WAITING IN NEWPORT
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We stayed on the transient dock at the Port of Newport marina from Saturday morning, September 4 until early afternoon on Tuesday September 7. When we got there we found five other southbound boats already waiting and another three boat pulled in during the next three days. The most frequent topic for discussion was "when are you heading south" or "have you got a new forecast for Cape St George to Pt Arena?" Everyone was trying to figure out when to make the dash south and was there a good weather window for the Gale Alley transit?
The other frequently discussed topics were "where the heck is the marina office?" and "how do we get to town?" - As you can see in the picture to the left - the marina office is a long way from the marina. You must walk thru the large boat launch parking lot, through the large RV park, and then find the building on the highway, with no external identifying signs, that is the office for the RV park - and oh, my the way, it is also the marina office.
The office staff were very friendly and helpful and the price was right! We paid only $22 per night for a 40' slip, including water and power. That is the cheapest transient dock fee I've seen in 25 years.
The marina is on the south side of Yaquina Bay and the city of Newport, including ALL shopping and restaurants, is on the north side of the bay. There is no public dinghy space anywhere along the waterfront in town so a five minute dinghy ride across the 500 yard wide bay was not an option. It was 1.5 mile walk, up and over the Newport bridge, from which the picture above was taken, to the tourist area in Newport, and another 1/2 mile to the marine store in Newport. The office staff gave us the preferred answer to "how do we get to town?" - the county provides an hourly shuttle service from the marina/RV Park office to downtown Newport and the marine service shops at the east end of town. The office also gave us tokens for free round trip rides.
I needed to go to the marine store to get a new NOAA Coast Pilot book. The one I brought from Tacoma turned out to be the Coast Pilot for Mexico and Central America. The reason I needed the Coast Pilot book was that ALL the US West Coast harbor charts had vanished from my computer and my paper charts were 11 years old. I really wanted current information if we needed to make our way, especially at night or in bad weather, into any of the harbors protected by river bars.
Just as advertised, the shuttle picked Jim and I up at the RV Park/Marina office, (only a seven minute walk from the guest dock), and 14 minutes later dropped me off at the marine store. The driver told us he could pick us up at the same spot in an hour, or we could flag him down anywhere in town.
I purchased the NOAA Coast Pilot book but could not bring myself to pay $21.50 for EACH of the 10 paper NOAA harbor chart I thought I should have. Nor did they have the charts on CD.
Jim and I walked back into the Newport tourist area where we met John who had been taking pictures for the last three hours after walking over the bridge earlier in the day. John had found a cheap bar, naturally!, right on the waterfront where we could watch a football game, drink good but inexpensive beer, and play free pool on a decent table - a nice way to kill a Saturday afternoon while waiting for the weather.
We caught the last shuttle, at 5:30 PM, back to the marina. Eighty, yes 80!, minutes later we were dropped off at the RV Park office - only 1/2 mile in a straight line from the 5:30PM pickup spot. What the office and the shuttle driver had neglected to mention was the route taken by the shuttle in it's return from downtown Newport to the marina. The shuttle drove to and stopped at every grocery store, shopping center, park, senior citizens center, and tourist destination anywhere within five miles of Newport.
In addition, after the first 45 minutes on the shuttle; the driver made us get off the shuttle when he stopped in front of the city courthouse where he very nicely told us: "I have to take a 17 minute break now and you are not allowed to be on the bus while I am on my break." That sort of made sense to us but what was very odd was that the courthouse where we had to wait was less than 100 yards from where the shuttle had picked us up 45 minutes earlier! I can only puzzle over why the driver didn't tell us to meet him at the court house at 6:30 PM when he first picked us up at 5:30 PM and we told him we were going to the marina.
Sunday was another beautiful and fairly warm day on which I was almost arrested by a US ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officer and I did find the missing harbor charts.
Saturday morning I had met Andy, an Australian sailor, who was single handing a 36' steel boat from Canada to Australia. He had checked out of Port Angles, WA, USA and had planned on making a non-stop trans-Pacific ocean passage to Australia. (I don't think that is possible - especially in September when the NE Pacific High is creating thousands of miles of calm weather directly in his path) He had made his way hundreds of miles west of the US West coast when he encountered the 993 Mb low that had caused us the earlier misery with it's west swell. After lying ahull for 36 hours in pretty tough conditions, Andy decided to head back to the coast and to then work his way down the coast before heading SW to Australia.
Andy had called ICE and asked to check back into the US and to get another six-month cruising permit. Sunday morning I was on Andy's boat, working on his Airmail software, when the ICE officer showed up. Up until that point I did not know that Andy was in quarantine, i.e. he had not officially checked into the US and therefore his boat was still considered to be "foreign soil." Therefore, as a US citizen, I had left the US and was now in a foreign country.
The ICE officer, stating on the dock and unable to see into Andy's boat, asked Andy if he was alone. Andy, thinking the officer was asking about the voyage replied "YES, I am alone" and I, hearing the exchange thought "this is going to get interesting in a few seconds." When I heard the officer climb on the boat I turned to face the companionway and folded my hands in front of me, in plain sight of the officer, and stood very still with, what I hoped was a welcoming, but innocent, smile. When the officer saw me his hand went to the grip of his pistol and he sternly asked who I was - to which I replied "A US citizen working on Andy's radio." He, of course, asked why I was on a quarantined boat and did I know that I was breaking the law?
I replied that I did not know the boat was in quarantine and if I had known I never would have been on the boat and I apologized for startling him. He wanted to see ID, which I did not have - other than a Mirador boat card, he took down my name, boat name, slip number and said he would come talk to me but for now I had to get off Andy's boat.
I returned to Mirador and never did get the ICE visit but did see Andy an hour later in the parking lot signing papers on the hood of an ICE SUV. Andy later told me he got the cruising permit and would go visit his sister in California and study better ways to get his new boat to Australia.
Indeed! Cruising, even in the US, can lead to interesting encounters with interesting characters. Andy was a world traveler and had written three books. One of which was about the two years he spent driving around Africa in the '70s. Everything he owned was contained in a beat up old Land Rover that was his home for that two years.
The owner of a 50' powerboat that was tied up near Mirador had all the latest harbor charts that he had just downloaded from the NOAA site and gave them to me on a CD. Getting those charts was a great relief!