Thursday, July 16, 2015

Where is Home?

Brigadoon is our home. It’s been our home for the last five years. Over those five years we have been fortunate enough to live on Lake Union, here in Seattle. We have a great spot on the end of the dock, our marina is old but run well, we get along well with the owner, and our neighbors have (mostly) been good neighbors. They’re definitely a mixed bag. There was the guy who rode his motorcycle down the dock to park it next to his boat. There was the crazy cat lady who had flower pots all over her side of the dock for her cats to shit in. Entertaining us was the drunk Aussie who was offensive at times but overall a really nice guy. But they were all nice people – truly.

Then, there’s the shipyard…

Where is home? It’s where the boat is moored.

That is about to change.

A couple weeks ago, we were out on the Sound, returning from a friend’s place up north. Another friend was headed south also. As we sailed away, we had a nice northerly at 8-10, which made our asymmetrical spinnaker pull us along at a good 6 knots. Everything was going superb as we worked our way from Port Susan down past Hat Island, just off Everett. Our good friend, Kim, was sailing ahead of us about 3 nautical miles. The forecast was for possible dry lightning in the afternoon. We did get some, with flashes happening over the Cascades to the east, along with some between clouds. 

It wasn’t that severe and it wasn’t close, so we sailed on.

We had planned well for this trip, deciding to set watches for ourselves. This was the suggestion of my lovely and very smart First Mate. Kerry thought it would make for good practice. I agreed. So, we set watches of one hour on and one hour off. This kept us from standing around, fidgeting together, not resting, and basically not getting any time off. Kerry was below, off watch, when I saw the black line on the water.

It was about 5 nautical miles away.

I walked to the foredeck to get a better look. It was closer now. I could see black water, with ever increasing white caps behind it, like white horses climbing out of the Sound. Then I looked up. I looked up at our brand new spinnaker, full with only eight knots of wind filling it from behind. I knew that spinnaker had to come down right now. “Kerry! I need you on deck now!” I shouted as I moved forward to douse the spinnaker. The dark line on the horizon was now less than a mile away. 

There was a wall of wind coming at us, a squall, if you will, and it was going to hit us right on the nose. I completed the fastest spinnaker douse in my entire sailing career. Thank god I had an ATN sock on that spinnaker. It was doused and then down on deck in less than 2 minutes. And that’s when the storm hit us. Looking back I could see Kerry in the cockpit at the wheel.  She yelled out “What course should I take?” I looked over at Kim’s boat. I saw what he was doing. Turning back to Kerry, I shouted “Do you see Kim? Do exactly what he is doing!”

And she did.

We were fine. The winds were 25-30 knots. The seas were very confused. But we were just fine. We didn’t make any big mistakes and no one was hurt. The thing that most comes to mind is that, while not completely incompetent, we weren’t exactly relaxed in the process. Because, we should have been. We were in solid boat with good gear and enough experience where we should have been comfortable.

That’s the lesson. We need more of this. We need to be out there in the Puget Sound sailing in salt water and running into storms. Right now, we have a minimum of three drawbridges and the Ballard Locks to transit just to go sailing in Puget Sound. It’s a two hour trip on a good day. Lake Union is a little small and busy sometimes for Brigadoon. All this adds up to; We don’t get out often enough.

As of August 1st, we’ll be in our new slip on the Sound. We looked at many different marinas, some of them quite shabby but endearing nonetheless. Which begs the question – why would anyone, no matter how beautiful the marina might be, live in such a place with a dirty rundown bathroom and no laundry facilities anywhere in town? Three other marinas we researched were all in close proximity to each other.  Two of those were within walking distance of the Bainbridge Island Ferry.  We would have access to the Sound, a manageable commute, and a nice, modern, rich, town. Why didn’t we choose Bainbridge?

We found a better marina in Commencement Bay on the edges of the city of Tacoma. One cannot deny that Tacoma has revitalized the waterfront and, excepting its reputation, it’s actually quite a pleasant neighborhood. Oh, and the paper mill smell seems to have gone. The Foss Harbor Marina is clean, modern, well managed, amenity rich, and populated by some really nice people. There is a large liveaboard population, which is to our advantage.

This puts us within 200 yards from the entrance of Commencement Bay. At that point, we are in the South Puget Sound. We will have the time, the access, the desire, and the wherewithal to actually sail this boat as much as we need. The South Sound awaits us. We’re gonna do some sailing.

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