The big blow

Last weekend the Northwest had what has been called “the storm of the century”, or “the worst wind storm on record for the month of August”, or “Windaggedon”. Whatever you want to call it, it was a lot of wind. I had a few emails and texts asking us if we were still on the boat during the big storm and if we were surviving. Yes we were on the boat and yes we did survive.

Having lived on a boat for just about 20 years now, I can tell you that I have had some pretty rough nights while in my floating home. When you look out your window in your warm and comfy house and see the trees swinging and swaying, we are swinging and swaying with those trees. When you say to yourself, “it looks awfully windy out there!”, we say, “Holy Crap! Did you feel that gust? That's a lot of wind!” I can honestly tell you that after all of those 20 years of living on a boat, we just had the roughest night of our floating home career. Thanks Windaggedon.

For most people, when a big storm comes to town, it means stocking up on groceries, maybe some spare batteries for the flashlights, or even not worrying about it at all because they are in a house that is bolted to the ground. For us, it means ducking for cover in the form of a protected bay in which we can anchor and hopefully miss the majority of the wind...which is what we did. We picked a bay that had protection from a south wind and dropped our anchor right in the middle of it.

This little wind storm came at an odd time of day. It seems that the majority our stormy situations at anchor tend to always show up at night. Not this time. This storm rolled in during broad daylight. We were awake and could see what was happening around us. Hallelujah. A storm doesn't seem as bad when you can see what's happening.

When we are anchored and the wind starts to pick up, I'll start to pay attention at around 20 knots of breeze. That's when we start to get a nice hum from the rigging and the boat starts to sway like a wallflower at a high-school dance. At 25 knots, the hum in the rigging starts to become more of a freight train that you can tell is getting closer and the boat starts to swing and sway like you are dancing if no one is watching. At 30 knot's, the freight train in the rigging is barreling down on you and it's loud. The swinging and swaying becomes more of a spastic dance that happens after a few too many drinks have been consumed. At 35 knot's, the freight train is right on top of you and it's screaming, and the swinging and swaying has graduated to a mosh pit as the boat shakes and shudders. At 40 knot's it's hard to discern if the freight train is actually inside of the boat because my crying is so loud that it's drowning out the train, and the mosh pit has graduated from shakes and shudders to an aggressive behavior that tells you this stopped being fun a while ago. At 45 knots of breeze, the volume of my crying is overcome by the clanging and banging of all of the lines and the rigging is now not only humming loudly but whistling dixie as well, and the mosh pit has graduated from an aggressive behavior to downright violent.

Another interesting thing starts to happen at around 40 knot's of wind. The surface of the sea decides that it no longer wants to be connected to the water below. It starts to separate and take flight and joins the atmosphere in a horizontal salt water spray. We saw a high of 46 knots of wind in our protected bay and heard reports of 70 knots on the radio not too far away from us. That's a lot of wind. It was loud and it was violent and we wondered if our anchor was actually going to hold. Luckily for us, it did.

During the peak of the storm, I sat outside in the cockpit and just watched and listened. Partly because I wanted to make sure that if our anchor decided not to hold us in place any longer, I needed to be able to act fast. But also, it was just plain cool to watch Mother Nature in action. The trees that lined the hillsides that surrounded our protected little bay were sending branches flying through the air and crashing into the houses that lined the bay. I heard branches crash through windows, land on cars and roofs and even had a branch fly all the way out to the middle of the bay and hit me in the chest. Brenda called that offending branch a twig, but still, a branch hit me in the chest in the middle of the bay.

At the tail end of the storm, we had to get our boat to Anacortes to get hauled out and put in storage so we could fly to the south Pacific and meet our good friends on their boat and start our new adventure exploring some island nations in the middle of know where. For us to get to Anacortes, we had about a 10 hour trip ahead of us. During this 10 hour trip, I saw some of the normal things you would see as you are sailing around the northwest, dolphins (yes, there are dolphins here in the northwest), seals, jumping salmon, and eagles...yep, normal stuff. I also saw lots of things that I have never seen floating in the water due to Windaggedon, lawn chairs, full patio furniture sets, coolers, volleyballs, branches, lamp shades, and just about anything else you can think of that wasn't bolted down.

Windaggedon was quite a storm. It knocked out power for hundreds of thousands, it claimed some lives, and it knocked down trees like they were toothpicks. It also made the inland waterways of the Northwest the worst that I have ever seen them. But now it's over, our boat is on the hard in a storage yard, and we are just about to hop on a series of planes that will get us to the South Pacific.

In the days, weeks, and months to come, we'll touch no less than 4 countries (Fiji, Vanuatu, Kiribati, and the Marshall Islands) as we make our way across the mighty Pacific Ocean. We don't know how long this trip will take and we don't know what we are going to do after we get to the Marshall Islands and we don't where we are going to go after we get there either. We'll keep you posted when we figure it out.

I've also had some questions about who we are going to be traveling with, how do we know these people, what kind of boat, how do we follow along, details, details, etc, etc... The short answer is that these people are good friends and former neighbors of ours, they have a 50 foot-ish custom made fancy-shmancy ocean going sailboat (and it's blue), they have been traveling the world for a handful of years so they know what they are doing, and more than anything, we are just plain excited to be going.

You can read their blog at:

We'll update our blog as we can, but really, we don't know when or how we are going to be able to do that. If you want to follow along on this adventure, your best bet is to read their blog because they have a way to keep it up to date while we are bobbing around in the middle of the ocean.


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