Thursday, August 13, 2009

Shelter Cove

Tuesday was our most exhilarating day of sailing since we departed Newport, but also our most challenging. Even though we knew what to expect, and had awaited favorable conditions, Cape Mendocino gave us a bit of a surprise. Leaving Eureka, we had 3-foot seas, gentle winds, and a favorable current, so we had a nice sail to the Cape itself. We even ate lunch in the cockpit after we had passed the Cape Mendocino buoy.

But things changed quickly - within 20 minutes we had gone from full sails to one reef in the main, to dropping and furling the main, to partly furling the genoa. Forecasted winds were 10-15 knots, but we saw 25 gusting to 27 at times. We surfed easily at first in the building winds -- surges of over 9 knots several times, and an average speed well over 7 (that's fast for our boat). We had to dodge a gray whale and calf that surfaced only a few hundred yards in front of us. As we neared Punta Gorda, the second cape, only 7 miles south of Cape Mendocino, we encountered current running 2 knots against us and against the wind, which produced very short, steep seas. Thankfully there was very little swell, but still we had an uncomfortable time for about 30 minutes.

After we passed Punta Gorda things quickly transitioned back to normal. But then the wind dropped entirely, and even though we could still see the whitecaps behind us, we had to start the engine.
We had excellent views of the two capes, the King Range, and the "Lost Coast." But with the current running against us, and toward the end a bit of a headwind, it was a long afternoon motoring to Shelter Cove.

We were grateful to put the hook down and fix dinner. Another sailboat, northbound, entered the cove before us. I couldn't make out its name, but it hails from Halifax, Nova Scotia. They're a long way from home!

1 comment:

Cathy Ellis said...

WOW, you did it, and with the usual surprises! Cape Mendocino is successfully behind you, now.....I had meant to write earlier, but never did, what you already know/knew, Cape Mendocino is to be respected, not dreaded! Cathy former first mate SV Gertrud