Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Back on the Water

I'm back out on the water! I’d tell you all about the wind direction and all of that, but seeing as I'm in a 97ft power boat, none of that matters much. We left from Newport yesterday afternoon, and are on our way up to Portland, Oregon. Its been a smooth trip so far, got a little choppy last night but everything has been going well. As nice as it is to be down in a warm boat where you never have to change sails, there is something somewhat enjoyable about the discomfort and rough parts of sailing. I am little sad to say that if things keep up this way, I won't have to pull on my foul weather gear or get soaked or even crawl into any small dark spaces to repair anything. I have spent a good amount of time on power boats, but not much since I've been back. I would have to say that I think I like them even a little less than before. For a whole day straight now we have been listening to the constant roaring of the engine and I think this is driving me a little more crazy than cold lonely nights on a little sail boat.

Needless to say, I'm missing Wild Eyes and endless days on the ocean. Once we get this big boat to Oregon we’ll hop on a plane and fly back home and get back to school again. I did actually bring a few school books along with me... in fact I have a backpack filled with books. I should probably go get them out and get to work. I also remembered to bring a hairbrush this time! Although, had I not, there is a good supply of forks on board, so no big deal if it goes missing during this little trip!

Well, I wrote the last part of the blog hoping to find some WiFi during one of our fuel stops to post it, but that didn't happen, and then things on board took a bit of a turn.

The trip started out great. We were all a little tired after the first night, you know how it is the first few nights, even with a few crew you don't sleep too well. The first day and night passed uneventfully which I suppose was a good thing. All that didn't last long though.

The second day we started to have trouble with the auto pilot. I managed to fix it as it turned out to just be a problem with the settings. Later that night, I was off watch trying to get some sleep in the cabin down below when I felt the boat turning in circles. It felt so familiar I was almost happy jumping up to go take a look and see what had happened. Up on the bridge, my dad was on watch and he was hand steering. I messed around with the auto pilot settings some hoping that it was the same problem as before. It wasn't the same problem as before and after a good half hour I was out of ideas (This auto pilot could have belonged in an antique shop I might add. It was so old, I had never seen one of them before!)

Looked like we were going to be hand steering, at least until the morning when we could get a better look at the thing. Luckily, there was myself, my dad and Peter, so hand steering wasn't all that bad a thing as we had plenty of people to take turns. The weather was picking up, it had been all day and we had 6-10 foot swells coming right from behind us. Now normally this would be great, especially considering that we were going north. But in this boat, it wasn't great, in fact, it was down right awful. A ten foot swell isn't much to complain about, but Travoto wasn't exactly designed for any type of weather. The swells would catch up with us and Travoto would go sliding down the front sending us down sliding all over the place. We were surfing down so fast that the boat was plowing into the swells in front of us one after the other. You had to steer hard either way to gain any control of the boat as she went flying down.

After four hours on the helm I was pretty exhausted and good and ready for a break. The next morning we pulled into Crescent City to fuel up. A bit tired and worn out, we got a weather report, fueled and had a mechanic come out to take a look at the auto pilot and the steering. It's still under debate between the three of us why the steering was so bad. Anyway, the mechanic wasn't able to sort out the auto pilot, and didn't have much to offer on our steering problem either. We considered staying there a little longer, but we had a short weather window, and we weren't going to be finding any more help in Crescent City. We headed out again.

The day went on, the conditions picked up more and more. We decided to take one hour shifts during the night, and to keep two people on watch all night. We were in for a rough night and none of us planned on getting much sleep. It got later and the chit chat and joking around stopped as the night dragged on. We were all up through the night taking our shifts. My watch was for an hour, but things seemed to be dying down some and I was pretty wide awake so decided not to hand over the wheel quite yet. About two hours later, I handed the wheel over to my dad. He had just gotten off the phone with the Coast Guard to check on the conditions in the Columbia River.

We planned to reach the Columbia River around three in the morning, we had timed it to be with the tide so we could make it in over the sand bar. But the Coast Guard had closed down the bar due to a small craft advisory. There wasn't a whole lot we could do about that. The Coast Guard reported 14 foot swells going over the bar, not much, we had had a few swells at least that big out at sea. It was just managing to keep enough control of the boat through the narrow channel.

We started to turn around, planning to just head into it until day light. The Coast Guard called us again saying that they had a small boat out there and if we wanted to give it a try they would lead us in. It would definitely be easier having the other boat to follow in as part of our steering problem was that there was no compass on the boat. We were going off a computer hooked up to a GPS that had about a 40 second delay.

Well, we decided to go for it. We all pulled out our foulies, and headed out into the pouring rain to the bridge. It was too wet outside to bring out the computer with the chart of the marina on it, so Peter and I ran back and fourth yelling which direction my dad needed to go to stay in the channel. Surfing along, we made it over the bar and on into the marina. It was an intense few hours as we wound our way up the river. About six in the morning, we came to an anchorage where we dropped the hook planning to wait until daylight to continue on up the river.

After the engines had been turned off we all sat down below, tired, wet, cold and somewhat dazed. We eventually all made our way down below and slept for a little bit. We woke up around 9 the next morning all feeling a little better after getting some sleep. We had some breakfast and made a few phone calls and then around 11 we headed off up the river. We had a good six hours to go!

Those six hours passed by somewhat uneventfully. The steering had improved quite a bit with being on the flat river. We got up river to where the boat was going to be kept and at first we couldn't see where we were going to have to put the boat. It was like putting this huge boat through the eye of a needle. We looked at the tiny space that the owner wanted my dad to wind the boat into. I thought it was impossible, in fact, I thought it would be slightly crazy to even try and get it in. My dad did it though. Not only did he get the boat in, but he decided to back it in, and did so without Peter or I needing to fend off the other boats and docks even once. I was thoroughly impressed by that docking job. I don't know any one else that would have been able to pull that off.

It was over. We gathered up our stuff and headed off to the airport. Sitting in the airport all pretty much exhausted from all that had happened in the past few days. As Peter said, it was like living a lifetime in just four days. It was true, we had been through so much, yet we all somehow managed to bring away only the good from the challenges we experienced. Even sitting in the airport not yet recovered, we were all looking forward to the next trip.

So, that's what I’ve been up to lately. Now that I'm home for a bit I'll be back on the school books and looking forward to the next adventure, even if it is only four days long.



  1. Great post. Sounds like more of a relaxing trip than Wild Eyes. Enjoy! When are you writing a book. Mom wants to read it
    Benny & Lily

  2. Your life is certainly not dull, girl!

  3. Dear Abby thanks for sharing your adventure with us! I personally love to hear your sea stories and eagerly await the publication of your book; I'm hoping for a book signing and the courage to approach you and ask for an autograph and a chance to meet you, but just as a groupies sometimes "faint" at the opportunity of meeting their idol, I'm afraid I might do the same thing if I ever got to meet you. Or even worse: stand there speechless and tongue-tied like a dumb dork! I know I put you up on a pestle-but you look magnificent up there! Much like the picture of you standing at the helm of that big yacht (perhaps Wild Eyes I can't tell) on your web site; you look very majestic. A 97 footer huh? That's a big boat. And no compass?! Wow, that's scary (to me anyway)! What would you of done if the electronics went out? It probably would not of been to bad since you all are well seasoned sailors. Can you or have you ever navigated by the stars? a.k.a Celestial Navigation, they say that if you can navigate by the stars you're never lost (makes sense to me). I miss Wild Eyes too! She was a beaut! I sometimes go to your web site and just stare at the pictures of her ... wishing:-) Thank you for everything and may the Good LORD continue to bless and watch out over you and yours!!!
    Stuck @ (32.2º, -117.2º)

  4. Well done Abby.
    Keep smiling.
    Love ♥

  5. And we can't wait for that next adventure girl

  6. That's one thing you can count on this neck of the woods....small craft advisories and WET!!

    Lafayette, OR

  7. Abby, you really never cease to amaze, me i must say i also miss your "Wild Eye" adventures, but must admit i sleep better knowing you are safe.

  8. It's great to hear from you! As always, never a dull moment. :)

  9. Abby, at the risk of getting tomatoes thrown at me I believe this is one of the most important things you can be doing right now. You don't mention in your blog why you are on that boat but some can figure it out. Sorry that you and your dad couldn't be at the Annapolis Sail Boat Show, but this is more important.

  10. Would love to see some pics!

    Sounds like an adventure!

  11. U R SO AWESOME!!!
    i'm a random 6th grader
    but i read your story in an article
    for my language arts class
    and I thought u were AMAZING!!!!


  12. Hi Abby ~
    Just stopped by to see what you've been up to lately... As you made your way up the Columbia River, you were no more than about EIGHT MINUTES away from my house at one point!!! I can't believe I missed the chance to at least wave to you from shore. I'm totally bummed! How I wish I had known about your trip --- I would have gladly made the short trip to the airport in Portland and sent you home with a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies! lol Oh well, maybe next time!
    Sounds like you and your crew had an exciting time crossing the bar. It can get pretty wicked at times. I have had a few crossings that heavy duty prayers were being offerred! Am very thankful you made it across safely.
    Glad to hear you've been keeping busy Abby, and very anxious to hear more about your time on Wild Eyes.

    Blessings, always, to you and your family!
    Longview, WA!

  13. Thanks Abby,

    I enjoyed reading this!


  14. Hey Abby, It is so nice to hear from you. One thing I have always enjoyed about your posts is that you write so well for someone so young. Your prose is excellant, and I can't wait to read your book....in the meantime, keep us informed of all your adventures. And, as always, Keep on Truckin' Girl. Gus

  15. Abby,

    I'm disappointed in you, I mean by now you should have studded up on all of those autopilot systems. ;) Or maybe you have and you purposely broke it, just to have more of an adventure.

    I guess you kind of got what you were wishing for. You got the bad luck of the autopilot from 'Wild eyes', you just missed out on the endless days in the ocean.

    If those 4 days were like a lifetime, how many lifetimes did you live for on 'Wild Eyes'?


  16. Hi Abby,

    It's been quite some time since I last blogged on your webpage. You're not the only one who misses Wild Eyes. I've only seen photos of it, but I really liked it. I think it had the perfect color scheem.

    It really made me sad when I saw pictures of it when you set it adrift.

    I'm glad that you are holding up. I don't think a boat like Travota is the kind of boat that is right for you. I think a boat a lot like Wild Eyes, is the kind of boat for you. I don't know anything about sailing or boats, But I heard some people talking a few years ago. One of them said "There's nothing like being out on the water in a sail boat. Only people who sail know what it is really like".

    I hope Katherine is doing much better. The last time I left a massage was when you wrote that whenever you leave the house she watches you.

    Take care Abby.

  17. I can identify with not liking the constant drone of the engine. We chartered a Catalina 36 to sail to Catalina last week-end, but after an hour of sailing the traveller car broke, so we ended up having to motor the rest of the way to the island and all the way back. It was like taking a Sominex and then driving for hours. :(

    Good trip anyway. Even though things went pear-shaped for a few minutes, there, that's when the fun begins, right?

  18. Abbey, well power boating and getting into slips with bad weather and wind truely challenging. I let my brother deal with that he is a great power boater. I am not although in my younger days I would take my Dad's boat out without his knowlege and return it safely. Don't know how I got away with that.I was hoping I would see you in Annapolis sail boat show . Zac's seminar someone popped a question about sailing with you around the world. I had to laugh brothers and sisters have their own journey to follow. Thought you might get a kick out of that. Sandi on the bay chesapeake

  19. Well, Abby it's great to hear you can still learn a few things from your dad. ;)


  21. Hey Skipper, it's good to hear your back on the H20, where you love 2B!

  22. Abby, What an exciting trip. That is what is so great about boating and sailing. You took me way, way back to when I was 12 and we crossed Great South Bay (NY) in our 27' Luhrs trunk cabin cruiser. Super memories and great fun.
    Nancy M.

  23. Bonjour Abby,

    Great writing! Will this be in your coming book? The description is really good. Quite a story.
    Combine this and your camera skills and ... I see a few documentary films in your future! :-D

    Take care, stay dry!

  24. Sounds like you're ready for another attempt around the world! :P

  25. Ahoy Captain! I wanted to be the first to say: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Plus, I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  26. Capt. Abby, good job as mate of the Travoto. You wrote a spell binding overview too. Y'all covered some real rough water; and the storied Columbia River inlet approach; some say it's similar to the passage at Cape Horn. and in the dark? sheeeesh! so.. few sailors or wannabees can say they have ever equaled this one. Biggest congrats. You have a real knack for making us "followers" proud indeed.

  27. Hi Abby
    I must say I really enjoy reading your posts. I actually see everything that is happening as if I were watching a movie. Captain Abby you are such a gifted writer! Great to hear from you and your adventures.
    Hugs and kisses

  28. So great to hear from you again Abby! Wish there were some pics :) How's your book coming??? heheh ;) All the best always! Russ

  29. Hi Abby!

    Your life seems to be well filled!

    Have you been following Laura Dekker at all? She seems to keep busy while waiting for the Atlantic hurricane season to end! The locals treat her well by showing her around, inviting her for meals, giving her lots of fruit! She should do quite fine!

    Am wishing you all kinds of success in fulfilling your dreams!

    All the best,

    Jim :-)

  30. It's so good to see you making the most of your teen years, Abby. The things you've learned the last few years(and still learning) from life experiences, you just can't get out of school books. But, unfortunately, school is important too. lol...
    Keep on doing, Abby. And keep on sharing you adventures with us. We love you.


  31. Every time you put a feet on a boat, then it is an adventure ...

  32. YAY Abby! Keep up the adventuring, and please keep us up to date! It's refreshing to read about young people living life to the fullest. And get Wild Eyes back out there!

    Tray M.

  33. Dear Abby What an adventure your family and you our the greatist I wish I could have gone with you all you need a cook toas well as another helmsman such as me I will be thinking of this for a while I still pray I win the lotto and have enough to get myself that NORSTAR 40 ft from my heart you and your family Is fantastic I hope one day to meet all of you

    your always In my thoughts
    William K. Hass



  35. Dear Cap'n Abby,

    I found that boat on the net. It looks like it was designed for the ICW, or other protected waters. Compasses just take up room that is better used for beverage glasses.

    I'm with Gus and Virginia. You can write, Lady. I, too, could see it all, and was "there." Just think how much better you could write if you weren't home schooled! Heh heh.


    I, too, "get" why you all were on that boat, and that is also part of a good education, and shows character.

    BZ and God Bless,

    Bill Smith

  36. Hey Capt. Abby,
    Sending our best happy wishes for your 17th Birthday. Your 10/19 day is our 39th wedding anniversary too skipper.. and yeah we've weathered a few storms along that route. Looking forward to more of the same.

  37. Hi Abby,
    What a great story of your boat delivery trip. I felt like I was right there with you. Kudos to Laurence for pulling off the masterful docking. Glad you're all back safe and sound. HAPPY 17th BIRTHDAY tomorrow, Abby!!!!! I hope you get to celebrate with lots of friends and family and goodies to eat. Take care and keep us updated!
    --Sue McGah
    Laguna Niguel, CA

  38. Happy Birthday!
    Congratulations on your 17th birthday!
    Ben, Sweden

    You're the greatest!
    You're the wonderfulest!
    You're the beautifulest!
    You're the everything-est!
    Good luck & GOD bless!
    We LOVE you!!!

  40. Your youthful exuberance and your passion for life, reflected on your writings, very contagious, fill my heart with joy and raise my spirit. This nicely crafted composition reads just like a thrilling sea adventure story, which I am always hungry for and have a great desire to experience one, myself. Thank you for sharing.

    Happy birthday Abby!

    Steve Nikfar

  41. Hi Abby,

    So nice to hear from you.

    Happy birthday. I wish only the best for you.

    Keep sailing.
    Clare, Spokane, WA

  42. First of all...Happy Birthday Abby! May you have many happy & blessed yrs ahead 4u. So good to read u sailing again, feels like old times again! God bless, sailor of the high seas.

  43. WISHING YOU A VERY HAPPY 17th BIRTHDAY ABBY :) xoxo from Me and All Your Friends who Follow My Support (Facebook) Profile for Solo Sailors and Young Achievers Like You.
    Use The LINK below to go To THE EVENT TAB on my Profile to See The BIRTHDAY WISHES. Also see the Birthday Card on My Profile for You ... sorry this is a bit late as I had Trouble with The Birthday Card Image. Hope You Had A Wonderful Day . . .



  44. Dear Abigail,
    Happy belated birthday to ya! Sorry it is late--but that's me: a day late and a dollar short.
    Still stuck @ (33.2º, -117.2º) ;-)

  45. India Lima Oscar Victor Echo Yankee Oscar Uniform
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  46. The trip sounds all too familiar, was that a delivery? Glad to see that you are keeping up your blog. I hope you are also doing a journal for yourself.
    For what it is worth, all the chatter and second guessing about your long voyage should be regarded for what it is: uninformed nonsense.
    None of the remarks came from the decks of a boat that has doubled the Horn or Cape Argulas. Keep your head up and eyes on the horizon girl.


  47. that to me, sound like way to much fun :) i took a 50ft trauler "or however it is spelled" up through canada. THAT was a long and cold ride O.o having ice form on the upper steering wheel... not to much fun. aha. well start posting more often abby! i miss reading everything your doing!


  48. Hi Abby,

    That was a very nice talk you gave yesterday. It was cool to meet Robert Briskman. I wanted to say hey but couldn't stay for the reception. I had to bike back to my car, which was parked at the paint branch trail head, and they lock it at dark. Today I shook hands with Chuck Brown, a DC go-go musician. Last week Robert Owen hugged me on the steps of the Supreme Court after he argued a death penalty case.

    I like nothing more than hiking or driving or bicycling for days by myself. In Juneau, they used to call me the lone skier. I don't think you're crazy at all.


  49. Happy Birthday Abby. I hope that it was a good one. Your trip up the coast to Oregon sounded horrible. The people I've known who delivered boats for a living have told me some frightening tales like that. Sometimes the boat started coming apart on them along the way and it was hard staying afloat. Not much fun. One guy I knew had to call the coast guard in Hawaii when the ferrocement boat he was bringing back from Tahiti began crumbling at the rudder post and taking on water. He made back in the boat OK but he was pumping the whole way.


  50. Hi Abby,
    I have been following your blog for a while, it's quite an adventure you've been on!
    Your last post stated the 97 ft boat didn't have a compass. What? That seems pretty stange as I thought that a compass is a required, not to leave home with out it, piece of gear. I have worked on 950 ft container ships for 30 years and they all have compasses. How do you steer in fog without one? I do get the GPS conputer part of the story but still no compass or gyro compass?
    All the best!
    Steve Lohman

  51. Hi Abby, hey it sounds like you are having a lot of fun out there on the water.
    I've been busy and haven't been keeping up with your blog. I decided to go in and take a look today and wow, you had quite a story to share. I'm glad it went well and there were no mishaps to tell us about.
    It sounds like you are getting it put back together with your priorities.
    I'll keep checking for future stories.
    Good luck with school and keep sailing. It sounded like a lot of fun.

  52. Abby,

    A belated happy 17th birthday. I'm glad to hear you're getting out on the water again, even if it is power and not sail. I'm glad the trip csme out okay and I hope everything si going okay in school.

    Nick, Waterbury CT

  53. Hello just noticed your page..looks like you are very adventurous..You seem to be a courageous girl..Keep up the good work..

  54. 10-26-10 @ 00:05
    Hi Abby,
    Thanks for the up-date, sounds like you were pretty busy, but I know that you enjoyed every minute of it, didn’t you? I enjoyed reading that post, you almost make me feel like I’m right there with you. I can well imagine that you’d be missing “Wild Eyes” I do to. I know that there is a lot of work in sailing a boat but the enjoyment that you would get out of the tranquil times cannot be ignored. A sailboat is more of a casual, relaxed way of traveling (sometimes) whereas a power boat has a specific destination, and you drive to get there. Of course even as I type that I can see that it all depends on how you look at it. To me, a 97 ft. boat is pretty big, was this one that you were delivering?
    Glad to see that you brought a hairbrush with you, and your books, but if you brought two (2) hairbrushes with you then you could afford to lose one, yes….I know, I know, always being corrected…lol… But all in all it sounds like a pretty interesting trip, glad that everything worked out well for you all. Take good care of yourself, do you have any specific plans or are you just going to continue your education. Good luck to you Abby.
    Loads of love and hugs, and remember God is always with you.
    Your faithful friend, fan and follower.
    Michael from Kingwood, WV

  55. I find myself in a strange position. I have always sought adventure and after a few short sails in the 80s knew that I would be back on the water someday.

    My strange position is that I didn't think I could be so humbled and inspired by a young person.

    I just have found it so unexpected.

    Thank you for your spirit of adventure, the obvious skill and maturity you had to have for your parents to trust you to go out on your attempt and for not being bowed, by those whose fear runs their life.


  56. You who like female solo sailors should follow Jeanne Socrates, who has started on a non stop attempt in solo sailing around the world. On Monday she started from Victoria, BC, Canada. This is her third attempt. The last one took her from UK to Canada, where she now starts a new attempt. See her blog on http://www.svnereida.com/

  57. Dear Ms Skipper Abby
    First I and all of us wish you had a great 17th Birthday, One of the best years to be had.
    I liked the blog on Port Huron, Mi. My first station was there on CGC Bramble WLB 392 a bouy tender/icebreaker that is now a museum down the river. My 30 yo daughter lives there also. They are very big lakes, something a west coaster could not image how big and deep they really are, and all the water is fresh water!! Now did you also know that all the storms are made by the only the wind? That the lakes totally frezee over? (that makes for a lot of ice cubes.)
    On boat handling, there are people that know how to steer and the others know how to put the vessels in where you may not think was possible, like your dad. a great book is the Champman's book on navigation.
    So keep writing
    Robert San Diego

  58. Hola, Abby~
    Wow!! You made it through the "spin cycle" of the washing machine!! (where the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean collide -- usually one or the other is in a foul mood; can be deadly if both are).

    Still smiling about your "power boat" comments. So true. The noise of the engine is a blessing and a curse. And if it's a diesel, pee-yeww....that's what I call a stinky butt!

    Hope you had a chance to drive (a car) up the river -- the smell of apples from the washington side and the magnificent waterfalls on the oregon side.

    God is an artist and He created such a beautiful place for us to live. How blessed we are when we can see it and appreciate it.

    Stay safe, and stay 17 as long as you can! You will only be 17 for 365 days. And then it's gone!

    But you've got the right idea... it's better to take your time and listen to the swish-swoosh of the wind in your sails than to power along in a noisy (and smelly) rush :)

    Peace, blessings, and much joy to you and your family.

  59. your name belive it or not sunderland is the name of a place its in the north east of england in the uk near us geordies in newcastle something diffrent for you


  61. put up pictures please

  62. i had to pick a hero and do research on them! your my hero but i need more pictures of youu for a power piont so put them up please! or email them sarahhilltinkum12345@gmail.com