Northern California Passage

Left Crescent City at 6:45 a.m. on August 27. Morning was beautiful, but cold. Motored into the Pacific to find 3-4 foot waves and not much wind. Waves became less as the day went on and the sun shone. We were dodging crab pots AGAIN, so tried to stay in water that was over 400 feet deep. Motored toward Cape Mendocino, we were to get there just after dark. This cape has notoriously strong winds, huge waves and strong currents, rather daunting. As the evening came, however, the weather became calm and the night was beautiful. We saw bio-luminescents coming from our wake, a beautiful moon and thousands of stars. As we rounded the cape, our depth meter stopped working at 700 feet…..this water is deep! We were able to take 4 hour shifts and motored under the clear sky. Around 12:00 a.m. the moon set, the fog set in and it got cold and misty. We were happy to see the sun come up as we headed south. Still not much wind, but lots of fog! Around noon the winds picked up and we were able to pull the sails and had a very nice downwind sail for several hours. Our nice wind turned into a much stronger wind around 5:30 as we passed Point Arena, we reefed the sails, continuing downwind. The wind continued to increase…hmmm…didn’t all 4 forecasts tell us that our maximum wind should be 18 knots? It was now 25 and going higher. The waves were also increasing, we had 4-5 foot swells behind us and 3 foot waves hitting us on the side. Wind now 29k, swells 6 feet, waves 4 feet, time to pull in the sails, but very difficult with these seas and winds. Motored to keep the seas as much behind us as possible, these were now up to 9-10 feet! Dale drove while Ken struggled to get the sails in as the winds picked up to 40 knots. Finally in, Ken took over and watched the waves to get the best angle possible with each one. This worked until dark, when we could no longer see the waves. We were in over 400 feet of water and 12 miles from shore. Dale again began battling seasickness. We decided to go closer to shore to see if the weather lessened. It was a challenge to go in this direction as the waves were not allowing it. Over the next three hours, we clawed our way between each wave to get closer. The closer we got, the better the weather became. Not great, still 35 k of wind and 6-7 foot waves. This coastal area has no harbors, marinas or anchorages that would be safe. Fog set in and it was wet and cold. On we went hoping with each mile to get into better weather. We got closer to Bodega Bay….it had a marina! We read and re-read the information that we had for this refuge. DO NOT ENTER THIS BAY AT NIGHT OR IN FOG. Great! We had both! A decision had to be made, take our chances with the boulders and obstructions in the bay or continue on toward San Francisco. It was now almost 4 a.m. we decided to continue on. Now we not only had fog, but rain! As we approached Point Reyes, the winds and seas increased…..was this even possible?? We had originally planned to be farther out to sea at this point, so had not paid much attention to this area. We found ourselves in a “Naval Test Area”….huh? Our chart plotter showed “underwater explosive area” as well as many, many “obstructions”. Seriously?! So to avoid these “obstructions” we had to go farther out to sea, which made the weather worse. Still dark, we were listening to the VHF radio for any possible changes in the weather, huddled under a quilt that was quickly becoming more and more damp. Dale was still seasick. We were never so happy to see a sunrise as we popped into the Gulf of the Farallones (Entrance to San Francisco). Still waves, but the winds had decreased and we had LIGHT!! We followed the traffic schematic passing cargo ships, tugs and fishing boats. At last we were able to cross over this area and head south toward Half Moon Bay and a much needed marina. On the way we saw at least a dozen whales…very impressive marine animals! Arrived at 2:30 p.m. 56 hours after leaving Crescent City.

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