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We left Gig Harbor, WA in 2009 and spent 3 winters in the Sea of Cortez then sailed to the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia up to Hawaii, then to San Francisco Bay. We are once again enjoying the Sea of Cortez as we plan our next adventure.
Go below the low
Day 19
05/04/2013, 37 14 N 130 35 W

We're on a good course for San Francisco Bay averaging a bit over 5 knots -- and yes we have sun today! Hurray!

We're still bundled in our fleece and foul weather gear, but the sun certainly does lift the spirit. And it made it possible to wash my hair -- on the gray cold days I was afraid it wouldn't dry and then come nightfall I'd freeze to death. Luckily we've gotten sun every couple of days.

We finally broke the 100 mark in our miles made good today, checking in at a whopping 102 miles (but we sailed 123 miles total). We hadn't crossed the 100 mile mark since back on April 27th. 395 miles to go!

Another difference I've seen in this cold weather sailing is how much better fresh foods last. I still have 1/2 a loaf of bread and some sandwich rounds, and just used the last English muffins yesterday.

I also used the last of the carrots yesterday and when I made pizza two nights ago I cut up the last of the onion and bell pepper. I froze what I didn't use on that pizza so we can have one more pizza before we head in.

And the reason I think we'll have another pizza night is we should end up with some pretty calm winds and seas the last days out. Seems there is a low developing right outside the bay and the plan seems to head south of it (if it moves right) and catch the light southerly winds to blow us back up to the bay -- with a lot of help from the Yanmar.

Getting close!

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05/05/2013 | Ann
Go Cetus, go! So close! I love it when it gets so close and the sun is a plus! Looking forward to the landfall report!
05/05/2013 | Joan
You should really treat yourselves to a spa day in SF!!!! We always say we will do this but never have!
High Five
Day 18
05/03/2013, 37 53 N 132 54 W

500 miles to go -- and since we roughly count days as 100 miles that means 5 more days -- and I can count that on one hand so it's looking pretty good to us -- the end is in sight!

With these weather systems, highs and lows, troughs and ridges, that we've been working our way around all this time, we still aren't on a direct line for SF, and yesterday we traveled 127 miles, but only got 94 miles closer to our goal.

And it has been a wet and wild ride for the last 24 hours. Waves breaking across the boat and bouncing down waves and crashing around. Certainly not the worst weather we've been in, but the cold is making it pretty unpleasant right now. Yesterday we at least had blue skies, but today is gray and cloudy so it's been cold all day.

But our weather guy says we're through the worst of it and the winds and seas will start backing to a more favorable position beginning tonight and the winds will also start easing off and once they do the seas will follow suit. At least he gives us hope!

Then we just have to finagle our way around a low sitting right in our path... that's a couple days from now o we'll see where that's sitting when we get a little closer.

But all's well on Cetus -- Rosie is keeping us warm by sleeping on or next to who ever is off watch -- though we know she's really doing it to keep Rosie warm :)

Looking very forward to getting in to San Fran and taking a nice long hot shower followed by a nice long sleep in our warm bed instead of the sea berth!

On and on we go.......

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Topsy Turvy Day
Day 17
05/02/2013, 39 19 N 134 51 W

The NE winds started slowly last night so we were able to tack over gently and gradually adjust to our new world -- leaning to the other side.

The winds gradually increased and we've had 15-20 knots all day and have been sailing along smartly at 5.5-6 knots. The seas are a bit crashy at times, but I wouldn't call it a true bash. I may change my tune tomorrow when the winds and seas increase a bit.

But we're all adjusting to our new world -- I have a whole new set of cupboards that are hard to open because everything wants to spill out at me -- but now the fridge is easy with everything shifting to the back. One tack isn't necessarily better than the other -- just different and it takes some getting used to after 15 days on one slant. Rosie has had to find new places to curl up as the old places don't hold her securely anymore. But her favorite place is still right on top of which ever one of us is sleeping at the time.

But the best news is we only have 596 miles to go! And now that we're on a more direct course and doing better speeds that time should tick away quickly now.

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05/03/2013 | jack
You have been there before, but there is something about anticipating sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge.....into warm sunshine....
The Big Right Turn
Day 15 Beginning of Week 3
05/01/2013, 40 12 N 136 45 W

When leaving Puget Sound for points south, cruisers often refer to that turn you make outside of the Straits of Juan de Fuca as "The Big Left Turn" -- infact friends of ours on S/V Eagle named their Sailblog just that. So now, 4 years after we made that Big Left Turn, we're getting ready to make the Big Right Turn to head back down to San Francisco.

The north Pacific High shot way north right now -- that's why all of you in the Pacific Northwest are enjoying some beautiful May weather right now, and that is the reason we're motoring east right now over smooth seas with sunny skies trying to get across a ridge at the tail end of that high.

But within 18 hours we should be across and will hit some decent NE winds -- and that's when we make the turn and tack back down to the latitude of San Francisco and let those winds push us all the way there.

We'll be in bigger winds and seas than we have been so far on this lazy journey, so we spent today getting everything ready just like we were just starting out on an ocean passage. I made easy to fix passage meals, we topped off the diesel tanks from our on deck jugs and re-stowed things since we'll be heeled to the other side for the rest of this trip.

With 688 miles to go we are ready! Our seats are in their upright position and are tray tables are up and locked. Bring it on!

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The downhill run
Day 15 Beginning of Week 3
04/30/2013, 39 33 N 138 30 W

Well we didn't get the west winds to send us to San Fran, so now the new plan is to get out into the NE winds that are building near the coast and ride them in. We are getting in position for that by continuing our NE progress, and when we reach lat 40 (tomorrow sometime) we should start the downhill run. That also means a change in tack, so we'll lean to the other side and it will be a whole new world aboard Cetus.

Today hasn't been as nice as the rest have been -- started last night when we had to dodge scattered rain showers, that have persisted much of the day. Right now we have sort of a heavy misty rain going on -- very fog like -- and very cold. The seas have also gotten choppy -- they aren't big or white cappy, just spaced such that we bounce and crash over them which isn't real comfortable, but it also slows our boat speed.

Despite all that we got 80 miles closer to San Francisco after traveling 105 miles. 770 miles to go!

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05/01/2013 | Sue and Larry Tomback
Or you could just continue north and visit Canada this year!
05/01/2013 | jack
It appears that you are close to the top of the High pressure, and if it remains should be a great port tack ride to the Golden Gate...remember watch for Blue Whales as you approach the coast...We nearly hit one on Orinoco Flow....
Evening progress report
Day 14
04/29/2013, 38 33 N 140 14 W

We sailed about 110 miles in the last 24 hourss -- which is pretty good for old Cetus since the winds are light and in front of our beam -- she moves best with the winds abaft the beam and around 20 knots.

But the bad news is since we're still running on this NE heading we only got 80 miles closer to San Francisco -- but that's to be expected until we can make the turn to the East, and then the South East once we hit the NE winds.

It's been another pleasant sailing day with fairly smooth seas and all's well and comfortable aboard. It is chilly outside and stayed overcast all day, with just glimpses of sun. Boy does that fill good when it pops out from behind a cloud!

We just keep on truckin'

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Things that go bump in the night
Day 14
04/29/2013, 38 19 N 140 32 W

With all the debris we see every day out here -- lots of old plastic fishing floats, bunches of old rope and net and miscellaneous plastic and Styrofoam and the occasional log -- we figured we'd bump into something sooner or later. And last night we did.

It was about 7:00 and I'd just laid down for my first off watch rest and the wind died down so Terry started the engine to keep us moving along, when suddenly there was a big thunking sound and the engine kind of stalled. Yikes!

Luckily Terry was right by the engine control's and immediately put it in neutral -- that quick move really saved our day because the ball of net we ran into snagged on the propeller -- and if it had kept turning it would have become hopelessly wrapped and we would have been in a very nasty situation. We've heard of boats struggling for days trying to get everything unwrapped -- and that was in the Sea of Cortez where you could go in the water to take care of it -- out here it would have been a horrible task.

So we were very, very lucky and in the calm conditions we just dropped the sails to evaluate the situation, and Terry got hold of the heavy net with a boat hook and we tried pulling it forward with the winch and it came off the prop right away. Whooo what a scare!

So all's well aboard Cetus and we're able to continue on.....

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04/29/2013 | Ann
Great job on clearing it so quickly. As I have been reading about all of the debris you have seen I feared the same thing. No easy night time watches. Glad you still have some moon light!
slip sliding away
Day 13
04/28/2013, 37 11 N 141 34 W

It seems like we're walking up a slippery hill, where you take a few steps but slide back one every now and then -- since we have to sail north instead of direct to SF, all the miles we're putting under the keel just don't knock as many off the miles to go chart. So in the last 24 hours we only made 63 miles to the good -- even though we've been sailing along nicely the whole time. 920 miles to go!

More clouds in the sky today, but no rain -- thank goodness! It is so cold when the sun isn't out (and its even a bit chilly then) that I don't know how miserable it would be if it started raining! At least now we have lots of warm fleece to wear and it is comfortable down below, but if it gets wet too it won't be very comfortable any more.

So we'll just chug along slowly marking off the miles and hoping the rain clouds stay away.

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Slow going....
Day 12
04/27/2013, 36 03 N 142 37 W

With the light winds and advice from our weather guy to return to a more northerly course for a couple days (due to a change in the forecast) we have slowed down in our progress in miles made good and only got 88 miles closer to San Francisco in the last day. But the good news it is very comfortable sailing over very smooth seas.

It looks like we can expect another day or so of this, then we'll see what things look like at that point for altering course again. Without the hoped for west winds to push us to San Francisco it will take us a bit longer than we'd planned, but only by 2 or 3 days. When we set out we said it would take us 3 weeks -- plus or minus a couple days depending on the weather -- and at this point it looks like it will be on the plus side.

But no worries -- we are in no rush -- you just have to take what you get and make the most of it.

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Let there be cake!
Day 12
04/27/2013, 35 44 N 142 51 W

It's a day for celebration aboard Cetus -- yesterday we passed the half way point (by miles) and today we dropped down into triple digits -- only 999 miles to go!

On top of that Terry and I are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary. So we'll have steaks for dinner and cake for dessert. The real celebration will wait till May 31st when our kids, Carly & Ryan, are taking us to Disneyland!

So for today we'll enjoy lazily sailing along over the beautiful blue sea.

The weather forecast is for continued light winds, as the north Pacific High has moved north and we won't be getting the west winds we'd hoped. So the trip may take a few days longer than we first anticipated, but if we can keep moving along as comfortably as this, a few more days won't be bad at all.

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04/27/2013 | Ann
Congratulations! What a romantic anniversary. Here's wishing you many more years of love and adventure!
Hurray Hurray it's Half Way Day!
Day 11
04/26/2013, 35 09 N 144 12 W

When we started out we set one of our GPS's for a straight line to San Francisco Bay (Emeryville actually) and that has been what we've used for our official Miles to Go each day. It started out (when we were on the north shore of Oahu) at 2100 miles.

So today, at about 6:30, we will be hitting 1050 Miles to Go! Our official half way point -- it's all downhill from here.

Of course, depending upon weather etc, we might end up going a bit farther than that -- one never knows. But as far as we're concerned we're half way there!

Winds and seas extremely light, so we are motor sailing to keep up our forward progress. Still seeing lots of floating debris going by -- scooped one up in a net today as it looked like it might be a glass ball, but it was just a collapsed plastic float. Fascinating though as they have their own little eco system attached and there were three fish that were inside when we pulled it up.

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04/27/2013 | jack
Congratulations on the half way mark..I just looked at the north pacific surface analysis, watching a developing gale north and west of your looks like it could give you a push...Jack
Mystery Ship
Day 11
04/26/2013, 35 03 N 144 28 W

Last night we got a blip on the radar -- the first ship we've seen since the 3 we saw the same night on the 21st.

We were kind of excited -- it's always nice to know there really is other life out there and to talk to someone on the radio for a couple minutes. So, we called to them on the VHF a few times with no response. They weren't putting out an AIS signal, so we had no information (boat name, size, type of boat, destination, etc) that that provides.

It was a clear night with a full moon and flat seas, so we had great visibility and I scanned the horizon with the binoculars because at only 6 miles away I should be able to spot it. And I finally did -- but it had absolutely no lights on! And, it was a strange shape with a very low profile -- not a cargo ship or fishing boat. What was it? It was moving through the water fast enough that we knew it was under power and not an abandoned vessel. After about 10 minutes it turned and changed directions heading away from us -- at which point I couldn't see it at all with the binoculars -- and then shortly there after it was off our radar screen. Weird.

Military came to both of our minds, and with the low profile and kind of rounded appearance we wonder if it was a submarine? We'll never know for sure, and it will always be a mystery to us.

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04/26/2013 | jack
extra terrestrial...or submarine..
Magical Morning
Day 11
04/26/2013, 34 55 N 144 49 W

The sun rose in front of us as the full moon set on our stern, and shortly after that a pod of dolphin -- the first sea life we've seen in 10 days -- passed by and frolicked off our bow.

That's the kind of morning that makes this all seem worthwhile.

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04/26/2013 | Ann
My favorite time to sail! Glad you got to see it!
Blue skies, smooth seas
Day 10
04/25/2013, 34 31 N 146 03 W

The winds have been gradually dying as forecast, and the seas have smoothed out in the process, so we've enjoyed a nice easy sailing day under blue skies and sunshine. What a treat!

The winds just got so light that we started the engine so we can keep plugging along. It's still a very comfortable ride.

And tonight we have a full moon, so it will be another bright night with great visibility -- we haven't felt the need to turn the radar on since the last rain a few days ago, because you can easily see from horizon to horizon all night long.

We've double checked the fuel supply and found no surprises there, so we are confident that we have plenty to keep the engine running to help our speed on these windless days ahead. So on we go!

Only 1169 miles to go to San Francisco -- we made 113 miles to the good yesterday, while traveling 121 miles overall. For now we are set on a direct course to San Fran and will maintain that course as long as winds allow -- though we know we'll have some changes coming up in the next week. But we will just deal with that when it gets here, so for now we'll just sit back and enjoy our comfy ride.

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I wouldn't make a very good fireman
04/25/2013, 34 16 N 146 40 W

I'm afraid that the building would burn down before I got my gear on.

Now that we're in colder weather I can't just pop up from bed, grab a hoody and my life jacket and be ready for my watch like I could in the warmer weather. Now I have to pull on a couple layers of fleece, my bib overalls,then my life jacket, put on shoes and socks, locate my hat and gloves -- and I'm finally ready to go a half an hour later. So I've been setting my alarm for 2 hours 45 minutes instead of 3 hours of sleep, so I don't throw the schedule too far off.

So I guess that's why you don't see a lot of women my age running around on fire trucks....

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Sailing, sailing over the ocean blue....
Day 9
04/24/2013, 33 26 N 148 00 W

The rain showers dissipated by noon yesterday and we've just continued to sail on with yesterday's heavy gray skies giving way to some sun today. It's a crisp April day -- but the cold isn't bad when it isn't wet, too. It has been a wonderful sailing day with the windvane doing all the work and we've just been along for a pleasant ride.

The winds are 15 plus knots from the ESE so our course is still a little more north of northeast at this time, so though we traveled 122 miles yesterday we only knocked off 102 from the distance to San Francisco -- 1288 miles to go -- getting close to half way which will be at 1050.

The big highlight yesterday was while I checked into the Pacific Seafarer's Net and they always ask if there's any incoming traffic for the reporting boat -- I had a contact! Jack & Joan Eddy were out on their boat, enjoying Blake Island and listened for us on the net. It was great to hear Jack's voice -- made us feel just a little closer to home.

So we'll keep sailing hard as long as this wind lasts -- it's predicted to start dying down this evening and our weather guy says we can expect a couple days of very light and variable winds, so it looks like there will be some motor sailing in our future.

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The 20/20 Rule
Day 8 Start of week 2!
04/23/2013, 31 45 N 149 25 W

When we started this journey we knew we'd be breaking one of the rules we've tried to keep =The 20/20 Rule =which has nothing to do with eyesight. It's when sailors like to stay below 20 degrees N or under 20 degrees S -- to stay in the warm water climates where living on a small boat is much easier than it is in the cold.

And so far entering back into the higher latitudes is everything we'd thought it would be: cold and wet.

After our respite from the 12 hour deluge we enjoyed the sun yesterday and thankfully got everything dried out in time for round 2. By early evening yesterday the clouds reappeared and we dodged rain showers all night with sprinkles here and there. Then the wind started picking up so we did a 2 am reefing of the main, but it went quickly and our sleep schedules weren't interrupted at all this time. But the cloud cover hid the stars -- no meteor shower for us!

By 6 am it was raining hard, but with the sails and windvane all set I monitored everything from down below with just poking my head out every 15 minutes to make sure all was well as the instruments indicated. We have a GPS and a wind instrument down below and our radar is mounted on an arm so it can be viewed from either the cockpit or the main salon. So this time I didn't get soaked to the bones.

It's continued gray and cold all day -- thus the lament about the 20.20 rule. I know it sounds to you NW sailors like I'm just whining -- and maybe I am --but it's a whole different feeling sailing around up there in the cold when you know by night fall you will be at a dock or anchor -- or even back home -- and can get warm and cozy. But when you're out in the middle of the ocean and have to be surrounded by wet raingear for another couple weeks, it's a whole new ball game.

But, we are officially 1/3 of the way now! 1390 miles to go to San Francisco!

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Oh what a night!
Day 7
04/22/2013, 30 18 N 151 08 W

Our first 5 days of easy sailing came to an abrupt end yesterday when a cold front moved toward us faster and more organized than our weather guy had anticipated (he thought it would stall and not give us a problem).

So shortly after noon yesterday we were surrounded by a giant rain cloud -- a huge yellow splotch on the radar that was about 10 miles in diameter -- and that baby moved right along with us for the next 12 hours, pounding us with some of the hardest rain we've ever experienced out at sea. And we also had 25 - 35 knot winds to go along with it -- and the larger seas that the stronger winds bring with them. We got a work out and had to abandon our nice 3 hour on 3 hour off sleeping routine -- and Terry finally got a chance to lay down a little after midnight for a couple hours then it was my turn. I'd had a nap before the ordeal began, so Terry was in the biggest need to rest..

Part of the added excitement was spotting ships on the radar in the midst of it all -- trying to contact them to make sure they could see us on radar and were aware we were out there. The second one we saw also gave out a brief AIS signal so we could see his heading -- and we were right in his path. We scrambled to alter course since we weren't getting radio response, but he finally answered and we'd be OK. With the torrential rain, we couldn't see much and never did see any of the 3 ships the radar picked up, and we talked to, last night.

Before Terry laid down, the wind died, the rain stopped and the seas settled. The wind also changed direction by 180 degrees and was too light to make any progress with the storm sails we'd had up, so we turned on the engine and motored through the rest of the night.

Miraculously, daybreak brought clear skies and sunshine and we continued to motor sail as we got all of our soaking wet rain gear and clothing out in the sun to dry. What a difference a day makes!

Hopefully the skies will remain clear and we can watch the hundreds of shooting stars in the meteor shower tonight! And the good winds should pick up again later this evening so we'll be sailing again.

We traveled 114 and made 104 to the good -- we're now 1503 miles away from San Francisco.

Keep on truckin'

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Day 6
04/21/2013, 29 06 N 152 39 W

Well we knew this day would come -- but we hoped it wouldn't happen for at least a few more days.... It's officially cold. And, for the first time in 4 years we've had to put shoes on our feet on a passage! Usually, even if it got a little chilly we could just put on some socks, but now it's cold AND wet, so just socks won't do anymore. Terry even had to resort to full rain gear including rubber boots when this huge rain squall surrounded us today -- and it doesn't look like its going away any time soon....

Sure we had rain in the south Pacific, but it was warm, so it was easier to have less clothes on than to bundle up so you didn't end up with a lot of wet clothes to deal with. We knew this would be the toughest part of this passage...... going to the cold.... and wet.

But the good news is we've been making good time and traveled a total of 139 miles yesterday and getting 126 miles close to San Francisco which is now only 1607 miles away!

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Back to work -- and all that trash
Day 5
04/20/2013, 27 21 N 154 14 W

After 4 very lazy days without having to adjust sails or the wind vane, we were suddenly called into action when a little squall went thru along with the expected wind shifts. As the wind turned southerly it also increased in speed up to about 25 knots -- it was brief but long enough for us to put up our stays'l and reef in some Genoa and do some adjusting to the wind vane (which steers the boat for us).

While pulling in the Genoa we discovered the line was chaffing and fraying in a couple spots! Not good -- and very surprising because it was a brand new line we just put on in Honolulu. Luckily, the old line was still in good shape and the wind died down -- way down -- which gave Terry the perfect opportunity to replace the new line with the old. Shortly after that the wind picked up again -- back to it's 15-20 knots it's been all these days and we got the sails reset and we're sailing again.

And with the wind shifting to the south, we are making much better speeds. Cetus likes the wind behind the beam, so even though the winds and seas are about the same as they've been, we're able to hold our desired course now with the wind behind the beam instead of in front of it -- so are able to cover more ground. We traveled 105 miles in the last 24 hours and knocked 100 miles off the distance to SF! Only 1733 miles to go.

And then there's all that trash! Don't know if its tsunami debris or just off of fishing boats, but we've seen tubs and balls and wads of fishing net floating by. Last night on the Pacific Seafarer's Net, a boat traveling ahead of us about 400 miles came across a 25 - 30 fishing boat over turned and floating around -- he thinks it was probably tsunami debris, too.

So on we go......

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04/21/2013 | jack
If the trash has a lot of barnacles and other growth it might indicate how long its been there. Also...any instructions in Japanese would be a good indicator...btw. If you run across an Aussie style sun hat, check for my name....I understand they are indestructable.

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The Cetus Crew
Who: Terry & Heidi Kotas and Street Cat Rosie
Port: Gig Harbor, WA
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