Passage to San Francisco
09 October 2009 | Sausalito
We slipped from the guest float in the Port Angeles Boat Haven at 1505 on Saturday, the 3rd of October and set off for San Francisco. We caught the tail-end of the flood, then washed out the Straits on a strong ebb, rounding Flattery at 2147 under a full moon and clear skies.
We headed south west to clear the continental shelf and find strengthening northerly winds. We sailed southward in following seas and winds, which were generally 20-25 knots from the N and NW. By mid afternoon on the 6th, we had crossed the latitude of the Oregon-California border, and we were about 100 miles north west of Cape Mendocino. The winds were up to 35 knots, the swell was in the 4-5 metre range and we were surfing off every second or third wave. In the evening, the winds were up over 40 with spikes above 45, and the seas were 5-6 metres and continued thus through the night. We kept watching the boat speed gauge as it went from the mid-5 knot range to up in the 12 and 13 knot area as each wave passed under us. We saw several surfs in the 14 knot range, and the fastest we saw was a 15.3 knot spike.
Throughout the blow, the skies remained clear and with the bright sun and full moon, we were very comfortable. It was not a storm; it was simply a funnelling of winds down the inside of the huge high stationed off the coast from northern Vancouver Island down past the tip of Baja. It seems we passed through the throat of a venturi.
During the trip we continued our breakfast routine of bagel toaster in the cockpit for bagels and cream cheese with capers and lox, dishes of yogurt and mugs of freshly brewed coffee. Our lunches alternated between hot paninis and arrays of cheese and crackers with fresh fruit, olives, artichoke hearts, nuts and so on. We made water to ensure the watermaker worked in rough weather and we even ran a couple of loads of laundry through the washer/dryer.
We maintained a course that kept the seas just slightly off the port quarter and the auto pilot was able to hold us with only two broaches in the 36 hours or so of the worst of the blow. Our speed made good was in the 8.5 knot range for much of Tuesday and through Wednesday morning. Wednesday afternoon, the winds started abating, and the seas eased so that we could start bending our course back toward the coast.
At 0305 on Thursday morning, exactly four and a half days from our departure of Port Angeles, were at the entrance to the traffic separation lanes off San Francisco, and we were in the lee of the land and protected from the northerly winds. Edi made a wonderful Ghirardelli hot chocolate to sip as we dawdled north eastward into Drake's bay to kill time waiting for daylight and a tide change to make our transit under the Golden Gate. We motored into Sausalito Harbor and secured to a mooring ball at the Sausalito Yacht Club, a free reciprocal of the Bluewater Cruising Association.