Wednesday, May 20, 2009

May 19, 2009, San Luis to Ventura

I took off before sunrise and motored to Ventura. In the afternoon I put out the gennaker with a 5-10 knot apparent wind. The swells were just right for the boat to surf down (with engines plus a sail), and it would hit 12 knots regularly.

The water temperature got up to the low sixties, almost 10 degrees up!

I called ahead to the Marina and they said they'd leave a key in the dock box. But they didn't. So I climbed over the gate a few times. It's a pretty fancy place, and it's not too easy to climb over, so I was expecting to be accosted by security or someone who would get me a key, but nobody noticed.

May 18, 2009, Monterey to San Luis Harbor

I got up at 5:30 to get an early start to San Luis Bay. There were a lot of boats leaving in the fog besides me. It's a good thing those other guys are careful.

There visibility was about 200-250 yards. I could see about one minute head. That sounds bad, but one minute visibility is about 2-3 miles in an airplane instrument approach, and quite a bit better at cruise speed.

I turned the corner south and found a direct headwind blowing around 15-20 knots, enough to slow progress down significantly.

9:12 a.m.
2 miles NW of Point Sur
Boat Speed: 7.3 knots over the ground.
True Wind: 21 knots from the south
Water Temperature: 56.3°
Outside Air Temperature: 61°
Inside Air Temperature: 61°
Fog is lifting -- I can almost see the sun.

Later on in the day the fog lifted and the wind shifted. I got to sail for a few hours, 10 knots or so.

In the evening I was motoring by Diablo Canyon, which has a nuclear power plant on the seashore. On the map there is a yellow marker in the middle of a red circle, labeled "Security Area." I looked it up on the NOAA chart, and it referred some regulation elsewhere. So I looked it up on the Coast Pilot, and it referred me elsewhere.

So I decided that it would be stupid to put a yellow buoy in the middle of a restricted area, and headed by the power plant outside the yellow buoy. After I had passed the plant, Diablo Canyon Security called me on the radio and said I was too close. They asked me to turn a little west. But I was going southeast, and west would have turned me closer to the plant. So I told them I could turn directly away from the plant. That made us both happy.

Then they asked me a some questions (how many people on board, vessel type and length, destination, 7th grade math teacher, etc.) and told me to monitor the radio in case they needed anything else.

I think if they want people out of their security zone, they should pay attention and warn boats away before they get in it. They should also explain it on the nautical chart. But I guess it's not that important. There's not much a pleasure boat smaller than a destroyer could do to damage a nuclear power plant.

I anchored in the dark in San Luis Harbor and kayaked over to the pier, found a ladder, and walked into the grocery store for some bread. I arrived at 9:07. The closed at 9:00. So I walked around town for a while. I wanted to blame Diablo Canyon Security for making me late, but they only cost me a minute or less.

Monday, May 18, 2009

May 17, 2009, Half Moon Bay to Monterey, by Bob

I took off from Half Moon Bay and had almost no wind and few waves until I got close to Monterey. Then the fog came in and the wind started blowing from 20-30 knots.

I noticed one sailboat coming from the sheltered harbor into the wind. They somehow lost the rope that holds the back end of the jib (the jib sheet), and the job was blowing out in front of the boat.

I came into the Monterey Marina, a tight fit for my driving ability, and tied up to the dock with no mishaps. I met Jack Van Valkenburgh there. We were talking to each other on the cell phone, each trying to figure out where the other was ("do you see this?"), and were were only 50 yards apart the whole time.

Jack took me by his FBO, the Monterey Jet Center. It is REALLY nice. Then he took me on a scenic motor tour around the area, and by his new house (which is also REALLY nice). He and Amy fed me a nice meal and came by to see the boat.

May 16, 2009, Berkeley to Half Moon Bay, by Bob

On the way out of Berkeley I decided to take a shortcut to the Farallon Islands, a small group of islands about 25 miles outside the Golden Gate Bridge. I made a detour to go by downtown San Francisco and Alcatraz, then headed through the Golden Gate.

Being Saturday, there were a lot of boats on the water. The waves were a little rough going out, because it was the wrong time of day to be going out and I was motoring directly into the wind and waves. It was fun.

When I got close to the Farallon Islands, I joined a sailboat race. I wasn't actually in the race, since I was using a motor to go faster and more directly into the wind that I could using sails alone. There were a few dozen sailboats in a race around Southeast Farallon Island. I passed several on the way out, cut across on the near side of the island after looking at some seals, a whole bunch of birds, three people, and some rocks.

Then I put the sail up and rejoined the race. Since they were headed back to San Francisco Bay and I was headed to Los Angeles, our paths diverged. I came into Half Moon Bay and anchored for the night.

At Half Moon Bay there are some nice boats, some fishing boats, some nice and some "well used," and a few crusty live-aboard boats anchored in the harbor that look like they couldn't go very far, on top of the water anyway.

May 15, 2009, Sausalito to Berkeley, by Bob

I waited for the fog to lift a bit and then motored to Berkeley Marina. Leo and Nadia Le Bon came out. We visited, kayaked, and etc. They had me over for a very nice dinner.

I biked into town to Fedex to pick up some plumbing parts. I replaced my plumbing artwork in the shower with a regular faucet, and replaced the hot water tank pressure relief valve. At least the shower didn't leak after my repairs.

May 14, 2009, Rockport to Sausalito, by Bob

I got up and was moving by 4:30. In the morning! After sleeping!! Those are definitely not my normal hours.

I motored until the wind improved, and around 11:00 I started sailing. I made good time. The wind gradually increased, then slacked off after it hit 35 knots for a few minutes. I was going downwind, so the apparent wind wasn't that high, and the true wind was 25-30 knots most of the time.

3:45 p.m.
Wind 24 knots from the northwest
Sailing with main and gennaker
Water speed: 8-10 knots
Speed over ground: 9-11 knots
Water temperature: 51.8°
Air temperature: 52°
Sunny and foggy (at the same time!)

I got to Point Reyes and took down the sails. The plan was to anchor at Drake's Bay, where Sir Francis Drake stayed, and visit the Farallon Islands the next day. I drove into the bay whey I had intended to anchor, and the wind was blowing 35 knots. It was also cold and foggy.

I had 2-3 hours of daylight left daylight left, so I decided to go on to the next anchorge, Bolinas Bay. It was windy, but only 25 knots, and foggy and cold. So I decided to go on to the next anchorage, Bonita Point. I pulled around the point and it was pretty nice. It was still foggy and cold, but the wind was down between 10 and 20 knots. I was getting ready to drop the anchor and I saw the lights of the Golden Gate Bridge under the fog layer, about 2 miles away.

I couldn't resist, so I made a turnabout (nautical term?) and motored under the bridge to Sausalito. I anchored in calm wind, clear sky, and 10 or 15 degrees warmer air.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Crescent City to Cape Vizcaino, 5/13/2009, by Bob

At 5:52 pm
Wind: 4 knots from the north
Air temperature: 56°
Water temperature: 52.1°
Broken high clouds (I think a seismic wave broke the clouds)

I started out this morning before the sun came up so I could get far enough to make Drake's Bay tomorrow night. It all depends on wind and current.

I passed Cape Mendocino today. The Cape is supposed to be the dividing point between northern and southern weather systems, separating cool, cloudy, rainy weather from cool, coudy, rainy weather. It's supposed to be windy at the Cape, too. It was only blowing 15-20 knots there, but was windier than the rest of the area.

I anchored near Rockport in a place not very sheltered. But the waves weren't very big, and the boat was still there the next morning.

I poured the last of the Midway diesel (last summer) from the jugs into the boat fuel tanks. All the jugs had water and crud in the bottom. Hopefully I didn't get that into the boat's tank, and if I did, hopefully it won't clock the fuel filters until Mike is here to bleed the fuel lines because he likes the smell diesel in the morning.

Coos Bay, Oregon to Crescent City, California

May 12, Doce de Mayo and Melinda's Birthday
by Bob

I got up at 5:30 and started undocking. When I parked the afternoon before, I got right in the middle of a long side-tie area. I noticed right away that two boats had come in in the night and parked close to me. They obviously did not know what kind of driver I am.

But the wind was favorable for undocking and I got away without damaging either of my neighbors. I was doing the morning exercise of coiling and stashing dock lines, and untieing and stashing bumpers. This takes a little longer than it sounds like. I was in the midst of a stashing frenzy when a Coast Guard boat called to tell me about the bar conditions.

A river bar is where a river goes into the ocean. It's not a sand bar, a drinking bar, a chinup bar, sushi bar, or a pry bar. If swells from the ocean meat a current going the opposite direction, the wavelength gets shorter and the waves get steeper and taller. Sometimes the waves break.

Since I was going out at the ebb tide, when the river current into the ocean is at its best, the bar was rough. The Coast Guard said there were 8-foot steep waves. By the time I was finished talking to the Coast Guard boat, I didn't have time to stash ropes and bumpers. So I turned around and backtracked until everything was clear off the front of the boat, and then went out into the ocean. I be those Coast Guard guys were wondering why I was going back and forth.

I ran the motors all day, and put a sail up part of the time, and I eventually made it to California! I anchored at Crescent City, near the redwoods. But I didn't see any big trees.

Crescent City has a good-size harbor with a smaller inner harbor. Inside the inner harbor is a marina. But half or more of the docks are broken, sunk, or missing. They still have plenty of dock space for the generally small fishing boats. There are not many pleasure craft there.

I talked to them about docking the Minnow, and they said they don't have their transient dock any more. It was destroyed in a seismic wave. I think "seismic wave" is the new term for tsunami which is the new term for tidal wave. At any rate, a wave from the 1964 Alaska earthquake wiped out their marina, and they haven't gotten around to fixing all of it yet.

Monday, May 11, 2009

May 11, 2009, Newport to Coos Bay, by Bob

This morning I got up at 6:00 and took off as soon as I got everything organized -- clothes on, teeth brushed, marina keycard turned in, trash dumped, electric cable packed away, boat untied, engines on, electronics on, etc.

I was in a hurry, stashing the dock lines and the bumpers, while I was motoring out the channel, and the "Newport Tower" called and asked how many people on the boat and what my intentions were. I went inside and said something only partially incoherent, and then tried to keep the boat in the channel with the rough bar warning. I got the stuff packed away before I hit the rough bar, and then I headed south.

I was going almost directly into the wind all day except for the last 30 minutes or so. With one engine, the wind, and the waves, the boat was going about 5.5 or 6 knots through the water, with a half knot current pushing me along.

I decided to check out the bad engine. It worked fine. I guess it had been smoking because the transmission had been slipping and wouldn't put enough load on the engine. About the time I added the second engine, the current increased to about 1.5 knots. I ran both engines and was going between 9 and 10 knots most of the time. That was much better!

I got to Coos Bay about 5:30. I am actually at the Charleston Marina, a few miles from the town of Coos Bay, but in the bay of Coos. There are a lot of fishing boats here. Some smell pretty bad, and some look like they might not be floating much longer. But people are still using them.

At 9:00 p.m., wind is variable at 3 knots, water temperature is 57.5 degrees, air temperature in the low 50's, but feels like -273C. It's supposed to get into the low 40's tonight.

I haven't had fast internet for a while, so pictures will have to wait for a bit.

May 8-10, 2009, Newport, Oregon, by Bob

I rented a fine automobile from a local establishment in Newport. They have a fleet of four cars. I drove to Astoria, flew the PC12 to Seattle, and picked up Melinda and Josh (baby daughter and boyfriend). I flew Melinda and Josh off to Astoria, after a detour by Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens. They drove the rental car back to Newport. I flew to Newport. I was confused by that time, so I drank a chocolate milkshake. I am not lactose intolerant, but Melinda was intolerant of my lactose.

The next day we headed out in the Minnow to scuba dive. Melinda opted out, saying something about intelligence that I didn't quite comprehend. The water temperature was a balmy 55 degrees, but we wore wet suits anyway. We even flew the dive flag. The visibility was 4-6 feet near the surface, but on the bottom (30 feet or so) it was about 6 inches. So I came up and looked over the bottom of the boat. I think Mike's been running over a lot of rocks and logs, because there are a couple of scratches.

After I got out of the water and showered, the Coast Guard called and said we were anchored in a dangerous place and needed to move. They said they were sending about a boat to assist us. I told them thanks, that we'd get out of there, and that we didn't need assistance. We were gone before the boat arrived.

I put the minnow on autopilot toward Japan while Josh and I thrashed about trying to figure out, organize, and untangle some ropes to raise the sail. It was pretty windy so we were using the second reef, raising the main sail only half way.

About the time we were done, around 4 miles offshore, a Coast Guard helicopter buzzed us really low. It came around again and we took some pictures. After it left, I noticed that I had left the radio on channel 22, where we were talking to them earlier, instead of channel 16, the channel "hailing frequency" they use to call you on. So the people in the helicopter were probably trying to call us on the radio while we were taking pictures of them. Oops.

We sailed back to Newport, drove around, saw a seal fighting an octopus, kayaked, and ate at place with metal utensils.

The next day we played a bit and then I flew Josh and Melinda back to Seattle. When I got back to Newport, there was a 400-foot ceiling, which is 200 feet higher than the minimums. I landed, then called FSS to cancel the IFR flight plan. They told me to standby. Someone else was talking to FSS trying to get clearance, but they couldn't get clearance because I hadn't cancelled, and I couldn't cancel because they were ahead of me. I finally called them on the phone and cancelled, about the time they figured out what was going on and called me back on the radio.

May 7, 2009, Astoria to Newport, by Bob

When we were on the Columbia, the left engine was putting out a LOT of black smoke, and wouldn't run at full RPMs. The left transmission was messed up, too. It wouldn't go into forward gear very well.

Mike and I got back from flight training, and the transmission was rebuilt! Lasse the mechanic said he couldn't fix the smoking engine. Cliff the air-conditioner / heater repairman was there, too. He replaced the logic board in the controller, but couldn't make it work. He's only had three months and several hundred dollars on this, so we shouldn't expect miracles.

After waiting a few days in Astoria for the weather (and waves) to improve, I took off for Newport on Thursday. Mike had jumped ship a few days earlier.

I had planned to take off about 5:30 a.m. so I could make it to Newport at a reasonable time (i.e. daylight), but they were forecasting 12-foot breaking waves at the mouth of the Columbia at 4:15 or 4:45. So I forced myself to sleep in to the civilized hour of 6:00 and got to the "Columbia Bar" about 7:00.

The waves were fairly big, but they were spaced far enough part so the boat wasn't smashing into the waves. It was just riding on top. Then I had a favorable wind and an unfavorable current to Newport, Oregon. Or maybe it was Rhode Island.

I arrived at the marina between 9:00 and 10:00, somewhere between dusk and dark. I managed to fit underneath the Highway 101 bridge and park the boat without any permanent damage to the dock, which we can't say about The Dalles.