our slip at 0-dark:30 on Saturday morning. We made it as far as Hammond – not far at all as people who know the Columbia will recognize – and were turned back by a thick wall of fog that made it unsafe to continue. Visibility ahead stopped at the bow. So back to the dock for another couple of hours (and a short nap), by which time the fog had lifted. Once the fog was gone we good visibility all the way out and over the bar, leaving Buoy #2 on our right as the bow pointed south. Finally! We were on our way!
The first couple of days were uneventful. At times we motor sailed because the wind was coming from ahead. At least it was light. But by late Sunday night things got interesting. Just before midnight, 11:40 the wind veered around to the west and began building rapidly. The electric autopilot was overwhelmed and broke before we could disengage it. The abrupt wind shift forecast from SW to NW was accurate. We expected that and were happy to be able to sail on a fast reach for a change. What was unexpected was the gale force wind and the consequent sea conditions – steep, high, with one wave following fast after another. It was very dramatic to watch the breaking crests and blowing spume. At one point, we saw dolphins surfing inside the wave face, underwater and level with the cockpit, obviously having a grand time of it!
The conditions for a small boat were challenging, but we learned that we can handle it and certainly Velic handled it very well. We had only the small staysail up and the Aries windvane steering, while we took turns in 2-hour shifts through the worst of it. And though we ended up not deploying the Jordan series drogue, it was reassuring to know that we had it.
By Wednesday morning the wind was abating and the waves had become longer and more regular, which improved the motion onboard. By Wednesday afternoon, the waves were low and very regular at 6 – 8 feet, and we were losing wind again. We decided to pull into Drake’s Bay, just north of the Golden Gate, to clean up the boat a bit, have a good meal and a night of uninterrupted sleep. Also, the timing of the tide meant an early Friday morning entry was a good choice. Drake’s Bay is behind Point Reyes, where there’s a Coast Guard Station, and from where the main radio weather forecast for northern and central California coast is broadcast. Although it was windy, there’s no fetch to speak of, so the waves are small and of no significance. The boat rested easily, and so did we.
Friday morning, we pulled up anchor and motor sailed past Bonita and Diablo Points to enter the small boat channel approach to the Golden Gate. It’s been something I’ve always wanted to do: Sail my boat under the Golden Gate Bridge. Well, we didn’t actually sail beneath the bridge, but we did pass under it, which is quite dramatic.
I sat on the forward edge of the cabin and took photos while Randy drove.
We decided to pull into Sausalito, finding a Schoonmaker Point Marina that is close to the Golden Gate and easy to find. Hot showers and lunch followed a few phone calls to immediate family. So here we are.