Welcome to Ocean Vagabonds! We are a family of nine who became disillusioned with the “American Dream”, sold everything, bought a sailboat and sailed her to Alaska. We are now working to outfit our boat Nadejda so that we can see where the wind leads us. We hope you enjoy our story as it unfolds.
In our preparation to go to Alaska, we really were hoping for a weather window that would allow us to go around the outside of Vancouver Island, into Queen Charlotte Sound & through Hecate Strait. After much searching on-line we could not find anyone who had made a similar voyage and published their experience doing it. We had talked to several people about it with the usual responses from the extreme “your going to die” to the more reasonable “it can get pretty nasty on the outside”. Peter was amazed when a week out from our intended departure PassageWeather was showing the seas at 3-6ft & the winds from the SW at 10-15 knots. We could possibly sail all the way up!
|Clear enough to see the Olympic Mountains from the Columbia.|
We left the Columbia River around noon on a clear Saturday & raised sails while dodging a field of crab pots. Two hours of trade wind like sailing had us all out on the deck soaking in the sun & enjoying the movement from the sea. Then like most of our time out at sea, the wind became irregular & light. Deciding to try motor sailing again, having little success with it previously, we left up the main & mizzen which gave us an extra knot this time!
|Molly & Gabe cozy while Peter’s on watch.|
The first night watches were set for me to stay up as long as I could, then Peter taking over. I had a good book, so when he came up at 3 a.m. I debated telling him, “I’m fine go back to bed.” Instead I curled up where I was & went to sleep, the warmest place on the boat while motoring, over the exhaust (located under a bench seat in the pilot house). Since I’m very much a heat seeking person & get cranky when cold, I rarely left it, even to sleep. Sunday found us realizing we hadn’t put on enough diesel in our hope to sail a majority of the way. We were going to have to pull into Neah Bay that night & take on more. Besides, Peter wanted to fix the packing gland, it was really leaking & causing the bilge pump to kick on. (Note on this, we had tried the new packing material with the Teflon impregnated Gore fibers. That material never worked well for us, we switched to the old fashioned flax and that has performed wonderfully for us.) Motor sailing was more fun that day, there were times we went charging through the waves at 9 knots, touching 10!
We had a couple of shore birds land on the boat while we were 30 miles offshore. The first was a black hooded junco that would actually fly up & perch in the black netting on the lifelines. I was able to snap a picture of the northern flicker that came back a few times throughout the afternoon. It was sad too as I knew, tired & hungry as they were, short of staying on our “little island” they’d never make it to shore. I wondered how they came to be so far out there. Did they really come out on another vessel before they realized they were so far from home?
|The girls keeping busy.|
There was a little talk as to whether we should just go up the inside since we came in or continuing up the outside as we’d be motoring either way. After much deliberation and scrutinizing the weather we chose the outside as the weather was to continue getting milder. The following afternoon after taking on additional fuel in Neah Bay we heading back out the Strait of Juan de Fuca looking forward to weather that was to turn calm enough to make you think you were on a lake. No wind, so no motor sailing, which worked for us as our main sail had 2 foot stress tear on the leech. A batten shackle had busted & the shackle below it couldn’t take the pressure, tearing it. Michael upon hearing that we were going to go back out didn’t like the idea. We’d had uncomfortable seas the afternoon before making it difficult for him to traverse the boat, so he informed us before leaving “Me go back to my dock.” (Ilwaco)
We didn’t have any seasickness this time around & I was able to cook meals in the galley, running the diesel cookstove. We made sourdough bread & pancakes, a thick lentil soup, turkey rice casserole & a teriyaki pork roast. It was a first to be able to cook, normally it was every man for himself. Myself being either too sick or too tired to manage it.
|Out in Hecate Strait with no land in sight.|
Our four days of motoring were relaxing, we felt like the only ones out there. I couldn’t believe no one else was taking advantage of the weather! We saw a couple of freighters on the radar at night, but no other little boats. Arriving at Queen Charlotte Sound we came across flows of debris, ranging from large logs to twigs. We dodged as much as we could, but when night came we slowed down & just drove blind. Both of us couldn’t believe that we never hit anything substantial. Come day break we began our zigzag track through them again. Peter did let one small branch go directly in our path to see what it would do. It was pulled under the boat, knocked around the lower part of the hull, then came up after the mid point. Having transducers & a water speed sensor around that area of the boat certainly didn’t make us feel comfortable running into them after that. For this reason alone we wouldn’t go up the outside again, at least when the spring run off is going.