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January 26, 2024

Leaving Home

Series:
Washed Ashore
|
Part 6
"Start Your Engines" Art by Bez, fiddling with a new style.
Read Time: 2 minutes

At last! 

At last, after so much work, planning, research, saying goodbye, provisioning, packing gear, collecting spare parts, testing systems, filling tanks, and on and on, at last we were ready to leave — and so we did. I can literally recall turning the ignition key to start the 53hp inboard diesel and looking up at my crew of two, in position to cast off fore and aft. Some of our closest friends stood on the dock to see us off, snapping pictures and videos on their devices. “Okay,” I called out, “we’re off!” and shifted into reverse as Anne Phyfe and Coco stepped aboard with dock lines in hand.

We set out a week early knowing we’d have more to do in Port Townsend, our last chance to button up remaining details. We arrived and tucked into Boat Haven Marina where I serviced the engine one last time — fresh oil, new filters, a visual check on everything. Yet more provisioning and stowing, acquiring fishing tackle, organizing gear and tracking the weather. The week went quickly. We said goodbye to more friends who were in the area, then headed out for Port Angeles to pick up our remaining crew: a salty old friend who would accompany us as far as San Francisco. This was to be our first destination, a passage of some 780 nautical miles from Port Angeles. 

The stop in Port Angeles goes as planned: soon after arriving and tying off at the city dock, Pat (the old salt) steps aboard and stows his gear. We are all nerves and anticipation at the prospect of heading out to sea. 

We’re off again the next morning. Approaching Nanaimo, the last possible stop before our passage begins, we decide there’s no need for further delay: the weather checks out, and we’d only be wasting precious food and water by postponing any further. So, we continue on, past Nanaimo and out to sea.

As we passed Tatoosh Island, the ocean rollers quickly became large and chaotic, a turbulent slosh that is anything but enjoyable. Conditions here are notoriously unpleasant, where converging currents and surface weather rarely agree. Powerful forces are at work; I quickly begin feeling smaller, smaller, and smaller still. 

Suddenly, I’m 16 again, heading out into a vast expanse of the unknown, a future I crave but can’t describe. Or is it the past I’m after? Something is driving me forward, the just-freed caged animal wanting something other than what already is — and it’s over there, just out of view. It’s always there, just over the horizon, somewhere…

The prospect of heading out to sea, way out in a wide arc — to get away from coastal traffic, fishing vessels and crab pots — spurs excitement and awe as the cold reality of where we’re heading stares us in the face. Steel yourself, I murmur, our first ocean passage has begun.


To be continued…

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WHAT'S THIS ALL ABOUT?

I’m writing these stories to promote my professional practice, Moonraker Creative, LLC. And to clear my head. I hope you enjoy reading this series about the voyage of Sweet Adeline, interspersed with the occasional post about a project or related musing. 

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