The Lost Coast; Pacific Northwest sailing Part II

Return to Noyo River Harbor:

Noyo River in Fort Bragg is charming for many reasons including but not limited to majesty of the ocean.  It is also the capital of the so called “Lost Coast”.  Although the trip from Montreal was long and convoluted, the drive is stunning, and perhaps it is purposely kept remote.  But as strange as it sounds, the place felt familiar and welcoming when I rolled into the harbour.  Despite the draw, the pull of the ocean won my impulse.

The harbour astern, the sun and the calm sea, made me feel nostalgic yet excited.   I can honestly say that Kim,Billy and Darryl, have been wholeheartedly supportive to the lone sailor. I will be forever grateful of their genuine interest in my safety at sea.

Cape Mendocino’s mercy

I headed to Point Delgada, a safe anchorage for the night fourty miles NNW where I joined Mike on Cruz Del Sur.  The sun still under the eastern horizon and well rested, Mike and I lifted anchor to Eureka.  Cape Mendocino is notorious as the local nicknamed it “the place where the wind is born”.  Fortunately that day, the forecast was accurate and the small weather window freed Mike and I from the typical Northwesterly tempest.  Although the weather pattern was improving, Cape Blanco was also the source of strong opposing winds. The 2.5kn average shortened the distance made good and decided to find shelter in Gold Beach.  California was not ready to let me go just quite yet.

At the next opportunity, the high tide gave the necessary dept to avoid the sandbar inside the jetty and off we went at sunset a full-moon and a clear sky as our companions.  The weather got better and so was the distance between the various ports and anchorages.  The open ocean is a place of contrast, extremes and paradox.  Memories of natural wonders are everywhere to be found. The forces of nature has made a defined statement along the rugged coast.

The Gateway: Straight of Juan de Fuca.

On July 13th at 1200, Cape Flattery to my starboard, I rounded the last marker to the Straight Juan de Fuca. For the first time in the entire journey the wind and the current was following. I felt like Neil Armstrong parading Time Square, mother Nature cheering me in the final stretch of an epic afternoon.  The next day I cleared Customs and continued in the warm southerly breeze through the Gulf Islands. I can’t think of a better way to crown such voyage.

Windswept is now secure in Vancouver and being prepared for the next adventure: Desolation Sound.  Don’t miss it and book your trip now.

Farewell to San Diego.

After a week a preparation, on May 8th, 2017, I, Captain Chris cleated off the dock at Shelter Island leaving San Diego in style towards Chanel Islands.  At dusk, Catalina Island appeared on my starboard. There is a beautiful harbour on the (far side) of the island with moorage buoys. Only few boats at anchor that day, perhaps a little early in the season.

24 hours later, the journey resumed.  Another Saint, San Luis, I was told, was rather ordinary. (Interesting how what seems to be ordinary for one can be a pleasant experience for another.) San Luis is certainly not a resort where you’ll find five stars’ accommodations, however, if natural beauty, quaint little harbour and a friendly place is what you value, there you’ll find all the stars.

On the next day, the rough seas shortened the distance to forty nautical miles to a what looked like an appendix on the map called San Simeon. Before night time arrived, I had been visited by Grey Whales, Porpoises, Dauphins, and a Humpback whale, that is, without counting the creatures that messed with my depth meter under the boat.  San Simeon and the minuscule bay is a little secret that few sailors like me had the chance to drop anchor in. I’ve never imagine different shades of yellow could have such a mesmerizing effect.  Perhaps there is something to be said about seeking shelter; unavoidably, one will find haven.

24 hours later, the sea relented and I made it to Monterey Bay in early morning the next day. I was welcomed by the Harbor agent at the marina; very nice and accommodating people. Windswept needed a few repairs and I needed a new phone. My beloved Blackberry fell overboard.

Cecile came to my rescue and together we cruised up another bay: Halfmoon near San Francisco. We got some fresh food and steaks at the local market and feasted that evening in Drakes anchorage about 40 miles north of San Francisco Bay.

In the fog, we woke and relied on the GPS to round up the point to our next destination, Bodega Harbour. With the main hoisted, we made excellent velocity through and reached Bodega at lunch time. Bodega is a great harbour that relies on the harvest of the sea for their laid back lifestyle.  As a matter of fact, the crab shacks are renowned for their delicious menu. Cecile treated me with a meaty crab and fresh Rockfish & Chips accompanied by a fine box of California Chardonnay.

Cecile’s last sail before going back home, I continued north starting with a pleasant southerly swell and breeze that changed into a frigid gale later that day from, again, the north. This impediment proved once again to be an opportunity to discover, as an accidental visitor, Noyo River. I found not only a safe harbour but the friendliest people on earth. Windswept will get a complete tune-up while the captain will reacquaint with his loving family back home for a few weeks until the second part of the voyage will be as exciting as the first. To follow…

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