Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pleasant overnighter from Eureka to Fort Bragg

Date: 10/1/2008
Location: Fort Bragg CA, Noyo River Basin
Lat/Lon: 39°25.440'N 123°48.082'W
Weather: High clouds, lite wind

We departed Eureka marina at 11:30 AM after a good (12 hour) night sleep. There was calm winds and sun as we motored out the channel against the flood tide. The bar was calm and we took a heading to go around Cape Mendocino, the most westerly cape on the lower 48 except for Cape Flattery which we rounded on August 31st. The seas built to 3-5' off of the cape but quickly flattened as we rounded the cape and headed south. We had a southerly current so we slowed the engine to 1250 RPM and still maintained over 5 kts. Fort Bragg is 100 south of Eureka, Humboldt Bay, which would take 15.5 hours at our normal cruising speed of 6.5 kts but we again were constrained by the currents in the bar. Humboldt Bay flooded until 1:15 PM and the flood in Fort Bragg started at 7:30 AM the following morning so we had nearly 18 hours to cover the 100 NM for an average speed of 5.5 kts. Added to the equation is that we wanted to get around Cape Mendocino, which has a reputation as being quiet nasty, in the daylight. Our plan was to leave early from Humboldt Bay to make the flood and hurry, if you can call 6.5 kts hurrying, around the Cape and then slow down for the remainder of the trip and arrive at Fort Bragg at day break.

On this trip the weather cooperated and was as forecasted so we had a nice overnight voyage. In the early morning I was getting very sleepy so I laid down at 6 AM for an hour and when Linda woke me she said it was a nice morning but the swells were very large. What we saw when the sun came up was swells up to 15' tall but over 15 seconds in duration so it was very gentle ride as we rode the swells up and down. We called the CG and they reported that the bar and channel had 2-4' swells and there were no restrictions so we proceeded in. The CG also asked for our boat name, description, documentation number, number of people on board, number of life preservers, and our GPS position. We pulled the stabilizer fish out of the water at the outer buoy and proceeded in. The channel is very narrow and turns sharply after you pass under the Highway 1 bridge and other than being temporarily blinded by the rising sun, we had a good trip across the bar and through the narrow channel. Once inside the channel we pulled up the paravane arms and made our way to our slip in the basin. The basin has narrow fairways and the finger piers are no longer than 40' so getting a 48' boat in was a bit of a challenge but there was no wind or current.

There is no wifi in the basin but there is wifi further up the river 1/2 a mile at a small boat basin that has a RV park. We use the SSB radio and to get text email and download weather forecasts. To get to a store we have to walk a mile up a steep hill but there's a nice shopping center and grocery store at the top. There is a winter weather pattern developing with high winds and seas so we might be here for a week or more waiting for good weather. Such is the life of cruisers trying to make their way down the coast. We hope that when we get below San Francisco the weather will improve and become more stable.

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