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Bars

If you decide on the coastal route, you will need to get comfortable with crossing bars. A lot of them.

They can all be a little hairy, but the NOAA weather report and the U.S. Coast Guard are great for providing current bar information. Some of our crossings were calm, like Grays Harbour.

We timed the tides just right — high water slack. Our only challenge was the thick fog.

Radar for a coastal cruise of the Pacific Northwest is a must. Some bar crossings can be stressful. For example, Newport, Oregon.

We left Grays Harbour and had an interesting night passage, planning to stop in Newport the next day. The night was OK, but it was moonless and overcast.

So we turned on the radar to chase the boogieman away. Our course was within 20 miles of the coast,

just along the continental shelf, right where the crab fishermen like to string their pots.

We did our best to avoid the floats, but I missed one just as it went under the bow.

We were motorsailing and I quickly popped into neutral. Bump, bump, bump, and up they popped in our stern light, fading into the black.

I waited for the trap line to go taut, tying us to the bottom.

One minute. Two minutes. We were clear. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

At dawn, five miles off the Newport sea buoy in thick fog, the engine quit.

Now what? Jacquie called the Coast Guard to get an updated bar report and assistance entering the bar, and I dashed below to fix the engine.

“Mike, the Coasties say the bar is closing to vessels less than 32 feet.” OK, it was getting rough, around 3 meters at 9 seconds.

There was no wind, just fog so thick Jacquie couldn’t see the end of the boat. I needed to get this engine running fast. “Hey, Mike, I can hear a bell. I think we are close to the sea buoy.

If you can get the engine started we should run for Newport. It’s only 5 miles away. Are you OK?” “I’m fine, sweetie,” I reply.

Truth is, I was frustrated, insecure, neurotic, and exhausted. FINE. I was guessing that the rough seas had stirred up sediments and fouled the fuel filter.

I somehow managed to move all of the fuel valves in the right way

(I’ll have to remember to label these things) so the fuel feed was changed to the secondary filter, and the engine started.

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