Northbound Pt 3


Northbound – 2008  Part 3

April 12, 2008


0400 came early, especially since I had been waking up to check the time in the night.  Our goal was to depart and be under the bridge by 0530.  If we had departed from San Leandro, IF the tide was proper, we would have had to depart at 0230 as it is about a two hour trip to the Golden Gate Bridge and it takes a little while to get underway.  And, since the Captain knows how I like getting up in the middle of the night, he smartly planned the pre-positioning to just inside The Gate.  Also, since it was going to be an extended voyage, we needed all the rest we could get before getting underway.


Once again this pre-positioning had to do with timing.   One must  time navigating the San Francisco Bay entrance so that you are going with the flood, in order to have the smoothest transition from the bay to the ocean (or vise versa) as possible.   The ocean, being the bigger influence creates a smoother transition, as it is a stronger force.  On the ebb, when the bay is emptying into the ocean things get very rowly.  The “little bay” water is trying to force itself onto the great big ocean, and, to put it mildly, there is resistance.  Often you have a washing machine affect as the ebbing current tries to mix it up with the ocean.  When there is wind, then you can have big waves in the washing machine.  No thanks.  We really like boring.


So it was, that we were up, anchor aweigh, and underway, passing under the bridge at 0516 – and a very uneventful passing it was.  I tried to take picture of the bridge.  But my camera doesn’t do night/lights/and boat moving all at once.  I will tell you it was a beautiful picture, the lights caused the Golden Gate to have more of a golden, rather than reddish glow it generally has.   We tossed our quarters to the “bridge keeper” and made our wishes for a safe voyage as we passed under the bridge.  So you can get a glimpse of the bridge, here is a picture we took on a cruise a couple weeks ago.


Golden Gate Bridge - March 08 


As soon as we were safely out of the influence of the bay entrance and on our way, Captain gave me permission to go back to bed.  I did.  J  At 0730, I was up and so was the sun!  Nice!   This is the first trip out of three times cruising to the north of the Golden Gate that we will get to see the land, from the waterside.


There was, however, one startling discovery.  As the sun came up it became obvious that we had been motoring through “fields” of crab traps.  In fact, we dodged them all day.  You do not want to catch a crab trap with a prop.  First of all it slows you down terribly (they are quite heavy), second, you don’t get to keep the crab or the trap, and even worse it can cause serious damage to your  prop and the driveline.  There is no place for time or mechanical failure in our plans.  Once again, I think our Boat Angel was looking after us, protecting us from the traps.  (Note:  When it got dark we moved out beyond the 50 fathom curve intent on avoiding the traps.)


The day was beautiful.  We didn’t get to experience the really warm temperatures that the people landside did, but we were very comfortable.  The seas were nice and flat, with a swell of about 4 to 5 feet – no problem what ever.   Every time we have been past Point Reyes we have been in fog.  So it was nice to finally see the most famous point just to the north of the Golden Gate Bridge.


 Point Reyes


As you can see the seas were quite mellow.


After breakfast the captain took a well deserved nap.   I was on watch, and enjoyed my time at the helm.  Though I couldn’t get any decent pictures I did see several whale spouts,  a hump of a whale, and a bit of a fluke.  Photographing whales has to be an art. Either that or you need ESP to know their intended course.  If the seas are totally flat I have learned that I can follow their wake and keep track of them.  If the waters are rippled or worse then I don’t do well at catching them on film.  Did I say film??  I am dating myself, as it is really digital camera.  ;->


Point Arena was no exception.  This was the first time we saw it in daylight.  It is interesting that all the big cape and points we had to circumnavigate have big reputations, especially to mariners.  Their very presence creates local weather phenomenoms.   Most all voyage plans take into consideration the most westerly points of land along the west coast.  Each will create its own sea conditions.  The general land mass they represent creates local winds and the seas break differently at these places.   In my mind, they are relegated as places that are very scary or fearful.  Yet, in the light of day, when the conditions are calm and civilized, they are nothing but an interesting place to photograph. 


They almost seem to be a boring and non-descript place along the coast.  What do you think when you look at this picture of Point Arena?  It looks like a great place to picnic.  Well, maybe today, but….


 Point Arena


Notice there is now a little ripple on the water.  But isn’t it a beautiful sight??


And so the day continued.  We went along our way, very happy with the conditions and the weather forecasters, as it was an easy day of voyaging.  We were just south of Fort Bragg at sunset.   It was dark to the east with the city of Fort Bragg lights twinkling at us, and to the west was a beautiful sunset.




If you look at the water, the ripple seems to have built a little as the winds have picked up.  I am always sad to see the sun set. It is a beautiful event to watch, though, and we always hope for a green flash, but the conditions were not proper that night. (Notice the haze.  It must be clear to see a green flash.)  I much prefer daylight to night cruising.  Fortunately, we do more daylight cruising than not.   I feel kind of cheated that there is still light to the west and it is dark to the east.   It seems a case of “have and have nots”. But, as we know, the  sun and earth must keep to their course. 


The really nice thing about this night, and one thing that makes night cruising easier for me, is to have the moon shining.  We had a half moon to shine on us.  When the moon first rose, it was as if there was a path of crystals sparkling out to the west.  In fact, I had to look several times to make sure it wasn’t the lights to the east reflected on our port windows.  Sure enough it was the moon rising.  And by the time my night watch was over, there was a very nicely lighted path off to the west.   It seemed to tempt me to turn into the light.  But then, where would I end up?  Let’s not even go there…so I stayed upon the  set course and enjoyed the light the moon shed upon our way.

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