I weighed anchor Port Angeles at 12.15 am. The flood tide was due almost 3 hours later than when I was at Neah Bay so I waited until more than an hour after low tide accepting the probability that I would arrive at Port Townsend in the dark. The sea was flat calm even though there was supposed to be 10-15 kt of west wind in that part of the strait but I had no choice. I was hoping that the 15-20 kt NW winds predicted for later in the day would come to pass, otherwise I would motor the whole way.
I motored for 2 hours, the last 30 minutes of that with the assistance of the full jib with wind on the port quarter. I eventually had enough wind to warrant hoisting the mainsail and soon we were doing a modest 4.5 kt down wind. The wind got stronger and I suspect the current started to work my way because our speed over the ground kept steadily increasing. I remembered that I would be anchoring in 16 or 17 meters of water so I went forward to swap the 38 meters of chain for the 15 meters of chain and 80 meters of white rope. That was pretty exhilarating, actually. I had to lay flat on my stomach and reach to the anchor to pass a rope through it so that I would not suffer the embarrassment of losing my anchor when I removed its chain rode. It's kinda cool lying on your stomach at the very front of the boat while in cuts through a calm sea at 5.5 kt.
When I finished swapping anchor rodes I looked up and saw that the wind had shifted and was headed toward the NE. I gybed and was very happy to see that I could pretty well lay Port Townsend. Soon I was watching the speed in the range 8.2-8.5 kt. There seemed to be magic at work because the boat didn't seem to be moving that fast. I realized that I had a good chance of making Port Townsend before dark. Soon we were running downwind with an apparent wind of about 15 kt and the jib was being blanketed. I then dropped the mainsail because I was terrified of an accidental Gybe which with the full mainsail up and a wind of 13 kt could have devastating effects on the rig. There was no noticeable drop in speed as Pachuca traveled safely at 6.5 kt in a falling wind. The wind kept dying and near the outer red buoy of Port Townsend I decided roll in the jib and motor the last 4 or so miles. I glanced over and saw what looked like a river of waves heading for Pachuca. I quickly rolled in the jib before the waves arrived. It was amazing. Here I had been sailing in relatively calm waters and now there was a boundary of waves of 3, maybe 4 feet in height headed for Pachuca. I thought that it must have something to do with the tidal current which was strange because we were in the middle of the tide cycle. The roiled water got to the boat and soon we were rocking and rolling. I rounded the outer buoy for the run into Port Townsend and the wind started to hit us big-time. Next time I see a wall of waves coming my way I'll get ready for some serious wind.
I motored in with the wind on the starboard beam at over 20 kt and gusting to over 25 kt. It was a real howler. I worked my way past a yacht and a fishing boat at anchor, wheeled into the wind about 400 meters from the breakwater of the Port Townsend Boat Haven, and dropped anchor in 17 meters of water at 6.15 PM. One thing that I really like about boating in the Northwest is that the holding ground seems great everywhere. I payed out the 15 meters of chain and 40 meters of rope, snubbed it off, and thonk! the anchor grabbed and Pachuca was holding steady against the wind. A few minutes later I payed out more rope for a total of 70 meters of rope and the 15 meters of chain. I then put a towel with a glove between the roller and the anchor rode to prevent chafing on the rope.
Then I zipped up the mainsail in its cover in the howling wind which seems like a dumb thing to do but I figured that it would reduce windage. For emergency the mainsail is too cumbersome to get up quickly and I would rely on fast deployment of the jib. Then I treated myself to a cockpit bath, hoping that the anchor would not drag at the most inopportune moment.
So at the time of this writing, 8 PM Thursday 25 June, Pachuca seemed securely at anchor in the howling wind, I was clean and had a fresh set of clothes on, and I was sipping an Australian Jacobs Creek Shiraz Cabernet.
Life could be worse.
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