Santa Barbara S. Calf to San Fransisco N. Calf.

Wed 6 Jul 2016 16:27
37.51.35N 122.28.20W
It was with regret we could only spend one day looking around Santa Barbara……a brilliant weather window had opened for us to head directly to San Fransisco and we weren’t going to miss this one!

We did however make the most of our one day exploring the city, said to be one of the most beautiful on this coast, which we are in full agreement with.

At 0630 we moved to the fuel dock to await to await it's opening and by 0715 we were making for Point Conception aka "The Cape Horn of the Pacific”, 40nm away. As we made our way through the Santa Barbara channel, a delightful sight….a humpback whale breached only a few hundred yards from Nimue (recognised by it’s tail fin).

The usual northbound strategy for rounding Point Conception is to anchor in Cojo Anchorage (a stones throw from the Point) and wait for a period of calm winds, which usually occur at night (some folk wait days at Cojo). As the weather conditions were so good, we had already decided to make our way towards Conception and if we felt the conditions were tenable we go round; if not; anchor in Cojo. As we approached Conception, the sea state and swell started to build and the seas became a little confused. Nimue continued to make good progress, riding up and down the swells, which grew into a very steep and deep ocean swell. The maximum wind strength around the Point was around 10 knots from the NW, but had it been anymore, the seas would have built up and become quite nasty and we would have had to abort. Despite reading otherwise, I was please that once we were north of Conception, the sea state did calm down a bit, although did increase on our approach to Arguello Point, 10 nm further on. Once past Arguello we seemed to get a push from a 1.0 to 1.5 current, which wasn’t expected, but we weren’t complaining either and by midnight we had covered over 105nm.
As usual we had picked a time to sail without moonlight, in fact, there was no moon at all, so with the fog, we were sailing in pitch black darkness.

We had also noticed our freezer temperature was getting warmer……..which seemed a little odd, considering the air and sea temperatures had plummeted since rounding Conception. So with dawn, we emptied all the meat contents into our little portable freezer and hoped the remaining items would stay cool until we could sort out the problem in port!

As we approached Monterey Bay, the wind changed to a southerly, quite unusual for this coast. Within minutes, the engine was off and we are sailing along nicely between 6 and 7 knots in a building 2-3 metre swell.
Of course, the wind switched off after about 5 hours and we were back to motor sailing.

We are only about 5 miles off the coast when we spotted a whale 'spouting off'. Then we saw another and another and there must have been a pod of at least hundred whales heading south. What a fabulous treat!

We had originally planned for at least a 48 hour trip and to arrive in San Fransisco in daylight. However, with the assistance of the current, we were making such good progress that we arrived in the San Fransisco harbour shipping lanes at 0300 in complete darkness and as is typical in these situation we were also accompanied by 4 large ships arriving and 2 departing! We didn’t want to enter a new harbour in these conditions and an ebb tide, so Nimue did a 180 and headed back out! After an hour we did the reverse and headed for No 8 Starboard entrance buoy.
As we made for the Golden Gate Bridge, a further 7nm away, the sea state became lumpy, which wasn’t helped by an incoming wind swell and an outgoing tide. It wasn’t an unexpected sight to see the top of the Gate shrouded in fog and it was definitely a cold, grey and misty day. Nevertheless it did bring lumps to our throats and another major landmark and milestone in Nimue’s adventures!

With our arrival on 4th July - Independence Day, we knew the harbour would be busy, so we chose a spot in the Richardson anchorage, a couple of miles past the Bridge and outside the Sausalito YC. As it turned out, we were in one of the best spots for watching the 4th July fireworks.
We have a lot to be thankful for!