Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The over night trip from Hell.

The plan was to leave late in the afternoon today and cruise all night arriving in Eureka for the flood tide at 8 AM. The trip is 72 NM which will take 12 to 13 hours and we want to leave CC in daylight so that will make us 2 hours early arriving in Eureka. We'll just 'hang out' off the bar to Humboldt Bay until sun rise at 7 AM and then we'll call the CG and find out the bar conditions and if everything is ok, we proceed in. It's 72 NM from CC to Eureka and flood tides this week are occurring in the morning so we needed to arrive in the morning hence the overnight trip. The weather forecast was for winds SSW 5-10 kts so we were looking forward to an easy trip.

We departed CC at 5 pm in 5 kt winds and had a route laid out that would take us 15 NM offshore so we wouldn't have to worry about crab pots. Once we were offshore we turned south as the sun went down. At 10 PM I went to lie down and Linda was on watch. Around midnight I was awaken by the boat pounding into waves and I came up to the pilothouse to see how Linda was doing. We were off Trinidad Head (41°02.910'N 124°19.800'W) and the wind and seas had started building over the last hour, the wind was now SW 20-25 kts and the seas seemed to be steep and 6-8' in height. We reduced the engine by 100 RPM and that somewhat eased the motion of the boat. I decided to stay up and see how things developed, plus I wouldn't be able to sleep with all this going on. At night it is very difficult to tell what the waves look like, how high and steep they are, but we could see white foam on the wave tops and we were taking spray over the bow.

In the next hour the wind continued to increase and the seas were building and Linda started to feel seasick. Quickly she progressed from feeling a little queasy to violently vomiting in the aft head. She was very sick and spent the rest of the night either kneeling in front of the head or lying in the passage way outside of it. I remained on watch as the seas built and the winds reached 40-45 kts and the sea became very steep and over 12' high. The boat was taking spray over the pilothouse as she pounded into the waves yet the boat was handling it well and although we were uncomfortable, especially Linda, we were in no danger. I continued to reduce the engine speed trying to ease the pounding with little effect. Our main concern was what would we do if we could not get across the bar at the Humboldt River and into Eureka. The next port was Fort Bragg 100 NM further down the coast and we didn't want to continue like this for another 16 hours.

By 6 AM we were off of Humboldt Bay and the seas and winds had come down as we came closer to shore. We're not sure if the high winds we experienced were caused by a passing front that was heighten by Trinidad Head or was just an off shore disturbance and had we been closer to shore we would not have had the high winds. Whatever the cause, as we approached the shore off of Eureka the wind died down to 10kts and the seas to 3-4'. We still had an hour to sunrise and 2 hours to the flood on the bar. We cruised 3 NM past the bar entrance and turned around with the seas coming from behind us and the boat motion calmed way down and Linda started to feel much better. I called the Coast Guard and they reported 2-4' swells in the bar entrance with no restriction. We easily crossed the bar and once in the channel pulled up our paravanes and made our way up to the marina on Woodley Island across from town. Once tied up at the dock and registered we both collapsed in bed for 4 hours, safely secured to a dock. That night we both slept for over 12 hours, recovering from the rough night.

In the morning we both felt refreshed and decided to continue onto Fort Bragg. The marina at Woodley Island in Eureka had little to offer other than a nice restaurant but it was a long distance to any shops in town so we decided to continue while the weather was good.

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