August 22, 2023
On a crispy, late summer morning, when most people are still asleep, we didn't slug back coffee (sea sickness) and raised the anchor. We needed to time our bar crossing at slack tide or close to it to safely escape Newport. After our three calls to the Coast Guard on the way in to "double-check" the status of the bar, we certainly weren't going to bother them again on the way out.
We'd planned this leg of the passage based on the lessons learned from the last. We might have also been still having some PTSD from the previous sail. We looked at swell and waves first, then winds. The first day was looking to be some of those gentle rolling swells we were expecting, but we'd be out of luck for sailable wind. We knew we needed at least 15 knots to keep the sails full with the swells, and that wasn't forecasted. The wind would eventually fill in, and we thought we'd get some good sailing for the second day of our passage to Crescent City. This suited the gun-shy admiral (me) nicely, and out we went.
Once we crossed the bar and popped out into the ocean, we put up the sail, hoping we might get some wind. We didn't. Unlike our first trip, the ocean was a glassy pond. We couldn't believe this was the same ocean we were in just last week. We motored along. The day wasn't a total waste. It was warm (finally), and we were treated to quite the animal show. Pods of humpbacks jumped, some entirely out of the water and dove around us. Dolphins showed up and played in the bow wake. We couldn't believe our luck when two blue whales, the most giant of all the whales out there, breached not far off our starboard beam. We even had sharks!
But it wasn't all animals and glassy seas. We were still struggling with eating and sleeping. In a stroke of genius, we did stock up on easy-to-eat foods, like pop-tarts. The hero food of the trip would quickly become these strawberry pop-tarts. Passage-making was proving to be lonely. The only interactions we had were brief during our shift changes.
Day one rolled into day two without any drama. Day two brought winds. It started off comfortable enough. I won't lie and say I wasn't nervous that we'd have a repeat of the Washington Coast, but I was trying to remain hopeful. The joke was on me. Quickly enough, the winds built a steady 20 knots, gusting 25. Add in the Pacific Swell and Oregon Coast chop; it was a less-than-pleasant combination. A seasoned sailor would probably love the conditions, but we were seasoned, just seasick. The boat started up her rolls, and we wedged ourselves in on either side of the captain's chair and held on for the ride. And what a ride we were having! The boat was quickly renamed the Vomit Rocket as we hurled down the coast, being tossed like a small toy side to side.
With Crescent City in sight, we took a spicy course, skirting a small bay in the hope of some reprieve from the winds that had now built to a steady 30 knots. Skirting the bay was one thing, but to round the corner into Crescent City, we needed to thread the needle between the rocky coast, a reef and some huge rocks. We triple-checked the charts and the guidebook that claimed it was doable, and off we went. We were in the clear after a tense hour (more like 25 minutes). We just surfed the last waves and eventually turned into Crescent City.
Phew, the anchorage provided some much-needed reprieve. With two legs under our belts, without any major incidents other than a somewhat hesitant crew member (and dog), we felt like we might just be able to make it to Mexico. It was a good thing since the boat certainly wasn't going back North, and the market for sailboat sales in Crescent City didn't seem reasonable. We tidied up the boat and settled in for the night. Exploring our new home port would have to wait until tomorrow.
Our time in the anchorage wasn't without some excitement. After we got in bed, we noticed the wind pick up from the South. It was not ideal since the anchorage was fully open to south swell and winds…and the swell came barreling in. We put out more chain on the in-case and were lucky we did. As we bounced on anchor, I was trying to calculate how much wiggle room we had in the very shallow anchorage before our keel touched the bottom (it never did, but I'm sure it was close). Then the lighting came. We sat for an eternity while lightning struck all around the anchorage. Thankfully, the lightning never made it close, but it was intense.
The following day, we headed in to see what the city was like. It was small-town America with an extra layer of being ground zero for the firefighters battling the Californian forest fires that were raging all around us. I'm sure the town is lively and less apocalyptic under normal circumstances. But while we were there, the vibe was off. But we toured around the lighthouse and got the groceries we needed.
We couldn't turn down the opportunity to go to the aquarium that boasts live shark petting!...it helped that we had coupons! The strange little aquarium had a cheesy sea lion show, some starfish to look at and an aquarium with local fish. And we pet the sharks.
The smoke really started filling in, adding to the apocalyptic vibe. We decided we had enough of the strange town and only spent a short time here. We hauled the anchor and set off to Eureka to get closer to the infamous Cape Mendocino.
NM Sailed: 193