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Sunday, October 10, 2010

10/10/10 - Angel Island to Half Moon Bay

The peak ebb current, which would help flush us out of the Bay was at
0630 or so this morning. We didn't really expect to catch that but we
got up at 0530 anyway. After breakfast and a cup of coffee, we got
things squared away and got underway. Pulling the anchor was painless
and Lulu steered us out towards our first waypoint while I got the
foredeck secured. It was fairly cool and there was a fringe of fog
but it seemed to be lifting off the City. I was hoping that, as we
approached the completely shrouded Golden Gate Bridge, the fog would
continue to rise. Instead, it got thicker as we neared the bridge.

Happily, there wasn't much traffic on the Bay on this Sunday morning.
As we approached the bridge I had to adjust our course a little unless
we wanted to tie up to one of the pillars. Which we didn't. I was a
little nervous as this out us a little further into the big ship
channel than I cared to be. But the AIS showed no contacts which
helped relieve the stress. It was chilly so Lulu went below with my
blessing. I'd rather have her warm and ready to do stuff when I need
her than to have her on deck freezing when she doesn't need to be.
Since there wasn't any wind we didn't have any sails to contend with
and the autopilot was doing all the work so I could handle things
topside on my own.

Not willing to chance the so-called "South Channel", I plotted a
course that would parallel the big ship lane all the way to Red Buoy
#2 before we would turn south for Half Moon Bay. From the Gate out to
buoy 2 is about 7 nautical miles or almost an hour and a half. The
fog was thick and I was sounding the horn very two minutes. About
halfway to the buoy, the swells started getting bigger and closer
together. Normally, when you enter or leave a port with a bar, you
try to do it on a flood tide. I think the theory is that the water
entering the bay is going the same way that the waves are going so
there's less reason for the waves to build. When the ebb is flowing,
the waves are working against the outgoing water and the waves have a
tendency to get steeper. And that's what we were facing. Why didn't
we leave on a flood? Because, in SF Bay, the tidal current running
under the bridge is significant. It can be 3-4 knots or more in
either direction. So, if we had left on a flood with a current of 3.5
knots at the peak, it would have reduced our 5 knot speed to 1.5 knots
made good, whereas the same thing happening on an ebb would give us a
theoretical speed of 8.5 knots (although our hull cannot actually move
through the water that fast). But, you get the steep waves. So, it's
a compromise and today wasn't even particularly bad. But the swells
were 8 feet nevertheless. Up and down we rode. Over and over. This,
of course, was not doing Lulu any favors down below.

Only had one AIS contact on the way out. A large ship passed us going
the other way. I heard his foghorn and I hope he heard mine. The
info on my GPS chart said that he passed within 0.4 nm of us and yet,
I was never able to see him through the fog. Thank goodness for AIS
and GPS.

The trip south was uneventful. The swells continued to be pretty tall
most of the way but we're sort of getting used to that. We don't like
it but we're getting used to it. I optimistically unrolled the jib at
one point but it just flopped around confirming that there really
wasn't any wind so I rolled it back up. Saw several other sailboats
in the same predicament. That is, I saw three sailboats but I didn't
see any sails.

As we neared Pillar Point, the fog finally began to lift. It was
actually sunny when we pulled into our slip. The office staff are
somewhat less than helpful. They signed us in and took our money and
handed me a receipt. I said, what about bathrooms, showers, etc? Oh,
well you need to pay a $10 deposit for a bathroom/shower key. Fine,
but wouldn't you think this would be something they'd tell a transient
boater without having to ask? I mean, if we didn't want a hot shower,
etc., we'd just skip the marina and anchor for free. Duh!

So, we're here and we're not sure what our next leg will be. Either
continue to harbor-hop down the coast or do a straight run to Catalina
Island. Unless the harbors are very conveniently spaced from here
south, we're leaning towards going straight to Catalina. Guess you'll
find out what we chose to do the next time we get internet service.

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