If you can believe it Debbie volunteered us to help friends get their boat to San Francisco. She must have a short memory, as she seems to have forgotten her first trip down the coast when she told Lynn, what he could do with the S/V Dolphin Tales when they arrived in Newport Oregon. Well on August 29 we left Vancouver on the SV Navigo a Beneteau 42 center cockpit with Bob and Camelia for San Francisco via the offshore route.
After clearing customs in Port Angeles a final check of the weather shows 15-20 knots of wind, with the wind and seas building later on in the week to 30 knots off Northern California we headed out the strait and made the turn at Neah Bay. A couple of hours motoring and we are soon under sail.
Once under sail, one soon finds all the noises generated by dishes, pots, etc. as you try to sleep. Padding and stuffing dish towels in cupboards becomes a hobby, with each trip down below.
Similar to Dolphin Tales the best place to sleep was the sea berth in the salon just aft of the mast, and sometimes it can even hold two people when the forward and aft cabins become unliveable.
As the trip progresses we did find the forecast winds of 30 knots building to 40 knots and seas building to 15 ft plus or so, but it is hard to gage sea height. We are running down wind with a very small foresail out at about 6 knots and higher as you surf some waves. We did have waves breaking on the aft deck of the boat and only the enclosure and Lynn’s back prevented more water coming into the cockpit when one broke on his watch. This was after his getting wet earlier when one very large one came in the starboard side enclosure opening. The Gale might have blown hard for 48 hours but for some on board it felt like it was 5 days in a washing machine with no springs on a 7 day cycle.
During the gale the US Coast Guard rescued two people and a dog off a 50 ft boat that was taking on water and sank. Another vessel was then turned out to sea, when three people where taken off that vessel. We had heard that all where dehydrated and could not control the boat. We also heard the Coast Guard talking to another boat that had someone on board with broken ribs and they were trying to get to Coos Bay. We learned after from another sailboat that they were advised by the Coast Guard that the wave height would be increased and become dangerous by a large tropical storm some place in the South Pacific.
Once the winds started to drop, the seas very quickly flattened out and the last day and a half turned into a motor boat ride to San Francisco and the Sausalito Yacht Club.
Navigo has an AIS transponder on board with a display a little larger than an IPOD Touch. Well imagine trying to move cross hairs over a target that is moving all over the screen, as the screen itself is moving around with the movement of the boat. Once you get the cross hairs on the target click a button and very small print gives you information on the target. To get more information or remove the target, center the target with the cross hairs and click a button. Are you sea sick yet? Off the coast of Oregon, Debbie and Camelia had a target approaching from seaward, after identifying the target Debbie hailed the ship and had them adjust coarse to pass astern of us. Must have been the woman’s touch, as there was no issue in having them adjust course. Technology can make ship contact less stressful but remember pleasure craft carry a different class transponder and not all commercial vessels may to be monitoring this class.
Debbie did discover that sea sickness does not go away after a few days but she did stand her watches and kept her bucket close by. Lynn suffered for a half a day or so. Camelia used the closest bucket. Bob was close to needing a bucket when he was below for a while at the navigation station or trying to match the cross hairs on the AIS to a target. Needless to say not a lot food was consumed on the passage. Our position was logged every 3 hours and the plan was to place these on a chart. Upon arrival in San Francisco the chart was as clean as when it was purchased.
By the way, Debbie says she will not volunteer to make this trip again and the next time she sees this part of the coast will be on a vessel no smaller than a cruise ship.