It’s a fine feeling to be at a quiet, not-rocking-and-rolling, warm, solid dock after three days of noise and commotion and general boat heaving and yawing and rolling in all directions (sometimes all directions simultaneously, depending on the swell interference patterns at that moment). It’s also a sense of accomplishment to me – that’s a relatively long run from Seattle (Port Madison) to San Francisco (Alameda) in front of a not very friendly coastline with weather systems that can set up and blow hard (30 knots or more) for days. So I’m pretty happy with how it all went; some things could have been done better but nothing broke that I can think of and there were some really nice periods on the water.
There were also not so nice periods on the water, such as last night on the leg from Cape Mendocino to Point Reyes. The forecast that I went in with was for N10-20 knots, and once you launch past Cape Mendocino there’s not a lot one can do with an 8 foot draft boat except get to the other end – if something breaks you can have a long way to go to reach a safe port. Fort Bragg is the first protected place to pull over but Beetle doesn’t fit depth-wise, at least according to the USCG guys and the charts, unless you arrive at high tide and don’t mind sticking the keel in the mud. And the second place is Bodega Bay which is just before Point Reyes; Bodega with many facilities is north of Reyes, Drakes Bay with no facilities but a wonderfully protected anchorage is on the other side of the point. So I was kinda bummed to clear Cape Mendocino 5AM Thursday morning and headed south only to have the wind build to N20-30 and hang there. Hmmm… perhaps NWS missed on their forecast. Better yet, conditions were forecast to lay down as I got around Point Arena and instead conditions built – another stretch of N20-30 to move through.
What’s fun is to watch Beetle move along with lots of wind from behind (and it was super helpful to not have big swells, only 3-5 foot wind waves with white caps, no breakers) – the boat just zooms along even with a tiny triple-reefed main boomed out perpendicular to our course. Belowdecks conditions are not so comfortable when running DDW, as the boat rolls continuously, and that makes walking around down below most interesting. Everything remotely loose in the lockers starts to clank and bonk as the boat rolls 20 and 30 degrees to each side; biggest complaint was a beer bottle in the ice box that made loud CLUNK noises every roll, and then there were the soup cans that got loose in two different lockers; they make all sorts of noises as they carom about. Takes more than a few socks stuffed in strategic locations to make those quiet. Socks are also really good for quietening the plates and cups that rock back and forth and make clinky clanky noises behind the fold up table, and lots of little towels were used to make things quieter. After a few hours of noise-chasing the boat starts to be quieter, and then a new swell train arrives and now, in addition to the roll roll roll twitch there’s a new bow up heave bow down plonk! going on, and that makes new noises below. I finally located two metal Monitor windvane spare break-away tubes stuffed in the bottom of a locker, and they had been intermittently rolling into each other and sounding for all the world like two people clinking together champagne glasses… took hours to find those two pipes and wrap them in towels.
The wind and sea-state died dramatically just outside Cordell Bank, and then it was up since 3AM to bring Beetle in and around Point Reyes in the fog, find the Golden Gate Bridge, then to the marina, check in with the office, then go to sleep. Yeah Team!
So we’re off the water for the moment, and tomorrow I’ll sort out what pictures I have from the run and see about adding them to these notes.