Cruising Log: the best and worst of sailing life
Updated: Sep 1
It’s true what they say, life at sea has the highest highs, and the lowest lows
Thu Apr 14 2022
We’ve been sailing since just before dinner and it’s well into the early morning hours of the next day. When we left Bodega Bay and pointed our bow once again, we both let out a big sign of relief. After 10 days hiding away from the angry pacific weather system that blew for days on end, we’ve finally made it out. Neither of us thought that sitting at anchor would be the moment where we would question our sanity or wonder why the heck we thought this would be fun. Spending days on end hanging from our anchor - our lifeline to safety - nearly blew away our enthusiasm and excitement for this long awaited trip and newly achieved lifestyle. All this prep, planning and provisioning to make this grand trip hundreds of miles up the coast and here we were, stuck in Blow-dega (as the locals call it). It felt like we had regressed, getting even closer in distance to my family’s home base and stuck in a town I knew so well from beach days as a kid. We sat on the hook, knowing that with each gust that our awesome 65lb Mantus anchor didn’t drag in, we were set and safe - but we still found ourselves checking out the portlight to make sure we hadn’t budged. On the windier nights, we slept in the aft cabin as to not be bothered by the straining of our anchor bridle as we swung and bounced on our trusty hook. When we were lucky enough and the winds went to bed at the same time we did, we felt luxurious sleeping in our big, comfy vberth. The blustery days were spent reading, cleaning, fixing, working, napping, baking and refreshing the weather forecast site too many times to count in one day. These all seem like mighty fine activities, but when paired with a rocking boat and rigging howling in the wind, it is recipe for a very exhausting, draining experience. One of the first days it was breezy we made the mistake of hiding out behind the dodger enclosure in the cockpit. That night we both ended up soothing our windburn with an early dinner and a shower with our quickly depleting fresh water. Of course, we have a capable cruising boat with many luxuries like a watermaker, but being in a muddy, shallow anchorage we couldn’t put it to good use and eventually picked up anchor to fill up water at the fuel dock one day in the early morning before the wind began to howl once again. Don’t get me wrong, neither of us were questioning our choice to live afloat or our decision to set sail and travel the world, but damn it was definitely not what we had hoped for in the first week of our new cruising life.
It’s true what they say, life at sea has the highest highs, and the lowest lows.
Now that we’ve filled you in on lowest low so far as cruisers, let’s talk more about the high we are riding now that we have set sail once again. It was quite calm when we left Bodega in our wake and the forecasts had been teasing us with the opportunity of a southerly wind which could have us shutting off the loud, stinky motor and actually sailing up the coast. We motored through the calm conditions all day, keeping our fingers crossed that the breeze would increase enough to fill our sails. What a funny thing - one day we are wishing the wind would let up as we swung at anchor and now we wished the opposite- needing at least 15kts to keep up speed and make our window around Cape Mendocino. We cradled our warm foil wrapped breakfast burritos we had made for the passage and silently asked the wind gods to reward us for our patience. By lunch time, the wind was fluttering from 10kts, to 15 then back to 10. It rained off and on all afternoon and rained steady all through the night. Our side panels on the dodger were a lifesaver and we thanked ourselves for making those just before departing on this big voyage North. I (Sonya) went down below and whipped up a bean salad, getting creative with a couple of fresh items added to a variety of canned beans. We both agreed the recipe was worth writing down and will most likely become a regular passage meal onboard. By 5pm we finally got the wind we were praying for. We rejoiced and silence fell as we turned the ignition key to the OFF position. Gemini thanked us for giving old Stinky Pete (our engine) a break and she propelled forward effortlessly. We sailed for 12hrs straight, the biggest reward for our patience and perseverance, all the frustrations from 10 days of windy misery were left behind in our wake as we glided silently all through the night. Oh, the glorious sailing life!
The Infamous Cape
Fri April 15th 2022
The next morning, just after daylight, the infamous Cape Mendocino peeked through the thick wet fog. We had sailed through the night until about 7am when the wind died down and clocked to just off our bow. We motored past Cape Mendocino, catching glimpses of its majestic mountains - this point of land had been our main focus for months, watching the localized weather patterns and learning it's effects on the offshore winds. We had stared at this section of coast on the chart for so long, we felt like we knew it already. I (Sonya) had passed through just 6 months before on a friend's sailboat delivery, and luckily this time the winds were manageable, not blowing over 40kts like it had on my previous way up the coast.
We finally got wind to sail by that afternoon (3pm-ish), and into the night until about 10pm, when the wind died and on went the engine. We made it to Crescent City at first light, enjoying a beautiful sunrise as we approached the harbor. We tied up to the guest dock and got a couple hours of uninterrupted rest, which is always a great feeling after a long passage. Since the forecast was looking good for us to continue North, we made the decision to only stay the day at the dock, leaving that same afternoon to not miss our window.
While in Crescent City, we had a couple of goals to accomplish: stock up on groceries, pick up our new B&G chart-plotter that Jack ordered after our Open CPN computer navigation kept crashing and glitching, give Gemini's interior a quick cleaning, and fuel up the boat.
Now that we are living life on the move, receiving packages is a new challenge. Jack discovered that there are Fedex Onsite locations usually located inside Safeways or Walgreens where you can choose to have something delivered, showing ID to pick it up. We walked 15-20 mins to the Safeway to provision, then to the Walgreens close by to pick up the B&G chart-plotter.
We arrived back to Gemini and Jack got to work installing the new system (didn't take much since we already have all the rest of the NMEA 2000 system installed) while I put away all the provisions and made coleslaw and other easy snacks. Then, we did a quick clean-up down below to prepare to set off again.
By 4pm we were motoring to the fuel dock. Crescent City wins sketchiest fuel dock on the California Coast, as it's a tall pier with only a few staggered ladders to climb up to the cleats onto the pier. There are logs floating with tires to create a form of bumper but you can't step on them. Instead, you had to jump from the boat to the ladder, then rush up to tie off to the cleat, then catch the stern line to secure the boat. Apparently it's not too bad at a high tide, but at low tide it's like an acrobatics test to tie up. Fuel was about $7/gal here - not cheap, but less than our homeport in Emeryville!
Soon, we were on our way North once again. We dodged crab pots leaving Crescent City, so we were glad to be leaving during the day to be able to spot them easily. We quickly settled back into the passage routine: doing 3hr shifts & making sure we were getting enough rest when off shift. We had an incredibly beautiful full moon that night.