August 18, 2005

Ilwaco to Newport

This morning, I was up about 0430 and started checking the weather reports and called the USCG for a bar report.  They said their cutter would go out about 30 minutes before sunrise and they would have a report after that.  I called about 0600 when they expected to have a new report and they said they hadn't heard yet but should soon.  So I called back about 15 minutes later and got the report that the bar had 2' to 4' seas over all areas with some 6 footers non-breaking.  Sound familiar?  I thought it over and told Kath we were leaving (she was still in our bunk, her nest).  She hopped out, threw herself together and we got underway in pea soup fog.  It was a challenge, finding our way from marker to marker along the winding channel from Ilwaco to the Columbia River, but we finally go there and hung a right towards the bar.  Things changed rapidly!  Lots of boat traffic, both those trolling inside the bar and those heading out and over it.  100 yards visibility was the most we had the whole time.

The bar report was optimistic.  Actual conditions were 4' to 6' with occasional 8 footers and a few breakers.  Dreamer had no problem though we slowed down a bit to keep the bow from plunging into the next wave as it dropped into these deep troughs.  A bunch of small fishing boats fell in line behind us like little ducklings taking advantage of the smoother water in Dreamer's wake.  Some followed us all the way out and over the bar, a few turned back.  Although it was a white-knuckle experience because of the fog and not being able to see the waves to anticipate what to expect, Dreamer did well and we pitched our way over the bar and turned left heading down the coast towards Newport.

I had been hearing some groaning noises periodically while underway and couldn't quite narrow down what the problem might be or if there was even a problem.  It seemed a bit worse this morning and after thinking it over, decided to alter course for Tillamook Bay to locate a diver to inspect Dreamer's bottom.  We had tried to contact a diver in Ilwaco, but he didn't return our call.  So we proceeded on our new course to Tillamook Bay and I kept thinking over the problem.  It seemed to diminish and our speed didn't seem to be affected so we altered course again for Newport and continued on our way in the FOG.

The fog never let up and stayed with us the whole way.  Visibility ranged from 100 yards or less to a half mile.  Once or twice we could see for a mile or two for a short while then the fog would close in again.

We normally stand two hour watches at the helm when underway and so we fell into our routine.  We saw some whales and dolphins but never got any photos, just a few fleeting glimpses.  Then a pod of Dahl Porpoises (black and white like an Orca) appeared and played with us for about 10 to 15 minutes putting on quite a show.  I got the camcorder and shot video while watching them frolic in our bow wave.  We got some stills as well and fully enjoyed the show and the break in the monotony.  Afterwards, we reviewed the video and found that most of the dolphin footage was not good.  Bummer!!  Not sure what the problem is but the camcorder had been acting a bit funny the past few days so we will try to have it examined in Newport where we expect to stay over a couple days or so.

We picked up a bit more current along the way that anticipated so arrived at the entrance to Newport Bay a bit sooner than anticipated.  I called the USCG for a bar report and was told 2' to 4' over all areas (sound familiar?).  We had been monitoring a situation between the USCG and a disabled sailboat for a couple hours or so as we approached Newport and saw the CG cutter with the sailboat in tow as we turned left into the channel.  They were about 200 yards behind us and paced us all the way in before laying to and bringing the sailboat along side to complete the tow.  They showed up at the same marina we had tied up in about 15 minutes after we got in and did a very professional job of laying the sailboat alongside the dock.  I'm sure all aboard the sailboat were glad to be tied up at a dock after laying to the seas disabled for as long as they did.

It feels good to be here and it marks a significant (to us) waypoint in our progress down the coast towards southern California.  We will rest and relax here for a while. 

Years ago, when we were traveling and living in our 26' trailer towed with our pickup truck with our two sons, 8 and 2, we spent a lot of time in the Newport area and we want to see some of our favorite places again.  We especially want to go to Moe's for some of their Slumgullion (a chowder with all kinds of seafood served in a pewter pot with a pool of melted butter on top) which is world renown, along with some garlic cheese bread followed later with a bowl of their deep dish hot apple pie with cold cream on it.  We enjoyed it so much back then and we hope things will still be as good.   Yummers! 

Stayed an extra day to go to Moe's for slumgullion but could find no place to tie Dreamer up nearby nor the dinghy.  Bummer :(


We have had fog every day since we went through Deception Pass Bridge.  We have seen no coastline along the way and few boats.  I know they are out there as I see them on radar.  Nothing but fog... Yesterday all we saw was one log, a couple of crab pots, some seabirds, some whales, a seal and three boats until we reached the bar. That is in a 13 hour run! That pod of dolphins was a real highlight to the day.  We are all fogged out!!