Yesterday afternoon I heard the most somber VHF marine weather report during my time in US waters. It said that the gentle first part of January for the Northern California coast was about to end. The Jet Stream was moving to the south and beginning on Sunday a series of storms would hit the San Francisco Bay and Monterey Bay areas. A second, worse one, would hit on Tuesday. A deep low parked off the Washington coast was mentioned. Travel advisories were given regarding snow and rain. It all sounded pretty grim to me and it appeared to Arnold and myself that we had made our exit from the Bay area just in time. Our concern now was to get south of Point Conception before Sunday afternoon, three days ahead. I thought that we could make distance but with the fluky winds that we expected anything was possible and we were prepared to motor if we had to.
In the late afternoon I took a sun sight with the sextant, put the numbers through my new whiz bang celestial navigation program and with the push of a button had the numerical results and a plot of the line of position in relation to my assumed position. Easy and Fast.
When I took over the watch at midnight the wind had dropped to 6 kt and I soon realized that with the light wind and boat speed below 2 kt Jeff was not able to bring the boat to a broad reach and we were tending to run downwind and have the small headsail collapse. I disengaged Jeff and engaged the Vistar the autopilot and soon we were creeping along to the SE at 2 knots. We had to keep the boat moving at all costs and so far we had managed that.
Just after dawn the wind shifted from N to E and SE. I didn't want to wake Arnold up so I had a go at raising the mainsail myself. The biggest problem with raising the mainsail is that the lazy jacks get snagged at the end of the sail batons, which protrude a bit from the leech of the sail. After about 30 minutes of heavy winch work where I had to drop back the sail part of the distance several times to clear snagged lazy jacks we were under full sail and the wind was strong enough that the mainsail and boom were steady. We were doing only 3 kt but it was a start. (I've got to do something about those lazy jacks. I'll probably extend their cords so that I can drop them completely below boom level, an arrangement that worked well with my previous boat Angie.)
Arnold took the watch at 7.30 AM and I woke up at 10 AM to find the boat sailing splendidly on a port tack making 4.3 kt against 11 kt of apparent wind. However, the course was approaching SW so we threw a tack and found ourselves heading ESE, closing on the coast which was 65 miles away. Just before noon we tacked back and found ourselves doing over 5 kt headed SSW.
The weather, incidentally, has been very good. There has been a sheen of thin clouds above but we've still been able to get good sunlight and see most of the stars at night.
At noon we were about 65 miles off the coast, 115 linear miles from the GG bridge, and 140 miles from Point Conception.
I'll have a go at a pressure cooker meal tonight and try to bake bread tomorrow.
radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com