The passage from Newport to Crescent City is about 190 nm (nautical miles). It took us about 30 hours. The first six hours were nice, then the fogged rolled in. We didn’t have any wind, so we were motoring. On came the radar. We relied on radar and the GPS and chartplotter to navigate and avoid other traffic. Like fishing boats, that don’t turn their AIS on, because they don’t want anyone to track them and where they fish.
This was a first for us (FFT)—navigating in the fog. We used the radar overnight on the leg from Neah Bay south. Now we’re adding fog to the equation. We can’t see shit.
We had set up 2 iPads in the cockpit. One runs one of our navigation apps, iNavX. It has our route and also displays AIS targets for those boats transmitting AIS. (Most fishing boats do not, as they don’t want anyone to know where they’re fishing.) The other iPad is running an app that allows it to remotely display the B&G chartplotter screen so you don’t have to stand at the helm to see the radar. The boat is steering by autopilot, so we don’t have to stand at the wheel.
We’re doing 3 hour watches overnight. During one of Mary’s shifts, there was a break in the fog so she could see a few miles. There were strange flashing lights in the distance that briefly appeared on radar and then disappeared. One of the iPads had lost connection with the network on the boat, and Mary didn’t know how to reconnect, so she woke me up.
I told here that if she’s ever concerned, to slow the boat down so we have more time to figure out what’s going on. She pulled us back to idling forward, while I got my warm clothes on to go outside. It was dark out, no moon, and the fog was settling in again.
Once she slowed the engine, it was much quieter around, and she started hearing whale blows. Several of them, and very loud, like the whales were REALLY close. She heard probably 3-4 four, and when I came up I heard another 3. I grabbed our spotlight to see if we could illuminate them. Nothing. And then we didn’t hear them again.
We figure we must have come right into a group of them sleeping on the surface. They would have heard our engine as we approached, and certainly were aware of our position. But, it was startling and unnerving to come upon them and hear them that close.
The next day, we had some clearing, but by afternoon the fog rolled back in. We approached Crescent City in heavy fog. Visibility was about 200 yards. It’s a bit tricky to find the opening to the harbor, we slowed down to allow a large fishing trawler that was following us to pass us and go ahead so we could follow them. They docked ahead of us. Mary went over to thank them for leading the way. They told her they’d never been into this marina before (!) and only came in because they’d snagged a whale on one of their lines and the whale started to drag the boat and they developed an engine problem, before they could cut the line free. Yikes.
The Crescent City marina was destroyed by a tsunami in 2011. It was rebuilt and reopened in 2014. It has HUGE pilings for the docks. It was about a 3/4 mile walk from our slip to the harbor office. Town was too far away for us to walk with the limited time.
We stayed two nights. We refueled before leaving, at a fuel dock that reminded us of the high docks we saw in the Caribbean where the hose had to be handed down to us.
We met another cruising couple, Kevin and Courtney who were headed north from LA. They are hopping along the coast and shared lots of recommendations with us. They were tired of LA. They bought the boat up north in Bellingham and sailed it down. Now they’re going back to either Bellingham or Tacoma. Eventually.
Courtney works in the entertainment industry and got a gig so they were leaving the boat in CC and flying back to LA for a spell. They may still be there when we pass thorough.