Sunday, September 30, 2012

Heading South with the Engine Purring

Our Sunday morning departure from San Francisco was pushed back from 8 am to 10, due to Melinda’s request for a walk back to the Boudin bakery two blocks away for a fresh loaf of sourdough and a last latte. We also thought that some of the dense fog that had settled over San Francisco Bay might clear, but it was still pretty thick as we motored out, making for nice photos and a chance to tune in the radar.
Sunday morning departure from San Fran, pier 39

   Being Sunday, there were lots of fishing boats out, large and small. With no real breeze, and the few knots there were coming directly from the south where we were headed, we motored in lumpy seas until we neared Half Moon Bay, our destination for the night.

Riding a little low?

Getting in to Half Moon Bay around 2 pm, the fog seemed to thicken inshore and the computer decided to take a break! We quickly found our location on our paper charts and were prepared to navigate using dead reckoning from the buoy to buoy that make the entrance channel around the two long breakwaters that shelter this foggy fishing harbor. The computer resurrected itself (we now think it may have been responding to a huge radio antenna at Pillar Point on Half Moon Bay). We anchored easily, with the ever-honking fog-horn forlornly calling and the many resident pelicanos inhabiting the breakwater and following the fishing boats as they came in.
We anchored inside 2 substantial breakwaters...
which the pelicans have decorated with frosting!

Down came the dinghy and we motored through the docks checking out all the working crabbing and fishing boats. We found a place to leave the dinghy and walked the length of town. Lots of working neighborhoods along with cute and hip tourist establishments. A farmers’ market was just closing up and we were offered samples by friendly venders. We bought some kalamata olives, about the only thing not already abundant in our provisions. The locals seemed to be hard at work preparing crab pots and floats. We were told that the season doesn’t open until November 15th. We were imagining the foggy stormy seas they must work in six weeks from now.

Getting back our land legs and joining the local pet owners on the walk to Pillar Point...

A wetlands preserve with this colorful succulent in bloom.

 Our long walk led us south to the wetland preserve and beachside trail out to Pillar Point. A great chance to stretch our legs and see the anchorage from the other side. A beer and seafood sampler at the local micro-brewery was fun before motoring back to Solar Wind for our own tasty BBQ steaks and a great bottle of red wine brought by Keith.
Keith did lots of dishes
Melinda spent lots of time in the galley keeping us entertained with 3 meals a day.
And we ate really well -- notice the Dansk dishware.... very civilized!

Monday, through the night and most of Tuesday brought varying amounts of fog and only occasional wind to put out a sail. The motor has been purring like a champ, Sully (the auto pilot) has been on duty a fair amount and the radar has been essential. We have had some more hitchhiking birds and another visit from dolphins. The swells have been large and lumpy, but not as mixed and confused as they were off the WA and OR coasts. While still hard to move below deck, it is much more comfortable to cook, read, or use the head while underway. Whenever we get a consistent 10 knots or so of wind, it is work putting up some sail. If it’s going in roughly the right direction, that helps too.
Another hitchhiker -- so unlike most of the seabirds we see!
Keith at the helm during some of our windiest of this leg. The dinghy rode just fine for this part, but we were glad we had it stowed down the WA and OR coast.
Humm, de, dumm, dumm... motor's running... Sully's steering

 Melinda had the most exciting of the night watches this time. During the midnight to 3 hours, I was contacted by a nice polite soft-spoken tugboat captain, suggesting that we should keep at least a mile and a half between us when we passed, since the visibility was so bad. I thought he had a good idea there. After locating the tug and it’s load on radar and AIS, I altered course by 30 degrees (to show him I was willing to get out of his way) and saw that he was going out and around me too. Two (actually 3) ships passing in the night. Glad one was so heads up! We had several more passings of freighters and small cruisers through the foggy night.

Flat water, and coming into Port San Luis

By morning the fog had lifted some, but no wind to sail until about 3 that afternoon. One of the advantages of all the motoring is lots of hot water. We each took a turn in the shower. Shampoo and fresh clothes do wonders for our sense of well-being. Finally the sun broke through and a fresh breeze and we sailed at 7 kts speed with jib alone the last couple hours into Pt. San Luis (San Luis Obisbo) figuring we had used enough fuel that it would be wise to fill up before the Channel Islands.
We anchored in this bay with lots of local boats. Free rent!
San Luis Obisbo as the sun went down. Cool shadows, a beach, city pier, and friendly looking town, that we did not visit.

So Tuesday evening had us in a calm anchorage off the pretty town for more tuna steaks and an early bedtime.

and the sun went down again...

Wednesday morning, we were at the fuel dock when they opened at 8 am, to get 80 gallons of diesel at a rather commercial pump. This is probably one of many more “interesting” docking ties that are in our future.

Friendly dock help, recycling available, and we were off and motoring south by 9. 

Looking for wind! And being careful about what we wish for. 


  1. These reports mean so much to me. I love you for posting them. I'm full of admiration for how you all are handling everything that comes your way in a cautious and calm manner! Love, Weeze

  2. YES! I agree with Louise... these reports mean the world and I'm so glad this "second leg" was a bit smoother but not without adventure, foggy nights and all! So glad those ships passed! Look forward to talking soon. Much love, Julia