Saturday, September 19, 2009

Seattle to San Francisco

I need to thank a few people for the advice and support they gave us in preparing to go.  Paul Baker and Suzette Connolly for lots of great advice on getting the boat ready to go.  Mary and Joel Thornton for more good advice as well as charts, first aid supplies, and agreeing to be our property manager.  Roger and Lynn Werner for charts and moral support.  Mike Ross and Seth Siegal for help with some boat projects.  And there are others too numerous to mention.

Our Bon Voyage party was well attended and included some unexpected, but not unwelcome guests.  A good time was had by all and I can only wish that I had had a chance to talk to everyone that attended.

We’ve successfully made the passage down to San Francisco after leaving Seattle a day late.  Last minute details pre-empted our departure until Tuesday, September 8th.  We were accompanied on the voyage by Susie Stillman and Mark Lincoln.

We made stops at Port Townsend and Neah Bay along the way.  On the morning of the 10th, we departed Neah Bay on a rare East wind in the Straits and turned the corner for California.  Going South, the wind was light, so we motored about half the time.  The next evening, we became concerned that we could need fuel before we got to San Francisco, so we began angling in shore toward Newport, Oregon.  In the morning, we looked at the wind forecast and fuel usage and decided that we could make it without stopping, but decided to make the stop anyway.

There was now an 11 foot swell running (from a storm in the gulf of Alaska), so the approach to Newport was quite intimidating, with big breaking seas on both sides of the boat, but the channel was fine down the middle where the coast guard had recommended we stay.  In Newport, we hooked up with Susie’s friend Hannah, who works at the Newport Aquarium and got a behind-the-scenes tour.  They were very excited that the NOAA ships were moving there.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have stopped.  The forecasts were for moderate south winds, so it looked like progress could be slow, but we were on our way again.  We found ourselves making good progress on a fairly lifted South East wind when it began to build.  It turns out that the low pressure system that was supposed to be further West landed right on top of us, and in the middle of the night we found ourselves headed straight into gale force winds, with waves coming from three different directions.  We reduced sail and continued to push South, but soon discovered that the boat had a “few” leaks.  We had one big leak in the aft locker that flooded the cabin.  Because of the heel angle, the water wasn’t making it to the keel sump, but was instead washing around in the main cabin.  In addition, the anchor locker flooded and water gushed into the V-berth through a hole at the top of the forward bulkhead.  As the V-berth was packed full, there was a lot of soggy gear to deal with.

The gale continued into the middle of the next day, then slowly began to subside.  Sometime in the early morning, a Coast Guard helicopter came by to check up on us.  We gave them a thumbs-up and they flew off.

We spent the next day trying to dry out the boat and take an inventory of the damages.  Among the stuff that died:  Pressure Water control switch (saved by the foot pump),  connections to the HF antenna tuner (repaired), connections to the VHF hand mic (repaired), two KVH maxi displays (obsolete),  one printer, one international cell phone, one broken batten.

Our last night before San Francisco, we finally got some strong North winds and had a boisterous sail down to Point Reyes before the wind went light again. Mark and Susie both went their separate ways shortly after we arrived at St Francis Yacht Club as they have friends/family in the area.  Mark intends to join us again in San Diego.  We’ve been here two night and are still drying things out and trying to seal up some of the leaks before our next offshore passage.  Today we head over to Sausalito where we have access to chandleries and other marine related services.  The city front in SF is somewhat of a wasteland in that regard.



  1. Bill,

    Did you figure out why the water was getting into your cabin and did you get it fixed?


  2. How great to see that the worst part is over and you're on to the warmer climes! Your Farewell party was soooooo much fun!
    Pam and Denis

  3. Sorry we were not around for all the farewell hoopla. May I use your blog for Binnacle articles periodically? Members would love it.

    Sally Cole