With a good night’s sleep, we untied from our mooring buoy and headed out at around 6. Although I was still firmly ensconced in a bunk at the time, I expect that releasing from said mooring buoy was easier than getting onto it the previous day.
California seems to have a great diversity of…interesting mooring buoy rigs. Those of us who cruise in BC and Washington State are accustomed to the style used by Washington and BC Parks, which consist of a disused truck tire holding a triangular pier with a chain and ring. These are usually easy to catch: you drift on by, catch it with your boat hook, and then pull the ring up on the chain so you can slip a mooring line through and tie off (ideally, through your anchor roller so the buoy doesn’t bang against your bow all night).
When we did sea trials on Snow Shoo back in February, we got introduced to the “Catalina” buoy. I’ll leave you to read the gory details here, but these drastically reduce your required swing room since you’re tied on both bow and stern; at the price of having to fetch the float, rip up your sailing gloves with whatever ooze, mussels, and other hard growth has become encrusted on the line between bow and stern (OK, maybe that’s a plus: if it’s a clean anchorage, perhaps you get a free dinner on the half shell, but…), and have your helmsperson monitor their approach angle carefully since you only really get one direction in which to do it right.
Last night we were introduced to a third type, which I’ll just call “poorly designed”. This was a big ball float with a ring (with no chain) on top. Which wouldn’t have been such a big problem on a boat with low freeboard, but on Snow Shoo, the reach from the deck to the ring is more than my admittedly long arms can grab. So, we had to take another approach, and I had someone hook the buoy while I went halfway down the side boarding ladder, and with one foot on the ladder and one on the buoy to balance it, quickly fed the line back and hopped back aboard. I can’t imagine how this is intended to work with a less than three person crew, but I’m quite sure the folks in Monterey Bay have way too much fun sipping martinis while watching people fail to catch these.
With a five person crew, watches are shorter and less frequent than the “4hrs helm, 4hrs crew, 4hrs sleep, repeat” routine one has to do with a three person crew. With 5, you can rotate each person through at 3-hour intervals, so Walt started off with Paul crewing, then Paul was on helm with me crewing, then me on helm with Ken crewing, then Ken with Hans, then Hans and Walt, and repeat. However, “repeat” didn’t end up happening since today ended up being a shorter day: we headed up north from Monterey, and anchored in Halfmoon Bay in time for dinner. Weather was sunny, warm, and about 10-15kts of wind for most of the day–so after several relaxing watches of sitting back and letting the autopilot do the work while enjoying calm seas for reading and catching up on work, we finally got a chance to turn the diesel off, raise the main and yankee, and sail for a good while! Felt marvelous.
The big question for tomorrow and onwards is how far north we’re going to be able to creep before having to wait out bad weather. The weather situation reported by NWS is the exact inverse of what it usually is offshore: typically you get better weather the farther from shore you go. At the moment, the only areas not under either gale warning or small craft warning are the areas close to the coast; but starting tomorrow, there’s 20-30kt winds forecast for Point Reyes to Point Arena and continuing through Monday. (And just to demonstrate that Mother Nature is sometimes a big tease: southerlies are in the forecast for most of the Oregon coast. If only…)
Whether that pans out remains to be seen–after all, a few nights ago Hans and I spent a couple of miserable night watches crossing the area south of Big Sur where the VHF WX was dryly forecasting 5-15 knots, but we were seeing consistent 25kt winds with more than a few 35kt gusts. Thankfully, there are plenty of weather buoys and shore stations from which to get actual observations along this area of the coast, and you can bet we’ll be watching them very closely.