...to weather that is. As planned, Keith and I left Santa Cruz at 8:30 Saturday night. We'd checked the weather and it seemed we weren't going to get a great weather window so instead we opted for timing - both of us were free from work and the kids could stay with family so off we went. We needed to get to The Gate between 8am and noon in order to get the tides just right so we decided to make a run up the coast in one fell swoop.
When we checked the weather it was expected to be NW 10-15 and 7ft seas, as mentioned, not great but do-able...especially on Steadfast. We left Santa Cruz with a light warm breeze, calm seas and a lovely sunset. Keith decided to set the main sail to help steady the boat as we chugged up the coast. The calm lasted for about an hour and then open ocean and big swell greeted us as dark settled in. All of sudden we were climbing up faces of 12-14 ft seas and getting drenched with spray as Steadfast slammed down again. Keith ducked below and started to add layers and foulies while I kept driving the boat north and then we swapped out so I could put on layers and my own foulies. Keith then decided that the main sail didn't appear to be providing any benefit so tethered himself to the boat and did some skidding and sliding along the top deck to drop it again. With the correct gear on and sail taken care of we settled in for what we knew would be a long night.
The feel of the boat launching off those waves and slamming the water...wow...bone jarring...with the only light coming from the moon it was a little nerve wracking. Fortunately I had planned for the worst and taken a Bonine before we left otherwise I do believe I would have tossed my cookies! Keith took the first shift and I was amazed that I was able to get a couple hours of sleep with all the slamming going on. I took the second shift and was able to watch for the Pigeon Point lighthouse and the red marker off Ano Nuevo...no problem....except that I'm still getting sprayed with water on a regular basis and it's night and I'm getting colder...and colder...and colder. Just when I think my hands are going to freeze off Keith wakes and relieves me. Not sure I've ever been so grateful to peel off my wet foulies and crawl into my lovely warm bed.
Again I'm amazed that I'm able to fall asleep and like clockwork wake a few hours later after a particularly nasty roll and slam of the boat. My last shift of the night was my least favorite. Keith said I had to hold course between 300 and 315 and when I asked what I was looking for (ie lights, markers, buoys) he said there wasn't anything to look for between Half Moon Bay and the Golden Gate. So there I was by myself in the cockpit, middle of the night, holding the boat on course with nothing to gauge beyond the compass in front of me. Out of the corner of my eye I would see something flash and it would give me a start....it was the wind blowing the tops off the swell, the white reflecting in the moonlight. I have to say that this was not my favorite part and I was very relieved when Keith spelled me just before dawn when I was once again turning into a human popsicle.
The next time I woke I could see the Golden Gate in the distance and we were going through the 'boiling water'. That's the way the water looked to me...like a pot of boiling water. All I know was I was thrilled to be at that point because it meant we were finished with the beating. Yipee! Keith took a peek at the GPS and with the tide flooding into the San Francisco Bay we were cruising at 10.5 knots. Sweet! We made a beeline for Raccoon Straight and into San Pablo Bay to get to the Napa River. The tide gave us a push all the way up the river, even in neutral the boat was going 4 knots. We pulled into the Napa Valley Marina just about Noon wrapping up our 15 hour run up the California Coast. We tied off and I headed straight for a piping hot shower and then off to bed for some much needed rest.
The next day we hauled Steadfast out and power washed her bottom before storing her on the hard for the winter months. Keith was debating whether we needed to do a power wash at all because we had only been in the water for two months. Turns out, everywhere I had put new bottom paint (i.e. from the water line down about 4ft) was perfect, not a spot of growth. The bottom was totally covered in growth so I guess I will be picking up a can of the sloughing paint that obviously worked so well on the top and putting it on the bottom 4ft or so before we drop her in the water next Spring.
So now we are getting ourselves ready for the drive back to Colorado and reintegration to the real world. Last year when we packed her up I felt it was time and I was prepared. This time, I am wishing we had at least another month on her...the summer was too short and there is so much more adventuring I wish we could have done.
As we were fueling up the boat for our final trip up the coast to Napa we had a gentlemen overlooking our activities from the dock say "That's a lot of wood you've got there.". A simple statement which I read into as meaning, lovely boat with wood accents that make it stand out. Keith read that he meant it was too much work. Keith suggested the man might prefer a different type of boat, a Beneteau or Catalina if wood wasn't his thing. Turns out he's spent quite a bit of time doing wood on boats and was saying he respected the work we had done. In actuality, we haven't done anything...the previous owner did but we don't say that. The conversation was short, less then two minutes, but had me thinking that evening about how many of these 'dock chats' we'd had each time we came to the fuel dock.
The thing is, the fuel dock is right next to a popular restaurant and tends to get a lot of foot traffic. There are always folks standing overlooking the harbor and the fuel dock so we generally have an audience when we add fuel, water or empty our holding tanks. It makes me laugh to answer the question of "What are you doing with that hose?"...um..it's the biffy sucker. More then one adult has squirmed and more then one kid has 'ewwwwed', much to my amusement.
We particularly get questions when we have the full contingent of kids on board and running around. I guess it attracts attention and my kids like to talk anyone who pays attention to them. One popular question, "Where are you from?" to which Loren always answers, "We're from Colorado!" and the questioners face goes blank with confusion or the quick witted ask, "Did you sail down the Colorado River?". I remember one women who hung out and asked so many questions to the kids and us and then apologized for bombarding us with questions but she thought it was so neat what we were doing and she was living vicariously through us. She was so honest and sweet that it was hard to be annoyed with the multitude of questions she was asking. I think Keith finds the questions a bit intrusive but personally I get a kick out of chatting with folks and sharing tidbits of our life...I think it's different and interesting and you never know who you might inspire to try it for themselves.
I'm the wife of the captain, a mother of three boys and a PM in the corporate world. This blog is my view of life and activities related to our boat.