Snow, Sleet, Rain, and Hail, Oh My!
What an interesting first sailing trip of the season! Nancy Erley came sailing with us for a 4-night trip out to Poulsbo and back. There were a lot of things we wanted to cover with her, since she is the resident expert on all things sailing. Perhaps one of the biggest worries we have is anchoring, we lacked any real experience anchoring on Karma. One of the things we did on this trip was anchor every night in a new location.
Our trip went to Port Ludlow, then to Port Madison (a quaint inlet near Poulsbo). Anchoring in Port Madison felt sketching, but it is super protected back in there. The inlet can't be more than 200' wide, docks on both sides and there we are anchored dead center of the channel with pretty much a 3:1 scope, far less than we should have had. This made me nervous. But there just wasn't enough swing room to let out more chain, as we might have swung into the docks being how narrow it was there.
While we had planned to spend our third night in the Liberty Bay in Poulsbo, that is not what happened. We did sail on through to Poulsbo and we played in the bay, practicing our "figure-8's" weaving in-between anchored boats under full sail, while also avoiding the large tree floating in the bay (view our perfect figure-8's in the image below). After practicing our tacking maneuvers for hours, we anchored in Poulsbo Bay and got some lunch. On the way to Poulsbo, we did get to experience Agate Pass, with its mini-rapids, strong current, and bridge... Bridge???
"There is no way we are going to fit under that!" Our mast height is about 58 feet from the waterline. When you are standing on the deck and looking up, it doesn't seem that far up there. But if you are dangling from a Bosun's chair up there looking down, it is indeed a great distance. That distance plays tricks on our eyes, the same is said of bridge height. Looking at a bridge from a distance, it sure does look short, but when it comes to bridges the numbers are well known. All charts plainly state the height of the bridge at nominal high tide - and what is "nominal high tide"? Well, that's a bit vague. Agate Pass bridge has 75 feet of clearance in the middle, no matter how short it looks from afar. We passed under it with no problem, but when you look up while under the bridge, you could easily swear that there is no more than a foot of spare room.
As I was saying we stopped in Poulsbo, got a quick lunch and was about to drop the dinghy and head into town, Nancy showed me the updated wind and gust charts on PredictWind for the coming days and they looked dire. We decided that our best plan was to head back a day early. We packed up and got ready to hurry it back to Port Madison for a second night of sketchy anchoring. The wind was howling that night, the protected anchorage was anything but a protected anchorage. Thankfully, our short scope anchoring held us once again. We went back to Port Madison, because the trip to Pleasant Harbor was indeed a long one and heading back to Port Madison would cut off 6 nautical miles and allow us to hit Agate Pass at slack tide (low current), instead of having to time it perfectly the following day.
All that red is bad! 30-35 knots of wind (about 40 mph windspeed) sustained. Gusts were more. We did not want to get caught in that, so that is why we headed back a day early. The trip back was long, 43.2 nautical miles traveling between 5 and 6 knots depending on the current. The distance itself wasn't that bad, but the rain, sleet, and hail really topped it off. All that wind, plus the weather effects made us realize we were poorly equipped for bad weather. Ironically, "Sailing Uma" had a video this very same week regarding bad weather wear. We made it back safely to Pleasant Harbor and spent the following day going over the boat and its many things that need to be improved to go across oceans.
Funny story here. Ever hear of the "Six degrees of separation"? It is where everyone on Planet Earth knows everyone else through just six other people. That is hard to believe, but interestingly, I find out that Nancy's partner grew up in Toledo, Ohio where I grew up. Her partner is a little bit older than me, but she did work at the "Chi Chi's" restaurant near our home, and we likely would have eaten there when she was working there. That's only 2 degrees! You never know who you're going to meet out there, so always wear your smile and be friendly.
We really enjoyed having Nancy Erley aboard, she is such an incredible woman! She has accomplished things that most people would shudder at (like crossing oceans on a boat). She has started back up (since Covid-times) offering Captain and training services via her website here. She told us she does crew with folks on long journeys, so she might want to get ready to do the "Coho Ho Ho" with us, in case the Alaska trip falls through (bad timing, if I get accepted to the Marine Systems program at NWSWB).