as they are all safely home as I write this) We are thankful from the bottom of our hearts for their willingness to participate. They made our first big adventure very special!

As we gathered at the Port of Everett docks with family and friends our largest suprise came when many of the port staff came to see us off and presented us with a nice bottle of wine for our journey. We were humbled and honored at the same time. The port staff has always been very accommodating to us over the many years but and this was very special.

Our first stop after leaving Everett was Port Townsend to see some long time friends and the new little sailor born into their family about 5 weeks ago. The day began overcast, a little foggy, and with a noserly wind. (I stole that from the Waggoner) We motored the entire way to Port Townsend catching the tides and posing for pictures. We arrived around 1300.

Sometimes it takes a village!

We wandered up town to have lunch at the Siren.

“A Rose Between Two Thorns”

Bill had suggested we eat at the Siren for lunch and it lived up to its “Billing”. After lunch we split up for a few hours. Glen hit up the wooden boats,

Bill and I walked up to West Marine where we saw Beth, a previous manager in Everett, and the girls drank coffee and shopped. On the way back from West Marine Bill and I landed in the Pour House. We enjoyed a cold drink while Bill schooled me in corn board.

Barrett picked us up around 1730 and took us out to their new house and to see baby Leona. (Jill was there too!) We had a great visit. The guys discussed all of Barrett’s projects and the girls googling over Leona.

We headed back to the marina and had a nice dinner at Doc’s Marina Grill. We hit the rack early as we had a long day ahead us.

We left Port Townsend at 1000 the next morning headed for Neah Bay. The marina and surrounding area was already buzzing this being the Thursday before the Wooden Boat Festival. Wished we could have hung around for a few more days but we had a destination in mind.

Point Hudson Marina at Port Towndsend

With a 12 hour run ahead of us we would have liked to leave earlier but tides often dictate a sailors schedule. With good wind coming out of the NW we rolled out the sails and set a course across Admiralty to see if we could gain enough advantage to tack back and clear Protection Island. After an hour of sailing we had enough room but when we tacked the wind died… so we motored to Neah Bay. It was a hard pill to swallow our second day out but that is sailing!

Seeing whales on our way out of the strait helped alot. Most were aways off but one surfaced about 50 yards from the boat when we were looking the other way. We heard him blow but by the time we got our act together he was gone. We also saw dolphins and lots of birds along with a number of boats converging on Port Towndsend for the weekend. It kept the crew entertained for most of the trip!

Whale in Strait of Juan de Fuca

We arrived in Neah Bay around 2100, well after the sun had set. We ghosted in while the crew identified bouys and markers. I’m always nervous entering a harbor at night but with our crack crew we had no issues. We attached the lines to a poop covered dock (this is different than a poop deck) around 2200 and everyone found a spot to sleep although some more accommodating than others…….Sleeping arrangements would work out much better once we got on a shift schedule.

To me, Neah Bay is a Jeckle and Hyde of sorts. I love all the old fishing boats and scenery but it is as disfunctional as they come. There is a very good museum close to the marina but we did not have the time to visit this trip. The phone number goes to a personal voice mail (that is full) and there is no one in the office. (Even during regular hours) The showers and restrooms are nice and clean.

We hit the fuel dock early, topped off the tank and were heading out at 0900. We motored out the strait for about 2 hours. Once we cleared Cape Flattery the wind came up out of the SW and out came the sails! “Harry”, our Hydrovane, was added to the active crew list and we ran under full sails until about 1800 where the wind died and we switched to motor sailing.

Glen getting Harry settled with Tatoosh Island in the backround

Interestingly, the wind came from the SW instead of the NW. This provided us with nice warm weather but living close hauled at a 15 degree heel for a couple days was interesting to say the least!

We motored through the night until about 1000 on Saturday.

Bill at the helm with “night vision” Goggles!

The wind had clocked around enough the next morning that we set the spinnaker and had a good 2 hour run before the wind clocked a bit to more of a W by SW and rose to force 4 (11 to 16 knts).

Glenn working hard trimming the spinnaker

We doused the spinnaker…..

Glen and Linda packing the chute

and rolled out the sails but that only lasted a few hours and we had to switch back to motor. Then………

The wind came in! At 2012 (8:12pm) we had wind! This was to be our longest run under sail of the entire trip. We had the head sail, staysail and main all pulling in a consistent force 4 (11 to 16 knots) and maintained between 6.5 to 8 knots without putting excessive heel to the boat. (Linda and I disagreed on what amount of heel is excessive) We ran this configuration until the wind died on Monday at 2100. Around 1500 on Sunday the wind had reached the upper range of force 5 and Harry was having a tough time heading east so we reefed the headsail and were still able to maintain a good speed.

Not sure where the line is but all at once we noticed the water had turned an incredible shade of blue. We were off the coast about 80 miles and in about 10,000 feet of water. If something got dropped overboard no one was going to dive for it!

When using the windvane, Harry likes the boat to be very balanced. One thing we noticed on Pellucidar is if we sheeted in the headsail too much she had a tendacy to pull Harry off course as she would head up. (West in this case and we were already well off shore) It took us (Glen) awhile but I think we (Glen) finally got Pellucidar and Harry to play nice. To achieve the right balance the sails were trimmed just enough to keep them from fluttering.

A few shots of the gallant crew!

By 1800 on Tuesday, September 10, we were experiencing larger swells, shorter periods between swells, and about every third set they would hit us from a different direction. We were angling toward shore and getting closer to the shelf which reduced our depth to about 1/2 of what it was. It made a noticable difference in the way Pellucidar rode. The ride became very uncomfortable as the boat would surf for a moment or two then get picked up and tossed to the side.

G2 watching the waves build

Up top you could see waves coming and prepare but down below it was a completely different game. Suprise! Despite all of that, the galley turned out at least one complete hot meal each night. Amazing! I went below during one of our rougher times and Linda was down there grating cheese for our salads! Most of it made it in the bowls! Crazy girl!

Sailing at night is almost indescribable. It is one of my most favorite times provided we are under sail and not motoring. It is incredible. Its just you, the moon, the sea and a very peaceful feeling as the boat gracefully passes over the waves with the shhhhwish… shhhhwish….. shhhwish. You can’t see much so your other senses rise to another level. At least is seems that way to me.

Sorry, best I could do with my phone!

The sunsets and sunrises were spectacular.

This is a sunrise (land stuff on the port side)
Sunrise – (Port side)
This was one of many beautifull sunsets

During one of the midnight to 3:00am shifts all three sails were up and pulling, the seas were relatively calm, the wind-vane was doing all the steering and it dawned on me. The boat really does not care if we are aboard or not. As long as there is water under her keel, wind in her sails and sun in her solar panels, the boat could go on forever. You start thinking about that while looking around at the vast expanse of water around you and it makes one feel pretty insignificant. ( As it should)

As we turned for the bay the wind continued to increase and clocked more to the west. We ran under reefed headsail only and were hitting 9+ knots consistantly. We worked hard to slow the boat down. If we continued at our current speed we would enter San Francisco Bay during the night and that was not going to happen. Then the wind really did die and we had to light the iron genny. We still ran at reduced rpm to coincide with daylight and the incoming tide. As day broke, the fog formed. It was very thick and we had all eyes on deck for lookouts. Pellucidar has a fog horn built into her VHF and we activated that as well. It was pea soup and seemed to get thicker as we approced the Golden Gate! Then we hear the fog horns. Loud and very very close! We are looking at radar, AIS and out into the soup trying to identify where these horns are coming from. Not one but multiple horns. We could not identify them and they were getting closer……

Then it dawned on us, they were coming from the bridge. The fog had lifted just enough for us to see the bridge pilings and we identified that was where the horns were coming from. What a nerve racking way to end our journey!

Unfortunately the bridge was completely fogged in as we passed below.

About 30 minutes later the fog would begine to clear and later that morning the bridge would stand magnificant against the morning light.

We docked about 30 minutes later at Pier 39.

Quite the welcoming committee!

I made the crew promise to act dignified when we docked and there would be no kissing of the ground or hugging a piling. I’m happy to report they all acted respectfully.

The Crew of S/V Pellucidar at Pier 39 – San Fransico

Except for Bill and Glen……

Glen and Bill happy to be on solid ground!

The crew of Pellucidar traveled a total of 761 miles from Neah Bay, logged 123.5 hours and only put 40 hours on the engine. The crew worked hard to sail. We sailed just shy of 68% of the trip.

The best part is Linda and I are still friends!

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