It seems like years ago that I agreed with the owner of Johnson Hicks Marine to deliver my boat to Santa Cruz for some very needed upgrades. The journey down began, as all good journeys do, with a little excitement. We met at Coyote Point at 6 PM, had dinner, then drove to Alameda to sail the boat directly from the Boatyard at Grand Marina to Santa Cruz. The boat had a clean bottom, and some needed repairs but no electronics other than a working VHF and 3 hand held GPS’. Being paranoid, and old school, we had a chart on board. My heart nearly stopped when after turning the Perko switch to ALL and flipping the cabin breakers the interior lights would not come on. Only then did I find that the yard had shut off the main 12V breaker. After that little oops, we had light to work by. So, Steve Belenky and I rigged jacklines, while Alan Orr and Mark Green left to get a jerry can of diesel. The engine started and ran smoothly and by 9 PM we were off. The Ebb had just started when we departed and the moon was just a sliver which disappeared entirely before we even left the bay. We motored out the estuary which was weird as the lights off the docks were nearly as bright as daylight until we entered the bay. Things got progressively darker from there. We began to monitor Channel 14 and heard of no ship traffic so after hoisting sails we tacked our way towards the gate. The winds picked up considerable at the mouth of the gate and the standing chop line due to the ebb soaked us as we tacked towards the south tower. The moon had set by then and other than the shore lights the sea was just an inky blackness. One final tack towards the Marin headlands got us under the bridge and out to sea. Two more tacks before heading south.
I think I should consider changing churches because God clearly has a sense of humor when talking to me. We have to be the only crew(s) to have the wind always on our nose for the trips both down and back. The wind speed and angle allow us to sail on the trip down. We had long starboard tacks that edged us gradually closer to the shore with short port tacks taking us straight out to sea. The feeling of sailing away from shore into pitch blackness is unique. I remember coming on deck at 3:00 AM, after a nap, and being within a mile of HMB, being a resident and knowing that Mavericks is ½ mile offshore, we immedidately tacked to get more room off the coast.
We tried an informal 3 hour watch rotation, during this trip, which ended up being too demanding on the helmsman who is totally exposed to the cold and wind. Other than that the only really memorable event in that long night of sailing was at 4 AM when both Mark Green and I were on deck feeling cold and nauseous. Some Ginger Snap cookies and a few renditions of old James Taylor tunes and we were good to go until 6:00 AM when I was relieved of watch. The other memorable event was the look on Alan’s face when told at 7:00 AM that we had no coffee onboard. Neither Mark nor I drink coffee regularly and we did the provisioning. I did have Bengal Spice tea but the look of distain on Alan’s face told me in no uncertain terms that I would never be trusted with beverage selection again. Mark had gone down for a nap and missed the whole episode but stated later “ darn, I like that stuff!.” Different strokes for different folks. The other mishap was that the bag containing the bagels never made it aboard so we had cream cheese but no bagels, sigh.
The wind died around 7:00 AM so our final 6 hours were by motor into Santa Cruz. Leslie Few came down and drove us to the Tide House for a post delivery meal then back to Coyote Point.
After two weeks of Johnson Hicks working on the boat I went down on Friday and was given an hour tutorial on the new electronics. It all seemed very simple with the expert scrolling through the menus. The original plan was to sail the boat to HMB on Sunday but due to various family commitments some nut, yours truly, agreed to sail from Santa Cruz to HMB starting at midnight on Saturday. Sweet Grapes was race committee for the Interclub Race 6 up by PacBell Park and the entire crew was on the boat. On the way back to CP we came across a disabled wind surfer and rescued him. So after a brief respite we met at 9 PM in the Pillar Point parking lot then took one car down to Santa Cruz.
If you thought that everything was dialed in please start laughing now. The first thing I noticed was that the electronic heading was 110 degrees off the compass heading. Not being familiar with the system and already tired we left it as is and made the mental adjustment, fortunately the auto pilot worked flawlessly for the endless hours of motoring. The second thing was that I had left the owners manual for the radio at home so couldn’t figure out how to enter the MMSI number I obtained online. Without an MMSI number programmed into the radio we could not transmit, suboptimal. Depth, wind angle, wind speed all appeared to be working, the boat was full of fuel so off we went. The only other thing I forgot was to take my bonine pill, which I came to deeply regret. The wind was on our nose the entire time. 6-8 foot swells slowed our progress to around 4 knots on average and the boat had a very uncomfortable ride. 2/3 of the crew lost it. As usual I took the prize for being in the worst shape. We arrived in HMB around 2:00 PM Sunday. Crew on that trip were myself, Alan Orr and Mark Green. The two hour watch rotations would have given us some rest if the trip wasn’t so uncomfortable. No one could sleep below because of the bashing but getting out of the wind was necessary.
The final leg of the trip was on Weds. The crew for this trip was myself, Mark Green and Corey Lynch. I figured that worst case if we sailed and averaged 4 knots VMG we would arrive at the gate during slack tide, 6 PM. Fortunately/Unfortuneately we motored/motor sailed up the coast as the winds were very light. We did fly my new chute for the first time! We were two miles from the gate when we decided to shut down the motor and sail in against the ebb. An oil tanker and a large container ship preceded us into the bay leaving lots of open water as we gybed our way into the bay. There wasn’t enough wind to sail straight in against the current, so by zig zagging our way we made much better speed and progress. We went under the gate by the North tower within spitting distance of the old lifeguard building. We had a welcoming committee waiting for us as we entered. Hydroptere, the French trimaran which set the speed record for sailing vessels, was doing high speed reaches across the bay, in our honor, the hulls completely flying on their hydrofoils. Farther up the bay, Artemis Group AC-45 was training and entertained us until well after we off the ball park. And, after a lovely sail down the bay, some great food, provided by Corey, we were greeted by the CPYC beer can fleet who were just heading towards ”C” Mark as we were pulling into the channel.
After a long absence, it’s good to be home! Thanks to everyone who helped, sailed and provided assistance: Kay Few, Leslie Few, Mark Green, Steve Belenky, Alan Orr, and Corey Lynch, among others…
No Longer Boatless,