San Francisco to Santa Cruz - 76 NM, 13.5 hrs moving, 3 hrs sailing

Well, our time in San Francisco is up. We motored from Pier 40 over to Gashouse Cove to get fuel for our trip, and decided that, since it's closer to the Golden Gate, we would be better off departing from the San Francisco West Yacht Harbor rather than motoring back to Pier 40 (a trip of almost two hours by boat) and departing from there. It was very windy once again on the bay, blowing 20-25 knots as we passed Pier 39 and Fisherman's wharf one more time at about 2:30 p.m.

When we pulled into Gashouse Cove, there was another boat at the fuel dock, so we had to circle for about 10 minutes while they finished filling up. Even in the cove there were 10-15 knot winds which made departing, after we had gotten fuel, a little tricky. Then we pulled into SF West YH at 4:00 p.m. or so and tied up at the guest dock. They assigned us a slip (313) and we took Mandala down the back channel and after one aborted attempt (with the wind right on the beam), were finally able to tie her off, have a bite to eat, and take a short nap before departing SF for good.

We set our alarm for 12:00 midnight so as to leave at the slack of the High Tide and to exit the gate during the wee hours when the winds were likely to lessen. The Yacht Harbor, being closest to the gate was still being buffeted by 20 knot winds when we laid down to rest at 9:00 p.m. Then, after a 3 hour nap, we slipped our lines, and made to leave the harbor. It was still blowing 15 knots at midnight, and so we had to back Mandala out to the bend in the harbor before we could come about and go forwards.

In the channel, there were 2-3 ft. wind waves and it was blowing a foggy mist, then before we knew it we were under and past the Golden Gate Bridge, and into the 4-6 ft. swells of the outer bay. Note that these swells were right on our nose, and in addition to the 2-3 ft. wind waves, so it was pretty bumpy for a while. Henry, our autopilot, could not handle the seas, and so we steered by hand and motored out until we were about 3 miles off the coast before veering a bit towards the south. At that distance from the mouth of the gate, the winds died down to 10-15 knots, and once we turned, we decided to put up the sails (with one reef in the main). We made good time, 7 knots or so, although it remained rough with the swells coming directly on our beam.

I sailed Mandala until about 4:00, when the wind finally died down to a trickle and the sails were slatting, so I started the motor and after another hour or so, handed the watch over to my crewmate at about 5:00 a.m. I, in turn, relieved her at 8:00 a.m. or so, and we motored, uneventfully down the coast in the continuous 4-6 ft. seas for the rest of the day.

Along the way we passed thru Cephelapod Alley again (which is what we call the area by Pigeon Point and saw a number of whales and dolphins. Our original plan was to stop in Half Moon Bay, but since we had already stopped there on the way up, and the weather was good, we decided to keep going on to Santa Cruz.

The views were very pretty, if not spectacular on the way, and before too long we were rounding the bend into Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz. Once we had rounded the bend, we had a beatiful sail for the last two hours, Mandala proudly making 7 knots downwind wing and wing. We made Santa Cruz Harbor at about 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, got an end-tie assignment, tied Mandala off, and went to the Crow's Nest for some cocktails. Being glad to have made the Gate and the leg to Santa Cruz, we both had quite a few drinks and hors-d'ouvres before returning to the boat, happy, tired, and just a little tipsy!

We spent two days (three nights) in Santa Cruz, lounging around the restaurants and making arrangements for subsequent legs of the trip.