Monday, August 11, 2014

San Francisco Trip: Westport to Tillamook

Day Three - Past the Columbia entrance to Tillamook / Garibaldi - 96 Miles

As you move down the coast there are a few obstacles that influence the water conditions and determine timing. The Cape's and River bars cause the seas to build and can create barriers. We had two of these today with a very large ebb from the Columbia and timing a bar crossing at Tillamook. Looking forward a few days we will face getting around Cape Mendocino, considered the biggest influence on the coast south of Alaska.

The donut shop at the marina in Westport opens at 4 AM

4:30 AM - Gerry and I hit the donut shop in Westport.  This was critically timed as we did not want to affect our departure.  Fueling up!

4:50 AM - We departed Westport headed for Tillamook, OR.

5:10 AM - Crossed the Grays Harbor Bar.  We were on the ebb when the waves tend to stack up against the ocean waters.  Seas were running 6-10 feet on the bar.  We had an uneventful crossing and re-entered the ocean.

Sunrise over Westport

5:45 AM - Turned south with a bearing of 162-degrees, a course that should take us well outside the influence of the ebbing Columbia River 45-miles to the south.  Remember we currently have a "super moon" which brings a very large tide cycle of over 11-feet.  This requires going a little further west to avoid the built-up seas where the ocean swells and river outflow meet.  

9:00 AMWe passed Cape Disappointment 12-miles offshore.  Swells were running 4-5 feet with a reasonably long period.

Tillamook Head is easy to spot from sea.  The abandoned lighthouse is below.

1:00 PM - Passed Tillamook Head and the abandoned Tillamook Rock Light.

Tillamook USCG Observation Tower

2:00 PM - Called the Coast Guard observation tower at Tillamook via VHF radio to advise we intended to cross the bar. Prior to calling the tower we spoke with the USCG station by telephone and requested an update on the bar conditions and for local knowledge. They put a boat driver on the phone and he was most helpful. The Coast Guard stations along the coast focus on lifesaving and rescue operations as opposed to law enforcement, and are happy to talk with boaters.

Tillamook Entrance with north & south jetties.  This can be a rough entrance.

2:15 PM - Crossed the bar at Tillamook Bay Entrance.  This is a nasty bar with five separate rivers feeding Tillamook Bay.  A lot of water moves across a fairly shallow and narrow opening, with a near 3-knot average ebb.  It is best to arrive near the end of the flood as that is the easiest crossing.  We timed our arrival by adjusting boat speed and running faster for most of the day.  

We are watching the weather closely as we get closer to Cape Mendocino.  This is a big obstacle sticking out into the Pacific, and it has a large effect on the wave patterns.  We would prefer to round her early in the morning.  Over the next few days we will decide our ports with Mendocino in mind.

The Coast Relative Distance Guide is a great tool for planning the daily runs and looking forward towards the Cape's, Rivers and ports along the way.

Thanks for reading,  Steve