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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Strata Surge

October 1, 2011
Underway Eureka, CA toward Bodega Bay

Heading out of Humboldt Bay for a second try at rounding Cape Mendecino. Yesterday we got within a few miles of the Cape and decided to turn around. Two other sailing vessels slightly closer to the Cape were experiencing 30+ knots of wind and steep choppy seas out of the South. The NOAA forecast had called for 5-10 knots which even considering the 'Cape Effect' was way off. It's always tough to turn around and give up hard earned miles, but getting hammered by 30 knot winds on the nose is never fun. Back in Eureka the crews of Indigo, Ventured and LightSpeed made a personal visit to the NOAA forecasting office to gain some insight on unexpected 30 not winds. A always helpful staff at the Eureka NOAA office was very accommodating and one of the forecasters explained the unusual 'Strata Surge' that had forced us back into port.

The weather outlook for the coming week was less than ideal and it looked like our next good weather window might be seven days out. So anxious to get South we headed out of Humboldt crossing the bar around 2PM. Winds were initially out of the NNW at 10-15 then switched to SSW as we approached Mendicino and steadily built. About 4 miles from the buoy winds were in the high teens out of the SSW and as we rounded the Cape peaked at at steady 25, not counting gusts. The seas generated were steep and of a very short period which really slows down the boat as it crashes into the waves, rides over the crest and crashes into the next trough. Lots of water tends to fly on the bigger sets and we just sort of hold on secure and snug inside out pilot house. We've grown pretty soft sailing the pilot house catamaran where our offshore sailing attire is short sleeve shirts, shorts and slippers. When we need to go outside to quickly handle a sail we grab a light weight shell and slip into some Crocs or deck shoes. Nothing like the days of having to gear up for a watch and sit out in the cold and sometimes wet cockpit.

Despite being stuck in port when we'd have rather been sailing, we did get plenty accomplished. Mostly ordering bits and pieces for our many boat projects, spare parts and provisioning for the South Pacific. It's also a great chance to meet fellow cruisers and we enjoyed the company of Mac and Catherine of s/v Indigo a beautiful 42' Nauticat. Mac and Catherine hailing from Portland Oregon are headed to Mexico as well so we hope to share an anchorage or two down the line. We also met Irlin and Jenn from s/v Ventured sailing a Tartan 37' hailing from Seattle, Washington whom are joining in on the fun of the Baja Ha Ha. With the Baja Ha Ha starting on October 24 this year, those of us still 500 nautical miles to the North of the start line are beginning to feel the pressure.

Our newest venture aboard LightSpeed is growing our own food. Our friends Jasmine and Shannon of Astoria, Oregon loaned us a book called 'Sailing the Farm' which has a strong focus on self sufficient living aboard a sailboat. The sections that most interested us were sprouting various seeds and grains and the growing of wheat grass from which we can extract the healthful benefits of wheat grass juice. So we ordered sprouting trays and are testing out a wide variety of sprouts to see what we like best. The book also has a nice section on edible seaweed, but we haven't experimented with any of the many clumps of seaweed we frequently sail by.

My other major project is replacing the standing rigging on LightSpeed with new terminal fittings, wire and turnbuckles. Quite the effort to design the system and source the parts. I sent out a RFP to a bunch of rigging and rigging supply shops and the next step is evaluating the proposals and selecting a supplier so I can place an order.

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