Yay – we finally made it to San Francisco Bay!!! The passage down took longer than planned. Our first port of call was Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula where we checked back into the USA. When we arrived the fog was so thick we couldn’t see the lighthouse at the end of the sand spit although we passed it about 200m away! It was most peculiar being so close to land but unable to see it, thank goodness for GPS and accurate charts. We managed to find our way to the Customs dock and completed the paperwork then dropped the anchor just outside the breakwater.
Fog is a summertime hazard here on the west coast; we encountered it in Alaska and BC and it will continue to plague us all the way down through northern California. Fog horns on vessels are essential and most have them installed on a timer – a five second blast every two minutes – the horns on ships are low frequency and sound bovine and mournful. We buy the handheld aerosol horns which are higher frequency and pretty deafening and, so far, have done the trick.
The last stop on the Olympic Peninsula after Port Angeles is Neah Bay where boats tend to gather to wait for the right weather to leave. Four other yachts were going south, we saw a couple of them as we rounded Cape Flattery but then we headed about forty miles offshore and didn’t see them again. The first couple of days were perfect sailing conditions with a 15-20kt northerly breeze pushing us down the Washington coast. Later a small low brought headwinds and gales were forecast of Cape Mendocino so we decided to break the journey at Crescent City in northern California, just south of the Oregon border.
I wish I could say that we enjoyed Crescent City but we couldn’t find anything much we liked about it. The city was established in the 1850’s during the California gold rush and must have been a wonderfully decadent and debauched place back then. In 1964 it was devastated by a tsunami and seems to have been in decline ever since. However it does have a couple of redeeming features. One day we took the bus a few miles inland and hiked some of the trails through the northernmost forests of California Redwoods. These massive trees are magnificent, they grow over 70m tall and more than 6m in diameter and walking amongst them with the sunlight piercing through the canopy was quite breath-taking.
We also visited Battery Point lighthouse which was kind of cute with period furniture in all the rooms and a stunning view of the rocky shoreline northwards up the coast. That was about it on the sightseeing, from then on we were waiting for good weather to round Cape Mendocino. The options seem to be strong to gale force northerlies or lighter southerly headwinds. We opted for the latter and unfortunately had to motorsail for most of the three day passage down San Francisco. We did have a favourable southerly current and enjoyed the company of pods of dolphins and watching humpback whales breaching.
We passed under the Gate (Golden Gate Bridge) in fog so were unable to appreciate the spectacular entrance into SF Bay. We were very glad to drop the anchor in Richardson Bay off the Sausalito waterfront and spend the afternoon unwinding in the wonderful warm sunshine- oh yeah!!!
More fun in the sun soon.