I sailed from Neah Bay, Washington
to San Francisco
about mid-August, 2007. I sat in Neah Bay for three days waiting for the weather to improve. Putting it politely, I got my ____ kicked! Left with every indication weather conditions would be improving ahead of me going south. Because I am a solo sailor I elected to sail well offshore
, +- 150 n.m.. I enjoy having lots of sea room in case of foul conditions and besides, most agree wind is more reliable well offshore
. In particular, because my engine
is small I did not want to take my chances of being caught between ports
with an approaching storm. On my third day out a weather update warned of "another" approaching high. The forecast
was for seas 12' - 14' and wind 35 knots gusting to 40. I saw that and more. Going out was a good choice in the sense that after the weather deteriorated I listened to V.H.F. transmissions declaring Washington and Oregon
shoal entrances closed. The short story is that approximately 150 n.m. north of San Francisco
and 80 n.m. off Cape Mendocino I broached twice and lost
two kayaks. The first broach occurred in the daytime when my Aries
malfunctioned and I was trying to set things straight with a boat hook. Felt her going sideways to starboard in time to quickly pull the tiller over, preventing her from going more than about 70 degrees off vertical... Anyone who has ever tried to get a kayak
filled with water
back onto a dock
understands why I let it go, waving goodbye as it drifted away. The following day I never saw the second kayak
stowed on the port side go. I was asleep below with everything closed tight when she went over at least 110 degrees from vertical. Knocked the tri-color of the masthead, tore away the radar
reflector hanging at the spreaders and bent the masthead v.h.f. antenna
. I am not really sure if it was a big wave or a broach that put her over.
First time I've ever announced a pan-pan just so folks would know my position in case I turned up late. Not sure I was heard since there was no response.
This after a four year plus solo global circumnavigation
where I never encountered anything like the conditions during the Washington to California passage
. I never wanted to do it anyway because the reputation of this particular passage
is notoriously bad. Never want to do it again either.