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


  1. Talk about sea legs!!! I've been waking up in the night and it feels like I'm still on vakasa going through a gale! The room is a rockin, ha. Hope you guys are enjoying San Fran. Can't wait for some mexican sailin.


  2. Congratulations Kathy and Tony on completing the first leg of the big trip. We knew all that careful plotting, planning and practicing would pay off. Wish we were sailing up to Napa with you!!!
    Donna, David, Terry, Jeff and Brett

  3. Oh, we loved reading this entry and first knowing you were safe and sound and second hearing the adventures. I bet it was an absolute thrill to see that bridge! Congratulations! Have fun in the Napa Valley.
    Darlene, Dani, Jesse, Stephie
    ps LOVE the pictures!

  4. oh and meant to say "Atta girl, Rizzo!!"

  5. Loved reading all about the voyage. Congratulations to you all. We agree, going under THAT bridge is absolutely fantastic. We loved Sausalito too. A job well done Rizzo - we guess you found out that there's a limit to how long you can keep all four legs crossed!
    All the best, Marnie and Ray

  6. Hey you three... (Rizzo included) Congratulations on making it to San Francisco !! Well done. And welcome also to the team of 'long hoppers'... Hope you get to enjoy and explore some of the fun places we did... like Morro Bay. Take good care and keep writing.
    CJ and Kathy (and Princess Sophie)
    SV Shannon