Monday, October 4, 2010

Traditional Small Craft at Fort Worden

The Puget Sound Chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association hosts a messabout in October as a final farewell to the summer sailing season.

Port Townsend, on the Salish Sea and the east coast of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State is on the verge of an ancient rain forest. The east shore of the Pacific ocean is rugged and weather beaten, the bane of mariners since humans have sailed these seas. But Port Townsend has the happy circumstance to be in the lee of the Olympic Mountain range and thus in a rain shadow. Even in tempestuous weather the waters of Admiralty Inlet can be balmy. (But don't be deceived. The mixture of currents and unpredictable winds challenge the best sailors.)

October is a perfect month to experience this area. The sailing is often excellent as it was last Saturday when a few friends gathered to share sunny weather, light steady winds and a potluck lunch.

It's a long seven hour trip from the mid-Oregon coast where Doryman lives to the convergence of the Straight of Juan de Fuca and Admiralty Inlet but as the photo slide show will attest, it's worth it!

The old Fort Worden is the scene. My grandfather was stationed at this fort in WWI. His job was to log ships as they passed the fort to and from the Pacific. He often told of logging ships going one way then logging the same ship as it drifted back the other direction on the tide a couple hours later. Those were the days of the transition from sailing vessels to engine driven ships and this story illustrates the reason that the diesel engine was so important to the development of commerce in these waters.

I have lived to rue the day... the beach you see in these photos is often exposed to the ravages of surging waves from passing tanker ships and tugs with ocean-going barges. Long after the ship has passed from sight or sound, the waves will crash on a tranquil beach, seemingly without warning.

I had my Pete Culler Good Little Skiff pulled up on the beach when a set of waves began to build and crash at my feet. The sheer of the skiff is low to the water, which is one reason she is such a pretty little boat.

As I watched the waves build against the low riding transom of the beached boat it did not occur to me at first to be concerned. By the time the waves were breaching the transom it was too late. In a few short moments so much water had washed into the boat that it sat sunk at the water's edge.

Next time I'll anchor out!

There will be a next time, I assure you...

Thanks to my friends on the northern Puget Sound for a great day of sailing and camaraderie!

The slide show tells the story. Enjoy!


Brandon Ford said...

Thanks for the post. I enjoyed looking at the pictures and reading about it. I'll have to quiz you on some of the boats next time we get together.

Is that the new lug sail on your skiff? The same one you're planning to use on your Valgerda?

doryman said...

I intend to add comments to the photos on Fickr when I get a chance - for the boats I know - so maybe that will answer some of your questions.

No this is not my new sail but one that Andrew Linn made some years back for Jim Ballou. Those Coots!!
The new sail will be tanbark so you will not miss it. It's almost twice the size of this one.

If I'd had that much sail, Feather wouldn't have passed me so easily!

robert.ditterich said...

You do get to some wonderful events. Thanks for the very pleasant insights.

doryman said...

Rob, you would enjoy this as much as I. Wish you were here.
This gathering was seven hours away. You know how that is, I'm sure.

If I could ask any wish, it would be to travel the world visiting my friends and sailing with them in their home waters - one after the other - all year 'round, perhaps for the rest of my life.