Mosaic Family Voyage: Traversing Into the Rugged Pacific Washington Coast
It was 7 a.m. on Sunday, May 19, 2019. Right on time, we cast off our dock lines in Astoria and ventured out into the Columbia River for the last time. Spirits were high but the tension was palpable as we had the ultimate test of skill and preparation directly ahead of us in getting that blue sailboat and her crew safely across the infamous and treacherous Columbia River Bar.
This stretch of water where the Columbia River meets the vast Pacific Ocean is known across the world as the Graveyard of the Pacific. The Columbia River Bar has claimed and sunk thousands of ships over the last two and a half centuries, most of which were much larger than our 40-foot sailboat. And, on top of that, the Washington Pacific Coast is rugged and dangerous, with few safe harbors to pull in should anything go wrong. This passage, which would be our very first ocean adventure, was nothing to be taken lightly.
Knowing all of this, and harboring an overabundance of caution, we had hired Captain Stephen Frankland, a professional sailing captain, to help us plan every detail of the trip and to come along with us. This would be a tremendous learning experience for us. We rounded out our crew with a friend, Brian, and also Brenden’s father, Scott. Thankfully, we were also able to leave our two kids with my parents so that we could focus 100% on the journey.
We’d planned a 24-hour motor sail from Astoria to Neah Bay at the very northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula. After a brief rest there, we would continue onward for another 12 hours east in the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Port Townsend. Watching the weather predictions obsessively over the weeks and days leading up to our departure had become habit. We carefully selected a perfect window for the trip north. But it all hinged first on getting the boat safely across the bar.
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