May 19, 2008

Sailing Up the Central Coast

Pat and Carole McIntosh were waiting to head north from Santa Barbara on their Hunter 430, Espiritu when we got to the harbor. When the weather window opened up earlier than we expected, we decided to team up with them and the Swedberg family on Fantasia to buddy-boat up the coast to San Francisco.

On Fantasia, an Islander 40, Jeff and Anne Swedberg, along with daughters Krista (left) and Julie (right), kept us updated on weather and coordinated our radio communication along the way. Although, you really can't tell from the photo, Julie is holding up her pet lizard to get it in the picture!

When NOAA Weather finally relented and gave us an optimistic forecast for our run north, we wasted little time deliberating. With our fellow cruisers on Espiritu, Fantasia and Goolka, we left the harbor just before sunset on the 14th and headed up the Santa Barbara Channel for the notorious Pt. Conception, sometimes called the "Cape Horn of California." And, even though we hit some quite uncomfortable seas just south of the point, once we drew abreast of it, everything calmed down and remained that way for the next three days. Unfortunately in our case, both Scott and Jim got pretty seasick in the rough seas, and Jim couldn't shake it off even after things calmed down. Worried that he might be getting seriously dehydrated after two days of being sick, we elected to put in at Santa Cruz and let him off the boat to recuperate and catch a ride back to Santa Barbara. Luckily, the recuperation didn't take long, and in the picture below (right), he's already looking a lot better on the harbor fuel dock.
After a good lunch and a well deserved nap, Scott and I got under way that same evening so we could ride the flood tide into San Francisco Bay the next morning. With a late sunset and a full moon, we managed to miss all the crab pots that populate this stretch of coast at this time of year, and at 8:00 AM we passed under the Golden Gate, shut off the engine and sailed across the Bay to Marina Bay in Richmond. Along the way, we were hailed on the radio by both Espiritu and Fantasia, who had come in the night before. Nice to have friends already in town when you arrive...

Scott at the helm as we sail across San Francisco Bay. He has now sailed both the southbound and northbound legs of this trip along the central coast. But this time he got to see a bunch of humpback whales up close when a pod of a half dozen or more cruised around us off Point Sur. It was the largest group of whales I've yet seen that close to Sea Story.

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