First Passage (Part 2)- Cape Flattery to Port Townsend to Seattle

To read the first part of this two-part post, click here!

At 4am, when my shift ended, I decided to try to get some sleep. The excitement of the rocks in the darkness had passed and I was tired. I didn’t want to try to stay up for sunrise. If it had fallen in my watch shift, it would have been cool, but I was ready for some sleep.

When I got up at 7:20, I popped my head up to see what was happening and take a look around since we once again had light of day. The watch crew informed me that the buoy marking the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca seemed to be missing. It was marked on the charts, and they looked and looked for it was we were going to use it to mark our turning point east, but it just wasn’t there.

Cape Flattery from the sea during our first ocean passage aboard our sailboat

Cape Flattery at dawn, from Brenden’s phone.

After getting dressed and heating water for a cup of oatmeal, I came up top and spotted Neah Bay as we passed by. Brenden and Scott moved forward on deck to empty the jerry cans of diesel into the tank, giving us an extra 20 gallons. After doing that, we also went ahead and switched the batteries from running just on the house bank, to running everything off both battery banks, which gave us a power boost for the home stretch.

Neah Bay from our sailboat entering the strait of juan de fuca

The view of Neah Bay as we passed by on our way to Port Townsend.

Soon, Brenden and Brian both went below to get some sleep and promptly missed out on our North Pacific Right Whale sighting. He came up on our port side right at the beam of the boat and he swam in lazy figure-8s, kinda sticking his head out of the water looking at us. We didn’t immediately know what kind of whale he was, so after he left we did a little research and determined that it must have been a right whale. He was likely a young-ish one, as he was only about 30 feet long and they were stated to be up to 54 feet in length.

After the excitement of the whale died off, we decided to shake out the reef in our mainsail and hoist it all the way up to try to get some assist from the wind. We were fighting the outgoing current at this point and hoping for as much of a boost as we could manage while still staying out of the VTS shipping lane. We got a bit here and there, but then the wind died and we ended up just centering the boom and motoring onward.

Motor-sailing down the strait of Juan de Fuca on our way to Port Townsend

Motor-sailing down the strait of Juan de Fuca on our way to Port Townsend

And noon, my shift ended and I went ahead and went below for another bit of a nap. When I awoke for my 4pm shift, I found that we’d come into a fair bit of rain and those on watch (Brian, Brenden, and Stephen) were in full foul-weather gear and pretty miserable outside. I got suited up to go spare Brian. Scott’s foul-weather gear had proven pretty inadequate, unfortunately, so he pretty much tapped out of most of the rest of the watch rotation as he would have just been soaking wet and freezing cold.

Stephen and I remained the only ones up top for some time, until about 5pm Stephen had to go below as he developed a deep chill from the cold and exhaustion so Brian came back up with me. This was the first shift that Brian and I did together and we had a fun time, despite the rain and chill, getting to know each other a bit. The rain and constant drizzle and poor visibility for the final few hours were pretty grinding, but we kept in track with an eta of 8pm.

By 7, I was pretty chilled and ducked out of the cockpit to hang out right in the companionway, out of the rain, for the last 45 minutes or so. Just being able to get my hands warm and dry made a huge difference, and I wanted to have full function of my hands for handling lines in docking.

Shortly before arriving at the marina, we got all hands on deck and prepped the boat for landing. Thankfully, the rain also died out, finally, and we had a dry period for the last bit before our arrival. We called the marina to get a slip assignment, but they had already closed and weren’t answering on the VHF so we had to come into the marina blind and unsure of where we’d be docking.

Thankfully, there were quite a few open slips and Stephen coached us through a new docking technique using an aft spring line off a mid-ship cleat and we had a fantastically smooth landing at a nice slip in Point Hudson Marina.

After landing, we noticed a sign on the slip noting it as reserved. Shoot! But, after speaking to the people on the boat next to us, considering how late in the day it was and that there were plenty of other open slips of the same size that we were in, we decided to just stay where we’d landed. We paid for the slip in the marina’s after-hours drop box and figured we’d move in the morning if we had to.

Mosaic in our slip in Point Hudson Marina in Port Townsend

Tuesday morning in our slip at Point Hudson Marina in Port Townsend

After we had the boat squared away, we all got changed into dry clothes and settled into the salon for a team debrief and congratulations on a fabulous passage north. We all talked about how we were feeling, gave thanks and congratulations and toasted with a bottle of Kraken rum courtesy of the captain. Even now, just remembering how we felt at that moment, I feel a flood of emotion. We Did It.

After reminiscing for a time, and finishing the bottle of rum, we locked up the boat and headed on foot to a nearby tavern for some food. Brian and Stephen had rooms already reserved in Port Townsend for the following night, but had been able to call ahead and get their reservations adjusted to include Monday night as well. This would be as far as they traveled with us aboard Mosaic.

Passage Celebration when we reached Port Townsend

Passage Celebration when we reached Port Townsend. (I apologize for the poor quality of the image! I never knew my forward facing camera was so poor, hahaha!)

On Tuesday, we got together for lunch with them, along with some friends of Stephen’s that live in Port Townsend, and even with Mr. Wilkinson, the weather router, who also lives in PT. More thanks were made, more toasts given, and then we said our goodbyes and parted ways. We’re forever grateful to Captain Stephen and to Brian and Scott, as well, for their help in this huge milestone step for our family.

We had a nice relaxing afternoon walking around the shops of Port Townsend, got some ice cream and bought a few trinkets for the kids. For dinner that evening, Brenden, Scott, and I ate at Doc’s Marina Grill right at the marina and had fabulous food. We’ll definitely be back for more adventures, and more delicious food, in Port Townsend. We also checked tides and currents and did our trip planning for the next day’s jump to Seattle.

In the morning, we ate once more at the café (again, delicious food!) and then did a few boat chores and hung out until we had the currents in our favor for departure at about noon.

Olympic Mountains in the Puget Sound as seen from Port Townsend

The Olympics were out as we left Point Hudson Marina on our way to Seattle.

It was a nice sunny day and we had a nice 5-hour trip from Port Townsend to Elliot Bay Marina in Seattle. We saw tons of dolphins and Puget sound porpoises and even a whale as we passed the southern end of Whidbey Island. Brenden docked the boat beautifully in a very tight slip and we enjoyed dinner at one of the restaurants onsite at the marina.

Leaving Port Townsend by sailboat, heading to Seattle

Scott settling in for the trip as we headed toward Seattle.

Boating from Port Townsend to Seattle

Brenden at the helm on the way to Seattle.

On Thursday, Brenden and I worked in the morning and afternoon, and then he, Scott, and I all took the train south back to Vancouver, Scott to return home and us to pick up the kids and return to the boat on Friday.

We spent that first weekend in Seattle exploring with the kids and getting settled back on the boat. We had to move to a different slip in the marina due to very poor cell signal in our original slip. We work remotely, and despite having 3 different service providers, we couldn’t get a strong enough signal to work when we had to.

The next weekend, Scott and Tamara came up to visit us and we spent all of Saturday and Sunday hanging out with them and sightseeing in Seattle. Then, on Tuesday, we all packed up and traveled back to Vancouver. Brenden had to make his mandatory 3-days’ appearance in the office at his work and we had a family graduation party to attend today before heading back up to the boat.

We made another big step though, and left our car at my parents’ house for the rest of the summer/fall so now we will be able to start cruising around the sound more without worrying about the logistics of moving a car with us place to place.

Again, huge thanks to my mom and stepdad for watching the kids for us for nearly a week. We appreciate your support so that we could make this trip and focus on gaining the skills and experience necessary so that we could be that much more prepared before we do it with the kids on the boat.

That brings us up to the present! Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post, and can’t wait for our next adventure. Until then, cheers!  ~Rachel

Seattle from the water in Elliot Bay

Seattle from the water in Elliot Bay as we made our approach to the marina.

Seattle from the bow of our sailboat after our passage north

Scott studies Seattle from the bow.

Sailing the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Me at the helm somewhere in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, before the rains hit.

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