09/08/2010, About 10 miles offshore 2 hours out of San Francisco
We just got underway this morning a day later than planned. A big big blow came into the anchorage and pretty much kept us awake all night on Monday night. We were tied onto a mooring ball at the yacht club so that we didn't have to take time to stow the anchor and chain in the wee hours of the morning before we left. Well we banged on that mooring ball all night long as the wind swept down on us at very high gusts and the fetch of the waves had us bouncing around. Very unpleasant. So we decided that we will wait one more day as the winds are supposed to ease. It's actually more windy in the bay than out there beyond the Golden Gate bridge, but since we had no sleep we thought to err on the side of caution and wait one more day. When we radioed our friends on Vida Nova they had the exact same idea as us. Of course right now we are motoring because there is no wind. Too much or too little and occasionally we get lucky and get a great sail with just the right amount of wind. Anyhow it is supposed to blow between 15 and 20 knots today and tonight maybe up to 25. It's slightly foggy out there as well. It's sunny right above us but you can't see more than a mile or two around you. We know there are other boats around as we can see them on the radar so a close eye is required. That's our report for now.
09/06/2010, Sausalito, CA
Well things are looking good for a departure tomorrow morning. The winds are expected to be in the 15 to 20 knot range inside of 60 miles offshore. So we are planning to travel about 30 off. If things are going well, we are going to try to get to San Diego in one jump. If we are finding ourselves too tired or things get rough, we will come in and find a safe harbour. There are a few along the coast to choose from so we have several options.
If we do it in one jump it should take us around 4 to 5 days. It's about 450 miles from San Francisco to San Diego by boat. Since we no longer have our crewmember, this will be a good test for Ian and I (me especially). We will probably do longer shifts in the day and shorter ones at night. We expect to see more traffic on this leg of the trip as there are so many more major ports here with freighters and fishing boats.
We finally got the AIS working on the computer with the help of our friend Veronica from Vida Nova. For those who don't know what AIS is it stands for Automatic Identification System which all commercial ships are required to have. It gives you a ships name, heading, lat and long so you can track them in relationship to your own boat. It's like radar only better as you get so much more information. It also takes way less power than radar. And since you can see a boats name, it makes it easy to call them on Channel 16 if you need to and because you are calling them by name they can't ignore you. It's just nice to check and see if they can see you as small boats are hard to see in the waves.
So this afternoon, we are going to be getting the boat snugged down again with everything stored away. We have had the dingy out all week so now we need to bring it back on board and tie it down.
I've got the frozen soups and dinners ready to go and we have fixed some of the things we thought were deficient from the first leg of the trip as well as fixed the few things that broke.
If the waters are calm enough, my next blog should be via ham radio. If you don't hear from us as usual it's because I'm too sea sick to sit in front of the computer.
Thanks for all your messages, I love reading them when we have internet and I can see the blog.
09/03/2010, Sausalito, California
We are now anchored in Sausalito. It's a rolly anchorage for sure. San Francisco is shrouded in a thick fog across the bay and it's nice and sunny here. I'm sitting in Starbucks emailing while Ian slaves on the boat fixing stuff. It works for us both as I hate being on board when he tears it apart and he dislikes me looking over his shoulder asking questions.
Our friends Dennis and Veronica are here as well. It looks like we are going to take off together as we head south. We may or may not stay together it depends on what each of us decides to do as we go south but it is nice to have someone to communicate with out there. Ian and I are thinking of doing a hop from here to San Luis Obispo (about 180 miles) and then looking at a good window to go around Pt. Conception. If conditions are good and we aren't too bagged we will keep going.
We aren't leaving till Tuesday because the wind predictions are quite strong up to 35 knots and diminishing on Tuesday.
So in the meantime we will just sit back and get into the cruising mode which is very easy to do. Do a few chores then sightsee then have a sundowner or two!
09/01/2010, Richmond in San Francisco Bay
Our trip to San Francisco took (starting at Cape Flattery) 6.5 days .
Our best day was 129 miles and our worst was 97 miles.
We motored & motor-sailed a total of 84 hours and sailed 72 hours.
The furthest offshore we went was 65 miles as we passed by the Columbia River.
On the 25th we were in some rough seas and strong winds and tried to heave to in order to make supper (for the non nautical types, heaving to is a way of bringing your boat into the wind and riding the waves facing into them to reduce the motion down below. This is more comfortable as you are not moving against the waves or with them, just bobbing up and down but not making any mileage either.) As we only had the storm jib up, we were not able to bring the bow into the wind enough to heave to so we lay ahull (sideways to the waves). Once dinner was finished we resumed our course but decided to head towards Coo's Bay to possibly get some rest. It was only our 2nd full day at sea and we were tired and not yet used to the motion and watches. By the time we were 30 miles offshore of Coo's Bay, the winds had moderated so we had to motor sail. Based on the forecasts, the winds were supposed to be 15 to 20 nearer shore and 20 to 25 further out so we decided to proceed on our course 30 miles off and not stop. Next day we got hit again with strong almost gale force winds for about 12 hours.
Rounded Cape Mendacino motor sailing in about 10 knots of wind.
We saw 2 whales just around Cape Flattery and a Puffin.
We saw Pacific White Sided Dolphins twice on the trip, and Dal's Porposis once.
We saw a Humpback Whale an hour before the Golden Gate Bridge.
We saw many Albatross and various other sea birds.
We saw very little freighter traffic and only a few fishing boats.
We had a few things break but nothing major, a towel rail, the stern nav light, the nav light half way up the mast. We did make a list of things we need to improve on based on this trip but the list is thankfully not too extensive and hopefully not too expensive.
We look at this trip as a shake down cruise. We have had the boat since 1993 and rebuilt and relaunched her in 2004, and since that time we have only done one overnight trip with her. You really only get a feel for what works and dosen't when you sail 24 hours a day for 2 or more days.
We enjoyed the nightly HAM schedule with Peter from San Francisco and Ron from Vancouver. It was comforting knowing that someone knew exactly where you were at a certain time of the day. It's a big ocean and you are alone out there.
It was also fun to be able to speak with some friends who were listening on the schedule who also have HAM radios.
For the next few days we are hanging out in San Francisco - Richmond actually as we need to have our windvane fixed. Scanmar picked it up yesterday and hopefully it won't take too long to get it back. Our friends Veronica and Dennis from a boat called Vida Nova are also here at the dock. The arrive in San Francisco the same day as us.
We are hoping to get back out heading south to San Diego by the weekend so stay tuned.
08/30/2010, San Francisco
Well we made it this far! It was quite a trip. Overall we had pretty good conditions with just 2 blows that were a bit stronger than was comfortable. But all our winds were from behind as were the seas so I guess you can't ask for more than that.
The jury is out as to weather or not I actually like the 'offshore' bits. Maybe when it gets a tad warmer. I know that I like the 'cruising' part where you get to anchor out most nights and your not at sea 24/7.
But anyhow we've made it this far. We spent last night anchored in Drakes Bay which is about 30 miles north of San Fran. We would have gottend in to late so we deciced to wait and come in during daylight hours. We timed it perfectly as we went under the Golden Gate bridge in clear conditions and about a half hour later it was covered in fog and you can't see it.
Feeling very tired and need to catch up on some zzzz's. Tomorrow we are going to Richmond in the bay here to have our windvane looked at by the people who made it at Scanmar. It sailed us here very very well, but it clunks and rattles and is quite annoying to listen too.
Thank you for all you comments it was alot of fun to read them this afternoon when we got internet connection. We are having lots of fun and enjoying our dreams so far. We still have to get the boat to San Diego before the 20th of September and it's about 450 miles from here. So we won't stay too long here. Our valued crew member leaves us in a day or two so Ian and I will be on our own for the rest of the trip. So stay tuned for futher updates.
08/28/2010, just past Cape Mendacino
Well here is a synopsis of the trip so far: Day 1 leave Vancouver check in Pt. Roberts anchor at San Juan Island Day 2 head out Juan de Fuca but spend 4 hours taking back and fourth in front of Victoria and only get to Race Rocks so tack back to Port Angeles for the night. Day 3 Motor up Juan de Fuca straight in dead calm conditions. Coast Guard boat approaches and asks some questions. Top up fuel in Neah Bay and are past Cape Flattery by 6:30 pm in flat calm conditions. See a Puffin and a Pilot Whale. Motor all night long making our way south west. Day 4 Winds start to build to a nice comfortable 15 knots and we have a great day sailing downwind. Saw a few dolphins. Day 5 Winds built up to 20 - 25 knots and stayed all day making for an uncomfortable ride. Pot of rice flies off the stove onto the floor - we are still finding bits of rice 3 days later. Saw a pod of dolphins jumping around the boat very cool. Day 6 Motor sailing in light winds all day gives us a chance to regroup and clean up a little. Ellen is able to eat finally after feeling quite seasick for a few days. Day 7 Another day of rough weather this time up into the low 30's. Harvey and Ian were champs and took turns all day and night with the watches as Ellen hid below under the blankets (in her (my) defense it was too rough to be anywhere else on the boat and this way the bruising was kept to a minimum) Winds died around midnight thank god. Day 8 Here we are motoring and have just rounded the dreaded Cape Mendacino which lucky for us was pretty calm. We came right inshore to 20 miles or so because the forcasts are better. So here we are getting closer every day. We figure we could be in San Fran by Monday night but we don't want to enter under the bridge in the dark so will go to Drakes Bay for the night. It's taken us longer than we figured but we lost one day trying to get out of Juan de Fuca straight. We are averaging about 112 miles in a 24 hour day with our best day so far at 123 and worst at 97. That pretty much sums up the trip so far. I don't think Ian and I would have had an easy time of it with just the 2 of us. Harvey has been an invaluable crew member always cheerful and ready to pitch in and help with everything. Plus his experience with sailing his own boat to Mexico, Hawaii and back to Vancouver has come in useful too. We can't thank him enough and his wife Lynne for letting us take him for so long. A couple of tips for the leavers in the fleet coming in Sept. Bring lots of soft foam to pack into lockers because everything rattles and rolls out here. Fresh blueberries have been a lifesaver for me. When I couldn't eat or feel like eating anything else, munching on some berries kept me going. And make sure you have GOOD fiddles for your stove. Mine obviously aren't very good. Cheers Ellen