Here is a summary from my blog about my 2nd trip from Puget Sound
to San Diego. This was a double handed trip with my wife and I. She had no offshore experience when we left Gig Harbor.
I had spent about 30 days at sea in other boats prior to the trip. I had also raced sailboats, dinghies, and sailboards for 25 years.
The trip from Gig Harbor, Washington to Chula Vista, California
covered 1,389 nautical miles in 36 days. We were underway for 249 hours and sailed for 59 of those hours. We sailed downwind for all except four hours. We made seven overnight passages. The longest passage
was 34 hours and the shortest was four hours.
The total trip was done as 13 shorter trips during which we stayed in 12 different marinas
and spent one night at anchor
. During three of the legs, there was not a breath of wind. During three other legs, the wind was from dead astern and too light to maintain a boat speed of more than four knots.
The typical wind that was blowing when we chose not to sail was from straight behind us in the five to ten knot
range. As the trip progressed, we started sailing in ever-lighter winds. Our average downwind sailing wind was in the 14 22 knot true wind speed range. We seldom sailed if we could not keep the boat speed above 5-knots.
The strongest steady wind we experienced was from astern at about 35 knots with gusts over 45 knots while we sailed around Pt. Arena. This wind lasted for only about two hours.
The largest seas we sailed in were a little over 10 feet. The typical seas were in the three to six foot range. The most uncomfortable sea conditions were the large rollers from abeam while motoring south from Cape Flattery and the terrible wind/wave combination from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz. Once south of Pt. Conception the seas became almost a non-issue.
We suffered almost no rain during the trip but had many days of fog and mist. We experienced little warm weather sailing until south of Pt. Conception. Nighttime air temperatures, both at sea and in port, were in the high 40s and low 50s every night until we arrived in Santa Barbara.
We found that downwind sailing is an art form that can only be learned at sea. By the time we left Santa Barbara, we were pretty confident about putting up a lot of sail to maximize our downwind speed. We also got pretty good at balancing the boat to minimize downwind rolling.
The sailing leg from Noyo River to Half Moon Bay taught us how to fly a downwind rig in more than 30 knots true wind and still be relatively comfortable. We then got a lot more practice while sailing 90 miles from Pt. Sur to Pt. Arguello in more than 20 knots true wind. We confirmed that our boat sails
downwind with the best helm
balance if we reef the main and keep the full genoa
poled out as far as possible.
We furthered our downwind education when we put up the big drifter on a pole as we sailed from Santa Barbara to Santa Catalina
. We learned that we can keep the boat speed above 5.5 knots in less than 10 knots true wind. I wish we had experimented more with that combination earlier in the trip.
We also learned that we are far more likely to fiddle with the sails
and try different combinations when the sun is bright and the air temperature is over 65 degrees. I thought about putting up more sail on many days when we were north of San Francisco. The 52-degree air and the bone chilling fog and mist seemed to always keep me from leaving the snug confines of the cockpit
. I suppose there are many reasons that cruisers prefer the tropics.
The light air drifter that I had made just before we left on this trip was an important addition to the boat. Once we learned when and how to use this sail it significantly increased the amount of time, we could sail. The sail does allow us to keep our boat speed above 5-knots in most winds over eight or 9 knots. If we had started using the sail earlier in the trip, we probably would have sailed another 40 or 60 hours on this trip.
Having the big drifter on its own built in stay and roller furler
drum did make it easy to use the sail in most conditions.
I can not over emphasize the importance of good radar
for this trip. We were absolutely dependent on radar
for keeping track of all the fishing
boats and commercial
traffic. I could not imagine making such a trip without radar.
The most important member
of the crew was our Autohelm
ST6000 electric autopilot
. The ST6000 was in control of the boat for at least 95% of all the steering
. It performed flawlessly during the entire trip. The ST1000 tillerpilot connected to the Sailomat windvane
steered another 4% of the time. I would be surprised if we steered by hand for a total of four hours during the entire trip, except of course while entering and leaving harbors. The ST6000 autopilot
has now steered over 1500 hours with no breakdowns or failures.
Nothing broke during the entire trip. I attribute this to good luck and the huge amount of time that Jim and I spent installing systems and then sailing hard to try to break them. Our 30 day shakedown cruise
that we took in July 99 when we sailed up and down the west coast of Vancouver Island really helped us understand what systems needed more work.