Sunday, April 10, 2011

First Overnight

We have been planning this for a couple weeks; our first overnight trip on Brigadoon. We have been living aboard for just over five months and have not been able to spend the night on her anywhere else but at our dock on Lake Union.

So we planned a trip westward, out the raising the Fremont Bridge, the Ballard Bridge, through the locks and into the salt water sound.  We were going to sail around a bit, then spend the night at Shilshole, returning through the ship canal to our slip on Sunday.

Well, that wasn't to be.  The weather forecast called for Saturday being crappy,with scattered crappiness, increasing to steady crappy at 11:00 PM, dawning Sunday to increased chance of crappy.

I made a captains decision that handling the locks, for our first time, in pouring rain, would not be a good idea.  So...what to do...what to do?

I decided that only two bridges would be better and, since we have not exercised our ground tackle yet or passed south of the 520 bridge, we would head east then south to Andrews Bay near Seward Park and spend the night on the hook.

The route is almost 19 miles.

We took off around noon on Saturday and headed for the fuel dock, for our first refueling in five months.  I had to repair the fuel filler because the previous one was frozen shut.  So, after taking on 10 gallons of diesel we headed for the University Bridge.  As we approached, I grabbed our horn and, after yelling, "Horn!", pushed the button.

Nothing.  Not even a peep.  It was supposed to make a very loud noise.  I sent Kerry below to fetch the spare charge for the horn I had recently purchased for just such and emergency.  She had to dig deep but soon poked her face out with a smile of victory and a canister in her hand.  I set Brigadoon motoring in circles as I swapped canisters and, with a few mistaken "Whoop!" here and there as I handled the thing, we were all set.

A long blast and a short and we were on our way under the University Bridge and headed for the Montlake Bridge.  Up that one went and we were out into Lake Washington on the north side of 520.

I had checked the charts multiple times, consulted web sites, talked to other Captains, just to assure myself that my 54+ (call it 55) foot mast would clear the east span of the bridge.  The charts say 57 feet high it is.  Kerry was a little anxious about that.  However, I remember the bridge being clearly marked and higher on one side.  I also suspected they mark the charts for the lowest point of the pass under at mean high water.  I thought we were ok.

We were.  As we approached the bridge under motor, we spotted two helpful things.  The first was the 64 foot height on the eastern part of the channel.  The second was the clear markings on the footings of the bridge showing the vertical clearance for various levels of water.  The numbers go down as the lake level goes up.  The 64 foot clearance meant we would be passing under about 62-63 foot high bridge with our 55 foot past.  That meant about seven feet of clearance.

I will tell you that, from the cockpit of Brigadoon, seven feet never looked so small or invisible.  But, clearance it was and soon we passed under and were on our way past the famous "I have so much money I don't know what to do with it" mansion of Bill Gates.  Waving to the tour boat (yes there was one), we motored south under slightly cloudy skies and little wind.

Brigadoon made a good 4kts under power at 2400 rpm.  Steadily, we motored south, towards and under the 70 foot clearance of the I-90 bridge on the east side of Mercer Island.  Crossing under and moving south, we made out way to the south end.

Kerry went below and left me at the helm.  While she snoozed in the forward cabin, I let the stereo blare as I motored along some of the most expensive real estate in the Puget Sound.

I call this one the "I have too much money" house. I mean, really...

Oh, it might have been the Mercer Island community center but, really, I doubt it.

Then again, I'm speaking from the viewpoint of wanting less, of living on a boat that has less square footage than one of their walk in closets.  I looked on with some sense of not wanting that, not even if I had the money.  I was happy where I was, motoring along in my modest home, with my beautiful girl snoozing in the front cabin.

Soon Kerry was awake and we were motoring along the east side of Seward Park.  A turn around the north end and we entered Andrews Bay.  There wasn't another boat there.  Not one.  

Kerry and I motored around, surveying the depth and deciding where to drop the hook.  Contrary to most cruising couples I went forward to handle the 35lb anchor, the hundreds of pounds of chain and parts that can tear your hands off.  I always thought it really stupid of "captains" that never leave their helms; instead sending their spouses forward to deal with the heavy tackle while they drive their boats and yell.

Oh, there was a little yelling because Kerry and I were 35 feet apart.  She did a great job of managing the engine while I got the CQR anchor into the bay and on the bottom.  I will tell you, when a hundred feet of 3/8" chain starts flying out of the hawse pipe and into the water, you do not reach for it to slow it down.  Soon, we were at anchor, or, at least, I thought we were.  

The chain is marked in depths an I thought I had 175 feet of chain out.  For the 30 foot depth of the bay at that point, that should be plenty (over 6/1 scope).  However, Brigadoon kept swinging oddly in the wind, back and forth, like a drunken windvane.  It wasn't supposed to do that.  I finally went ahead and let out more chain and was horrified to see the 100 ' marker come up.

A moment of fearful stupidity hit me as I realized that what I thought was the 175' marker was only the 75' marker.  We had a scope of 2/1 out.  That is not optimum and was a perfect recipe for a dragging anchor in the middle of the night, as a possible running aground.  After playing around I decided to go for a real 175' of chain.  As I hit that mark, it switched over to the heavy duty 5/8" rode.   Now I was set.  I got the boat, started the engine and really backed down on the anchor.  Finally we were set.  I'd be able to sleep.

This is what Andrews Bay looks like when Seafair isn't happening and the fair weather boaters are all staying home.

We did end up with company.  One boat sat quietly off our port quarter all night.  We never heard a sound from them as we fired up the Dickeson diesel heater, made dinner on the stove, played some music and turned in for a good night's 'rest'. 

And except for it getting pretty cold (we should have pulled another comforter out of ships stores, we had a great first night on anchor.  We woke to a quiet and calm bay.  

 Of course, it was too cold for my Princess, so I played Lancelot and got the diesel heater going again while I made coffee, tea, and breakfast, on the hook, in the middle of Andrew's Bay, in my home.

Finally, she was up and about so we started talking about getting going.  It took us both about 30 minutes of hauling on the manual windlass to pull all 200' of rode and chain to the boat but, after working in shifts, we finally had the engine started and were motoring out of the bay while Kerry had the rest of her breakfast.

While she munched we headed southward towards Rainer Beach, where Kerry used to live.  We cruised by there while I readied Brigadoon for sail.  The wind was up, I had a reef in the sail for practice so we got the sails up in short order and...6 knots under one reef and the yankee (the big headsail).  We worked that east and north, alternating between broad reaching and running (some wing and wing) and sailed right under the I-90 bridge.  

Once past that, we ended up motoring back under 520, then east through the ship canal, under the two bridges and back to our slip to a familiar gusty south wind.

It was a great trip.  I couldn't have a better boat or First Mate.

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