Friday, August 9, 2013

At Rest

Bamboleiro is back in the Bay, we arrived at 3 AM today, Friday August 9th. We're safe and sound. 25 days 8 hours at sea. We're moored in Emery Cove Marina. We'll upload the missing blog entries soon so stay tuned.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hanalei to San Francisco VII

Current Position 7/29 1000 hours N 39°20 W 141°57

Day 15 – Monday July 29, 1800 hours – Here’s to another day!
N 39°27 W 141°30            24 hour run 71 miles
The sea is a mirror, an undulating panel of shimmering light that reaches forever, covering the entire world. We are in an eggshell, our small bubble sliding eternally across that mirror. Bamboliero glides timelessly along, behind us the sun descends beneath the clouds sending shots of golden light through the blue, baby blue sky. As the sun slips beneath the water the light fades and Venus is bright in the western sky, then the stars follow as we slide along ever eastward.
The winds are light, 3-6 knots mostly. It’s too light for the spinnaker because it drops in the dead air. The racing genoa keeps its shape better and can hang limp when we hit dead air. We’re close reaching into the light wind. We’re doing about half the wind speed, so between 2-4 knots, our goal is to keep on moving, using as little diesel as possible. We start the motor up when we need it though.
Shortly after dark our tranquil reverie is broken by the whop whop whop, incoming bogey! The AIS alarm sounds. We have a target, 13 miles out, doing 16 knots. Closest point of approach… less than a mile, in 45 minutes. The jib hangs limp, the main flaps back and forth. With a satisfying roar and cloud of black smoke the diesel starts up and we motor south, out of the behemouths path. We continue motoring all night.

Day 16 – Tuesday July 30, 1800 hours – Do you have the time?
N 39°34 W 140°03            24 hour run 68 miles
Time, we’ve got nothing but time. We continue, alternating between motor sailing and sailing slowly along. The minutes become hours, the hours days, and one day blends into the next. We’ve exhausted all of the distractions and entertainments we carry on board. Our running joke is, one of us will stand up and say to the other, “I’m out of here.” The other will respond, “Where are you going?” “I’m going for a walk.” Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to stretch the legs again. We’re making progress, slowly, but sure. We’re well fed, in fact in the face of boredom it seems we do nothing but eat, and snack and brainstorm creative dinners. Tonight it was pizza again, with ham and corn and artichokes. Cristina made a loaf of bread too with the extra dough. The dry warm air out here seems to be amazing for bread as it rises soft and fluffy, with a satisfyingly crisp crust.  We haven’t changed our clocks since Hawaii, so it gets light now at 4am, sunrise at 4:30 and sunset at 7. After spending so long in the tropics it’s a pleasant surprise to return to the north where summer days are oh so long.

Day 17 – Wednesday July 31, 1800 hours – Magic Time
N 39°32 W 137°53            24 hour run 100 miles
As the sun rose, the wind returned.  The GRIBS showed we would have no wind at all today, 1.5knots or so. We’re happy they’re wrong. The seas are flat, a small wind chop ruffles the surface and with our big sails up we’re doing 5-6 knots in 8 knots of wind from the south. We expect to run out of wind again sometime, we thing the final bit of the high is still ahead of us.  Probably the south wind will die, then we’ll have to motor again until we find the north west winds that blow down the coast.
Sunsets at sea always bring something, whether more wind, less wind, or a spectacular turning off the lights show.  The light becomes soft and bright, delaying its departure through refraction over the distant horizon. I guess that’s why they call it Magic Time.
 As the sun approached the horizon we saw splashing in the distance. A sleek grey body rocketed lithely from the water, sailing through the air and slipped back into the sea, racing to catch us. An entire pod of dolphins over took us, enveloping Bamboleiro into their pod. They darted in front of the bow, leaping and spinning and surging with speed as we Bamboleiro sailed into the fading light. At every gust of wind, Bamboleiro would accelerate and the dolphins, encouraging us to further speed sliced across our bow, swimming sideways, upside down, shimmying all around. They swam, chattering and bumping until with the fading light they departed for the horizon from which they came leaving us to sail on into the night.
8/1 0845 Current Position N 39°29 W 136°22

Day 18 – Thursday August 1, 1800 hours – No tan lines
N 39°25 W 135°23            24 hour run 116 miles
The wind clocked a bit to the west so we’ve rolled up the genoa and the spinnaker is flying. We’re doing better than 4 knots average and the seas are calm. Nothing has changed aboard. The sun is shining and we’re soaking it in. We’ll watch another movie tonight, about people who live on land, who stay in one place and see the same people every day. Maybe that will be us soon. Sounds farfetched and exotic right?

Day 19 – Friday August 2, 1800 hours – Escaping the high
N 39°08 W 133°28            24 hour run 91 miles
We’ve dumped the last 5 gallons of diesel into the tank. We’re down to 9 gallons total. The GRIBS show we’ll have wind within 100-150 miles, so we should be able to motor that far if need be, just barely. The motor has been running since last night, the winds are oh so light. They’ve shifted off to broad reach, so it’s too light for sails alone. The GRIBS show the high expanding in front of us, so if we can catch the NW winds that go down the coast, we should be able to stay in the wind in front of the dilating high. We’ll keep motoring tonight to see if we can finally break free of this high we’ve been flirting with for long.
We’re down to just over 500 miles to the Farallones, so we’re starting to make estimates as to our arrival. We’re thinking Tuesday night or Wednesday morning if all goes as planned. We can hear the Humbolt Bay Coast Guard on the VHF, so we’re getting close. It’s time to prepare for heavy weather again, get out the T-shirts and sweatpants. So many days of light wind have made us complacent; we’ve got gear strewn all about the cabin, so we need to tidy up before it gets rough. We’ll put the heavy working jib back on too. Right now though, it’s still warm and the seas are glassy, but the water is cold. We can feel it through the hull. The water in the tanks comes out the faucet fresh now. It’s been three years since that’s happened.
Our thoughts are on the future. What does San Francisco hold for us? There are a million possibilities and our imaginations are running wild. We can visualize the grocery store in Berkeley, the massive produce section. The familiar restaurants, the park by the marina. The luxuries of consumer America. Have you missed us?

Day 20 – Saturday August 3, 1800 hours – Just over 400 miles to go!
N 38°41.1 W 131°32.3     24 hour run 94 miles
We’ve left the high behind. Now we’ve got wind and are headed directly for the Farallon Islands off San Francisco. Calculating miles left and speed, we could be there on Wednesday, or even Tuesday night. Sprits are high as we imagine friends waiting for us at the dock, a nice hot shower and a margarita! San Francisco here we come.

Day 21 – Sunday August 4, 1800 hours – Squash Zone
N 38°28.3 W 129°00.0     24 hour run 120 miles
400 miles out we’ve entered the squash zone, affectionately called Gale Alley. Here the North wind runs down the western coast of the continent and gets squashed between Northern California and the high. Typically there’s a gale here a week. Right now however there’s a low moving in over the Marin headland, which is keeping the winds out here lighter than usual. Still, there’s a long fetch, so we’re holding on as the ride is rough. We’re making good speed however, bumping and sliding and slamming our way east. We’re close reaching into 15-18 knots. The skies are dark, there’s no sign of the sun. The air is chill and everything in the cabin is cold and damp. It feels like we’re running on fumes. Even the simplest tasks take a herculean effort, as anything that isn’t held tight is flung across the cabin. We’ve upped our vigilance on watch as well as ship traffic has increased.
We’re relying heavily on our AIS as visibility especially at night with dark low lying clouds/fog make visual horizon checks virtually irrelevant. We’re really glad we bought the AIS for this trip. It’s a vhf radio that receives and plots on the screen all the large ships that are required to transmit their speed, course and position. 13 miles out it will alarm and tell us how close a ship will come. For this passage its proving to be invaluable. We’re seeing 5 or 6 ships a day, we’ve had to divert for 3 so far which were coming within a mile.

Day 22 – Monday August 5, 1800 hours –
N 38°05.2 W 126°36.0     24 hour run 116 miles
 The winds have lessened and backed as we’re now broad reaching. The seas are still lumpy, but the motion isn’t quite as violent as yesterday. The clouds broke for a few minutes and we saw the sun shining over us and the grey choppy water. Our bodies are tired, aching all over from constantly holding on, even in the bunk our bodies are tight fighting the motion that rolls and slams constantly. The adventure has passed from pleasant to grueling. This part won’t be fun until we’re on shore at a bar reminiscing about those last 400 miles coming into San Francisco.

Day 23 – Tuesday August 6, 1800 hours – The Mists of Doom
N 38°05.2 W 125°13.6     24 hour run 65 miles
We’ve entered the coastal fog bank, visibility is down to a mile. The AIS says ships are passing all over the place. We’re sailing very, very slowly, diverting for shipping traffic. It’s getting busy here. We’re getting low on fuel, down to 4 gallons before we’re at the point in the tank where the fuel can slosh and we may pick up air in the line. We’re trying to keep sailing but the wind is very light.

Day 24 – Wednesday August 7, 1800 hours – Thar be Whales
N 37°57.6 W 124°08.0     24 hour run 52 miles
Last night we motored from sundown to sunup. It was dark, the flashlight in the cockpit reflects into a million points of light, hanging water molecules floating in the air. There’s no way to see where the air ends and the water begins. Nearby a whoosh of air is expelled, wet and loud. A whale is sleeping on the surface somewhere close. It’s chilly, but the seas are calm. We dropped the sails and motored all night. In the morning we shut down the motor and sailed at around 2 knots of boat speed all day.

Day 25 – Thursday August 8, 1800 hours – Adrift
N 37°51.0 W 123°08.0     24 hour run 48 miles
We’re down to two gallons, which we’re going to save for entering the bay and docking. We dropped the sails and drifted all night. Shadows of phosphorescence swirl as the hull ripples as we bob quietly. By the time the sky turned from black, to dark gray the current had moved us a few miles closer to shore. A breath of wind blew into the cockpit, not enough to ripple the seas, but enough for us. The sails went up and we’re continuing on our way. We’re approaching the Farralons, once we’re there its only 40 miles to the dock, we have the fuel to motor that far. We’ll need to time the flood tide through the Golden Gate though, because with no wind we can’t fight a 3 knot ebb with the fuel we have. We’ve been picking up NOAA weather radio on the VHF for a couple of days now. They keep promising wind, but so far nothing.

Day 26 – Friday August 9 0300 hours – Bamboleiro Back in the Bay
N 37°50.2 W 122°18.5     9 hour run 36 miles
Just after log recording time we were watching a movie on the computer on the salon table when the boat began to heel slightly. The GPS speed began to build, 2 knots, 3, 4, then 5. We shut down the computer and popped into the cockpit. What’s that cold air coming from behind? Is that wind? We trimmed the sails and got to sailing. 36 miles to go, 25 or so to the gate. The flood will last until about midnight. If we make five knots we could just maybe sneak through before it turns. We started the motor, disengaged the windvane and took to hand steering to keep our speed at max. The water was flat and the wind built to above 10 knots. The Farallons were to our right, poking benignly through the smooth water. Ship traffic began to appear on the AIS all over the place. As we approached the turning circle outside the San Francisco Channel we had the turn the AIS alarm off because it was constantly alarming. Every ship that entered the circle changed course as they headed in and out of the bay and as their course swung across ours the AIS would alarm. We also started to pick up all the anchored ships within the bay, so the screen was so cluttered with targets it was hard to read. But the readout told us the ones that were moving, and how close they’d come so we stayed to the edge of the shipping lanes as we motor sailed down the  channel and to the gate. As we passed Point Bonita the flood tide took hold of us and we accelerated towards the bay. Ahead the fog hung low, reflecting the lights of the city like a dull gray blanket. The bottom of the Golden Gate Bridge stuck out of the mist. We zoomed under it doing 7 knots DDW as we took the picture attached. The wind clocked and we sailed wing on wing to Angel Island, then we jibbed past Treasure Island where the wind lightened and we motored to the marks for Emeryville Marina.
At 2am, running on adrenaline and hot cocoa we were almost run over by a runaway harbor tug that snuck up behind the sails. We dropped the sails and motored, put, put, put into the silent harbor. We returned to our old dock, almost three years since we left. We slid not so quietly into the marina, yelling to each other over the patter of the motor, “is that slip open?!? Hey there’s Cetus! Ok, there’s an empty slip!” We woke the whole harbor as we tied up. We tied the docklines tight, shut our trusty Yanmar down and scrambled below to crash out in the bunk. We slept on as, for the first time in three years, seagulls flew overhead, calling into the night.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hanalei to San Francisco V

Day 10 – Wednesday July 24, 1800 hours – The one that got away

N 34°08 W 149°34            24 hour run 127 miles


As the sky lightened, pale blue and calm I tied a purple sparkly cedar plug to the fishing line, checked the action and set it out trailing behind the boat. I went belowdecks, and stated our morning routine. A kiss, coffee on the stove, check the mileage. Once Cristina rolled out of the bunk we went topsides to look around, and the fishing line was pulling down and to starboard. A fish! I scrambled to the back, crouching under the solar panel and began to haul in the line. There it was, shining and shimmering down deep, surging to the starboard with strength. A dorado? I pulled it higher. No, it was torpedo shaped. I got it up along side where it turned on its side and glided along beside us, we'd hooked a tuna. It had long pectoral fins, we imagined it was an albacore, and oh did it look delicious. The cockpit was a mess, I didn't have my knife or gaff or bonker out, so I tied off the line, figuring the fish would drag along at 5 knots for a while and tire himself out. We stowed all the cushions and got our gear ready. Just as I was crawling back to the cleat I saw the fish surge, splash and with a flip of his body, he spit the lure out and swam away. There I was with an empty line in my hand, and a dull ache in my stomach.

Day 11 – Thursday July 25, 1800 hours – Half Way

N 35°34 W 147°44            24 hour run 124 miles

We're now in the middle, 1150 miles from San Francisco, 1100 miles from Hanalei. It feels like Hawaii is far, far behind us, but in reality it would be easier to turn around and downwind there. But we're suffering from the grass is greener syndrome. We've got our sights on the Bay. We're reminiscing about the time we spent there, and the friends we'll see again soon. We left Hawaii at just the right time, just when things were getting comfortable, when friendships were being cemented, but everything was still fresh and new and exciting. The Golden Days at Ala Wai, is what we refer to it now. Waking up early to surf, biking to work, working on kayaks, biking home just in time for the sunset and a beer. Good friends and sharing good food and stories. Stories of travel, dreams of the world.

The hardest thing about life is connecting with great people and then sailing on. Now we're here in the middle, sailing by the stars, sailing by the sun. We experience each day as it comes, each squall and wind shift, every mile to the east, every mile to the north. We're focused on the here, on the now of sail trim, watches and meal preparation. The days have blended into one and the trip has taken on a dreamlike haze, a timeless repetition of waves and sunsets and wind.  We approach the Golden Gate with both dread and excitement. We're afraid to wake up and find that this has all been a dream. We're anxious to feel the continent under our feet, to plant and build and work again.

We've had good wind for several days now. We're fast approaching the high. It appears to stretch across our path for several hundred miles from north to south. We've picked a point above San Francisco to aim for. We're hoping the high will shift below us, but if not, we're preparing to hit it like the A-Team, powering up the motor and hanging on we'll bust through. Then we'll find the NW winds that run down the continent. Once we reach those it'll be a straight shot for the Golden Gate. But first, to reach the high, and cross it. We're downloading weather data again now as we search for the way through.

Current Position 7/26 1000 hours N 36°21 W 146°33

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hanalei to San Francisco IV


Day 7 – Sunday July 21, 1800 hours – Becalmed

N 31°10 W 155°04            24 hour run 90 miles

In the night the wind threw in the towel and quit on us. We dropped the sails and motored, slowly, all night and all day. We headed east searching for the corridor of wind the GRIBs (weather data files) promise lies between the low NW of us and the high to the NE.

We sat on the bow, dipping our feet into the still warm water as we motored along. The water is clear, a bottomless blue that absorbs the shaft of sunlight refracted by the surface disappearing below us. Jelly fish, plankton, little flappy animals, mosslike algae all float by. Small pieces of trash have been increasingly evident, fishing floats, rope covered with marine growth, pieces of bottles and broken plastic. Nothing big so far.

Glassy waves stretched out into the distance. From the south, gliding easily along the tops of the waves approached an albatross. He circled twice, rose up and then came down off the bow with a splashy landing. He sat there watching as we puttered past. Then, he unfolded his huge wings, at least 4 feet across, flapped them awkwardly against the water, paddling the surface with his feet as well as he pushed himself out of the water and back into the air. Airborne his grace returned and he glided up and down over the waves off into the distance. Goodbye big guy.


Day 8 – Monday July 22, 1800 hours – Rotten Potatoes

N 31°10 W 153°23            24 hour run 90 miles

As the sun crawled up over the ring of clouds on the horizon, a breath of wind stirred us from our motor induced lethargy. We pulled all the sails up, engaged the windvane, shut down the engine and stowed the autopilot. Then, a towering cloud built ahead of us, rising like the deathstar to block out the sun. We tried to turn but he'd engaged his tractor beam, and, unable to resist the power of the dark squall, we were sucked right into the evil mass. We were left with sails flapping again, as rain dribbled down over us.

Below decks things were no better, a smell was wafting around the cabin. Cris tracked it to the vegetable bin tied beneath the table. A couple of potatoes rotted from the inside and burst, oozing foul smelling puss all over.  We cleaned the mess, and motored on into the afternoon waiting for our luck to change.

As the sun got low in the horizon a switch was turned on. The wind sputtered, gusted then filled to a steady 12-15knots from the SW. We set the jib on a stick, its foot held out by the spinnaker pole, and pulled the main out far over the side with the preventer and fell off, on a broad reach. We flew along doing 6+ knots. We've found the corridor of wind we were looking for. We're going to stay in it for as long as it lasts, hopefully 700 miles until we reach N40 W140 when we can turn for the Golden Gate.

Day 9 – Tuesday July 23, 1800 hours – Magic Carpet Ride

N 32°39 W 151°22            24 hour run 135 miles

We found it! As you can see from our days run we're sailing again. Bamboleiro has the wind she likes and we're cruising along on course to the NE. The wind is steady, there aren't too many squalls so we're just holding on as Bamboleiro blasts along. We partied today. Canned spinach scramble for lunch, then salami and artichoke pizza for dinner. We finished the beer.

We're not quite half way with miles, but hopefully we're more than half way with days. We're downloading more weather data, hoping it will show us a way to keep on sailing east towards San Francisco.

Thank you to everyone following along at home wishing us well.

Current position 7/24 1100 hours

N 33°41 W 150°07

All daily position reports and 24 hour runs documented at 1800 Hawaii time for those of you plotting our position along at home

Friday, July 19, 2013

Hanalei to San Francisco II


Current position N 31° 29' W 158° 04'

Day 4: Putting on the brakes

N 30° 30' W 158° 22'                      24 hour run 106 miles

After a pretty fast 146 miles run on day 3, we looked at the grib files and we saw that there will be a low crossing our path at about 35 N in a couple of days so we decided to slow down, and head up to see if we can go below it. So now we are heading NNE at 15°. On Saturday we plan on tacking when the winds change with the approaching low and we will try to do some easting.

Other than that, it's been a really pleasant day, with clear skies, light winds (10 knots + or -) warm weather, flat seas and a super comfortable ride even if we were beating. We made our first real meal; toss green salad with lettuce, pasta, avocados, tuna and cranberries. We were starving after 3 days of not much eating!