Saturday, September 28, 2013

Newport to ???

Finally there was a small opening of wind so we packed up, pulled anchor and set out for Coos Bay or Bandon depending on the weather - which ended up not really cooperating with more crisscrossed seas and dying wind.
Breaking out the Norvane!
We did get to see more whales including really cool breaches, huge bioluminescent patches so bright they would make the sails glow green sometimes, sharks AND a puffin (goodbye arctic puffin)! We motored for the last few hours so we could go to Bandon instead of Coos Bay as it looked like a more fun town. Boy, are we glad we did as Bandon is great - cute little waterfront area and enough candy samples to satisfy the hungriest elf!
This one's for you Daryl!
 We got up to the library for some reliable wifi to start posting (finally!). We closed the place down and one of the librarians offered us a ride back down to the waterfront so we could row back out to the boat for supper. We didn’t catch her name, but if you know the librarian with the alphabet on her Belgian glasses, we love her!

We also made it over to the Facerock Creamery to try out their cheese and ended up not being able to resist a Basque cheese and a coconut(!) cheese from Holland from their imported offerings. We also succumbed to their ice cream counter (serving Umpqua ice cream) where we were treated to the biggest child size ice cream cone ever! Thank goodness we only ordered one as the $1.50 splurge probably sported nearly a pint of ice cream - Darren thinks it was as big as my head. Unfortunately we didn’t think to take a picture to document to enormity of it til after we had enjoyed some of it. And we thought Mike’s was the bomb!

We had nice enough weather that Darren put the finishing touches on the new dinghy sail rig and took it for a test! It's great! Thanks to Jim, James and Charlie for your help, supplies and tools to help us realize this part of our dream! We have a great little commuter now.

After craving pizza for several weeks, we broke down and splurged on a pizza from Angelo’s Italy near the waterfront and - yummm – boy was that a treat! Darren also continued to catch us crab - we saved them up and ate eight in one day! I think three large dungeoness is my limit.

Bandon also has a great waterfront area with art, places to sit and things for kids to climb on, a huge boardwalk, a glass enclosed picnic area for blustery days and a crabbing dock! Did we happen to mention how much we love this town?

Many of the shops had free wifi and several of our posts came to you from Coastal Mist where we had some tasty Mayan Drinking chocolate. Oh, the sacrifices we make to post for you! Seriously though, if you are in the neighborhood stop in and say hi to these friendly people and, of course, you’ll have to try some chocolate while you’re there – you poor thing.

Why yes we are, thank you!

Jodi & Darren
s/v Gratitouille

Are We There Yet?

Spoiler alert - Written on yet another rainy day in Newport. Skip it if you are in the mood for light and sunny. Otherwise you may want a handkerchief.

"So, does it feel real yet?", Melissa asked.
Well, yes and no. Newport is the first place we've been since we left Hood River a couple of weeks ago that we've never been to by boat. Also, the Ilwaco-Newport passage was our first offshore since we brought the boat from Seattle a year and a half ago. Having the responsibility of caring for four other people besides Darren and my self in an environment that, although I have read about it a lot, is still new to me.
People giving us huge Dungeoness crab or inviting us for a tuna feast certainly didn't happen in Hood River - there it was salmon, cherries and other inland treats! And yet, when I spend a good portion of the day below decks working on another boat project we could easily be back home in Hood River. And when I have to wear my beanie to bed because it is so cold, we could be in the van again, camping out in Newport for another surf weekend. Of course now we don't have to get in the car and go back to work on Mon.
But what truely drives home the reality that we are on our way are the tears that course down my face as I watch her walk down the dock.
Away from us - for who knows how long.
So does it feel real yet?
Yes, yes it does.

Jodi & Darren
s/v Gratitouille

Friday, September 27, 2013


Newport greeted us with a bang as we docked to a sunny day, an offer of crab from boater Bob before we were even finished tying up  (more on Boater Bob the Crab King and crabs later) and blue skies for the afternoon! We spent a couple of days in the Newport Marina enjoying resting, doing boat projects, meeting great people and making new friends including the crews from Palarran (mighty tuna fishers - thank you for the feast!), O'Hana, Orca and more!  Tawn of Palarran wowed us with her many iterations of tuna delicacies and we contributed some Dungeness crabs from the bounty Bob had shared with us. O’Hana and Palarran left on Wed just before Orca arrived, we hope to see them all again along the way.

Melissa & Jodi w/their new boards!
We also had much needed visits from old friends Melissa and Brad. Melissa joined us for our first kite session of the adventure and Brad joined the three of us later that evening . We had the last 2 crab from Bob and some rock crabs that Darren had caught as appetizers for our taco supper. The next morning Melissa took us out to breakfast (thank you!) and the three of us went for the first surf session of the trip at our old standby, Agate Beach. Melissa’s departure later that day prompted another tough “see you later” (I don’t do “goodbye”)

Darren finally gets to use the blue board!


After Melissa left we went out and anchored in the bay to wait for the north wind to come back, which ended up taking another week. In between fog and rain we enjoyed some of our regular haunts of Newport such as the farmer’s market, the library and of course the candy shops of the bay front. We also enjoyed some new treats including copious amounts of giant Dungeness, a walk over the bridge, the great bus system with free passes from the marina, lavender jellyfish and sparkly baitfish!
Crab master D

Our favorite new gem is Mai’s Asian Market just east of the Route 20 and 101 intersection on the south side of Rte. 20. We have Kathryn and Koji, our new friends from Orca, to thank for this discovery. If you are in Newport be sure to stop in and tell Mai that Darren and Jodi from the sailboat say hi (full disclosure – no, we aren’t sponsored, but we really enjoyed her and Mai loves the idea of travelling by boat and she will warm right up to you).

Thanks for all the pix Melissa!
We also celebrated our wedding anniversary while in Newport. Four years of wedded bliss, bliss, bliss!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ilwaco to Newport - Our First Crew!

Crew and support crew picnic on the dock

We splashed on Thurs. Aug. 15th and feverishly packed things away in preparation for our sloppy joe dock picnic (thank you Sonya!) with Jodi’s brother John, Sonya and the kids. The desert for our dock picnic was a delicious raspberry pie (thank you R.!) that was a real treat. Imagine the decadence of having enough raspberries to make a whole pie with! The memory still has my mouth watering. John and three of the kids stayed over as they would comprise our delivery crew for the Ilwaco to Newport leg! After yummy coconut waffles by chef E the next morning we cast off and crossed the infamous Columbia Bar!

Orcas - camera slow on the draw!
There was good wind and we were able to sail for a day which helped smooth the ride.  The first afternoon and overnight we sailed through some overcast and spitting skies. On the up side we did see dolphins, breaching and spouting whales – including four Orcas! – various birds, jellyfish and something that looked like twinkling stars in the water (bioluminescence?, jellies?...) at night. 

 I finally gave up on trying to catch them on camera and just enjoyed the amazing 2 pair of orcas that swam first in front of us then off our port beam and on north. Will have to set the camera to shoot faster next time.

Sunset over the Pacific
The sun we experienced on the second day really made the blue of the water offshore stand out. Once we were a ways from shore the water turned from the normal Oregon coast brownish green to a blue that dazzled. It was the color of a blue raspberry slushy, just a few shades darker. I could nearly taste the sweet-tart artificial raspberry of it as I gazed into the depths. Unfortunately the seas were so crisscrossed that most of the crew succumbed to mal de mer.

C catches a salmon on a tuna rig just off Astoria!
We had grand dreams of sushi every day and sending John and the kids home with a cooler or two full of fish. Despite the majority of the crew chumming for fish (some more heartily than others) we only caught 2 fish on this trip. It started well just off the coast of Astoria where despite being a little close to shore yet for tuna, we had put out ours and the kids’s lines with tuna lures in eager anticipation of hitting the magic tuna area off the coast. Apparently the tuna lures work for salmon too as the first strike was a beautiful coho. You are supposed to be able to pour alcohol in the gills of the fish to kill them without all the bloody bludgeoning so we had a bottle in the cockpit for that purpose. Either the vodka we saved from draining the water lines after winter was too diluted to do the trick or salmon don’t mind a shot now and then. Finally it was cleaned and on ice for John and co. to take home (word is it was tasty!) and we cleaned the cockpit and ourselves of fish scales and goo.
Crew J, E and John sign the duvet
Fisherman J keeps watch

Early the next morning Darren was on watch and saw a tug on one of the hand lines. He pulled the line in all the while wondering if there really was a fish as it didn’t seem to be fighting. He got it close to the boat and started calling for me to get up and get the gaff – it was an albacore! John took over the helm as Darren continued pulling the tuna in and I dug out the gaff then went back below for the camera. Darren got the fish next to the boat and slipped the gaff over the edge for the final haul into the cockpit. This particular school had held lessons about gaffs though, as soon as the tuna saw the gaff he went from being docile as a lamb to jumping right off that hook and swimming away in a flash. Although we sailed through more tuna areas and we repeatedly sang the tuna song that J. composed and led especially for the occasion, we never were able to hook another fish.
 Our sashimi dreams dashed, we had spaghetti for supper.

E & C enjoy calmer seas

Helmsman John
Newport fog clearing

We arrived at Newport early Sun morning but a dense fog blanketed us just as we were about ½ mile from the outer buoy. We decided to wait it out til sunrise and see what happened and were rewarded with a glorious morning of clearing fog.

Thanks to R for the pic of us coming in!

 We met Sonya, R and S on the dock and exchanged their gear for our surfboards, then saw them off. A really tough farewell. I reserve the right not to show the teary pix. 
We will miss our great crew! Love you lots!

Thanks to John and co. for your help in this first ocean passage of this adventure. Your moral support, shifts at the wheel, cooking, baking, shopping, gifts, ground support crew, company and more were extremely helpful in getting us off to a good start. In addition, your depth of practical research in the seasickness realm has given us some ideas for smoother future passages. We love and miss you already and can’t wait for you to join us again.
Sister/Aunt Jodi and Brother/Uncle Darren

s/v Gratitouille