From Bill -- Some notes in passing and an update.
At about this time we were celebrating one or the other of half a dozen different half way events. The champagne flowed like water. Actually, some of the time it was water. We had a lot of Martinelli and that also came in handy for celebrations. Even Kate, who got pretty sick later, was feeling pretty chipper.
We had to motor through some light air to reach the northerlies, but every thing went like clockwork, with wind shifts appearing right on schedule. Pretty soon it was clear that we needed a reef in the main and not too much later came the big event.
Losing the auto pilot was serious. The wind was picking up. It was probably over 20 knots all the way to SF. Seas were mostly 12-15 feet and bigger on occasion. We were close reaching to start with but it settled into a beam reach. At some point it seemed that a second reef was called for, and most of the time we completely furled the jib.
Picking the course and sail plan is a Skipper’s dilemma. We could have gone faster with more sail up but the additional speed adds to the violence the boat encounters plowing its way through the big choppy seas. On the other hand, “Isn’t it always better to get there sooner?” There is also the concern that the crew members may be pushed beyond their limits driving in the cold windy darkness with seas breaking over the boat. A balance of difficulty versus endurance. It is my guess that anyone else in my position might have made slightly different choices.
In the middle of all this the distaff part of the crew (when off watch, of course) was below decks watching TV.
Then came the cry. “Land ho.” Right on schedule almost to the minute. The Farallon Islands have never been so beautiful. A couple hours later we blasted under the Golden Gate on the peak of a full bore tidal flood. We called RYC on the phone and said, “We’ll be there in an hour.” After a pause, came the reply, “There is no wind in the bay. Give us a call when you get closer.”
Dammed if they weren’t right. We had just sailed 5-6 days in 25 knot winds and big breaking seas, right up to Mile Rock and Point Bonita. Then, minutes later, as the tidal current swept us into the bay the wind died completely the sky was blue and the sun so hot that people were removing clothes in a panic and ending up in shorts and tee shirts. What a day! We were so glad to be home, even if they had to send out a boat to fetch us, (Just off Red Rock as the tidal current was sweeping us off to Sacramento.) Greetings included a “Certificate of Congratulations” from the mayor of Richmond.
I’m writing this a week after our arrival and a lot has been accomplished toward getting the boat ready for the return trip. The diesel engine starter motor has been replaced and it works beautifully. The bottom has been cleaned and painted. The cutlass bearing has been replaced. I’ve been up the mast 3-4 times for various issues. The torn spinnaker is at the sailmaker. The life raft is being re-certified. The 2nd EPIRB is getting a new battery. I’ve started refueling to get the tanks back up to where they should be for the race. The garbage and deposit plastic bottles have been unloaded. Kathy picked up some of the provisioning boxes. Arrangements have been made for dry ice for the return trip. On the schedule for tomorrow is the maintenance of a couple winches that developed problems during the delivery. And there is a page long ToDo list as usual.
From Bill from the dock at RYC.