S/V Adventure

Follow the O'Neil family, sailing in their Catalina 42, on their 2-year sabbatical to see the Pacific coast of the US, Mexico, and Central America, Galapagos, the South Pacific, and New Zealand.

08 June 2012 | Home
05 June 2012 | 100 miles to the Farallons!
02 June 2012 | 475 miles off the coast
31 May 2012 | 579 miles to go
30 May 2012 | 694 miles to go
30 May 2012 | 800 miles to go
29 May 2012 | 915 miles off California
28 May 2012 | Past halfway between Hawaii and SF
27 May 2012 | Past halfway between Hawaii and SF
26 May 2012 | Halfway between Hawaii and SF
24 May 2012 | Middle of the Pacific Ocean
23 May 2012 | Middle of the Pacific Ocean
22 May 2012 | Middle of the Pacific Ocean
21 May 2012 | Middle of the Pacific Ocean
20 May 2012 | Pacific Gyre
16 May 2012 | Pacific Gyre
16 May 2012 | Pacific
18 September 2011 | Home
07 September 2011 | Crossing the southern tip of the big island
05 September 2011 | Pacific

Leaving the “Gate”!

20 December 2006 | Half Moon Bay, Ca
Yes, we've been getting many of your comments about when we'll actually do a little sailing or that maybe we should consider renaming our boat, Adventure, to something else. The storms that had come through had kept even the commercial crabbers and fishing boats from going out to sea, so we don't feel bad about delaying our trip down the coast for the past week or so. The weather and sea were finally calm enough for us "fair-weather sailors" to head out to sea yesterday (Dec. 19th). We had planned to leave the day before, but I spoke to a fishing boat captain about leaving the next day and he strongly cautioned against it. He said that even thought the weather was good, the sea was still "big" from the storm that had passed through. I brought this news back to Sean and he agreed to wait one more day for better sea conditions.

We were happy to spend one more day in Berkeley, which was a very friendly city with lots of energy - fueled by University students. At the marina, we had gotten to know Randy and Ramona, who will sail their 42' Beneteau R3 (name of their boat) up the delta after Christmas and then down to Mexico and the South Pacific. Ramona and I chatted over tea and coffee and she sewed our ripped dinghy cover with her Sailmaker sewing machine. She also sold me her smallest, portable sewing machine that she didn't need any longer for $50. Randy gave Sean some sailing books and the two shared info about sailing gadgets. We hope to meet up with them along our trip.

The San Francisco Bar, which is a few miles out from the Golden Gate Bridge, can cause tremendous breakers that sometimes sink ships. The bar conditions are worse when a strong ebbing tide (one that is going out to sea) hits high sea swells coming in. The ebbing tide is highest during full and new moons. Dec. 20th was a new moon, so we were a little nervous about the conditions we might experience the day before the new moon. The swells were predicted to be 7.5-9 feet with a frequency of 12 sec. (this means a 7.5- to 9 foot swell will be coming at you every 12 seconds). This is a good time to let you know that Tara had a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast. This info is important because it will come up later in this story. In fact, it came up again and again and again.

Yesterday (Tuesday), we woke up at 6am and got ready to go. The fishing boat captain that I spoke to two days earlier was just leaving the marina, so we figured it was a good day to go. We left Berkeley Harbor at 6:45 am. Tara woke up, put on a sea sickness patch, and then watched a Harry Potter movie in the forward cabin. As Tara is prone to sea sickness, this was the wrong beginning to a day at sea. Half Moon Bay (aka: Pillar Point) was our destination. Just 40 miles away, we'd make the journey in a little more than 7 hours.

As many documented journeys begin, ours started quite pleasantly. We didn't run into anything as we backed out of our slip. We saw the sun rise behind us as we passed Alcatraz Island. We used our new AIS system to find out if the huge cargo ships were coming toward us or not. We successfully dodged a couple of high-speed ferries headed to The City. We passed under the Golden Gate Bridge. We saw some dolphins and sea lions. And that's about when Tara came running up on deck, looking quite sick. This is where the bagel reenters the story (and the ocean) and again several times later during our trip...

Casey and I timed the swell crests and found that they were about a frequency of 10, which makes for a bumpier ride. We stayed in the shipping channel right outside the Golden Gate for the first 3 miles, where we were headed straight into the swells. I get sea sick too, but kept up on deck, busy, and my sights on the horizon. It was too late for Tara. Once you get sea sick, there's no going back. She was miserable the whole trip.

There was finally some wind when we turned South, so we motor-sailed with our jib (most forward sail) for a while. When we spotted the first set of crab pots along the way, we pulled in our jib so we'd have better maneuverability. Avoiding crab pots ended up being our biggest challenge along the way. There were many rows of crab pots, all marked with two buoys and usually about 10 scattered down each row. Because Tara was sick and Sean was sleeping, Casey and I had lookout duty. Sean finally woke up when our preventer (a big metal pulley system to prevent our boom from swinging to one side or another) fell off the boom and crashed onto the deck. This has happened a few times before and Sean promises that he'll fix it this time.

We tried out our water maker (makes fresh water from salt water) and found that it only worked for 5 min. before our inverter (converts DC power from our batteries to AC power, which is what the water maker needs) shuts down with an error message that says the battery charge was too low to continue its operation. Possible suspects are the engine alternator, the inverter, the batteries, or the water maker pump. Sean will need to figure it out before we get into Mexico, as we don't want to fill our water tanks with Mexican dock water...

When we reached Half Moon bay, Tara would have kissed the docks, except our slip is in the commercial docks and there are crab pots and miscellaneous sea life scattered on the walkways. After a half an hour, she was ready to eat and drink anything in site. She thinks that next time we head out to sea, she'll do things a little differently...
Vessel Name: Adventure
Vessel Make/Model: Catalina 42
Hailing Port: Marina Bay, Richmond CA
Crew: The O'Neil Family
About: Sean (Captain and Line Man) Kathy (Helmswoman and Cook) Tara - 12 years old at trip start, Casey - 11 years old at trip start (Crew and Students)
Extra: We're on a three-year sabbatical from the daily grind to see the Pacific coast of the US, Mexico, Central America and the South Pacific and stopping at New Zealand.

S/V Adventure

Who: The O'Neil Family
Port: Marina Bay, Richmond CA