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  • Writer's pictureJaclyn

‘Merica Here We Come! Sailing the West Coast (Leg 1)

August 8, 2023

It's time! We've been working towards this for two years, and we're minutes from leaving...." we can't take those gummies to America."... One last thing to do before we go. Get rid of the contraband. Ok. Done. Now we're off.

The day started out glassy and calm

It's a cold morning, and we've raised the anchor in Sidney Spit and have pointed the boat towards Port Angeles, our first destination in the United States. We'd heard the stories of crossing the Juan De Fuca Straight, so we prepared. The forecast was a slight upwind sail before turning into a beam reach for the day before the high wi blew in around 3 pm. We knew we must reach Port Angeles before 3 to avoid the nasty weather. We were ready.

Hahaha. Spoiler alter: we weren't ready. Once we neared the Straight, the winds picked up, directly off the bow, to 20 knots. On top of the wind, we had current against us. This wasn't forecast. This is bullshit. We were making about 2 knots of progress, and there was no way we'd reach our destination by 3, let alone in the daylight. We talked about turning back and waiting, but after some encouraging texts from friends, I learned that the current should subside and we'd be ok.

After about 2 hours of pounding into waves and wind, we bore off to an excellent close reach and started progressing. By 1:00pm, we'd officially made it into America. We checked in via the ROAM app in the middle of the Straight of Juan De Fuca and were now legal to move around the USA.

Raising the American courtesy flag

After the morning's wind and current debacle, the rest of the sail went smoothly, and we arrived in port around 3, just as the winds were picking up. We tied up to the City docks and walked around town to get our bearings.

Port Angeles is a little harbour town on the edge of the straight and was our staging point for our trip. Although we'd be stopping in Neah Bay before making the big left turn, we'd get groceries and any last things we needed here. One of those last things was a traditional 'Merica breakfast of chicken fried steak. Mission accomplished, heart-attack breakfast was consumed, and groceries were gotten. We were ready to shove off for Neah Bay.

Getting to Neah was going to be a test of timing again. We wanted to spend most of the time underway with the current in our favour and try to arrive early in the day before the afternoon winds picked up. So here we were at 5 am, pushing off the docks in the dark.

We motored along with the current with no wind, making fantastic time. The fog settled in, and visibility went to less than a mile. A cruise ship passed us in the opposite direction, and we never even saw it. And it was cold. So cold!! This was a bit of foreshadowing of how the trip down the coast would be. By the afternoon, the winds had picked up, and we tacked back and forth across the straight before arriving at an empty anchorage in Neah Bay.

Almost at Neah Bay

We hadn't heard great things about Neah, and those things were right. It wasn't an unfriendly town, but it wasn't friendly either. There was not much to say about the place other than it was a calm anchorage to wait for the weather. So we waited. And waited.

We got fuel, then we waited some more. We ate Indian Tacos at Pat's Place. Then we waited some more. Finally, after about 3 days, we were ready to go to the ocean.

NM Sailed: 94.5



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