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 Saturday, November 24, 2012

Last weekend we arrived at the Waikiki Yacht Club in Honolulu after a week-long cruise along the Kona Coast and the leeward shores of Maui and Molokai. We had a great trip--lots of exploring, diving and relaxing. But as good as that cruise was, the last week at the Waikiki Yacht Club was even better. The club is beautiful, with great people, and every day we walk to the shops and restaurants in Waikiki or along Ala Moana Blvd.

We landed in Hilo because it's about 200 miles closer than Honolulu, and clearing into Hawaii would be simpler. Another advantage is that that we were windward of the other islands, so we could make a westerly run mostly downwind. The trip from Hilo also gave us an opportunity to use some equipment that we'd installed and tested, but had yet to really exercise. One of the most useful was the flopper-stopper (passive at-rest roll stabilizer). We're not that sensitive to boat motion, so never had bothered with it until this trip. And we didn't really notice the boat motion while anchored at Nishimura Bay (pictured above) where we first deployed it, until we tried to launch the tender. The dinghy swung dangerously when we got it in the air off the chocks, and we didn't feel comfortable launching it with that much motion. The flopper-stopper made a huge difference.

The picture below shows the flopper-stopper in action. A line runs from the end of the pole up to the mast to hold the pole parallel to the water. Lines fore and aft keep the pole perpendicular to the boat. And a 4'x2' folding metal plate is suspended from the end of the pole via a ring that connects by a short length of chain to each corner of the plate. As the boat rolls towards this side, the plate drops and folds. When the boat rolls back, the plate lifts and opens, resisting the boat motion like a parachute to reduce the return roll. The open plate is visible through the water. The small line coming in from the bottom left is a retrieval line. We initially attached the retrieval line to the ring with the suspension line, but found it twisted and tangled in the suspension line, preventing the plate from opening. Allowing the suspension line to spin freely about the retrieval line still allows us to retrieve the plate, but prevents the two lines from tangling.

 

We also used our Dayton Fan for the first time. We carry it to make working in the engine room more bearable in hot weather, but have been finding it useful in the cabin as well. On the crossing from San Francisco to Hawaii, the stateroom temperature reached the mid 80s--a little too hot for sleeping comfortably. We can open a small overhead hatch into the portuguese bridge (the walkway in front of the pilothouse windows), but it didn't make much of a difference, and we couldn't open it very wide in rough conditions. We could have started the generator and run the air-conditioning, but we'd rather not run the generator all the time. So we tried putting that big fan in the corner of the stateroom, and voila, instant cooling. It made a huge impact. The fan generates sufficient wind we use only the lowest setting. We also use the fan at anchor, both in the stateroom and in the pilothouse or salon. It is a little noisy, but underway with the engine running it's not noticeable. And at anchor, the cooling is so welcome that we don't mind the noise either.

Along with the rest of our canvas work, we asked Canvas Supply Company in Seattle make us window screens for all the pilothouse windows. These are made from a Sunbrella View tight weave material. They fit on the outside of the windows to provide sun heat and light protection, while still allowing some light in and a view out. (We didn't have any made for the salon windows because we have translucent blinds for all those windows, mainly for privacy, but they do provide sun protection as well.) In Seattle, we'd not had much reason to use the windows screens. And we could have used them in San Francisco, but we were rather enjoying the sun. In the tropics, the screens really helped in reducing the temperature in the pilothouse, and improving comfort by not having the sun shine directly on us when we're sitting up there.

We also had a few items that no longer were needed now that we were in the tropics. We switched our dive gear from cold-water to warm-water diving. We didn't have to do a lot, mostly just get the neoprene booties and 3mm suits from storage, and stow the drysuits and cold-water gloves and hoods. We also removed the drysuit pressure hoses from our regulators. Wonder when we'll put those back on again?

And we put all our sweaters, long-sleeved shirts, heavier coats and extra bedding into storage. We seal them in a Space Bags t to reduce the stored size and limit moisture intrusion. Space Bags are sealed plastic bags that you vacuum the air out of to reduce their size. The bags do slowly lose their vacuum over time, but it's easy enough to re-vacuum them. And having them small to start with means we can stuff them into tight places.

 

Below is our log of the trip from Hilo to Honolulu. You also display these on the map view.

11/6/2012: Radio Bay
Looking east across Radio Bay from the sea wall.
11/7/2012: Double rainbow
Double rainbow over Hilo.
11/7/2012: Fuel fill
Hawaii Petroleum brought a truck over this morning and we took on 1,100 gallons of diesel.
11/7/2012: Going ashore
Bringing the bike ashore to ride into Hilo. Radio Bay is inside the container port, and an escort is required to leave the area by land. The "easiest" way to go anywhere is via the public shore access along the east side of the bay.
11/7/2012: Ready to go
I did put my helmet on after this shot.
11/7/2012: Hilo Bay
The ride into town was pleasant and easy--Hilo is bicycle-friendly. A bike lane ran the first third or so. The rest of the way was through a shoreline park where this picture was taken.
11/7/2012: Farmers Market
Ron Rubin of N46-079 Alcyone told us about Hilo's excellent farmers market.
11/7/2012: Unpacking the loot
I filled two bicycle panniers with purchases.
11/7/2012: View north
View north across Radio Bay from the seawall.
11/7/2012: Anthuriums
Anthuriums from the market.
11/7/2012: Outrigger
Around sunset, a dozen paddles launched this outrigger canoe and set off into Hilo Bay.
11/8/2012: Breakfast fruit
Starfruit and Rambutans from the farmer's market for our breakfast fruit.
11/8/2012: Sinkers
Malasadas from the market. On past visits to Honolulu, we would pick up a load of delicious fresh-baked malasadas from Leonard's Bakery en route to Hanauma Bay. We called them sinkers because we ate so many before we went snorkelling that we joked our heavy stomachs would sink us.
11/9/2012: Pilot boat
Hilo pilot boat heading out to meet the cruise ship Celebrity Century.
11/9/2012: Celebrity Century
Celebrity Century approaching Hilo Bay.
11/9/2012: Bike tour
We ran the bikes ashore in the dinghy for a tour of the Hilo area. The photo was taken on the Puueo St. bridge.
11/9/2012: Wailuku River
Looking down the Wailuku River, the 2nd longest in the state, from the Wainaku Ave bridge to Hilo Bay. In the distance is the Puueo St. bridge we were on earlier.
11/9/2012: Waterfall
Small waterfall on Wailuku River, looking west from from the Wainaku Ave bridge. About 3 miles upriver is 80' Rainbow falls.
11/9/2012: Bicycle repair
Jennifer got a flat, but James replaced the tube with little delay.
11/9/2012: Casa de Luna
We had a delicious Margarita-enhanced lunch at Casa de Luna.
11/10/2012: Dawn
We left at 4:30am to pass around the south side of the island and begin a cruise up the Kona Coast.
11/10/2012: Sunrise
11/10/2012: Crater
Crater in old lavaflows along the south end of the island. We couldn't see any lava flowing from our vantage. The last time we were in the area, by jeep over a decade ago, lava was flowing into the water in tremendous explosions of steam and rock.
11/10/2012: Kalae
Windmills at Kalae, aka South Point, the southernmost point in the US. The wind was blowing in the high 30s and the waves were huge as we rounded the point--amongst the biggers we've encountered. One rolled us 26 degrees.
11/10/2012: Sunset
We'd be arriving at our intended anchorage at Okoe Bay in the dark. Not ideal, but the entry didn't look difficult and we could always bail and keep running if we weren't comfortable.
11/11/2012: Okeo Bay
Looking north to Hanamalo Point from the anchorage at Okeo Bay. Due to our late arrival, we weren't tucked in close to the beach for better swell protection as we could have been. But the boat motion still was tolerable.
11/11/2012: Beach house
Beach house to slightly to our south. The area was mainly pretty deserted the entire time we were there.
11/11/2012: Sunset
Sunset from the anchorage.
11/12/2012: Sportsfisher
We departed early to reach an anchorage at the north end of the island, and from there cross Alenuihaha Channel the next morning. As we neared Kailua Kona, many boats like this one were offshore.
11/12/2012: Kailua Kona
View of Kailua Kona as we approach Keahole Point.
11/12/2012: Nishimura Bay
The view looking north from the anchorage at Nishimura Bay. The bay is unnamed on the chart, but is described in the Mehaffy's Cruising Guide to the Hawaiian Islands. We've found the book a useful resource. We've always been comfortable in unusual or exposed anchorages, but these past couple of stops are way beyond anything we've done: we're basically hanging off the edge of the Pacific Ocean, with only slight wind and swell protection in one direction from the shoreline. This is pretty much what we expected for Hawaiian anchoring, and we're loving it.
11/12/2012: Mauna Kea
The Mauna Kea observatories are just visible in the distance from the anchorage.
11/12/2012: Flopper-stopper
At anchor as the sun sets, with the flopper-stopper (passive at-rest roll stabilizer) deployed. We've never used it before other than in testing--we're not that senstive to boat motion and didn't really notice it until we tried to launch the tender. The dinghy swung dangerously when we got it in the air off the chocks, and we didn't feel comfortable launching it with that much motion. The flopper-stopper made a huge difference.
11/12/2012: Ashore
Enjoying the sunset from ashore.
11/12/2012: Dusk
11/13/2012: Alenuihaha Channel
We're about halfway across Alenuihaha Channel, between the Big Island and Maui. The winds funnel and increase in strength here, and can generate hazardous conditions when strong tradewinds blow. The Mehaffy guidebook says the channel has a repution as being one of the worst in the world--a tugboat caption told the authors a wave here had torn the pilot house off his 60-foot steel tug. We were up at 3:30am to cross so winds would be lightest. So far we're seeing the moderate conditions we deserve for the time we got up: seas mostly 6-8'. We're getting a good push from the current as well, and are doing better than 8.5 knots.
11/13/2012: Windmills
Windmills being installed at Pohakueaea Point.
11/13/2012: Pu'u Ola'i
367-foot Pu'u Ola'i Hill above the anchorage at Oneloa Beach.
11/13/2012: Lifeguard
Lifeguard tower on the beach. We could hear the lifeguard over a loudspeaker, warning beachgoers of the dangerous surf.
11/13/2012: Molokini
The Island of Molokini viewed from the anchorage.
11/13/2012: Tourboat
This tour boat, packed with passengers, cruised slowly along the beach past our anchorage.
11/13/2012: Scuba gear
Switching from cold-water to warm-water diving. We didn't have to do a lot, mostly just get the neoprene booties and 3mm suits from storage, and stow the drysuits and cold-water gloves and hoods. We also removed the drysuit pressure hoses from our regulators. Wonder when we'll put those back on again?
11/13/2012: Dive site
Tourboat approaching the point off Pu'u Ola'i. We saw several boats there throughout the morning, and the Mehaffy guide indicated this was one of the best snorkeling sites on Maui's west coast. We later ran the dinghy over and dove there ourselves. Fabulous!
11/14/2012: Sunrise
Coffee at sunrise in the cockpit. We're definitely in paridise.
11/14/2012: Tour boat
Glass-bottomed tour boat out to view the coral reefs.
11/14/2012: Flopper-stopper in action
The flopper-stopper (passive at-rest roll stabilizer) in action. A line runs from the end of the pole up to the mast to hold the the pole parallel to the water. Lines fore and aft keep the pole perpendicular to the boat. And a 4'x2' folding metal plate is suspended from the end of the pole via a ring that connects by a short length of chain to each corner of the plate. As the boat rolls towards this side, the plate drops and folds. When the boat rolls back, the plate lifts and opens, resisting the boat motion like a parachute to reduce the return roll. The open plate is visible through the water. The small line coming in from the bottom left is a retrieval line. We initially attached the retrieval line to the ring with the suspension line, but found it twisted and tangled in the suspension line, preventing the plate from opening.
11/14/2012: Sunset
Sunset viewed from the flybridge
11/15/2012: Dinghy trap
Somehow the dinghy, trailing of Dirona's stern on a floating yellow line to it's bow, managed to wrap itself twice around the flopper-stopper guyline overnight. James just freed it.
11/15/2012: Molokini
Dive gear ready to load into the dinghy. We ran over to Molokini to dive the inside of the crater, but conditions were too rough to safely leave the dinghy. So we did a nice relaxing dive at the point off Pu'u Ola'i again instead. The next day, we heard two dive boat operators on the radio discussing whether to dive at Molokini. Conditions were rough, but apparently much better than the day before when we'd gone.
11/15/2012: Filling the scuba tanks
We have a Max-Air 240-volt electric dive compressor (model 35LS-E1/220) mounted in the lazarette. It's a small-capacity unit, light on features, but it works effictively and so far we are quite happy with it. On the previous boat, we had a gas-powered Max-Air unit that worked well, and that's one of the reasons we went with the Max-Air electric version for the current boat. The electric version has some real advantages: we don't have to mess with gasoline and so can run it right in the lazarette, and the unit is much quieter.
11/16/2012: Heading to Molokai
We departed early this morning to cross Pailolo Channel between Maui and Molokai before the winds came up. Pailolo Channel isn't considered as hazardous as Alenuihaha Channel between the Big Island and Maui, but conditions there still can be rough. The forecast today is for 30-knot winds and 14-foot seas.
11/16/2012: Puu Anu
Windmills on the south slope of 3,000' Puu Anu.
11/16/2012: Olowalu Stream
4,000' Lihau and 3,000' Uluala flank Olowalu Stream.
11/16/2012: Lahaina
Several tour boats were leaving Lahaina Harbor as we passed. At least a couple of dozen boats were anchored along the roadstead in front of town. Marina space is limited in Hawaii--very few harbors have room for transient boats and even some of the commercial boats have to anchor out.
11/16/2012: The Slot
We just passed through the junction of Pailolo, Auau, and Kalohi Channels, locally known as The Slot. The Coast Pilot reports that high winds and dangerous currents occur there. The wind has been blowing a steady 30 knots since we entered Pailolo Channel, and the waves have mostly been in the 6-8' range on the beam. Passing through the Slot, however, we got hit with two 15' waves in close succession. The first rolled us to the limit of the stabilizers and the second pushed us over 26.2 degrees.
11/16/2012: Kokua
The tug Kokua taking big waves working upwind through Pailolo Channel.
11/16/2012: Kamalo Harbor
Lighted buoy off the entrance to Kamalo Harbor. Wave heights had settled, but the wind still blew at a steady 30 knots.
11/16/2012: Towards the entry
Heeled over in the wind as we look for the break in the reef to enter Kamalo Harbor. The least depth through the entry channel is only eleven feet.
11/16/2012: Entry track
The reef, and the channel through, is clearly visible on the satellite map view of our entry track. The reef also was obvious in daylight as we proceeded. The favored anchorage at the east arm head felt a little too tight at only 100 yards across, particularly given the wind. So we returned out and anchored in the larger west arm head instead. The cove there was 150 yards across, but we still had to position the boat carefully so that we could put out adequate rode of 150' in the 30' depths.
11/16/2012: Sportfishing boats
Two high-speed sportfishing boats were tied off to the pier runs at the east arm head. A third arrived later, and two trucks drove down the shore towards the boats. We didn't take the dinghy ashore, but landing there to access the road looks easy.
11/16/2012: Kamalo Gulch
View to Kamalo Gulch from the boat. The wind continued to blow in the high 20s, but the reef protected us from the big waves and the boat hardly rocked. While we quite enjoyed the last few anchorages, having a little more wave shelter was nice for a change. The holding here was excellent too--the anchor came up the following morning encrusted in a thick mud the raw-water sprayer barely could penetrate.
11/16/2012: Waterfalls
Waterfalls dropping hundreds of feet into Kamalo Gulch.
11/17/2012: En route to Oahu
We were up just before 4am this morning to cross Kaiwi Channel, between Molokai and Oahu, before the afternoon winds picked up. The winds still were blowing from the east in the high 20s when we left Kamalo, but the forecast for Kaiwi looks reasonable: east winds 20 knots with 8-foot wind waves. Leaving the anchorage was a little challenging with the wind, darkness and tight quarters, but we took it slow and had no trouble. One advantage of the big winds is we're getting a nice push through Kalohi Channel: we're making over 9 knots.
11/17/2012: Papaya
Fresh papaya before breakfast.
11/17/2012: Penguin Bank
The winds have settled down as we cross Penguin Bank at the west end of Kalohi Channel, but we continue to make excellent time.
11/17/2012: Oahu Ho!
We can just make out Makapu Head, eighteen miles away on the southeastern tip of Oahu. Conditions in the Kaiwi Channel are about as predicted: 20-knot winds from the east with 9-10-foot seas on the beam. And we're still making nearly 9 knots. If it stays like this, we'll have an fast, easy run into Honolulu.
11/17/2012: Diamond Head in sight
We can see Diamond Head now--it's only twenty miles away. We've lost a knot of speed, but still should arrive in Honolulu by early afternoon.
11/17/2012: Big waves
The winds stayed about 20 knots from the east, but about halfway across the seas built up to 15-17' and were breaking above the pilothouse. The boat did fine, but we were rolling a fair bit.
11/17/2012: Hanauma Bay
We're directly south of Koko Head and Hanauma Bay now. The waves still are large, but are settling down a bit as we get into the lee of Oahu.
11/17/2012: Diamond Head light
A different view to Diamond Head than we're used to seeing.
11/17/2012: Royal Hawaiian Hotel
The iconic Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki beach.
11/17/2012: Waikiki Yacht Club
Moored across from Starr, also of Seattle, at the Waikiki Yacht Club.
Saturday, November 24, 2012 7:05:41 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [0] - Trackback
On Board | On the Water
 Tuesday, November 06, 2012

This morning, after eleven nights at sea, we arrived at Hilo, Hawaii. Although our ultimate destination is Honolulu, we chose to make landfall here partly because Hilo is about 200 miles closer, but mainly because its easier to clear Spitfire in at Hilo through Hawaii's Direct Airport Release program.

We had a great trip--the weather this time was the best of any of our offshore runs. The worst weather of the whole run was last night, when we had to tread water in rough seas to wait for daylight to enter the harbor. But we now are med-moored to the seawall at Radio Bay and Spitfire has cleared through with Hawaii Animal Quarantine. Tomorrow we'll clear with the Department of Agriculture and take on a load of diesel.

Mark Abril sent us a nice suprise with pictures he took of our arrival. On the left picture we are entering Radio Bay, with the cruise ship Pride of America in the background, and on the right we are pulling back towards the sea wall with the anchor down.

And below these is our log of the trip. You also display these on the map view.

 

10/25/2012: Golden Gate
We've just passed under the Golden Gate Bridge and are headed out to sea. Conditions so far look excellent.
10/25/2012: Last view of land
Our last view of land for the next couple of weeks. And our who know when Dirona will be back in North America?
10/25/2012: Farralon Islands
A little bit more land. This really will be our last for the next couple of weeks.
10/25/2012: Porpoises
A large pod of porpoises chased our bow on and off for about an hour.
10/25/2012: SCF Prime
Just before 3pm today, the Crude oil tanker SCF Prime crossed our path about a mile ahead of us going north at 13.6 kts. When 6 miles away to our north, he appeared to go dead in the water. His speed fell to a 2-kt drift and twice a big cloud of black came out out of his exhaust. It looks like something big may have failed suddenly. Forty minutes later, he still was adrift at 0.3 kts.
10/25/2012: Sunset
Our first sunset of the trip. The seas have picked up a bit, but conditions still are decent. MaxSea's GRIB data has been spot-on so far--it predicted 6' seas from the north on 8-second period with winds at 18 knots and that's pretty much what we're seeing.
10/26/2012: Sunrise
The sun is up and conditions settled a bit overnight. We've got maybe 3-foot swells from the north, and 20 knots of wind behind us. Very nice.
10/26/2012: Conditons
The waves have settled down to just 2-3' swells from the northwest, with 16 knots of wind. Easy cruising--sure hope this will last.
10/26/2012: Sunset
Sunset #2. The waves have picked up a bit to 5 feet, with wind 20 from the north. Not quite as smooth a ride as earlier today, but still comfortable. Outside temp is 67F, but it feels warmer.
10/27/2012: Conditions
Conditons have been excellent today: less than 10 knots of wind and a 1-2-foot northwestly swell. This wouldn't make the sailboaters happy, but we love it.
10/27/2012: Passenger
We found this little bird tucked against the starboard outside steps leading up to the pilot house. He might have flown into the day head window and hurt himself. We tried lifting him to see if he'd fly--he spread his wings, but didn't try to fly. We have him setup on the cockpit cabinet where the engine room vents to keep him warm, and gave him a little water in a small dish. He's a clumsy walker on slippery fiberglass, but that might be normal. Hopefully he'll recover soon and fly off.
10/27/2012: Sunset
Sunset #3. Conditons continue to be excellent with 5 knots of wind and a 1-2-foot northwestly swell.
10/28/2012: Calm seas
The winds have been less than five knots all night, with a barely perceptable ocean swell. The sea is now blue, rather than the greeny-grey we're used to in the Pacific Northwest. This certainly is the calmest and most enjoyable offshore run we we''ve made. Last night we had to make two course corrections: one to avoid a 4-foot orange buoy and another for the containership Matson Maunalei. With an ocean this big, its amazing we would both be in the same place at the same time but we had to turn off for 3 to 5 min as we were on a collision course.
10/28/2012: Buoy
This morning we passed another buoy, this one about 18" in diameter.
10/28/2012: Underway
We've been underway for 81 hours and are almost 600 miles offshore. The ocean swell is now about 5', but the waves are so far apart that the motion is quite gentle and comfortable. In a couple of days we'll be passing through the southern end of a 998mb low pressure system that is tracking northeast towards the southern BC coast. We're likely to see 12' seas, but on a 10-sec period, so that shouldn't be too bad.
10/28/2012: Sunset
Sunset #4. Winds still are below 5 knots. The swell has picked up to around 8', but the waves are at least 10 seconds apart, so there's not much boat motion.
10/29/2012: Conditions
Winds are blowing 15-20 from the southwest now. The waves are about 3-5', but we're taking them on the bow, so getting some spray on the windows. But generally conditions still are pretty good. The temperature has been steady at around 70F, even overnight.
10/29/2012: Lunchtime
We've switched to Hawaii time, so it's time for lunch. We brought along a selection of packaged noodle dishes for lunch. We prefer rice and noodle dishes underway--they're filling and easy to digest.
10/29/2012: Another buoy
We just passed another black buoy, similar the one we posted a picture of yesterday. We saw another one this morning as well.
10/29/2012: Evening conditions
Winds are blowing 15-20 from southwest and the waves are about 7-8 feet on the bow with a roughly 9-second period. We've slowed down a bit, partly to ease the boat motion for comfort and partly to improve fuel economy. Pounding through the waves consumes a lot of fuel. Conditions likely will remain like this for another day or so as the front passes. After, we expect smooth seas again.
10/30/2012: Morning conditions
Seas built to SW 9 feet with about a 5-second period overnight, and winds are blowing SW 20-25. Pretty slow and lumpy ride. The updated weather model shows it rough all the way in to Hilo. The only difference is the winds should veer to the west today, so hopefully we'll get a smoother ride.
10/30/2012: Afternoon conditions
The waves are starting to come from WSW now--a little less on the nose and a little more on the beam. The roll guage shows that progress: 12 hours ago we were rolling around 5 degrees, now it's up to 10. The waves still are pretty big: 9-10' on 5-second period. But the winds are starting to fall off--from consistently 20-25 knots to 15-20 knots, so hopefully the waves will follow suit. And we're starting to pick speed a bit too.
10/30/2012: Squall
Just passed through a squall. The sudden downpour was over almost as soon as it started.
10/30/2012: Evening conditions
The winds have dropped to 10-15 knots. The waves still are 9-10 feet, but now are 8-10-seconds apart, so we're able to pick up speed and maintain our target fuel economy. Fair bit of boat motion though--have to be careful moving around. We're making good use of the extra grab bars we installed in the stairwell, galley, shower and day head. The temperature has been rising steadily as we proceed south--it's 76F after sunset.
10/31/2012: Dawn
Conditions have continued to improve. The waves still are 9-10 feet and 8-10-seconds apart, but the wind has dropped to less than 10 knots. Boat motion has reduced considerably, so moving around much easer. The forecast indicates continued improvement for the next couple of days and waves dropping to 5-6 feet. We might have a brief period with bigger waves a couple of days out of Hilo, but the period should be at least 10 seconds.
10/31/2012: Buoy
Just had to change course slightly to avoid this small orange buoy.
10/31/2012: Another passenger
Our bird eventually flew away the night we found him. This fish doesn't look as lucky.
10/31/2012: Smooth seas
We're over halfway across now, with only triple-digit miles remaining. The sun is shining, winds are less than 5 knots, and we've got a gentle 5-7-foot ocean swell from the northwest. Very nice.
10/31/2012: Sunset
Sunset #6. The wind is picking up a bit from the southeast, but still is below 10 knots.
10/31/2012: Happy hour
Virgin Mai Tais at sunset to celebrate crossing the halfway mark, and Jennifer's birthday.
11/1/2012: Sunrise
Conditions reasonably calm--a gentle 3-foot swell and winds less than 5.
11/1/2012: Fresh fruit
We have a cup of fresh fruit every morning before breakfast. Strawberries will last several weeks in our fridge, and we also carry a swack of Del Monte Fruit Naturals fruit cups.
11/1/2012: Tire
Just passed this tire--looks like its been floating out there a while. We've been in lumpy seas most of the morning with 10-15-knot winds and waves on the bow. The wind is just starting to veer to WSW and putting the waves more on the beam, so the ride is smoothing out.
11/1/2012: Squall
We passed through another brief sqaull. The wind clocked up from 15 to 20+ knots, rain poured and the whole thing was over in about 5 minutes.
11/1/2012: Albatross
We've seen a few albatrosses over the past week. Amazing how far they range from land.
11/1/2012: Testing the wing
We start the wing engine every few days to make sure it's running ok in case we need it.
11/1/2012: Sunset
Sunset #7. Its very dark once the sun sets, but a couple of hours later a nearly-full moon rises behind us. The moon lights up the deck so much that we initially thought our night running shield had torn off the forward-facing floodlight.
11/1/2012: Spitfire don't care
We've been running against tight 5-6-foot waves on the bow most of the day, with a fair bit of pitching motion as we power through them. Not a big deal, but do need to hold on carefully as we move about. Spitfire, doing his best Honey Badger imitation, just wedges himself somewhere and ignores it. In this picture, he's on the ledge below the starboard corner pilothouse window above the stateroom stairs.
11/2/2012: Another fish
Found another fish just outside the port pilothouse door this morning, near where we found the first one. That's a long way to jump up.
11/2/2012: Sunrise
Conditions starting to feel decidedly Hawaiian now: temperature in the high 70s night and day, a consistent warm breeze, and a gentle ocean swell. The models indicate the wind and waves might pick up a bit later today and tomorrow, but mostly should be pretty smooth sailing for the remainder of the trip. Only 675 more miles to go.
11/2/2012: Sunset
Sunset #8. Conditions remained excellent throughout the day: calm and sunny with a warm tropical breeze.
11/3/2012: Wind
The wind has come up in the night and now is blowing steady 20 from the southeast. Waves are about 8' on 5 seconds on the beam. We're mostly just powering through them, however, and aren't losing much speed. Fair bit of boat motion, but the stabilizers are doing their job, and its not uncomfortable. Model indicates winds will ease off by this afternoon.
11/3/2012: Coming out of night mode
Just coming out of night mode in the pilothouse as the sun is rising. We don't have to do much: undim the AIS, VHF, autopilot, stabilizer, engine and hydraulics panels, and remove the night shields from the monitors. In this picture, the navigation software still is in dusk mode. In particular we run the radar (2nd from the right) with a blue background, instead of white in day mode.
11/3/2012: Sunrise
The wind has lessened a bit, but conditions haven't improved much. We're 500 miles from Hilo though--3/4 of the way there. Looks like we'll arrive sometime on Tuesday the 6th.
11/3/2012: Maunalei
Containership Maunalei en route to Hawaii about five miles off to starboard. We saw this ship docked at Oakland when we were at Jack London Square. The only other traffic we've seen the whole trip after our first day out has been container ships, about one every two days. Most have been travelling to/from Hawaii and the US Pacific coast, but one passed about five miles in front on a northerly course to Japan.
11/3/2012: Lunch
Chitarra with sauteed pine nuts for lunch. Conditions have settled down--winds are now blowing less than ten from the southwest and the waves are 3-5' on 9-seconds on the beam. Boat motion gentle. Temperature is steady 78F, day and night.
11/3/2012: Net
We just went by a ball of net as big as a compact car--we missed by about 30 yards. We didn't get to the camera fast enough to get a picture. In the day it was barely visible until we were right on it and it would have been completely invisible at night. Hitting something like that could be a real disaster.
11/3/2012: Sunset
Sunset #9. We're getting a push from the current now, and are making excellent speed. A little over 400 miles to go. We might actually have to slow down to avoid arriving at night.
11/3/2012: Passenger
A large seabird took up roost on the night running shield for our forward-facing floodlight, and probably was responsible for the bird crap all over our dinghy cover. Neither turning the light on nor sounding the horn distrubed it. Eventually we tried nudging it off with the boat hook, and it squawked and fought back. At that point we were worried it might be hurt, but eventually it grudgingly flew off. Riding is just easier the flying I guess.
11/4/2012: Morning
Not much of a sunrise this morning--sky all grey with rain clouds behind us. Conditions excellent though, and we're making good speed. Just over 300 miles left to go. Keep thinking can see lights or land out there, but nothing yet.
11/4/2012: Rain
A welcome rainshower has washed away some of our salty crust--we were really coated.
11/4/2012: Another fish
Found another fish on the boat this morning.
11/4/2012: Sunset
Sunset #10. Just over 200 miles to go. Conditions calm and getting a nice push from the current.
11/4/2012: Phosphorescence
The sky above is packed with stars while the water at our bow glows with phosphorescence.
11/5/2012: Rain
We're 125 miles out of Hilo now--still can't see land though. It's 84F outside, and we've just passed through one of the brief rainshowers that are common on the windward coast of the Big Island. All the better to rinse away the salt. A few people have asked why we chose to make landfall at Hilo rather than our final destination of Honolulu. Partly Hilo is about 200 miles closer, but the main reason is that its easier to clear Spitfire in at Hilo through Hawaii's Direct Airport Release program.
11/5/2012: Radio traffic
Just heard Coast Guard Sector Honolulu broadcasting on VHF channel 16. That's the first radio traffic we've heard since leaving San Francisco nearly two weeks ago.
11/5/2012: Elliott Bay
The bulker Elliott Bay (interestingly the same name as the harbor off downtown Seattle where we last moored). The first ship we've seen for two days and we were on a collision course. We radioed them to make passing arrangements and they altered course to pass behind us. We're 68 miles out of Hilo now, but still can't see land--it's pretty clouded in up there.
11/5/2012: Sunset
Sunset #11. Not much of a sunset for our last one of the trip. We're now 45 miles from Hilo and still can't see land for the clouds. We'll be arriving after dark, not ideal, but the harbor is well-marked and well-charted. And we can light up the world with floodlights all around. We'll be careful, and if conditions don't feel safe, we'll wait for morning.
11/5/2012: Rough conditions
We're only 25 miles from entering our destination, Hilo Harbor, but conditions have deteriorated to the point where we don't think its safe the enter the harbor at night. Wave heights have continued to build--one just pushed us over 17 degrees with the stabilizers on. And wouldn't you know it, this is the first non-clear night of the trip and its pitch black, making it difficult to pick out potential breaking waves at the harbor entrance. We're going to tread water and enter in the morning.
11/6/2012: Big waves
The seas continued to build overnight--we experienced frequent 20-degree rolls.
11/6/2012: Land ho!
After being so tantalizingly close all night, the clouds have lifted and we actually can see the lights of Hilo now as we turn towards the harbor. Conditions have improved somewhat, so hopefully we'll have no trouble at the entrance.
11/6/2012: Sunrise
One more sunrise before we land.
11/6/2012: Big Island
First view of the Big Island in daylight. And with a rainbow--that has to be good luck.
11/6/2012: Aloha
Med-moored to the seawall in Radio Bay, Hilo, Hawaii.
Tuesday, November 06, 2012 6:41:21 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [8] - Trackback
On the Water
 Thursday, October 25, 2012

Yesterday morning we topped off Dirona’s fuel tanks, put on the storm plates, and locked down the outside furniture. We just cast off from Jack London Square in Oakland and are underway for Hilo, Hawaii. You can track the voyage on the real-time plot at  http://www.mvdirona.com/maps/LocationCurrent.html.

We've been monitoring weather conditions for a couple of weeks (via the NOAA Ocean Prediction Center, the US Navy Forecast Models, and GRIB data downloaded into our chartplotter program, MaxSea). It looks like we'll have pretty decent conditions for the run. The video below shows a visualization of our route in MaxSea through modelled weather conditions using downloaded GRIB data. The GRIB data includes model wind speed, barometric pressure, and wave height, period and direction. The green areas are 5-8' seas, yellow is 9-11', and orange is 12-17' seas. The model shows 5-8' seas for most of the route, with a few points at 10'. And where we do see larger waves, the wave period is 10-11 seconds. Weather data isn't really accurate much beyond five days, so conditions could deteriorate, but so far it looks good.

The decision to spend a few weeks in San Francisco before crossing to Hawaii worked out very well. We'll skip some of the nastier weather that we've been watching hit the northwest coast of Washington state these past few weeks, and we had a great time exploring the Bay area. Below are some of what we've seen, and you also can display these on the map view.

09/12/12: Westpoint Harbor Marina
Lunch on deck in our new temporary home. Westpoint Harbor Marina is an impressive new facility with excellent services.
9/14/2012: Quarry Beach, Angel Island State Park
We're anchored off the Quarry Beach, south of the remains of Fort McDowell. The anchorage is suprisingly sheltered, given how exposed it looks on the chart. One of the reasons we stopped here is the view in the other direction: to downtown San Franciso and the Bay Bridge. It should look amazing at night.
9/15/2012: Sausalito Police
Sausalito Police boat off Pt. Blunt with our view to San Francisco in the background.
9/15/2012: Racoon
The US Army Corps of Engineers landing craft Racoon, with a Sausalito Police escort, landed at the dock just south of our anchorage. Several dozen people got off, probably for a tour.
9/15/2012: Outriggers
Perhaps twenty outriggers rounded the point later that morning.
9/15/2012: Fort McDowell
We set off on a tour of the bay, first around Angel Island. More of the remains of Fort McDowell are visible north of Quarry Point.
9/15/2012: Winslow Cove
Old immigration station buildings at Winslow Cove. Several boats were anchored there--the cove has good wind shelter.
9/15/2012: Ayala Cove
Ayala Cove is the busiest anchorage on the island. The park has docks and mooring bouys here. To maximize the number of boats on the buoys, boats tie a both bow and stern to different bouys.
9/15/2012: Sailing
Sailboats filled the bay--outnumbering powerboats by at least 20:1. The predictable afternoon winds make sailing popular.
9/15/2012: Steep hills
Those famous San Francisco hills.
9/15/2012: Camp Reynolds
The US Army established Camp Reynolds, south of Point Knox, in 1864.
9/15/2012: Golden Gate Bridge
Back under the bridge.
9/15/2012: Golden Gate Yacht Club
Home of the America's Cup.
9/15/2012: Ghiradelli building
9/15/2012: Sea lions
Sea lions at pier 39.
9/15/2012: The Bay Rocket
This boat moves!
9/15/2012: US Navy
One of two well-armed US Navy boats that sped past.
9/15/2012: Racing
About thirty Porche's and a handful of other cars were running the course at the west end of Almeda Island.
9/15/2012: Hanjin Berlin
The Hanjin Berlin unloading at the Port of Oakland.
9/15/2012: Crane operator
9/15/2012: Passing under both Bay Bridges
The new Bay bridge is currently under construction beyond the existing bridge.
9/15/2012: Heeled over
Sailboat off Treasure Island.
9/15/2012: Richardson Bay
The city view from our anchorage at Richardson Bay is even better than last night.
9/15/2012: Gray Matter
We had dinner with Christine Guo and Mark Mohler aboard Gray Matter, anchored a short distance away. Mark and Christine had just completed the same trip we did, from Sidney B.C., a couple of weeks earlier.
9/21/2012: Space Shuttle Endeavour
The Space Shuttle Endeavour viewed from our flybridge at Westpoint Harbor Marina. The shuttle, mounted to the back of NASA's modified 747, made a low pass over San Francisco this morning en route to its new home at the California Science Center.
9/22/2012: Dumbarton Bridge
Heading under the Dumbarton Bridge. We decided to take a short cruise south to anchor for the night. The morning is warm, sunny and calm.
9/22/2012: Bridge supports
The criss-crossing supports for the Dumbarton Bridge look rather elegant.
9/22/2012: Aqueduct
This aqueduct presumably is for carrying saltwater to the salt ponds.
9/22/2012: Old railway bridge
The chart says this railway bridge is permanently open. We can see why--the bridge is rotting away. And at the shore end, the bridge just ends in old pilings.
9/22/2012: Coyote Creek
Enjoying the sunny morning on the bow, anchored at the mouth of Coyote Creek. Nearby, down Alviso Slough, is the once-bustling town of Alivso.
9/22/2012: Sunset
Sunset with the lights of Palo Alto just starting to glow.
9/23/2012: Breakfast on deck
Another calm, warm and sunny morning. This was an excellent anchorage--quiet, private and relaxing. Yesterday's prevailing afternoon winds generated some waves, but they were hardly noticable on board. And another bonus of being at anchor rather than docked is the bow faces into the wind, sheltering the cockpit.
9/28/2012: Robert G. Brownlee
The Marine Science Institute research vessel Robert G. Brownlee heading up Redwood Creek as we departed. The 90-foot ship is designed for carrying school students, and a group was on board.
9/28/2012: Team Oracle Racing
The Team Oracle Racing's AC72 catamaran out for one of the boat's first test runs. The huge boat, with a sail higher than 130 feet is incredibly fast. San Francisco Chronicle reporter Al Saracevic, following in a high-speed inflatable, reported their chase boat was doing 30 knots at one point and the catamaran was pulling away. Of the four chase boats we saw, some apparently were some manned by spies for the competition, including New Zealand's Emirates Team.
9/28/2012: Coast Guard rescue diver
Nearby, the Coast Guard was practicing water rescues. The chopper was right near the waterline for ages. This video shows the diver retrieving the rescue dummy and being hoisted back up.
9/28/2012: Moore 24 National Championship
We just barely made it in front of the South Beach Yacht Club's Moore 24 National Championship field as they headed east across the Bay.
9/28/2012: Good wind
That steady afternoon Bay wind propels this contender between us and the Bay bridge.
9/28/2012: America Foss
Beautiful tractor tug America Foss running south.
9/28/2012: Overseas Anacortes
The tanker Overseas Anacortes leaving the tanker port at Point Richmond. The channel there is quite narrow--we passed close by.
9/28/2012: Marshall Foss
Marshall Foss with a line running to the stern of the Overseas Anacortes.
9/28/2012: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge
The 5.5-mile Richmond-San Rafael Bridge was one of the longest in the world when completed in 1959.
9/28/2012: East Brother Island Light Station
The historic light station was build in 1873 and now is a bed-and-breakfast. That would be a wild place to stay.
9/28/2012: Intintoli
The high-speed Baylink ferry Intintoli en route to San Francisco from Vallejo. Baylink runs a seemingly contstant stream of ferries from Vallejo-- we see several every time we're out in the bay.
9/28/2012: Rodeo oil refinery
A view into the complexity of the Sonoco Phillips refinery at Rodeo. The refinery can produce 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
9/28/2012: C&H Sugar Refinery
C&H sugar refinery just east of the Carquinez Bridge. We'll be seeing a lot more C&H facilities in a few weeks when we reach Hawaii.
9/28/2012: Traffic
Entering Mare Island Strait behind Baylink'sthe high-speed ferry Solana, that passed us just before entering the strait. And exiting is Baylink's Vallejo.
9/28/2012: View homes
These houses that wrong the shore and cliff must have awesome sunset views.
9/28/2012: Wreck
Bait Me aground below the cliffs. The wind had been blowing a steady 20 knots from the southeast the past couple of hours. Looks like they can get a lot stronger.
9/28/2012: Shipyard cranes
Mare Island once was a Naval shipyard, but now is private.
9/28/2012: Baylink terminal
Solana moored at the Baylink's ferry terminal.
9/28/2012: Vallejo Marina
Vallejo has a large marine that appears well-maintained.
9/28/2012: Mare Island Drawbridge
The Mare Island Drawbridge has a vertical clearance is 13' closed. We expected we'd have to wait a while to get through, since it was close to rush-hour, but the operator opened the bridge right away after we radioed a lift request.
9/28/2012: Tug under Highway 37 bridge
The current at both bridges was surprisingly strong, especially at the highway 37 bridge, where the current tended to push the boat north. This tug is coming through on an angle, presumably to work against that north push. We watched from our anchorage just north of Dutchman Slough. The tug anchored nearby around 7pm, then left again sometime in the middle of the night. We're guessing they were waiting for the tide to change.
9/28/2012: Sunset
Sunset over the marshes alongside Napa River. The anchorage is a little more open than we were expecting, but we have plenty of swing room compared to anything farther up-river. And once we were settled in, especially after the evening lights came up ashore, we quite liked the spot.
9/29/2012: At anchor on the Napa River
Taken from the dinghy before we ran up-river to Napa. It was going to be a beautiful day.
9/29/2012: Edgerly Island
At Edgerly Island, the river narrows and feels more intimate. The island is rimmed with houses, docks and boats.
9/29/2012: River anchorage
This powerboat was anchored mid-channel, where the river was calm and sheltered.
9/29/2012: Tug again
That powerboat's anchorage seemed ideal, except when we went further up-river and saw the tug and barge that anchored near us last night. That would have been a tight squeeze if the powerboat was anchored overnight.
9/29/2012: Estuaries
Just short of the city, a couple of estuaries lead off. Each was packed with houses, docks and boats and looked like very nice places to live.
9/29/2012: Waterfowl
The river shores are full of wildlife. We didn't see any fish jump, not anyone catch anything, but lots of fishers were on the banks as well.
9/29/2012: Geese
A gaggle of geese at Napa.
9/29/2012: Dinghy landing
Surprisingly, Napa has nowhere to land a dingy, let alone a larger boat. So we landed at the edge of the Riverfront complex and scrambled up the rocks.
9/29/2012: Napa River from Napa
View to the river from the Riverfront complext in downtown Napa.
9/29/2012: Downtown Joe's
We had an excellent lunch on the riverfront patio at Downtown Joe's Brewery.
9/29/2012: Milagros
We got thirsty after walking about downtown, so stopped for another pint on the patio at Milagros.
9/29/2012: Art
Napa has lots of interesting artwork. This one is outside the County of Napa building.
9/29/2012: Wine train
The Napa Valley Wine Train at the station.
9/29/2012: Sunset
Sunset over Mare Island. We returned downriver to tour the waterfront off Vallejo.
9/29/2012: Coast Guard
The area is well protected--three Coast Guard vessels and a police boat were moored at the north end of the marina.
9/29/2012: Dusk
Dusk from our anchorage.
9/30/2012: Moonset
Moonset the following morning.
9/30/2012: Sunrise
10/2/2012: Dawn
Dawn from the boat deck at Westpoint Harbor. We moved the boat temporarily as the marina is bringing a truck in to fuel a number of boats today.
10/5/2012: South Beach Harbor
We anchored off AT&T Park, just south of downtown San Franciso to take in Fleet Week and the America's Cup races. We weren't sure how rough the anchorage might get due to boat wakes and the the afternoon winds, but it turned to be fine. And our view, stretching from downtown San Francisco and across the Bay bridge was amazing. And we could see the America's Cup fleet moored nearby: in this panoramic photo their 70-foot masts are visible at the west end of the Bay bridge just left of the carrier USS Makin Island.
10/6/2012: Candlestick Point
Yesterday we went to the Blue Angels show and the America's Cup races. Wow, we had a great time. Today the Giants are playing at AT&T stadium, so our anchorage was very busy with ferries from the Oakland side. We moved south to get a nice spot with beautiful views away from the crowds and distractions that we enjoyed so much yesterday. Candlestick Park, home of the San Francison 49ers, is in the background.
10/13/2012: Dawn
Dawn looking east towards San Francisco. We anchored for the night just east of Golden Gate, tucked southeast of Fort Point. The occasional large wake bounced the boat a bit, but generally conditions were fine--similar to Blake Island Marine park off Seattle. And the view was amazing--San Francisco one way and the Golden Gate Bridge the other. At night, everything was aglow. Were we to be staying in the Bay area longer, we'd definately anchor here often.
10/13/2012: Sunrise
Sunrise over San Francisco.
10/13/2012: Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge in the morning sun.
10/13/2012: Swimmers
180 swimmers were preparing to swim from the St. Francis Yacht Club to Aquatic Park--the large circular basin about a mile east.
10/13/2012: Oakland
We're going to spend our last couple of weeks in Oakland for a change of pace. So far, we love it here. While we very much enjoyed the pristine and tranquil moorage at Westpoint Harbor Marina, here we're right in the action. We've got an end-tie with a view to all the passing boat traffic reminiscent of the Ballard Ship Canal in Seattle. We're also just east of the Oakland container port--we love watching the big ships come and go. And we're seconds from the restaurants and shops of Jack London Square, and close to the amenities in Oakland and Alameda.
10/14/2012: Sunset
Sunset from our moorage, looking to the Oakland shipping terminal with the Bay bridge and San Francisco just visible in the background.
10/18/2012: Rowers
Rowers at dawn, looking east from our boat deck.
10/18/2012: MSC Ivana
Tugs turn the MSC Ivana at the container port. The maneuver must be carefully managed as the massive 366m ship barely fits lengthwise in the channel--that's shore right off the bow and stern.
10/23/2012: Groceries
A cartload of groceries for the trip to Hawaii--we're on track to leave tomorrow. We just got the cart this week. It's light and easily folds flat for storage, and is super useful where no dock carts are available.
Thursday, October 25, 2012 6:19:51 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [11] - Trackback
On the Water
 Sunday, October 14, 2012

A decade ago, as we watched the America’s Cup races in New Zealand on TV, we longed to watch a race in person from the water. Last week, we got our chance. The current America’s Cup defender is the Golden Gate Yacht Club on San Francisco Bay. The races scheduled for October 2-7th have been on our calendar since we realized our trip to the area would coincide.

We wanted to get Dirona within dinghy distance of the course, so we anchored for the night outside the South Harbor marina breakwater off AT&T park, about three miles from the course. We were weren't sure how rough our anchorage might get due to boat wakes and the afternoon winds, but it turned to be fine. And our view, stretching from downtown San Francisco and across the Bay bridge was amazing. And we could see the America's Cup fleet moored nearby: in the panoramic photo below, their 70-foot masts are visible at the west end of the Bay bridge just left of the carrier USS Makin Island.

 

Before heading out to the course, we stopped off in "the pits" to check out the boats. Crews already were on board most of them, either preparing the boat or themselves for the afternoon's event.

 

The carbon-fiber AC45 catamarans are like Formula I race cars--just amazing technology. At 44' long, with a 900 sq. foot wing on a 70' mast, they weigh only 3,000 pounds and can reach speeds of over 30 knots. Their support boats are pretty nice too.

   
 

Before the races, we got to see our second Blue Angels show of the year, part of the Fleet Week festivities. We were a little closer to the action this time and had an awesome view. The shoreline and bay were full of people out to see the show as well.

 

 

And then for the main event. The racing was exciting--boy those boats move fast--and it was just wild to be there watching on San Francisco Bay with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

 

 

There even was some excitement off the course as well. The boat on the right, maneuvering through the spectators, nearly ran us over in the dinghy before colliding with the sailboat on the left.

After the races, some of the teams towed their boats back to their moorage, but a few sailed back. The boats ran incredibly well in the rough water--just skimming across the surface. We barely could keep up in our 30-knot dinghy, often having to slow down through larger wakes. And with some impressive tight-quarters boat-handling, team Artemis even sailed right onto their buoy.

 

Shortly after we arrived, the Prada boat was lifted out of the water by crane. We could see a large dent in the side, but weren't sure if that was the reason for lifting it.

The AC45s will race in several venues around the world as part of the Americas Cup World Series. These boats are designed for quick assembly and disassembly to fit in a 40-foot shipping container. The final races, for the Louis Vuitton Cup and the America's Cup, will be raced in the massive AC72s. The AC72s are roughly twice the size of the AC45s: 72' long, with a 131' mast and a 2,800 sq.-foot wing area, and weighing 13,000 lbs. Their crew size is 11, compared to 5 on the AC45s. 

We'd seen defending champion team Oracle's AC72 out for its world open-water debut a couple of weeks ago. We clocked them on radar at 31.5 knots, and it will be capable of doing considerably more. We saw team Oracle's AC72 again this past weekend. The huge mast dwarfed the eleven crew below it as the boat sped across the bay.

Sunday, October 14, 2012 7:43:56 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [2] - Trackback
On the Water
 Monday, September 17, 2012

Late last week, we passed under the Golden Gate Bridge and cruised south to our new temporary home at impressive Westpoint Harbor Marina. The trip from Seattle started out with wonderfully calm conditions through the Strait of Juan de Fuca--amongst the best we've experienced there. We originally had planned to run a good 50 miles offshore to avoid boat traffic and crab pots. But a storm was brewing with gale-force winds and 14-foot seas predicted between 60 and 250 miles offshore, so we instead ran within 10 miles of shore where better conditions were predicted. The winds still were 30-knot with 12-foot seas, but that was an improvement over the alternative. After about 24 hours of big winds, conditions settled back down and we had a relaxing cruise into the San Francisco area.

To avoid entering the busy San Francisco Bay in the dark, we anchored for a night at Drakes Bay. We had both navigation reasons for delaying our entry, in addition to better photo opportunities. We'd have to first cross the San Francisco bar, best done at slack or on a flood current. During large ebbs, the current there can reach 6 knots. And when ocean storms are pushing waves westward in the opposite direction, steep 20' seas can develop there. Once across the bar, Golden Gate itself is only 0.7 miles across and busy with ship traffic.

We enjoyed the stop at Drakes Bay--steep hills surround the anchorage on three sides, with a view south towards San Francisco. And the entire peninsula forms the Point Reyes National Seashore. Had we not been so eager to reach our destination, we likely would have spent some time exploring ashore, particularly visiting the Point Reyes Lighthouse we'd passed on our way into the bay.

But eager to arrive we were, so we left Drakes Bay early the next morning and arrived at the San Francisco bar about an hour before high-water slack.  We had an easy cruise under the bridge, past the city, and south through the Bay. We'll be spending the next few weeks here exploring the area, before continuing on to Hawaii.

Our log for the trip is below. You also can display these, along with a detailed route, on the map view.

09/07/12, 8:00pm: Dusk
We're at the east entrance of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Conditions are excellent: 6 knots of wind, calms seas and clear skies. The cruise ship Amsterdam just passed heading to Alaska and still is visible in the distance, aglow with light.
09/08/12, 4:22am: Tatoosh Island
Conditions in the strait stayed wonderfully calm the entire time. We're now in thick fog off Tatoosh Island, and southerly winds are generating a tight chop on the bow.
09/08/12, 5:00pm: Off Ocean Shores
A salmon fishing opening is in effect--we're seeing a lot more traffic than on our previous run to the Columbia River. Conditions settled a bit, but now we're in S 15-knot winds with tight 4-6' seas on the bow. We've got gale-force winds predicted for Mon-Wed, so its definately going to get worse.
09/09/12, 1:00pm: Heading closer to shore
We're past the Columbia River bar--this is the southnernmost we've ever been with Dirona. Winds have been steady 15, but its been doing that for days, so waves are pretty close together. There's a gale coming with winds up to 35 knots and 14-foot seas. The conditions are predicted to be better close to shore, so we've hading that way now and will continue that distance from shore down the coast. Heading towards shore also lets us run diagonaly across the short swell, which is both more comfortable and much faster.
09/10/12, 4:30am: Off Cape Blanco
We're just over halfway to San Franciso now--we've got 365 mile left out of 837. Conditions are exellent now--calm seas and we're making great time compared to bow-into the waves yesterday. The weather prediction for within 10 of shore has worsened, but still is better than offshore.
09/10/12, 1:00pm: Winds 25-30 knots
The bad weather has arrived. Winds are N 25-30, generating tight 7-9' seas. The only good thing as that we are running with the waves, rather than against them, so we're still able to make decent time. Conditions are expected to worsen, with 10-12' seas tonight, and then start to ease off tomorrow morning.
09/10/12, 6:30pm: 15-degree rolls
Winds are steady 30 with 10-12' seas. The range in the roll guage pictured is from -20 to +20 in 5-degree increments. Even with hydraulic stablizers running at maximum output, we're still rolling 15 degrees each side.
09/10/12, 8:30pm: Approaching Cape Mendocino
Conditions much improved. The wind has dropped to 10-20 knots and the waves to 7-9'. The waves still are big, but aren't nearly as fierce as a couple of hours ago.
09/11/12, 5:10am: North of Fort Bragg
Conditions were reasonable rounding Cape Menocino, but worsened not far south. Winds blew 30-knots most of the graveyard shift, with 10-12' seas to match. The wind has again settled back down into the 20s, with mostly 7-9' seas again.
09/11/12, 7:00am: Sunrise
The sun just rose on what promises to be a good running day: winds are down to around 10 knots, the waves are 5-6', and the sky is clear and blue.
09/11/12, 12:05pm: Fog
The clear skies gave way to a thick fog late this morning. Winds are blowing around 10 from the SW--not much of a problem except we're getting a good saltwater bath from the spray. Our ETA to Golden Gate is the middle of the night, so we're thinking of stopping in Drakes Bay tonight and proceeding through Golden Gate tomorrow morning. Hopefully the fog will lift and we'll actually be able to see the bridge.
09/11/12, 6:20pm: Land ho!
The lighthouse at Pt Reyes, hung of the cliff, makes a dramatic display. Land actually has been ho for a while, but this particular land is more interesting to us because we plan to anchor at Drakes Bay for the night.
09/11/12, 7:15pm: Our first California anchorage
The engines are off after four days straight, the anchor is down, and the wine is poured. Time for a relaxing meal and a full night's sleep. For our first California anchorage, it's a pretty nice one. Steep hills are on three sides and we have a clear view south towards San Francicso.
09/12/12, 6:44am: Heading to Golden Gate
Got up just before sunrise and we're all excited to be heading towards the Golden Gate Bridge (even Spitfire).
09/12/12, 9:20am: Pilot Boat San Francisco
We're in the lanes with the Golden Gate Bridge just visible in the distance. Conditions are overcost, but not socked in.
09/12/12, 10:00am: Approaching Golden Gate
09/12/12: Passing under the Golden Gate Bridge
09/12/12: Fort Point
Masonry fort under the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge.
09/12/12: San Francisco
09/12/12: Alcatraz Island
09/12/12: Port of San Francisco
09/12/12: Passing under the Bay Bridge
09/12/12: Westpoint Harbor Marina
Lunch on deck in our new temporary home. Westpoint Harbor Marina is an impressive new facility with excellent services.
Monday, September 17, 2012 7:29:09 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [0] - Trackback
On the Water

Our cruising guide, Waggoner sister publication Cruising the Secret Coast, is available at local bookstores and online. Click book image for details.

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