As Trawlerfest: Seattle wrapped up the Beneteau Swift Trawler 47 headed from Bell Harbor Marina back to the docks of Denison Yachting to prepare for her trip down the Pacific coast to southern California. The boat had arrived a few days before, via yacht transport, from the East Coast for her big adventure. After her showing at Trawlerfest the Denison crew was fast at work putting her back together, fixing a few small things, and doing some scheduled service before the boat departed on her journey. After a few days of preparation time the ST 47 departed Seattle for the Pacific Ocean under the command of Captain Jackson Willett and with several editors from our sister publication, Power and Motoryacht aboard.
The first stop was Port Townsend before departing through the Straits of Juan de Fuca for the open waters of the Pacific. A few last minute supplies were loaded on board and the crew fueled up early the next day at the Blue Moon Cafe before setting out for the open water where meals would be simpler and less leisurely.
The ST 47 and her crew stopped one last time in Neah Bay to top off their fuel. They didn't rest long, heading right back out into the Straits before turning south at Cape Flattery, the Northwestern most part of Washington State. As they reached the expanses of the Pacific the ST 47 took on the 10-20 foot rollers without hesitation.
As the sun set and the crew prepared their watch schedule they were treated to a visit from several gray whales who breached and spyhopped to get a good glimpse of the ST 47 as she pushed south.
The night watches were spent quickly closing the miles between the ST 47 and the Oregon coast. A little after 0100 the crew crossed the Washington/Oregon border about 15 nautical miles from the Columbia River. As the wee hours of the morning edged on, commercial and fishing traffic increased which lead to a zig zagging course to stay out of the way of other traffic. The ST 47 rode the flood tide into Newport, Oregon where there was a crew change. Captain Willett stayed aboard but the Power and Motoryacht crew, Executive Editor Jeff Moser and Digital Editor John Turner departed to make their way back to the East Coast.
Norris Come, Managing Editor for Northwest Yachting Magazine, joined as crew for the next leg of the trip and the ST 47 crew decided to depart right away for Coos Bay, Oregon to wait out a low pressure system. And, as Captain Willett said himself in his Captain's log, "the best laid plans are consistently subject to change." Because at 1424 the ST 47 had the sort of luck all Northwest boaters fear, she hit a deadhead.
The story is best told from here by Captain Willett himself, what follows is his Captain's log from that day:
At approximately 1424 at 43 39’.0 N ; 124 19’.9 W, 5 miles SW of the mouth of the Umpqua River mouth ST47 was traveling at 18.9 knots when it struck a submerged log or in Pacific Northwest speak, a deadhead. After an initial damage assessment it was determined the integrity of the hull was uncompromised but significant vibration indicated the vessel has sustained damage to the port prop. ST47 would have to make the bar crossing at Coos Bay on one prop.
With 90 minutes until slack tide at Coos Bay the ST47 would have to average 11kts on a single prop to cross the bar before it was likely closed for transit.
I contacted the Coast Guard Station Coos Bay issued a Securite warning and made known our intent to cross the Coos Bay bar. The Swift Trawler 47 put her head down and powered towards the entrance.
Swift Trawler 47 crossed the bar into Coos Bay in the early stages of an ebb tide and with her bow steady on the range markers, despite a 6’ swell on the beam, eased into the channel and safe haven. After tying up dockside and signing off on the VHF, with thanks to the Coast Guard watch commander, captain and crew sent an enthusiastic thumbs-up text to Beneteau for building a boat that delivered the speed and handling required to bring all ashore safely and unaided.
When being offshore it is important to have the strength and reliance that a boat like the ST 47 provides. Luckily the crew was all safe and they made their way into Coos Bay with ease. They were down a prop and headed to the yard, but they were in good spirits and the trip would go on.
Tune in Thursday for the next leg of their journey down the Pacific coast.