Newport to San Francisco

March 28, 2004

Approaching the Golden Gate

Hello folks! We are having a great time -- glorious weather, spectacular wind, clear skies, sunshine -- how could you ask for anything more? The only trouble is that our planned arrival time of "sometime between Saturday morning and Sunday morning" has now threatened to become midnight tonight. We keep trying to slow the boat down -- one reef, then two reefs. We expected unfavorable currents, but we have had one to two knots pushing us down the coast. So here we are with two reefs, in 25 knots of wind, still cranking along at 8 plus knots. As I write this, others of us are putting in the third reef. We'd like to SEE the Golden Gate as we go under it. We expect to be in Alameda sometime early tomorrow morning.

So enough sailing talk. When I last wrote we were in Newport, and the weather was nasty, spitty, rainy. After our little expedition to the market, we had a wonderful, delicious crab dinner, with crabs purchased from one of the docks. We had a couple of interesting visits from local folks -- one couple had seen Craig's postings on the Pacific Northwest mailing list, and recognized the boat name. In fact when we had called the coast guard before we entered the Newport harbor, they heard it on the radio, recognized the name, and came out to watch us coming in the entrance. The other couple -- owners of "Rapid Transit," an Ocean Alexander -- had seen our boat up in Canada last summer. They particularly remembered us from the episode when we shoehorned ourselves into a dock space in Ucluelet with about 6 inches to spare. They came to visit Tuesday night and then again Wednesday morning when we were about to leave.

OK -- the third reef is in -- still 7.7 knots. ETA in Alameda: 7:00 a.m.! There is now discussion of deploying the Galerider drogue to slow us down further. Or take down the sail and run under bare poles. What a fortunate predicament to be in! Unfortunately we just can't go fast enough to get in at a reasonable time this evening.

Craig and Reggie on passage Leaving Newport Wednesday midday was rather exciting. Even at slack water, there were breakers in the channel. I elected to go to sleep as we left (the effects of Dramamine) but reports were that it was pretty hairy. Since then we've been cranking on south, day and night, passing by shore landmarks that we knew only from car travels -- Waldport, Heceta Head, Brookings, Crescent City, Cape Mendocino, Fort Bragg... Recently we passed Mount Gualala, which called to mind Craig's boy scout camp located near there. Soon we'll pass by the Russian River, near Cazadero Music Camp, where Craig and I met when we were 15 and 16. THAT was a few years ago!
During this trip, the ocean swells have come mostly from the west. Since we're heading south, that means most of the swells (up to 17 feet high) cause us to roll from side to side. I can see that it's going to be an entirely new art to learn to cook and serve meals under these circumstances. With all due respect to Lin Pardey, and Amanda Swan-Neal, I think they must have kept a few secrets in reserve that they didn't share in their books. Even pouring a cup of tea becomes a major accomplishment. And then there's trying to sleep when the boat is doing its best to throw you onto the floor. We have lee cloths -- attached mesh curtains designed to keep you from being thrown out of bed -- but somehow it's hard to relax completely when it feels like you're poised on the edge.

We've been taking turns on watch -- each of us taking three hours on, and then being guaranteed seven hours when we can sleep. Craig invented a complicated, but very acceptable watch schedule where each person has someone with them for the first and last hours, and spend the middle hour alone. Nighttime boredom doesn't become too overwhelming with that schedule. The stars are gorgeous, and we've shared a lot of life stories.

Reggie and Barbara are leaving us in Alameda to go back to their lives in Montana. We will be joined there by Brian Abel -- a young man we ALSO met on the internet. But once again, don't be alarmed, we met him, talked to his family, talked to his employer (Anacortes Yacht Charters) and I think we'll enjoy having him with us for the trip to the Marquesas. Jim Van Gorder will also stay on for that trip. When will we leave again? ASAP, we hope, but we have a few repairs to do (and you never know how long repairs may take) and there are a few installations yet to be done. I certainly have a long list I have been developing of things we forgot to get or do in Portland. AND we have to go to San Francisco to pick up the French visas, which were FINALLY granted on March 20, only 3 1/2 months after we turned in the applications!

Best wishes to all!

Craig and Barbara

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