On October 1st, Suzie and I flew to San Francisco to prepare The Promise for the passage to Seattle. Two days later we were met by our good friends Andrew Phipps and Lisa Corwin who would crew for us. We spent 4 days preparing & provisioning the boat and on the morning of Friday the 5th at 9am we left the Brisbane Marina for Seattle. I am writing this blog from memory as the logs are in Seattle and I am in the UK on assignment.
The master of the vessel for this journey would be Captain Alan Hugenot. http://www.captainhugenot.com/ Suzie and I were fortunate to be able to hire Alan to act as delivery captain. Over the course of the next nearly seven days we would come to learn much about handling the boat, navigation, seamanship, ourselves and the captain. Alan made it clear to all before we left that this was not a pleasure cruise but a delivery, we had a schedule to keep. And keep it we did. We drove the boat 24 hours a day, with stops in Crescent City, CA and Westport, WA.
The forecast was for good weather all the way. The forecast did not disappoint. We had read and had many warnings from other sailors about the sever conditions we might encounter along the Pacific Coast this time of year. We were reassured however by the weather reports and from Alan that we would not be taking any undue risks. In fact in most of the photos I took along the way the seas were very calm. At night, even calmer. We timed our passage so we rounded the Capes at night after the winds die down. Cape Mendocino had some wind waves but no more than 2-3 ft.
The journey was not without some excitement. The first change to our float plan was in SF Bay. Americas cup events were taking place in the Bay Friday afternoon. We had planned to top up the two 85 gallon diesel tanks before we left. Due to the race, the fuel dock was over-run with all sorts of folks from cops to race officials and we were more or less turned away. So we decided rather than wait we would head over to Sausalito and fuel up there. We needed to cross the SF bar on the flood! This put us two hours behind and we hadn’t even crossed under the Golden Gate yet! All systems seemed to be operating normally with the exception that the water temperature of the Ford Lehman 120 seemed to be a little high. It never exceeded 175 degrees so we kept an eye on the gauge. Over the next two days the temp reduced to 150-160 so we think the raw water intake just needed to clear out. Fortunately The Promise is well equipped with a Standard Horizon chart platter and a Furuno radar. Those systems proved their worth, especially at night. Coming in to Crescent City proved to be the most challenging due to the heavy pea-soup fog. The chart plotter made finding the channel much easier, as we really couldn’t see more than 50 yards ahead. We came in slow and did see all of the navigation lights that were charted, but it was nerve-wracking and we were sure happy Captain Hugenot was with us. Leaving the next day in the light it became all to clear how narrow the safe passage through the rocks actually is coming into that port. The coast of Northern California is called the Lost Coast. There is just very little development at all there. There are also very few protected harbors. This makes carefully planning a passage north very important. More to come….including being chased by angry fisherman and why does a diesel engine stop?