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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Santa Cruz to Monterey

We are slowly making it down the California coast. Today there was a gale warning offshore, which gave us great sailing conditions in the Monterey bay, with 15-20kts winds. We had an awesome downwind sail from Santa Cruz to Monterey and got a slip at the marina here. We even found the Trader Joe’s right away!

Santa Cruz was a quiet, cute, beach town, although it totally empties put during the week. Here are some pictures we took:

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Seals hanging out by the wharf:

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Lazy or Narcissistic?

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And of course the ‘Tsunami’ waves, which fortunately were only about a foot, registered by our electronics. The Tsunami was caused by an underwater earthquake all the way by Samoa in the South Pacific. Fortunately they have pretty fancy alert systems in place, and they were able to tell it was going to be only a minor surge on the California coast.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

So this is what they mean by an open roadstead anchorage…

We spent the night at anchor off the Municipal Pier in Santa Cruz. Remember Captain Ron’s first depiction of the sailboat rocking at the dock? That was pretty much us all night, dock not included :) I think today we’ll go into the harbor and get a slip :D

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Leaving San Francisco

We had a glorious sail through the Golden Bridge this morning. The fog lifted completely for the first time in two weeks just for our departure. There was a Saint Francis sailboat race getting ready to start on in the Bay, and some boats tried to catch up with us, but turned back disappointed after we passed under the bridge. I guess they wanted to play :)

We are now anchored in Half Moon Bay, listening to the Fog Horn, although technically there is no fog.

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Last night in San Francisco Bay

We had a gorgeous sunset in Sausalito. Tomorrow we are off to Half Moon Bay. The Bay is fun to sail around in, but we’re ready to head South. We’ll be back in the Bay area in a week, this time by car, to attend our friend’s wedding.

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San Francisco Skyline at night:

 

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Quintessential San Francisco

 

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The Golden Gate bridge from the top of Angel Island, all fogged up.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Angel Island

We left San Rafael today to explore the Bay a little bit more. We decided to anchor at Angel Island, which is the closest San Francisco bay will come to 'gunkholing'. Excluding the Delta, of course. China Cove is a pretty small and open anchorage by PNW standards, but it's protecting us from the preveiling Westerlies. It's still really rolly though - it seems to be a theme with anchorages around here...

We spent three awesome days at Marin Yacht Club in San Rafael. Super accomodating staff, great facilities, and got fed margaritas by the pool by friendly members. We spend the time cleaning the boat in the morning and hanging out by the pool in the afternoons... or just hanging out by the pool. The marina staff seemed to be obsessed with helping us get rid of the yellow spots on the white boot strap next to our waterline. Really, by my standards, it's pretty clean... you can barely see the Lake Union stains. Not clean enough for California standards though, apparently.

On Wednesday we'll head over to South Bay, where we finally found a marina with deep enough water to accomodate our draft. So much water, yet so shallow... It takes some mental adjusting. I never had to consider before a marina would not be deep enough!

We were thinking about heading up the river to explore the Sacramento Delta, but again it looks shallow and I heard the mosquitos are fierce up there. Maybe next time...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sausalito to San Rafael

We spent one night at anchor in Sausalito and headed over to San Mateo to check out Marin Yacht Club. They have a pool and hot tub :D
San Francisco Bay has proven to be a bit of a dissapointment for me... It's shallow in a lot of places, silty, and very very rolly from the big tankers coming in and out all the time.
Napa river doesn't seem too exciting either, but we might give it a try next week. We're running out of things to do... but we'll hang out here for a little bit more to meet with our friends Erik and Sonya.
Well, at least it's tanning time tomorrow :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Octavia has landed!

I just landed in San Francisco! We're staying at Pier 39 for the night - rolly and sealy... I think we'll head over to Sausalito or Tiburon tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

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The Gate not so Golden

After 6 days at sea, we finally sailed under the Golden Gate bridge this morning at 7 am.  It was after a long night of slow sailing and some crazy weaving between large boats in dark and dense fog before arriving under the bridge.  In fact, it was so foggy, that the bridge pillar was the first sign of land we saw since we left Cape Flattery.  Needless to say, we're both a little sleep deprived (I think we've averaged 4 hours of sleep a night for the last 6 days), so we're probably going to crash and catch up on some z's.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ocean Swells

It's 9 am on Monday morning and it’s been 8 days since we left Shilshole Marina in Seattle. Currently S/V Bella Marina is passing Point Arena south of Cape Mendocino and just short of 100 miles steaming distance from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. This is just the beginning of Bella Marina’s cruising adventures. Our plans are for my wife Octavia and me to sail down to the end of Mexico and back, stopping and enjoying adventures on the way.
The first step was to get our boat S/V Bella Marina from the cold waters of Puget Sound to the foggy waters of San Francisco. Every cruiser knows that there is a weather window for such an undertaking and that this window starts closing by the end of September. This complicated things a bit, and I was lucky to have my friend Mike help me take our vessel down the first leg to San Francisco.
The three of us left Shilshole Sunday September 6 on Labor Day weekend. We stopped for a little R&R in Roche Harbor, where Octavia stepped off the boat on Monday and got a ride back to Shilshole from friends we met up with in Roche Harbor. Mike and I started our journey towards San Francisco.
With only 55 gallons of fuel in the tank and 15 gallons in jugs strapped to the back swim step, Mike and I immediately set sail in hopes of being able to sail 50% or more as our fuel would not take us all the way to our destination. After a full day of sailing up the Straits of Juan de Fuca, we connect with Octavia who is on our way back to Seattle on another boat. She’s been analyzing the weather GRIBs and advises us to wait in Neah Bay until Wednesday. We do as the Admiral advises and spend Tuesday watching movies at anchor in Neah Bay.
On Wednesday morning we top off with fuel in Neah Bay, before heading out to round Cape Flattery. It’s foggy, but soon the wind kicks up, the fog clears and we set sails. We’re almost sailing northwest to get out and past the cape before tacking back south. Soon after our tack, we lose winds and start motor sailing.
Our first problem arrives. The burrito Mike and I had for lunch was bad and we both have food poisoning. We’re both feeling ill the rest of the day. Luckily we only had half each, and come sunset we start feeling like we’re on the path to recovery. As the sun sets we watch as a passenger on a nearby cruise ship Sea Princess is airlifted by a Coast Guard helicopter. He’s having a worse day than us. Still, we wow never to eat a burrito again! Before midnight we set the sails. I take the first shift, admiring the well lit sky and the full moon.
Thursday the windows are light and we set the spinnaker. The rest of the day is spent trying to sail in light winds, while staying out of the way of fishing boats. Mike sets a lure so we can catch our own.
Friday morning I’m happy to observe that there’s no fog on the dodger windows. It’s both warmer and dryer. We set more lures. In the afternoon, the winds get stronger and we swap the spinnaker for a main and jib. We tack towards the shore. We start getting into routine. We pump out the holding tank, charge batteries using the portable generator and watch a movie downstairs.
Saturday morning is a fun day. I set a new record getting out of bed quickly, when Mike started yelling. He was just excited that we had fish on the hook. We pull a decent size yellow fin Tuna and spend the rest of the morning rinsing it. We had Tuna for Lunch. In the afternoon a pod of Orcas appear twice to play with our bow wake. The second time, they stay so long I get bored watching them and don’t even notice them leaving. I did snap a few hundred shots though; maybe one of them will turn out decent. The boat is flying down the swell behind the spinnaker. We made some changes to the spinnaker setup during the day and it’s paying off. I’m in my element.
Sunday morning we finally get to Cape Mendocino. We’re still pretty far off shore and the seas and winds are building. We have one reef in our main. Later in the day we’re still at Cape Mendocino, this is turning out to take a good time to pass. The seas build and south of the cape it gets really rough. We spend the rest of the day reefing sails and tacking back and forth in pounding waves. We didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before and we’re both tired. It’s hard to get any sleep below with all the noise, so we end up watching several movies. By evening the weather finally subsides and we’re both mentally exhausted.
Monday night is calm and we both catch up on some hard needed sleep. In the morning, I check for cell signal and am happy to finally get a signal. I download the weather GRIBs and catch up on some blogging, while S/V Bella Marina is riding down the ocean swells.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

41.14.131N 125.18.357W. COG 174. SOG 7.0.

On schedule for passing Cape Mendocino tomorrow morning

Caught a tuna... no soy sauce. Note to Octavia: don't forget the soy sauce next time.
On schedule for passing Cape Mendocino tomorrow early morning around 4:00. Winds are supposed to be on the light side.

Passing Coos Bay

Friday, September 11, 2009

Passing Florence

Sailing since yesterday, on a perfect tack to Cape Mendocino!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sailing since noon!

Passed Astoria a couple of hours ago. Sailing!

Passing Greys Harbor

10:00 AM, a couple of hours away from the Oregon border.

Pacing like an expecting father...

I finally get how guys must feel outside the delivery room... I think :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Out 15 miles

48 05.938 N, 125 06.038 W

Leaving Neah Bay

It's a rainy morning, and we're sitting in Neah Bay waiting for our weather window.  At noon, we'll pull anchor and swing by the fuel docks for a last few drops of precious diesel before heading off to San Fransisco.  We'll probably be motoring for a day or two, before setting the sails.  The weather is definitively the kind of weather we're trying to escape: cold and wet.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Bella Marina is off the dock!

And we're off! San Juans today, spending the night in Roche Harbor for the Labor Day weekend. Bella Marina is scheduled to head to Neah Bay on Monday, and Octavia is scheduled to go back to Seattle with our SYC friends, Sally, Gina and Kit.

Btw, provisioning is NOT easy. We spent 8 hours shopping, and another 8 putting everything away...