Published: July 27th 2011July 27th 2011
Yep that’s right, I’m back on a boat. This time headed from Washington to Hawaii. Before everyone freaks (and rightly so after my previous gig), let me say that its been the POLAR OPPOSITE of my last experience.
Exhausted from the whole Captain Dave debacle, I had pretty much shelved the sailing idea for now. Instead I thought I’d stay on Quadra Island and maybe travel overland to Alaska and the Yukon for the summer before returning home. However, each time I would recall my story to the Quadra locals about how I came to be there, the response was almost always the same: “Oh, you just missed Alice. She’s awesome but she just left to sail to Hawaii”. Turns out she only got as far as Port Townsend before running into a delay which meant that her crew had to return to work. So mutual friends put us in touch and here I am.
Captain Alice is wonderful, an amazing women. Born in North Carolina and raised in New Jersey, she left for Canada in the 70s in protest to the Vietnam War. She washed dishes in Winnipeg before hitchhiking to the Okanangan Valley to pick berries. There
she met a fellow picker who was wearing a necklace of colorful berries from the arbutus tree. Enamored by them, she was told she could find these beautiful trees in the Gulf Islands. There she lived in a shack in Coon Bay tree planting in the summers until one night, sitting by the fire, Steve wandered upon her shack looking for a place to winter. After a stint working on fishing boats, Alice and Steve were lighthouse keepers with the Canadian coast guard for 27 years (21 years of which at Chatham Point, BC). A few years ago Steve raised the idea of sailing to Hawaii, to which Alice said “well if we’re going to do that, why not sail around the world“. So they bought True Blue at the start of last year and began the preparations. 11 months ago Steve died suddenly from an aggressive form of cancer. He was 60. After several months dealing with the shock and multiple cases of dandelion wine, Alice decided to carry on with the voyage.
Alice has extensive marine experience, a can do attitude, a warmth and an openness that‘s drawn in half of Port Townsend in her 8 weeks
here. For example, well known rigger heard about Alice, and inspired by her, cleared his schedule to do a once over of all the rigging. Not only will we be well equipt for the crossing but we will be flying! This is not an isolated example.
However the aspect I find so special is the community of women captains/sailors here. The first night I arrived, 3 of them came to dinner and shared their experiences on the water and crossing oceans, and a steady stream keep stopping by the boat to mentor us- they are so inspiring and supportive- or join us on the water each afternoon.
Just recently we were joined by the fabulous Ryan, who’ll be the third member on Blue. 25, he left home (Great Falls VA, just outside of DC) at 18 and moved to Hawaii for 4 years (and sailed, among other things) before relocating to Port Townsend to attend the wooden boat school. He is solid gold. He also happenes to be a shipwright (boat builder) here in town, which is a pretty handy person to have around! Alice and I are tickled to have him aboard. Its going to be a
The boat, True Blue III, is as solid as one could hope for. A recently refitted cutter-rigged steel Vancouver 38ft built by Pheon Yachts in 1985 (for more specs see Alice’s blog “Because you asked....more info about Blue 03/15/2011” at http://www.sailblogs.com/member/newdawn/). We’ve gone out everyday and she feels good. Super sturdy (7.3 tonnes of steel!) but responsive, and holds speed.
So after a great time in Port Townsend familiarizing myself with Blue, we are off. The boat is stocked, we’re prepped, the weather window is right for the crossing:
1. Avoiding a strong westerly/northwesterly, so we aren’t beating into it as we make our way through the Juan de Fuca Strait to Port Angeles, Neah Bay, around Cape Flattery and then 200miles offshore into the Pacific.
2. A strong high off the coast of the Pacific Northwest that we basically skirt south to latitude 30/longitude 130 and then west to Hawaii with the winds at our back.
The trip is a 2300 mile journey, which we are calculating will take us between 18 to 21 days. Alice’s initial plan was to get to Hawaii, through the Pacific, Torres Strait (northern Australia) and to South Africa around November
(Durban actually, my climate friends), but with the delay she'll just have to see how far she gets. And I'll see how I go. I might get off in Hawaii or who knows.
Anyway, we are a good team. I’m in great hands and so thankful for this opportunity. This is the boat I was supposed to be on.
P.s. I’ll be out of email/internet action for the next little while, but you can track our progress across the ocean via Alice’s blog (http://www.sailblogs.com/member/newdawn/), where our GPS coordinates will be uploaded and you can see where we are each day. We’ll also have a spot, assuming I can figure out how to set it up. However, if for some reason new coordinates don’t appear, please don’t call the coast guard! It’s likely just a battery issue or something minor. FYI we have multiple abilities to call for help if we need it. A satellite phone, EPIRB, SSV radio, VHF radio, and the spot. xx
There are more photos below