Fort Bragg Photo Gallery
Spent a nice week in Crescent City, stowing more things, fixing a few things, Heidi working on blog posts, and hanging out with our new fisherman-friend "Cap" TD. He took us to run errands, get groceries, etc. Then joined us for dinner out for Kirk's birthday. We'd intended to have a little cocktail party in the cockpit to celebrate Kirk's birthday with the other sailboats that were also waiting, but most everyone had left the day before so it was just us. The harbormaster, Charlie (from Kirkland, WA!) stopped by with a bottle of wine and some baked good treats for Kirk. Really nice! As Kirk said, "our own marina wouldn't do that, and we've only been here a week!"
"Cap" TD and Captain Kirk on the Sea Pride for Kirk's Birthday.
The weather finally looked good to leave Crescent City at 1pm on Friday, September 11 and head to Fort Bragg, 24 hours away making 6-7 knots. Kirk had always heard that entering Fort Bragg from the sea was very picturesque, and had wanted to stop here. "Cap" TD untied out lines and wished us safe travels. He'd also called ahead and made reservations for us at Fort Bragg because he knew the marina wouldn't be open when we arrived. What a guy! He gave us all sorts of bail-out anchorages along the way in case weather turned bad. Told us to round Cape Mendocino between 2-3am for optimal winds and seas. And then called us on the cell every few hours to check in. Such an amazing new friend!
So long Crescent City, it's been a great visit!
We pent our first ever 24 hour over night passage with just the 2 (4!) of us. Big ROLLY seas, overcast and drizzly skies, winds mostly 10-15kts from behind with following seas. Things got a little more exciting when winds built to 30kts for a couple of hours in the middle of the night near Eureka. Kirk was on watch, Heidi and fur-kids slept through it. Then as quickly as it built the wind died and the skies cleared between 3-4am and Heidi got billions of stars shining brightly on her watch, for about an hour before it fogged up again with 5 knots on the nose, and the seas kept rolling.
Heidi and Tosh off-watch.
Heidi & Kirk did a 2-on-2-off watch schedule. Kitties did NOT love the rolling (nor did Heidi trying to sleep!) It's always calmer up on deck than down below. Maybe it's just that you can see the waves coming and anticipate the roll before hand? Try as we might to have everything well stowed, there are always things that go crash-boom-bang in the night.
Motoring through pea-soup dodging fishing boats as we entered Fort Bragg.
Kirk was off watch early Saturday morning as we approached Fort Bragg in pea-soup fog with ¼-mile visibility. Heidi was at the helm with trusty autopilot driving and radar standing watch. She could see lots of fishing boats on the radar, then suddenly they were looming out of the fog and we were dodging them left and right. Kirk came on watch as a second set of eyes. The scene reminded us of reading about our friends Wendy & Garths travels through the South China Sea in the fog with fishing boats everywhere. (Check out their fun book Tightwads on the Loose
Although our radar worked great, it's hard to discern the size or direction of these slow, small, trolling fishing boats until you actually see them emerge out of the fog. A bit unnerving, but we avoided them all and suddenly the fog lifted just enough to see the buoys at the entrance to Fort Bragg. The scenery did not disappoint, a beautiful entrance winding up the Noyo River past fishing boats, boat houses, fish plants, restaurants, and boat yards. "Cap" TD says this is nothing compared to how it used to be in it's commercial fishing hey-day in the 1970's, apparently you could walk across the whole river from boat-to-boat.
Entering Fort Bragg up the Noyo River.
Makela Boatworks, red building at center.
We were tied up at the dock by 1pm on Saturday, September 12. Tikka and Tosh quickly sprang back to life and into the cockpit to investigate the new scenery, including a sea lion surfacing next to the boat that soon scared them back down below.
Tikka and Tosh checking out their new scenery.
We decided to take a walk towards town and the other side of the river where all of the restaurants were. Funny that it's only about 100-yards as the crow-flies across the river from where we are moored, but it's about a 2-mile walk round-trip up the hill, over the bridge and back down the hill. Our dinghy and kayaks are lashed down for ocean passages, and it was easier to walk then get them out and boat across. Funky-cute light marine industrial area with old fishing boats tucked between restaurants. These guys mostly fish for tuna, salmon, and crab, some of them go for black cod as well.
Messy crabber boat with gear all over the dock.
We'd heard about Fort Bragg's Glass Beach from several friends and family. Heidi really wanted to go there, as she loves collecting sea-glass for her jewelry making. It was another long walk to Glass Beach, 2.5 miles one-way from the marina, and we timed it to be there just at low tide. Beautiful glass everywhere; mostly clear, some amber, very little bits of green and blue that were too small to keep. We had a fun time picking through it all and came home with about 1/3 cup of sea-glass.
Kirk with a handfull of sea-jewels.
It was cold and foggy at the beach, reminding Heidi of being at her Grandmother's house in Pacific Grove, just down the coast. Apparently this weather has been very unusual for this time of year, normally clear sunny skies and northwesterly winds and waves. Not so much this year...El Niño has everything all bollixed up. We ran into a German couple who asked us "Where is the California SUN?!" We said we wanted to know the same thing!
Even in the fog, we LOVE the California coast!
On the trek back to the boat we walked through town checking out the sites of this old lumber-town before it became a fishing town. It made us sad to see this cross section of an OLD-growth Redwood tree (1,795 years OLD ~ the oldest redwood in Mendocino County) that once stood 330 feet tall (as long as a football field!) and started as a seedling in 190 A.D.!! Mind-boggling! This tree was felled in 1943 with a 22' crosscut saw and took 60 man-hours to cut down for human consumption.
Kirk is dwarfed by this ancient monolith.
We've been watching the weather and looking for a window to head to Bodega Bay. Looks like Tuesday, September 15 will be our day to head south before the next storm sets in.
"Cap" TD decided to take a road-trip down south to see some of his friends and family, and stopped by Fort Bragg on Monday to give us a tour around the area, and bring us more fresh-caught fish. So nice! He took us down to see the town of Mendocino, and along the coast south of there, where we'll be sailing tomorrow. Telling stories of his exploits old and new. He also took us to see the old Makela Boatworks that has built many of the famous wooden fishing boats around here. It reminded us of Jensen's Boatyard in Seattle. The weighs run down to the water just on the other side of the doors. Really COOL old place, a time-warp.
Makela Boatworks weighs run down to the water through the big doors.
"Cap" TD and Heidi at Makela Boatworks
We've had a great time in Fort Bragg and are now looking forward to heading on to Bodega Bay, one of our favorite spots in the world. "Cap" TD grew up there and will be in Bodega this week visiting his friends and family, promising to stop by and see us again, and bring us some hand-line fishing gear. He even called his friends at the marina and reserved our slip already. Thanks TD, so glad we met you!!
Tips for Cruisers
Moorage: We stayed at the Noyo Basin Marina. Moorage (as of 9/2015) was $20/night for a 40' slip including power. Call them at 707.964.4719.
Showers/Laundry: Shower keys are available from the marina office at no extra charge, but showers are very funky. Women's shower didn't have any hot water when we were there, men's shower had hot water but building is very cold when you get out. There are no laundry facilities at the marina itself, very bare-bones marina. We didn't do laundry here but there is likely a laundromat in town.
Wifi: Didn't find any wifi here.
Transportation: The south edge of town is about a 1-mile walk (one-way), the far end of town is about 3 miles one-way. There is also nice beach walking. We didn't use any public transport.
Food: Harvest Market grocery store is about 1-mile walk uphill from the marina with a good selections of organic food, bulk items, and healthy groceries. There are also some seafood restaurants directly across the river from the marina (about 100 yards away!) which is about a 2-mile walk around or you can dinghy across.
Sight-seeing: Glass Beach is a 3-mile walk from the marina (one-way), well worth the walk through town which has several museums and historical buildings including the old redwood log mentioned above.
Fuel: Be apprised, there is NO fuel dock at Fort Bragg, fishermen here go to Eureka for fuel.