Five years with Bluewater Cruising (BCA) prepared us for this trip: Fortitude X is on the move! We bid farewell to Canada on August 3, leaving Causeway Marina in downtown Victoria to cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca in moderate winds. After clearing into customs in Port Angeles and hoisting “The Stars and Stripes” courtesy flag, we moored at our assigned spot on the transient dock.
A walk through town, combined with grocery shopping, had us stocking up on all of our favourite items to refill the fridge. We spent another day for laundry and, most importantly, signing up for a US Mobile plan to stay connected.
Taking off in the wee hours of August 5, a beautiful sunrise welcomed us and promised a fantastic day at sea – and it was, at least for the first part of our 50+ NM trip until fog crept in. We dropped anchor in Neah Bay with almost zero visibility, and it took until the next morning before we could fully appreciate our surroundings.
Big day! With a slight delay, we aimed for Cape Flattery, THE point to turn left to go south. We had the sails up and were planning to stop at La Push or farther south, Grays Harbour, but had so much fun that we just kept going! We crossed “The Graveyard of the North Pacific”, the Columbia River bar in perfect conditions and moored in Astoria at 1100h on August 7. Tired but happy, we went for a first exploration tour of this quaint little town, picked up some junk food, and enjoyed a lazy evening, filling our bellies with beer and chips without a hint of guilt.
Rather than rushing down the coast, we stuck around, worked on some boat maintenance projects, visited the brilliant Maritime Museum, and enjoyed some fabulous seafood. Any “lost” time was made up by opting for another 24 hours sail, skipping Garibaldi and going directly for Newport. Tied up between hundreds of fishing boats, we bought a whole tuna fresh off the trawler and enjoyed some of it the same night.
We spent two nights and crossed the Yaquina River bar, again at 0600h – together with at least half of the fishing fleet in the harbour – and enjoyed a beautiful day of sailing to Winchester. The Umpqua River bar made for a somewhat challenging approach. We were happy to see two seamen on the dock taking our lines, as the tide was not in our favour. It’s then that we found out that Dan and Gary had been watching us from the jetty for the last few hours as we were approaching the bay and crossing the bar. Both lifelong sailors, they were just so happy to see a boat like Fortitude X coming into their little community, and we spent a delightful hour sharing stories on board. Our departure the next morning had us heading for Charleston in Coos Bay.
A knock on the boat interrupted breakfast. Sticking our heads out of the companionway, we found our two new friends from Winchester on the dock, inviting us to a day of sightseeing with them. They truly gave a new meaning to “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Needless to say, we spent a terrific day with these truly interesting local gentlemen and couldn’t have hoped for better tour guides.
Rather than just waiting for a weather window, we rented a car for two days and explored central Oregon down to Northern California.
Two early morning departures and over-nighters eventually took us to Bodega Bay: the first 26 hour trip in the thickest fog to Eureka was uneventful and cold; the second trip, from Eureka around Cape Mendocino, had us motoring through very confusing seas and a stormy night, but without any real excitement. We enjoyed the tranquility and the slightly warmer temperatures of this little fishing town of Bodega Bay before getting ready for our leg to San Francisco.
San Francisco Bay welcomed us with sunshine and moderate winds. Moorage was found at South Beach Harbour, where we made new friends with some of the yacht club members, who graciously invited us for a jazz night at the club house.
We are now anchored at Aquatic Park, surrounded by the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Coil Tower, the Maritime Museum, and Ghiradelli chocolate factory. We totally forgot to take pictures, but of the five boats in the bay, four were Canadian flagged, including some from BCA! That made it a BURP (a Bluewater Unofficial Rendezvous Place) and called for an impromptu Happy Hour with the boat crews of R-Therapy 2 and Palomita on board of Fortitude X.