Monday, August 19, 1996
September 9 1996-Go Out the Straits and Turn Left
"Go out the straits and turn left."
How many times had we heard that?
Many times. Now we were doing it. This was our dream.
We're headed south, for San Francisco, and beyond. No agenda. No itinerary. No schedule. It could be about a six day passage, if we sailed straight down, but we might never be back to this coast again; so we'd decided to stop and see some of the ports along the way.
Neah Bay was socked in when we passed and the sea was glassy, but the cape was in the clear, and there was a slight breeze out of the SW, enough to sail on, so we set the genoa, and sailed out to sea, then down the coast.
The fog rolled back in and was solid and the wind came in fits and stops all the way to Newport, Oregon, our first stop. We tied up at the commercial wharf with the fishing fleet, and drank in the working men's saloons along the waterfront.
The leg to Eureka, CA was worse. No wind and dense fog. We motored, seeing nothing, hearing nothing, for two days. Even though we found the leading light just off the entrance, and the end of the jetty, we couldn't tell which side of it held the channel. We waited until a fish boat passed and followed him in.
But Eureka was good. We saw palm trees and pelicans, and we felt that this was really California, and we visited Ed and Sharon Fracker, who live there.
After Eureka we got wind, lots of wind, along with blue skies, sunshine, and big waves.
At times there was too much wind. On one occasion, as the wind and waves increased, Judy, not trusting the autopilot or windvane, wanted me to steer. I disconnected the wind vane and took the helm. Then the wind increased further and I had my hands full. Sails needed to be taken down, but I was trapped at the helm. Judy had to do it. The jib was no problem, she went up on the foredeck in her harness and kneepads and handed the sail. The main, however, was another matter. In 40 knots of wind it is hard to reef the main, very hard. But somewhere she found the resources and inch by inch she pulled down that sail and finally we got the second reef tied in. Then the wind dropped to nothing. That's sailing.
The rest of the stops to San Francisco are a blur now, but we sailed under the Golden Gate 19 days after leaving the Straits of Juan de Fuca.
Sailing under the Golden Gate
Fred & Judy, SV WINGS, San Francisco