Category Archives: Delivery

Halibut Season Complete!


Things are getting back to normal slowly with the passing of my mom. I’m not on the normal ship schedule until October so have been picking off small boat jobs here and there.

First Marlin Mike and I headed to Portland, OR and brought the yacht “Pura Vida” around to Seattle. Pretty much a mirror of what we did last spring for the same owner. The trip was nice and the weather was perfect.

Then I headed to Westport to hook up with a buddy from All Rivers and Saltwater Charters to run one of his 6 pack boats for halibut season. Halibut in Washington State is much different than that in Canada or Alaska where the season is open all summer. In our area the season opens every Sunday and Tuesday for three weeks, then closes for a count of the remaining quota. If any remaining quota is left over the season can reopen for another day and another recount and so on.

The 6 Pack Boat: 29′ Defiance Guadalupe with Twin 225 Hondas:


This year, the first Sunday was a blow out weather wise and the Grays Harbor bar was closed all day and no one was able to go. The first Tuesday was choppy, but the fishing was very good and we got limits of Halibut and Lingcod for the boat.




The guy I sold my boat to last summer spun around and came and said “Hi”. He’s taking good care of my old girl!

The following Sunday the conditions were excellent and we loaded up on halibut and ling cod again. Just as we were heading in, we lost a lower unit on one of the Honda 225’s. What should have been a fairly early evening was extended by a slow troll in one engine. We had to scratch the following Tuesday because we couldn’t find a counter-rotating lower unit in time. The Honda 225 lower units are a known weak spot. The 250 lower units bolt right on, so we ordered a set of them to try out as well. They have a slightly lower gearing.

Later in the week the parts arrived and while I was installing them at Mark’s summer rental house, Ian the captain of the second boat (Mark has three identical boats) pulled his boat out of the water and brought it to the house for an oil change. He parked on the side street next to the gate where the shop is located. He was very carefull and didn’t spill a drop changing the engine oil. He did spill just a tad while filling the lower units.

Just as he was completing his work and clean up, a man pulled up in a pickup truck and started to talk to Ian about it. I couldn’t see them as I was on the other side of the fence and I was at a critical point installing the lower unit. This guy goes off on Ian and says he is the city road supervisor and he’s calling the police and blah blah blah. I finally got free of my work and walked out of the gate as the guy is on the phone with the police department. Just as I walk out of the gate. they guy says into the phone “tall guy with grey hair”. WTF? I didn’t do anything, didn’t say anything up to this point and he hadn’t even seen me until this point. Why is he telling anyone my description? Anyway Ian apologizes and moves the boat and cleaned up the tiny little drips and I go back to doing my thing. A half an hour later the police show up to question us and looks right at me and says “why were you aggressive to the road supervisor?” Excuse me? Huh? I explained the situation to the officer and he takes our ID’s to run them and comes back saying we will be getting a citation from code enforcement later. Whatever. I’ve already planned to subpena the road supervisor and ask him what I did.
Here is a photo of the spill area and the crime scene: (the “spill” was just past the pole, just in front of the shadow from the garage. I was on the opposite side of the fence during this whole thing)

The following Sunday we again found the fish and spent all day in one general area catching and releasing halibut and lings until we had the sizes and limits we needed. Tuesday the season was cancelled early due to higher participation and good weather. The quota was caught in only four days this season. It sucks but watchya gonna do?





So halibut season ended up being only three days long for me this season. I’ve lined up some more boat jobs for the summer and will detail those out as they happen.

Stay safe!

Follow Up: Ian called a week later and said the police officer stopped by and said the case was closed and nothing would happen. They probably sent someone to the scene and couldn’t find anything. Who knows. The officer did want information on a tuna fishing trip later this summer.

Swift Kick To The Stones With A Side Of Fire

New Cal 2
New Caledonia Countryside

We arrived in New Caledonia on a Monday around noon. We arrived late enough in the day that I would have to wait until Tues to catch the next flight. We offloaded the science party lickity split and I had my bags packed ready to go for Tuesday morning. The driver arrived on time and drove the hour to the airport. The driver had just retired from the Customs Service in New Caledonia and was also a champion breath hold free diver / spear fisherman. I learned a lot about the area from him and the fishing that I didn’t get time to try. Perhaps I will be able to return another time.

New Cal 1
Another Countryside Photo

Inside the International Airport

My flights took about 28 hours total to arrive back in Seattle where my family picked me up and I had them take me straight to the hospital to see my mom. I was so fortunate that we were headed to port when “the call” came in. I was able to spend each day with my mom until she passed away a week later.

When I first arrived home, things looked very good for her and the doctors thought she would be on a recovery path. When I heard that news, I scheduled an STCW Advanced Fire Fighting Course for a couple weeks later through Compass Courses in Edmonds, WA. Things then changed with mom and she passed away and then you realize how much work there is to do. I was wishing I hadn’t signed up for the class, but I decided to go and knock it out anyway. I think it helped me to get out a bit and have some fun. The fun part of course is the day you’re not in class. It’s the day you go to put out fires and learn from some incredible trainers the things that may save your ass one day. The training takes place at the Washington State Fire Training Academy run by the WA State Patrol. The place was abuzz with different training groups from Boeing using the aircraft mockup, the FBI was there teaching about radioactive stuff, other groups were learning about methods to cook meth and what to look out for and several other groups of fire fighters doing the normal building fire training, buses, and so on. The special part is that all of the fires they train with are real fires like diesel oil, gas, wood, etc.

Adv Fire 1
The Washington State Fire Training Academy Marine Mock Up

Adv Fire 2
Some live fire training with a real class B fire.

So now that I’ve given up my spot on the Thompson, it may be awhile before I can rejoin. My buddy Marlin Mike are headed out on another short yacht delivery if the weather ever cooperates and in May I’ll be running a 29′ Defiance during halibut season for my buddy Mark. Here is a link to his website.

See you guys again soon!

Summer wind down, student cruises and transit to Ecuador


Welcome back Blue Ocean Mariner readers! It has been so long ago that I made a real post, that I had to go back and read where I left off. I had tried several times onboard the ship to update, but the internet was so slow that I ultimately abandoned the effort several times. I’ve debated entering several smaller posts over the next week, but decided to just make one big entry and dump it all out at once so I don’t forget anything.

Jason ROV – Axial Seamount:
Just after offloading the ROPOS ROV in Victoria (see earlier post) and returning to Seattle, we had a 10 day stretch at the dock where we caught up on maintenance, organized the deck for the next oncoming science party and began to receive their equipment onboard. The next trip was with the Woods Hole Jason ROV. The loading all starts with a 175 Ton shore side crane coming in and loading all of the heavy lifts. They start on the bow and load containers of spare rov parts, then move to the aft deck and load the rov control vans and the rov and rov launch crane. Then the shore side crane leaves and everything is wired, lashed, bolted down, organized, etc.




We headed back out to the Axial Seamount, 300NM off of Central Oregon. This is the same project we were on the last leg with the ROPOS ROV. The ROPOS leg was installation of the cabled observatory with lots of instruments, cables, junction boxes and related hardware being deployed. This leg with Jason studied the hydrothermal vents, microbiology, oceanography, energy and other things I don’t fully understand. For example, one of the projects included putting a cap on a hydrothermal vent and creating an electrical energy source. The experiment was a success and they were able to generate a pretty good amount, although I can’t remember what that was.

We also spent considerable time deploying benchmarks that were set in several locations on top of the seamount. Then a super accurate pressure sensor was placed on top of each benchmark and recording were taken. At future visits to the seamount, more readings can be taken and note the changes in elevation of the seamount. The seamount has risen 11′ since 2011 and may be getting ready to erupt again soon.




Unlike the ROPOS ROV which uses the lemon floats to carry the weight of the cable, the Jason ROV uses a unit named Medea that bears the load of the cable and then tethers the Jason ROV so that the ROV can roam freely without being shock loaded be the cable as the ship surges in the sea. The other notable feature of the Jason system is that the Jason crew takes control of the ship while they are diving on station. They can slowly maneuver the ship from their control van and have it follow the rov where they need it to go. The control of the ship can be immediately returned to the bridge if the need were to arise.

That’s all fine and dandy until the bow thruster takes a dump. The thruster itself did not die, but rather the motor that controls the direction of thrust. There was no way possible for the ROV control van to control the ship without a functional bow thruster while sitting on DP. Control was resumed on the bridge and every time the ROV needed to move a phone call was made to bridge to explain where they wanted to go and at the same time a electronic chart on the bridge was updated by the ROV control showing the heading and distance to their next location. Along the same time we had some incredibly calm conditions that actually made keeping the ship on course harder. It was easier with about 15 knots of wind and gave some force to lean into. Without the wind, controlling the bow was a challenge. Near the end of the trip, the work around consisted of calling the engineers and having them move the thruster to either 90 or 270 and then the bridge could apply thrust in the direction they wanted to go. It helped tremendously to maintain the ship on station and the ROV was able to complete their job.

We did manage to sneak in a few barbeques on the bow for over the trip due to the great weather:




At the end of the trip, we again went to Victoria, Canada to offload a bunch of our science party. They were boarding the R/V Falkor. The Falkor is owned by Schmidt Ocean Research Institute and was started by Eric Schmidt of Google fame. We tied up directly behind the Falkor and in the photo you will see the ROV ROPOS onboard while the ROV Jason is onboard our ship, the Thomas G. Thompson. If you look closely at the photo of the Falkor, you can see that they have two satellite domes. I seriously doubt they have any issue connecting to the internet, especially when your boss is the CEO of Google.


We were only in Victoria about four or five hours and then departed again for Seattle. With no functional bow thruster, we had to be taken under tow by a Western Towboat tug to pass through the locks. As the lock gates opened and the towboat leaned on the throttles, there was a huge explosion of salmon off the boat of the tug. The engine noise must have scared them. It was right during the peak of the salmon run. Unfortunately I was unable to take a picture.

Western Towboat towing the Thompson:

Student Cruises:
Part of the University of Washington charter agreement with the Navy is to provide so many days of student learning / cruises. Many of the crew do their very best to schedule their time off during these evolutions. You can see from the schedule below were in and out of port numerous times sometimes a few times per day. The weather during the student cruises was FUBAR as well, making things more difficult. We had gusts to 40 knots in Puget Sound and solid rain for the week. I enjoyed the student cruises for the most part. We earned lots of overtime and I really got a chance to work the mooring lines multiple times (which is a great workout).

The student trips were run mostly from pier 91 in Seattle, which allowed much easier tie ups than going all the way into the locks to the University Pier. Pier 91 is where most of the large trawler fleet is based. These trawlers fish the Bearing Sea and the coasts of Oregon and Washington for hake, sole, cod, etc.




During one of the cruises, we stayed tied to the pier. Overnight a huge cruise ship docked just off our bow. In the morning, we had to thread between a couple of factory trawlers on the left and the cruise ship on the right. The wind we blowing off our Stbd. Bow as we left the dock. As we passed the cruise ship, it blocked all the wind, then as we came out from behind the ship the wind blasted us again. The crew did a great job keeping us off the line of factory trawlers.

Here is the hole:

Tight Squeeze:



The hole from a different view. We came out just to the right of the cruise ship on the right:

Pier 91, where the student cruises launched from, has great views of the downtown Seattle skyline:



A couple of the student cruises were all the way out to the coast off of La Push, WA. The first time (early in the week) was to restive a scientific mooring / buoy and bring it to port so it could be maintained. Along the way we did a number of CTD stations. I forgot to take a photo of the CTD unit itself, but it basically takes water samples at various depths dictated by the science party. The CTD is deployed on out Hydro Boom that stick out of the Stbd. side of the ship and is deployed / retrieve with our winches.

Winch control station and view from the winch control:




At the end of the week we took on fuel, getting ready to depart for South America. The fuel dock has a nice view as well:

The fuel pier we use, is right next door to Northland Services. Here is one unique barge that loads containers on the top and then loaded rail cars are loaded on the bottom. When they arrive at their destination, they wheel the rail cars off. Pretty cool idea!

A couple of Western Towboat tugs arrived to make up to the Northland Barge.


On the other side of the fuel pier is the Vigor Shipyard (formerly Todd Shipyard). They are overhauling the USCG Icebreaker Polar Star:

Somewhere during the student cruises, the Thomas G. Thompson celebrated her 300th voyage:

At the end of our student cruises, we had one last entry into the Ballard Locks and the ship canal. Inside the Ballard Locks:


Some fishing vessels waiting for us to clear out so they can enter the locks and the Corbin Foss waiting to exit:




One last time to the U of W Dock. Same thing as before, a shore side crane came along side the next morning and loaded 7 containers beginning on the bow. Two of the containers on the bow are refrigerated that will be used to hold garbage while in the tropics on a long leg. There was a scurry of science people that arrived and seemed allot like anarchy as each group wanted priority over their equipment to be loaded, hooked up, lashed, etc. It’s surprising no one was injured.

One of the containers that was delivered to us on a long haul truck, also had a wrecked car as part of the load. The crane operator thought it would be funny to make it look like they smashed the car by accident with the container. The next morning, the University’s Port Captain and Marine Superintendent came onboard for breakfast and I showed the car we smashed the day before. They just sat looking at the photos in disbelief and wonder why the accident wasn’t reported until I spilled the beans that it was all a set up photo.
It looks pretty real, doesn’t it?


We pulled off the U of W Dock one last time. The Thompson won’t be back again until next summer.

On the way out we passed Western Towboat and their nice shiny fleet. They keep their equipment in perfect condition:




Also passed Kvichak, builders of some really badass aluminum boats:

We made our way into the locks and everything was going fine. I was assigned to the bow, as normal with a couple of other ab’s. To exit the locks and head to sea, you would have to normally wait for a train bridge to be opened. Normally we would sit in the locks with gate open, waiting for the bridge. While we sit the water has a chance to mellow out and there is very little current when we do pull out. I’m pretty sure the bridge was telling us to come on through or something, because we didn’t wait like normal for the current to mellow out. As we started making way, we picked up some pretty good headway, maybe four knots. The lock attendants are always reminding us to mend our fenders as a vessel last year has failed to and their fender ripped some sections of fencing gate off the locks. With the headway we were making, I took one look at the fenders and mentioned to the other AB that if the ship were to come close to the wall, to get the fuck out of the way. There would be no way to manage the fenders when the weight of the vessel pushed them up to the wall and they came tight. I was more worried about the lines holding the fenders snapping and killing or injuring one of us. We were plenty far enough from the wall in our area (amidships), but just as I had said to run if the lines came tight, we noticed the stern coming close to the wall and the fender riding up and coming tight. Just then, our young Third Mate came out from behind the rear crane clutching her hand in agony. She had tried to mend the fender and got some fingers pinched when the line came tight. The vessel couldn’t do anything but proceed out of the locks and through the bridge. Once outside of the bridge and the entrance channel, we were able to heave to and launch the rescue boat and evacuate her to a waiting ambulance to get checked out. Turns out she broke three fingers and lost some skin. She was super lucky that it was just the very tips of her fingers and she should have a full recovery. (update: she missed to transit to Ecuador but rejoined as the ship arrived in Ecuador). Here a few photos I took of our third mate being whisked away in the rescue boat:





The water was flat calm when we evacuated the mate. After we retrieved the rescue boat and got underway for Ecuador, the winds picked up really quickly. We still had a bunch of stuff to lash and were working fast while we still had the protected waters of Puget Sound. Then as fast as the wind came up, it died and turned out to be a really nice evening as we approached the Olympic Mountains and the Straights of Juan De Fuca:



As we approached the West end of the straights we started to feel a pretty good ground swell. As we made the turn at Cape Flattery we got hit on the beam with 14′ swells that lasted for about 12 hours and made the ride pretty sloppy. Further down the coast we turned again and put the swell on our stern and made a nice ride all the way beyond San Diego. Our course lines were obviously drawn by a non fisherman. Everywhere there was good structure like a underwater canyon, ledge, seamount, etc., we were at least 80 miles from it. We passed some very famous fishing spots such as Guadalupe Island, Alijos Rocks, Hurricane Bank, Cocos Island to name a few. Fishing turned out to be a bust for the entire trip and making 12 – 14 knots didn’t help either.

As we made our way down Baja, we started to feel the effects of a tropical depression named Octave followed by a weak system named Priscilla. We ended up get hit with 40 knots of wind and about 15′ seas. The wind petered out very quickly and the swell didn’t last too long either. The next day, Priscilla had strengthened and moved West so we missed her, but she did give us a half of a day of swell on our beam.

Finally we received some hot, flat and humid tropical heat for a few days.





THIS IS NOT A DRILL! Saturday afternoon, after watch, I was in my rack enjoying some sweet dreams when the alarm rang and the announcement came over the speakers “this is not a drill, report to your muster station, fire onboard”. I slapped on some clothes and hit the muster station. There was a fire in the engine room. It turned out to be a water jacket heater on one of the Cat 3516 main engines. The thermostat shorted out and melted the wires which in turn burned some rubber and made allot of smoke, but no fire. It was put out by turning off the electrical to the unit. It was a good muster and the crew was suited up quickly and efficiently.

Pollywog to Shellback:
The evening before we arrived in Ecuador, we crossed the Equator. I was a pollywog but now am a Shellback. At the time we crossed, it was pretty tense on the bridge as there were numerous pangas fishing the area that did not show up on radar. They also don’t have lights, or I should say they don’t turn on their lights until you right on top of them! I tried to take a photo of 000 but missed it by a hair:

We arrived in Manta, Ecuador after 16 days at sea. We met the pilot boat and made our way to the pier. At the dock were numerous seiners unloading net loads of super small tunas. These are the super seiners that wrap entire schools in their 2 mile seine nets and have helicopters onboard to find the tuna. It was pretty bad in my opinion.





We tied up, put out the gangway, let the pilot off and greeted the customs and immigration officials. It took several hours to clear into the country. They allowed the oncoming crew and science party to board, but not for us to depart the ship. This gave us time to finish packing, clean our rooms for the next crew, have lunch and just hang out for a bit. It also marked the 80th day I had been aboard and I was ready to get off asap!

We were finally cleared by the Ecuadorian Customs and several of my crew mates and I went a few miles down the beach to a hotel, where one of them booked a room (their flight wasn’t until the next day). Myself and several others were flying out later that night so we stuffed our bags in the hotel room and made our way to the bar to have some beers and food. I was struck by how nice the roads were in town. I had imagines Ecuador being really bad and broke down, but the little bit of it I saw was pretty nice. The hotel was excellent as was the airport. We only got to see a few miles on either side of the port so we really didn’t get to see too much.












We made our way to the airport and flew to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. It was already dark when we flew in so we couldn’t see too much, but it looks like a real cool place. From Quito we flew to Atlanta, then on to Seattle.

I arrived home and was met by my wife and kids at the airport. On the drive home we stopped in Seattle at the Coast Guard Rec Center and turned in the discharge papers, course certificate and assessments for RFPNW. I’m very happy to finally have that checked off the list.

There is a huge difference in the weather between Ecuador and my home, just North of Seattle. Fall has arrived along with the fall colors!


Pura Vida Delivery – Portland, OR to Anacortes, WA

Last week I arrived home from Louisiana on Saturday night. Sunday I received word from Pura Vida’s owner that their yard work was just about completed and they would be ready to move from Portland to Anacortes as soon as the weather looked good. The weather looked good all week, so I had them lean on the detailer a little bit to finish up so we could catch the weather window.
Our plan was to rent a car, drive to Portland, bring the boat down the CR(Columbia River), up the Washington Coast, in the Straights Of Juan De Fuca to Anacortes and get a ride from my wife home. My good buddy Marlin Mike agreed to be my crew (more like said he IS the crew. He was bummed when at the last minute he had to scratch on the Red October delivery to SF last month).
Just we were about to go rent the car, I was called by dispatch for the assistance towing company (who will no longer be named in these posts) to tow in a broken down boat between Everett and Mukilteo. I was able to get underway in 20 minutes and made my way down river to the bay only to Aviq (picture above) out in the bay doing some maneuvers or training. I couldn’t get close enough to really tell. I snapped a few shots with the cell phone, but with the slip of a finger erased most of them when downloading them. I never found them again in the recycle bin. The tow was quick and I dropped them off at the dock so they could buy a new battery. Turns out they had a wire fall off of their alternator and the battery died, so they fixed the wire and replaced the battery so they could stay out and fish.
Marlin Mike & I rented the car, went home and packed it and drove to Portland. We met the boat owner, loaded all of our things, went and topped the fuel, returned the rental car to the airport, went to dinner and hit the bunk for a few hours of sleep. In the morning, we stowed the last items, laid down some lamps and picture frames that would likely have been broken and waved goodbye to the owner.

I snapped several photos heading downstream along the way:




















There are lots of tug and barge units running up and down the river, grain, fuel, aggregates, logs, etc. Most of the logs were based around Longview, WA and grain were more upriver, closer to Portland where they are offloaded from barges to silos and then loaded onto ships headed overseas.




The downstream current gave us a few knots of speed along the way in most places. We came across some sort of a NOAA fishing survey. These two little boats each had one side of a net and were dragging it against the current:




More pictures from the Columbia River:
























As we made it closer to Astoria, the cloud cover burned off and the winds kicked in. The wind wasn’t really in the forecast, but you know that goes. We could finally see the Astoria Bridge in the distance. This the last bridge before crossing the Columbia River Bar and into open Pacific Ocean. The bridge connects Astoria to SW Washington near Ilwaco:










We crossed the bar at high slack and there was very little swell. The bar crossing was a piece of cake and we had a nice view of Cape Disappointment. Cape D is where Lewis and Clark first saw the Pacific Ocean. There is a USCG observation tower there now and a lighthouse. The Motor Lifeboat Station is just around the corner to the right of the bluff in the entrance channel to Ilwaco, WA:





We made the turn North and set a waypoint just off of Cape Alava, which is about 25 NM South of Cape Flattery, the entrance to the Straights of Juan De Fuca. At this point Mike and I started on a rotation and he went to lay down first. The wind was persistent and the wind chop increased. Luckily there wasn’t really and swell to go with the chop so we just slowed down a bit and kept making way. About 40 miles North, off of Westport, WA, the winds really kicked up and we were down to 5 knots. The buoys to the North and East of us showed much better conditions, so we just made our way slowly through it. By morning we were just North of La Push and the water was flat calm again. We gave a big one finger salute to all of our fishing buddies who were at La Push for a five day fishing trip. Not one of them answered the radio at 0500. They were all sleeping off the previous night’s party and celebrating a good day of halibut and ling cod fishing. Lucky bastards!

As we made our way to Cape Flattery and Tatoosh Island the fog set in. There is a ship in there somewhere and a snap of Tatoosh Island:



We motored in for a few hours and the tide finally switched and gave us a few knot push into Anacortes. The fog was patchy at this point and we were able to get a few more photos. I’ve decided to invest in a better camera in the future so these photos have better quality. Entering towards Anacortes:





























We entered the marina, found our slip, tied her up, washed the boat, checked the engine room one last time, removed our gear and waited for my wife to arrive for the 1:15 hour drive home. Another successful delivery completed! Here is Mikey at the slip connecting the shore power cord:

Red October Delivery

The vessel “Red October”:


We shoved off at 0500 on Thursday morning to take advantage of the 11′ outgoing tide through Admiralty Inlet that connects Puget Sound with the Straights of Juan De Fuca. We had incredible weather and were able to snap some good photos along the way.

Getting underway with excellent conditions:


MSRC’s oil spill response ship “W.C. Park Responder” was spotted just off of Port Angeles, WA. with the mountains of Vancouver Island in the background:



An inbound Crowley ATB:

The HOS Arrowhead (I didn’t know HOS operated in the area):

A factory trawler inbound from Dutch Harbor and an outbound container ship:

It took us most of a day to steam out of Puget Sound, through the straights and past Cape Flattery. The weather was perfect in the afternoon:

Just as we approached Tatoosh Island and Cape Flattery the fog rolled in. A few moments after this photo was snapped the island disappeared:

Luckily the fog only lasted for a couple of hours and we had filtered moonlight for our first night headed down the coast. We set a waypoint for Southern Oregon, being very careful to avoid coming inside 350′ of water. This is commercial crab season off the West Coast and the inshore areas are carpet bombed with crab pots. Along the Washington Coast, 350′ of water can be 20-25 miles off. Along Oregon and N. Cal it is more like 10 miles off.

Yours truly:
A coastal crabber, usually they fish many species throughout the year:

Our offshore route allowed us to set our way point about 330NM South of Cape Flattery. We didn’t have to touch the wheel for something like 32 hours when we altered our course to make a fuel stop in Brookings, OR. Our timing was perfect and we had an incredible sunrise and tied up at the fuel dock just as they opened:
Entering Brookings, OR (Chetco River)

We were trying to tie off to the fuel dock and the USCG was hailing us repeatedly. Thinking something was wrong I answered. They started in with 20 questions like: Where did we come from, where are we headed, how many POB, etc. I was like “At least let us tie up the boat before the quiz”. The funny thing is the base is just on the other side of the channel. I could have probably talked to USCG on the other side in a normal voice. They were watching us from the tower as we were trying to tie up. They must not be very busy at that base.
We got tied off and continued our Q&A session with the coasties. They finally cleared us to carry on and we took on fuel. Here is the Red October at the fuel dock:

As you can see, the USCG station is right behind the boat across the channel. Talking to the fuel dock attendant, the Japan Tsunami produced waves that came over the wall in the background by 1′ or more. This photo was taken at low tide, so it may look more dramatic. The surge caused 3 or 4 marina docks with boats still attached to break off and float out of the river and be wrecked on the South Jetty. There was around 8 hours of advanced notice of the Tsunami. The USCG and several fishing boats left for deep water and were able to wait for the surge to end.

As we were fueling up, three coasties arrived by pickup truck to board us and give us a safety shake down. They asked to see our identification and I handed them my freshly minted MMC that was barely a week old. They radioed in all of our information and made sure we weren’t wanted and then called me over. They were looking at my MMC and flipping through the pages trying to figure out which was my official number. The old paper licenses had it clearly printed as “mariner number”, the new passport style MMC’s say “reference number”. I thought it was classic that the USCG boarding crew didn’t know. All of our gear was in good shape and we passed and were cleared to carry on (again).

We finished up and headed back to sea. Leaving Brookings, OR (Chetco River):

A few miles from Brookings is the border of California. As soon as we entered California the phone reception turned very poor all of the way to SF Bay. The weather also shifted from being pleasant, following seas to choppy head seas out of the South. My rule of thumb is to avoid South winds (at least in WA and OR). we pressed on and the ride was still good, but we were taking spray and getting tossed around a bit. The Red October has stabilizers and handled the seas just fine.

Overnight along the Nor Cal Coast we had the most impressive Bio Luminescence I’ve ever witnessed. I’ve seen the smaller stuff that looks like magic dust when you wave your hand through the water (look like lots of small glitter). This stuff was the size of golf balls up to the size of a softball. As the boat turned over the boat wake, the wake glowed and sparkled out behind us for about 100′ or so. I tried to take a picture and video but it was too dark and it didn’t turn out.

Sunday we arrived at SF Bay and the Golden Gate. There was lots of activity in the bay from cruise ships docking and undocking, sail boats, harbor tours, whale watching tours, bridge watching tours, tours looking at other tours. I counted at least 20 tour boats in operation and another batch tied up along the water front. The coasties ran up on us with a RIB, machine gun mounted and manned and told us there was a safety zone around the cruise ship. Funny thing is, we were not headed towards or near the cruise ship and they had to come quite away across the bay to tell us that. I will admit, that if I were in the USCG and had government fuel to burn and got to have a machine gun on my bow, I’d go balls to the wall everywhere also and I’d have fun doing it.
The Rock:
Cruise ship waiting to dock:
Two cruise ships and the Golden Gate Bridge (looking toward sea)

We had to take the boat a couple of hours South of the city. We made it in with no problems, tied up, washed off the boat, got a ride to the airport to rent a vehicle and started the drive home. Before you ask: We drove home because of the volume of stuff we had with us. Life raft, survival suits, and all of the other assorted stuff. It was easier than trying to have the raft shipped home. The total boat trip was 865 miles and took right at 3.5 days with one stop for fuel and USCG inspection.

This week’s job – Red October


If all goes well, we will departing Thursday morning, to take advantage of a really nice weather window, aboard the 50′ x 14’6 trawler “Red October”. This is a fairly quick job from Seattle to San Francisco and should take around 4 days (820 NM). The boat is a West Coast veteran, having sailed between Baja and Alaska on several occasions with her previous owners. Now she is to become a live aboard in SF. Tomorrow I will deliver all of the gear to the boat, get it stowed, go grocery shopping, time everyone getting on their survival suits, double check the systems, spare filter supplies, etc. It is commercial crab season off the W. Coast, so we will need to stay out deeper than 350′ to avoid all of the pots. Along the Washington Coast, this can mean being out 25 – 30 miles off the coast. The further South along Oregon / N. Cal it is more like 15 miles off. This boat, while not fast, is very comfortable and has hydraulic stabilizers.

My new MMC credentials came in the mail on Saturday, so as soon as I return from this trip, I will be booking a trip to Louisiana to take the RFNPW course.