SOLACE Update: Successful San Francisco Landfall


As noted in my first post from sea, Moli and I departed Hanalei Bay for San Francisco in the company of another yacht, Solace, a Doug Peterson Baltic 42 out of San Diego.

Aboard Solace were skipper Steve Harris, daughter Kelsey, and friend Kim Kirch, pictured below from their blog, where they are typically represented catching fish. Lots and lots of fish.


Steve and Kim with a lovely Dorado.


Kelsey showing off a Wahoo.


Steve gloved-up and ready for the fish-cleaning operation…

As reported earlier, a few days into their passage north the yacht’s autopilot failed, and a few days after that the steering cable parted. The first of these was easy to deal with, though it forced the crew into hand-steering watches of 2-on and 4-off. The second failure left them dead in the water.

Steve immediately rigged the emergency tiller, but found it almost impossible to hand steer the boat for any length of time in a seaway, this due to the tiller’s exceptionally short stock. After some experimentation, Steve was able to lash the tiller and balance the boat under shortened sail. This kept Solace moving in generally the right direction and allowed the crew some rest while Steve figured out and then fashioned a fix for the parted cable.

Being a cruiser-racer design with a fast underbody, Solace had been slowly pulling away from Mo up to this point, and by the time Steve lost his steering cable, Solace had bettered our distance by 60 miles. But with Solace under lashed tiller and reduced canvas, Mo quickly made up the difference. On day ten of our passage we met Solace at sundown at 38.57N by 153.31W, roughly 1500 miles west of San Francisco, for some conversation and an exchange of cookies.


Solace as Mo approached. Tiller is lashed at this point. Note deeply reefed main and hanky of a jib.


Steve, Kim, and Kelsey…moments before the shockingly successful cookie lob.

Soon after Solace and Moli parted company, Steve and crew rigged a quadrant cable from Dyneema and resumed their passage north.


Kim having fun with the steering column.

The delay caused by the quadrant cable failure meant that Solace missed her opportunity for northing. The low that had carried us both to this point petered out, and while Mo and I were sliding down toward Drakes Bay on brisk northeast winds, Solace beat back and forth 200 miles astern attempting not to lose too much ground. It took three days for winds to shift to the northwest, allowing Solace to finish her run at the 39th parallel.

Solace passed under the Golden Gate Bridge in the morning of Oct 6, having sailed 2,900 miles in 26 days, and 21 days under jury rig.

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Steve and Kelsey moments before passing under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Since arrival, Joanna and I have had the pleasure of entertaining Steve, Kelsey, and Kim at our house for hot showers, laundry-access, pizza and beer, and last night we met for an even more civilized engagement as Steve’s guest at a restaurant on Jack London Square. We’ve forgotten to take pictures on either occasion.

Solace is currently at the Berkeley Marine Center undergoing repairs while the crew has fun in the city.

Departure south is slated for a week hence.

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