Yesterday started out great. Running well under diesel, Hans and I took a little detour into Morro Bay to top up the tank. I think Mike and Sandy said they typically got about .8 gal/hr, so after 35 or so hours, it was time to test the theory. And after 50+ gallons of diesel, we recognized that we were not maximizing our fuel economy (that comes to about 1.5 gals/hr), but we knew that bit. We spent a lot of time with the throttle wide open trying (and fortunately failing) to get the engine to overheat.
Back on the rhumb line, the first part of the day was pretty good, but as it wore on, the winds built and the seas increased, and so by midnight, we found ourselves pounding into 25-30 kt winds and short period seas of 6-8 ft crest to trough (NOAA’s weather service calls that a “small craft advisory”). Normally that is very uncomfortable, but Snow Shoo was a darling and took it like a walk in the park. We probably should have slowed down, but are still in the “stress test” phase of the game, and were trying to meet my brother Ken Knowles and our friend Paul Blinzer at Half Moon Bay. However, by morning it was clear that we needed to pull in out of the wind and get some rest and repair time. Water was dripping through the coaming of the front hatch, and I don’t thing we got the aft starboard lazarette latched properly, as we were taking a fair amount of water into the aft cabin. Both of those needed to be dealt with before going on. So at about 0800, we pulled into Monterey Harbor, and found a berth.
That, of course meant that Half Moon Bay wasn’t going to happen, and so I rented an urban assault vehicle and ran up to SFO and picked of Ken and Paul. We’ll see how things go tomorrow on the repair side.
After a good nap, and a look at the weather, I had to conclude that without the intervention of Mr. Scott and his transporter, Snow Shoo isn’t going to be in Newport on Memorial Day. In fact, though I hope we can get further, Newport is looking like a possible end of part one of this trip. Weather sucks, seriously. Even had we made our schedule and departed the Golden Gate tomorrow (almost, almost!), the weather systems off of Cape Mendocino (the real Cape Horn of the West Coast) are doing everything to keep us south of Eureka. And while it doesn’t help the transit time, the locals are in the “where did this stuff come from” mode.
The real problem is “global climate change.” While Cliff Mass will remind you that any particular event can’t be tagged with absolute certainty with “global warming” (and I agree), we are seeing the sort of weather instability that is caused by human activity. Anybody who tells you that this pattern doesn’t exist, doesn’t know what they are talking about. Even more important, the recognition of global climate change should be a litmus test for any elected office. Enough politics. What is going on for Snow Shoo is that increased Pacific Ocean temperature has destabilized the North Pacific High Pressure area and moved it north and east, creating a vortex off Norther California. Summer wind patterns have failed to establish themselves, and we get a bumpy and difficult ride, with hard to predict winds.
What does the plan look like now?
Synopsis: GREATER FARALLONES…AND CORDELL BANK NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARIES…
GUSTY NORTHWESTERLY WINDS WILL CONTINUE INTO THE WEEKEND AS A RIDGE OF HIGH PRESSURE BUILDS INTO OUR REGION. WINDS WILL BE STRONGEST IN THE OUTER WATERS NORTH OF POINT REYES.
Both windyty and Passage Weather are predicting a breakup of the wind pattern for Tuesday, then we get what I actually expected, which is mild southerlies through Saturday.
Given all that, and knowing that we should plan on Snow Shoo making 5kt average in this sort of weather, here’s what I think the float plan looks like:
Saturday: Forecast for Monterey to Half Moon Bay:NW wind 6 to 11 kt. Mostly sunny. Mixed swell…WNW 6 ft and S 2 ft. Wind waves around 1 ft.
0400 split this joint, heading north
1400 off Half Moon Bay (60nm)
2400 round Point Reyes
20 miles past Point Reyes is Bodega Bay, so if we need to rest, we can.
Sunday: 1500 round Point Arena (stay inshore and keep the speed down so we don’t pound
2100 Tie up in Fort Bragg
Cape Mendocino Forecast: Gale Warnings (’nuff said)
Monday: wait out the weather.
Cape Mendocino Forecast: N winds 15 to 25 kt. Waves N 11 ft at 8 seconds…and S 3 ft at 18 seconds.
Tuesday: 0600 Run for Cape Mendocino
Cape Mendocino Forecast: NW winds 10 to 20 kt. Waves NW 8 ft at 8 seconds…and S 4 ft at 15 seconds.
Weds: 0200 off Eureka; pull in if needed
At this point, we have mild southerlies showing on the models (like I trust week-out predictions for wind any more)
We’ll run for all it’s worth from that point on.
Oh–and we’ll duct tape the front hatch and work the latch on the aft hatch–hopefully we’ll stay dry.