A Real Start

October 4, 2018

Departed Drakes Bay at 0900

Day 0 (Noon tomorrow will close my first full day at sea and will be recorded as “Day 1.”)

Noon Position: 37 48N 122 46W

Course/Speed: SSW5

Wind: NNW15

Bar: 1018

Sea: S3; NW4

Sky: Overcast with drizzle

Cabin Degrees Fahrenheit: 63

Water Degrees Fahrenheit: 59

Percent Humidity: 79

Sail: #1 Genoa full; Main full; starboard quarter

Yesterday morning, a wind from the west. I let it set in for several hours to be sure; then I weighed after lunch.

Mo ghosted along under engine toward the south and past the bay’s green entrance buoy while I pulled the anchor on deck, undid its shackle, and lashed it in the forward locker. Then I disassembled the windlass, dropped the chain down the hawse hole with a string as keeper, stuffed the hole with an oily rag; topped the rag with a thick plug of silicon and then covered the windlass in a rubber bag held tightly in place with a hose clamp.

By this time the green buoy was but a small dot on a glassy sea. A glassy sea! I’d been too busy to notice that out here there was no wind.

Mo bobbed all afternoon with full sail flying high by way of invitation. No luck. At dusk I motored back into Drakes Bay and, lacking an anchor, moored to the only ball that floats under the point. It is a big steel affair that I believe is owned by the Coast Guard.

A wind from the southeast all night. I made a pot of polenta and beef and listened to the A’s lose their wild card game to the Yankees while I did battle with Mo’s infestation of sand flies. This waiting has been unpleasant and not just due to the flies. Each day on the hook offers the chance to break an essential piece of gear or discover some necessary kit I’ve failed to put aboard–something that will require a return to San Francisco; each day I eat stores intended for the voyage; each day I miss Jo, who is minding the house 45 minutes south of here by car.

I also get to chew my fear. When I departed last year, my fear was based on ignorance. Now I know what I will found down there.

By morning, a wind from the northwest and a barometer at 1018. At last, the long foretold high is approaching. Gale warnings are running the whole coast by the weekend. Time for southing. I let go the tether at 9am.

Northwest winds quickly carry Mo through the shipping channel under all plain sail. By early afternoon, we are passing the Farallon Islands to starboard. On a clear day, the islands are visible from the coast. They were visible to Drake from the ridge top at Point Reyes and above the estero where he careened the Golden Hind. He stopped here on his way south in 1579 out of curiosity, to gather seal meat and eggs, and to apply the name Islands of Saint James.

Mere jagged rock and cliff (thus the Spanish, farallon), the islands jut above the waves from a position at the edge of the continental shelf where depths drop from 300 feet to 3000 feet in a matter of two miles. Thus they are the land’s last bastion and the final impediment between Mo and the open sea. Here are gulls and cormorants and murres by the score. By way of celebration, herds of seal leap like dolphins; in the distance a whale breaches and creates a white cataclysm upon his return.

The wind freshens to 17 knots. Mo digs in and froths. The sky is clearing. Tonight we will gaze upon Orion. Tonight we will be at sea.

Herds of seal off the Farallones.

Saw small, robotic sailboat, a trimiran, at distance making way toward San Francisco.

The Farallones are hosts to all kinds of wandering birds. Here, an Osprey circles the boat as we pass the islands.

11 Comments on “A Real Start

  1. Sail on Captain. Gods speed. Prayers are with you. Take care of yourself.

  2. What a daunting adventure. And this for a second time. We think of you a lot and have told everyone we know here at the Annapolis show that you must watch Randall’s adventure. There are many we’ve run into that know about you already, watch your adventure and are wishing you the best. We’re headed to Mia and Andy Kaarlson’s presentation on Arctic sailing just so we can get a taste for where you are heading next year. Who knows we may get to see you pass us by on the Labrador coast in 2019! All the best and many wishes for the best of weather to speed you south.

  3. On you way, You and Mo!! No more chomping at the bit! Love being right along with you two! Thank you!! Can’t wait for your next post. It’s like not being able to put a really great book down and looking forward to the next chapter!! Fair Winds!!!

  4. Seems like not too long ago I shook your hand and sat in the doghouse for a spell on the docks at the boat show. For the last year I’ve done tasks such as mow my grass, take my kids to school, and tend to my bees; you circumnavigated and are out for more. Both are worthy accomplishments and pursuits. I envy you in ways, and other times not. I am glad you have the fire to go forward again. I love reading about your experiences and nuances of seemingly endless days at sea. Be well and fair winds!

Leave a Reply