Monday, August 30, 2010

Too Late for the Gold Rush

We made it to California, not yet sunny and the water temperature is still  50 degrees; when's summer?
We left Newport, OR on what we thought would be some strong NW winds, hoping to round Cape Blanco without getting spanked (e've got that t-shirt!). One we got outside of the harbor entrance and outside the fog, it was a light downwind sail for the rest of the day. On the way out we saw the Coast Guard towing someone in over the bar. I gracefully offered to give them hand.

Turned out they were practicing towing each other in.

Our down wind sail out of Newport
All that day, we heard many CG calls over the VHF looking for any report on the 26ft red hulled sailing vessel Jolly Roger, now over due on a passage from Newport to Bodega Bay. We'd seen the boat fuel up in Newport. It was small boat with monitor wind vane and two kayaks on deck. Looked a little on the overloaded side. There was no way this thing was over due in Bodega Bay already; it would take them 3 or 4 days to get that far! I called the CG on the VHF and told of our sighting an that they couldn't be over due. The CG gal told they were over due in not checking with someone on shore, not over due in Bodega Bay. That evening we hear a CG C-130 aircraft overhead talking to the skipper of the Jolly Roger. He is telling him that his mother is worried about him as his 'Spot' position report didn't show up for yesterday. (Spot is a low cost satellite communications device that allows position reports and short messages to be sent, but is known to commonly miss reports.)  Clearly a waste of tax payers money to send out CG resources on something like this. Hopefully this sailor will start monitoring channel 16 while underway and save us all another such episode. (To our family: NEVER assume there is a problem if we fail to put out our position reports on Yotreps  or if we stop putting them up there altogether. There are a thousand reasons that a report won't get posted. 999 of them are benign.)

The rest of the trip down to Eureka was chilly but uneventful, sailing during the day until early evening each day, and motoring most of the night when then the wind died. The whole trip was about 46 hours.
Me, being diligent on watch
Coast Guard Life Boat station, Humboldt Bay,  Eureka
We crossed the bar entrance into Humbolt Bay around 7:05am. There was a 4-6 ft swell running along with some ebb tide. The river mouth bars tend to be on the dangerous side in southern Oregon and Northern Cal. The swells come in on the sand bars, peak and can make crossings difficult. When the ebb current hits the incoming waves the seas can get very steep and sometimes break - not where you want to be. All along the coast you hear continuous CG VHF radio reports on the various bar conditions and which bars are closed for what type of craft. I called the Eureka CG station last night when we were near Crescent City to see what the bar conditions were for Eureka. We didn't want to go all  night and find out in the morning that bar was closed. The CG'sman said "No, we never close this bar". Sounded like my kind of place.  The Eureka bar crossing was really easy today for us.
Woodley Island Marina greeter
We got a cheap slip for the night at the Woodley Island Marina in Eureka - $15 a night. Nice marina with hot 50 cent showers. If the weathers good, we'll head out in the morning for Drakes Bay near Point Reyes -- another couple of days run; this time around Cape Mendicino, another place sailors are frequently humbled... stay tuned!


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