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Eureka CA and passage to San Francisco

We departed Newport, Oregon for Eureka CA on Monday morning, August 29th.  The original plan  had been to go strait through from Newport to San Francisco, but breaking the passage up into shorter one-nighter trips seemed like a good way to go and besides, although we were on a schedule to get to San Francisco, there are a lot of really interesting places along the CA coast and we decided we should at least stop and see one of them.

Although there was some wind and we sailed during the day on Monday, we had mostly calm conditions at night and motored most of the way from Newport, arriving in Eureka Tuesday evening after an uneventful overnight passage.  We spent Tuesday evening and Wednesday in Eureka exploring this quaint city and important CA seaport before departing for San Francisco at 1am Thursday morning.  We decided to leave at this time because of the tide situation across the river bar (you don't want to try to cross the bar on an ebb tide - when the tidal current and river outflow opposes the ocean swell - you get big, square, breaking waves at the river entrance) as well as to get South of Cape Mendocino before the forecasted 35 knot winds arrived.  We sailed most of the way Thursday and overnight Thursday night and arrived in San Francisco Friday morning.  Unlike the first two legs of the passage this leg was very windy and we sailed almost the entire way.  A high pressure center was squashing up against a low pressure trough, squeezing the isobars together and making for high winds and some very exciting sailing.  The barometer dropped a milli-bar an hour for 16 hours on Thursday as we sailed south!  We saw sustained NW winds at 40kts with gusts to 50kts and 8' wind waves on top of an 8-10' NW swell (16' waves with the occasional larger one) - perhaps the biggest weather we've seen to date with this boat.  Several times, waves broke over the stern and got us wet in the cockpit but while tense at times, things were always under control and never dangerous.  We would have some pictures here of the big waves, but they never turn out and besides, we don't want to scare the grandmothers!  RJ got seasick a few times, but recovered quickly.  The sun was out, but with that wind blowing right into the cockpit and no land masses near by, it was cold cold cold!  We were bundled four layers deep wearing gloves and ski hats and we were still cold!  But the boat handled things incredibly well and amazingly, so did we.  Melissa can now honestly say she's been in some big wind and big seas and it wasn't that big a deal!

After motoring under the Golden Gate bridge (your supposed to sail, but really, the wind died right as we rounded Point Reyes.  It was the only motoring we really did on the entire leg!) we turned north and headed to Schoonmaker Marina in Sausalito which is a great spot.  There is an Art festival going on within walking distance and lots of great bike trails and funky shops not to mention a great little beach right in the middle of the marina.   We will probably be here for 2 weeks or so before heading out again for parts further south.  

Just click on the photos for larger sizes.



A beutiful sunset with calm conditions on the way to Eureka CA from Newport OR.

As we neared the marina in Eureka, motoring down the river, we heard a call on the VHF radio from a sailboat aground. We tried to give them a tow, but the ebb tide current was too strong and we nearly went agound ourselves!

The Coast Guard helped the guy single handing the boat set his anchor and then helped winch him into the middle of the river and gave him tow to a slip in the marina.

Eureka has many wonderful victorian homes and victorian architecture is everywhere in the old town area.

Kelsey and RJ had a lot of fun swinging on the rigging of a signal flag mast on the waterfront in the old town area of Eureka.

Eureka has a rich maritime history and the Maritime Museum in Eureka, while small, is an interesting stop the kids really enjoyed.

Anchors away! Kelsey climbing an old fisherman style anchor once used to anchor large mooring bouys for commercial ships outside the Eureka Maritime Museum.

Kelsey and RJ on an old bouy. Note the riveted construction. They don't make em like this anymore!

Dorade vent, probably recoverred from one of the many ship wrecks in the area.

Cooking in heavy weather on passage to San Francisco. The stove is level. The boat is not.

In the heavy weather, as the boat rolled and pitched, Melissa swore she heard something banging, bumping and rolling around inside the deck above the aft cabin. Eric and Dave thought she was hearing things until she pulled out a screwdriver, removed an access panel for the electric winches and produced this size 13mm deep socket left there by acident by some previous boat worker!

Ah, the heavy weather behind us, we steam towards the Golden Gate bridge in calm seas and sunshine!

Wow, that's one really big bridge!

Even Melissa doesn't worry about this one. There is no way we could possibly touch!

Officially inside San Francisco Bay. We made it!

There's lot of traffic in and out of San Francsico Bay. Even though we made our approach in the pre-danw hours, when traffic was minimal, we were watching the radar all the way!

Great Blue Heron hunting off the dock at Schoonmaker Marina in Suasalito.

Surfer girl. There's a great beach right in the marina. Kelsey and RJ made fast friends with the other boat kids in the neighborhood and spent most of the unusally warm weekend in the water!

Smile kids!

Bury me daddy!

Well, that didn't last long. That sand is hot!

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