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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

10/20/2010 - Port San Luis to Santa Barbara

We've successfully rounded yet another "Cape Horn of the Pacific".

We left our Port San Luis anchorage yesterday about 12:45 PM. As soon as we cleared the harbor, we unfurled the jib and raised the main. Our course put us on a beam reach. We were seriously motating. Lulu was driving and she had the rail almost down in the drink a few times. I was busy trying to figure out how to trim the sails so the boat would be more balanced and she wouldn't have to work so hard to keep it on track. We even got a chance to try out the Cape Horn windvane for a little while. Seemed to work great once I got the vane set right. It was plenty rolly out there but with the sails up we barely noticed. However, after a couple of hours of this, it was like someone hit the OFF switch and the wind died away to nothing.

We left the main up, furled the jib and fired up the engine. It was fun while it lasted. Now that we weren't actually sailing we began to feel the boat roll back and forth. It's weird what a body can get used to. This incessant rolling, while uncomfortable, was really no big deal. We took it in stride. This is not to say it wasn't a big PITA but we just rolled with it. What else could we do really?

After running the engine for a couple hours, I looked down in the engine room and, sure enough, there was the sprayed-oil pattern that indicated a leaky rear main seal on the transmission. Crappage! Well, I knew it was going to take a very long time to spew out the entire contents so I didn't worry about it. Too much.

The plan was to go around Pt. Arguelo and Pt. Conception during the night when it was supposed to be smoothest. Well, if what we experienced last night was supposed to be smooth, I'm glad we didn't attempt it during the day.

As we approached Pt. Arguelo, the wind was fairly mild and mostly out of the north and northwest. We were still motorsailing but, when I saw 2 other sailboats that were sailing in these conditions, I was shamed into rolling out the jib. We tried sailing for awhile but we were having various problems that I need to work on. We were also only going about 3 knots.

Because of our lack of experience, we don't like to sail at night when only one person is on deck. So, about 6:00 PM we struck all sail. We didn't even leave the main up for steadying because it's been our experience that, if the wind is abeam or aft of the beam, the hoisted mainsail (by itself) makes the autopilot work too hard. Striking the sails was fun (not). We turned into the wind to lower the main. Naturally, stuff got hung up but it mostly came down without incident.

However, rolling up the jib proved to be a bit of a problem. With Lulu holding tension on the sheets (for a nice tight roll) I stared yarding in the furling line. All of a sudden, I couldn't make the line budge. I looked around and saw that the jib's lazy sheet had gotten itself wound around the windlass. Once I freed it up, we were good to go. At least we were good to go for a few seconds. The jib was almost completely rolled up when I hit the wall again. Couldn't budge the furling line.
Now, if you're not familiar with Spin-Tec furlers, here's a picture:


As you can see, they don't have a cage around the drum like most furlers do. The idea is to make the unit dead simple and simple to repair as well. Well, I found one teeny-tiny problem with not having a cage. If you don't keep some tension on the line, the loose part can flop off of the spool and get jammed below it. Might even get tangled around the cranse iron (the metal piece at the end of the bowsprit that the various supporting cables are attached to). Naturally, this is exactly what happened to us.

So, I strapped myself to the boat with my safety tether and headed forward to untangle the mess. Again. Of course this means going out to the end of the bowsprit. And, of course, the bowsprit is going waaaaay up and then waaaay down again. Nothing but ocean below. Granted there is the bow pulpit to hang on to but that's about it. Wouldn't be too tough to slide off between the pulpit and the bowsprit platform. But, I hunkered down and kept one hand for myself and one hand for the ship and managed to get the tangle untangled. Back in the cockpit, the sail finished furling quite nicely. Detractors of roller furlers are right now wagging their index fingers and saying, "Seeeeee? I told you roller furling was dangerous if it screwed up." But I'm thinking that this is the only time I've had to venture out onto the platform while underway. Without furling, I'd have to go out there every time we decided to put the jib up and every time we decided to pull it back down again. As well as whenever you wanted to change a sail. No thanks. I believe I can learn to keep tension on the furling line.

As we approached Pt. Arguelo, the seas got a bit rougher and the wind picked up. We were getting another free roller coaster ride. Fortunately, the moon was out and, even through the clouds, it kept the night from getting too dark. It even peeked through the clouds occasionally. And, there was no fog! The seas off both points were pretty rough although we never took any water on board.

I was bound and determined to stay on watch until we passed Pt. Conception. However, I only made it to the waypoint that was off the point itself before I had to call Lulu to relieve me. When she came up I told here where we were and that, according to most of the sources I read, the seas should miraculously calm down after rounding the Point. I then headed below for some sleep.

I managed to get almost 4 hours of sleep and, from where I was laying, the seas seemed far from calm. When I finally relieved Lulu, it was a bit calmer. However, she said it took another 2 hours from the time she relieved me until we were actually around the Point. Sunrise found us motoring through very calm seas and light winds. Also found us motoring through a huge oil sheen. Big surprise what with all the offshore platforms around here.

One of the highlights of the trip was when we were visited by multiple dozens of dolphins that hung with us off and on for over an hour altogether. Not sure what kind they were. They were fairly small and might have been long-beaked dolphins. I didn't get any pictures of them because they moved around too fast. Best I would have gotten is maybe part of their backs as they dove back under. A couple of them jumped completely out of the water a few times.

About the time the dolphins were entertaining us I noticed that boat speed was down to 1-2 knots, sometimes even slower. I checked the engine compartment to make sure the transmission hadn't frozen up but the propshaft was still merrily turning away. So, assuming it must be a very strong foul current, I boosted the rpms to 2500 and brought the boat speed up to 4 knots. A strong counter current would certainly explain those waves that kept slamming into our bow.

As the morning progressed we had to divest ourselves of some of our foul weather clothes because it was a very nice 70 degrees or so. I'm so glad we're finally in Southern California.

We pulled in to Santa Barbara Harbor and registered for a guest slip. It's funny, in Oregon, you usually get a better rate at the marinas if you stay longer. Here, it's $0.90/foot/night for the first 14 days. If you stay longer, it shoots up to $1.80/foot/day.

Looks like we'll be here at least through the weekend. Have several boat projects to do, we need to do laundry and get groceries, see about having some prescriptions refilled, etc. There's a trolly that will pick us up outside the marina and deliver us to any number of places and it costs a whole quarter. The run every 1/2 hour at a quarter after and a quarter to the hour.

Well, that's about it for now.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. I asked the Harbor Master if there was wifi here. He said they didn't have wifi but then went on to tell me about all the places in town you could get it (Starbuck's, Library, the usual suspects). Well once back at the boat, I connected my external antenna and cranked up the ol' MacBook. Guess what. I found at least 3 unencryted networks and another one that was a pay-as-you-go site. Guess it pays not to believe everything you hear.


1 comment:

2ndreef said...

Well, Steve & Lulu, Robin & I don't think of you two as inexperienced. More like well seasoned cruisers, however, your new life style is an on going learning experience. Having gotten safely to where you are today mostly in less than favorable conditions (fog, cold temps. and some rough seas, not forgetting some of the difficult approaches to some marinas) says a lot about your good decision making process and planning. That said, we're having a beer with a squeeze of lime, so join us when you can.
We hope you two will archive your blogs and someday put them in book form, there's a large audience gathering.
Soon you'll be making your first foreign port, so turn up the mariachi music on the stereo so that we'll know your there! A hat dance on the cabin top roof might also be in order, and if you do make sure it's photographed.
Enjoy Santa Barbara, everyone's right there with you two. Until your next blog, see ya.
Bill & Robin