Tuesday, October 4, 2016

2016-27: Neah Bay to La Push, Received USCG Citation

Tuesday, October 3, 2016

8AM: We departed Neah Bay at 6AM with moisture in the air, then made the long left turn into the Strait.  The visibility was good, so we turned further to port, routing to the inside of Tatoosh Island to save about 20 minutes.

Passing inside of Tatoosh Island at Cape Flattery
Today's forecast for our route is:

TUE...SW WIND 10 TO 20 KT BECOMING S 15 TO 25 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT BUILDING TO 3 TO 5 FT. W SWELL 9 FT AT 11 SECONDS. SHOWERS AND ISOLATED TSTMS.

We expect to be off La Push, WA around 10AM.  We've contacted the Harbormaster there and he has a tie-up for Wild Blue if the outside weather turns bad.  Otherwise we will continue to Westport, another 70 miles.


9PM:  In La Push and what an angry sea today!

After clearing Cape Flattery the seas started to build as expected.  There were 10-foot swells nicely spaced at about 12 seconds such that the ride was roll-y but generally handled by the stabilizers.  About 9:30AM the wind began building well-beyond the forecast 10-20 knots.  We started getting steady 25-knot winds with gusts to 30, making for 37 across the deck.  Of course the wind was from SE, directly on our nose.  Big wind builds big chop and nasty seas and you can see the result below.

The Ocean Off NW Washington October 4, 2016
Note: Subtract 2 hours to correct time.

At 11:30 AM it was clear we needed to get off the ocean.  Luckily La Push was just off our port side, so we steered towards shore.  Once in the lee of James Island, the sea was still roiling, but most of the westerly 10-foot swell abated.  The large 4 to 7 foot chop still made the ocean a mess, but we all noticed the better sea conditions.  Soon we turned left into the La Push entrance avoiding the rocks on the port side and the sea flattened.

We had planned our entry into La Push, and the Quileute River, on a flood tide.  This insured the best conditions possible on a bad ocean day.  What we didn't plan on was the Quileute River Bar being closed by the Coast Guard earlier in the day.  Unfortunately we had missed the VHF broadcast that closed the bar.  We had heard a strong VHF transmission with weak audio on the ride down, but couldn't understand the content of the broadcast.  Apparently that was the announcement closing the bar.  Unfortunately, if you miss that transmission, there's no way of getting the information, unless you call the Coast Guard.  We have had a bit of experience with west coast bars, including crossing the Tillamook Bar in large breaking seas. Even so we should have called the Coast Guard before crossing, but after enjoying the better conditions in the lee of James Island, it never entered our mind. Obviously to us, the bar conditions were so much better than ocean we were leaving.  Compared to the Tillamook Bar crossing in 2013, this crossing was easier for us, even without the Coasties assist.  See the video of our bar crossing below.

Crossing the La Push Bar on October 4, 2016
Note: Subtract 2 hours to correct time.

So once inside La Push Marina, we located our end-tie moorage and tied up.  Even before the engine was stopped, two Coast Guardsmen introduced themselves, asked to come aboard, and stated we had crossed the bar that was restricted, which is a violation.  They were courteous, complimented our well-equipped boat, and performed the standard safety check which Wild Blue passed without incident, including the examination our Waste Management Plan.  They also examined the boat's bilges, apparently to see if we shipped any water on our crossing.  All bilges are dry except for a small amount of fresh water that accumulates in the E/R bilge from the refer defrost.  Anyway we received a citation which stated "Voyage Terminated Due to Restricted Bar Crossing".   Looks like we might be in La Push awhile.

We asked the neighboring boat owner if he knew of others that had received a Coast Guard "ticket" for crossing a restricted bar.  He knew of one who later was mailed a notice with a $25,000 fine!  In court, he explained the circumstances and the judge reduced his fine to $1,000.  Yikes!

Read the discussion on TrawlerForum.com.





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