August 25, 2023
We haven't died yet and have been learning along the way. We know what we don't want to sail in and what we (me) would. 15 knots on the rear quarter with perfectly matched waves, please and thank you!
We decided to make an overnight dash down to Eureka. Without a decent window to get to Mendocino and the increasing forest fire smoke, it was time to leave Crescent City. Eureka wasn't a place we planned on because we'd been trying to avoid marinas and those pesky river bars, but we didn't want to keep staying in what I dubbed the "Meth Capital of California". So we checked, and there was dock space available at the marinas. We also found out that there may (big may) be a place to drop an anchor in the river. It's not ideal, but we could make it work if needed.
We left at 8 pm for slacktide and daylight at Eureka. We had a beautifully clear night motor down to Eureka, thanks to the waxing moon. What we didn't have was the wind. However, we were beginning to feel more like a motor yacht than a sailboat with all this motoring. We didn't stick to a strict watch schedule and took turns napping on the 12-hour sail. It was a lovely, lonely sail. We didn't see any other boats until the morning of the Coast Guard leaving the bar.
Once daylight broke, we were in sight of Eureka and its entrance bar. With one crossing already under our belts, we felt pretty confident in this one. Allegedly, it's one of the deadliest ones on the West Coast. Pfft. Not today, Satan! There was no wind, and we motored right in with a nice push from the swell. We cruised in through the bar and up the river towards the docks. Next up was one of our lesser favourite things to do: dock the boat. The marina staff assured me there was space on their long wharf. We motored up and there were some spaces, if you wanted to essentially parallel park the boat, but there was a nice spot along the very end of the dock (spoiler alert: we soon found out why that space was empty). Perfect, we took that. Another passage is done! Time for bed.
It looked like we'd be here until we could get around Cape Mendocino, so we settled into life in Eureka. I didn't care that people said Eureka was boring and kind of sketchy; it was warm, and I was wearing shorts and tank tops!
We woke up from our nap to find we had a new pet...The biggest, meanest sea lion we've come across so far. Okay, it was the first one we'd come across, but whatever. I named him Tater Tot. Mark wasn't a fan of Tater Tot. Each time we tried to leave the boat, Tater would charge us (Mark), and there was an incident when Mark was trying to get water. Thankfully, he had the foam roller to protect himself. Tater had taken up residence on our dock lines, so leaving would be a problem if he didn't move along.
I loved Eureka! I also blame Eureka for my newly found addiction to heirloom tomatoes. I trolled the multiple farmers' markets to find the perfect tomatoes to eat in sandwiches, on pizza, or by themselves. Shockingly, I didn't spend our entire cruising budget on these tasty, misformed fruits. Aside from the farmers' markets, we visited the city's redwood park and old Victorian houses. We even found the infamous Craftsman and spent the afternoon looking around at "vintage" tools and random pottery bits on his property. I tried to get a picture of my dad, a big fan, but it didn't happen.
On top of tomatoes and grumpy old woodworkers, we met some great people. Locals invited us out on their Thursday night races, where I got to helm. It was a tiller boat; surprisingly, I had no idea how to sail one. I figured it out after some time (while we were solidly in last place). The harbourmaster helped us coordinate a fuel fill-up without dealing with the weird fuel dock. Eurekans are just so lovely.
We provisioned, had a side trip to In and Out Burger and were ready to go. We were armed with tips on rounding Mendocino and had a window that looked like we'd have mellow conditions. Everything should have been fine. Famous last words.
NM Sailed: 67