Today started with beautiful star filled sky on my night watch. Amazing – so many stars overhead and down to the horizon, even the Milky Way. Really enjoyed my night watch – sailing is a joy with the Monitor wind vane. We gybed at 2am, heading SE towards Gray’s Harbor. And, I finally got some sleep on my offwatch from 2-6am.
Got up to see Dan putting out a line for tuna, and by the time I got dressed and up on deck, he had a fish on. Landing his tuna was messy, but we figured the proper bleeding had been done. Cleaned up, fixed some coffee and breakfast. Saw another sailboat close by this morning. I think it is the same boat I saw yesterday afternoon sailing closer to the coast. They probably caught up to us in the night as we reef before dark. Late morning we sailed back into the Gray’s Harbor fishing fleet. Had pods of dolphins swimming with the boat this morning.
This afternoon we gybed back and had broad reaching in building wind and seas with strong afternoon NW summer wind and 6-8 foot seas. With a staysail and reefed main we surfed waves at 8+ kts. Great run almost directly south. Finally put in a second reef as both wind and seas continued to build, and went ahead and gybed toward shore. Still were making 7kts SOG. At that speed with our line and the distance, ETA to the bar was 11pm. Perfect to get there before the 1am high tide.
Sunset at the end of our weeklong sail. However, as we approached 15nm out, and the sun went down, the wind dropped. At 10nm out we decided to drop the staysail and start the engine so we could make the bar at high tide.
It is definitely challenging to get oriented at night. Thank goodness for chart plotters. Dan was steering coming in and we located buoy 1 as we got close, but could not locate buoy 3. We were following our outbound track in, so we knew we should be seeing it. Never did, so the light must have been out. Gave it’s chart plotter location a wide berth. Large ship coming in across the bar and a big fishing boat crossing between buoy 3 and buoy 7 gave us a good orientation to the bar as we reached it. Followed the main channel in, calm water and no other ship or boat traffic on the bar, so I took my half in the middle. As we reached buoy 11, could easily see the red and green gates to Ilwaco Channel, but there was a fishing boat coming out with blindingly bright lights. By the time we got the mainsail down, I was completely disoriented and headed toward Jetty A. Quickly got that corrected and through the gates. Had to navigate the channel by chartplotter. Took it slow with no problems. Took three tries to get to the dock. First overshot it, then not close enough. Finally at 2am, tied up in Ilwaco. Completely wired even after a stiff drink, but quickly to sleep after I lay down.
5 days, 31 hours, 400 nm. Woohoo! A new accomplishment for us, with lots of great learning. Our boat, equipment and systems worked perfectly.