Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hose nozzle designed for salt water

The Gilmour 474S salt water nozzle is perfect for your bow washdown hose

The hose nozzle up on the bow has a tough duty; the salt water causes corrosion on the both the outside finish and the internal mechanical components.  Then the nozzle quits working after about a year when the internal spring gives way to rust.

The Gilmour 474S "salt water nozzle" is designed by the manufacturer for this harsh duty.  A durable polymer body with stainless internal spring.

This is a good news / bad news post;  bad news is Gilmour is discontinuing the product, good news is they are on clearance at for less than $6 with shipping.

Here is the link.  Get 'em while they last!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

San Francisco Trip: Under the Golden Gate Bridge

Day Nine - Bodega Harbor to San Francisco - 58 Miles

We arrived in San Francisco!  The final leg was a super smooth finish to a great trip. Very fun to once again cruise under the bridge and see the city open up in front of the boat on a beautiful day.

5:00 AM - The alarm actually did not ring; we were already up with the excitement of getting going.  Last night my brother John joined the crew for the final leg.  John lives in Alameda and we encouraged him to drive up to Bodega Bay and climb aboard.

5:10 AM - Engine inspections completed and the Cummins fired up.

5:30 AM - Departed Spud Point Marina and into the well marked channels of Bodega Bay.  Very dark morning with no moon or stars.  Commercial fishing boats are also heading out.

5:50 AM - Exited the "tips" of the breakwater and headed towards the RW "BA" Gong Buoy and then onto our southerly course which will take us just off Point Reyes.

6:45 AM - Daylight. Smooth conditions with a 5-knot onshore breeze, 2-foot swell with a 15-second period and 3-mile visibility.  Great sea conditions.

Point Reyes - Windiest & foggiest place on the coast

8:05 AM - Passing Point Reyes Lighthouse.  This is a very cool lighthouse that appears precariously hung off the side of the point.  Officially the windiest and foggiest point on the coast. 

The water has changed to a blue color south of Point Reyes

We start to see boats on the water and keep track of other vessels

9:30 AM - For the first time on the trip we start coming across a number of boats.  We had discussed several times how the coast was very quiet of traffic, but that has now changed as we near the large Bay Area metropolitan area.  A couple of heavy ships in the Vessel Traffic Lanes and quite a few pleasure and commercial fishing boats working the area around Bonita Bay.

Natural seashore and former shore batteries that protected the area during WWII

10:40 AM - The Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area have been preserved and kept for future generations to enjoy.  Combining this area with the Point Reyes National Seashore and the waterfront is largely unspoiled.  A great resource close to the city.

Point Bonita Lighthouse - accessed by suspension bridge

11:00 AM - Point Bonita Lighthouse slides past the port side.  Originally too high on the hill, new lighthouse was built lower to reach under the constant fog.

The Golden Gate Bridge and entrance to the Bay

11:30 AM - Golden Gate Bridge. This is the big moment that we have been looking forward to.  The water is very calm and the boat and crew is very happy.  We pass through the Gate against a very small ebb tide.  On larger tide cycles it is important to enter on the flood as a massive amount of water moves under the bridge.

American Tug 34 happily delivered to San Francisco

Noon - Tied up!  This was a very fun and enjoyable trip.  

The crew had a great time.  From left to right:  Mike the owner, Gerry Henson & Steve Scruggs

Saturday, August 16, 2014

San Francisco Trip: Fort Bragg to Bodega Bay

Day Eight - Fort Bragg to Bodega Harbor - 92 Miles

The destination is in our sights!  Weather has remained very nice and the miles keep rolling under the keel of our American Tug.  We really enjoyed our daylight layover in Fort Bragg and the working waterfront of the Noyo River. Highly recommended for coastal travelers.

American Tug tied up at Fort Bragg, CA

6:15 AM - Engine pre-flight check completed and we fire up the Cummins QSB-380.  The engine has run great with absolutely no fluids needed and not a drip anywhere.  The vacuum gauge on the Racor fuel filters has never budged.  Perfect.

Meander of the Noyo River with commercial fishing

6:30 AM - We departed the Noyo Mooring Basin.   It is cool to follow the last meanders down the River and out under the bridge.   

Smaller troller as found around the upper coast

6:45 AM - Passed the outer buoys and headed south towards Point Arena.

Point Arena Light as seen from 3 miles offshore

11:50 AM - Slight easterly course adjustment off Point Arena.  Seas are smooth.  We are bucking a .7-knot current.

Our skipper Mike at the helm of his Tug

4:30 PM - Shark!  We spot fins, but cannot get the camera quickly enough.  Later we spotted several sunfish which look like a very large white plastic bag just under the surface.  

Bodega Head and the red buoy

5:05 PM - Arrived at the Red Buoy off Bodega Head.  From here you go westerly to the RW "BA" buoy keeping you clear of Bodega Rock, which had large breaking waves making it easy to spot.

5:45 PM - Fueled up and moored for the night at the Spud Point Marina in Bodega Harbor.

A very easy day on the water.  Tomorrow we head under the Golden Gate and into San Francisco Bay; which is always an exciting port to enter.  


Friday, August 15, 2014

San Francisco Trip: Port Orford, OR to Fort Bragg, CA

Day Six & Seven - Overnight and around the corner to Fort Bragg - 217 Miles

I mentioned in an earlier post that when cruising the Coast you need to be flexible, and this crew is!  You may have noticed that this post covers days 6 & 7; we made the decision on the water as we neared Eureka to press on overnight around Cape Mendocino.   

4:00 AM - The alarm bell rings.  We planned a long 135-mile day from the anchorage in Port Orford to Eureka in Humboldt Bay, CA.  We have been cruising between 7.25 to 10-knots depending on water conditions and ocean current.  In general we have enjoyed a positive 1/2 to 1-knot current helping us southward down the coast.  The current, along with prevailing NW swells and NW wind lays down a smoother course for southbound boats. 

4:30 AM To achieve 120-mile days at our conservative speeds we need to get on the water as early as practical.  Engine running, anchor raised, radar is still pretty dark.  Port Orford is well protected from northerly & north westerly wind and swell.  The anchorage was a good stopover.  Easy to get into and a straight shot out and back onto our southerly route.

Just after sunrise outside Port Orford, OR

Grey Whales off Brookings, OR

9:10 AM - Whale HO!  More whales on the Oregon Coast.  This was a large pod of the resident grey whales working their way north.

9:30 AM - We cross the dotted line that separates Oregon & California.

The Saint George Reef Lighthouse

11:10 AM - The Saint George Reef Lighthouse is an intimidating sight along the coast.  This very remote abandoned monument is a beast.  After seeing her, we read about her history; including her construction and the stories of some of her keepers.  Wow!  The keepers were a tough lot.

Limited visibility with coastal fog.

1:00 PM - We hit a spot of fog.  Fog came & went for much of the afternoon.  It is good training for running with the marine electronics; useful later in the evening.

5:30 PM - Called the USCG on the VHF radio and requested an updated report on the Humboldt Bay bar entrance.  The radio operator had a 2 PM report and promised an update by 6 or 6:30.  Our running conditions were good with 2-3 foot swell and no wind.

6:45 PM - Passing the Humboldt Bay entrance with updated weather data, and still no updated entrance report we made the unanimous decision to skip Eureka and continue around Cape Mendocino.  Enjoying favorable weather & sea-state; we could make it to the Cape in the last of daylight and then run the remaining 70-miles to Fort Bragg overnight. 

Rounding Cape Mendocino

9:00 PM - Rounding Cape Mendocino at twilight. We prepared the boat for running in the dark with the instrument lights turned down low, counter tops cleared, gear stowed and fresh waypoints plugged into the chart plotter.  The wind is only blowing 5-10 knots and the water is mild.  It will be very dark for several hours until moonrise.  These are good conditions and what we had been hoping for.

Time exposure of the pilothouse - The instruments are dimmed much more than they appear and we have blacked out others with covers or tape to preserve our night vision. 

1:00 AM - The moon has risen and it is lighting up the path.  Visibility improves.  Nice sea-state.

Arrival at Fort Bragg, CA - Noyo River entrance

6:00 AM - Entering the Noyo River at Fort Bragg, CA.  First light. Calm conditions. The entrance is dramatic with the high Noyo River Bridge and the bending river channel slowly unveiling this small port.

US Coast Guard Station Noyo River with two 47-foot Motor Lifeboats

6:15 AM - We are tied up at the Noyo Mooring Basin.  This is a safe entrance port with a preponderance of smaller commercial fishing trollers and remnants of a busy past. 

We found a great breakfast place named David's just up the hill from the marina and adjacent to a nice grocery store.  Fort Bragg is boater friendly.  Now it is time for a mid-morning nap!

Thanks for following our coastal cruise.  Steve

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

San Francisco Trip: Newport, Or to Port Orford

Day Five - Newport to Port Orford - A good day at 128 Miles

Today was exactly what we wanted; smooth water and low seas, perfect for laying down miles. We set the alarm for an early departure and hoped the conditions would allow for getting all the way to the anchorage in Port Orford.  

As we approach Cape Mendocino we want to spend the night as close as possible for an early morning rounding and the subsequent run down to Fort Bragg.  Today's long run will allow us to get to Eureka in one or two-days depending on weather.  This will leave us the most options for the rounding.

Guest moorage in Newport, OR

4:00 AM - The alarm went off very early this morning.  Newport allows for arrivals and departures on all tide cycles.  We decided to get this day going before light as the channel is very well marked.

4:30 AM - Departed South Beach Marina, Port of Newport

4:50 AM - Cleared the "tips" of the north & south jetties, turned south and headed onto our course down the beach, staying 4-8 miles off shore.

Approaching fog shortly after sunrise

8:45 AM - Hit foggy conditions just south of Florence, OR.  Radar, chartplotter & AIS are working very well.

Perfect conditions for laying down miles toward Cape Mendocino

9:30 AM - Clear visibility, water glassy calm, no wind.  Course 176-degrees and running at 8.5 knots

Resident grey whales off the Cape Arago Lighthouse

1:30 PM - Whales!!  Grey whales off Coos Bay.  This time we were ready with cameras.

Rock formations offshore near Cape Blanco

5:50 PM - Rounded Cape Blanco & Orford Reef

7:00 PM - Anchored in Port Orford.  Mike made a great salad and pork tenderloin for dinner, followed by gelato for dessert.  A wonderful day on the water!

Cape Mendocino presents the largest obstacle along the Coast

Tomorrow we are again going to get an early start, leaving the opportunity to make it all the way to Humboldt Bay & the moorings of Eureka.  Eureka is the closest departure point (23-miles) to Cape Mendocino and is a long day at 135-miles from Port Orford; remember we are on a delivery and not a family cruise.  I normally would spend plenty of time exploring the history of all these anchorages and towns while cruising.  Conditions permitting we will spend tomorrow night in Eureka, otherwise Gold Beach, Brookings or Crescent City are alternative destinations.  We are trying to stage ourselves as close to Cape Mendocino so that when the weather and sea-conditions allow we are ready to go.

I love this stuff.  Navigating is fun.  Weather is interesting.  American Tugs are great boats!

Stay tuned,  Steve

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

San Francisco Trip: Tillamook to Newport, OR

Day Four - Tillamook / Garibaldi to Newport in the mist - 68 Miles

Some days you just need to be flexible... That is what cruising is all about.  We had planned to move down the beach to Florence, Oregon today.  Last night we reviewed the port entrances and tide information for all the possible stops. Getting across the bar at Tillamook was going to be difficult with the flood not starting until after 8am.  Tillamook is a bar you want to cross late in a flood cycle, and today we have a large tide.

Port of Garibaldi Marina guest dock

7:15 AM - We woke up and listened to the Coast Guard give the bar report, the bar was "closed" due to dangerous conditions.  Guess we can go back to sleep!   The USCG offers the bar report every 3-hours as conditions change so we would not be allowed to depart until at least 10 AM.   We looked at our notes and decided that Newport, OR with its all-weather entrance just 65-miles south would be the best we could do today.  Tillamook Bay was foggy and the wind had shifted to a south westerly, conditions that would make the run lumpy.

The steam train at Garabaldi Station

I wandered around Garabaldi and found the Oregon Coast Scenic Railway steam train had just left its garage and was getting ready for the days run.  This looks like it would be a great experience and the kind of thing that makes the coast run interesting.  If we were cruising with a  little more time in the schedule the train and the Tillamook Creamery tour would be fun.

10:30 AM - The Coast Guard opened the bar and we are free to depart.  Game on!

Former CG Lifeboat Station in Tillamook Bay, cool railways down into the water

11:10 AM - Smooth crossing of the Tillamook Bar.  The conditions remain foggy with quarter-mile visibility and a 10-knot south westerly.  Long rollers.  We headed out towards the "T" Buoy and just kept going on that same course until we were 5-miles offshore. 

2:00 PM - Continue working down the coast keeping between 5-8 miles offshore.  The wind has clocked around to the south and there is a wind driven wave pattern we are bucking into. Kicked the engine up to 1800-rpm and the ride is very stable.

Grey Whale spouting just at the tip of the bow rail.  200-yards out.

5:30 PM - Spotted Grey Whales spouting.  I really tried to get a good photo but that is tough.  The one picture I managed just as the polished stainless bow rail swept past the horizon, see if you can see the spouting.  When we arrived in port I read about the 200 local resident Grey Whales that make the Oregon Coast home.

6:45 PM - Crossed the "Tips" of the north and south jetties entering Newport, OR.  Bucking a 2.7 knot ebb tide. This is an excellent all weather port.  

7:05 PM - Tied up at South Beach Marina, Port of Newport.  Nice moorage. We walked to the Rogue Brewery and had dinner; a fun place and I highly recommend it.  

Tomorrow we are hoping to make up for today's lost time.  The weather report on the Coast is calling for NW winds to 10-knots.  That should give us good conditions for a run to Port Orford. No limitations on leaving Newport. There are plenty of bail out ports along the way if we need to remain flexible.  We will get an early start.

Thanks for reading!   Steve

Monday, August 11, 2014

San Francisco Trip: Westport to Tillamook

Day Three - Past the Columbia entrance to Tillamook / Garibaldi - 96 Miles

As you move down the coast there are a few obstacles that influence the water conditions and determine timing. The Cape's and River bars cause the seas to build and can create barriers. We had two of these today with a very large ebb from the Columbia and timing a bar crossing at Tillamook. Looking forward a few days we will face getting around Cape Mendocino, considered the biggest influence on the coast south of Alaska.

The donut shop at the marina in Westport opens at 4 AM

4:30 AM - Gerry and I hit the donut shop in Westport.  This was critically timed as we did not want to affect our departure.  Fueling up!

4:50 AM - We departed Westport headed for Tillamook, OR.

5:10 AM - Crossed the Grays Harbor Bar.  We were on the ebb when the waves tend to stack up against the ocean waters.  Seas were running 6-10 feet on the bar.  We had an uneventful crossing and re-entered the ocean.

Sunrise over Westport

5:45 AM - Turned south with a bearing of 162-degrees, a course that should take us well outside the influence of the ebbing Columbia River 45-miles to the south.  Remember we currently have a "super moon" which brings a very large tide cycle of over 11-feet.  This requires going a little further west to avoid the built-up seas where the ocean swells and river outflow meet.  

9:00 AMWe passed Cape Disappointment 12-miles offshore.  Swells were running 4-5 feet with a reasonably long period.

Tillamook Head is easy to spot from sea.  The abandoned lighthouse is below.

1:00 PM - Passed Tillamook Head and the abandoned Tillamook Rock Light.

Tillamook USCG Observation Tower

2:00 PM - Called the Coast Guard observation tower at Tillamook via VHF radio to advise we intended to cross the bar. Prior to calling the tower we spoke with the USCG station by telephone and requested an update on the bar conditions and for local knowledge. They put a boat driver on the phone and he was most helpful. The Coast Guard stations along the coast focus on lifesaving and rescue operations as opposed to law enforcement, and are happy to talk with boaters.

Tillamook Entrance with north & south jetties.  This can be a rough entrance.

2:15 PM - Crossed the bar at Tillamook Bay Entrance.  This is a nasty bar with five separate rivers feeding Tillamook Bay.  A lot of water moves across a fairly shallow and narrow opening, with a near 3-knot average ebb.  It is best to arrive near the end of the flood as that is the easiest crossing.  We timed our arrival by adjusting boat speed and running faster for most of the day.  

We are watching the weather closely as we get closer to Cape Mendocino.  This is a big obstacle sticking out into the Pacific, and it has a large effect on the wave patterns.  We would prefer to round her early in the morning.  Over the next few days we will decide our ports with Mendocino in mind.

The Coast Relative Distance Guide is a great tool for planning the daily runs and looking forward towards the Cape's, Rivers and ports along the way.

Thanks for reading,  Steve

Sunday, August 10, 2014

San Francisco Trip: Neah Bay to Westport

Day Two - Our first day on the Ocean heading south - 102 Miles

The weather outlook remains ideal for the foreseeable future.  Over next several days we are going to lay down miles while the window is open.  Today we left the Straits of Juan de Fuca and took the big left turn down the coast, every mile now is distance made good toward our destination of San Francisco. 

Neah Bay skyline illuminated by a "super moon"

5:02 AM - We departed the Makah Marina in Neah Bay under a "Super Moon" which is reportedly 14% brighter than a normal full moon, as the perigee puts the moon and earth closer than at any other time of the year. was like a big lamp illuminating Waadah & Tatoosh Islands as we made our way around the corner.

Tatoosh Island & Lighthouse at sunrise

5:50 AM - Rounded Tatoosh Island at sunrise and entered the Pacific Ocean.  The ebbing tide gave way to the ocean and the water flattened out.  Skies are a bit foggy.  No wind and calm seas.

7:30 AM - Passed Cape Alava, the most westerly point in the 48 contiguous States.  As a kid I hiked the 9-mile triangular Lake Ozette trail and visited Cape Alava, as an adult I have passed it many times on both sail and power boats giving it wide berth.  The first leg beyond Cape Flattery takes us further west past Alava then southerly following the coast 5-10 miles offshore.

Destruction Island Lighthouse - you need to look close

11:05 AM - Passing Destruction Island Lighthouse.  We were 3-miles west of the light.

Mount Olympus, tallest peak of the Olympic Range as seen from the Ocean

4:00 PM - Turned east at Grays Harbor Entrance Lighted Whistle Buoy 3 (G FL 4S Whistle). We arrived during the ebb and a 10-knot westerly wind.  The seas were 4-6 feet at the bar and easy to navigate with the American Tug, we added a little power to give us good steerage which is the beauty of a semi-displacement boat.  Many of the charter fishing boats that work on the coast are Lynn Senour designs like our Tug, perfect for the coastal waters and fjords of the Pacific Northwest.

Westport, WA - Can you spot the cabernet colored American Tug?  Far left.

4:45 PM - Arrived at our slip and tied up at the Grays Harbor Marina at Westport, WA. 

Today was an easy day on the water with smooth seas and excellent visibility.  The boat is running great and handles the seas comfortably.  We have been cruising just a bit faster than the hull speed (1750-rpm vs 1350-rpm displacement speed) which keeps the bow up and applies hydraulic pressure under the hull to provide a rock solid and stable ride.  Either speed is very fuel efficient.

Excellent halibut fish & chips for dinner at Bennett's Fish Shack.  Now to bed early and away at first light heading for Tillamook/Garibaldi tomorrow.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Pacific Coast relative distance guide

Relative distances between ports & points along the northern Pacific Coast

Download the guide here and take it on your next trip between Puget Sound and the Bay Area.

I put this handy guide together today while underway.  A good trip planning guide, and an easy way to familiarize yourself with the ports along the coast.  I hope you find is useful.


San Francisco Trip: La Conner to Neah Bay

Day One - We head out from the American Tug factory to Neah Bay - 92 Miles

The opportunity to take an American Tug down the Pacific Coast to San Francisco was too great to pass up.  I love cruising in the ocean.  Good friends and a well built boat should be fun.

La Conner at first light - Mt. Baker in the background

4:58 AM - We untied the lines and slipped off the dock at Trawler Row.  Looking at the the tide guide doing thorough research and trip plannng while sitting in the La Conner Tavern last night, we decided to head out at first light to catch a large 11-foot ebbing tide that would help us move west in the Straits of Juan de Fuca.

Deception Pass Bridge at Sunrise

We hit 16.8 knots with the current push.

6:20 AM - Passed under the Deception Pass  The current was nearly at max ebb when we arrived at Deception Pass.  Clear blue skies and no wind.  The water was boiling a bit.  We kicked up the throttle to 1800-rpm and gave the boat good steerage.  10-knots of boat speed plus the current and we hit 16.8-knots.  Fun!

Sea state was very nice in the Straits.  

10:00 AM - The strong ebb tide gave way to the flood as we neared Port Angeles.  The slight westerly wind and flood tide flattened the water.  Everything is running smooth, happy boat & happy crew.

Makah Marina in Neah Bay, WA

4:45 PM - We tied up at the Makah Marina at Neah Bay.  This is the northwest tip of the Continental USA.  Neah Bay is a busy fishing port during the season.  Day one was fun on the water.

The weather pattern looks very nice for the next several days with a high sitting over the northern coast covering Oregon and Washington.  We plan to hop down the coast moving during the daylight hours; getting out at first light with visibility to avoid the commercial crab traps that dot the coastline.  Get off the water in the afternoon before the onshore breeze builds, drawn in by the heating landform.  I love travelling the coast, the towns and people are interesting. 

Stay tuned...more to follow!    Steve