Green Buffalo heading home
As the GRIBs said, after two days of ripping along at 8k and 190 mile days, the wind died last night at about 2am. Motor sailed for a few hours – and then full on motor since 4am. Had a close encounter with a 1000 ft long COSCO container ship at sunrise.
Lots of folks fishing 5-10 miles beyond the Farallones – many in quite small boats – taking advantage of the calm conditions. Calm did I say? Dead calm. Not a ripple. I write this email sitting in the cockpit.
Passed the Farallones close by at noon to give Jeff a look sea… it was spooky as the Rock came in and out of the fog.
Sealions, millions of birds and a half dozen or so whales (think they were Grey’s) – including a few just a boat length or two away (Buffalo boat lengths).
We’ve been cleaning the boat… bricked the working jib that took us the whole way, tying off halyards so neighbors can sleep, gathering lines and blocks for rinsing when we arrive (its been 5+ weeks since they have seen fresh water). Stuffing sleeping bags, gathering dirty laundry, cleaning out the reefer, fixing a few dodger snaps and so forth.
ETA at the Gate is 4pm – and Richmond YC 5pm.
Green Buffalo and Jim, Ian and Jeff “signing off” – and wishing you all smooth seas and full moons!
Burgers and Burritos on our Minds
Its still bumpy. And windier. 18k-27k. Thankfully we put the first reef in last evening expecting the wind gods to give us a spanking before letting us enter the Golden Gate. The wind is helping bring us home swiftly… about 190 nm under the keel in the last 24 hours… and still charging ahead. Only 150 nm to the Gate – and at this 8k (boat speed) clip – less then 20 hours. But… the cut-off Low is still ahead of us… so speed will drop… maybe hit the Gate at 3pm or so – and dock at RYC an hour or two later?
At midnight last night a tanker bound for LA based us close by… within 6 boat lengths… now this ship was 397 meters long… so 1.5 nm astern.
The AIS is so nice to have… alarm when we got close, providing CPA (Closest Point of Approach) and much more.
Crew is chomp’in at the bit to get home… its been 15 days at sea and the last few so so bumpy and wet. Everyone mentioning their wives… Mary, Rene and Evelyn.
Talk of food… Ian wants a burrito and Jeff and I are going for the cheeseburgers (In ‘n Out or Super Duper?). Dinner tomorrow night on the hard!
Dinner tonight – “The Last Supper” – is Chili on a bed of rice. A little strange? Yes ones appetite changes at sea.
We have started getting VHF traffic on channel 16. Hearing the Coast Guard in Monterey and San Francisco from 150 nm out. Makes one feel right at home.
And we plan to pass closely by SE Farallon Island tomorrow morning so Jeff can get hits first good look at the “Devil’s Teeth”.
Swerving thru the Moguls
16k-22k of wind and irregular seas/swells of 8 feet or so with another 2 to 3 feet of wind waves on top. Cooking has become a high risk position on the boat.
Making near 8k – so good speed toward the coast. We likely have another 24-36 hours of this “rough riding” – and then the wind will die for the final 12 hr or so motor in past the Farallons and to the Golden Gate.
Not much one can do in these “wet and bumpy” conditions. The cockpit is wet – and more wet with a good wave coming through cleaning the decks every few minutes. Though given we are in gale alley, these are pretty mild conditions – allowing us to have a full main and working jib (funny we have used the same two sails the whole trip… never changing a headsail since hanking on the working jib in Hanalei.
Dinner was miniature ravioli’s via Chef Boy R Dee mixed in with some stray pasta and red sauce.
320 miles to the Gate… under 48 hours… maybe to the dock Tuesday in the late afternoon?
Rolling down the highway
Yesterday I “thought” we had broken out of the high and with the end of motoring. Turned out to be a bit of a head fake. We motored and sailed on and off last night… wind varying between 4k and 14k. Had me a bit unsettled knowing we were down to our last 30 gal of diesel – and now likely down to our last 20-22 gal. But with the wind “really in” since this morning (11k-16k), and our rolling down the rhumb line at 7k+ boat speed, all is good. We have enough fuel to motor over 150 nm, and with this wind (and likely more… maybe 20k+ in the next day or two), we are good to “re-enter” civilization – likely mid afternoon to early evening this Tuesday (which would make this a 16 day passage… relatively short for the Buffalo).
Its still t-shirt and shorts on deck… but there is a chill in the air. Crew debating if we pull out the long johns tonight or tomorrow.
We are starting to get a bit of water across the foredeck – but not all that much as we beam reach through modest seas.
Mac and Cheese with string beans and albacore for dinner tonight (lunch today was albacore tuna fish sandwiches ).
Finished electronic book #8… none (electronic) left… so borrowed a paper book on Winston Churchill from Ian (one of the crew) today that should keep me busy till Monday.
Sun, Moon, Ship, Tuna and… Wind!
Yesterday was a beautiful day and evening motoring across the high. Clear skies made for a great sunset and then the fulll (near?) moon made for a bit of a “magic carper ride” as we crossed the placid seas.
We passed 4 boat lengths from a bulk cargo ship from Korea heading too the Canal (4 boat lengths of 700 feet each… but it was quite close).
Then this morning, fish on! Big albacore. We debated… 20 lbs or nearer 25 lbs? So sashimi it was, tuna steak (lightly seared) tonight on a bed of rice.
It was way too much fish… even with sashimi, steaks and precooked morsels for tuna sandwiches tomorrow, we had to throw much of the tuna back to Neptune.
Now we had planned a refuel for late this afternoon… emptying the last 15 gallons out of the forepeak bladder for this afternoon. Leaving us with “just” a full main tank with 30 gallons. We thought we might have to motor another 12-18 hours to get to the wind, but to our delight, at 5pm the wind came in! We are now sailing at 7k in 12-14k of wind. We expect this to build to near 20k over the next two days making for a quick re-entry into NorCal. And with a now full fuel tank, plenty of fuel to motor the last 100 miles or so across the cutoff low (a Monday night task).
Been motoring the last 24 hours… wind mostly 4k-5k… with sails up and wind out of the north, we are making 6.4k – across calm seas.
Though the breeze is cool… the water is warm… and sitting in the cockpit is “quite warm”. Broken skies… some blue… some low clouds… some high clouds.
Filled the fuel tank today from the fore peak fuel bladder… so out of the 100 gallons we started with, we are now down to 47 gallons (give or take a wee bit). Enough to motor 350+ nm. Which we shouldn’t need as the wind should come in by late tomorrow as we make the final dash for the coast. Though need to keep a bit of fuel “in reserve” as looks like a cut off Low on the coast which may have us motor the last 50-100 nm. One of my crew has never seen the Farallon’s so hoping to pass them by in daylight… time will tell.
Gale alley is looking “clear” with a forecast “relatively pleasant” 20k northerly for our last few days – Saturday till some time Monday.
Looks like a Tuesday arrival… maybe mid-day (still too early to really predict)… which would be a 16 day passage (last 6 trips home have been 5 at 17 days and 1 at 16 days).
Cabbage salad for dinner tonight.
Nice 12k-16k breeze. Though we are all getting tired living on a 20 degree angle that makes going to the head something that requires strategy and tactics. Have been headed a bit so losing a slight bit of Latitude – but mostly going east – burning Longitude.
Wind is supposed to die sometime tonight… so expect motoring tomorrow and maybe the day after. Crew hoping to stop for a swim (we could all use a shower). Then 2 or 3 days from now the northerly will fill in with a nice comfortable broad reach to San Francisco (I am dreaming… nothing is comfortable in 20k-25k wind and big seas from abeam).
We are just about to pass under 1000 miles to SF. Yes under a 100 miles is starting to feel “close” – given we have already gone over 1300 nm thru the water.
Just finished a Mac and Cheese with corn and chicken dinner.
We plan to put the fishing line out tomorrow – praying for tuna (albacore).
Been making 6k-7k due east the last 24 hours under full main and working jib. Wind out of the north at 11k-15k. Its getting downright bumpy – and a bit dangerous making one’s way around the cabin without getting thrown around. After two days of motoring we got used to a quiet existence… but no longer. The head water intake is now out of the water (yes we are heeled that much)… so when going to the head one fills up a few pint bottles with salt water in the galley and brings to the head to “lubricate the flush”.
This wind and sailing fast east is really helping with our fuel budgeting… we thought we might have to motor 4 to 5 days… with 5 days motoring about all we have fuel for… though we still might as the weather is supposed to go light in another day or two… we now are confident we have all the fuel we’ll ever need to make it home in a reasonable time (maybe 16 days?).
Something at lunch or dinner yesterday didn’t hit me right… (edited, TMI !), stomache “not quite right”. Being “laying low” today as my stomach comes back online.
And we are half way! Now days and time will tend to “accelerate” as we count down the miles to San Francisco… tomorrow we’ll be under 1000 miles to home… a real emotional milestone.
Lot happened the last 24 hours.
In the middle of a curry dinner last night we caught a net in the propeller. Thump thump thump and boat speed drooped a half knot. Sun was setting and it was getting dark fast. Our young crew member Jeff threw on the wet suit and mask as Ian and I we set up the boarding ladder. Jeff jumped in and confirmed we had a real rats nest with a net wrapped around the prop and shaft. Knife in hand he did a few dives – but found it hard going and asked for help. Now I may be too old for this but while thinking about Robb Walker of Nozomi’s (Cal 40) story of clearing a net from the prop at sea…I jumped in with a second knife (the water was great… not warm but not cold… refreshing). We took turns doing a few dives each cutting away the net (the ceramic knife really came in handy being able to cut anything quickly). After a combined dozen plus dives we had the prop cleared. Just as it went “dark”. Just in time.
Now during one of the dives Jeff bumped his head on the boarding ladder and was bleeding “more then a little” (it was just a nick, but head cuts tend to bleed). So it crossed all our minds – but no one said it to well later – we were sort of chumming for sharks.
In any case, all now well and motored along all night long.
Today has been a bit of motoring, motor sailing and sailing as the northerly wind fades, builds and shifts. During one lull after sailing an hour we took the time to check the engine oil (all good, no oil needed since last top off 3 weeks before) – but we also notice a bit of water in the fuel filter bulb – so took the time to drain the bulb.
We also caught a mahi mahi just in time for lunch! Being north of 35 degrees Lat, I thought we were too far north to catch mahi mahi – and our fishing prayers were for albacore. Well learned something new today. So started with sahimi for lunch, made a ceviche for later, and have fillets left for pan frying tonight (maybe put into baha quesidalla’s?).
At the moment we are sailing along in 10k of wind from the north making 6k to 7k. Full main and working jib. Down right peaceful. Will we need to mor sail or full on motor tonight? Time will tell.
Half way tomorrow? Maybe?
Well we are in the High. Wind varying from 2k to 8k from every which direction. Sometimes out of the North, sometimes from South, sometimes from astern. At the momemnt its clear blue skies for as far as you can see (though we had clouds this morning). We have been motoring over 24 hrs now making 5.8k straight down GCR (Great Circle Route) to SF. Clicking off the longitude lines. Doing some fuel use calculations… having left with 100 gallons of diesel and getting 9 or so nautical miles per gallon, we have plenty of fuel (which we may need depending on how elongated this High gets). We shifted 16 gallons of diesel from the bladder tank in the cockpit into the main fuel tank – so we are good for another 30-35 hours of motoring without having to fill up.
Jeff – the young guy on the crew – spotted a classic Japanese glass fishing float this morning – so he has a “perpetual” of his voyage across the Pacific. A nice blue glass float about 8 inches in diameter. Curious is it has some water in it. I believe (and may be wrong) these glass floats were last use near 40 years ago – so how it gets a bit of water in it but doesn’t sink over all that time is a mystery. This is the first glass float the Buffalo has picked up in the last two rides homes (they are getting rarer).
We really want to catch a fish… after the near miss yesterday… but the sun is going down… maybe tomorrow.
Vegetarian curry dish with rice for dinner tonight. Though if we had fresh fish…
Maybe stars tonight? Milky Way? Need to pull out my star chart app on the iPad… refamiliarize myself with the night sky.
And tomorrow is Sunday… our one week at sea mark… maybe time for a prayer on the foredeck as a “Sunday service”?
And maybe time to stop tomorrow for a swim (while we let the engine cool so we can check the oil level)?
How long will we be motoring east for? Good question… inquiring minds want to know. 2 days, 3 days? Now time for me to grab the latest GRIBs and run Expedition to see what the coming week has in store for us.
The wind has finally tempered… 15k of wind driving the Buffalo at 6k. Still reefed… but will likely removed the reef tomorrow (holding off in case we have any protosquall action tonight… we all like the easier sleeping this last day. We are getting more easting with the lower wind and waves enabling us to point a bit higher while staying “comfortable”. Not to say its smooth seas… its still quite “bumpy”.
The cockpit and the cabin sole have dried out… no more wet feet!
Jeff cooked Tortellini today… mmm mmm good!
Then a booby stopped by looking for a place to land… we shooed him off (a booby on a spreader means bird feces mall over the deck… boobies really put out high volumes of s—!).
Will we continue NE tomorrow under sail… or will we make it to the High and start motoring ENE?
We are already at 33-51N – so will pass 35N mid day tomorrow… the “usual” time to make the move east.
I also suspect the crew will finally take a shower tomorrow (its time ).
Just when we thought the wind might temper a bit, it didn’t. Last 24 hours have been 18k-20k – with occasional 24k when clouds pass.
That said, “bow banging” has decreased quite a bit… as we fine tune our direction and sail trim to best “meet the waves”. Did I mention the wave state is a bit of a mess?
After successful cabbage salad with chicken last night, tonight its mac and cheese with string beans and chicken.
Still looking forward to the wind and waves mellowing… maybe by late tomorrow (we are already at 31 degrees North Latitude and the center of the high is maybe 36-37 degrees).
Crew hanging under the dodger chatting… clear blue skies… just looking forward to less bump and less water on deck.
Just over two days into the trip home. The first two days were quite rough… 18k-22k of wind and big seas. Warm, wet and uncomfortable. One reef in the main and the working jib (85%). One could sit in the companionway but the whole cockpit and most of the space under the dodger was in the “splash zone”.
Everyone working on their sea legs meant not much food. Just sleeping and going to the head is real work.
That said, making good progress… 160nm per day (2.5 degrees of latitude) including “some” easting.
Now today it mellowed a bit… wind down to 15k… so we had a chicken and cabbage salad dinner. And I took a quick shower in the cockpit (yes I was starting to get a bit “ripe”). Now maybe saying it mellowed is a bit premature as its back to 18k as I write this.
Weather forecast looks pretty good… wind should continue to mellow over the coming next two days – and allow us to get a bit more easting… and then comes the “big motor” across the southeast corner of the high.