Repairs in Anacortes

June 8, 2008 

Dear friends and family:

We left Port Angeles prepared for strong winds and heavy seas, in accordance with a gale warning broadcast on the weather frequencies.  In fact, the Strait of Juan de Fuca was like a millpond, and we motored all the way to Anacortes. Our two crew, who had come along, I'm sure, for the sailing, had to have been mighty disappointed by the complete lack of wind.

But a major glitch developed: We had been steering with the autopilot, a wonderful gizmo which tells the boat where to go, in accordance with a compass direction, or in accordance with the wind. Craig looked back at the swim step and noticed that one of the four bolts holding the autopilot in place was ratcheting up and down (not a good thing). Sea water was alternately trickling and pouring down the hole around the offending bolt.  We immediately stopped using the autopilot, and hand-steered the rest of the way to Anacortes.

Above:  Astoria to Anacortes crew, Mark Nelson (left) and Buck Boston (right) with Craig (center), in the Anacortes Cap Sante Marina.

Once we arrived in Anacortes, the effort was all toward diagnosing the problem. The access to the underside of the swimstep is through a hatch sized for a nine-year old. Adults can get through the hatch, but only by being skinny and flexible (which neither of us are...) Fortunately Buck Boston, our friend/crew, fits the description and he volunteered to snake in there and diagnose the problem and begin repairs.  When Buck had to leave to go back to the real world, we hired a tall skinny guy to finish the job, and we finally did the last bits this morning. We were a day ahead of schedule; now we're two days behind!

The good news is that most of the time in Anacortes it was really snotty weather. It's better that we were stuck at the dock, doing repairs, than if we had been stuck at the dock because the weather was too bad to sail onward.

Left:  an offending cotter pin retrieved from the autopilot assembly.

Above: Craig saying encouraging words to Buck, who is cramming himself through that tiny hatch at the end of the dwarf berth!

Anacortes is a charming town with helpful people. Just an example: I wanted to change some US currency into Canadian, so we'd be all prepared the first time we touch Canada (now likely to be tomorrow). I went into
"Bank of the Pacific" to change money and asked the exchange rate: $200 Canadian can be purchased for $199 US. I asked the lady whether the extra $1 would cover the exchange fee. She said "Oh, I'm not going to
charge you anything." In return for my $200 US she gave me $200 Canadian plus $1 US. How very nice!
In the parking lot of the Anacortes West Marine store, we ran into old friends from Portland, now living in Seattle, but spending weekends at their Orcas Island house. They invited us to stop by and use their mooring buoy. We didn't think we would, because surely we could make it farther than Orcas Island on our first day out of Anacortes. But as it turns out we got a really late start. So we did call them up, and here we are on their mooring buoy.  (The picture, right shows their house: the view from the mooring buoy.)  They rowed out from their dock and joined us for snacks and refreshments, making for a lovely evening. (One of our favorite parts of cruising is meeting new people and renewing old acquaintances.)
I must tell you about our strange dinner in Port Angeles. We walked from the marina to the downtown area -- about 10 blocks. From the several choices of restaurants, we ended up in the Chinese one, and had a very
tasty dinner. The restaurant was very elegantly decorated, carved teak chairs with embroidered seat coverings, marble wainscoting, granite floors and tables, oil paintings of eighteenth century European scenes of aristocracy, and very large jade carvings. We asked the waitress about all of this, and at the end of the dinner, she brought out Phillip, the owner. Phillip proceeded, for the next half hour, to regale us with the wonders of his treasures, particularly the large jade sculptures.  There were domestic scenes, horses, dragons and gods. He said, over and over, "one piece! One piece!" It was nearly impossible to break away.  He kept pulling us toward the next jade carving. "You must see..." Just one more..." After giving long hugs to the three guys (but not to me) (!) he finally let us go.

Now, we feel as though we're finally underway. Tomorrow we enter Canada, and then head north as quickly as we can. We have a dated permit to enter Glacier Bay, and we'll meet friends before that, so we have a bit of time to make up. The forecast is for south winds for the next few days, so we should make good time.

Best wishes to all of you!

Craig & Barbara Johnston
S/V Sequoia

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