With smoke haze enveloping Seattle, temperature in the eighties and little wind inland, expectations were nominal
With smoke haze enveloping Seattle, temperature in the eighties and little wind inland, expectations were nominal for sailing when the OutVentures folks met Millie at Shilshole Bay Marina. Even so, the prospect of going out on the water was enticing so enthusiasm grew. While waiting for all to arrive, those gathered bandied memories and humor of past sails and watched the antics of a seal mere feet away.
Once procedures were covered and all aboard were adequately versed in the proper operation of the marine head, lines were loosed, motor was engaged and the J35c was backed into the fairway. Heading out of the marina, lines and fenders were stored as Vita Beata followed the parade of sailboats motoring out for the afternoon sail.
While in the lee of the marina, Millie motored toward the Meadow Point buoy before turning the boat into the SSE breeze for hoisting the main. Then taking advantage of wind direction, the crew fell off onto a starboard tack and set a southerly course.
Sailing to the south was a new experience with the wind usually out of the north. All aboard enjoyed the variation., especially as the southerly built to 12 knots. Still the haze limited visibility in all directions so the crew had to keep a watchful eye for approaching vessels. It was easy to mistake whether a barge or container ship and whether they were approaching or bearing away. However, it became very clear when the OutVentures course was in the direct path of an approaching tug with barge in tow. Tightening all sails, the crew pinched closer to windward, and as the starboard side of the tug became visible, they heaved a sigh of relief as they steered clear.
Now as they sailed closer to Elliott Bay, they could discern two, no, three cruise ships at dock. However, with departure typically later in the afternoon, on they sailed “Where is that yellow buoy?” Millie asked as the crew gauged their position within the shipping channel. But with the haze, the mid-channel buoy remained illusive. Then with their position still in doubt, they could see that the Holland American ship was indeed pulling away from the dock. Executing a jibe enabled the crew to sail out of the anticipated path of the ship. Still knowing that the other two ships would depart, all eyes searched for that mid-channel buoy. Though they couldn't sail completely out of the shipping lanes now that the wind had decreased, with these ships heading north, the closer they sailed to that yellow buoy, the better. “There it is.” announced Felix as it appeared from the haze. "I was looking for something more orange, I guess," remarked Glen. As the crew sailed close to the mid-channel buoy, they watch the Norwegian Sun sail past on its voyage to Alaska. “I think that's the closest I've ever been to a cruise ship on the water.” Don declared.
So, after playing keep-out-of-the ship's-path and performing another jibe, the crew turned Vita Beata toward port. Nearing West Point, they watched Dahl Porpoises cavorting. Marveling at the undulating dorsal fins, they sailed on passing the entrance to the Locks and the south entrance to the marina. Then as they approached the end of the seawall, the crew furled the jib, Millie engaged the engine, and while keeping Vita Beata into the diminished wind, the crew dropped and furled the main. Vita Beata made her way back to “I” dock and as the crew tied her up proper at her slip, the sun sank behind the Olympics painting a gold and red sunset which spilled into the Sound.