San Francisco to Los Angeles

 

Evening sailing in San Francisco Bay
Evening sailing in San Francisco Bay

San Francisco to Monterey

I wasn’t looking forward to the bash out of San Francisco’s Golden Gate. There was already an offshore swell that could hit eight feet, and we were going against the grain. Fortunately I at least had enough crew to divide the work involved. I would still need to run the foredeck until the crew understood how to reef, rig the boom vang, and rig the preventer. This time I was seasick only after the first couple of hours and it didn’t go away until Monterey the next morning. I think it was the initial bashing over stacked swell, and then the swell hitting us from a couple of different angles. Fortunately it was just waves of sickness that did not prevent me from doing anything. In fact it was better if I was doing something above deck. I think I prefer to be at a point of sail where the motion is what I like to call rock-a-bye. I also think it’s better to ease into it. I had a third crew member this time, but with already three experienced sailors, the third was just along for the ride. For whatever reason she brought enough food to last an entire week.  Not to mention two bottles of wine, and a bunch of fruit. None of the other crew had seasickness, so that was a bit embarrassing. The winds were great once we rounded Point Lobos, but then early the next morning they changed direction to the point where Satori was slatting pretty violently. It wasn’t enough to motor, and then eventually the wind came forward of the beam, so that helped in the end. We made it to Monterey just after fog rolled away from shore and our landfall was uneventful other than seeing a large amount of sea lions on the break wall coming into the bay.

Sentinel Building in the Financial District of San Francisco
Sentinel Building in the Financial District of San Francisco
Sunset at Alcatraz
Sunset at Alcatraz
Leaving San Francisco
Leaving San Francisco

Monterey to Los Angeles

After spending a week in Monterey, I was not able to find any crew for the next part of the trip to Los Angeles. Fortunately the forecast looked good enough to be somewhat uneventful. I was expecting to motor most of the way, or the entirety. I was planning on stopping in Santa Barbara or Ventura, but I didn’t decide until I was able to see the amount of progress I made getting past Point Conception. After spending part of the afternoon waiting for the fuel truck to arrive so I could fill the tanks, I departed during mid-afternoon. It was a good time to leave because I was looking at a calculated total time to Marina del Rey of fifty-five hours, averaging five knots. The first part of the journey I saw a range of six to ten knots, with an occasional gust to twelve knots. I could keep motoring and point directly to my destination, or I could sail with a spinnaker and likely only average three knots by losing my desired angle (vessel made good). This was not a pleasure cruise. It was a delivery, meaning I did not want to waste time sailing unless I could average as good under motor or better. Doing a watch schedule was pretty straightforward. I would sleep either thirty minutes or an hour at a time, throughout the night. Depending on how many obstacles were around, I would scan the horizon with binoculars, then check the chartplotter to make sure course and AIS targets were identified, and then set the timer. It only took about five times before it was morning and I felt refreshed enough to stay awake. I was well away from commercial traffic, the horizon was visible, and there wasn’t much in the area to be concerned about. This time the seas were mellow, so I never felt seasick.

Bluefin Tuna from the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Bluefin Tuna from the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Jellyfish from the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Jellyfish from the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Once I was closing in on Point Conception the winds started to pick up. The skies were clear, and it was warm enough to be comfortable with just a puffy jacket and hat on. I decided once I saw sustained twelve knots to start sailing, which helped conserve on fuel, and my sanity from so much engine noise. Point Arguello is where the winds began to build. I believe this was just the Venturi from offshore winds hitting the point and picking up speed. Eventually I had to put in a reef on both the mainsail and jib, then again on both, then put the mainsail away and run under reefed jib. The winds grew big enough to warrant putting the jib away and run under just the staysail. I was still going over six knots with just the reefed jib, and I was also starting to see a lot of commercial traffic to the south. The strangest thing was the fact that the seas were still only about two to three feet. Occasionally I would see one double the wave height, or steeper than the rest, but never anything to worry about. In fear of losing control of the boat during one of the gusts, I decided to roll up the jib and rig the staysail. Only a short period after that I decided to setup a track where I would need to jibe through the night to avoid oil rigs and the commercial traffic. Maybe eventually I could put more sails up and keep sailing, but I would need to do quite a few jibes, and maybe a couple of sail changes through the night. The other option was to motor again and just stay a couple of miles from the shipping lanes. No need to do sail changes, no need to worry about having to jibe. Just a slightly more uncomfortable rolling motion, but only until I was in the lee of Point Conception.

Point Pinos in Monterey
Point Pinos in Monterey

I did another track to see what time I would arrive in Marina del Rey if I didn’t stop. Not only would I arrive around 3:00pm but I would not lose the time it took to get to and from shore the next day. If for any reason something happened during the night, Santa Barbara and Ventura were close by, so I decided to stay off the coast and head for Marina del Rey. I maintained a similar watch schedule, but this time I had a few more frequent checks due to the close proximity of oil rigs in the Santa Barbara Channel. In the morning it was still grey, but the air was noticeably warmer. By the time I passed Point Dume and Malibu it felt like summer. The winds started to build, but I decided to just keep motoring. It was two sleepless nights, a battle with the wind and waves at Point Conception, and I still needed to figure out where to park Satori once I was in Marina del Rey. For the last two hours I was really tempted to sail in, but then I saw the amount of boats outside of the harbor and decided against it. Every choice is so much more conservative when I’m single handing. Maybe it’s my lack of experience, but either way I felt better to just mark waypoints and try to get into port. Heading into the marina was the worse part. Sailboats tend to sail all the way into the marina, and you need to somehow get across to the motoring only lane and still give way to all of the boats.

The north side of Point Conception
The north side of Point Conception
The south side of Point Conception
The south side of Point Conception

Getting to the guest dock at Burton Chase Park was no problem. It was completely empty and the wind was blowing Satori right onto the dock. After checking in at the park office, I switched to a guest slip. It was warm enough to only need board shorts and a tank top. I could see palm trees everywhere around the bay. The park and waterways were full of people, which many were blasting their hip hop and techno music. I am in Los Angeles. It’s warm. I think I’ll stay a while.