Chute Up, Chute Down

Miles traveled day 38: 136
Miles traveled total : 4,720
Miles to Port Angeles: 489

This morning we finally rounded the apex of the high, into the northwest winds that blow down the coast along the eastern edge. Those winds were lighter than expected, though, and when we downloaded a spot forecast we learned that they would likely stay in the 8-10 knot range all day. The wind had rotated from southwest through west and into the northwest, and we were now sailing too far to the south with our sails set wing on wing. We jibed the main over as soon as we finished up our breakfast and coffee, but the seas were still running high, and with each wave we rolled and collapsed the jib and main. Besides making a horrible racket, our speed over ground was down to 3.3 knots, and with landfall so close, that was not an acceptable situation.

Chute UpSince the winds were still behind us, it was time to get the spinnaker out. As the sock rose up and the sail filled, our speed instantly increased to 5.5 knots. And as the apparent wind moved forward we were able to adjust our course directly toward the opening of the Strait. Perfect. We both noticed a massive front of ugly looking black clouds behind us before we set the sail, but knew they would blow by far off to starboard. We sailed several hours with the spinnaker today, making 5-6 knots over ground. I thought about our friends from the Tannowa Yacht Club in Osaka Bay, and how cool they thought it was to be able to set a spinnaker and leave it up for days at a time, which we have done in the past on previous passages, and thought we would be doing today.

As I was preparing dinner this afternoon the wind started to pipe up and gusted up well over 15 knots a few times. Any time we have the spinnaker up and start making over 6.5 knots, both of us begin thinking it’s time to douse it. Just as I was about to light off the burners on the stove, the wind went from 13 to 22 knots in less than a minute, and stayed there. We instantly grabbed our harnesses and ran outside, Rob heading to the foredeck and I to the primary winch in the cockpit. Fifteen minutes later the spinnaker was in the aft cabin and the jib was out again on the starboard side.

We both noticed how cold it had become as we were working on deck, and realized this must be the cold front that we saw on the weather faxes this morning from a low far north of us. Now, eight hours later, we still have wind in the mid teens and don’t know what happened to the forecasted 8-10 knots. We got a little rain out of the front, but it seems to have mostly passed by. Hopefully it’ll warm back up tomorrow at daybreak. Maybe we’ll even get a little sun again like we had a couple of days ago.

We’re now 250 miles from the coast of Vancouver Island and sailing over a bunch of seamounts, where I expect to start finding fishing boats. In addition, we’re guessing there must have been a Vic/Maui race this year, because on the Pacific Seafarer’s Net there are many more boats than usual sailing from Hawaii to Canada. Both of these factors will keep us busy on watch as we close the coastline in the next couple of days.

It looks like we should be in Port Angeles on Tuesday. Can it really be that we have only two more nights on passage? We all sure hope so.