September 20-24th, 2008: Coos Bay to San Francisco

September 20-24th : Coos Bay to San Francisco Bay

We had planned to spend several days in Coos Bay, cleaning, re-stowing, adjusting a few things, visiting with folks and exploring the area. All the other cruisers were leaving on the 20th, but after they left, we checked the Weatherfax again and decided we’d better go too, while we still could. Chris and Kathy dashed off to gather saltines and Cuppa Soups, and also managed to get both propane tanks filled (even the one no one would fill them in Port Townsend). We did a quick stow, filled fuel (sang “Women in Work Clothes” to the gal at the gas dock), and headed off by noon. Pat and Kathy had taken the four-hour seasick meds this time, so the trip was a lot more comfortable. We enjoyed a hot meal that night. The next day the wind came up and we flew along on fores’l only, doing about 8.2 kts. Tony was thrilled with the way the boat was handling, and he took some time to play at the helm. Under a brilliantly sunny sky, we had dolphins playing around the boat. What a sight! They seemed to like to play with Mr. Toad.
The wind continued to increase, and we finally doused the fores’l just before dark. We probably had waited just a bit too long, and it was quite a workout for the four of us to furl that sail! We continued under jib alone, doing about 6kt. It was a wild night, very sloppy seas with the wind gusting to 30kt and seas 6-8 ft. Every now and then the two would combine and the swell would be huge. We learned not to look behind to see what was coming! Chris and Tony took the helm for much of the night, and at times, it had to be Tony, as he was most experienced and knew how to approach those big ones!
While the state of the seas and swells could be intimidating for the uninitiated, it was amazing how quickly we got used to it. There were one or two startling  moments when we took a big one. Once the coffee pot went flying, and once we took a bit of wet in one of the portholes.
There were some challenging periods when we had engine problems while motor-sailing. We had been using the engine when the wind was on the nose, and had been plagued by a pesky wee leak. After several bouts in the engine room, spending hours bleeding the fuel line and trying to work out the problem, Tony finally pulled the injector and found a broken part. He was able to make a repair, but all those fumes were finally beginning to make him a little queasy.
Luckily, the winds were favourable for the last part of the trip. With Cape Mendocino well behind us, conditions became more comfortable, and everyone was able to get a little sleep. (We had been warned about Cape Mendocino, and interestingly enough, it wasn’t too bad when we were right there. The worst seas blew up just past the Cape). As we approached Drake’s Bay, we deliberately slowed down to make our destination in daylight.
Drake’s Bay was a welcome sight, and by the time we arrived, the seas were calm. There were no other boats as we anchored, surrounded by pelicans. But just at dusk, a strange square-rigged apparition appeared. Luckily, we had met the owner earlier in the summer in Montague Harbour on his smaller boat Atlantide (only 130 ft). So we were able to recognize Maltese Falcon from the photos we had been shown. As she ghosted into the Bay, she looked like something out of Star Wars. And when, at dusk, she lit up all 5 sails on each of the towering masts, the sight was even more science fiction.
We left Drake’s Bay the next morning (not too early) timing our arrival in San Francisco for mid-afternoon. It’s important to plan carefully for arrival at the Golden Gate Bridge. The word is: “The Bay sucks”. The combination of wind and tide contributes to very disturbed seas. On top of all of that, there is usually lots of shipping traffic in a confined area, and sailboats are expected to stay out of the way. We took our time getting there, and managed to arrive just at 1500. Conditions were excellent, and there was very little traffic. Even so, we experienced the predicted winds as we sailed under the bridge. What an amazing feeling to approach this area on a sparkling sunny day. The bridge itself is quite a sight. Brick–coloured art deco. Goes on forever. You get lots of time to look at it as you approach. And the closer you get, the more the wind pipes up.
As we entered the Bay, we decided to try contacting St. Francis Yacht Club, the first of many in the Bay area. But they had no room, so we headed back out for Sausalito. There were lots of boats anchored there, and we easily picked up a mooring in front of the Sausalito Yacht Club.
While Chris and Kathy dashed ashore to make arrangements to fly home to their own boat, Pat and Tony met a few of the friendly regulars at the club and took advantage of their wonderful showers.
Next morning, after hiking up the street to Fedex to mail the crew’s stuff home, we all checked out the nearest ice cream and coffee bar. Then Chris and Kathy dashed off to the ferry/BART/airport and home to their own boat. They were the best crew, never complaining, always ready to do whatever needed to be done, lots of fun, and great team players. We were sorry to see them go, and we wish them all the best in their future adventures with Skye.
After lots of rest and boat clean-up we began the adventures of discovering Sausalito and San Francisco.

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