Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Can't Believe We're In San Francisco!

Well, the ride from Coos Bay to San Francisco was a real adventure!  The weather predictions at the time of our departure from Coos Bay looked pretty good to us amateur forecasters.  Winds would be light as we rounded Cape Mendocino (“the major navigational challenge of the Pacific Coast south of Alaska”) and even though they would pick up a little during the day and turn to southerlies, which isn’t great, they would have a westerly component and we should be able to sail into them. 

Our first mistake was in underestimating the discomfort of bashing into winds and waves from the south (we were headed directly south, so it was basically them against us!) Our second mistake was in disregarding the fact that the storm we sat out in Coos Bay would still have lingering effects in the form of big and confused seas.  Mistake number three was that we should have known that the weatherman is never right and realized that the 4—8 kt SW winds forecast would really be 12—18 kts SE and would be directly on our nose making for an extremely uncomfortable ride.  Hoping to stabilize the boat by raising the sails, we tried a few tacks but made little way, so down came the sails and we just settled in for some very lumpy motoring for most of the day.  Finally, we should have realized that believing Cape Mendocino was going to be kind to us was just asking for trouble of one kind of another!  As Tanner puts it……we were sucker punched!

Once around the Cape, we experienced just about everything mother nature has to offer.  Light to no winds, requiring more motoring, medium winds from the west for some good sailing, and even a perfect downwind run with the spinnaker.  But, again……this sort of adventure teaches you to take nothing for granted and just to make sure we’d really learnt this lesson, our autopilot packed it in about 12 hours shy of San Francisco, meaning that we had to hand steer through our night watches.  This is a lot more difficult than it sounds as we had some pretty big swell going on which makes it very hard to steer and monitor the chartplotter/AIS/and RADAR at the same time.  Thank goodness for our extra crew.  We doubled up our shifts so two people were always at the helm, one steering and the other dealing with the equipment. 

Coming into the traffic lanes on our approach to SF in the pitch black of night was a little nerve wracking, but we managed to avoid Noonday Rocks, Point Reyes, and the freighter “Bum” (yes, that really was its name!) and by dawn the Golden Gate Bridge was almost in sight.  What a thrill to motor under it and into San Francisco Bay.  We were lucky to have no fog and beautiful sunshine to enjoy the experience.  Tony almost started to cry at his first sight of a palm tree!

Our fabulous crew, Tanner and Tom, have both left for home and we are feeling a little shell shocked!  Not to mention that our land legs are completely gone and we tend to list a little as we walk the streets of Sausalito.  It will take a couple days to get re-energized, re-orientated and re-organized and then we plan to head up the Napa and Sacramento Rivers to visit wine country.  Life sucks!

PS  Rizzo, being the fine sailing mutt that she is, did manage to poop on the boat.  Sorry, no pictures. 

Nobody out here but us

Helm station during night watch

No wind and calm seas are still good for something

Spinnaker run

The Gold Gate Bridge......finally

We made it!

Do you see what I see?

OK.....just one more bridge picture!

Vakasa as the Sausalito Yacht Club... San Fran in the background

The crew of Vakasa toast their arrival in San Fran

Friday, 24 August 2012

A Bit of Harbour Hopping After All

After interviewing a bunch of sailors that have already done this trip and having countless discussions about the best way to go about it, we had decided to head about 30 nautical miles offshore and just make a beeline for San Francisco.  However, throw some gale force winds our way and it was a pretty easy decision to head to port and wait the bad weather out.  Fortunately we had perfect timing to run into Newport on Tuesday night and then Coos Bay on Wednesday night.  Both have relatively friendly bars (most of the ports on the Washington/Oregon coast are up-river and there can be very nasty conditions at the mouth of these rivers due to wind and current over relatively shallow depths).  So now we are settled in at the dock in Coos Bay looking forward to going out for a nice seafood dinner this evening and hoping that the wind will settle by tomorrow morning so we can get back out there.  The entire fishing fleet seems to have come to the same decision as us, so there are a ton of boats holed up here.

We've had a great journey so far.  A bit more motoring on the first day than we would like, but yesterday we sailed the entire leg in 20 kt winds, averaging about 7.5 kt/hr.  Not that bad!  The sun was shining, and although it was a tad chilly we were all having a good time.  The night watches also went well.  Tony and Tanner managed to avoid a very large freighter. Tom basically had nothing happen on his shift and so he just played around with the radar. Kathy seemed to have the most fun with the wind speed doubling and shifting, requiring a change in the sail plan, and an AIS target heading straight for her, requiring a change in course.  Lucky girl!

By far the most exciting thing to happen on the boat occurred about 12 hours after leaving Neah Bay.  We took Rizzo out on the front trampoline and told her to do her "thing" on the green carpet provided.  However, while we were watching her there was no way she was going to break any rules, despite our pleading with her to do just that.  Hmmm......what next?  We decided to give her a little time and privacy and left her out there for a bit (leashed to the trampoline lines) and low and behold, pretty much as soon as our backs were turned, she soaked that poor old carpet!  We were as excited as we were the first time Bryn and Lea were successful with their potty training!  We have yet to manage the "nether-end" business......but this is a great start.....

So we hope to leave tomorrow and if conditions are as forecast we should be arriving under the Golden Gate Bridge sometime in the afternoon on Aug 27th.  Wow......what a trip so far.

It's not all fog, cold and crazy seas

A man's gotta fish when a man's gotta fish

Completely out of sight of land...weird...

The Princess of Pee

Once your watch is over it's time to relax

Heading into Newport, Oregon

Monday, 20 August 2012

Repairs in Neah Bay

We are just 2 days out of Victoria and we are already in need of repairs!

Our first day from Vic to Port Angeles was a rockin' ride in about 25 knots of wind.  We got lots of practise at reefing and no one, two-legged or four-legged, got sick so that's a good thing. The next day had us bucking winds from the west and current from the east, leading to 8 hours of motoring into some pretty heavy and steep seas.  One "rogue wave" actually tore part of the port side trampoline from its rail.  Poor Vakasa!

However, the good news is that the seas calmed down in the last few hours of the trip and we decided to let Tanner have a go at fishing.  We were a little worried that he would abandon ship if we didn't.  Some of us needed showers and Tony needed to contact the "net" regarding our position, so we gave the fisherman 20 mins to do his thing (of course no one actually expected anything).  Low and behold after only 15 minutes he hooked a beautiful 9 pounder and brought it aboard with elegance, grace and style (he paid us to say that!)

Once at Neah Bay we were happy to meet up with our Dutch friends, Anya and Bram, who are also heading to San Francisco. They joined us for a delicious fresh salmon dinner and wonderful cosnversation that, as is typical at this time of a big sailing journey, centered around talk of wind and weather.

We have had our "crew meeting" this morning and it looks like we will be leaving on our offshore leg tomorrow morning as long as our trampoline repairs today are successful.  Winds will be light which will make rounding Cape Flattery nice and easy and hopefully there will be no fog.  There is a storm brewing a few days south of us which might cause us to head to port in Coos Bay on Thursday in order to wait it out.  This would make our ETA in San Fran sometime around Aug. 30.  This is later than we had originally planned, but it seems that Mother Nature has her own ideas about our itinerary!

All in all, we've had a great start and no one seems to be too unhappy about a day of hanging about on the boat before we have to start doing night watches.  It is warm and sunny here with wifi, a grocery store, and good walking for Rizzo.......what more could we want?

Tom keeps Tanner onboard while he reels in his fish

Show off!

Not only did he catch it, but he filleted and cooked it too

Surveying the damage

Repairs begin

Anya and Bram join Vakasa's crew for the salmon feast

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Time Has Come...Finally

Well, the time has finally arrived and we are going to have to put our money where our mouth is.....walk the walk and talk the talk, so to speak.  We are ready.  Well, that's a little bit of a lie, we do have a few more chores to do.  Tony is changing the oil as I speak and I just arrived home from the laundromat.  The boat is in total disarray but a few hours tomorrow should put it right.  But, no matter what, the day after tomorrow (that's Sat, Aug. 18th) we cast of the lines, head to Port Angeles to provision and get our cruising permits, then hang a left to San Francisco.  Estimated time of arrival being Aug. 28th-ish.  The extra berths are made up and our crew (my brother, Tom and Bryn's boyfriend, Tanner) is arriving bright and early Sat. morning.....hopefully with Transderm patches ready to apply!

We have spent the last two weeks visiting with friends and fact, we have shared 10 dinners, 4 lunches, 2 brunches and numerous "come over for a drink" occasions in that time.  We had a wonderful 81st birthday celebration with Tony's Mum and a 24th birthday/going away dinner party with both of our girls and their respective boyfriends. We are extremely blessed to have so many caring individuals keeping their eye on us.  The general consensus from most of our non-sailing friends is that this offshore sailing business is "pretty crazy", but they're not too surprised that we want to do it!  On the other hand, most of our sailing friends are jealous that it's not yet their turn to take off.  Those of our sailing buddies that have been offshore already are full of wonderful last minute advise, completely unaware of the fact that our brains are totally saturated and absolutely nothing new is sinking in.  But we nod and smile and look forward to actually getting on with this thing, so that we can put all that we've learnt to the test and explore brand new cruising grounds.

So stay tuned and the next post should be from San Fran and full of all kinds of exciting stuff.

The Navy watches over us at our present digs--Canadian Forces Sailing Association Yacht Club

Tony doing those pesky last minute chores like oil changes

Laundry on the hottest day of the year...40 lbs of laundry, 20 min walk away, 30 degrees

A daily visitor

More visitors of the smelly kind!

The crew....ready for the adventure