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Last sail of summer

22 Sep

This weekend we sailed upriver with some of Robin’s family to Government Island for one last fling before the calendar officially flips to fall. The weather cooperated perfectly, providing us with 80s and 90s. We had a great time, although we did discover that with the dryness this summer the grass burrs were quite nasty. The burrs didn’t stop the girls, who played on the beach in the sand and mud for many hours.


We were finally able to air out the gennaker


Our boaty girls are never happier than when they are covered in mud


Sunset on the Columbia


Tango extended crew

Final slog…homecoming!

6 Aug

Today was a lighter day, with our final six hours of upriver sailing. The sun was bright, the breeze was pushing us along, and everything looked so familiar. This area is where we cut our sailing teeth as newlyweds many years ago with our Cal 34.


Black Lake near Long Beach

As we approached Portland, we met a sailor delivering a boat (Goose) up to Idaho who was being filmed by the History channel. Andy gave his permission to be interviewed by VHF while the camera crew filmed from Goose. How cool!


Small boat crew filming the bridge lift

Coming into the downtown area we had family and friends onshore near a popular restaurant cheering us on. Very awesome and better than we had ever imagined!  We pulled into dock at our new home marina around 7 and had a stream of family and friends welcoming us back to the NW and checking out Tango. It was quite a homecoming and we are thrilled to close this chapter!


Coming home


Old railroad bridge

Final slog, part 1

4 Aug

We spent 13 hours today motor sailing upriver to Kalama. Final push is tomorrow. For all our local friends and family, that bridge lift after 6:30 might be us!
We forgot how slow and long it can be sailing upriver against the current.  At least we are only fighting a two knot current now. In June it was running closer to four from all the snow melt. Why can’t all destinations be downriver?


Hello, Pacific Ocean

3 Aug

Finally! The weather decided to cooperate and we were able to leave Neah Bay in the early afternoon on Friday for a 24 hourish haul down the coastline. As soon as we left dock the port engine started making an odd rattling noise. Of course, as soon as we left dock. Andy jumped into mechanic mode and quickly determined that it was the alternator belt, which he had almost changed out in Port Angeles. Being the uber mechanic, he pulled out the tools and changed out the belt lickety-split while we bobbed around in circles in Neah Bay on one engine. With new belt in place, we boosted up the port engine again. Rattle gone, we headed out.

Other than a bit of fog, the weather was beautiful, although we never saw the predicted winds (which meant we had to motor the whole way). We also didn’t see any boats, except a few fishing folk in Grays Harbor and one lone sailboat when we rounded Cape Flattery. Steve, our autopilot, decided to quit working early in the trip, so we had to hand steer the whole way. That gets really exhausting in big swells! We feel wimpy when we think of all the sailors who have gone before us, exploring the unknown with a tiny portion of the equipment and preparation that we have…and we are tired and whiny because Steve crapped out. Softies…

Andy swears he saw the splash from a whale breach, “the splash was as big as Tango!” At night, the Milky Way was vivid, and the bioluminescence in the water was brilliant. Wish those things showed up in video or photo…but our equipment is sadly lacking. Words will have to suffice.

We hit The Bar (you know…the Graveyard of the Pacific) an hour before high tide, and saw only ripples as we crossed. Awesomely undramatic!

Our only drama came when we it the marina in Ilwaco and couldn’t figure out where we were supposed to dock. Where we thought we were headed from the map they sent us turned out to be the wrong spot. After a second docking on an outer deserted dock (deserted but for seagulls, cormorants, and their poop everywhere), we wandered around until we finally found staff who could help us. Very confusing marina with two E docks and poorly labeled slips from the water. To make it even more fun, this weekend was a salmon derby, so there were small fishing boats galore. That and our port engine went on strike for our final docking. We even tried manually jumping in, and that wouldn’t work. As soon as we were safely at dock and talking starter issues, it fired right back up. Go figure.


Max in action

Sunday we wandered around a bit on Long Beach and let Max stretch his legs and chase the birds. Monday we begin heading upriver to Kalama.

Neah Bay

31 Jul

We rose before 4am today for an early departure to Ilwaco, about 33 hours. Weather around Cape Flattery had other ideas.
Our first nail in the coffin was the security notice by the Coast Guard on VHF of deteriorating conditions and small craft advisories through midnight for wind and wind waves. While we were trying to decide if we felt like pushig through or stopping early, a sheriff’s boat pulled up alongside and wanted to make sure we’d heard the weather update. Final nail…original plan dead and buried. Besides, we’d always wanted to visit Neah Bay and the Makah Nation.
Final 24 hour leg begins tomorrow afternoon.




Neah Bay, Makah Marina

Sailing rewind

27 Jul

Now that all our birthday mischief is managed, it’s time to wind our way back north for the upcoming left turn south down the coast. We are currently thinking very early Wednesday for departure…but reserve final decision for closer weather models.

Saturday we sailed for nine hours (against tide currents and with winds just a knife’s edge off our nose) up to Port Townsend. The kind of sailing where a single degree can change knots of speed into major luffing. Sorta fun (trying to beat the wind at its own game), but frustrating too when facing three knots of current…we just wanted that wind! We got in too late to enjoy the cute and quirky downtown, but did sample the bounty of Safeway.


Beautiful skies, but a bit chilly


Sunday we left Port Townsend for Port Angeles with fair seas and beautiful skies…about eight hours but uneventful and peaceful. Not much wind until later in the day, when it didn’t help us out much. We saw cool flocks of puffins everywhere, but they all dove bloop, bloop, bloop when we got too close.


Port Townsend and Olympic Range


Creature spotting


Dinner cooking underway, pork roast and spaghetti squash

One of those days

6 Jul

Ever have one of those days where you are two or three missteps behind? If so, then you can relate to Robin…as today was a “special” day for her.

First off, we had a lovely holiday weekend with Andy’s brother and his family AND Robin’s mom, her little brother (Sam) and his family. Robin’s family drove four hours one way to hang out with us, and Andy’s brother drove 45 minutes one way to pick us up, host a bbq at his house, and then drive us back to Tango. We ate delicious grilled food, watched men turn into boys with fireworks, made campfires to light marshmallows on fire, caught crabs to let them go, squished ourselves around small tables to eat together, kayaked to Skunk Island, and hoisted brave souls up the bosun’s chair just to see how high they could go. Very nice to start catching up on all the years apart. It was family heaven for us, and we are grateful to everyone for their car sacrifices!

So, after this lovely holiday weekend full of visiting family (did I mention we made room for nine people to sleep aboard Tango?), it was time for us to sail on from Port Hadlock to Elliott Bay in Seattle. Perhaps all this weekend fun dulled Robin’s brain a bit…but whatever the cause…she wasn’t on top of her game!

First event. As we prepped to leave dock, Robin saw that Andy had disconnected bow dock lines and laid them on the deck. So, she disconnected the rest of the port lines while her family said goodbye, and told Andy he had the helm (all without checking that all the lines really were disconnected). Throwing the engines in reverse, Andy and Tango valiantly tried to leave dock, but something just was not quite right. Tango kept twisting oddly and wouldn’t exit the slip. “Hmmm,” says Robin in her head, “what’s going on? Is it the wind?” Duh, we still had an errant bow line cleated off on the starboard side! Points to Andy for noticing this first! Lesson learned…always double check your lines. Sam disconnected the line for us while embarrassment colored Robin’s cheeks. We finally pulled away from dock and started heading down towards Oak Bay while everyone shouted their goodbyes again. The line event is something that never happened before…nor will it ever happen again!

Second event. Robin started mentally running through the leaving-dock-checklist to make sure she didn’t forget anything (this would have been good to do while still AT the dock!). The harbormaster/owner in Port Hadlock had kindly given us key fobs for his new fancy door system, while extracting a promise for us to PLEASE return them when we left. No problem, we Promise! Heading out to the channel, Robin remembers this promise. Panic moment and then a quick call to her mom, “please run back to the slip and grab something from me.” After an over the water envelope-full-of-fobs exchange from tip of bow to end of slip, the promise could be kept. Thank you, mom!

What are we at now, goodbye number three? Finally, we turned around and headed out. We motored through the Port Townsend canal, and cleared the bridge to Indian Island no problem. There were no height markers to tell us true height, but on the charts its height is 58 feet and our mast is 54 feet. We held our breath a bit, but Andy planned it well to keep both tide and current on our side.

The on-board family ribbing level stayed high as we motor sailed along in light winds (light until we passed Admiralty Inlet). After Robin slipped and fell down the steps a few times the family started to feel sorry for her, and laid off the teasing just a bit.

The beauty of the Puget Sound and the Seattle cityscape outlined by Mount Rainier wiped away the mishaps. We pulled into the Elliott Bay marina (just three miles from the Space Needle) around 5 pm. A lovely day on the water, and the joy of a few weeks to explore a new city.

Peyton enjoys being swung back and forth on the boom when we sail…and so does Max.

Sailing along

25 Jun

Andy’s brother captured a few shots of us sailing along near Dungeness Bay when we came over from Victoria. The winds were about 20 knots, and we’d been too tired (plus it was a bit too windy at dock) to put the reefing lines back in before we left Victoria Harbour, so that’s why we came across under jib only.


Yes, Tango is a baby 🙂




Saturday sail to Port Hadlock

23 Jun

Saturday we left Sequim and sailed a whopping 20ish miles to the marina in Port Hadlock. This town is much smaller than Sequim, but it feels bigger since we can all walk to the grocery store and back again (the John Wayne marina is about three miles one way to grocery…doable but not much fun loaded up on the way back). The marina in Port Hadlock also had room for us through July 4th weekend, which is the primary reason to move, so off we shoved!

We sailed in light winds up Sequim Bay and around Protection Island and into Port Townsend Bay. Was nice to finally air out the mainsail and test the newly repaired stackpack (one jack line pulley tie died – but that was an easy and quick repair). So nice to have all those seams back in place!

The cliffs around Protection Island are pretty cool…and did you know tufted puffins live on Protection Island? We tried to get close and peered through the binoculars, but didn’t see any. We may have seen a few from a distance. Whatever those little sea birds were…they had orange puffiny feet…but we didn’t see the telltale beak…so we can’t say for sure. We did see about ten seals though. We love the way they pop their heads up to track the boat for a few minutes before they disappear and swim off.

We did have a bit of boat drama coming in…the slip where the harbormaster had intended to put us was occupied by a trawler who crunched a hole in his hull coming into the marina on Friday from a metal bit sticking out of the side of the finger dock in that slip. Guess the wind grabbed him and slammed his poor trawler into it the day before we arrived. Eesh! Probably a good thing (only for us though) that he is stuck in that slip waiting for the fiberglass guy to repair him, since it saved us from having to navigate that odd metal protuberance. Almost looks like a motor mount at the water line. Whatever it is, this new marina owner is planning on having it removed…probably a good idea!

Here we stay for a bit…a peaceful marina with bay front, picnic benches, grills, and Skunk Island…the girls say bring on the play.


Skunk Island


Finding sand dollars


Mount Baker…so cool to sail with mountainy peaks


Protection Island


Marina at Port Hadlock



We need a better story

20 Jun

Everyone is interested in Tango, since catamarans aren’t as common up here, and our port of call is Maryland. These cues have people assuming we did the Panama Canal. We’ve only been at dock for a few days here in Sequim, and several folks have stopped by daily to ask us our story. It goes something like this…

Curious person knocking or hollering: “Hey there, Tango! I see you’re from Maryland. Did you go through the canal?”

Tango crew (even Peyton has given a version of this response): “Hi! No, that was the original plan, but due to work and life circumstances we ended up having it shipped on a freighter to Victoria.”

Curious person: “Oh, I see. Where are you headed?” You can tell from their tone that we seem to lose street cred here, as if the sailing we have done doesn’t really count once we put Tango on that freighter.

Tango crew: “Well, we are heading down to settle in our new home port in Portland, OR to be near our families.”

At this point the conversation takes a turn. The nice turns are to ones talking about great NW anchorages, places to visit, questions about where we sailed on the East Coast and in the Bahamas, and the standard homeschooling questions we are always asked. The uncomfortable discussions now turn to “well, how much did that cost?” and “why would you go Portland, Oregon?” The best of the worst had a guy tell Robin, “that’s not much of a place.”

We have met THE most nice and friendly folks in the boating/cruising world…but also some of the most opinionated and negative (a nicer way of saying cranky old salts?). Seems like those folks don’t have a problem at all with knocking on our hull and wanting to get into it, something that baffles us every time.

Our internal tricksters are just dying to invent some weird and crazy cruising story as to how we washed up here…one that will clap their jaws shut in surprise and speechlessness.