1 - Vancouver BC, Canada to San Francisco CA, USA
by Newest to Oldest
Comments on the Leg
The leg started
just before the end of Sept 06 and finished at the end of
Nov 06. I think of this part of our trip as our apprenticeship
but it was a rough one.
Although we had
worked on our boat all summer, our house sale did not close
until the 1st of Oct so we were definitely late leaving the
north. However there was an indian summer through out Sept
and Oct which did provide some beautiful weather at points
in the leg. By the time we got to San Francisco the boat had
been significantly changed in many ways, the crew had seen
some serious weather and been challenged in ways none of us
There were many
good and bad moments in this leg but it was our first experience
with 'meeting the locals' as we call it. At virtually every
port we stopped in we were treated extremely well. The openness
and friendliness of the Americans is what caught us off guard.
Along the coast of Washington, Oregon and Northern California
the people were plain spoken and kind to a fault. I will never
forget things like stopping to ask directions to an internet
place and being told that there were no businesses locally
set up that way. As soon as this woman say the look on our
faces she immediately took us into her house and allowed us
to hook to the internet from there. Numerous times these types
of kindnesses occurred.
29 Nov 06
say the sights and took lots of pictures but for me it was
not as much fun as I had hoped. San Francisco is a beautiful
city and we were tied up at South Beach Marina which is a
huge facility in front of the AT&T Stadium (San Francisco
Giants and Barry Bonds). The Marina held over 700 boats and
was just past the Oakland Bridge. It became readily apparent
that only money matters here and after a few days we pushed
off the very expensive dock and
left to find a cheaper alternative.
Like any big city
the locals weren't rude, they just didn't care. Both Laurie
and I immediately missed the interchange between people which
we had enjoyed so much along the coast. The kids were excited
to see the sites and we now realized they had never really
seen a big city before but they even grew tired of the hustle
and bustle faster than I thought they would. Billy did discover
that young men wearing tight muscle shirts in this city got
quite a bit of attention from the same sex, which broke us
up and got him changed into not quite so revealing of clothes
at a lightning pace.
and Mandy on Boreas had relatives in the delta and they moved
to Valejo to visit and hopefully find their elusive third
member of the crew. Were hoping that we catch up to them at
some point on the way down. Most marina's in the massive bay
are set up for the small powerboat or sailboat and after checking
we can not find moorage easily for our boat accept way up
in the delta which puts us a long ways from the sea. We decided
to start living on the hook as that will be the norm shortly.
After wandering around a bit we ended up in Sausalito were
Mooring Buoys are very cheap. Not unexpectedly we discovered
problems with our house batteries and charging system. We
had some problems on the way down and I knew we would have
to deal with it at some point. In short we searched around
locally and found a little local battery place where I got
4 new house batteries for 2/3 the cost of the big boys up
the street. This with the new alternator we got in Crescent
City and special regulators for both the alternator and solar
panels will allows us to turn the lights on again.
is a weird little place. It like San Francisco is the only
place where the common vehicle on the street is a BMW or Porsche,
but unlike San Francisco it is much slower paced. There are
two sides to this place. On the one hand the most fashionable
shops, boutiques, yoga places and dog specialty stores inhabit
the main area of town. Million dollar yachts fill the marina's
that run from one end of the bay to the other. But in the
out of the way places little run down manufacturing and service
shops are busy doing the actual work. In the harbour there
is a small floating home community which would put anything
on Salts Spring Island to shame for eccentric looks and behavior.
The non-beautiful people as I call them are friendly and helpful
and will take time to tell you their story if you ask. Out
in the bay there are dozens of project boats that look like
they would fit into the movie Water World quite comfortably.
But all in all even here the cost to hang around it too high.
Molly Stones, the local grocery store is as trendy as they
get and a small box of cereal costs $5.00. My boys can polish
that whole box off at one sitting. Mind you the nightly rummy
games have been most competitive and fun with temporary strategic
alliances struck and dissolved as required to overcome the
current lucky one.
Plus it is time
to move on as the weather here has become winter all of a
sudden. A very cold North wind is blowing and it could freeze
at night in the valley. We're off to Monterey for a day or
two then all the way down to San Diego after that. It is time
to make the run to Cabo. We have made many changes to the
boat and feel comfortable taking the longer runs now. The
weather reports for below us even had Laurie nodding her head
with approval. It is time to put away these coats and put
on some shorts. TTYL
20 Nov 06
Well we made it
but of course the trip was far from uneventful. We set off
from Eureka at first light to cross the Humboldt bar at the
top of the flood tide and as we got in front of the Coast
Guard station they called us directly to inquire as to what
our intention were. Once we told them we were outbound they
gave us the bar report which was particularly bad at that
point. 12 ft rolling waves across the bar with 6 to 8 ft waves
in the channel before the bar. We thanked them and waited
for Boreas to catch up to see what the next step was. Frankly
the only next step available was to drop the hook off the
channel just north of the Coast Guard station and wait. It
was frustrating to say the least as the weather was perfect
for a run down the coast and we knew that it would only hold
for a couple of days.
picture at left is us, Boreas and Aquila at anchor around
9 am. The picture on the right is us in the same spot at sundown
still waiting for the bar to improve.
At sundown the
report was still the same but we knew that a day without wind
and two tide changes should have moderated the bar so just
before dark Boreas took a look around the corner and told
us that it was down well below the report. We picked up the
hook and took off like a train. Although there were some very
big swells across the bar, none were breaking and the ride
out was quite easy. Just follow the channel markers and Bob's
your uncle and Fanny's your aunt as they say in the movies
(sorry for the blatant rip off of the Pirate's of the Caribbean).
The night run around
Cape Mendocino was very rough and it was not until we got
past it and on the SE tack to San Francisco did it start to
smooth out. Until that point the boat was really pounding
through it as there was a cross swell with some coming out
of the NW, then West and just for good measure some from the
SW. It felt very good to look back at the Cape at first light
and realize that we had finally made it past the worst stretch
of coast on the West Coast of the US. As if to prove that
correct the seas moderated all day and the night run was an
easy NW swell of 8 to 10 ft with a light NW wind. The stars
were unbelievable and motor sailing we averaged 6 kts all
night. The watches were not that cold and porpoises came to
play around the boat periodically all night. Phosphorescence
outlined them clearly as they shot through the sea in and
around the hulls for long minutes, seemingly to appear and
disappear as if by magic.
light on the second day put us off Point Reyes which is the
last major point before San Francisco.
Once below that
we threaded our way through Bonita Channel. I suddenly noticed
on the hillside what we think is some WW2 gun emplacements.
nice east wind had picked up and under sail turned the corner
to suddenly see the Golden Gate bridge ahead. We tried to
sail under the bridge as all good sailors want to do but the
winds were fickle and keep dying at the wrong times.
Close to the end
of the ebb tide we grew tired of the constant tacks and decided
to push on through. Also off in the distance I could see serious
tanker and freighter traffic coming.
picture at right is as close as we got under our own power.
At this moment I revved the engine up to counter the ebb flow
and a heard a very strange sound under the boat. We instantly
lost forward momentum and a quick check in the engine room
confirmed my worst fears. The engine was running fine and
the transmission u-joint was spinning. I feared we had lost
the prop. Perfect timing as we were drifting into the traffic
lanes. The wind had died and a fuel barge was inbound almost
on top of us and blowing its' horn. Behind it were 4 large
freighters approaching at speed. Boreas came to the rescue
and throw us a line. At one point the barge passed us on one
side blowing its' horn and the freighter passed us on the
other. Quite an exciting time it was to say the least.
KC and Mandy took
it all in stride and towed us out of the traffic lanes. We
got the dinghy over the side and check under the boat. The
prop was there so we checked the shaft and found it was loose
in the u-joint housing. Not fixable there but once at a dock
it would be. The following pictures are us under tow as we
made our entrance into this magnificent harbour. Not the way
we had hoped to get here but were here. After decompressing
for a day and getting the boat mobile we will see the sights
as they say. Leg one is officially over.
15 Nov 06
The last few days
here have been up and down weather wise. So far two big storms
have slammed through here;
both building all day and then roaring into us just after
dark. The first included a thunderstorm that followed a strong
SW low pressure area. One minute it was blowing SW 30 knots;
we are protected a bit from that direction, the next it instantly
changed to NW and was coming across the bay in the picture
to the right, slamming us into the dock. At one point it was
blowing well over 50 kts. Were on the outside of the dock
with Boreas so things got very dicey. Everyone scramble to
get more fenders out and double up the lines. By midnight
it was calm. The next day it dawned sunny with light NW wind.
This pattern has already repeated once and will again tonight.
The next NW period
is going to be a bit longer so were going to move on to San
Francisco. Eureka is a cool town and the old part had been
rebuild into Gas Town like shops but overall the area is quite
a bit bigger than Gas Town. It is about two blocks from us
but the area in between is quite run down and full of problem
people as they say around here, not safe at night.
We want to thank
Kathleen and Tracy on Magic who are here for all there help
getting around the area and of course their friendship. Below
is some pictures of the dock area and the downtown. See you
in San Fran.
14 Nov 06
passed along some pictures of the trip to Eureka. This is
Pacific Cloud on a reach with not enough headsails up.
And here is Pacific
Cloud when a swell gets inbetween us.
Sunset after crossing
the bar and turning up the Channel towards Eureka.
KC and Vienne aboard
12 Nov 06
Were about 65 miles
south of Crescent City as there was only a one day weather
window. We left CC at 4 am to get the right tide into Humboldt
Bay and across the bar. This bar has a particularly nasty
reputation so timing is everything. Were trying to get closer
to Cape Mendocino and shorten the overall next jump to San
On the recommendation
of others we all took a new sea-sickness pill as the sea was
suppose to be quite rough. Unfortunately it turned out to
be a big mistake. We all got very violently sea-sick and had
a miserable morning. Only Iron-guts Laurie was sick once.
The rest of us were sick multiple times and I was sick so
many times I quite counting. Billy stayed in his bunk all
day until we were past the bar. Tommy spent the morning sitting
beside the rail to shorten the distance. The irony was that
the weather was quite lovely and seas were big but the period
was long so the boat went up and down with a easy motion.
mid morning I was able to eat again and the wind had come
around from a light SW to 10 to 15 kts W. The sun was shining
and I finally put up some sails. We passed within 3 miles
of Trinidad Head, a spectacular rocky headland with surf crashing
upon it. The sail down to the bar was beautiful and we made
a good 5 to 6 kts. This photo is of KC and Mandy on Boreas
who traveled with us on their Pearson 36.
Due to a head current
we arrived a bit late to the bar and crossed it 2 hours after
the start of the ebb. It was rough but we had little trouble
due to our very high transum. Laurie could not look back because
of the big surf coming up behind. It is quite exhilarating
to surf down these big curlers between two rock jetties being
pounded by the same waves. However the bar is wide and over
40 ft deep at its' shallowest at that time so Pacific Cloud
had no difficulty. Tommy thought is was really cool. However
the Admiral was not amused. On the way up the bay channel
she spotted a Pulp Mill and a big mall at which point she
stated that I could work in the mill and she would work in
the mall so there was no need to go back out across the bar.
I'm still trying to determine if she was joking.
There was a nasty
ebb current slowing us down and we could not make the public
dock until night fall. KC made it in first due to his Chart
Plotter and he guided us in via VHF. It was a stressful approach
due to the very limited lighting on the channel and the surrounding
confusing city lights. Were now exploring purchasing a Chart
Overall were glad
we moved as Crescent City was really a dump compared to this
dock. Eureka Public Dock is in excellent shape and very clean.
The staff are friendly, professional and always on top of
things. There is plenty of very hot water for showers and
the toilets work; our biggest complaint with CC. The Old Town
of Eureka is an amazing place with tons of beautiful old shops.
It looks like we're here until the end of this week as storm
after storm is approaching CA. Cheers to all.
6 Nov 06
Yup it is Winter
out there now. Heavy rains for the last three days and lots
of wind. There is a short weather window arriving in the middle
of the week for a couple of days which will allow us to get
below Cape Mendecino and most of the really heavy weather.
Were set to leave for San Francisco on Wednesday morning but
weather will dictate.
December here in Crescent City the crab fishery opens and
already the hugh parking lot is filling with crab pots. Thousands
will be stored here until season opening. Apparently this
is the richest port for landings of crab in the lower US.
I could not imagine fishing off here at that time of the year
given the weather we have seen in the last few days.
Here is the Crescent
City Lighthouse just outside the breakwater on a rainy day.
We should have taken a picture during all the sunny days but
were too busy working and playing. The locals tell me the
spray from the waves can break over the entire island during
the winter storms. Not a sight I want to see.
Laurie and Tommy
walking the beach between rain storms.
Many projects were
completed in Crescent City but the most important was the
new stern bimini system and of course the new Admiral's chair.
I might be the Master and Commander but the Admiral had better
have a comfy chair to sit in.
2 Nov 06
Email Issues: Were having difficulty sending emails back to
Canada from our Internet location. Certain addresses are being
blocked. Were not sure why but it seems all out of USA addresses
have problems. It could be for security reasons but were not
sure. We are receiving your emails and were hoping that your
getting our reply's. If you don't hear from us please let
us know so we can resend.
you, Laurie and Bill
We missed the weather
window and now the big SW winds and rain have arrived. We
needed to get the bimini and other projects done and that
meant we kept pushing off moving down south, oops. It is now
blowing 30kts SW with Gale force SW winds predicted for the
next 4 days. Oh well time for the kids to get more school
work done and to catch up on the interior work if we can fit
other cruising boats here have been great, providing excellent
advice and help through out the stay and good times all around.
Kathleen and Tracy on Magic have now moved on but we thank
them for all the help and great dessert parties. KC and Mandy
on Boreas are still here and I receive excellent daily ideas
on how to improve the boat. So many it will take a year to
implement them all but what a boat it will be. KC is having
fun with the boys and Halo 2 and takes his whooping very well
(he is getting better very quickly - Billy beware).
Were looking forward
to moving on as winter is now here. Cheers
24 Oct 06
We found the beach
finally and the boys have discovered surfing. The engine work
is finally done and even some of the painting.
On Sunday we went
to the beach (south beach) about 3 blocks away and the surf
was up. The weather was warm and sunny, a perfect California
you it still required wet suits to get into the water. Billy
and Tommy loved it and now are begging for surfboards (yo
grandma's take notes for Christmas). Of course there is a
surf shop directly across the road from the beach; how convenient!
The weather is
starting to change here and longer periods of strong wind
have now arrived. It blew a very powerful NW gale all day
today, shaking and rattling the boat around the dock. Winds
out on the water are averaging over 30 kts for today and tomorrow
so it is time to finish what we can and get the heck out of
dodge before the big stuff really gets here. Picture
of our new stove with a real oven (wow)!
Laurie at the Beach.
By the end Billy was standing almost every run, although he
was so tired by 4 pm that he could hardly carry the board
back to the shop!
20 Oct 06
Days of working
on the engine with little else getting done. We bought a month's
moorage with power and water for $176.00; can't find that
anywhere in the Gulf Islands. Met quite a few cruisers here
waiting out the crowd in the south.
It is a weird
little spanish engine we have made by Diter now owned by Deutz.
I knew some serious time was needed to be spend on it but
unfortunately that is all I have been doing except a little
painting. All the cooling hoses needed to be changed as well
as the zinc's. Easier said than done. The engine oil and filters
were due along with some electrical wiring. I scarcely had
my head out of the bilge except to walk to town to take a
bus to the hardware stores or Englund Marine Supplies. Englund
has been a blessing with stores along the coast and excellent
staff and prices. We have ordered a new stove and it should
be here next week. It was half the price of the one we were
looking at in BC but the installation should be interesting.
Crescent City is
spread out along a plateau North of the harbor and is a pleasant
sleepy little town. People have been friendly and helpful
(as they have been in all the US ports we have stopped at)
but there is little in the way of manufacturing here and therefore
not a strong economy. Some areas are well looked after but
much is a little run down such as the harbor area. Some things
are definitely a step above the BC docks though, free garbage
disposal, free oil disposal, (all the US docks coming down
had these features) but the showers here (one) are simple
and unheated. Both Laurie and I are losing weight fast as
the boating life means walking to everything. By 5 pm were
beat and can barely make it to 8 or 9 pm before we have to
go to bed. The kids are getting bored with the staying put
thing and will start agitating to move on soon I suspect.
If the sun is
out then there is usually a strong N wind blowing with a cold
bite to it. Were not sure how long the sun will keep shining
as they are overdue for rain, but while it is we will keep
working and hopefully get a few of the projects struck off
the list before the weather forces us to keep moving south.
of the Trip Down
Pacific Cloud at
the transient dock in Westport, Washington
Westport in the
morning mist. This was a pure fishing port with all of the
colorful characters and boats. We fit in perfectly. Moorage
was $9.00 per night which included water and electricity.
Bay) finest greet us at the first buoy. There were dozens
if not around a 100 of them on a breakwater in the harbor
making a non-stop roar night and day. We were in a boat basin
to the south about 1/2 mile away and they were a constant
roar in the background.
Highway 101 (The
coast Highway) crosses the entrance to the Newport harbor
in quite a spectacular bridge.
On leaving Newport
this is the entrance breakwater (North side) and the corresponding
swells breaking on it (there is an exact copy of this to the
south and we're in the middle of the channel). The conditions
were considered light and we left just after the end of the
ebb. In many public areas and restaurants along the coast
they display pictures of the local bars in heavy weather with
some poor fisherman coming across it. The pictures are quite
unbelievable and send a chill down your spine.
Just after leaving
Newport we spotted a couple of Sunfish as the wind was calm.
Later we saw two Gray Whales a ways away but of course all
of this was before the wind!
14 Oct 06
The general comment
from the crew on this 180 mile leg was "it sucked!"
Yup Cape Blanco
lived up to its' reputation. A nasty weather area. It was
beautiful when we left Newport but by the evening the NW was
up and the murk here to stay. By the morning there was a nasty
swell and wind waves were 3 to 4 feet.
By noon it was blowing 25 kts and a big swell was building.
This picture was taken about 3 pm. Around 5pm it was howling
through the rigging and there were truly scary swells coming
up behind the boat. Billy and I spelled each other off watch
and at one point when we were both in the cockpit, we had
to bend down to look under the roof edge to see the top of
the swell coming up behind us. They were averaging 15 ft with
some really big ones every few minutes. We surfed occasionally
to 11kts with no sails up and the engine just turning the
prop over. I knew that if we set even the storm jib we would
fly past Crescent City in the dark and there is really nothing
between it and San Fransico, plus the wind was due to a low
coming up the coast and SW winds of 25 kts were due the next
day. We had to get into Crescent City.
learning that when the weather service says it will blow 20
kts with gusts to 25, they
really mean it will get nasty. I knew the NW wind would go
down after midnight and it did. That made for a lumpy ride
into Crescent City next morning. The boat greatly impressed
us. At no time did we feel like we were in any danger. No
water came aboard except some light spray every once in a
while. When a big wave knocked the boat sideways, the autopilot
recovered us almost by the next wave. It was so bad around
us that a little puddle duck spent almost an hour repeatedly
trying to crash land on our deck; finally succeeding just
before dark. It promptly crawled to the front windscreen and
went to sleep and stayed there to well past first light next
morning. Laurie and Tommy named her Dora on the late watch.
The next day we
talked to two mono's in Crescent City who did the passage
with us. One was 8 hrs ahead in a 37ft boat and he basically
thought he was a dead man. He stayed in the nav station below
decks and waited for the boat to broach or swamp. The second
was a large mono who were on their second circumnavigation
and he said it was gusting to 42kts. He had only seen waves
that big in the mid Atlantic and no where else. My confidence
in Pacific Cloud has gone up yet again. The hydraulic steering
is wonderfully stable, even the power pig Navico autopilot
is now greatly appreciated.
Once here some
other cruisers let us know that there is no moorage or dock
space left below us at a reasonable rate. The south of California
is stuffed full of boats waiting to go to Mexico and Oct 31
is the go date. Even San Francisco is full and rates are high
to tie up. They're staying here where rates are very inexpensive
and waiting until the herd clears out. A sound idea and were
going to talk to the marina tomorrow about an extended stay.
The marina is a bit run down but it will give us time to get
more projects done and we have lots of ideas to improve things
now that we got to see how everything works in all types of
We have to walk
into town to get internet but were in California, cool!
10 Oct 06
Bay (Newport), Oregon.
Well the best laid
plans of mice and men.
This leg went wrong from the word go. The fuel dock in Westport
was closed when we went to leave, even though we had called
the day before to confirm it was open. This meant that the
three men had to lug jerry cans about 1/2 mile from a local
gas station. We then left on a strong flood tide which meant
that is was a long slow run to the downwind leg. Although
there was little wind the surf was up and it was very bumpy.
About 8 miles out
I happened to here the bilge pump running in the port alma
and investigated. In a number of frame locations there was
water in the bilge; alarm bells all around. We opened everything
up and bailed it out. An hour later it was back, not enough
to flood the hull but worrying never the less. The decision
was to proceed and keep an eye or two on the problem.
Still the predicted
NW wind did not show. Were we going to run on the engine all
the way to Crescent City and could we even make it that far
with our fuel. By first light the wind had completely died
and it looked like another sunny day. Not to be. The forecast
still said NW wind but something was not right and sure enough
around 8 am a south wind started to blow.
After it arrived
the forecast changed to say S winds for the morning followed
by NW or NE winds. By noon it was thumping into us at 15 knots.
Visibility was 200 yd's and falling. I tried to tack into
it a bit but my boat likes a 60 degree tack off the wind so
yes were going fast but distance traveled south was not much,
plus we were beating the boat up. We finally gave up and put
the engine in gear and pointed her into the wind and left
her there for the rest of the afternoon. Sometime later I
heard an awful noise from the engine room and shut everything
down. Very conveniently the propeller shaft u joint and transmission
had separated. I fished the bolts out of the bilge, put her
together and away we went again.
Around dark the
wind let up (but not the waves) and we pushed into the gloom.
Crescent City was out of the question and the leaks although
not worse made me think the next available dock would do nicely,
so Yaquina Bay it was. All night the fog or murk as I called
it was very thick and the radar was our friend. At the end
of Laurie and Tommy's watch, 3 am, it suddenly cleared away
and there were the stars again.
At first light
it was a perfect morning. the NW swell was behind us and just
a gentle one at that. A light east wind and the sunrise over
Newport was spectacular. Getting in over the bar was no problem
and the transient dock was empty. We have been here for a
couple of days. The leaks turned out to be from where the
boat had been bashed into the docks (above waterline) in past,
bow and stern, and the gel coat was crushed. Due to the size
of the seas we were in it drove the water through the plywood
and out through any available spot and then down into the
alma. Both were easily repaired and the hull is completely
So were refreshed
and ready to go again. The weather looks ok (we will see)
and maybe this leg we can get some distance. By for now.
6 Oct 06
Grey's Harbor, (Westport actually), Washington. About
100 nm below Cape Flattery (the baaaaad cape). The trip down
was exactly what I expected.Big seas and lots of wind. We
went around the cape at 3am as there was only a narrow weather
window. It was rough but not much wind.
The run down to
Grey's Harbor was big swells and a NE wind backing to NW of
around 15 to 25 knots. Unfortunately we had to go slow or
we would have gone right past the harbor and a cold front
was moving up the coast from Oregon. After a difficult first
night for everyone, not unexpectedly, we all settled down
into our watch's and the skipper even got 6 hours of sleep
the second night. Crew rotation was sorted out and went smoothly
every two hours. Any longer and you would freeze to death.
We stayed 15 miles off the coast which worked well as the
commercial tugs and fishing vessels were inside of us and
the big freighters were outside of us. The US Navy played
hide and seek with us all the second night, appearing just
over the horizon and then disappearing. At one point Billy
said a big frigate appeared just off of us then sped away
at an incredible rate. Sunrises and sunsets were beautiful
and we had forgotten how many stars there are.
The tides have
to be just right for a boat like are's to get in across the
bar so we timed it for Thursday morning during the flood tide,
but of course the fog set in just as we reached the first
channel buoy. It was a tense go, especially when Laurie calls
out that a big fishing vessel was dead ahead at a 100 yd's.
Everybody swerved and a terse message was sent to the radar
watch, Billy, to watch harder.
well except for my unusually poor docking procedure (I think
my heart was still somewhere out in the fog).
Much rest and relaxation
later were gearing up to do it again. Were leaving for a three
day run from here to hopefully Crescent City, California,